1.1 | Exploration through Literature Search


Heading into the empathy phase from the idea phase we had set ourselves a topic. We had the ideas ready and knew what we could search for, but without defining it even more we would get a broad spectre of sources from all across the internet. And most of them wouldn’t really be relevant to what we needed. So before we could define even more what we were looking for in the next stage of our research period we needed to define what exactly we were looking for. We had already decided that our topic would be about digital learning platforms and their use as a socializing platform, or rather the lack of ways to socialize through the platform. 

We started out trying to scout for information using the keywords “learning platform” and quickly found out it gave too broad and too many irrelevant hits for us to continue using that phrase. However, adding the word “Digital” in front of learning platforms gave us a more specific and more pinpointed direction. We would learn that the term “digital learning platform” was more often referred to as “Learning Management System”, or LMS for short. Both of these keywords gave us accurate and search results more satisfactory to what we imagined we would find. 

In the preparation period, we set some goals for what information we wanted to find and where to find it. We wanted to not only find useful information but information that was relevant to what we had in mind. Doing the pre-work we would heighten the chance of finding relevant information that we could use.

The main goal was to create some sort of overview of what people had already done before us. Both in content and if someone had already tried what we are trying to do before us. Creating this plan would remove unnecessary researching and give us a clear path for what we were actually looking for. And if what we were initially looking for where the right way for us to find information or if we were heading the wrong direction.

In a way, the goal was to find answers to what we were questioning. Answers we could use to further develop our understanding of communication systems for higher education. But where we find answers we want to create more questions and see if there is a way we could make it even better, or go even further. We also wanted to update ourselves on the field we were researching so we could understand and go more in-depth on the topic we set for ourselves.


To ensure the quality of information we were basing our research around, we had to make sure we used the right keywords for our particular subject. It was important for the group that we did not get unrelated results, so we could manage time and eliminate unnecessary reading for efficiency. 

For the sake of our attention to research a communication platform between students and professors, we made sure our keywords matched our initial thoughts around that subject. Some keywords weighted more than others for instance “Student”, “Professor”, “Communication”; and “Collaboration” was heavily favored contrary to “Pupil”, “Teacher”, “Instructors” and “Cooperation”. 

It was also important to narrow down our keywords for the right conditions, so the review applies to our field of research. We used Google Scholar because its more relevant for academic use, and we eliminate the possibilities of false information, seeing that research papers always, or most often, have a source of information you can track.

During the search, selection -and evaluation step of this assignment, we ruffled through about 25 – 35 research papers and study reports to disclose which papers should be excluded for our review, and what papers were relevant for further exploration of answering our questions.

As stated earlier, we carefully preferred keywords and used them for further progressing in the assignment. The image ***above/below*** are the headlines of the papers we chose to take a closer look at. Some papers were first looked upon as if they were outdated, but at a closer look, they applied for some reasons as being relevant when it comes to information flow between participants in a group project – even though our goals are targeting online platforms, and the research did not. We then realized the papers were participants of trials didn’t commence online, it still had relevance to our subject based on how the way of communication was achieved. 

Reading through what we found and what we deemed to be relevant to our exercise we found out a couple of things. Some information that yielded more important factors that often would come again and again and repeat itself. And some information where shortly explained and didn’t get as much light as other blocks of information. This is natural in a scientific text, however, sometimes the what we found in the less represented topics and problems might actually be the foundation to the bigger and more relevant problems. 

A topic we found revealed that the digital learning platform would work wonders for a single student who worked by themselves, but when putting the same students in groups the effectivity would drastically drop, but only when outside the classroom. So if we look closer to that we see that group projects in itself aren’t the problem. The students managed it well and would work efficiently in the classroom and complete the task given to them to finish by the hour. 

So, what exactly is the problem then? Well, when another set of students or even the same students were given the exact same exercise but were told to do it at home after school in groups. They would fall behind or even drop the exercise. Of course, some groups managed to do it as easily as before and had no problems at all. But the majority of the groups fell behind to some degree.

What exactly caused them to fall behind? There could be multiple factors at play, one would be that when at home, the urgency to prioritize the assignment would considerably drop and the student would have other tasks or other things to do. This problem didn’t get answered in any of the papers we found. There were multiple thoughts and possible deciding factors, but no clear answer. We will go into the factors shortly. 

