Student Centric Learning:  Reference to virtual learning Environment


By

Dr. Divya Gupta Chowdhry
Associate Professor
RDIAS (Rukmini Devi Institute of Advanced Studies)
New Delhi

Dr. Rakhi Gupta
Assistant Professor
BHU (Banaras Hindu University), Central University
Varanasi - UP

Ms. Deepika Varshney
Assistant Professor
RDIAS (Rukmini Devi Institute of Advanced Studies)
New Delhi
 


Abstract

Gone are the days when traditional black board or white board methods were used to enhance the understanding of the students. This paradigm change is more or less connected with change in teaching and learning. The objective of this paper is to understand concepts and frameworks of virtual learning environment mostly used in today's teacher-student learning process. The change in higher education can be viewed by increase in use of Virtual Learning tools, a new macro environment in terms of virtual learning environment (VLEs) are increasingly used in higher education to support communication and collaboration among students.

Key Words: virtual learning environment, teacher-student learning, higher education, communication

Introduction

"It's time to step up to the plate and get passionate about your work commit to making eLearning courses that don't bore people to tears, but instead inspire and motivate them to learn a new skill, change a certain behavior, or improve their performance." - Cammy Bean

Gone are the days when traditional black board or white board methods were used to enhance the understanding of the students. This paradigm change is more or less connected with change in teaching and learning.The objective of this paper is to understand concepts and frameworks of virtual learning environment mostly used in today's teacher-student learning process. Thus the purpose of this paper is to assess the traditional methods of teaching as well as virtual teaching and to suggest other useful teaching methods that can be attempted in imparting knowledge to the students. This paper reports findings from interviews with few teachers and few students at RDIAS who were early adopters of VLEs. The interviews revealed how teachers and students use VLE communication tools, how itbenefits, problems they experienced, and how VLEs might be improved to provide better support for collaborative learning.

The change in higher education can be viewed by increase in use of Virtual Learning tools, a new macro environment in terms of virtual learning environment (VLEs) are increasingly used in higher education to support communication and collaboration among students. 21st century is seeing volatility in industry's demands, as they struggle to become more competitive in an increasingly globalized economy. Employer's expectations from employees are high, they need up to date knowledge and skills, and updating these requires training and education at the time of higher studies. While traditional courses continue to be a major part of universities provision, the most likely growth area will be in 'enduring learning' courses offered to industry or to individuals. The virtual learning environments of today and their successors are likely to form key strategically aspects of teaching and learning in universities of the future.

Understanding of Education

Education is basically an act or process of imparting or acquiring knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning, judgment, logicsand skills. This act or process of imparting or acquiring particular knowledge or skills is for making students more mature and preparing them for a profession.

Our formal education system believed that only the academic basics were important, may be emphasizing the collection of knowledge without understanding its value. But with so much technological innovations, sharing of boundaries across the countries, converting world into a global village .What is needed today at the end of end of the 20th century is not only bookish theoretical knowledge but in this 21st century we need a blend of theoretical, practical and virtual learning.The researchers believe that the core objective of teaching is passing on the information or knowledge to the minds of the students. Any method using computers or modifying the existing conventional chalk-talk method are innovative if they ultimately serve the attainment of core objective of teaching.The phrase Information and Communication Technology (I&CT)  has been used by academic researchers since the 1980s.


                                          
Source: Author's   Teaching Methodology

Virtual learning Environment

A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a Web-based platform for the digital aspects of courses of study, usually within educational institutions. A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a set of teaching and learning tools designed to enhance a student's learning experience by including computers and the Internet in the learning process.VLEs have been adopted by almost all higher education institutions ,  a range of integrated web based applications that provide teachers, learners, parents and others involved in education with information, tools and resources to support and enhance educational delivery and management. VLE provides two basic advantages to students the personal learning environment (PLE) or personal online learning space (POLS).The main advantage to students is that they can save these learning platforms throughout their life with no loss of access to their personal data.

Institutions of higher and further education use VLEs in order to:

* Economize on the time of teaching staff, and the cost of instruction.
* Provide platform to students to access the contents of the curriculum 24x7 in a flexible manner at varying time and with no location constrains.
* Provides pre-read instructions to students to increase familiarity and enhance interest in topic of study in advance.
* Provide facility of opting on-line test within specified time in 24x7 environments.
* Provide facility of submitting assignments virtually on online portals.
* Teachers can provide lot of miscellaneous study material for reference to students.
* Teachers can provide suggestive readings with books and page numbers as references.
* Facilitate the networking of instruction between different campuses or even colleges.
* Provide for the reuse of common material among different courses.
* Provide automatic integration of the results of student learning into campus information systems.
* Provides platform for content management, Curriculum mapping and planning.
* Provides platform for learner engagement,administration, Communication and collaboration.

