12 May, 2014

UOWD research finds that social and interactive media can support shy students to engage more productively in the learning process

The research is based on user experiences of UOWD's new online learning platform, Moodle. The

Online interaction improves learning among shy students

Dubai, May 12, 2014: Research conducted by professors at the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) has found that extending the educational experience beyond the lecture theatre can have a positive impact on the learning process for students who are reticent to engage in the classroom environment.

The research is based on user experiences of UOWD's new online learning platform, Moodle. The system provides a user-friendly interface to complement classroom education, through online discussions, interactive quizzes and signposting to additional learning materials and resources. It allows shy students to share their thoughts in a more comfortable environment, and to participate more fully than they might do in a traditional face-to-face setting.

The research findings are the subject of a paper that has been accepted for the International Journal of Arts & Sciences' (IJAS) International Conference for Academic Disciplines, which will take place Venice, Italy in June.

Dr Hela Miniaoui, Assistant Professor of Finance at UOWD explained, "We have been trialling Moodle as a means of engaging students with academic subject matter in new and interesting ways. It has been very encouraging to see how they have embraced and benefitted from this new learning environment, often taking ownership of it themselves."

Dr Miniaoui, along with Dr Mona Mustafa, Assistant Professor of HR at UOWD, has conducted research into the learning benefits of such online interactions, with some interesting results.

Dr Mustafa explained, "Our research found that the majority of students felt their learning experience was galvanised by the online interaction and it encouraged them to explore new concepts and ideas that they might not have picked up in the classroom. 

"Moreover, we found that a number of students, who might have been considered 'shy' in lectures, were empowered to contribute extensively and meaningfully to the topics of debate. The form of interaction seemingly allowed them to time reflect and process their thoughts before engaging in discussion, which helped them overcome the reservations they felt in the classroom environment.

"Overall, our research found that almost half of all the learners considered that the platform helped them feel more a part of the class, whether through contributing more or learning something that wasn't touched on in lessons."

Moodle is one of several learning management systems designed to enhance the on-campus educational experience through remotely accessible resources and peer/tutor interactions. While it is used extensively in Europe and the Americas, it is still relatively new to this region.  

Dr Miniaoui said, "Throughout our trials and the subsequent evaluation, we have found that this form of interaction adds significant value to the learning process and we hope to roll it out across other courses in the future."


Press Release issued on behalf of University of Wollongong in Dubai by Communicate Gulf, PO Box 50411, Dubai, UAE. Phone: 04 3707012

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