Evaluations of Online Learning Activities Based on LMS Logs
Paul Lam (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong), Judy Lo (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong), Jack Lee (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong) and Carmel McNaught (The Chinese University of Hong Kong Hong Kong)
Copyright © 2012.
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Effective record-keeping, and extraction and interpretation of activity logs recorded in learning management systems (LMS), can reveal valuable information to facilitate eLearning design, development and support. In universities with centralized Web-based teaching and learning systems, monitoring the logs can be accomplished because most LMS have inbuilt mechanisms to track and record a certain amount of information about online activities. Starting in 2006, we began to examine the logs of eLearning activities in LMS maintained centrally in our University (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) in order to provide a relatively easy method for the evaluation of the richness of eLearning resources and interactions. In this chapter, we: 1) explain how the system works; 2) use empirical evidence recorded from 2007 to 2010 to show how the data can be analyzed; and 3) discuss how the more detailed understanding of online activities have informed decisions in our University.
The Context Of Integrating Technology Into Instruction
The instructional design process itself exists within the context of the organizational entity that is sponsoring the learning experience. Therefore, for technology to be incorporated effectively into adult education, organizational leadership needs to have a shared vision for technology integration and the means to allocate resources (such as material, facilities, infrastructure, and technical support) to that end. Policies also need to be put in place that support technology-enhanced adult education; aspects might include acceptable use, skills baselines, professional development and incentives, hardware specifications and refresh cycles, and equity issues. In short, the entire enterprise needs to have the motivation and the capacity to incorporate technology into its system (Roblyer & Doering, 2009).
The organization also needs to be realize that learning about technology differs from learning with technology; the former views technology as an end in itself while the latter views technology as a means. With technology as an end, systems and organizational goals are the central concern, and advanced project management skills are needed; the entire enterprise is changing. When technology supports learning, job performance is the focus, and the training department controls the process to the large extent; the organization as a whole is not in flux (Main, 2000).
Most adult education incorporates technology for the latter reason. Nevertheless, too often technology is added on top of existing instruction, like icing on the cake, rather than transforming instructional design. Some of the changed elements include: the locus of control from teacher to learner, just-in-time learning, emphasis on resource-rich inquiry, and heightened interaction. In fact, one of the first questions in the instructional design process that needs to be answered is: “Should technology be used?” The following lists contrasts deciding factors.
Incorporating technology is appropriate when:
Accessing remote digital resources
Addressing sensory modes via simulations and other knowledge representations
Building on or repurposing existing digital resources or instruction
Encouraging repeated practice (e.g., drills for rote learning)
Supporting anytime/anywhere learning
Recording and archiving communication and effort
Incorporating technology is not beneficial when:
Focusing on in-house, non-technical resources
Face-to-face personal contact is important
Providing one-time customized training
Other resources and means are more effective