We report upon a study introducing a chatbot to develop learning communities at a London University, with a largely international student base. The focus of the chatbot was twofold; to ease the transition for students into their first year of university study, and to increase study engagement. Four learning communities were created using the chatbot; level 3 foundation, level 4 undergraduate, level 6 undergraduate and level 7 post-graduate. Students and programme leaders were provided with access to the chat bot via mobile app prior to their study induction and throughout the autumn term of 2019. At the end of the term, data were collected via questionnaires and focus groups with students and teaching staff to allow for identification of benefits and challenges. Findings indicated a positive correlation between study engagement and engagement with peers. Students reported that the chatbot enabled them to obtain support and connect to their programme leader. Both staff and students also made recommendation on how engagement could be further enhanced using the bot in terms of; clearly specified purpose, integration with existing university systems, leading by example and connectivity. Extending upon these recommendations, a second pilot study is planned for September 2020, for which the focus will be upon improving attendance rates, student satisfaction and module pass rates.
The fourth industrial revolution is changing the role of education substantially and, therefore, the role of instructors and learners at all levels. Education 4.0 is an imminent response to the needs of a globalized world where humans and technology are being aligned to enable endless possibilities, among them the need for students, as digital natives, to communicate effectively in at least one language besides their mother tongue, and also the requirement of developing theirs. This is an exploratory study in which a control group (N = 21), all of the students of Spanish as a foreign language at the university level, after taking a Spanish class, responded to an online questionnaire about the engagement, atmosphere, and environment in which their course was delivered. These aspects considered in the survey were relative to the instructor’s teaching style, including: (a) active, hands-on learning; (b) flexibility for in-class activities, easily switching between small group work, individual work, and whole-class discussion; and (c) integrating technology into the classroom. Strongly believing in these principles, the instructor deliberately taught the course in a SCALE-UP room, as it could facilitate such a positive and encouraging learning environment. These aspects are trends related to Education 4.0 and have become integral to the instructor’s pedagogical stance that calls for a constructive-affective role, instead of a transmissive one. As expected, with a learning environment that (a) fosters student engagement and (b) improves student outcomes, the subjects were highly engaged, which was partially due to the learning environment. An overwhelming majority (all but one) of students agreed or strongly agreed that the atmosphere and the environment were ideal. Outcomes of this study are relevant and indicate that it is about time for teachers to build up a meaningful correlation between humans and technology. We should see the trends of Education 4.0 not as a threat but as practices that should be in the hands of critical and creative instructors whose pedagogical stance responds to the needs of the learners in the 21st century.
Engagement is one of the most important factors in determining successful outcomes and deep learning in students. Existing approaches to detect student engagement involve periodic human observations that are subject to inter-rater reliability. Our solution uses real-time multimodal multisensor data labeled by objective performance outcomes to infer the engagement of students. The study involves four students with a combined diagnosis of cerebral palsy and a learning disability who took part in a 3-month trial over 59 sessions. Multimodal multisensor data were collected while they participated in a continuous performance test. Eye gaze, electroencephalogram, body pose, and interaction data were used to create a model of student engagement through objective labeling from the continuous performance test outcomes. In order to achieve this, a type of continuous performance test is introduced, the Seek-X type. Nine features were extracted including high-level handpicked compound features. Using leave-one-out cross-validation, a series of different machine learning approaches were evaluated. Overall, the random forest classification approach achieved the best classification results. Using random forest, 93.3% classification for engagement and 42.9% accuracy for disengagement were achieved. We compared these results to outcomes from different models: AdaBoost, decision tree, k-Nearest Neighbor, naïve Bayes, neural network, and support vector machine. We showed that using a multisensor approach achieved higher accuracy than using features from any reduced set of sensors. We found that using high-level handpicked features can improve the classification accuracy in every sensor mode. Our approach is robust to both sensor fallout and occlusions. The single most important sensor feature to the classification of engagement and distraction was shown to be eye gaze. It has been shown that we can accurately predict the level of engagement of students with learning disabilities in a real-time approach that is not subject to inter-rater reliability, human observation or reliant on a single mode of sensor input. This will help teachers design interventions for a heterogeneous group of students, where teachers cannot possibly attend to each of their individual needs. Our approach can be used to identify those with the greatest learning challenges so that all students are supported to reach their full potential.
