Intended and unintended consequences of student use of an online questioning environment
AbstractThis is the accepted version of the following article: Ng'ambi, D. & Brown, I. 2009. Intended and unintended consequences of student use of an online questioning environment. British Journal of Educational Technology. 40(2): 316-328. DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-8535.2008.00899.x., which has been published in final form at http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8535.2008.00899.x.
While supplementation of face-to-face (F2F) teaching with online engagement is increasingly common, the educators' challenge of teaching F2F personalities and facilitating online personalities has not been widely explored. In this paper, we report on a project in which 1st-year students attended F2F sessions and engaged with an anonymous online questioning environment. The differences between students' F2F and online behaviour led to intended and unintended consequences. The purpose of this paper is to explore these intended and unintended consequences of technology use. The project was undertaken over a 3-year period, starting in 2004. In 2004, a pilot project was conducted based on a class of 35 students studying a 1st-year programming course in information systems. The investigation was again conducted in 2005 for the same course, this time with 63 students. In 2006, the project was extended to a class of 610 1st-year commerce students studying an introductory information systems course. In all cases, students met F2F and when online, engaged with an anonymous Web/SMS collaborative tool. The intended consequence was that a blending of F2F with online interaction extended student engagement beyond the limitation of a classroom and provided a forum for further collaboration and consultation. The intended outcome was achieved. An unintended consequence was that the tool provided the lecturer with diagnostic information that was used to impact on pedagogical designs. This was often a result of students taking on an online personality that would very often be extremely frank and honest about the manner in which the course was conducted, and how learning was taking place. The findings show that students used the tool in ways that exceeded the envisaged intention, and student use of the tool positively impacted on the curriculum, pedagogy and general running of the course. The paper concludes that integration of online engagement with F2F teaching adds value to the teaching and learning experience.