Abstract The widespread availability of digital learning resources in a variety of media formats offers the possibility to make a profound difference in education. This paper studies the key characteristics that constitutes to the effectiveness of an e-learning design that have proved effective in changing learning and teaching and relate them to existing frameworks for understanding resources. The research will briefly explore studies and theories, outlining relationships between resources and the users whom these are accessible to, the way in which they are utilised and explore issues that influence practitioners in their design choices. The paper will draw upon literature and concepts to ideologize the formation of a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) suitable to meet the needs of contemporary secondary students of Computing, to enhance their programming skills.
Keywords: Virtual Learning Environment (VLE); Web-Based Learning; E-learning; Computational Thinking;
With the restructuring of the National Curriculum, in November 2015, it was announced that the ICT GCSE and A-Level would be discarded as part of the government’s qualifications reform. The Department of Education (DfE) released a consultation document explaining that the reformed Computer Science GCSE and A-Level will provide a solid foundation for further academic and vocational study, and for employability skills in order to develop students computational thinking skills and a mindset needed to persevere with today’s economy.
Some authors contend that design for computer-based or online learning is rooted in behaviorist theories of knowledge acquisition (Gagge, Briggs, and Wager, 1974), whilst others argue that the needs of different learning styles are better served by a constructivist approach (Honebein, 1996), most particularly in “multimedia based lessons” (Clark and Wentworth, 1997). The range of approaches based on behaviorist and/or cognitive theories is usefully summarized by Meyer (1998). Doolittle (1999) graded the ability of online education to meet eight primary requirements of a constructivist pedagogy and concluded that:
“Overall, online education provides the resources necessary for students to engage in rich and effective construction of knowledge. The key to online education and constructivism is not whether or not the potential exists, but rather, whether or not the potential will be actualized.”
Advances in information technology, coupled with the changes in in society are creating new paradigms for education and training. Online learning has emerged as one of the fastest moving trends in education today (Palmer et al., 2001). Dede (2000, p 281) reinforces this concept with the statement: “In developed countries, sophisticated computers and telecommunications are on the verge of reshaping the mission, objectives, content and processes of schooling.” Participants in educational and training paradigm require rich learning environments supported by well-designed resources (Reigeluth & Khan, 1994).
E-learning websites is the advance developed tool in the twenty-first century which will generate new era of education under the concept of anyone can study in anywhere at any time. E-learning could generate effective learning for secondary education study and provide wider opportunity for students to excel. Hong et al. (2001 p 223) reveals that e-learning is becoming progressively an integral part of the secondary school’s curriculum learning processes; “Schools from elementary levels to universities are using the Web and the Internet to supplement classroom instruction, to give learners the ability to connect to information (instructional and other resources) and to deliver learning experiences.
By one of the many definitions, ‘Computational Thinking’ is the thought processes involved in formulating a problem or expressing its solution(s) in such a way that a computer – human or machine – can effectively carry out. (Wing, 2014)
Programming is taught in the classroom as a result of the reformation to the National Curriculum but unlike ICT, there is a demand to delve in further to enhance their academic performance in Computing and enhance their programming skills.
Classroom-based teaching, STEM and specialist coding clubs are all face-to-face teaching. However, there is a natural magnetism for those pupils to independently access the internet in their own setting and learn. At home, young people aged 8–21 ‘are able to draw on a whole range of “informal learning practices” in ways that can make that learning potentially much richer, much more personally fulfilling for them (Furlong & Davies, 2012, p. 59). It is clear that teenagers use Web 2.0 tools to support their informal learning (Erstad, 2012; Luckin et al., 2008).
Therefore, to supplement their learning outside of the classroom, e-learning is key to support the development of pupils programming skills, thus the requirement of a well-designed e-learning resource and its contents that would meet the needs of the diverse types of learners and their varying abilities to code.
The main purposes of the e-learning resource are to complement classroom teaching and provide opportunity and technology to feed pupils curiosity and enhance their programming and computational thinking skills. The below outline the success criteria for the e-learning resource and in turn, this paper will evaluate, through the means of a test plan, whether the resource met the conditions for it to be considered successful and effective for the nature of its purpose for which it is required.
1) The resource msut be fit for purpose; it must support development of self-directed, independent learning
2) The resource mst build on pupils in-class development of programming (Python)
3) The resourece must target the intended audience; learners for the resource are secondary education, Computing students
4) The resource must cater to and diffrentiate to all target learners of varying ability; therefore, including scaffolding or stretch/challenge options
5) The resource must include elements of interactivity
6) The resource must have a clear, systematic and effective way of assessment and feedback
7) The design must adhere and take into consideration, apply guidelines for the visuaully impaired
8) The site must contain options for users to request assistance, in general or question-specific
It is widely mentioned that e-learning occurs in a wide range of teaching activities where technology of one form or another is involved.
There is a lot of ambiguity about the terminology in e-learning, perhaps due to its relative infancy as a discipline.
Technology enthusiast learners should be provided with the latest resources in instructional technology. Virtual Learning Environments (VLE) online format means greater access for pupils and the possibility for flash animations and embedded video/audio means more involving learning content.
The term Virtual Learning Environment (VLE) is used to describe a range of integrated web-based applications that provide teachers, learners, parents and others involved in education with information, tools and resources to support and enhance educational delivery and management. REFERENCE?
The proposed solution is a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Pupils will be able to code live with an embedded Python shell. For interactivity, they will have the challenges appear and will be able to submit their code for marking and feedback. The site will also cater to differentiation and varying programming abilities from to meet the success criteria. The site will allow teachers and pupils to communicate with each other online and for effective assessment to be carried out and the ability to provide feedback to individual questions, students or altogether.