C. Mitchell

Dublin Institute of Technology (IRELAND)
The taught subject in question within this research is that of building measurement in construction. Historically this was a skill taught in the workplace to individuals who showed an aptitude for figures and an eye for detail. These attributes are skill a requirement of the student but the learning process is now confined to the classroom.

This study seeks to evaluate if teaching through lectures and tutorials combined with the reusable learning objects (RLO) delivered through a virtual learning environment (VLE) can aid in the delivery of the module. This study also seeks to highlight the requirement in 3rd level education for students to actively engage in self directed learning.

The author will create RLOs in the form of focused screen cast tutorial videos for key principles of the module and evaluate what benefit can be derived from making these available to the students.

The question then arose as to what a VLE actually was and how could I incorporate the use of such technology. These RLOs will be made available to the students through the VLE primarily in use within our institution, namely Blackboard. Barajas (2000) defines a VLE as “any combination of distance and face-to-face interaction where some kind of time and space is present”.

The use of mobile technology by students is also a driving factor within this study. The author questions whether students will utilise their own mobile technology to access focused RLOs in order to complement their studies. These items include smart phones, tablets and laptops. Also it is envisaged that the availability of the affordable data-bundles from mobile phone providers and free WiFi will aid this study.

But will students be adverse to using their own mobile devices to access complementary learning resources or will this be seen as an invasion of their personal space? The objective is to produce a free learning aid specific to the subject which can be viewed by the students in their own time, repeatedly and in various locations as required. This is a question posed by Kennedy et al (2008) as to whether or not the students were open to the use of their everyday technologies in their studies. This was an interesting point as it raises the question of whether mobile technology is an extension of a person and if we impose into that technology are we trespassing in their lives?

Due to the specific nature of my subject matter the sample for my research is relatively small (19 students). All the students are studying at undergraduate level and have various backgrounds. This is a similar demographic to recent years.

Permission has been sought and received from all members of the sample group. The group are first year students studying the Honours Degree in Quantity Surveying and Management which comprises of a diverse group of mature and standard entry students.

The research will be evaluated using interim questionnaires and discussion groups in the classroom environment. The students’ academic progress for this module will be monitored and compared to the previous first year group who completed this module without the use of the RLOs being evaluated by this study.

The key questions to be asked are:
1) Will the production of RLO’s specific to the subject matter benefit an undergraduate group?, and
2) Will students engage with the study given that they must use their own personal mobile devices?