Educational technology


During the Covid-19 pandemic, the University of Northampton changed its usual mode of delivery from face-to-face to online. This may have involved less adjustment than in other institutions as, pre-pandemic, the university already made use of active blended learning using its virtual learning environment. To capture the student voice concerning satisfaction with this change of mode, professional service teams surveyed students attending embedded academic skills and information literacy workshops. The number of students completing the survey was 385 and overall, students were satisfied with online learning. Nearly two-thirds of respondents listed specific advantages and challenges of online learning. The most frequently mentioned advantage was convenience: being at home; the greater ease of combining study with work or home life; and reduced traveling saving both time and money. Other advantages were the improved quality and functionality of the online sessions, and positive motivational/affective factors. The most common challenge was issues with technology. Other challenges were negative motivational/affective factors, with students reporting lack of concentration and that the sessions were impersonal. A significant challenge was a perceived lack of communication between both students and lecturers, and students and their peers. Age was found to be a salient factor with students over the age of 30 markedly more positive about online learning than their younger peers. Concerns for practitioners in moving to online learning would be around ensuring students have access to the appropriate technology and finding ways to improve communication online. However, with appropriate planning, future provision may benefit from the advantages that online learning affords.

Practitioner Notes

  1. The majority of the participants of the study enjoyed online learning and listed more advantages than disadvantages to the mode of learning this mode of delivery of academic skills session could benefit as an alternative to face to face sessions in the future.
  2. Over a third of positive responses outlined that the quality of the learning improved using online teaching. This comes with the caveat that the sessions need to be active and interactive.
  3. Using technology is always going to be at the mercy of the connectivity and skill set of the participants. It is important to invest in the resources and embed digital literacy in the culture of the institution.
  4. The research suggests that the older you are the more likely you are to prefer online learning because of convenience this knowledge could be useful when designing content for programs with this type of learner.
  5. Those that offered negative responses to the mode outlined lack of face to face contact, distractions from being at home and poor concentrations as factors. Therefore, more needs to be done if this mode is used in terms of informing students of best study practices when working online.

Twitter Handle