The growing multicultural nature of education and training environments makes it critical that instructors and instructional designers, especially those working in online learning environments, develop skills to deliver culturally sensitive and culturally adaptive instruction. This article explores research into cultural differences to identify those dimensions of culture that are most likely to impact instructional situations. It presents these in the cultural dimensions of learning framework (CDLF), which describes a set of eight cultural parameters regarding social relationships, epistemological beliefs, and temporal perceptions, and illustrates their spectrums of variability as they might be exhibited in instructional situations. The article also explores the literature on instructional design and culture for guidelines on addressing the cross-cultural challenges faced by instructional providers. It suggests that these challenges can be overcome through increased awareness, culturally sensitive communication, modified instructional design processes, and efforts to accommodate the most critical cultural differences. Finally, it describes the use of the CDLF questionnaire as a tool to illuminate the range of preferences existing among learners and to discover the potential range of strategies and tactics that might be useful for a given set of learners.
Many colleges and universities are expanding their current online offerings and creating new programs to address growing enrollment. Institutions often utilize online education as a method to serve more students while lowering instructional costs. While online education may be more cost effective in some situations, college decision makers need to consider the full range of cost implications associated with these online offerings. The unbundling of faculty roles in online distance education programs is one cost consideration that is often overlooked. As the faculty role has become more distributed, so have the costs associated with providing instruction and instructional support. This paper reviews the hidden costs associated with the unbundling of the faculty role and presents a framework for calculating the true costs of the unbundled faculty role.
This article reports on a study that was carried out in autumn 2007 with students in a professional nurse education distance course at a Swedish university. The study aimed to develop a greater understanding of the student-teacher relationship based on research questions addressing the teachers’ role, the learning process, and the assessment process in traditional approaches to teaching and learning. A didactical design was adopted, focusing on three learning outcomes in three phases. In each of the three phases, these learning outcomes were assessed by each student documenting his/her knowledge at the beginning, middle, and end of the course. Data was collected via in-depth interviews with students (n = 14) and through a questionnaire (n = 40) and was analysed using an inductive thematic analysis of the material. The results indicate a student-teacher relationship involving ambiguity and complexity in relation to the degree of teacher direction as being teacher-centred or learner-centred and also in relation to the learning process as being reproductive or productive. The interpretation of the results shows diverse aspects of the student-teacher relationship arising from students’ beliefs about teaching, learning, and assessment and, in particular, process-based assessment. The locus of control involves the teachers’ role, the learning process, and the assessment process, which illuminates different perspectives of power relations in the student-teacher relationship.
The objective of this study was to determine the relationship between disciplinary difference (exact and natural sciences versus humanities) and the dialogic behavior that occurred in Open University course forums. Dialogic behavior was measured in terms of students’ and instructors’ active participation in the forum (posting a message) as well as amounts and proportions of “teaching presence,” “cognitive presence,” and “social presence.” We found that active participation in the science forums was much higher than in the humanities forums. We also found a ratio among the three presences that was constant across different academic disciplines, as well as across different group sizes and course types.
This research presents findings from a two-part study. In the first part, graduate students taking online courses were given a course evaluation form. Student responses from online abbreviated summer sessions were compared to student responses from online full-semester courses. Both the intensive and full-semester courses were taught by the same professor and both had identical requirements in terms of assignments and exams. The independent variable was the length of time taken to complete the requirements, with the dependent variables being satisfaction with the course, perceived learning, and academic performance. A statistical analysis of the data found significant differences in a number of areas.
This brief case study provides a pithy introduction to Uganda and outlines key factors that affect the implementation of distance education in the nation: poor infrastructure, the high cost of an education, an outdated curriculum, inadequate expertise in distance education, and poor attitudes towards distance learning. These factors are also evident in other African countries.
This paper reflects on the evolving experience of modern distance education (DE) as a field of practice for professionals and as a medium for student access to education and training. The writer’s 30 years in the field, as both teacher and student, has coincided with the five-stage evolution of DE delivery defined by Taylor (1995-2010). The author considers the perceived identity crisis and diverse theoretical frameworks of the field since the 1980s as well as the need for new levels of change management that will enable the tools, technologies, and emerging systems of DE to create the flexibility, responsiveness, and networking that the students require and that the teachers need to learn.
This paper identifies a set of universal instructional design (UID) principles appropriate to distance education (DE) and specifically tailored to the needs of instructional designers and instructors teaching online. These principles are then used to assess the accessibility level of a sample online course and the availability of options in its LMS platform (MoodleTM) to increase course accessibility. Numerous accessibility-sensitive plug-in modules are found to be available to Moodle users, though relatively few features were included in the sample course analysed. This may be because they have not been made available to instructors at the institutional level. The paper offers a series of recommendations to improve the accessibility of online DE to learners with diverse abilities, disabilities, and needs.
Much research concerning asynchronous online discussion reports quantitative data such as frequency of posting, time online, and number of characters or words. To effectively understand online discourse within education environments we need to go beyond such measures and study the interactions between messages and how these interactions contribute to the construction of collective knowledge. Complexity science suggests that the emergence of new group understandings requires both redundancy (agreement) and divergence (disagreement) in the interactions between contributed ideas. Studies, focussing on graduate course asynchronous discussions spaced almost 20 years apart, and employing a coding system developed from Fisher’s interact system model (ISM) have shown a lack of messages expressing explicit disagreement. Online discussions, with their limited channels for mutual social support, appear to encourage a student tendency towards being “too nice”. Course participants camouflage disagreements in ambiguous postings that, while avoiding potential offence, do not effectively contribute to the progress of debate.
In this presentation Terry defines three pedagogical models that have defined distance education programming - behavioural/cognitive, constructivist, and connectivist. He talks about the challenges and opportunity afforded by each model, with a focus on the emergent development of connectivism.
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