Last modified 08/05/08 09:36:15

Further communication

Why are we doing this

Discussion area


A. Basic information

Title of pilot
Further communication
Brief description
The Moodle Presence block will be activated in certain courses allowing students to hold informal chat sessions either on a one-to-one or on a group basis. These chat sessions can be via text chat or audio/visual chat.
Purpose of pilot
This pilot is designed to try to provide an informal area - the student bar - for online students to meet and discuss both the course and non-course related topics.
Tool(s) being piloted
Internal:  Covcell Text chat and Audio/video conferencing integrated into Moodle
External: none
Course in which the pilot is taking place:

  • Subject
  • No. of tutors
  • No. of students

Control course:

  • Subject
  • No. of tutors
  • No. of students

Duration, incl. start and end dates

B. Detailed description

The Covcell presence block will be activated on the four courses list above. The students registered on these courses will be able to see which other students and tutors, from their course, are currently online.

C. Rationale and expectations

What existing shortcoming/potential "added value" is the pilot addressing? (i.e. does it aim to solve a specific problem or explore a new direction?)
This pilot is designed to provide a communal 'informal' discussion area - the campus pub/cafe.
What questions do we want to answer? (i.e. in relation to the problem/opportunity that we are addressing)

  • Did anyone use the area?
  • Did it help fill the missing space of the campus pub/cafe?
  • Does the introduction of this into the course cause any pedagogical implications for the future?

What would we describe as a good (i.e. desirable) or acceptable (i.e. bottom-line) result in terms of

  • Uptake by students
  • Uptake by tutors
  • Feedback from students re its usefulness and usability
  • Feedback from tutors re its usefulness and usability to them, and their perceptions of its impact on the course
  • Performance of the technology
  • Acceptability to management

D. Envisaged risks & problems

What risks or problems do we foresee?

  • Pedagogical - students end up having discussions using these tools rather than through the structured forums.
  • Management
  • Technical
    • this is relatively new software, we do not know how the server will perform or whether it will cause problems for students on other courses.
    • Loss of data if the server crashes
  • Legal - students are warned that they will be expected to follow the same Netiquette guidelines as with the rest of the course. However, as this is audio/visual there is a higher risk that a student says/does something out of the ordinary and offends another student.
  • Human - students’ use/disposition, tutors’ use/disposition

Do we have a plan for averting/dealing with them within the pilot?

  • Pedagogical - this is one of the questions that we need to answer following on from the pilot. The tutors will be asked for feedback following on from the course and this information will be compared to student evaluations to see if any comparisons can be made.
  • Technical - a new version of the course will be setup on Online Moodle and the students will be emailed and told about the switch between the two servers. Data will be lost if the server crashes as we will only be able to retrieve items since the last back up.
  • Legal - unfortunately all that can be done is to monitor what happens and to follow up on any behaviour that is deemed as unsatisfactory.

E. Intended approach (can be updated later – but variations from the original approach should be noted)

What are the details (incl. timings) of our approach in relation to the following 5 key factors?

  • Pedagogical (embedding in the course)
  • Management (acceptability in terms of costs vs. benefits, …)
  • Technical
  • Legal
  • Human (induction, training…)

F. Evaluation plan (can be updated later):

What kind of evaluation: formative and/or summative?
How & when will we gather evidence to answer our questions?
How will we measure success (i.e. quantify the good/acceptable outcomes specified in section B)?


G. Narrative (record significant moments as they happen, if possible – but aim to synthesise the material into a succinct story of 500 words max.)

What actually happened? (include screenshots, transcripts, audio, survey data etc)
Any unexpected happenings?
Phil Joyce the tutor from Philosophy of Religion contacted TALL for help in using the A/V chat. He wanted to use the system with students, but wanted to make sure he knew what he was doing first. However, the test did not go to well, Phil could not connect correctly in the end giving up and coming into TALL for a demo across the office.


H. Analysis

Has a good or acceptable result been obtained?
Why did it run in the way it did?

  • Enabling/impeding factors (specific instances of the 5 key factors + any others)

Any unexpected results/outcomes (+ve and –ve)?
Comparison with expectations
Comparison with “control” course

I. Reflections, implications & recommendations

Overall, what went well (in terms of the 5 key factors)?

  • What can be built on in order to take the pilot further?

Overall, what didn’t go so well (in terms of the 5 key factors)?

  • What needs to be changed?

What does the pilot mean?

  • For TALL’s courses?
  • In a wider context?

Next steps:

  • Within TALL:
    • How will we take the pilot forward?
    • Will we roll this out across courses?
  • Within the wider community:
    • What is our message to the world?
    • How are we going to disseminate it?