As there was no clear answer to what, who, why, etc. We set our attention towards this and found a possible problem that we could focus even further on. Ask more questions, represent the problem in words, find a solution. Was our initial topic relevant to the final possible problem? Some of the points that came up would be that at home, the student would prioritize differently and fall behind. Maybe the student had other tasks that needed the prioritization or would daily needs (dinner, breaks, etc) get in the way of effectively doing the task given. Some might ignore the importance of the task and procrastinate because when at home you are home. Other activities such as gaming, hobbies, TV or other digital viewing platforms would get the student’s attention.

Even students who were grouped with friends were found to fall behind, even with the tools to communicate through social media and the likes of voice chat services they didn’t quite get to work and complete the task effectively. That might conclude that it might not be the student’s relationship to each other on the group but something else. We raised a question to this, what if the problem is not in where the student finds themselves but where the students communicate. What if communication platforms that are unrelated to the digital learning platform actually help to worsen the effectivity. Since the communication platform is unrelated to learning and education they set the mood to be something else, as they would use platforms they often use to other tasks or hobbies.

Hear us out: When one opens a program like Discord (digital communication software, both text-based and voice chat-based) or Facebook you have a certain set of expectations and feeling towards the app. You often use the application for something else that is not education-related at all. The application Discord is often used amongst friends and groups of people defined by either hobby or other activities. Servers dedicated to games and play by friends is a huge majority of what the platform is about. And when you open said platform your brain automatically assigns itself to a state that is closer to what you usually are when you open a platform you use for other activities. Your brain might have a hard time focusing on a task and you might sidetrack or end up doing the activities you usually do when you gather a group of people on this specific platform. The same principle would go for facebook as you often use the facebook chat for small talk and banter rather than important messages that has a more important factor.

If we tunnel vision ourselves around this idea that nothing else matters, it doesn’t matter if the student is home or at school. But rather what setting the brain sets itself to when you are doing the task. Then there could be a solution to be found in all of this. If we could then integrate something as easy as a chat to the digital learning platform then it would execute some of the mistakes made in the other programs. The mindset would be on school and would be set as such. Creating a bubble for the student to be in his own mindset, creating a space where the student has less of a chance to sidetrack and fall off.

This is our theory from what we gathered of information across the relevant texts. We had to read through a lot of blocks of text to find somewhat relevant information and even in the relevant articles a lot of them didn’t really have that much to do with the stance we set for our first 

As we dug into the different articles we kept running into the same reasons why many of these LMS were created in the first place; Someone had an idea of improving a tool and adapt it for the future. As incredible advances in technology have reached our classrooms in the last few decades, LMSs have allowed educators and students to interact remotely and reveal the enormous potential of distance learning and online education. The first of these to come to our mind is Canvas, the one we as students use here at Høyskolen i Østfold (HIOF).

Some specific research into Canvas as an LMS yielded us with the information on how this started and we got some direct insight into the concept of «Why?» this LMS was designed and its purpose.

in the early 21st century, web-based media and social media sites started to expand and develop rapidly.

Two computer scientists, Devlin Daley and Brian Whitmer from Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah, saw the need to integrate this ease of use in LMSs. They were frustrated by the learning tools available to them which focused more on administrators than developing connections between students and teachers.

In 2008 they founded Instructure. They wanted to create an LMS that functional, intuitive and would capitalize on the technological skills the users already possessed. This LMS would be called Canvas.

As more research led us to how huge this really is and the extreme variations of what could be the benefits and what new problems could occur out of this we decided to narrow down our search material to Canvas oriented problems and to challenge the problems we find for better user experience.

In such a rapidly growing field of science and education, there are bound to be both short-term and long-term problems that come along with the new innovations and improvements.

When it comes to LMSs many such problems have been identified and we are adding as we find them.

Ashraf Jalal Yousef Zaidieh wrote «The use of social networking in education: Challenges and opportunities» where he encountered problems like teachers showing them unsuitable material, bullying, sexual predator, harassment by peers, privacy, real friendship, miscommunication and the chance for it to consume a lot of extra time.

There are a lot of good things as well though; Increased Flexibility, Repeatable, convenience and accessibility.

His conclusion was that there are obstacles and benefits by integrating education and Social networking. If we can get a better grip and understanding of what part of the flexibility and repeatable aspects of Canvas people tend to use and like we can use that to our advantage when it boils down to the solutions we make.




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