During the past two decades, volition, defined as the ability to stay task-focused and ward off distractions, has become of special relevance for educational research and practice. It describes how decreased motivation or negative emotions can be dealt with by applying action control strategies. However, despite its potential, an important area of education has neglected volitional considerations: distance education (DE). This seems paradoxical because by its very nature distance education requires a great deal of persistence and effort that is volitional. Consequently, the present paper introduces a conceptual framework built on volitional theories; it aims to augment traditional perspectives and to analyse major challenges to DE, such as dropout rates. The paper reports results from a longitudinal study (September 2007-July 2009) that was conducted to determine the factorial structure of the Volitional Persona Test (VPT), an online instrument to assess volitional competence, and to obtain detailed information on students’ volitional competence at a large DE university and at numerous traditional universities in German-speaking countries. It was demonstrated that the construct of volition can be subdivided into distinct factors, volitional self-efficacy, consequence control, emotion control, and meta-cognition, which may enable the development of support systems that are tailored to learners’ individual needs. Implications for future research are discussed.
This case study explores the learning experiences of three international students who were enrolled in an online master’s program offered by a large university in Canada. The aim of the study was to understand the international students’ experiences with, and perspectives on, the online learning environment. Findings indicate that previous education and especially language proficiency strongly impacted the learning of these students in this environment. Non-native English speakers required considerably more time to process readings and postings and to make postings themselves. Their lack of familiarity with the details of North American culture and colloquial language made it difficult to follow much of the course discussion. They also tended to avoid socializing in the course, which left them at the periphery of course activities. Based on these findings, the authors make the following recommendations for designers and instructors of online courses: 1) Raise the English language proficiency requirement for graduate admissions into online programs because the text-based communication in a CMC space requires interpreting messages without non-verbal cues; 2) Ensure that online distance education course designers are aware of the needs and expectations of international students; and 3) Combine the design principles from both traditional and constructivism theories.
The field of distance education is composed of a multiplicity of topics leading to a vast array of research literature. However, the research does not provide a chronological picture of the topics it addresses, making it difficult to develop an overview of the evolution and trends in the literature. To address this issue, a co-word analysis was performed on the abstracts of research articles found in two prominent North American research journals (N = 517), the American Journal of Distance Education and the Journal of Distance Education, between 1987 and 2005. The analysis yielded underlying trends and themes for three different periods (pre-Web, emerging Web, and maturing Web). Additionally, similarity index analyses were conducted across time periods. The pre-Web era was characterized by the need for quality and development. The emerging Web era was characterized by the development of theory. The maturing Web era was characterized by interaction and the use of tools for communication. The results demonstrate that the North American distance education research literature is characterized by having few consistent and focused lines of inquiry. Conclusions are provided.
Individuals who are self-regulated in their learning appear to achieve more positive academic outcomes than individuals who do not exhibit self-regulated learning behaviors. We suggest that distinct profiles of self-regulated learning behaviors exist across learners. In turn, these profiles appear to be associated with significantly different academic outcomes. The purpose of the current study was to examine whether profiles for self-regulated learning skills and strategies exist among learners. To achieve this purpose, we conducted two studies using two different samples. We administered the Online Self-Regulated Learning Questionnaire (OLSQ), a 24-item scale with a 5-point Likert-type response format, to students enrolled in online degree programs at a large, public university located in the Southwestern United States. The OSLQ consists of six subscale constructs, including environment structuring, goal setting, time management, help seeking, task strategies, and self-evaluation. Latent class analyses were performed with participant subscale scores from the OSLQ. Our results indicate the presence of five, distinct profiles of self-regulated learning replicated across both study samples: super self-regulators, competent self-regulators, forethought-endorsing self-regulators, performance/reflection self-regulators, and non- or minimal self-regulators. Results also indicate that individuals differ significantly in their academic achievement according to their profile membership; for example, minimal and disorganized profiles of self-regulated learning are both associated with similar, poorer academic outcomes (e.g., lower GPAs). These profiles in self-regulated learning may be viewed as contributing to the development of theory by elucidating how exactly individuals are and are not self-regulated in their learning. The authors suggest future research directions.
Teachers are searching for new venues through which they may meet stringent professional development requirements. Under competitive funding from NASA’s (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) Office of Education and the NASA Explorer Schools Project, U.S. Satellite Laboratory, Inc. created a series of live, online, interactive short-courses. In this case study, a mixed methods analysis of a variety of data sources reveals that diverse educators from a variety of classroom contexts view the short-courses as a useful professional development tool, both as a vehicle for a teacher’s own professional growth and for classroom applications. Teachers were particularly interested in the ability to participate in a collaborative community of practice with other educators, instructors, and scientists from across the country, and they found the flexible design of the professional development to be useful. This short-course design offers promise for future professional development opportunities.
