Differential impact of learning path based versus conventional instruction in science education

I’m really proud to announce the third article of my PhD research has been published in Computers & Education.

This article ,’Differential impact of learning path based versus conventional instruction in science education‘, analyzes the differential impact of the instructional formats on learning outcomes, considering variations in group setting and group composition. Given the focus on science learning, gender was also considered. Multilevel analysis was applied, and the results show empirical evidence for superior performance for both boys and girls in the learning path condition as compared with that in the conventional condition. In addition, when girls collaborate, they perform best within same-sex groups, whereas boys achieve better results in mixed-gender groups. The implications of the findings are important for tackling the gender gap in science learning. The findings can lead to guidelines for teachers who want to implement learning paths within an optimal learning environment design.

If you use the article, please cite as:

De Smet, C., De Wever, B., Schellens, T., & Valcke, M. (2016). Differential impact of learning path based versus conventional instruction in science education. Computers & Education, 99, 53-67.

 

A Qualitative Study on Learning and Teaching With Learning Paths in a Learning Management System

The fourth article of my PhD research has been published in the Journal of Social Science Education (JSSE). A nice bonus: JSSE provides immediate open access to its content!

This article, ‘A Qualitative Study on Learning and Teaching With Learning Paths in a Learning Management System‘, presents the findings of a qualitative study (carried out between 2011 and 2013) about the adoption and implementation of learning paths within a Learning Management System (LMS). Sixteen secondary school biology teachers of the GO! Network in Flanders (an urbanized region in Belgium) were involved in the study and questioned via semi-structured interviews. Two research questions are addressed: (1) what are the perceived conditions at school and at teacher level affecting the use of learning paths? (2) how are these conditions related to the expected outcomes? Research results show teachers are satisfied with learning paths as an educational tool, but reflect mixed feelings as to the impact on student learning outcomes. Clear barriers are identified at the school and teacher level, thwarting the implementation of learning paths in secondary education. The availability of a reliable and accessible ICT infrastructure, the quality of technical and pedagogical support, teacher professional development and the mastery of teacher Information and Communication Technology competencies, among others, were found to be essential.

If you use the article, please cite as:

De Smet, C., Valcke, M., Schellens, T., De Wever, B., & Vanderlinde, R. (2016). A Qualitative Study on Learning and Teaching With Learning Paths in a Learning Management System. Journal of Social Science Education, 15(1), 27-37.

Rethinking learning paths: test our ideas against the traditional LMS

I’m working a on project where we want to offer our students online learning paths which are adapted to their needs and thus take into account the very diverse student inflow we encounter. In order to construct an answer on this challenge, I will write a few blog posts.

Note: Please consider also reading the previous post where I tackled the conceptual framework of learning paths (if you want the complete story).

Can we use the learning path tool in our current LMS, if we want to benefit from the new learning path design you described in the previous post?

chamillo

Continue reading “Rethinking learning paths: test our ideas against the traditional LMS”

Rethinking learning paths: conceptual design

I’m working a on project where we want to offer our students online learning paths which are adapted to their needs and thus take into account the very diverse student inflow we encounter. Although I wrote this text with the previous objective in mind, it can be applied to other learning situations as well.

How ‘traditional learning paths’ work:

LP2

After a teacher creates and/or collects learning objects, he can start to bundle or sequence learning objects into learning paths. Most LMS (Learning Management Systems) only allow sequential learning paths, resulting in rather static designs and non-dynamic user-experiences. For example: if the teacher wants to leave room for discussion, a link to a separate tool can be added (e.g. a forum). Learners clicking on this  link will leave the learning path tool, and start/continue a discussion in a separate (discussion) tool. Such a work around doesn’t work on mobile and is not user-friendly, but hey, LMS are pre-year 2000 technology after all. Continue reading “Rethinking learning paths: conceptual design”

What are the biggest design challenges you faced? #OutstandingMOOC

I’m enrolled in a MOOC where we are encouraged to reflect upon questions such as: “What’s the biggest design challenge that you have ever faced? Did you overcome it? How? “

I have experience with design projects on two educational levels: secondary education and higher education. My experience with both levels is more or less the same: a design challenge is usually not the problem, the barriers on the teacher and the school level are much harder to overcome.

