One of the claims the OER movement makes is that availability of (open) digital learning materials improves the quality of education. The promise is the ability to offer educational programs that take into account specific demands of the learner. The question is how to reach a situation where a customized demand can be met using OER with acceptable quality against acceptable costs. This situation resembles mass customization as is common in industry for several decades now. Techniques from an industry where an end product is assembled with the demands of the customer as a starting point can be translated to the field of education where courses and learning paths through a curriculum are assembled using a mixture of open and closed learning materials and learning services offered by an institution. Advanced IT support for both the modeling of the learning materials and services and a configurator to be used by a learner are necessary conditions for this approach.
Open educational resources (OER) are making their way into a variety of educational contexts from formal lesson planning to just in time learning. Educators and training professionals have been recognized as an important audience for these materials. The concepts of self-efficacy and outcome judgment from social cognitive learning theory serve as theoretical constructs to measure educator perceptions of OER. This study uses a path analysis, based on the technology acceptance model, to understand adoption of these resources by this audience with a particular emphasis on self-efficacy. Among the participants, three main groups were identified: K-12 educators, higher education professionals, and those involved in workplace training. A discriminant function analysis found that K-12 educators stood out as finding OER relevant to improving their practice. Recommendations are made in regards to an emphasis on easy to use designs to improve application self-efficacy of OER and instructional messaging for future K-12 educators.
The past few years have seen increasingly rapid development and use of open educational resources (OER) in higher education institutions (HEIs) in developing countries. These resources are believed to be able to widen access, reduce the costs, and improve the quality of education. However, there exist several challenges that hinder the adoption and use of these resources. The majority of challenges mentioned in the literature do not have empirically grounded evidence and they assume Sub-Saharan countries face similar challenges. Nonetheless, despite commonalities that exist amongst these countries, there also exists considerable diversity, and they face different challenges. Accordingly, this study investigated the perceived barriers to the use of OER in 11 HEIs in Tanzania. The empirical data was generated through semi-structured interviews with a random sample of 92 instructors as well as a review of important documents. Findings revealed that lack of access to computers and the Internet, low Internet bandwidth, absence of policies, and lack of skills to create and/or use OER are the main barriers to the use of OER in HEIs in Tanzania. Contrary to findings elsewhere in Africa, the study revealed that lack of trust in others’ resources, lack of interest in creating and/or using OER, and lack of time to find suitable materials were not considered to be barriers. These findings provide a new understanding of the barriers to the use of OER in HEIs and should therefore assist those who are involved in OER implementation to find mitigating strategies that will maximize their usage.
Textbooks represent a significant portion of the overall cost of higher education in the United States. The burden of these costs is typically shouldered by students, those who support them, and the taxpayers who fund the grants and student loans which pay for textbooks. Open educational resources (OER) provide students a way to receive high-quality learning materials at little or no cost to students. We report on the cost savings achieved by students at eight colleges when these colleges began utilizing OER in place of traditional commercial textbooks.
MOOCs (massive open online course) is a disruptive innovation and a current buzzword in higher education. However, the discussion of MOOCs is disparate, fragmented, and distributed among different outlets. Systematic, extensively published research on MOOCs is unavailable. This paper adopts a novel method called blog mining to analyze MOOCs. The findings indicate, while MOOCs have benefitted learners, providers, and faculty who develop and teach MOOCs, challenges still exist, such as questionable course quality, high dropout rate, unavailable course credits, ineffective assessments, complex copyright, and limited hardware. Future research should explore the position of MOOCs and how it can be sustained.
A field enquiry in French distance education allows us to analyze the evolution of a specific institution towards new public management: Parallel to a trend of free courseware and open education, there is a paradoxical reality of distance education monetization. Whereas history shows how traditional French education is a state controlled public good, a new policy is changing the organization’s culture towards a commercial and industrial activity. From inside the institution, we describe the cultural changes, with its human resources, accounting, and marketing dimensions. We relate debates about the institution’s business model within the economy of knowledge – selling either services or contents, focusing on the learner’s experience. Lastly, we analyze the notion of value underlying this monetization of a distance education institution: both the computing of a specific training’s value and the shared values of the workers binding up their collective identity.
Interaction has always been highly valued in education, especially in distance education (Moore, 1989; Anderson, 2003; Chen, 2004a; Woo & Reeves, 2007; Wang, 2013; Conrad, in press). It has been associated with motivation (Mahle, 2011; Wen-chi, et al., 2011), persistence (Tello, 2007; Joo, Lim, & Kim, 2011), deep learning (Offir, et al., 2008) and other components of effective learning. With the development of interactive technologies, and related connectivism learning theories (Siemens, 2005a; Downes, 2005), interaction theory has expanded to include interactions not only with human actors, but also with machines and digital artifacts. This paper explores the characteristics and principles of connectivist learning in an increasingly open and connected age. A theory building methodology is used to create a new theoretical model which we hope can be used by researchers and practitioners to examine and support multiple types of effective educational interactions. Inspired by the hierarchical model for instructional interaction (HMII) (Chen, 2004b) in distance learning, a framework for interaction and cognitive engagement in connectivist learning contexts has been constructed. Based on cognitive engagement theories, the interaction of connectivist learning is divided into four levels: operation interaction, wayfinding interaction, sensemaking interaction, and innovation interaction. Connectivist learning is thus a networking and recursive process of these four levels of interaction.