Technology-enhanced teaching has been in the limelight since the 90s when educators started investigating and experimenting with using computers in the classroom as a means of building 21st. century skills and motivating students. The concept of technology-enhanced strategies in education is kaleidoscopic! It has meant different things to different educators. For the purpose of this paper, however, it will be used to refer to the diverse technology-based strategies used to support and enrich the flipped learning process, in the classroom and outside. The paper will investigate how technology is put in the service of teaching and learning to improve the students’ learning experience as manifested in students’ attendance and engagement, achievement rates and finally, students’ projects at the end of the semester. The results will be supported by a student survey about relevant specific aspects of their learning experience in the modules in the study.
Industry employers require new graduates to bring with them a range of knowledge, skills and abilities which mean these new employees can immediately make valuable work contributions. These will be a combination of discipline and professional knowledge, skills and abilities which give graduates the technical capabilities to solve practical problems whilst interacting with a range of stakeholders. Underpinning the development of these disciplines and professional knowledge, skills and abilities, are “enabling” knowledge, skills and abilities which assist students to engage in learning. These are academic and learning skills which are essential to common starting points for both the learning process of students entering the course as well as forming the foundation for the fully developed graduate knowledge, skills and abilities. This paper reports on a project created to introduce and strengthen these enabling skills into the first semester of a Bachelor of Information Technology degree in an Australian polytechnic. The project uses an action research approach in the context of ongoing continuous improvement for the course to enhance the overall learning experience, learning sequencing, graduate outcomes, and most importantly, in the first semester, student engagement and retention. The focus of this is implementing the new curriculum in first semester subjects of the course with the aim of developing the “enabling” learning skills, such as literacy, research and numeracy based knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs). The approach used for the introduction and embedding of these KSAs, (as both enablers of learning and to underpin graduate attribute development), is presented. Building on previous publications which reported different aspects of this longitudinal study, this paper recaps on the rationale for the curriculum redevelopment and then presents the quantitative findings of entering students’ reading literacy and numeracy knowledge and skills degree as well as their perceived research ability. The paper presents the methodology and findings for this stage of the research. Overall, the cohort exhibits mixed KSA levels in these areas, with a relatively low aggregated score. In addition, the paper describes the considerations for adjusting the design and delivery of the new subjects with a targeted learning experience, in response to the feedback gained through continuous monitoring. Such a strategy is aimed at accommodating the changing learning needs of the students and serves to support them towards achieving the enabling learning goals starting from day one of their higher education studies.
This paper is a qualitative case study analysis of the development of a fully online learning community of graduate students through arts-based community building activities. With increasing numbers and types of online learning spaces, it is incumbent upon educators to continue to push the edge of what best practices look like in digital learning environments. In digital learning spaces, instructors can no longer be seen as purveyors of content knowledge to be examined at the end of a set course by a final test or exam. The rapid and fluid dissemination of information via Web 3.0 demands that we reshape our approach to teaching and learning, from one that is content-focused to one that is process-driven. Rather than having instructors as formal leaders, today’s digital learning environments require us to share expertise, as it is the collective experiences and knowledge of all students together with the instructors that help to create a very different kind of learning community. This paper focuses on innovations pursued in a 36 hour 12 week graduate course in higher education entitled “Critical and Reflective Practice”. The authors chronicle their journey to developing a fully online learning community (FOLC) by emphasizing the elements of social, cognitive, emotional and digital spaces that form a moving interplay through the community. In this way, students embrace anywhere anytime learning and often take the learning, as well as the relationships they build and skills they acquire, beyond the digital class into real world situations. We argue that in order to increase student online engagement, pedagogical approaches need to stem from two primary elements, both creativity and critical reflection, that are essential pillars upon which instructors can co-design learning environments with students. The theoretical framework for the paper is based on the interaction and interdependence of Creativity, Intuition, Critical Reflection, Social Constructivism and FOLCs. By leveraging students’ embedded familiarity with a wide variety of technologies, this case study of a graduate level course on critical reflection in education, examines how relationships, quality of work produced, and student engagement can improve by using creative and imaginative pedagogical strategies. The authors examine their professional pedagogical strategies through the lens that the teacher acts as facilitator, guide and co-designer. In a world where students can easily search for and organize information as self-directed processes, creativity and connection can at times be lost in the digitized course environment. The paper concludes by posing further questions as to how institutions of higher education may be challenged to restructure their credit granting courses into more flexible modules, and how students need to be considered an important part of assessment and evaluation strategies. By introducing creativity and critical reflection as central features of the digital learning spaces, notions of best practices in digital teaching and learning emerge.
