Exploring the experiences of a diverse group of learners in an online environment

Naula, C. and Murray, J.-A. (2021) Exploring the experiences of a diverse group of learners in an online environment. AMEE 2021 Virtual Conference, 27-30 Aug 2021.

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On-line education is increasingly popular at all levels of education. Gaining an understanding of the experiences of online learners can both lead to improved provision and support within a course it can be applied in other comparable situations, for example the development of a new course. The Study Course in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene is a nine months course to prepare individuals with a primary medical qualification for the professional qualification of Diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene (DTM and H), which is awarded by the Royal College of Physicians in London (RCP). The Glasgow course has been running as an on-campus part time evening course for around 20 years with small student numbers. In order to accommodate a growing interest in the course and to offer maximum study flexibility, in 2015 the course was converted to follow a blended model. The majority of content is taught asynchronously online in weekly blocks, with a core on-campus laboratory teaching week. Fortnightly live online tutorials consolidate learning. The blended course attracts a diverse and international group of students with regards to age, stages of career and medical. Anecdotal evidence gathered over three years suggests that there are wide differences with respect to the experiences the students, including levels of confidence with which they interact with the online environment. In this study, we explore how diverse learners experience the online environment of this course, focusing on the active learning components embedded in the course. In a first instance, we aimed to tease out differences and similarities in the experience of these groups with the online learning environment using an online survey. The survey includes questions about previous online learning experiences, the use of digital technologies in general, the interaction with the active learning activities on the course VLE and finally the confidence with which students use the interactive learning activities. The survey is followed up by interviewing a small number of participants to gain a more in depth understanding of the learning experiences. This presentation summarises initial findings of this ongoing study.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Murray, Professor Jo-Anne and Naula, Dr Christina
Authors: Naula, C., and Murray, J.-A.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences
Copyright Holders:Copyright © The Author(s) 2021
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the authors

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