How to design virtual learning environments to facilitate student participation

Promovendin: Ana Ortega Martin,
MOOC (Massive Open Online Course), PLN (personal learning network), PLE (personal learning environment), VLE (virtual learning environment)
Prof. Dr. phil. I, habil.Hans-Ulrich Grunder, Prof. Dr. Patrick Bühler, Prof. Dra. Begoña Gros Salvat
HS 2015 - HS 2021

This research aims at contributing to the field of design of virtual learning environments. This is intended to provide an overview of the processes of participatory design based on co-operation between teachers, design experts, researchers and, as a novelty, the student participation. Furthermore, it will be established how emerging pedagogies and emerging technologies influence the design of learning environments. It is about a pedagogy based on the construction of knowledge, collaboration, resource-sharing between people, the construction of a student community and the use of information flows in networks. All of it designed to encourage learning network.

In particular, the research will focus on the analysis of MOOCs (massive open online courses), on its design, i.e., as key to maintaining the students’ participation and how students participate in this kind of courses. MOOCs are a form of teaching/learning where collaboration and students’ participation are essential. They are faithful exponents of connectivism and networked learning which are a benchmark in the introduction of new technologies in education.

Theoretical Background
The theoretical foundation is carried out under the framework of education and ICT; reviewing the concept of online education today; identifying key points of teaching and learning processes; organization, management and education policies; technological resources for learning, documentation and published articles. Furthermore, design elements and methodological perspective will be analysed to optimize the development of online learning environments with the objective of satisfying the needs of students.

Involving students in pedagogic planning is an important step in the deepening of participatory learning. As well as the role of students in the design of virtual learning environments. The main aim of the project is to show the added value of this approach and the implications for students in terms of deeper learning.

According with some reports, co-design is the key for the successful development of any interactive learning environment where students are the starting point. Therefore, co-design deserves a more accurate study and a more flexible theorisation.

Research Questions
Questions raised are carried out from the perspective of an emergent process. These questions can suffer some changes.

  • How to promote the co-design and students’ participation in the design of virtual learning environments?

  • What characteristics must have a virtual learning environment or a MOOC in order to ensure a high level of student participation?

  • What are the different variables that must be taken into account when we design a VLE to promote the participation?

  • What kind of technology facilitates the student participation?

According to some researches, in general, online collaborative learning is positive. In this type of learning, both teachers and students experience a significant change. From online teaching-learning methods to new emerging pedagogies. As well as the design of methodology/research which is based on constructivism and collaboration with students.

Some reports estate that there is a significant learning when there is social presence of all participants in the learning/teaching process. This is the basis of the design and the guide of knowledge creation processes.

The scientific research methodology chosen for the project will be qualitative, case study and research based on design, as well as analyse how the MOOC design is carried out.

The project will be developed, basically, according to the following continuous cycles: I. Case studies. II. Analysis and definition. III. Design and development. The design will be adapted according to context and dynamics. IV. Implementation. It will be carried out in real contexts. V. Assessment. VI. Redesign

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