Icons_teacher_blueThere's a case study from the UK that I'd recommend reading. It's the story of a college that has enhanced their learning management system – Moodle – with integration Microsoft's OneNote to improve assessment and feedback processes for students and teachers. And their experience is that the system – a combination of Moodle and OneNote - has helped with raising student completion rates in courses:

 

Business Need

Eastleigh College’s Computer Sciences lecturing team wanted to provide an up-to-date and highly vocational experience to their students, whilst having an easy solution for sharing notes and PowerPoint slides to the class. Microsoft OneNote and the Microsoft Interactive Classroom add-in for PowerPoint were found to be a very beneficial system for the staff and students to easily collaborate on work. A combination of Office Web Apps and SkyDrive, a set of services and software that enables users to manage their files online in a simple yet secure repository for resources, was chosen for its level of integration with other Microsoft products.

In 2010, the Computer Science department were using Moodle, a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), which is used throughout the college. Moodle provided a system that enabled resources to be shared with learners both in college and from home, a facility the college makes great use of. However, the Computer Science staff found Moodle 1.9 to be limited in some respects and in particular the work flows for assessment were causing problems for staff and students. Under the old department system, a learner would submit written assessments by uploading them into Moodle. The lecturer would assess, mark and provide feedback via a form on Moodle, which the learner could then read to gain feedback. If, however, the lecturer asked for changes or additional evidence to be submitted, the student had to upload a completely new document and the lecturer had to complete the feedback form again. In some cases this destroyed the previous relevant and valuable feedback.

So although many of the features of Moodle are valuable to Eastleigh College, the Computer Science department were looking for an easy solution to improve the ease of use and comprehensiveness of assessing, allowing the Lecturers to share notes and PowerPoint slides to the class.

Solution

Microsoft OneNote was chosen by the department as an electronic portfolio system. OneNote 2010 notebooks, shared via SkyDrive, enabled learners to organise their notes, embed evidence files, including video and other formats, all in one central location. When this was shared with the lecturer, comments and feedback could be written directly onto the OneNote document adjacent to the evidence. The learner would then see these comments as soon as they opened their OneNote portfolio, and the feedback would be in context with their supplied evidence. Students could therefore adjust their work immediately as directed, without having to re-share or upload a new submission.

The Computer Science department trialled a number of systems with students, including Google Docs, SkyDrive, iCloud and Ubuntu One, but ultimately made the decision to go with SkyDrive due to its level of integration with a range of Microsoft products. The college found that SkyDrive provided a simple yet secure repository for resources that could be shared to both individual students and whole groups with ease. The students could share their documents with one or more lecturers or even other students when group work was required.

 

In addition to changing working practices to use OneNote alongside Moodle, the college is also using the Microsoft Interactive Classroom add-in, which allows lecturers to create PowerPoint Decks, and collaborate with students in real time. All the slides from the deck are visible to the student in separate OneNote pages and the students are able to take notes directly onto their OneNote page containing the current slide in the presentation. If a Lecturer writes on the interactive whiteboard, this text is also visible on the OneNote page, meaning students get a copy of all the notes available during a lecture. This is then available to the student in his/her OneNote portfolio for later revision while writing assignments or uploading evidence.

How it helped the college

The result was a flexible electronic portfolio for students, which resulted in the college having a much better overview of students' work, and to be able to share that work with other authorities – for example, with external assessors and examiners. And the ability to both share online, and synchronise files for offline use, means that group collaboration is now possible.

The combination of SkyDrive and OneNote also enabled the department to share calendars, which were used to record the timetables of all learner groups and lecturers in the department. As SkyDrive can be accessed anywhere in the world and using any internet enabled device, such as Windows Phone, iOS devices and Windows 8 tablets, learners had no excuse of not being aware of any timetable changes.

As Craig Chambers, Course Manager at Eastleigh College put it:

  I genuinely think that Microsoft Technologies have contributed to the improved completion rates achieved in our BTEC ‘Computer Science’ courses.  

Learn MoreRead the full case study, and see practical examples, over on the UK Further Education blog