Are online learning modules the kiss of life or death for lecture attendance?

Kestell, C, Willis, C, Grainger, S and Missingham, D 2012, 'Are online learning modules the kiss of life or death for lecture attendance?', in L. Mann and S. Daniel (ed.) Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AaeE 2012), Melbourne, Australia, 3-5 December 2012, pp. 683-690.


Document type: Conference Paper
Collection: Conference Papers

Title Are online learning modules the kiss of life or death for lecture attendance?
Author(s) Kestell, C
Willis, C
Grainger, S
Missingham, D
Year 2012
Conference name AaeE 2012: Profession of Engineering Education: Advancing Teaching, Research and Careers
Conference location Melbourne, Australia
Conference dates 3-5 December 2012
Proceedings title Proceedings of the 23rd Annual Conference of the Australasian Association for Engineering Education (AaeE 2012)
Editor(s) L. Mann and S. Daniel
Publisher Engineers Australia
Place of publication Barton, Australia
Start page 683
End page 690
Total pages 8
Abstract Background: In their original context, lectures were once the only means of disseminating scholarly work to the eyes and ears of an elite few. The evolution of the printing press however, resulted in more affordable books that empowered self-directed learning outside of the classroom. Lecturers could subsequently set pre-reading exercises, intent on establishing an early understanding of threshold concepts, so that motivated students would explore the subject matter more deeply. More recent technological advances have now similarly re-defined the contents of the learning toolbox for the contemporary student, with the Internet providing an effective conduit for the more prolific use of interactive learning and assessment software. Purpose: Nevertheless, there is palpable concern amongst many academics that the increased use in these online resources might lead to reduced lecture attendance in institutions that still advocate the value of an on campus university experience. However, when considering the benefits of such flexible online learning conditions, the question posed in this paper is: Do the online and face-to-face (f2f) components of multi-mode delivery in a blended learning experience, mutually encourage the effective use of both in-person and digitally available resources? Design/Method: The online study habits of level-1 engineering students were observed when freely available online material became far more synchronised and pertinent to particular f2f lectures. Students were encouraged to utilise the online material in a timely manner, in preparation for quizzes that closed immediately prior to the lecture. Also, students were asked why they attended lectures and whether they thought the online resources added value to the f2f lectures. Results: It was observed that when the online material was freely available throughout the semester, and not synchronised to particular f2f lectures, the online resources were under utilised. However, once the students were encouraged to use relevant online resources in a timely manner, prior to f2f lectures, by closing the availability of a quiz beforehand, the use of the online resources increased dramatically without any adverse effect on lecture attendance. Students continued to perceive merit in the f2f lectures, as well as the online material, as long as both resources offered additional educational value. Conclusions: The online and f2f components of multi-mode delivery in a blended learning experience can mutually encourage the effective use of both in-person and digitally available resources. Poorly attended lectures may therefore not linked to the more prolific use of online resources, but most likely the result of lectures perceived as boring, unappealing, or seen as offering no additional educational experience.
Subjects Science, Technology and Engineering Curriculum and Pedagogy
Copyright notice © Australasian Association for Engineering Education 2012
ISBN 9780987177230
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