Publications

Evaluation of Student Facing Web-Based Services: Studyit (CORE Education)

Publication Details

The document provides a final service report on the Studyit website as part of a larger evaluation of web-based learning services for children and young people in New Zealand. The report is complemented by similar reports relating to the AnyQuestions and WickED websites.

Author(s): Ann Trewern & Derek Wenmoth

Date Published: August 2008

Introduction

This document provides a final service report on the Studyit website as part of a larger evaluation of web-based learning services for children and young people in New Zealand. The report is complemented by two similar reports relating to the AnyQuestions website and the WickEd website as well as a review of literature and an integrated summary of the suite of reports.

This report focuses on a qualitative interpretation of data, and is designed to also complement a quantitative evaluation of the Studyit website conducted by Nielsen Net Ratings.

The evaluation of Studyit is being conducted with a view to achieving two main objectives:

  • Understanding more fully the impact of each service on users, teachers, schools, and the service providers themselves.
  • Determining how web-based services (in general) are currently aligning and integrating with children and young peoples’ overall learning experiences and outcomes.

Studyit was established as one of the Digital Opportunities (DigiOps) projects in 2004 and is described on the DigiOps Website1 as “free online learning resource for all students studying maths and/or sciences to NCEA level”. The site also has a category for English advice and resources, and a fourth area where other subject advice is given. Studyit offers key resources with a high level of relevance to NCEA level students, as well as asynchronous forums where students are invited to interact with online maths, science and English teachers, and also other students, for assistance with their learning and NCEA related inquiries. The service is available 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. The following, taken from the DigiOps Website2, explains how Studyit works:

The Studyit website is not a homework service and does not provide students with answers to their exam questions! Instead it gives expert guidance and encourages students to engage their problem-solving skills so they reach the answer themselves.

The website is targeted to help with almost any topic a student may be having problems with in the maths or science curriculum areas. Along with advice, the website has links to New Zealand and overseas NZQA-approved websites, which provide additional supporting information, illustrations, and examples.

Responses to queries are usually replied to within 24 hours and students are also free to offer advice. However, their comments and advice is only posted on the website once it has been checked as accurate and appropriate.

As well as helping students with maths and sciences, the Studyit website has an open forum to discuss other related topics such as study techniques, sitting exams, dealing with stress and which information communication technology (ICT) works best for different purposes.

An operational characteristic worth noting here is the role of mentors in editing and screening the student posts to forums. Site operators report that this is done to ensure a particular ‘tone’ across the forums (ie supportive, encouraging, relevant). When editing the posts, the teacher mentors follow strict guidelines provided by the StudyIt team around suitable language and content.

Footnotes

  1. 'digiops' website
  2. ibid
 

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