Literature Review

(Weller, 2007)A number of different technologies have been used for these purposes: for example, email discussion forums and chat rooms. With the increasing use of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs), such communication tools are often available within a single environment, which can be used by all the students and staff of an educational institution.

(Teo & Wong, 2000) Problem-based learning is becoming increasingly popular in educational institutions as a tool to address the inadequacies of traditional teaching. Since these traditional approaches do not encourage students to question what they have learnt or to associate with previously acquired knowledge.

Britain, Sandy; Liber, Oleg (1999). They have put forward two models, one from an educational perspective the other from an organizational perspective that might be used to provide a more effective evaluation framework for VLEs. The two models are complementary in many ways, having different scope and orientation. The conversation model focuses on interactions between an individual student and tutor. The VSM model focuses on how the software helps a tutor manage conversations and the construction of individualized activities for a large number of students.

Mason (1998) suggests that there are three basic models of existing on-line courses  Content Support Model- Here a relatively static body of content (e.g. a web package) provides the core of the course and is supplemented by tutorial support. The level of on-line interaction is low (typically no more than 20% of the student's time). This is the model that is most akin to traditional teaching and is the most prevalent model currently in use.  Wrap-around Model- Here the course materials are wrapped by activities, on-line discussions etc. Mason refers to this as a 50/50 model as on-line interactions and discussions occupy roughly half the students' time.  Integrated Model- This is a resource based model where the course is defined by collaborative activities, discussions and joint assignments. The course contents are dynamic and are determined largely by individual needs and group activities. Resources are contributed by participants or tutors as the course develops.

Laurillard (1993) has explored & developed the use of the Conversational Framework as an evaluation methodology for virtual learning environments.

Objectives

The objectives of this study are:

1. To understand concepts and frameworks of virtual learning environment (VLE)
2. To explore traditional methods of teaching as well as virtual teaching methods
3. To understand students and teachers perspective towards VLE
4. To suggest other useful teaching methods that can be attempted in imparting knowledge to the students.

Research Methodology

A Descriptive study was conducted among students and teachers at RDIAS as the respondents. Convenience sampling was used as the sampling method. Face-face interview was conducted with teachers and students. Open ended questions about use of VLE, benefits and problems were asked from around 25 teachers and 25 students.

Benefits of VLEs in Education

There are some clear and immediate benefits of these systems to students and teachers alike the use and recommendation of I&CT

* Flexibility of time and place.
* Coping with increased student numbers.
* Sharing and re-use of resources.
* Collaborative work.
* Student-centered learning.
* Reducing the administration burden.
* Staff Development.

In author's view VLE can be looked upon as:-


Student'sperspective towards virtual learning

The learning process of the student is not just understood as a procedure in a black box, in which only the input of presented knowledge and the output of the known is observed, that for example just has to be reproduced in an exam. In a mainly divided constructivist perspective the student's (collegiate) learning is seen rather as an active, individual and socio-cultural process that is dealing with the construction of cognition and competences. In the context of online pedagogy the teachers aspires to support the students in this process and the feedback activities of the teachers regarding the progress in learning.It is also beneficial for students, who often find it difficult to arrange times to meet face-to-face or have to rush to teachers for notes, references and to know marks for assignments etc.

The interviews highlighted the fact that technical and usability issues cause serious difficulties for users of VLEs. These problems can result in disengagement and lack of participation by students (Weller, 2007, p. 16). Hopefully, technical problems will decrease with time, but usability issues also need to be addressed as a priority.

Teacher'sperspective towards virtual learning

The interviews highlighted nearly similar view by the teachers for the system as of the students with additional privilege of having additional tools that allow them to add materials, case studies, reference books, various video links and help to trackstudents' progress. This shift points to a new evolution in education that affects deeply the ways we are used to hold our lectures.

The innovative powers of the new technologies pave the way for the construction of alternative paths to information sources for teachers and students alike. The faculty staff has to adapt to the new role of the lecturer, that is, to move from the traditional instruction style to a position where they tute and facilitates the more independent, self-directed learning processes of the students. Online pedagogy needs to offer additional models for the realization of this shift in teaching in higher education.

VLE environment leads to improvements in face-to-face classes between teachers and students during lecture time as VLE can be used as preparatory resources it serves as a medium for providing information and notices to students.

With more proficiency in use of these advanced VLE tools, teachers who are early adopters of these systems can explain better the commitment to the benefits, and can themselves overcome many of the problems. However, the interviews did highlight a number of areas where the communication aspects of VLEs are not fulfilling their potential. This section discusses these aspects and draws out ideas on how VLEs might be improved.

One basic requirement is for teachers to know that their students are all correctly registered in the VLE. This requires integration with institute's registration systems. Once students are registered, teachers should be able to check that they are participating. Systems need to keep a record of when each student logs on and what activities they carry out. Tools should be provided which enable teachers to easily monitor each student's participation and progress, and which provide summaries for the class as a whole.

