FEATURES OF THE INTERACTION LECTURER-STUDENT IN E-LEARNING
A. Grandío Botella*; R. Peris Pichastor; D. Pinazo Calatayud y A. Jiménez Ivars
Universitat Jaume I, Av. de Vicent Sos Baynat, s/n. 12071 Castellon, Spain
Las plataformas de enseñanza aprendizaje virtual en la educación superior se encuentran abocadas a dejar de ser cómodos almacenes de materiales para convertirse en núcleos centrales del proceso educativo. Cuando se hace un uso intensivo de las propuestas de la enseñanza mixta (blended learning), que incluyen la difusión en vídeo de las situaciones de aprendizaje, se establece una interacción triádica dinámica compuesta por la tecnología, el profesorado y los estudiantes. Esta interacción está dando lugar en el ámbito educativo universitario a la emergencia de nuevos patrones psicosociales en las relaciones profesor-alumno, alumno-alumno, alumno-profesor así como de todos ellos con la tecnología. A través de cuestionarios cuantitativos y otros métodos cualitativos como la técnica del incidente crítico y la observación participante se han analizado de manera exploratoria los posibles cambios en el proceso educativo: el concepto de la autoridad, el liderazgo entre profesores y estudiantes, la enseñanza aprendizaje, motivación intrínseca y extrínseca, feedback y la autonomía. La muestra está compuesta por 400 estudiantes universitarios de distintas titulaciones: Administración de Empresas, Psicología, Relaciones Laborales y Traducción e Interpretación. Los resultados preliminares sugieren la existencia de cambios significativos en cada uno de los procesos mencionados y arrojan luz acerca de las tendencias y roles cambiantes que el futuro inmediato nos depara.
Palabras clave: enseñanza virtual, educación superior, patrones psicosociales cambiantes
Features of the interaction lecturer-student in e-learning
E-learning platforms in Higher Education are no longer expected to continue being data reservoirs but they are becoming central to the learning process. The intensive use of a blended learning strategy –virtual and lecturing- that includes audio and/or video recording of all learning situations leads to a new triadic and dynamic interaction: technology, lecturers and students. This interaction is resulting in the emergence of new psychosocial patterns within the teacher-student relationship but also within the student-student relationship and both with technology. An exploratory analysis based on quantitative and qualitative methodology –questionnaires, critical incident technique and participant observation – has revealed changes in the educational process: authority, leadership and relationship among teachers and students, teaching vs. learning, intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, feedback and autonomy. The sample is composed of about 400 university students of various branches: Business Administration, Labour Relations, Psychology and Translation and interpreting. The preliminary results show new meaningful patterns in the processes of “blended” education, and shed light on the trends and changing roles that the immediate future are bringing into play. Limitations of the study and its implications for future research are also discussed.
Keywords: e-learning, blended learning, higher education, changing psychosocial patterns
1. Introduction: the EVAI (Virtual Interactive Learning Environment).
ü Conceived in a “blended” learning framework (lecture-virtual), Human Site works as a complement of the theoretical contents of the program, and implies the student to look for contents related to previous key concepts in the Internet. The key concepts are a matter of study by the student, via selective searching in the Internet with search engines.
ü Since October, 2001 down to date (November, 2006) the portal has received about 35.800 links related to Human Resources Management in its database.
ü Each link is joined to an abstract performed by the student who inserted it (searched, chose and decided by him or her to insert). Therefore, each link is associated to his or her identity (personal profile, with picture, video and additional data) in a permanent way. He is the only one that can modify the abstract or even delete the link.
ü All the students have to assess the other's contribution by means of a poll system updated in real time with statistics (means and standard deviation related to both each link and each identity).
ü Therefore, every student knows constantly how many votes he or she has and the statistics related to his or her contributions.
ü 2.- A New Interaction: Guided Virtual Learning
ü As we have mentioned above, the lectures, which are video recorded and made available to students in the platform, are complemented with the “Guided Virtual Learning“. This process begins with the existing “key concepts“ in the handbook and that ones cited in lectures. The flowchart is as follows:
Moreover, this process is accomplished by the combination of a software tool we call the IKM: Interactive Knowledge Manager (a feature that allows inserting links, summaries and key words associated to the student that makes this work) and the computer classroom with the active role of the teacher. This combination creates what we have named "Guided Virtual Learning”. In particular, this means:
ü Computer Classroom with beamer and audio.
ü The Speech Engine (TTS –Text to Speech SAPI 5.0, and MS Agent Merlin Magic) announces in real time with voice:
F Each new inserted link and its title.
F The name of the student that has inserted it.
F The group that he or she belongs to and its “slogan” (i.e. “we’re the best”).
F The student that has inserted the higher count of links (each 5 minutes).
ü Simultaneously in the screen is shown to everybody a list of links with their abstract and the picture and name of the student.
ü The teacher oversees the process one by one and comments it guiding, suggesting concepts, authors, theories etc.
ü Learning becomes a cooperative task in which everybody, including the teacher, learns.
3. New Features (emerging patterns).
The intensive use of a blended learning strategy –virtual and lecturing- that includes audio and/or video recording of all learning situations leads to a new triadic and dynamic interaction: technology, lecturers and students. The teachers have researched as both observers and participants of the whole interaction. We have mentioned the critical incidents technique (Gundry & Rousseau, 1994), but we were coping with completely new interaction frameworks and the previous elaboration of these ones was not possible. We have had to cope with “emerging patterns” in real time instead. It is the “immersion” in this interaction has produced the emergence of new psychosocial patterns.
