Benefits of Online Class Notifications on Higher Education Courses

Ghada Abdulaziz Alsaif

Abstract


This study investigates the effects of using online notifications in higher education courses. University students in Education and Design courses received weekly notification advising them on: upcoming instruction, recommended readings, study groups, due dates for assignments, activities and exams. The students received the notifications on their preferred media. They either used both mobile devices (cell phones or tablets), or fixed desktop computers in their homes or university. The study sought to understand how students value class notifications and how the effectiveness of notifications was influence by usage factors such as: mobile or fixed access, usage skills, types of notifications, and demographic factors such as age, sex, major and academic year.

The study used both quantitative and qualitative techniques in collecting and analyzing data. Students in Education (N=32) and Design (N=37) courses participated in a 16-week intervention followed by an online survey. Carefully timed and designed messages were distributed throughout the semester. A 77 item survey was sent to 69 applicants. One-way ANOVA, independent-sample t-test, and correlation coefficient were used to compare the relation between the value of notification and the usage and demographic factors. Descriptive statistics were used to examine students’ perspectives of class notifications. The mean values of the 6 class notifications items (M=4) was significantly above the 3 likert scale midpoint (p<.000). A correlation coefficient was used to determine associations between the survey items. Among other quantitative findings the results showed a significant positive correlation between the Value of Class Notifications and Mobile Technology Use (r=.355, p=0.016) and Value of Class Notifications and Usage Skills (r=0.351, p=0.017).

Responses to the open-ended qualitative questions indicate that online class notifications assist learners significantly in meeting class expectations. Notification also supports learners in completing tasks in a timely fashion. This study shows that class notification are particularly beneficial when they are continuously accessible from mobile devices, when the learners are skilled in using the notifications and when the notifications are related to course expectations. Qualitative analysis indicated that by assisting students in keeping track of class activities and due dates, notifications can reduce mental load, encourage social engagement with teachers as well as peers and foster a greater belonging in university courses. Further studies may wish to consider the influence of class notification on achievement and students perception of course organization and quality.