Print-based instructional materials have been more popular than any other medium for teaching practical skills during the delivery of technical and vocational education and training via distance learning. However, the approach has its shortcomings and in recent times alternatives have been sought. The comparative instructional effectiveness of one such alternative is the focus of this paper. The study sought to examine the instructional effectiveness of video-based instructional materials vis-à-vis traditional print-based instructional materials for teaching distance learners of a Block-Laying and Concreting practical skills programme. An experimental design was used and participants were randomly assigned to two treatment groups: Users of video-based instructional materials or users of print-based instructional materials. A researcher-designed performance test and an achievement test of 20 multiple-choice items were used to collect data from 34 participants who used print-based instructional materials and 35 participants who used video-based instructional materials to learn practical skills. The instruments were based on the instructional objectives of lessons on mortar and wall finish. Pilot test data for the achievement test yielded Cronbach’s alpha of 0.84. Descriptive statistics and t-test at a 0.05 level of significance were used to analyse the data. The results indicated that the two instructional materials were pedagogically equivalent in terms of theoretical knowledge acquired. Practical skills acquired, however, were significantly higher among users of video-based instructional materials. Finally, users of video-based instructional materials displayed significantly superior craftsmanship.
Despite improvements in educational indicators, such as enrolment, significant challenges remain with regard to the delivery of quality education in developing countries, particularly in rural and remote regions. In the attempt to find viable solutions to these challenges, much hope has been placed in new information and communication technologies (ICTs), mobile phones being one example. This article reviews the evidence of the role of mobile phone-facilitated mLearning in contributing to improved educational outcomes in the developing countries of Asia by exploring the results of six mLearning pilot projects that took place in the Philippines, Mongolia, Thailand, India, and Bangladesh. In particular, this article examines the extent to which the use of mobile phones helped to improve educational outcomes in two specific ways: 1) in improving access to education, and 2) in promoting new learning. Analysis of the projects indicates that while there is important evidence of mobile phones facilitating increased access, much less evidence exists as to how mobiles promote new learning.
Given the crucial role played by universities in a knowledge-based society, understanding how and under what conditions online learning (OL) can improve access to graduate studies is of the highest importance to today’s growing global economy. Over the past decade, phenomenal advances have been made in the application of communication and information technologies to support student learning in higher education. Yet, in proportion to overall provision of higher education, the use of technology by faculty for graduate-level, online learning (OL) has been minimal, especially among regular faculty. In this session, Norm Vaughan and Michael Power present an adapted form of OL, especially designed for traditional universities, with initial data from studies underway in two Canadian universities. Finally, an emerging network of researchers interested in the role of online learning within mainstream higher education is presented.
Students at a French immersion high school in Ottawa and a school in Brazil exchange recipes, using a combination of French, English and Portuguese. The Brazilians discover they like poutine! Children in a rural Sierra Leonean village devastated during the civil war and a school in Mississauga collaborate to produce an online art gallery of pictures about what peace means to them. What do these examples and hundreds of thousands like them mean to the participants? What are the benefits and challenges of collaborating across countries and cultures in the design, implementation, and assessment of learning activities? Such activities by their collaborative nature support global education, whether it emphasizes peace, social justice, citizenship, ecology, or any topic or issue of shared interest. Bill Egnatoff will present a conceptual framework for bi-national collaboration of this sort. He will illustrate the framework from relevant literature, through his experience in teaching a course called Global Education Through International Collaboration, and through his peace education design research with colleagues in Canada and Sierra Leone. That work includes experimentation with, and evaluation of, a variety of tools and systems to support collaboration among twinned school communities, pre-service and in-service teachers, teacher educators, and researchers.
In this session, Stephen Rowe shares his experiences developing an entirely online offering of an Australian undergraduate course catering to 200 students enrolled across 3 campuses. The model that was developed serves as the centre-piece and "end-point" of his PhD. Practical integration of synchronous and asynchronous elements of the online model will be described. By recording synchronous sessions, staff time normally spent on repeat sessions was freed-up and used for additional support of student learning across each week. Asynchronous elements of the model allowed students flexibility with their assessment tasks and enabled them to progress through content at their own pace. As well as describing the online model, some of the key lessons learned, student activity, results and feedback will be presented for discussion.
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