Secondary education

My most ambitious design challenge was undoubtedly the research I conducted in order to obtain my PhD. We developed a teacher survey to investigate the instructional use of LMS (Learning Management Systems) in secondary education. Based on these results, we designed learning paths and examined in two quasi-experimental studies whether gender, group composition (collaborative learning) and the way learning paths are designed and implemented, have an impact on learning outcomes. To complete the circle, my last study reported on teacher perceptions of learning path usage within the LMS.

In short (my complete dissertation can be downloaded here), we faced some design challenges, but those were rather easy to overcome. However, we also identified clear barriers at both the school and the teacher level, and they were out of my league. More specifically, the lack of a reliable and accessible ICT infrastructure, the unavailability to the teacher of qualitative technical and pedagogical support and the underinvestment in professional development (resulting in low levels of teacher related ICT competencies), were frequently reported as essential factors hindering ICT-usage in the classroom.

Higher education: Continue reading “What are the biggest design challenges you faced? #OutstandingMOOC”

Are blogs the best reflecting tool within a MOOC? #OutstandingMOOC

Last week I enrolled as a participant in the following MOOC (Massive Online Open Course): How to create an outstanding MOOC (more information). I didn’t plan to get involved in another MOOC, basically cause I’m short on time (well, who isn’t?). However, I changed my mind because the organiser isn’t Coursera this time, but HT2, the company behind the Curatr platform. And, best of all, all participants receive the opportunity to create their own MOOC within the Curatr platform.

One of the questions we need to reflect upon is “are blogs a great reflection tool?”.

My answer is Yes and No. Continue reading “Are blogs the best reflecting tool within a MOOC? #OutstandingMOOC”

The design and implementation of learning paths in a learning management system

The second article of my PhD research has been published in Interactive Learning Environments (2014).

This article, ‘The design and implementation of learning paths in a learning management system’, investigates whether a particular design and implementation of learning paths has a beneficial impact on learning outcomes, and gender as a co-variables. It reports on the results of empirical research about using learning paths in a secondary education setting. The quasi-experimental study took place in the context of a biology course.  Twenty-nine different classes, involving 360 secondary school students, were selected at random to participate in particular research conditions of the study. All biology teachers (N = 8; 3 males, 5 females) teaching in the third grade of the six participating schools were willing to take part in the study. A 2 x 2 factorial research design was adopted. Learning activities (1) differed in design and (2) were either undertaken individually or collaboratively. Gender was considered as a critical co-variables given the focus on science learning. Multilevel analyses were applied to study the impact on learning outcomes according to the design of learning paths, the individual/collaborative setting, and the co-variables gender. The results were helpful to direct research about the design and implementation of learning paths in a secondary school setting.

If you use the article as published in Interactive Learning Environments (2014), please cite as:

De Smet, C., Schellens, T., De Wever, B., Brandt-Pomares, P., & Valcke, M. (2014). The design and implementation of learning paths in a learning management system. Interactive Learning Environments, 1-21.

Researching instructional use and the technology acceptation of learning management systems

The first article of my PhD research has been published in Computers & Education (2012): Researching instructional use and the technology acceptation of LMS by secondary school teachers.

In this paper we research the technology acceptation of LMS by secondary school teachers, based on a conceptual acceptance model including: perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use and subjective norm (traditional TAM2 components), personal innovativeness towards IT (Agarwal & Prasad, 1998), internal ICT support (Tondeur, Van Keer, van Braak, & Valcke, 2008), and experience (Sun & Zhang, 2006). In addition, we examine how secondary school teachers use LMS. We scrutinized LMS functionalities available and used by our target group when adopting one of the three most often used LMS: Dokeos, Blackboard, and Smartschool (De Smet & Schellens, 2009). Continue reading “Researching instructional use and the technology acceptation of learning management systems”