Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Supple, B; Fennell, C; McCarthy, M.
International Society for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (ISSOTL)
Ain't No Mountain High Enough: Exploring New Territories in an Online Teaching
Calgary, Canada
Oral Presentation
Optional Fields
This paper sets out to examine and critically evaluate quantitative data generated via analytics reports available in Blackboard Learn, and qualitative student input from a fully online Teaching and Learning in Higher Education professional development programme. As facilitators of fully online programmes where the staff are our students, we were interested in exploring the following research questions: What can we as facilitators of the programme learn from ‘staff as student’ activity and usage of our online professional development programme? What does this data tell us about staff as students and their online behaviour as learners? How can this data inform new horizons, emerging landscapes, and underexplored territories in terms of future iterations of our programme? Can staff apply this information about their learning behaviour to examine their role as students, and what implications might this have for their own teaching? Our investigations focus on the ‘transformative’ power of SoTL (Hutchings & Shulman, 1999) - underpinning this research is our belief that “learning analytics becomes most impactful when data is used to empower both instructor and student” (Dawson & Hubball, 2014, p. 70); particularly when our ‘students’ are also educators. This paper employs a mixed methods approach. We collected data from staff as students engaged in the fully online Certificate in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education Qualification. At the end of Semester 2, data was collected via the various reporting tools available in the Learner Management System (LMS): Blackboard. We were particularly interested in the construct of time as a barrier, and how this might influence the way learners and facilitators engaged in the course. Over the course of semester, students are required to participate in 6 discussion forums around various topics, and submit 3 assignments which are part of their teaching portfolio. We extracted reports which gave us statistics around the average number posts in a discussion forum, average time spent on tasks, average number views of texts and videos, ratios of facilitator to student interactions via discussion boards. We then triangulated this data against 20 randomly selected, anonymous, student reflective journals, which detailed their learning as online students, in order to provide a rich picture of their overall experience. Emergent results have indeed indicated a mountainous barrier: time. There is a concern over ‘lack of time’ for both students and group facilitators which can make it difficult for full engagement in all elements of the course and restricts the creation of a robust online community of practice. The paper will address these issues and focus on interventions for the future development of the programme. In our findings we hope to show that ‘there ain’t no mountain high enough’ to prevent us working towards the professional, scholarly development of staff/faculty, within the constraints of time.