Given the increase in the number of students and administrators asking for online courses the author developed two partially online courses. One was a biology majors at genetics course while the other was a non-majors at biology course. The student body at Queensborough Community College is generally underprepared and has work and family obligations. As an educator, one has to be mindful about changing the pedagogical approach, therefore, special care was taken when designing the course material. Despite the initial concerns, both of these partially online courses were received really well by students. Lessons learnt were that student engagement is the key to success in an online course. Good practices to run a successful online course for underprepared students are discussed in this paper. Also discussed are the lessons learnt for making the eLearning environment better for all the students in the class, overachievers and underachievers alike.
This paper explores the effects of gamification on lower secondary school students’ motivation and engagement in the classroom. Two-group posttest-only experimental design were employed to study the influence of gamification teaching method (GTM) when compared with conventional teaching method (CTM) on 60 lower secondary school students. The Student Engagement Instrument (SEI) and Intrinsic Motivation Inventory (IMI) were used to assess students’ intrinsic motivation and engagement level towards the respective teaching method. Finding indicates that students who completed the GTM lesson were significantly higher in intrinsic motivation to learn than those from the CTM. Although the result were insignificant and only marginal difference in the engagement mean, GTM still show better potential in raising student’s engagement in class when compared with CTM. This finding proves that the GTM is likely to solve the current issue of low motivation to learn and low engagement in class among lower secondary school students in Malaysia. On the other hand, despite being not significant, higher mean indicates that CTM positively contribute to higher peer support for learning and better teacher and student relationship when compared with GTM. As a conclusion, gamification approach is flexible and can be adapted into many learning content to enhance the intrinsic motivation to learn and to some extent, encourage better student engagement in class.
Academics and researchers are interested in the effects of social media on college students, with a specific focus on the most popular social media website; Facebook. Previous studied have found contradictory result on the relationship between Facebook usage and the student engagement with positive, detrimental and no significant relationships. However, these studies were limited to western higher education system. This paper fills a gap in the literature by using a sample (300) of Sri Lankan management undergraduates to examine the relationship between Facebook usage and student engagement. Student engagement was measured 35 item scale based on the National Survey of Student Engagement and Facebook usage by Facebook intensity scale. Descriptive statistics, path analysis and structural equation modeling were applied as statistical tools and techniques. Results indicate that student engagement scale was significantly negatively related with the Facebook usage with the influence from student engagement on Facebook usage.
This article discusses the concept of student ownership of knowledge and seeks to determine how to move students from knowledge acquisition to knowledge application and ultimately to knowledge generation in a virtual setting. Instructional strategies for fostering student engagement in a virtual environment are critical to the learner-s strategic ownership of the knowledge. A number of relevant theories that focus on learning, affect, needs and adult concerns are presented to provide a basis for exploring the transfer of knowledge from teacher to learner. A model under development is presented that combines the dimensions of knowledge approach, the teacher-student relationship with regards to knowledge authority and teaching approach to demonstrate the recursive and scaffolded design for creation of virtual learning environments.