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Durham University

Wolfson Research Institute for Health and Wellbeing


Technology Enhanced Learning SIG: Activity 2016/17

(23 October 2017)

SynergyNet: The TEL-SIG has built upon previous EPSRC/ESRC-funded interdisciplinary research to take table-top computer technology first developed in university, out into schools. We have been working with schools in County Durham and South Wales to link learners in Year 6 as they work on non-collocated collaborative problem solving tasks. This innovative process allows learners to instantly ‘flick’ clues from one multi-touch table to another. Early results suggest that enhances the challenge as participants have to consider multiple audiences for explaining their answers.

McNaughton, J., Crick, T., Joyce-Gibbons, A., Beauchamp, G., Young, N., & Tan, E. (2017), Facilitating collaborative learning between two primary schools using large multi-touch devices. Journal of Computers in Education, 1-14. DOI: 10.1007/s40692-017-0081-x

McNaughton, J., Crick, T.,& Hatch, A., (2017) Determining device position through minimal user input, Human-centric Computing and Information Sciences DOI: 10.1186/s13673-017-0118-1

Education in Tanzania: 2017 saw the publication of data collected with the assistance of an early WRIHW award. Researchers in the TEL-SIG were asked by a local NGO to investigate the issues facing learners during the transition between primary and secondary school. By the end of the second year, many secondary schools report extremely high drop-out rates. The researchers also investigated the possibility of developing an intervention using a peer-mentoring strategy using mobile phones. The outcomes of the study showed that while teachers are anxious to learn new pedagogic strategies to tackle the challenges of transition, they don’t have a detailed understanding of what the challenges are that the learners face. In addition to the frequently mentioned change in the language of instruction from Kiswahili to English, the study showed learners also faced little mentioned challenges of bullying, economic pressures and fear of corporal punishment. Further work will be needed to develop participant-led interventions to address this issue. Both teachers and students who participated in surveys and focus groups believed that peer-mentoring could be an effective strategy. However, the use of mobile phones is problematic due to widespread concerns in society that their use by young people is detrimental to their health, their moral behaviour and their education.

Joyce-Gibbons, A., Galloway, D., Mollel, A., Mgoma, S., Pima, M., and Deogratias, E. (2017) Successful Transition to Secondary School in Tanzania: What Are the Barriers? Journal of International Development, DOI: 10.1002/jid.3304.

Joyce-Gibbons, A., Galloway, D., Mollel, A., Mgoma, S., Pima, M., & Deogratias, E. (2017), Mobile phone use in two secondary schools in Tanzania. Education and Information Technologies, 1-20.DOI: 10.1007/s10639-017-9586-1

Freshers and Mobile Social Media: In response to interest from Durham University Computer Information Services, the TEL-SIG conducted a short study exploring how first year students use social media (predominantly on mobile devices) to build their social networks before, during and after the planned induction week activities. These activities tended to follow a pattern of initial use of Facebook (including official and unofficial channels) involving open fora which were more inclusive. As the first year students made physical contact with their fellows during induction week, more discriminating, personal links were formed in smaller WhatsApp groups that were voluntary. University induction communities and resources online were perceived as helpful initially but rapidly diminished in importance as first years made connections for themselves.

There was an additional innovative dimension to this study as it was the first in Durham University to work with the Employability and Skills team, training second and third year students as interviewers. Participant researchers, more closely aligned in age and culture to first year students were able to engage them more informally and access a richer quality of data than might otherwise have been the case.

Tan, E., Joyce-Gibbons, A., and Bailey-Ross, C., (Under review) Informal Technology versus Institutional Tools to Support Transitions to University: Student Practices and Perspectives, The Internet and Higher Education