Evaluating Online Asynchronous Support in the Institutes of Technology Ireland

Carroll, Noel (2011) Evaluating Online Asynchronous Support in the Institutes of Technology Ireland. ISSN 2009-3160


As the uptake of e-learning continues to increase, it has come to light that engaging students in e-learning requires a large time commitment on the part of the lecturer. The burden may be eased by the expedient use of online asynchronous support tools. This research evaluates the use of asynchronous support tools in the Irish Institutes of Technology (IoTs) and their application to the provision of online support to IoT students. It provides an evaluation of the perception of IoT students as to the adequacy of asynchronous support offered to them and prescribes for improvement of that support. The research suggests that asynchronous support tools are substantially underutilised within the IoTs and consequently that student engagement via asynchronous support is insufficient in meeting their learning needs. While email is identified as the preferred and dominant means of communications, discussion boards and weblogs are not employed to anywhere near potential. The findings suggest that improved use of asynchronous support tools would help redistribute scarce lecturer's time and address the important issue of providing online support to students in a ‘just-in-time’ learning manner, rather than a ‘just-in-case’ data repository. In addition it recommends the integration of e-learning platforms and their constituent tools with a knowledge base. This would facilitate the lecturer in providing ‘reusable’ and ‘in context’ online support to be used by students if and when required. The findings therefore present two major challenges to IoTs: to enhance student support by substantially improving the current use of online asynchronous support tools and to employ the expedient use of semantic technologies. Facing and surmounting these challenges are a vital step in creating and sustaining a quality online supportive environment for both lecturer and student.

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Noel_Carroll_2011 20130918135109 PDF of Thesis.pdf

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