Online Teaching and Learning Experiences in Higher Education
In 2007 I graduated from the University of Ulster’s new E-Learning masters program. For my thesis, I developed a research study on collaborative learning and more specifically the adoption of Adobe Connect at the University of Maryland University College. I am including here the findings of that research study.
The study documents a study on the usability of Adobe Connect as Virtual Learning Environment or VLE within existing courses at UMUC. The purpose of the research was to evaluate online teaching and learning experiences based on existing models of teaching online. The student population, which consists mainly of non-traditional adult learners, influenced the methods of research and analysis. The paper builds on educational themes or ingredients to successful online learning to determine what, if any value, such a collaborative learning platform had brought to the educational experience. Enhancing interaction within the classroom, fostering an environment of deep learning and the facilitator’s role within the online classroom. By evaluating student and faculty experiences it was possible to determine the educational impact Adobe Connect had with regards to successful online learning.
The aim of the study was to provide a report to UMUC detailing a thorough evaluation of the Adobe Connect pilot in terms its usability as a Virtual Learning Environment. The findings provided key recommendations from the research. It was necessary to evaluate whether the time, cost and resources poured into the pilot were put to good use and whether to continue, grow or eliminate it in the near future. The research involved sample groups of students and faculty involved with the pilot. It was essential to identify key components, which were both relevant and measurable. Metrics such as student satisfaction surveys and overall learning experiences helped to build a clearer picture of the effectiveness of the pilot. Examination of faculty classroom experiences when using the technology helped identify new processes and learning opportunities. This assisted in gaining insight into instructors’ views on how effective Connect was in supporting their teaching.
The findings presented at the end of the study reflect on the success Adobe Connect has had as a learning system to enhance adult education in an online environment.