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The researchers engaged in cooperative inquiry in order to explore screencasts as online instructional tools. In total, each researcher analyzed 37 screencasts, which provided over two hours of instruction. The content area of these screencasts concentrated on teaching specific computing procedures (e.g., how to install web server software or how to add a table in a word processor). The researchers analyzed their own self-produced screencasts as well as those that were professionally produced. Analyses of the screencasts led the researchers to discover common structural components (i.e., bumpers, screen movement, and narration) and common instructional strategies (i.e., provide overview, describe procedure, present concept, focus attention, and elaborate content). By synthesizing the common structure and common instructional strategies, the researchers offer a framework for considering the role of screencasts as online instructional tools. To introduce a practical application of the framework, the researchers created a screencasting checklist, which may be used by online instructors and instructional designers to develop and assess their own screencasts. This initial work invites additional research and development in order to refine the screencasting framework and checklist.
Technology has brought tremendous advancements in online education, spurring transformations in online pedagogical practices. Online learning in the past was passive, using the traditional teacher-centred approach. However, with the tools available today, it can be active, collaborative, and meaningful. A well-developed task can impel learners to observe, to reflect, to strategize, and to plan their own learning. This paper describes an English as a Second Language (ESL) instructor’s attempt to foster interactive and reflective learning among distance learners at a public university in Malaysia, working within the framework proposed by Salmon (2004). The authors found that proper planning and close monitoring of a writing activity that incorporates interactive and reflective learning helped to raise the students’ awareness of their own learning process and consequently helped them to be more responsible for their learning. The students acquired significant cognitive benefits and also valuable practical learning skills through the online discussions. However, there were challenges in carrying out the writing task to promote this form of learning, including students’ professional and family commitments and cultural attitudes as well as communication barriers in the online environment. To overcome these challenges, the authors recommend the following: ensure tutor guidance, enforce compulsory participation, address technical problems quickly, commence strategic training prior to the beginning of a task, and implement team teaching with each instructor taking on certain roles.
This article explores and summarizes trends in research and scholarship over the last decade (i.e., 1998-2007) for students completing dissertations and theses in the area of distance education. The topics addressed, research designs utilized, and data collection and analysis methods used were compiled and analyzed. Results from this study indicate that most of the distance education research conducted by graduate students in this period of time has been descriptive, often addressing the perceptions, concerns, and satisfaction levels of various stakeholders with a particular distance education experience. Studies of this type typically used self-report surveys and analyzed the data using descriptive statistics. Validating the concern of many distance education scholars, there was a lack of graduate student research aimed at developing a theory base in distance education. On a positive note, projects directly comparing distance education with traditional face-to-face classrooms to determine the merit of specific programs declined significantly in 2007 as compared to 1998. This result might indicate that distance learning is becoming accepted as a viable and important educational experience in its own right. Another encouraging finding was the decreased emphasis on studies focused on technology issues, such as those analyzing the quality of distance education technology and questioning educators’ ability to provide an acceptable technology-enabled distance learning experience.
Some faculty members are reluctant to offer online courses because of significant concerns relative to the impact of such formats on the quality of instruction, learning, and participant interaction. Faculty members from The University of Southern Mississippi implemented synchronous interactive online instruction (SIOI) in the spring of 2007. This article explores the rationale for use of the particular technology, faculty conclusions regarding implementation of the technology, and the impact of the technology on instruction and learning. Comparisons by students of the quality of the learning experience in this environment with the quality of learning in face-to-face and asynchronous online learning environments were also analyzed. The study finds that instructors and students view SIOI favourably. The mean student ratings for the dimensions of instructional quality were the same for SIOI and face-to-face course formats in all but one dimension, but mean ratings for SIOI and face-to-face formats were consistently higher than those for asynchronous online instruction. The single exception was for the dimension, ease of access to the course; the SIOI and asynchronous online formats were rated higher than the face-to-face format in this quality dimension. These findings suggest that it is possible to achieve levels of effectiveness in an online instructional format similar to those that are realized in face-to-face delivery. However, there is slight, though not statistically significant, evidence of concern about the quality of student collaboration in SIOI-enabled courses. Thus, instructors will need to capitalize on available mechanisms for interaction and collaboration.
Creating a virtual classroom in which diverse students feel welcome to discuss and experience topics related to social justice, action, and change is a study in the value of connectedness and collaboration. Through a combination of technologies, pedagogies, and on-site experiences, virtual cultures develop that encourage the formation of demanding yet stimulating learning environments in which communications and interactions are intellectually transformative. This article explores student perceptions of their participation in an online service-learning course while working in local service organizations. Qualitative methodology was used to identify the philosophical intersection at which multiple pedagogies meet: social justice, service-learning, civic engagement, and leadership as instructed in a web-based environment. This study illustrates the capacity for intentionally constructed online educational experiences focused on social justice, civic engagement, and leadership to affect learning and to provide educators with pedagogical best practices to facilitate requisite change in teaching practice.
Open education, as embodied in open educational resources (OER) and OpenCourseWare (OCW), has met and dealt with several key problems. The movement now has a critical mass of available content. Leveraging no small amount of funding and associated development, open education has the tools to collect, disseminate, and support the discovery of open materials. Now that the foundation for openness has been laid, practitioners are experimenting with new kinds of education and pedagogies associated with open content (Weller, 2009; di Savoia, 2009). Problem-based learning is one of many progressive pedagogies that might be combined with open education. This paper defines problem-based learning in the context of open education. Unique challenges are presented and discussed alongside possible solutions, realistic limitations, and calls for implementation in the future to test validity.
The issue of quality is becoming front and centre as online distance education moves into the mainstream of higher education. Many believe collaborative course development is the best way to design quality online courses. This research uses a case study approach to probe into the collaborative course development process and the implementation of quality standards at a Canadian university. Four cases are presented to discuss the effects of the faculty member/instructional designer relationship on course quality, as well as the issues surrounding the use of quality standards as a development tool. Findings from the study indicate that the extent of collaboration depends on the degree of course development and revision required, the nature of the established relationship between the faculty member and designer, and the level of experience of the faculty member. Recommendations for the effective use of quality standards using collaborative development processes are provided.
With more than 4 million students enrolled in online courses in the US alone (Allen & Seaman, 2010), it is now time to inquire into the nature of instructional effort in online environments. Reflecting the community of inquiry (CoI) framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000) this paper addresses the following questions: How has instructor teaching presence (Anderson, Rourke, Garrison, & Archer, 2001) traditionally been viewed by researchers? What does productive instructor effort look like in an entire course, not just the main threaded discussion? Results suggest that conventional research approaches, based on quantitative content analysis, fail to account for the majority of teaching presence behaviors and thus may significantly under represent productive online instructional effort.