VUE - Examples from practice

Virtual learning activities in media science


Key words: Active participation, e-tivities, Blackboard, Adobe Connect, presentation

Anette Grønning,
Associate professor, PhD, MA in International Business and Linguistic Informatics Department for Cultural Studies

BACKGROUND
This is an example of an assessment method which has been applied in the course ”Digital Communication at Work”, an elective course offered to 3rd and 5th semester students at the University of Southern Denmark. The course is taught as an interplay between offline and online teaching activities. The offline teaching activities consist of 10 x 3 lessons of 45 minutes, while the online teaching activities make up three lessons. During the online teaching activities the students are free to decide their physical location. The only requirement is that they have access to a computer and Internet. Furthermore, headset and web camera are part of the course curriculum on the same terms as books and compendium. The online teaching activities consist of four activities or e-tivities, which the students participate in. The online teaching activities take place in Adobe Connect and Blackboard. In order to pass the course the students must be present and active in 80 per cent of the teaching period and participate in the e-tivities. The course has been offered three times, latest in 2012.

THE ACTIVITY
Four e-tivities comprise the course’s online teaching activities. 

E-tivity 1 – Our café. The purpose of this activity is for the students to meet and create virtual activity in the discussion forum Blackboard, as well as for them to become familiar with the system. The objective of this e-tivity is primarily to prepare the students for the next e-tivities. The students each post a short message in the forum, in which they tell about themselves, e.g. their favourite course, leisure activities etc. The students can upload pictures, audio and video. Subsequently, the students regularly return to the forum to reply to at least three entries made by other students. The e-tivity runs for a period of three weeks.

E-tivity 2 – Our blog. The students are asked to create a collection of useful sources and perspectives in relation to the topic “digital communication” via e-learn.sdu.dk. The student must find a source and post the URL with a text, in which the student explains why fellow students can benefit from the content, what is the interesting points and an estimation of the source’s validity. Furthermore, the student must comment on at least one of the fellow students’ entry. The student is also responsible for responding to the comments on his or her own entries.

E-tivity 3 – Virtual presentation. The students are divided into groups of five students. Each group sets up a meeting via the programme Adobe Connect. Each group member has to do a 10 minutes presentation based on independently prepared materials. During the presentation the rest of the group members take on individual roles with different areas of responsibility. (a) is responsible for setting up the meeting room and recording the meeting, (b) is the chairperson, (c) presents the introductory speaker, and (d) is opponent. The students have two weeks to complete the e-tivity, which will be concluded with a written assessment.

E-tivity 4 – Our wiki. Together the students create a common wiki via elarn.sdu.dk. The wiki collects the students’ reflections on the topic “digital communication in an organisational context”. The wiki is divided into eight topics based on the content of the blog from e-tivity 2. The student chooses one topic to write one or more sections about. It is expected that the section shows reflections on a theoretical concept from the lectures. The students are encouraged to write shortly and precisely to adapt to the wiki context.

LEARNING OBJECTIVES
The assessment method is useful for assessing the students’ digital skills. With the variation in media the student is introduced to several applications of technology and the opportunity to use technology as a tool for academic discussions.

FEEDBACK FROM THE STUDENTS
The students find the teaching activity highly relevant in relation to the course objectives. Some students emphasise that the independent task stimulates further examination of the e-tivity topics. Likewise, the students emphasise the flexibility and interplay between offline and online teaching activities. The students find e-tivity 3 the most educational.

EVALUATION
The students seem prepared to make an effort to improve their digital skills. The majority of the students accept the e-tivities and complete them thoroughly and engaged. A few students have expressed a wish for more traditional teaching activities, in which they are presented with a curriculum by the teacher and not as active in forming and creating the course content. Other students try to avoid the e-tivities for several reasons: unfamiliar situation, shyness and laziness. Some students fail the course as a result of inactivity. The mandatory e-tivities set the framework for the students to increase their preparation and level of activity between the lessons. This is reflected in more academic qualified discussions during the course, offline as well as online. The online teaching activities allow the teacher to document the process and keep track of the students’ level of activity.

Suitable for classes of: 5-75 students
Suitable for level: Bachelor level
Suitable for offline, online or both:  Online
Is the activity part of the curriculum? Yes
References:  Anette H. Grønning om e-tiviteter:
http://ojs.statsbiblioteket.dk/index.php/lom/article/view/5410

 

For more information about VUE please contact:
Centre for Teaching and Learning - Inger-Marie F. Christensen - imc@sdu.dk or Rie Troelsen - riet@sdu.dk

For more information about this assessment method please contact:
Anette Grønning - ahg@sdu.dk