This study was conducted at colleges in three countries (United States, Venezuela, and Spain) and across three academic disciplines (engineering, education, and business), to examine how experienced faculty define competencies for their discipline, and design instructional interaction for online courses. A qualitative research design employing in-depth interviews was selected. Results show that disciplinary knowledge takes precedence when faculty members select competencies to be developed in online courses for their respective professions. In all three disciplines, the design of interaction to correspond with disciplinary competencies was often influenced by contextual factors that modify faculty intention. Therefore, instructional design will vary across countries in the same discipline to address the local context, such as the needs and expectations of the learners, faculty perspectives, beliefs and values, and the needs of the institution, the community, and country. The three disciplines from the three countries agreed on the importance of the following competencies: knowledge of the field, higher order cognitive processes such as critical thinking, analysis, problem solving, transfer of knowledge, oral and written communication skills, team work, decision making, leadership and management skills, indicating far more similarities in competencies than differences between the three different applied disciplines. We found a lack of correspondence between faculty’s intent to develop collaborative learning skills and the actual development of them. Contextual factors such as faculty prior experience in design, student reluctance to engage in collaborative learning, and institutional assessment systems that focus on individual performance were some of these reasons.
Research indicates that distance education (DE) students regard learner support systems as the key element in quality provision. This study sought to identify the key concerns of Asian DE students regarding support provision in different types of DE and dual-mode providers and formulate a student support model which took account of gender issues. An online survey was conducted with 1,113 distance learners in Japan, Korea, Hong Kong SAR China, Malaysia, India, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand which required them to respond to open-ended questions regarding their main concerns over the quality of distance education. Their responses were analyzed with Nvivo 2.0 based on the framework of the Atkins (2008) ARCS model of distance learner support. It was found that in assessing the quality of DE the students valued 13 types of student support across five domains: affective, reflective, cognitive, systemic, and gender-considerate. It was also confirmed that there were gender differences in the students’ perceptions of the need for student support. Building on these findings, an elaborated model for student support for Asian distance learners was developed from a systems perspective, and from this, a list of supporting strategies was proposed.
In this article I will share a qualitative self-study about a 15-week blended 100% online graduate level course facilitated through synchronous meetings on Blackboard Collaborate and asynchronous discussions on Blackboard. I taught the course at the University of Tennessee (UT) during the spring 2012 semester and the course topic was online learning environments. The primary research question of this study was: How can the designer/instructor optimize learning experiences for students who are studying about online learning environments in a blended online course relying on both synchronous and asynchronous technologies? I relied on student reflections of course activities during the beginning, middle, and the end of the semester as the primary data source to obtain their insights regarding course experiences. Through the experiences involved in designing and teaching the course and engaging in this study I found that there is room in the instructional technology research community to address strategies for facilitating online synchronous learning that complement asynchronous learning. Synchronous online whole class meetings and well-structured small group meetings can help students feel a stronger sense of connection to their peers and instructor and stay engaged with course activities. In order to provide meaningful learning spaces in synchronous learning environments, the instructor/designer needs to balance the tension between embracing the flexibility that the online space affords to users and designing deliberate structures that will help them take advantage of the flexible space.
The purpose of this study is to examine the effects of blended e-learning on electrical machinery performance (achievement test and self-assessment). Participants were two classes of 11th graders majoring in electrical engineering and taking the electrical machinery class at a vocational high school in Taiwan. The participants were randomly selected and assigned to either the experimental group (n = 33) which studied through blended e-learning or the control group (n = 32) which studied through traditional classroom learning. The experiment lasted for five weeks. The results showed that (a) there were no significant differences in achievement test scores between blended e-learning and traditional learning; (b) students in the experimental group obtained significantly higher scores on self-assessment than students in the control group; (c) students’ scores on self-assessment were significantly higher after studying through blended e-learning than before. Overall, blended e-learning did not significantly affect students’ achievement test scores, but significantly affected their self-assessment scores.
Teaching in higher education in the 21st century can be a demanding and complex role and academic educators around the globe are dealing with questions related to change. This paper describes a new type of a professional development program for teaching faculty, using a pedagogical model based on the principles of authentic e-learning. The program was developed with the help of an iterative educational design research process and rapid prototyping based on on-going research and redesign. This paper describes how the findings of the evaluations guided the design process and how the impact of the measures taken was in turn researched, in order to eventually identify and refine design principles for an authentic e-learning program for international teaching faculty professional development.
Mobile cloud learning, a combination of mobile learning and cloud computing, is a relatively new concept that holds considerable promise for future development and delivery in the education sectors. Cloud computing helps mobile learning overcome obstacles related to mobile computing. The main focus of this paper is to explore how cloud computing changes traditional mobile learning. A case study of the usage of Moodle in the cloud via mobile learning in Khalifa University was conducted.
This article is a review of ideas, comments, and inquiries about massive open online courses (MOOCs) gathered from a wide variety of online journal and magazine articles, and web blogs. As a seasoned “traditional” online educator, as well as a student participant in several MOOCs, I also take the opportunity to share my personal insight from my own learning experiences, with the goal of illustrating some of the concerns unearthed in my research. One serious issue regarding MOOCs is that some learners can feel isolated and/or neglected, particularly when they perceive that other course participants and/or the professor are ignoring their contributions. Our era has witnessed “the McDonaldization of Education” (Lane & Kinser, 2012), in which one size fits all and information is delivered to student “customers” via systematically managed “factories” whose overseers frown upon any supposed waste of valuable resources or human effort. In the mass-appeal environment of a MOOC, it is quite possible that a student will receive no customized feedback from nominal experts in the field. Lack of meaningful interaction is likely a key factor driving high attrition numbers in the online education environment – numbers that are apparently even higher in the case of MOOCs.