Learning Technology jottings at Goldsmiths

Thoughts and deeds

Staff and student use of learning technologies when Goldsmiths was closed in the snow

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I put up an opportunistic, entirely anonymous survey of staff and students on our VLE (learn.gold) shortly after the snow closures back on Feb 2nd / 3rd 2009.

The text of the question:

“During the recent college closure due to bad weather, did you use any of the following communication technologies to study with, or facilitate the study of, others?

By ‘study’ we mean learning, thinking and responding together, rather than organisational/operational stuff like rescheduling or submitting work. Please select N/A if you didn’t use the technologies for studying with others (which is, of course, perfectly fine by us – but we’d be interested to know).

  • 1 = slight use
  • 5 = heavy use
  • N/A = non-use”

There were 86 respondents.

Data

Type of technology Average scale value / number of N/As
Video conferencing (eg Skype video) 1.7 / 75
Online telephony without video (eg Skype calls) 2.0 / 71
Instant messaging aka ‘chat’ (eg GoogleChat, Skype or Facebook chat) 3.6 / 47
‘Shared desktop’ (Skype or MSN Messenger) 3.2 / 64
Editing documents collaboratively (Google docs, wiki) 2.4 / 72
Discussion on blog(-type) posts or bulletin boards (Facebook, blogs) 3.0 / 48
Email 3.4 / 22
Landline or mobile phonecalls 3.4 / 33
Text messaging (SMS) 3.8 / 28

A bit of discussion

As somebody remarked in the Comments field (see below)

“Why did anyone want to communicate any more than to say, ‘Uni is shut today’? You should have been outside playing in the snow!!”

Quite. But those who did learn with others on those days primarily used text-messaging, phonecalls and email, and used them moderately. Somewhat fewer used web chat moderately. Still fewer used blog or bulletin board discussion moderately, and even fewer made moderate use of shared desktops. A tiny minority used video conferencing and online telephony slightly.

Other technology / comments

  • did anyone study that day?
  • I found it helpful to know I didn’t need to struggle in. Got on with some work at home.
  • I talked to my roommates – face to face, the good old fashioned way
  • I trudged to Goldsmiths on foot through the blizzard–only to find the college closed; it would have been nice if the History dept had had a phone round saying not to come, like other colleges didhad
  • N\A
  • Photo messaging
  • pigeon post
  • the communication from university was dreadful. did not hear untill 10.30 that it was closed… i start my journey at 6.30am!!!!
  • There is not enough room in here to fully communicate my rage on this issue. There is not enough room in the world to fully communicate my despair at the constant amateurish failures of Goldsmiths
  • Turns out i don’t study with others at all.
  • Why did anyone want to communicate any more than to say, ‘Uni is shut today’? You should have been outside playing in the snow!!

Conclusions / limitations

So there we go. At Goldsmiths, email and phones are still the go-to technologies for learning together when it’s impossible to get together.

Unless… unless the more intrepid technology users didn’t stop by our Virtual Learning Environment to take our survey. This is possible – perhaps likely – but hard to ascertain.

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Written by Mira Vogel

April 7, 2009 at 11:35

Posted in learn.gold, research

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