The potential of the iScoil online learning model as an alternative educational programme for young early school leavers
Checkley, Marianne T.
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Disengaging from mainstream education is a complex issue with wide reaching consequences for individuals, society and the economy. There is growing recognition of the scale of the challenge presented by Early School Leaving in Europe evidenced by the target to reduce ESL by I 0% Europe wide within the EU 2020 strategy (European Commission, 2013). While educational technology provides opportunities to remove barriers to learning, recent research in teaching and learning online suggest that the medium is much less important in determining effectiveness than the learning strategy, the social context or the relevance of the subject matter used (Laurillard, 2012). This study examines the design for learning and teaching experience on iScoil, an online learning community for young early school leavers. The research design provides a narrative of the learning and teaching experience within a countenance approach to evaluation (Stake, 1967). Participants for this study are drawn from the iScoil cohort for 2012 to 2013 of 52 students and 10 online teachers. Perspectives from learners and teachers are combined with data generated by the virtual learning environment and an analysis of the design for learning of two distinct subject areas using authoring tools. Key components identified in the literature review, in the dynamic relationship between pedagogy and technology, are placed within existing frameworks of good practice therefore identifying influences on impact, areas for further research in the field of online learning and potential implications for the improvement of the current learning model. Findings support the success of iScoil in providing an alternative learning provision for young early school leavers. Key influences on impact emerging are a flexible, adaptive, student centred curriculum within a safe individualised learning plan, the importance of timely, personalized and constructive feedback and the value of communication between teaching roles within the learning model.
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