:async: Learning Practices in Open and Formal Digital Spaces: What do Students use Each Environment For?

Authors: Daniel Domínguez Figaredo, Ines Gil-Jaurena, Javier Moretin Encina
Institution: UNED
Country: Spain

Topic: Applications of Open Education Practices/Open Pedagogy/Open Education Research
Sector: Higher Education
UNESCO Area of Focus: Facilitating int cooperation
Session Format: Presentation


In online higher education, the presence of students in messaging and social networking apps during the course cycle is a growing practice. These digital spaces open to the participation of any student serve mainly to relax and meet peers, but their use as learning environments is also outstanding. In this proposal we present the preliminary results of a research at the UNED (the largest distance university in Spain), which analysed students’ interaction and practices in digital open spaces, and how these practices influence the teaching-learning process within the institutional learning platforms used in the courses. Previous research has shown that students at distance and online universities are increasingly using social networks and digital applications to manage most of the processes related to their presence at the university. In order to analyse the use of these spaces by students and their relationship with the UNED distance learning methodology, we carried out a research project aimed to take advantage of the student dynamics outside the institutional digital campus to improve the quality of distance teaching in undergraduate and master's degree courses. We present the results of a questionnaire to undergraduate and master students, describing what kind of learning practices they carry out outside the official digital classroom and the digital platforms they use in each case. There are two types of practices: — Socialization, related to the constitution of digital communities of practice; — and exchange/development of learning resources, basically textbooks and study guides. It also shows some statistical data that may be of interest to understand student behaviour on open digital platforms and to guide some future pedagogical actions. In relation to the socialization dimension, there are certain platforms that are more conducive to forming communities of practice and facilitating social exchange with peers. And with regard to access and development of learning resources, the platforms used change, and the cases of platforms to consult/share and platforms to develop content are differentiated. The conclusions of the preliminary results are useful to guide future research. And also to put the focus on students' preferences in the development of practices that are key to the process of learning in digitally mediated open spaces, such as socialising with peers and teachers, and accessing and creating learning resources.


Open digital spaces, Digital learning environments, Mobile instant messaging, Online learning design

Hello everyone, we hope you enjoy this contribution and that it is of your interest. We are now sharing a short video presentation of the research that supports this paper: https://youtu.be/blmLMeZ5t-g
Each day of the conference we will provide more detailed information. But to begin with, a note on the controversial issue of open education deployed in closed digital sites. Here is the starting position of this contribution:
In this contribution we analyzed the students’ practices in social networks. Here social networks are considered as open spaces that expand learning capabilities, as opposed to the space that is limited by virtual campuses, which here we consider as closed spaces.