Suggested tools of VLE
  • VLE Notice-board
  • Course Outline E-mail Tutor
  • Online Conferences
  • Multimedia Resources Repository
  • Student's portal
  • Assignments / Quizzes
  • Assessments / Grade-book
  • Calendar Search Tools
  • Bookmarking Navigation Model

It is important that VLEs have straightforward navigation, they use clear terminology, and are based on structures and processes that make sense to students.

Findings

Implications for use of virtual learning process

As of now we understand that current pedagogy of teaching talks about efforts to make teaching more exploratory, spontaneous, and exciting but it goes directly counter to the conservative practices of teaching. To make teaching – learning process more effective and efficient use of virtual teaching methods plays an important role. But what concludes from various literature reviews and interview is that amongst the factors that are slowing the uptake of VLEs in Higher Education institutions is the lack of a rational framework within which to evaluate both the pedagogical benefits and the organizational changes required to effectively implement VLE. Theymust be predictably designed with a pedagogical model in mind. Today need is not to replace the teacher –student learning process with Open Online Courses or with iPads that support individualized learning through various apps. But to develop a model of teacher-student learning with help of VLE where classroom lectures should be delivered using ICT and virtual course contents, teaching material, E-books, links, assessment and online test must be inculcated in the model.It must be an enhanced model of teaching using multimedia to create a VLE.

MULTIMEDIA LEARNING – ENHANCED INTERACTIVE LEARNING PROCESS


The digitalization of information leads to completely new forms of knowledge representation within the organization. The traditional classroom system limited the access to relevant information for the students to printed documents and the lecture and discussion that evolved in the courses. The digital representation of knowledge adds new gateways for the students to the relevant documents they need for their learning. Today need of the hour is that all higher education institutes must develop an online portal and create user ID's for both a teacher and a student.

Conclusion

Current environment need says that we need to compare the different approaches of various institutes and universities that are involved in virtual learning. Today all need to work as partners of the working groupand look for a solution to this heterogeneous puzzle of pedagogical models and innovation strategies of virtual learning. The VLE systems are prevalent in many colleges, institutes and in some universities of India but it should not be misunderstood with system of distance learning. However, VLEs is a way to use technology in order to make teaching more effective on-campus as well.Designing VLE systems which are flexible and which also have good usability is a significant challenge. But it is a challenge which must be met if these systems are to achieve their educational potential.

As Coppola et al. (2002, p. 186) point out, in online learning:

'The managerial role, which deals with class and course management, requires greater attention to detail, more structure and additional student monitoring'.

References

Weller, Martin (2007).  Virtual learning environments: using, choosing and developing your VLE. London: Routledge. pp. 4–5,17.ISBN 9780415414302.

Coppola, N.W., Hiltz, S.R., Rotter, N.G. (2002). Becoming a virtual professor: pedagogical roles and asynchronous learning networks. Journal of Management Information Systems, 18(4), 169–189.

Teo, R. & Wong, A. (2000). Does Problem Based Learning Create A Better Student: A Refelection? Paper presented at the 2nd Asia Pacific Conference on Problem –Based Learning: Education Across Disciplines, December 4-7, 2000, Singapore

Britain, Sandy; Liber, Oleg (1999). "A Framework for Pedagogical Evaluation of Virtual Learning Environments" (PDF). JISC Technology Applications Programme (Report 41). Retrieved May 18, 2015.

Mason, R. (1998) 'Models of Online Courses'. ALN Magazine 2 (2).

Laurillard, D. (1993) Rethinking University Teaching – a framework for the effective use of educational technology, London: Routledge.
 


Dr. Divya Gupta Chowdhry
Associate Professor
RDIAS (Rukmini Devi Institute of Advanced Studies)
New Delhi

Dr. Rakhi Gupta
Assistant Professor
BHU (Banaras Hindu University), Central University
Varanasi - UP

Ms. Deepika Varshney
Assistant Professor
RDIAS (Rukmini Devi Institute of Advanced Studies)
New Delhi
 

Source: E-mail March 2, 2016

          

Articles No. 1-99 / Articles No. 100-199 / Articles No. 200-299 / Articles No. 300-399 / Articles No. 400-499 / Articles No. 500-599
Articles No. 600-699 / Articles No. 700-799 / Articles No. 800-899 / Articles No. 900-1000 / Articles No. 1001-1100
Articles No. 1101-1200 / Articles No. 1201-1300 / Articles No. 1301-1400 / Articles No. 1401-1500 / Articles No. 1501-1600
Articles No. 1601 Onward / Faculty Column Main Page

 

 

Important Note :
Site Best Viewed in
Internet Explorer OR Opera
in 1024x768 pixels
Browser text size : Medium