3.1 Emerging features in the Online Poll.
The environment has an Online anonymous questionnaire that gives us feedback about the opinions of students. Down to date, there are 368 answered forms, completed by university students of various branches: Business Administration, Labour Relations, Psychology, Translation, and Interpretation. The most significant items are the following:
1.- I believe that education in the future is going to be this way
2.- A quality education should include this way of working
3.- With Human Site, learning implies less effort and is funnier.
4.- It enhances the autonomy of the student.
5.- It enhances the feedback of the student.
3.2 Emerging features within interaction.
n 1. Synergy between new European Higher Education Space and emerging patterns found. For instance, the European Tuning Project emphasises the change from teaching to self-learning.
n 2. Teacher looses knowledge monopoly (i.e. Guided Virtual Learning in Human Site). The Internet is a huge source of information and knowledge. It is simply impossible for any teacher to know all about any subject, and the students are continuously finding web pages about the matters of the subject that the teacher is unfamiliar to them.
n 3.- The teacher learns as well. Because of the previous fact, the competent sources of knowledge tend to diversify and the teacher becomes more a coordinator than the unique source of authority and knowledge.
n 4. Teacher: from knowledge transmitter to learning catalyst (coordinator, mentor, coacher, and leader). The “education fact” becomes more a learning community matter than a traditional class or lecture.
n 5. This implies an increasing responsibility and autonomy for the student too: he or she is now the centre of learning, that is to say, there is a displacement of the Control Locus, the authority, from the outer to the inner one. Moreover, as lectures are video recorded and made available for the students in the platform, it figures that some of them decide to substitute the lecture with the watching to the online videos. This implies a serious challenge for the teachers that hitherto has not a proper answer.
n 6.- Hierarchical authority is substituted by a more colloquial relationship. This is also a consequence of using the communication tools of the environment, especially the Instant Messaging (Human Site has its own Instant Messaging tool that allows sending messages and even files when the user is offline).
n 7. Tendency to more flexible working hours. Once a user is Online, no matter what the timetable could be. Instant messaging, forum and e-mail tend to be the usual way for tutorials. instead the office hours. This leads to increasing fuzzy boundaries between work and leisure.
8. Identity Declaration. Degree of Immersion. We have found that the motivation to learn within the learning environments depends on how much the user is “immersed” in the environment. The concept of immersivity emerges in the Virtual Reality field, mostly related to artificial simulation and computer games. A definition could be “the process by means of which the user believes to be a part of the Virtual Reality” (XXX). However, in a wide sense, it could be close to the “engagement” concept or even the newer of “flow”. The engagement has been defined as a “positive motivational construct related to work and characterized by vigour, dedication and absorption” (Schaufeli, Salanova, Gónzalez-Romá & Bakker, 2002). Finally, Flow can be described as “the feeling of complete and energized focus in an activity, with a high level of enjoyment and fulfilment“ (XXX).
The degree of “Identity Declaration“ has shown to be a crucial factor in the inmersivity. We have introduced this term to refer “the degree in which a user manifests (shows up) its identity within the environment“. It is a sort of “self-presentation“. We use the “declaration“ concept in the similar sense that is used in programming languages when it is said to “declare a variable“. Therefore, here, the user “declares him or herself to the system“.
In Human Site, we try to achieve this by many fields included in the user personal profile and compel him or her to complete them. Among others, these fields include: picture, “more about me” (additional information about oneself), “interesting” (something that any other could consider as interesting about oneself), “wow!” (something personal that could cause to exclaim that, and a personal presentation in video where the student has to blend informal with formal (about future work wishes for example) issues. Besides this, pictures, videos and the whole profile are subject to a public poll, so that everybody has its own score given by classmates.
n 9. Virtual (social) reference as coordination mechanism. Immersivity has to be with responsibility, in part by means of some kind of social sanction. The greater the declaration is the greater the user uses others as a reference for his or her behaviour. In addition, similarly, the more information is given, the more information is received inside the environment. And this quantity is positive related to relationship.
n 10. Motivation as Online/Offline vs. Degree of Implication. Finally, a debate has emerged about if motivation in virtual environments is a “tuning in/off” matter (as being online or offline, connected or disconnected) or is an Implication continuous, a degree issue. We have found arguments that support both situations but, probably, the reality is that both phenomena are possible at the same time.
With the emerging of the Internet, the e-learning platforms and the possibilities of managing digital multimedia contents, we are witnessing the beginning of a new era in education. And, probably, we are only in the embryonic stage. The best is still to come. But one thing seems to be sure: unlike many voices proclaim the opposite, the information and communication technologies are key factors in the emancipation from routines and memory. And beyond them, enable and encourage the focusing on creativity.
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 This work is included within the Project "Entornos Ampliados de "Blended E-Learning". Estudio de las Estrategias Emergentes de Aprendizaje en Portales Interactivos Mixtos de Doble Dimensión: Virtual-Presencial y Universidad-Empresa" funded by the Generalitat Valenciana in 2005 by FEDER funds.
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