After a year of our pilot VLE and a few years teaching ICT I was eager to hear the opinions of the students. I hear lots of little student comments and gripes during my lessons in the ICT suite. Most of them are “why has so and so got a better computer than me” pointing at the new flatscreen monitor on one PC. I then explain that they both have the same computer it’s just the old monitor died and we had to get a flatscreen to replace it. But there are plenty of very valid comments that students make and of course plenty of positive comments.
Setting up a student e-council was something that I had meant to do for a while. I think most schools now have student councils who discuss and feedback on a variety of issues in a school. Our school PE department set up their own sports council to find out what sports provision and clubs students wanted. For my e-council I picked two or so students from every year group to come to the first meeting. I picked the ones I knew were the most talented OR enthusiastic at ICT or the ones who were frequent users of Rickypedia (our VLE). From a scientific or research point of view this obviously isn’t a very good sample, but bringing this group of students together had other benefits. It allowed some of these brilliant minds to meet and ‘network’, it allowed me to get together a group of students who may be in the future be involved in training, design, resource creation and support of the VLE. It also meant I had a group of students who knew what they were talking about when giving feedback and the participants were certainly not out of touch with the average student.
Below are the minutes from our meeting (edited slightly for privacy). As you can see they came up with some brilliant suggestions and comments as well as a few that are just not going to happen (ie VLE with links to games not blocked by filters). I look forward to our next meeting soon.
1st of May, Meeting of “student e-council” to get student feedback on e-learning in School.
Year 7 x3 Yr 8 x3 Yr 9 x3 Yr 11 x1 Yr 13 x2 (1 year 7, 2 year 10s and 2 year 12s missing)
nb participants are all students who have used Rickypedia this year – I selected students who are either very active on Rickypedia or who I thought would contribute well to the discussion – the representation is probably skewed towards the more ICT literate students.
Feedback on Rickypedia:
Overall Very positive, “I like it”, like the messaging, much faster to use since the upgrade.
Some problems with blogs (Password problems having to retype it, highlighting doesn’t work). Would like a spellchecker, problems adding pictures to work.
What Extra Features Would you Like?
Place to store files
Having a personal webpage
Being able to personalise the site – add colours and widgets
More help pages
A place to put calendar reminders or notes for yourself
Live student chat
List of games that they could access through the school filters!
Would you be interested in (suggestions from teacher)…
Student E-mail accounts: Overall enthusiastic response, student who joined in year 9 said it would have helped her to make more friends if they all had school e-mails. Would be good for communicating with teachers.
Having one password for everything: Everyone agreed this is a good idea.
Social Features: Response was varied – younger students wanted a place to chat with friends, older students prefer to use myspace or facebook.
Being able to see attendance and grades: Not so excited about this but not negative.
Online application (ie Google apps – spreadsheet and word processor): Definitely liked this idea even if they don’t use it all.
Online library catalogue: Yes
Online Encyclopaedia (like Britannica): Year 13s said it would be extremely useful for projects especially if it’s accessible from home. Overall very positive.
Any particular resources you would like on a VLE?
– Would like to have all resources from lessons on Rickypedia, any powerpoints or resources that teachers use in lessons should be up. Useful if students are absent. Also if teachers make notes on interactive whiteboard they should save them and put them online (example of teacher who already puts his whiteboard notes in shared network folder for yr 11)
– Google search box so they can search for things without opening a new window
Ideas for Design of Rickypedia:
Less cluttered frontpage – there is too much on it. One suggested a hippy themed frontpage. Students enthusiastic about getting involved in the future design. Variation in preferences of older and younger students again.
General ICT Issues in the school: All brought up by students – not part of the original agenda.
MyClasslink (accessing files from home): Some students had problems but most said it worked fine – would like it integrated with rickypedia.
6th form laptops: Need Delphi on them (non-6th formers jealous that they don’t have access to laptops.
School Website: Needs updating – students eager to get involved in doing this.
More storage space: Students would like more storage space (especially KS3)
File types: Problems with students having latest version on Office at home and not being able to open it at school. Suggestion that all computers have the converter installed (or the latest version of office)
Would like Google Toolbar installed on PCs to make searches easier (they don’t like existing yahoo toolbar)