Ingirige, Bingunath, Amaratunga, Dilanthi, Dowdle, D.L., Keraminiyage, Kaushal, Goulding, Jack, Baldry, David and Lees, M.A. (2006) Improving co-learner interactions through web based online assessments within distant learning settings. Project Report. University of Salford.

Distance Learning (DL) is an educational model that is fast growing both in the UK as well as in the international education context. It has come into prominence with the advent of the internet technology particularly during the last two decades of the 20th century. Due to the nature of delivery of DL programmes, the methodology in which students are assessed varies from one programme to another. One of the major influencing factors for achieving intended learning outcomes in a programmeme is the assessment strategy adopted. Tutors in DL programmemes have adopted various methods of assessments that could broadly be described as formative and summative assessments. A well documented formative and summative feedback for learners, especially early on in a course, will facilitate in their learning and provides opportunities for students to gain insight into their understanding of the course content. Learners often express their need for more empowerment within their modules to enhance their active involvement and interactions within the programmes. This is the main focus of this ongoing research under the Teaching Learning Quality Improvement Scheme (TLQIS) of the University Of Salford, UK. This paper disseminates the first stage of the research project. The paper first examines literature within the area and explores the various online assessment tools available that can be incorporated to DL. It then sets out the overall methodology and conducts two case studies of DL courses within the School of Built Environment (SOBE), University of Salford. The next stages of this research project will evolve into DL courses conducted in other schools and faculties at University of Salford and other Higher Educational Institutes (HEIs) both in the UK and overseas. It is expected that the final results of this study will lead to recommending of guidelines on improving co-learner interactions within DL settings.

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