Engaging students through the VLE: findings from the VLE Usage Survey 2008-2013

McAvinia, Claire, Cosgrave, Robert, Risquez, Angelica, Raftery, Damien, Logan-Phelan, Theresa, Costello, Eamon, Harding, Nuala, Palmer, Marion and Farrelly, Tom (2013) Engaging students through the VLE: findings from the VLE Usage Survey 2008-2013. In: 6th Annual Learning Innovation Network Conference – Sustainable Models of Student Engagement – Rhetoric or Achievable? 17th October 2013 in the Ashling Hotel, Dublin., Dublin, Ireland.


A rolling longitudinal survey of students’ usage of Virtual Learning Environments (VLEs) in various Irish Higher Education Institutions has been on-going since 2008. This presentation will explore findings from the survey, and what it might tell us about students’ engagement with technologies as part of their learning. The paper will also examine findings from the survey which have potential relevance to the continuing professional development of lecturers. The VLE survey questionnaire uses a common set of questions, and on condition of anonymity, the participating institutions have pooled their results to allow us to compare and contrast the results. While many institutions routinely conduct in-house surveys or studies from time to time, this study is unique in that it draws on data from multiple institutions, across multiple years, and diverse VLE platforms. By using a standard survey instrument over time, the study provides a unique picture of how student usage of virtual learning environments has evolved over the past five years, and of how it may vary across institutions and user groups. Our findings isolate some of the key drivers and barriers to uptake and usage of an institutional VLE and how students really use it. Having presented an overview of our results to date, we will discuss possible future directions in terms of the achievement of institutional goals for students’ engagement and learning at third level.

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