What students really want in your Axio course: use it more, use it consistently, and use the tools effectively
April 01, 2009 by Molly Small
Students from Colby Community College, Kansas State University, Manhattan Area Technical College and Manhattan Christian College were surveyed and agreed that using Axio enhances their learning experience by increasing communication among instructors and students and helping to make learning more convenient.
Most of the students that participated in the survey stated that they thought the instructors using Axio to enhance their course were doing so adequately. The largest complaints were that instructors do not implement Axio enough, are not consistent in its use or are not utilizing the available tools effectively.
“When teachers have their own Web page and refuse to use Axio, it’s frustrating,” a student said, “It’s even more frustrating when all my instructors are using it differently or when they don’t use it at all. If they all used it, it would make things a lot easier.”
It is helpful to understand what students want and how they use Axio in order to design a course that will utilize Axio in a beneficial way for your students.
The majority of students are satisfied with how their course material is presented on Axio. Still, they do have a few things that they want instructors to know.
GradebookAccording to 71 percent of the students surveyed, Gradebook is the most popular and effective Axio tool, which is no surprise.
Gradebook allows students to access their grades any time, any place. To students, this all-access pass is becoming more of an expectation than a privilege, and their comments indicated a strong desire for more professors to use Gradebook.
“It’s nice to see my grades whenever I need to. I don’t have to bother my teacher so much. I can see when I’ve missed an assignment, too. Or maybe a grade is wrong, and I can tell my instructor about it. I think it’s helpful on both ends,” a student said about Gradebook, “It would be nice if all of my teachers would use Gradebook and keep it up-to-date.”
Files & ContentSecond place for the students’ preferred Axio tool belongs to Files & Content, which 70 percent of students surveyed deemed effective when used by their instructors.
“The teachers can put up extra resources like videos and links. It’s really helpful,” a student said about Files & Content.
Comments from students praised their instructors’ use of the tool, with the only suggestions being that more instructors should use it. Students like the convenience of viewing lecture notes and slides online in order to prepare prior to class meeting times. They also enjoy material availability for study purposes.
“I can attend class and learn there, and then go home to apply it using the stuff my instructor posts. I like having all the notes and material in one place. It’s a good reference,” a student said.
Online assignmentsOne would not expect to find that students enjoy taking assignments, but the convenience and helpfulness of online assignments help this tool round off students’ top three favorite tools of Axio. Sixty-eight percent of students surveyed confirmed that they find this tool effective, and 15 percent would like their instructors to use it more.
Online assignments may provide a replacement for traditional, paper homework, but they can also be used as additional coursework or even as practice tests and tools for studying. Each of these methods can enhance a student’s experience in a course.
“I like being able to do my assignments at home when I’m relaxed. I also like the assignments online instead of wasting and having large piles of paper on my desk. It’s just easier,” a student said.
One student referenced an instructor that they found particularly utilized assignments well; the student said, “The assignments she put online and the online practice quizzes really help us get ready for our test. They help me study better.”
CalendarAccording to the survey, the Calendar is the number one tool students wish their instructors would adopt and utilize more.
Students noted in their comments that they would benefit from a heavier use of the Calendar. Students find it helpful when their instructors post all course events, such as lecture topics, tests, assignment due dates and other timely events on the Calendar.
“The Calendar is the most handy thing! With the amount of work and courses I have, it’s nice to be able to look here to help me balance everything,” a student said.
Several students commented that their instructors used the Calendar, but not to its full potential.
“Not all of the assignments are on the Calendar, and I like to be able to see when everything needs to be done,” a student said.
Announcements“This is probably the most helpful thing,” a student said, “It’s hard to keep up with all the announcements in class. Having them online really makes me more organized.”
More than 40 percent of students agreed that Announcements are helpful and more than 20 percent agreed that they should be used more often by instructors. This demand is driven by the handiness of having important, up-to-date information in a single place. Students commented that they found Announcements especially helpful as reminders of due dates, special class instructions and any other important information from their instructors. Another bonus the students mentioned was the reduction in e-mail from their instructors, as all timely information could simply be put in Announcements.
Other toolsMessage Board was found effective by almost 40 percent of students surveyed for its ability to extend classroom instruction and promote further thinking on designated topics. Students also found Message Board useful because they could get answers and feedback from other students.
“We were required to do weekly message board posts, which meant I had to pay attention so I could apply what I learned to what I put there. Plus, it was also cool to see what other people thought about things,” a student said about Message Board use in a specific course.
It is easy to set up your course to accommodate both your students’ preferences and your own, as you have many resources available to help you.
The Axio Learning Web site contains PDF versions of the Axio Learning Get Started Guide and also features tip sheets for everything from creating assignments to managing attendance. Animated video tutorials can also be found on the Web site. Visit http://axiolearning.org to utilize these resources.
Axio also offers a variety of learning opportunities with on-site training, and the Axio Learning Community Meeting and Conference is another excellent source for tips and information about using Axio.