Engaging Secondary School Students in Extended and Open Learning Supported by Online Technologies

Spring 2009

Source: Journal of Research on Technology in Education. Volume 41, Issue 3; p. 305-328, (Spring 2009)
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

This article explores the use of online technologies to extend the learning of a group of junior secondary school students after attending a Sun, Science, and Society camp.

Research Questions

The broad research question for the study was: What is the level of participation demonstrated by secondary students engaging with extended learning that is open and supported by online technologies?
The sub-questions were:
* How motivated are the secondary students to discuss and share learning with their online community of peers in a virtual environment managed by Moodle?
* How do the students collaborate and interact in such an environment?
* What is the extent of the learning that students demonstrate when learning within this environment?


The participants in this research project were sixteen (6 females and 10 males) 13- to 15-year-old students who attended 4-day university-based Sun, Science, and Society camp. These students expressed interest in undertaking the online learning phase of the program for a period of 6 months after it. The students represented 12 schools from both metropolitan and rural areas of Victoria and came from both private and government schools. Their teachers described them as students of high ability or students interested in science who required extension work.

The article reports on how they engaged with the extended and open learning supported by online technologies. In conclusion, the approach outlined in this article offers advantages and avoids some of the economic and social/organisational disadvantages of other possible responses to providing for academically able students or groups of students with similar interests requiring extended learning. These students from within a school or a cluster of schools can be brought together into a "virtual classroom" to pursue a specific area of interest or to work on cross-school projects.

Updated: May. 21, 2009