Facilitating transition to HE through e-learning


Facilitating transition to HE through e-learning (presented at the HYELN Conference 2014)Screen shot of the video section of Cathy Dantec's VLE site.

Cathy Dantec (from the Department of Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York) provided an animated and very interesting overview of an initiative undertaken to help transition French Language Degree first year students from FE informed modes of engagement with their learning to those required for the HE environment.   This initiative was focussed on developing students’ understanding of what constitutes effective communication in an academic setting and in a foreign language.

Two strands of work were developed facilitated by both Yorkshare (the university’s VLE) and Google apps (the university use Google as  email provider).  Underpinning the designed activities was the need for students to have the opportunity to self-regulate their work, play a more active role in their learning, and to develop their core skills at a discipline and programme level.

The first strand, delivered in term one, provided a bank of self-assessed activities delivered via the VLE (including formative tests). Google Drive links were included in the VLE environment where context was provided for the Doc activity.  These Docs, pushed to students via scripting and transparent to staff, were used to enable more complex tasks to be designed.  Written instructions were supported by videos within the VLE to explain tasks.

In term two the second strand was initiated and required students to work in pairs to create a Google site.  This involved producing a piece of writing and a video (both individual and collaborative tasks).  Student’s sites were peer-evaluated by other student pairs, in addition to receiving tutor evaluation.

Key outcomes of the initiative have been a properly structured self-study programme that has helped to stimulate independent learning from students with more responsibility given to them in terms of self-management.  The framework developed has allowed staff to appropriately support students in this process, focussing on the process rather than product, and has encouraged students to operate at a higher level than just language acquisition.

Internally the initiative has interestingly generated a lot of additional dialogue about feedback generally and has helped to start building a better shared understanding amongst staff.

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