Collaborative Tools to Enhance Engagement in a Blended Learning Master’s Programme

Lisa Donaldson, Anne Matthews, Aisling Walsh, Ruairi Brugha, Lucinda Manda-Taylor, Victor Mwapasa, Elaine Byrne

Abstract


This paper explores the contribution of collaborative tools towards enhancing engagement with online learning in a blended learning M.Sc. in Community Systems Health Research, piloted in Malawi by an Irish/Malawian partnership. Physical distance from students can make engagement challenging.  Additional challenges to engagement in this MSc included differences in culture and skillsets, and limited technical infrastructure in Malawi. The M.Sc. utilised a number of technologies to support a collaborative and effective online learning environment. These included Padlet, Twitter, Wikispaces,- tools specifically selected to enhance learner-content, learner-learner and learner-instructor communications. Engagement with these online activities was measured in order to ascertain the most effective tools and approaches. The lessons learned from the programme included the importance of creating community, developing social presence for all, the affordances of specific learning technologies, and adopting best practices for facilitating online engagement.


Keywords


elearning, educational technology, Africa, web 2.0, collaborative tools, engagement, online, Twitter, Padlet, Wikispaces, blended learning

Full Text:

PDF