This research area investigates the development of strategies and organizational infrastructures as a means to improve on-line education programs. Research issues such as successful leadership, the impact of online learning on institutional policies, cost-benefits analysis, the ROI of distance education programs and educational innovation will be the focus of analysis.

The primary research goal is to analyze the main challenges that leadership, planning and administration factors pose on distance education when trying to improve the management of online organizations, as well as to explore methods and obtain data to measure the economic efficiency of online education.

The main areas of research include (but are not limited to): 1) The role of leadership of distance learning administrators; 2) Critical design and administrative issues for online program success; 3) The adoption of innovation in online organizations; 4) Strategic planning to improve learner performance and to reduce cost; 5) The role of learning communities and informal networks in online educational administration.

Propostes de tesi

Investigadors/es

Grup de recerca

Determinants of workplace training (using online methodology)

Based on the analysis of the characteristics of companies using e-learning to train their employees, our goal is to study the factors that lead a company to use this mode of education to train their workers. Presently, it can be deduced that the variables that have traditionally explained the existence of training processes in companies, such as company size, the level of education of employees or employment relationships, are not useful in explaining the probability of a company using e-learning to train its employees.
Nonetheless, the intensive use of ICT, the capacity for innovation these technologies provide or greater job flexibility may largely explain how likely organizations are to implement online training.

The achievement of this objective will make it easier to draw up recommendations targeted at two main receptors. First, microenterprises and small enterprises, so that they might overcome training barriers, better organizing training and making the most of it. Second, government agencies responsible for policies to promote continuous training, so that they can make these policies as efficient as possible (accessible to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises).

Dr. Josep M. Batalla, coordinador

Dra. Àngels Fitó 

Dra. Carolina Hintzmann 

Dr. Joan Llobet 

Dra. M. Jesús Martínez 

MEL Research Group

Dropout in higher education: analysis of causes and design of interventions

Higher education is a very expensive process which pursues the empowerment of highly qualified citizens, a key asset in the information society. Nevertheless, in some cases, the educational system fails to provide the appropriate support to all learners. Dropout rates are very high, especially among freshmen, resulting in frustration for both the learner and institutional managers. Dropout is, indeed, a failure of society and it needs to be analysed using a multidimensional approach. In this research line we propose to adopt a wide perspective to better understand dropout in higher education, from data gathering to intervention design, through surveys, learning analytics and decision-making. Typical research questions involving this topic include characterization and early detection of students at risk of dropping out, internal and external factors related to dropout and the evaluation of effective measures for improving retention and re-enrolment, among others. 

Some previous works on this topic are:

* Grau-Valldosera, J., & Minguillón, J. (2014). Rethinking dropout in online higher education: The case of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 15(1).

* Rodríguez-Gómez, D., Meneses J., Gairín J., Feixas M. & Muñoz-Moreno J. L. (2016). They have gone, and now what? Understanding re-enrolment patterns in the Catalan public higher education system. Higher Education Research & Development. 35(4), 815-828.

Dr. Julio Meneses
 

Dr. Julià Minguillon

 

GenTIC research group

LAIKA research group

Educational Uses of ICTs and their impact on higher education institutions

Universities and other kinds of higher education institutions have adopted ICT for academic and organizational purposes. There are different adoption models for educational uses: bended, hybrid, online, etc. There are also different possibilities for organizational uses: accessibility, virtual libraries, and technical support for online teaching and learning materials, etc. We analyse in this research area the institutional impact of the technology uses and how this adoption affects mainly in three areas: teaching and learning processes (educational model), the students' role and profile, and organizational changes (organizational model). We focus our research, quantitative or qualitative, on the institutional impact, and we analyse the impact of the educational uses of ICT on institutional educational models, institutional organizational models and the role and profile of the students in these institutions. We also analyse institutional cases, higher education systems and work on comparative analyses.

Dr. Josep M. Duart 

 

E-learning and employability for business graduates: skills development, programme design, virtual internship, employers’ perception

From a multi-agent perspective, we propose, first, to study the perception of the labour market regarding the skills of online graduates and the determinants of this perception. Second, we want to compare these expectations with the potential for employability that employers, students and recent graduates give to their online diplomas. Third, we propose to analyse which skills in which online studies present a greater amount of differences in terms of their degree of achievement. Finally, we want to analyse the quality of the current degrees’ design regarding the environmental demands. The results that may be obtained are especially interesting for the management of universities in general and for universities offering online degrees in particular, as well as for developers of educational technologies and for professionals requiring specialized training.

Dr. Josep M. Batalla, coordinador

Dra. Àngels Fitó 

Dra. Carolina Hintzmann 

Dr. Joan Llobet 

Dra. M. Jesús Martínez 

MEL Research Group

E-learning and vocational training: Implications for employability, work and firms performance

This line of research analyses the implications of e-learning aimed vocational training and career-building in terms of: i) employability and job quality; and ii) business performance (productivity and competitiveness).

