The top findings from the Patterns in Faculty Learning Management System Use | SpringerLink research study at University of Illinois at Chicago.
1. On-line courses at UIC focus on holistic use of LMS tools. 68.3% of hybrid/elearning courses, as opposed to in-person courses, were in this latent analysis group and used five key tools: content items, grade center, announcements, discussions, and digital assessments. Only 22.5% of in-person courses were found in this group. 3% of hybrid/elearning courses were in content repository group.
2. 53.7% of in-person courses at UIC were in complimentary usage group. This means they used three main tools: grade center, announcements, and assignments. In-person courses split 22.5% as holistic and 23.7% as content repository courses. Content repository courses used content items and announcements (without the use of the grade center, assignments, or digital assessments).
3. Holistic group of courses had courses of larger class sizes and greater likelihood of on-line delivery.
4. Comparing the student use of time in digital content of courses and faculty design intentions, there is clearly a gap. Perhaps time spent on course items by students reflects their best judgment on what will make them successful in the course. Faculty may be designing opportunities for students, which are not well communicated and utilized. Further research is needed to bridge this gap and match student digital behavior with faculty expectations and their design for learning.
5. The aggregate profiles of courses by school or college often reflect a general nature of the programs and curricular approach. The adoption of specific tools in the digital portion of a course should not be correlated to academic quality of the program or effectiveness of instruction. This approach reports only on the selection of tools in Blackboard Learn portion of the course design. However, this presentation of the results may suggest resources that may be needed by specific colleges, such as assigned instructional designers or instructor training sessions in specific Blackboard tool use. Finally, as the body of knowledge about the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) continues to increase, exploring the tool use in the local learning management system may help to distribute SoTL findings to instructors and colleges according to the digital evidence of their course design (Englund, Olofsson, & Price, 2017; Openo et al, 2017).
6. The findings in this study need to be related to the patterns, which were identified previously by measuring the student use of courses across a large data set (Whitmer et al., 2016). That study did not report on the faculty intent, in terms of the design of the course, but on the time students spent consuming content. The present study adds that while students may be spending a large amount of time in the content of the course, at least 28% of courses at UIC were created with well-rounded opportunities for students to engage in assessments, discussions, announcements, assignments, and reviewing grade postings. This affects approximately 31,417 student course enrollments (706 courses with 44.5 enrollments on average out of the total of 2,562 courses with an average of 38.4 student course enrollments). The definition of the Complementary group in the study by Whitmer (2016) included content with announcements and the use of gradebook. Our study identifies a different course design profile as Complementary tool use. It includes digital assignments for roughly half of the courses. Perhaps the time required to complete the assignments cannot be recorded in the student activity data; however, there is a clear intention on the side of faculty for students to submit their assignments through the LMS. Along with the Holistic tool use profile of courses, they make up 79% of courses at UIC.
7. The use of the Blackboard Learn system as a “Content repository” makes up only 21% of the system, 3% of hybrid/elearning courses. This latent class profile, content repository, may represent initial phases of a faculty member digitizing a course experience. It may represent the view of the role of technology in teaching as faculty-to-student communication and content-to-student communication. Certainly, this intent by faculty does not tap into student-to-student communication, digital collaboration between either faculty and students (assignments) or student-to-student collaboration (groups, discussions), or digital assessment (quizzes or exams) in the system. It may be that these teaching and learning dimensions are facilitated in the classroom or in other systems.
Machajewski, S., Steffen, A., Romero Fuerte, E., & Rivera, E. (2018). Patterns in Faculty Learning Management System Use. TechTrends. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11528-018-0327-0