How to guide your students to get the most out of the learning resources in WOLF
Are students using WOLF?
Not all students are using and accessing these materials and the learning activities to the extent that they might do.
Given the care, scholarship, time, and effort staff are dedicating to providing useful learning materials and activities for students in WOLF, not to have them used and accessed more fully is unhelpful.
How to check if your WOLF topic has been accessed
You can see how much of your WOLF topic has been accessed, and by which of your students, by clicking Topic Admin (at top right in any WOLF topic) -> Students … to get an overview, as below.
As shown in the Progress column, students have only clicked on between 26% and 85% of all the WOLF resources … that is of course just recording the ‘clicked on’ … we have no idea what they or may not have done with these resources.
What could be done to increase the use of a WOLF topic’s learning resources?
Here are five ideas which might promote greater use of the learning resources in a WOLF topic. Used from Day 1, they should serve to establish good habits
1. “Teach through WOLF, with WOLF up on the screen”
- It’s in WOLF is something I say to my classes, be it references, PowerPoint, articles or assignment briefs. It is likely that improving students’ accesses to any of the resources may result from having WOLF on the screen in the classroom and showing the class what you have added, where it is, and what you expect them to do with it. This could be at the start or at the end of a class. Make the benefits explicit.
- Get those who have smartphones or laptops to look at the WOLF topic in the class, and show those who do not.
- So bring up your WOLF topic, access any slides or materials being used in class, and show and explain to the class what learning resources are where and how they are useful.
2. Share the learning resources in WOLF as part of your regular dialogue with classes about their learning.
- Ask them what they would like to have, what resources have been useful and why, what else you could do in WOLF, and what else they could do.
- So, discuss the amount of student use, the usefulness of the WOLF resources, and students’ wishes for resources. Again, make the benefits explicit.
- Use WOLF as your sole method of communication with the students. Tell them that you are only going to use this. Ensure that they have redirected their university email address if necessary.
3. Making visiting WOLF a habit.
Each WOLF topic has a Class Café Forum in the main menu.
In class, encourage its use, by:
- using it yourself for communicating with your class,
- asking different groups of students to lead discussions in it e.g., three things I would like to know about,
- making a rule to only answer e-mailed questions to you, after they have been posted to the Forum. You may then find students will answer them themselves
- get the students to set up their Notifications for this Forum … so that they get an e-mail copy of the post
- using a Forum for social, non-course related exchanges to build connections between the students
4. Checking what learning resources have been accessed
- Regularly access and use the information from Topic Admin -> Students (as pictured above) to inform you about your class and which students seem to be engaging and which not. You could also bring this screen up during a class to show them.
- At the beginning of the module share with your students the idea that you can see and support the students. i.e. before there’s too much info, so that you don’t ‘name and shame’ in public, but they know you can see.
- You will get an idea about which resources have been widely accessed and which not. This information can inform your blended learning designs and energy.
5. Identify students who may be struggling, or worse who are about to withdraw.
- Regularly access and use the information from Topic Admin -> Students (as pictured above) to inform you about your class and which students seem to be engaging and which not.
- We need to be a little careful about what we read into this record of ‘clicked ons’ however, because it could be equally possible that a student with 100% access of the resources, may be struggling with the module, and repeated access is a way of trying to compensate.
This could be important information, for personal tutors too.
- Research by Anagnostopoulou et al (2008) found that 50% of the students who withdrew in their first four weeks did not ever access their VLE. She also writes of the VLE behaviour of the other 50% of withdrawers:
“When looking at access trends of individual students who withdrew from their programmes it was noted that students more often than not displayed the following two behaviours: VLE Behaviour A: to begin with, withdrawn students accessed the institutional VLE many more times than the average student on that programme and then their access dramatically dropped to zero as they approached the withdrawal date held by the student management system. VLE Behaviour B: withdrawn students followed the same access trends as the average student on the programme they were studying, but logged on to the institutional VLE much less.” Anagnostopoulou et al (2008, p. 5)
Anagnostopoulou, K. & Parmar, D. (2008). Practical guide: bringing together e-learning & student retention. London: Cats Ltd. ISBN: 978-1-85924-301-5 available online at: http://mancons2.middlesex.wikispaces.net/Practical+Guide
Anagnostopoulou, K., Parmar, D., and Priego-Hernandez, J. (2008) Managing Connections: Using e-Learning Tracking Information to Improve Retention Rates in Higher Education. Higher Education Academy. Available online at: http://mancons2.middlesex.wikispaces.net/file/view/Final+Report+%28Anagnostopoulou%2C+Parmar+%26+Priego-Hernandez%2C+2008%29.pdf