The University of Elbasan “Aleksander Xhuvani” offered a VCL course as part of its BA level investment course in fall semester 2021-2022. The aim of the course is to teach students about the investment environment, markets, financial instruments, portfolio theory, risk assessment and investment decision-making. The VCL part involved using an online stock market simulator, where students competed to produce the highest gains in their accounts.
The course consists of four assessment components, of which VCL is one and represents 20% from the course assessment. The course evaluation consisted of active seminar participation (10%), a mid-term exam in the 8th week (20%), a course assignment in the 13th week (20%), and a final exam (50%). The VCL method was integrated into the course assignment, accounting for 20% of the total 100 points.
IT tools and reports were the main source of monitoring student activities.
The lecturer took part to ensure the active participation of the students and to monitor the process. Monitoring is an essential aspect of the evaluation process. Monitoring is essentially an on-going process to ensure that the learning process is on track, and that the pace and content of the learning remain relevant to students.
E-tutors played an important part in the monitoring of the progress of the VCL Course. They were the first point of contact with the students. For main issues had frequents questions and answers sessions.
Furthermore, data analytics tools and reports were used by IT within the platform
Surveys were used to collect student expectations before and feedback after the module, the following results were obtained:
- Students which were employed found the online learning time saving and easier to adapt to their schedule. It helps them in the job market as jobs are increasingly offered online or in hybrid forms.
- Almost none of them had prior experience with VCL, so Albanian-language resources would be beneficial,
- Half of the students answered that this way of learning strengthens the relationship with teachers. Students were familiar with the platform and online communication due to the pandemic but found group work more transparent and efficient through VCL.
- About 50% of the students found this an interesting way to have an international experience “at home”, meanwhile 45% answered that this would not be enough to enjoy the full experience of an international mobility.
- Students that had the course’s assignment online had better results compared to the students that prepared the assignment in the traditional way.
VCL courses are more effective in group learning and teamwork than the traditional way of teaching and learning and should therefore be integrated into more courses. Virtual collaborative learning combines interactive learning and technology-driven flexibility but requires deliberate attention to participant interaction. VCL settings require detailed and systematic preparation of the learning experience, as well as an explicit definition of the learning objectives. VCL requires the active role of learners and strong guidance of students.