The demands on academic staff in all sectors to adopt best ODL practices to create effective and efficient models of learning in the face of increasing external pressures show no signs of abating. The massification of higher education, diversified access, and pressures to meet institutional visions and research objectives demand of teaching staff an increasingly public design process subject to peer review in numerous forms. Expectations of systematized pedagogical planners and embedded templates of learning within the institutional virtual learning environments (VLEs) have, so far, failed to deliver the institutional efficiencies anticipated. In response, a new model of learning design is proposed with a practical, accessible, and freely available toolkit that embodies and embeds pedagogical theories and practices. The student-owned learning-engagement (SOLE) model aims to support professional development within practice, constructive alignment, and holistic visualisations, as well as enable the sharing of learning design processes with the learners themselves.
Although online learning (OL) is becoming widely accessible and is often viewed as cutting-edge, the actual number of regular faculty participating in this form of teaching remains small. Moreover, OL, despite its growing recognition, is often associated with high rates of student dissatisfaction and isolation, withdrawal, and attrition. Furthermore, although administrators typically champion support of OL, they often seem unable or unwilling to marshal the necessary financial, human, and technological resources to produce high-quality course materials and to effect efficient course delivery. In short, online learning seems paradoxically to be both booming and busting simultaneously. It is expanding supply yet hitting similar obstacles that distance education encountered generations earlier. Under these circumstances, OL is unlikely to become mainstream without a major redirection. This article applies economic principles and concepts to OL. The revised conceptualization posits that an understanding of stakeholder priorities is the key to improved online course design and delivery.
This article reports on an inter-institutional project to design, develop, pilot, and evaluate a state-wide online training course for higher education adjunct faculty who are preparing to teach their first online course. We begin with a brief literature review to contextualize the stated problem the project sought to address: the need for quality, accessible training for online adjunct faculty. We then give background information to describe the environment in which the project was situated before detailing the process of designing and piloting the first iteration of the Certificate for Online Adjunct Teaching (COAT) course. Using a mixed-methods approach (surveys and reflection journals), data were collected from the adjunct faculty who took the COAT course, the COAT instructor, and the COAT design team. The results indicate that the pilot COAT course did meet the perceived needs and expectations of the course participants. We finish by discussing our plans for the next phase of this project.
Using a grounded theory qualitative research approach, this article examines the experiences of 28 adjunct faculty members who work at the same university, exploring their views on whether periodically meeting face-to-face with management and peers has the potential to affect their motivation on the job and consequently the quality of education they provide to students. A few management representatives also shared their perspectives on the phenomenon; this enabled the researcher to compare the views of these two populations on whether face-to-face contact among faculty enhances teaching performance. The results of this study suggest a few issues that online schools must address in their efforts to improve adjuncts’ sense of affiliation and loyalty to their institution, which in turn will positively affect student retention levels. The main issues of concern to adjunct faculty are (a) inadequate frequency and depth of communication, regardless of the means used, whether online or face-to-face; (b) lack of recognition of instructors’ value to the institution; and (c) lack of opportunities for skill development.
Instructional designers and educators recognize the potential of mobile technologies as a learning tool for students and have incorporated them into the distance learning environment. However, little research has been done to categorize the numerous examples of mobile learning in the context of distance education, and few instructional design guidelines based on a solid theoretical framework for mobile learning exist. In this paper I compare mobile learning (m-learning) with electronic learning (e-learning) and ubiquitous learning (u-learning) and describe the technological attributes and pedagogical affordances of mobile learning presented in previous studies. I modify transactional distance (TD) theory and adopt it as a relevant theoretical framework for mobile learning in distance education. Furthermore, I attempt to position previous studies into four types of mobile learning: 1) high transactional distance socialized m-learning, 2) high transactional distance individualized m-learning, 3) low transactional distance socialized m-learning, and 4) low transactional distance individualized m-learning. As a result, this paper can be used by instructional designers of open and distance learning to learn about the concepts of mobile learning and how mobile technologies can be incorporated into their teaching and learning more effectively.
When converting from a paper-based distance mode to an online mode of teaching, certain expectations arise that students may engage not only in the development of extended research activity but that the quality of discussion and thinking will change. With access to open-ended discussion within the online forum the opportunity is afforded to students to share ideas and in turn develop their shared knowledge, a facility denied to them when in the paper distance mode. However, in a recent study conducted in New Zealand, it was shown that despite having access to online forums students moving to an online platform refrained from participation in this social exchange. A possible explanation for this indifference was thought to be the students realising that the online exchange made no impact on their assessment. Hence, the collaborative rhetoric of Web 2.0 made little impact when the summative evaluation remained unchanged from previous paper-based assessment. This paper reports on the introduction of online learning at a private tertiary college in New Zealand and describes the response of students who found difficulty in reconciling a community of learners and openness within what was perceived as an evaluation that remained individualistic and competitive in nature.
This article describes Open University Malaysia’s efforts at enhancing the blended learning approach for undergraduate distance learners with the successful implementation of the Mobile Learning via SMS initiative. The pilot project was implemented in the May 2009 semester, and this coming January 2011 semester will be in its sixth consecutive semester. Aspects such as the conceptual model, the process flow of group messaging, and challenges faced, as well as effectiveness of the initiative, are discussed.
The report extends a previous analysis of universal instructional design principles in distance education by applying them to the design of mobile learning. Eight principles with particular relevance for distance education are selected, and their recommendations are discussed in relation to the design of educational materials for a range of mobile devices. The problems and opportunities of mobile learning are discussed as is the need for educators to focus on content design issues rather than on searching for the next new technology.
Software allowing real-time online video connectivity is rapidly evolving. The ability to connect students, staff, and guest speakers instantaneously carries great benefits for the online distance education classroom. This evaluation report compares four software applications at opposite ends of the cost spectrum: DimDim, Elluminate VCS, TokBox, and Vyew. Their benefits and shortcomings are contrasted, and efficient educational scenarios for them are suggested.
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