Learning platforms: Usage and perceived learning effects
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The background for this study has been the focus on Learning Management systems in Norway. In this case the researched platform is based on the framework of Microsoft SharePoint. What I wanted to find out is how this platform is actually being used, and how teachers perceive it. Do they believe it supports learning or interfere? To find out about this, the research question is: When does a learning platform supports learning, and when does it interfere? Two quantitative research methods have been used to explain three research questions. 1. How is the actual activity in this learning platform? 2. How do teachers perceive the learning platform? 3. Is there any difference between a school with a low average usage compared to a school with a high average usage? To answer these questions a monitoring of actual use has been performed, followed by a questionnaire. Two schools were selected. One school was selected because they had a high average of platform usage. The other school that was selected had a low usage. Comparisons of usage and learning outcome were made between the two schools with a questionnaire. First this study will explain how the learning platform is being used. It shows that there is a huge potential in the expanded classroom both outside of school hours as well as outside the school boundaries. From 5AM until 1 AM the following morning there is noticeable traffic. During this study there has been activity from almost 70 countries. During the monitoring of actual usage, this study has found that this tool is mostly used by teachers. This system is dominated by teachers and for most of the part they use the learning platform for collaboration. After explaining actual use of the learning platform the questionnaire unveils how teachers perceive the learning platform. The questionnaire asks questions about the teachers’ background and how they teach to see if this affects their beliefs in the learning platform. Finally this study asks questions about the difference between the two schools. In general there are few things that differ between them. The results show that the main difference between the low usage average and high usage average school is the difference in teacher demographics. At low use school the teachers are a bit older than the other, and in general more educated. At the high average usage school most of the teachers have training in educational use of ICT. The most significant finding in the questionnaire is that teachers believe the learning platform support portfolio assessment. As for the rest of this study there are only a few times that teachers perceive their tool as supportive of their activity. There might be many reasons why teachers do not believe that this learning platform supports their work. Teachers have different kinds of systems that they need to learn. Public procurements limit the potential for e-learning content. E-learning standards have not been made by schools, but by the aviation industry, the army and commercial companies. It might explain why the teachers see limitations in how a learning platform actually supports learning.