The exploration of study orchestrations emphasises students’ active participation in learning, describing the ways in which they marshal the resources available to them in response to their learning environment. This study reports the identification of study orchestrations in a group of distance students and identifies the existence of dissonant study orchestrations, which previous research has linked with poor achievement, in approximately one-fifth of the group. Data came from responses by 176 students to the ASSIST questionnaire. The data was subject to factor analysis to ensure commensurability with previous studies, and then cluster analysis was used to identify groups with similar study orchestrations. Four clusters were identified. One of these was clearly dissonant, pointing toward problematic links between learning environments and student approaches to study. The implications of dissonant study orchestrations are explored and further research is suggested, along with implications for the practice of distance educators.
Many college students and their families are concerned about the high costs of textbooks. A company called Flat World Knowledge both gives away and sells open-source textbooks in a way it believes to be financially sustainable. This article reports on the financial sustainability of the Flat World Knowledge open-source textbook model after one year of operation.
The aim of this paper is to bring theoretical concepts from other areas of scholarly research to bear on synchronous online education in a cross-disciplinary effort to shed light on what is going on by introducing systems of thought from other areas. The liminality and associated communitas which are found in synchronous online learning environments are examined for their possible consequences for learning in general and language learning in particular. Like computer-mediated communication, liminality has been associated with disinhibitory effects. Lack of excessive inhibition has been shown to have positive effects on second language production. The position of the online learner as “neither here nor there” or perhaps simultaneously both here and there is investigated and discussed.
The role of social presence as defined by the community of inquiry (CoI) framework is critiqued through a review of recent literature. Evidence is presented that questions the actual extent of knowledge co-construction that occurs in most higher education settings and therefore challenges the framework’s underlying assumption of the need for sustained, contiguous, two-way communication in higher-level online learning environments. The CoI framework has evolved from the description of a learning process within a social constructivist paradigm to an empirically testable construct in an objectivist paradigm. Related research results indicate that social presence does not impact cognitive presence in a meaningful way and that best teaching practices suggested by CoI-based studies are informed by objectivist, cognitively oriented learning theories. These suggest that higher-order cognition may be achieved through wide and varied combinations of learner–teacher, learner–content, and learner–learner interaction. Controlled studies can and should be undertaken to compare learning outcomes using sustained, contiguous, two-way communication to other learning models. To facilitate this, subcategories of social and teaching presences need to be revamped and analysis adjusted to separate processes that support explicitly group-based learning activities from those used by individual students.
Role play activities provide opportunities for learners to adopt unfamiliar roles, engage in interactions with others, and get involved in realistic tasks. They are often recommended to foster the development of soft skills and a wider perspective of the world. Such activities are widely used as an online teaching approach, with examples ranging from the simple use of email to the employment of virtual worlds and Web 2.0 technologies. This paper provides a case study of a role play activity which employs real-time anonymous discussion forums and aims to improve our understanding of effective role play and the impact of anonymity. This role play has been effective in educating learners about different perspectives on the issue of Quality in Further Education. The context and implementation of the role play are outlined, and the learners’ interactions and experiences are explored using an investigative analysis of discussion transcripts and semi-structured interviews with participants. The findings suggest that role engagement and anonymity are important components for success in synchronous online role play. Evidence is presented that provides an insight into the factors which encourage role engagement, including prior experiences and contributions from peers. The impact of anonymity is also explored since many participants did not regard the study environment as real and attempted to identify their peers.
As video-based instructional materials become available to distance learners to learn practical skills at a distance, it is important to assess the instructional effectiveness of these materials and to understand how students respond to them. This paper is the second part of a larger exploratory study that assessed the instructional effectiveness of video-based instructional materials for teaching distance learners practical skills in block-laying and concreting and how learners respond to these instructional materials. Specifically, this paper aims to assess learners’ acceptance and satisfaction with the materials. It also aims to determine whether levels of learner satisfaction and acceptance differ according to study centres. Data were collected from 71 respondents at three study centres using a self-completion questionnaire comprising 17 Likert-type items. The data were analyzed using descriptive statistics, ANOVA, and Scheffe’s post hoc test at a 0.05 level of significance. Learners appeared positive about their learning experiences with the use of video-based instructional materials to learn practical skills at a distance as they rated highly all the items assessing their acceptance and satisfaction. Results of item-by-item ANOVA regarding learner acceptance indicated that the respondents, categorized according to study centres, exhibited similar levels of acceptance for nine of the ten items. For learner satisfaction, there were no statistically significant differences for six of the seven items. Thus, learners of different study centres exhibited about the same level of acceptance and satisfaction.
The shift to technology-mediated modes of instructional delivery and increased global connectivity has led to the rise in globalized e-learning programs. Educational institutions face multiple challenges as they seek to design effective, engaging, and culturally competent instruction for an increasingly diverse learner population. The purpose of this study was to explore strategies for expanding learner analysis within the instructional design process to better address cultural influences on learning. A case study approach leveraged the experience of practicing instructional designers to build a framework for culturally competent learner analysis. The study discussed the related challenges and recommended strategies to improve the effectiveness of cross-cultural learner analysis. Based on the findings, a framework for conducting cross-cultural learner analysis to guide the cultural analysis of diverse learners was proposed. The study identified the most critical factors in improving cross-cultural learner analysis as the judicious use of existing research on cross-cultural theories and joint deliberation on the part of all the participants from the management to the learners. Several strategies for guiding and improving the cultural inquiry process were summarized. Barriers and solutions for the requirements are also discussed.
Shifting from an emphasis on teaching to learning is a complex task for both teachers and students. This paper reports on a qualitative study of teachers in a nurse specialist education programme meeting this shift in a distance education course. The study aimed to gain a better understanding of the teacher-student relationship by addressing research questions in relation to the students’ role, the learning process, and the assessment process. A didactical design comprising three phases focusing on distinct learning outcomes for the course was adopted. Data were collected through in-depth interviews with teachers and were analysed using inductive thematic analysis. The results indicate a shift towards a problematising and holistic approach to teaching, learning, and assessment. This shift highlighted a teacher-student relationship with a shared responsibility in the orchestration of the learning experience. The overall picture outlines a distance education experience of process-based assessment characterised by the imposition of teachers’ rules and a lack of creativity due to the limited role of ICT merely as a container of content.
Along with the amount of time spent learning (or time-on-task), the quality of learning time has a real influence on learning performance. Quality of time in online learning depends on students’ time availability and their willingness to devote quality cognitive time to learning activities. However, the quantity and quality of the time spent by adult e-learners on learning activities can be reduced by professional, family, and social commitments. Considering that the main time pattern followed by most adult e-learners is a professional one, it may be beneficial for online education programs to offer a certain degree of flexibility in instructional time that might allow adult learners to adjust their learning times to their professional constraints. However, using the time left over once professional and family requirements have been fulfilled could lead to a reduction in quality time for learning. This paper starts by introducing the concept of quality of learning time from an online student-centred perspective. The impact of students’ time-related variables (working hours, time-on-task engagement, time flexibility, time of day, day of week) is then analyzed according to individual and collaborative grades achieved during an online master’s degree program. The data show that both students’ time flexibility (r = .98) and especially their availability to learn in the morning are related to better grades in individual (r = .93) and collaborative activities (r = .46).
The use of a participant survey, administered at the outset of an online course, can provide information useful in the management of the learning environment and in its subsequent redesign. Such information can clarify participants’ prior experience, expectations, and demographics. But the very act of enquiring about the learner also signals the instructor’s social presence, relational interest, and desire to enter into an authentic dialogue. This study examines the use of participant surveys in online management courses. The first section discusses the informational bridges that this instrument provides. The second section considers survey responses to open-ended questions dealing with student sentiments. This analysis suggests that the survey plays a valuable part in accentuating social presence and in initiating relational bridges with participants.