Call me a geek, but I do love a questionnaire! I have just completed the Penn State University Online Readiness Assessment and the University of Houston Test of Online Success. I think I’m pretty set up for online learning from the results of these questionnaires, but then I have been an online learner for a number of years, so I would have expected that the results would suggest I can cope!
I think such questionnaires are interesting – they combine some basic questions about access to computer and basic competences with some of the more complicated aspects such as flexibility, how committed one is to putting the time aside to study online, and some questions about how self-regulated one is as a learner, and about study patterns and attitudes to face to face vs online. This serves to emphasise just how complex the various dimensions are, and how deep-seated I think attitudes and preferences might be in this space – i.e. it’s not just about ‘digital literacy’ or competences. That’s only the start.
I’m thinking about using some of the questions from these tools to survey incoming students as part of a bigger project. I want to understand experience, attitudes and competences. Not much to get to the bottom of, then! However, I think the questionnaires can easily be gamed – students know what the ‘right’ answer is so we can’t treat the results as absolutely reliable.
This activity did bring home to me the fact that we (by that I mean myself and colleagues) do assume certain qualities/abilities in our students, but probably don’t make these explicit at the start of university and the start of different levels of study. Perhaps we need to spend some more time on this. I have started to cover this area in my introductory lecture for each course – perhaps we need to do this more widely.
Links to the two questionnaires I mentioned above: