University of Almeria (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: INTED2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 2512-2523
ISBN: 978-84-612-7578-6
ISSN: 2340-1079
Conference name: 3rd International Technology, Education and Development Conference
Dates: 9-11 March, 2009
Location: Valencia, Spain
Excessive workload has been identified as a common barrier for student learning and success, both in online courses (e- and b-Learning), and in those currently being adapted to the requirements of the European Higher European Area. Recent research suggests the need for a better understanding of students’ perceived difficulties in b-Learning learning environments. This paper contributes to this purpose by presenting the results of a longitudinal study carried out among students of the following b-Learning courses, offered at the University of Almería (Spain) between the years 2006 and 2008: “International Trade” (Business Administration Studies), “Public Relations and Protocol” (Tourism Studies), and “Tourism Marketing Research” (Tourism Studies).

To estimate the time dedicated to the different course activities, students were asked to provide the following information along with each course activity:
- Amount of time dedicated to study.
- Time dedicated to prepare the activity (e.g., searching for information and additional resources).
- Time dedicated to writing.
- Time needed for presentation / sending.
- Brief comment on the contribution of the activity to student’s learning.

Additionally, a brief questionnaire was developed to obtain information about the attitudes, readiness, and potential barriers for students taking part in b-Learning courses. This survey was included in a “control test” that students had to pass at the middle of the quarter. The following questions were included, both in the “International Trade” and “Public Relations and Protocol” courses:
- Availability of computer at the usual study place.
- Availability of Internet access at the usual study place.
- Ease of access to computers at the college campus.
- Difficulty of b-Learning courses, compared to traditional ones.
- Needed dedication to b-Learning courses, compared to traditional ones.
- Understanding of b-Learning courses, compared to traditional ones.
- Learning acquired in b-Learning courses, compared to traditional ones.

The results should clarify whether the level of difficulty and workload for students in the analyzed courses, do properly reflect the requirements of the European Higher Education Area (e.g., recommendations of 25 to 30 student work hours per ECTS credit). In this sense, the longitudinal analysis of data obtained in academic years, will provide insight into the success of performed modifications in the courses' formal structure and contents, in previous years. This will contribute to the identification and solving of the main problems for students' understanding of contents and learning in the analyzed b-learning courses. Diverse recommendations will be provided for the development and organization of such virtual courses.
ehea, e-learning, b-learning, marketing.