IMAGES OF THE MOODLE: SOCIAL REPRESENTATIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION TEACHERS AND STUDENTS
1 Instituto Politécnico do Porto (PORTUGAL)
2 Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Ciências (PORTUGAL)
3 Universidade do Porto, Faculdade de Engenharia (PORTUGAL)
About this paper:
Conference name: 11th International Conference on Education and New Learning Technologies
Dates: 1-3 July, 2019
Location: Palma, Spain
Abstract:In this study we focused on the social representations of digital teaching among Higher Education agents, considering their reported experience (more or less diversified) and type of access (mobile devices or not, large-screen devices or small screen-devices). The context of the study was a public Higher Education institution in the North of Portugal in which the Moodle was adopted years-ago to support learning activities. The participants were 36 teachers (39% males, 61% females), aged between 25 and 55 years-old, and 144 freshmen students (20% males, 80% females), aged between 18 and 57 years-old, enrolled in different programs in the area of Health care. They answered to a questionnaire that consisted of: free association tasks around stimuli such as digital teaching and Moodle; a semantic differentiation scale on the attitudes towards Moodle; multiple choice questions about the levels of use and type of access to the platform; and demographic questions, including age and sex. A content-analysis of the qualitative data was conducted, using a macro developed in Excel. Words evoked by the participants were reduced to their most common form and phases rewritten to their common theme. Words and themes were then grouped under overarching categories. A descriptive analysis of the quantitative data was also performed. Results revealed that whereas for the teachers the semantic field of digital teaching consisted of the categories accessibility (47%), evolution (42%), and distance (39%); for the students it consisted of technology (97%), evolution (59%), and easiness (37%). The Moodle was seen as a kind of repository by the majority of the students (89%). Such image is shared by less than one half of teachers (36%) and it was more common among those who declared to use more functionalities of the learning management system (LMS). It is worth mentioning that almost one half of students associated the Moodle with knowledge (49%). Errors and the dependency on the Internet were pointed out as the main constrains of the LMS, while accessibility and easiness of use were the main advantages. With respect to access, the portable computer was the device most used by both teachers and students (90%). Desktops were used by more than 80% of teachers and by less than 20% of students, while the reverse picture was found in the access by mobile phone (around 20% of teachers and around 70% of students). This study provides interesting clues about the relation between the social position of the agents and their representations. The social representations seem to be more homogeneous among students than among teachers, suggesting that there is a relation with practices. The fact that the image of the Moodle as a repository is more present among the teachers who reported having used more functionalities of the Moodle is somewhat counter-intuitive and urges for more studies. It is also very suggestive that the agents use different anchors to represent digital teaching: distance in the case of the teachers and technology in the case of the students, though they converge in seeing it as a sign of evolution. Although mobile access seems to be more frequent among students, big screen devices are more used than small screen devices. These results do not support the idea of a screen-device gap among the participants, but should nevertheless open a discussion about what kind of affordances are being explored in digital teaching.
Keywords: Digital teaching, Higher Education, Moodle, Social Representations.