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Perceptions and reflections Using Skype chat to build a community of learners Jenni Parker, Dani Boase-Jelinek Jan Herrington School of Education Murdoch University Western AustraliaQuality online learning: Quality online learning A complex mix of physical and social technologies applications activities, and presentations combined with a suite of services that helps support the entire online learning experienceImplications for teaching: Implications for teaching “ It means designing instruction so students are encouraged to read, ponder and discuss; shape their understandings of the material; evaluate their knowledge; and create new knowledge ” . Meyer (2010, p . 3)Social presence: Social presence Developing social presence, or the ability to comfortably and effectively communicate through a technical medium is important (Garrison, 1997)Substituting the campus experience: Substituting the campus experience Difficulties are faced by distance learners in gaining a sense of social presence in their learning environments Also experienced by on-campus students who, because of their personal commitments and circumstances, rely more and more on learning management systems and lecture capture systems as a substitute for the campus experience . (Lee & McLoughlin , 2010)Substituting the campus experience: Substituting the campus experience Four key problems in this regard: Students are often denied a sense of belonging that is more readily acquired on-campus There is a perceived lack of contact and timely feedback from the instructor Large numbers of mature aged students entering the education system have little knowledge of an institution’s culture Many students who enrol in distance courses have little or no knowledge or experience of the mode of learning . (Lee & McLoughlin , pp. 63-64)Online students require:: Online students require: Connections and social interaction to help learners assimilate new information Environments that make effective use of communication technologies to connect learners in meaningful Relevant and authentic learning activities.The study: The study This study investigated: The use of Skype group chat to facilitate the development of a community of learners among distant and on-campus students in two courses using authentic learning principles.9 elements of authentic learning: 9 elements of authentic learning Authentic context Authentic activity Expert performances Multiple perspectives Collaboration Reflection Articulation Coaching and scaffolding Authentic assessment ( Herrington, Reeves & Oliver, 2010 )Data collection and analysis: Data collection and analysis Qualitative methods were used to collect first-hand evidence of participant perceptions and teacher reflections about the Skype chat tool Data collection methods for both courses were: an anonymous online student questionnaire, student comments and artifacts made during the course (including the record of Skype chat), summary statistics gathered from the learning management system (LMS) during the normal progression of the course, and written tutor reflectionsFindings: Findings Data gathered from the anonymous surveys, the discussion forums and the Skype chat provided insight into how students used the Skype group chat, their perceptions about the effectiveness of this technology and tutor reflections about student interactions on the Skype chat. The findings drawn from the analysis are summarized below.Student use: Student use Figure 1: Course 1 (n60) Figure 2 Course 2 (n258)Student Skype contributions: Student Skype contributions Comments made by students fell basically into one of the following categories: assessable, conceptual, procedural, technical, social, facilitative, emotional, reflective, and factual. Asynchronous discussion tended to focus on content whereas synchronous communications tended to have content, planning and social components as well.Comment category: Comment category This study Hrastinsky study Communication Type Asynchronous (Discussion Forum) Synchronous ( Sype Chat) Asynchronous (Discussion Forum) Synchronous ( Sype Chat) Content-related 91% 47% 93% 57% Facilitation-related 9% 53% 7% 43% Table 1: Comparison of data results: this study (2011) and Hrastinski study (2008)PowerPoint Presentation: Category Example Asessment Do I need to include … in the assignment? Conceptual What does this mean? Procedural When (or where) do I submit assignment X? Technical How do I … ? Social How are you? Facilitative How about we … Emotional I have three assignments still to do … Reflective I am frustrated because … Factual It tells us on page … Content-related Facilitation-relatedUsing ICT: I found that it could double up and serve same purpose of discussions on LMS to a large degree . Having all the students on sometimes live chat was all I needed to help understand the broad assignment topics It was very helpful to chat and discuss in live time and access to the tutor was invaluable as an external student Using ICT Skype was also really good, having access to our tutor at all times .Value of Skype chat: Showing the use of skype especially for communicating with tutors and other students Having the ability to talk/chat to others via skype was very beneficial Also when we did the group task having the tutor join the conversation to help get us on the right track was very useful for external students Value of Skype chat I really enjoyed skype having the tutor onlineSuggested improvements: I would have liked to learn how to use this technology more Maybe incorporate some aspect of the subject to include a limited but valuable experience of Skype for all Skype is a great web tool and easy to download and best of all 'free'. All you have to do is Google Skype and follow the download prompts - relatively easy. Suggested improvementsPowerPoint Presentation: This unit has challenged me like I have never been challenged before. I’ve always thought that using technology in the classroom was taking students away from real learning This unit has completely changed the way I think about what it means to teach and what it means to learn I am not afraid of technology any more What a roller-coaster ride this unit was.Tutor 1: Tutor 1 Informal feedback from students who joined the Skype group chats indicated they liked this technology as they could see when I was online and get instant answers to their questions when they needed support. It also gave them the opportunity to chat with their peers about how they were progressing ….Tutor 2: Tutor 2 External students miss out on some advantages of on-campus study, such as building a support network and discussing problems with fellow students. Chat facilities appear to enable external students to overcome some of the disadvantages they face ….Conclusions: Conclusions Students tend to use discussion forums for content related discussions as there is less time pressure to respond immediately. Discussion forums give students more time to reflect and respond to deeper questions, Students tend to use chat for addressing immediate problems as they arise, as well as for facilitating group processes. Many students did not use chat at all, but these students did use discussion forums for social and planning purposesConclusions: Conclusions Those students who did use chat, did not use—or had no need to use—the discussion forums for social or planning purposes. This suggests that social presence is more readily achieved through synchronous chats . Incidental evidence in our study indicates that Skype assisted students in developing self-directed learning strategies . You do not have the permission to view this presentation. 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