Paleoradiography course - Round 1 complete!

The first round of the online course has now finished. Next round in late June

Table of participant demographics by country and university. Interest in the course was international, with participants from 15 unique universities.

A huge thank you to all participants who took part in my online short course concerning the use of paleoradiography (the use of radiography in archaeology). This blog post shall provide a brief overview of the results and some of the changes I'll be making to the course before the second intake (late June). For those who don't know, the course was created for my teacher training qualification with Canterbury Christ Church University. Now that I have submitted my assessment I can relax a little and start to make changes to the course for the next 50 participants. Officially the course is part of a research study which will continue beyond my teaching assessment so that I can carry out a second cycle of Action Research. The title of the research is shown below, along with a diagram of how Action Research works.

Research title:

Teaching paleoradiographic theory threshold concepts using E-learning – A participatory action research study with undergraduate archaeology students

Action Research cycles, as described by Riding, Fowell and Levy, 1995).

For my postgraduate qualification in teaching (for higher education) I only had time to complete one cycle of Action Research before I had to hand in the essay. I Planned the website, provided access to participants (Act), Observed their thoughts (via feedback) and Reflected on the data. The evolution of the course between now and the next cohort in late June shall constitute the Revised Plan and the process will begin again. Ultimately I aim to present the results of this research study within an academic journal.

Overview of results from the first round of the course:

As can be seen from the table shown above, interest in the course was international in nature. I emailed details about the course to providers of undergraduate archaeology in most English-speaking countries. Whilst the particpants were from eight different countries, this does not mean that all other countries were not interested, it may simply mean I lacked an appropriate email address to reach them. In any case, I was grateful for professors, lecturers and admin staff for forwarding on the course details to their students. The 50 places within the first round were all filled within a week and I have 25 participants signed up for the second round already. In total 27 participants completed the course and received a certificate within the month-long access period.

Pie chart showing the different year of study across the first 50 participants.

The pie chart above demonstrates that participants represented different years of study, with several in their fourth or fifth year (possibly part-time students?). Second year students were most common across all participants, with third year students close behind.

Table of participant scores for the course (1-5, ranging from poor to excellent). Learning content related to the type and range of information, Quality was the accuracy of content and website mechanics, and Presentation was the use of text, images and diagrams. (Number of responses in brackets).

A Likert scale of agreement was used to gather feedback on Learning Content, Quality and Presentation for the course. As shown in the table above, feedback was overwhelmingly positive, with all sections and aspects scoring Very Good. Whilst this feedback indicates that the course was designed and delivered well the participants identified problems and areas for improvement.

Table of participant feedback from free-text responses. Thematic analysis has been used to combine comments across all sections of the course. (Number of comments in brackets).

Free-text feedback were plentify, with 150 individual comments across the entire course. Thematic analysis was used to collate the common points (shown in the table above), with amount/level of information, praise and problems encountered being most prevalent. Interestingly, participants were split with differing opinions on the correct amount of information offered within the course. Specific requests for additional content were common and were extremely helpful for the improvement of the course. Praise for the different media used on the course were also common, although problems with the website design or videos have been raised. Of particular note was the wide-screen approach to arranging the website content. I will need to re-design the placement of navigation buttons so these are visible on small PC screens and tablets. I have not yet optimised the course for phones or tablets (due to limitations in time and technical ability) but I hope to rectify this.

Table of changes to be made for each section of the course.

The table shown above lists the actionable changes I can make to the course, based upon the feedback from participants. The aim is to instigate these changes before the next cohort begins in June. Although it is my desire to expand the course accordingly, incorporating all of these points, I cannot stray away from the prescribed 4 hours of commitment time stated to particpants for the research study. Each section should take 1 hour to complete, and as you can see from the comments I have the opportunity to extend the content greatly. As a compromise I may need to seek greater external literature (i.e. open access articles) to provide the depth of content requested. Such literature could be considered optional readings.

Integrating social media and discussion forums - A few, but not many, participants requested that the course could be made more interactive by adding social media or discussion forums. This is entirely possible due to the tools provided by (the provider). I wish to foster greater discussion and cross-pollination of ideas and this is one method of achieving this.

Next steps:

I shall be making changes to the course and the website as a whole, such as new content and greater integration of social media so that members can contribute and communicate.

Once I have made the necessary changes to the course I will seek another 50 particpants for the second round of the research. If you have already signed up then I will email you closer to the time to ask if you are still interested. If you are interested in joining the course remember this is currently limited to undergraduate archaeology students. It doesn't matter where you are studying, or at what stage (year) of study, but you will need access to the internet and 4 hours to complete the course (within a month).

Please contact me if you have any questions.

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