Dr. Joan Torrent

 

Habits and motivations in the uses of the digital environment for collaborative learning

This line of research studies behaviours and decisions in relation to the use of the digital environment in learning processes. It aims to discover behaviours and motivations in regard to the acceptance or refusal of digital information resources (such as applications, services or devices) in learning processes as well as the modes of use and access to these resources. The possible contexts of learning are considered in the broadest sense, whether formal learning in an academic context (teaching and research), informal learning in a personal or organizational context, or a combination of these. The paradigm of digital visitors and residents is used as a key reference to characterize these behaviours, as well as existing literature on knowledge management and information behaviour. The theses proposals may include qualitative or quantitative methods, or a combination of the two.

Dr. Agustí Canals, coordinador

Dr. Josep Cobarsí 

Dra. Amalia Creus 

Dra. Eva Ortoll 

Dr. Alex López-Borrull

Dra. Montserrat Garcia-Alsina

KIMO Research Group

Impact of social capital and social networking behavior on students' learning process in e-learning

This line of research studies the structure and use of students’ social networks in an online learning environment, in an attempt to relate networks’ structure and use with students’ learning process. Advanced statistical techniques will be applied to relate the structure of social networks with the learning process of students. Semi-structured interviews and other qualitative techniques will be applied to determine how students use their personal social networks. A thesis proposal can be based on quantitative methodologies, qualitative methodologies, or a combination of the two. The proposals will take into account the existing literature and theory on social networks and on informational behaviour, so as to customize its application in the specific context of e-learning.

Dr. Agustí Canalscoordinador

Dr. Josep Cobarsí 

Dra. Amalia Creus 

Dra. Eva Ortoll 

Dr. Alex López-Borrull

Dra. Montserrat Garcia-Alsina

KIMO Research Group

Personalized e-feedback with multimedia tools

The need for teacher-promoted feedback runs through the existing educational reality. Changes in the educational paradigm (from assessing just the final result to assessing the process as well) imply an additional effort from teachers in an environment with a high number of students per class and general economic constraints that do not foresee, in the short or medium term, a reduction in the student-teacher ratio. In this context, to expand the use of feedback throughout the teaching community and achieve its desired results, following the Nicol-Macfarlane-Dick model, a better balance must be found between the demand for feedback and the real capacity of teachers and higher education institutions to provide it at a reasonable cost. If the results of the assessment are to be at the students’ service, the process of transmission needs to be more effective. We need to focus our efforts on finding those aspects/factors of teachers, students and means that could contribute to a better use of teacher feedback.  

Dr. Josep M. Batalla, coordinador

Dra. Àngels Fitó 

Dra. Carolina Hintzmann 

Dr. Joan Llobet 

Dra. M. Jesús Martínez 

MEL Research Group

Quality perception measures in e-learning service.

The urgent need for continuous training and the intensive use of ICT in companies are some of the factors that help explain the increasing use of e-learning as a training method for employees. Several studies have analysed e-learning and its benefits in training workers from an organizational perspective. However, there is not much empirical evidence on how these benefits are perceived by the training course participants or their level of satisfaction. Thus, our goal is to verify whether the benefits and advantages associated with online training are perceived as such by workers and students or not. We aim to identify those aspects of online methodology that contribute to the overall satisfaction of students who take online courses in the workplace or at other academic centres.

Dr. Josep M. Batalla, coordinador

Dra. Àngels Fitó 

Dra. Carolina Hintzmann 

Dr. Joan Llobet 

Dra. M. Jesús Martínez 

MEL Research Group

Teacher training in online learning environments and its impact on learning

This thesis proposal includes:

  • Assessment for learning.
  • Relationships between teacher training and changes in performance.
  • Teaching skills in online environments.
  • Relationship among teaching presence, social presence and cognitive and metacognitive presence in online environments.
  • Formative assessment, feedback and teacher workload.
  • Strategies to optimize feedback workload in assessment design.

Dra. Anna Espasa, coordinadora

Dra. Teresa Guasch, coordinadora

Dra. Rosa Mayordomo 

Ed –Online Research Group 

Translational research in education: from theory to social impact 

Originating in the field of health sciences, the main aim of translational research is bridging the “know–do” gap. Thus, translational research can be seen as a bidirectional bridge connecting the laboratory to practice. Its interdisciplinary back-and-forth ultimately contributes to improved education outcomes. This improvement can be achieved if the three gaps of the knowledge chain are overcome. These gaps are located: (1) between the discovery of new knowledge and dissemination to potential users of that knowledge; (2) between knowledge dissemination to potential users and its routine application to educational practice; and (3) between educational practice and improvement of education outcomes.

The goal of this research line is to contribute to defining and refining the concept of translational research applied to education. The aim is to draw up protocols and procedures and establish agents to overcome the aforementioned gaps, and to design indicators that contribute to the traceability of knowledge from theory to practice and back again.

Dra. Marta Aymarich

Dra. Carme Carrión

Dr. Ismael Peña-López