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Arcada University of Applied Sciences

  • 800 courses created in itslearning in one year.
  • Today, 1,000 Arcada users log on every day
  • Teacher uses platform to give constant feedback
  • Extensive testing project determines itslearning most intuitive platform

Most institutions ask two things when choosing a learning platform: can they afford it and do other schools use it?

But Filip Levälahti, E-learning coordinator at Arcada University of Applied Sciences, says Arcada had another consideration: will our teachers use it? To find the answer, extensive user tests of leading platforms were performed- and itslearning came out the clear winner.

“It had to be very clear and easy to use. It had to be intuitive,” Filip explains. “We realised that if the platform was hard for teachers to use, then they wouldn’t do anything with it, and therefore the students wouldn’t do anything with it. User-friendliness was our number one priority.”

Extensive testing project

A group of teachers and students from Arcada, which is located in Helsinki, Finland, tested four major learning platforms, including itslearning. Filip gave them simple tasks such as uploading files and creating a course. Eye-tracking technology was used to analyse how much they searched around the screen. The less eye movement, the more user-friendly the platform was. “We could see that itslearning was much easier to use than the other platforms. With itslearning it took much less time to do the tasks than with the other learning platforms. That showed how intuitive it was,” Filip says.

The user adoption figures since Arcada implemented itslearning have been astonishing. In one year, 800 courses were created in itslearning. Today, around 1,000 Arcada users log on every day, representing a third of the student population, and all three university departments actively use the platform. In 2012, Arcada achieved almost 100 per cent user adoption, meaning almost all users were active on the platform.

“Not many teachers wanted to use our old platform. Not many students either. But they want to use itslearning. It’s easier for them and far less complicated than our old platform. And we didn’t need to give too much support to teachers when they were creating courses. Now we see that almost all teachers are using itslearning in some way,” Filip says.

Department using old platform least, now using itslearning most

The big test of itslearning came when staff at Arcada’s health and welfare department started using the platform in 2011, because they were the department that used the previous platform least. It was too cumbersome, they complained. But they quickly became the department using itslearning the most. “It was harder to get these teachers involved, but today it is quite easy because they are also helping each other,” Filip says.

According to Filip, students also find the platform much easier to use than the university's previous platform. In his first-year ICT course, Filip added resources for his students to use on itslearning, such as video tutorials and tests. “It was easier for them to find the materials they needed on itslearning. I think the students were happier with it. They could check their skills with tests to gauge how much they knew, and how much they needed to know. They wanted to use it,” Filip says.

An ideal teaching tool for assessment for learning

Sports psychology instructor Riitta Vienola believes students have the right to choose the way they learn. In her classroom, after assigning her students a task, they form into groups and set learning goals. They create their own learning materials and lecture to each other, with Riitta constantly checking their progress and providing guidance. “itslearning gives me many ways to control and check how the learning is going. I don’t need to remember things, it’s all on itslearning. It makes it easy,” she says.

In addition to putting links and voice recordings on itslearning, Riitta uses the platform for giving feedback. Her students often upload ongoing projects onto itslearning, and she uploads her feedback back onto the platform. “In this way, they get constant feedback on what they are learning in relation to the learning goal. The best thing about itslearning is there is one place to put everything. It helps me to give my students the freedom to learn when it’s convenient for them,” she says.

Filip says this kind of teacher engagement with the platform shows that the extensive testing project in the decision-making phase was worth the investment. “If we hadn’t chosen itslearning, I’m sure I would be working a lot more in order to support and train teachers,” Filip says. “With itslearning, I can focus more on creating good courses and the pedagogy, instead of the technical aspects. That’s what’s important – I want to think about how I use the platform to teach, not how I upload a file.”

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