Waterford Institute of Technology’s (WIT) Centre for Technology-Enhanced Learning has found that students made use of their snow days to do college work online.
While the campus buildings were closed from Wednesday, 28 February until Monday, 5 March, WIT was still open for students and staff through its online learning portal, Moodle.
Over the five days close to 4,500 staff and students logged in more than 19,000 times to communicate, access learning material and submit assignments. Students from Waterford, Dublin, Wexford, Kilkenny, Cork, Clonmel, Carlow and other parts of the region logged in to keep up with course material.
“While Storm Emma forced the country into shutdown, it was a great example of how technology-enhanced learning offered us the opportunity to continue to engage in teaching and learning outside of the traditional classroom,” said Dr Helen Murphy, Head of School of Lifelong Learning and Education in WIT.
Laura Widger, Manager of WIT’s Centre for Technology-Enhanced Learning added “Even though Moodle is very much part of the on campus learning experience for WIT students, there was still an increase of approx. 5% in the number of Moodle sessions through the week. Additionally, more people logged in on Saturday and Sunday compared to the previous weekend. It’s impressive to see Moodle activity increase while students are off campus due to an event like this.”
A third of all online activities over the past few days took place on mobile devices. There was a significant increase in the amount of traffic to message areas and discussion forums over the five days with almost 9,000 activities on these pages. This allowed lecturers to stay in touch with students and provide help with assignments, revise submission dates and answer any queries or worries students may have had.
There was 50,000 page views on course material in modules, almost 4,000 page views in the standard Moodle assignment area, 3,000 on Moodle quizzes.
TurnItIn, the assignment submission and plagiarism detection tool, was accessed over 4,500 times by students submitting or reviewing assignments and lecturers correcting and providing feedback on their assignments.
There was no change for students undertaking online courses with many attending while snowbound at home or in offices outside the affected areas through Adobe Connect.
“Even the dedicated lecturing teams were delivering classes from home. Class discussion, tutorials and peer support continued on the team communication platform Slack throughout the adverse weather,” adds Widger.
Photo credit: John A Power