International Student Voices and the VLE: How Can Photovoice and Student Focus Groups Contribute to the Design of VLE Spaces

International Student Voices and the VLE: How Can Photovoice and Student Focus Groups Contribute to the Design of VLE Spaces

Claire Hiscock (University of the Arts London, London, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/IJCALLT.2020070102

Abstract

This article outlines the results of an ongoing research project into student experiences of virtual learning platforms. The project is driven by low engagement with online courses and a perceived lack of enthusiasm for Moodle. The author hopes to develop working practices to be used across departments that put students at the centre of designing the VLE spaces they are required to use. Underlying this project is the conviction that “if we want to enhance online learning, we need to enhance online learner participation,” as said by Hrastinski. This stage of data gathering included Photovoice to create screen recordings or visual representations of the students' digital learning journey, focus groups with international students and interviews with experts in digital learning. The article investigates students views and experiences of engaging with VLEs and concludes that if these digital platforms are to be of greater relevance to academic departments than mere PDF dumping grounds, then student participation in their design is essential.
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Background

In his blog, Read (2016) defines a VLE as:

an online platform for partially or fully supporting and managing student learning…From within it, teachers can upload documents connected to the lesson (PowerPoints, PDFs), create content such as quizzes or tests, set assignments for students to submit, post news/announcements and engage students in forum discussions and provide links to outside content or useful websites.

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