As e-learning maintains its popularity worldwide, and university enrolments continue to rise, online tertiary level coursework is increasingly being designed for groups of distributed learners, as opposed to individual students. Many institutions struggle with incorporating all facets of online learning and teaching capabilities with the range and variety of software tools available to them. This study used the EPEC Hierarchy of Conditions (ease of use, psychologically safe environment, e-learning self-efficacy, and competence) for E-Learning/E-Teaching Competence (Version II) to investigate the effectiveness of an online synchronous platform to train pre-service teachers studying in groups at multiple distance locations called satellite campuses. The study included 58 pre-service teachers: 14 who were online using individual computers and 44 joining online, sitting physically together in groups, at various locations. Students completed a survey at the conclusion of the coursework and data were analyzed using a mixed methods approach. This study’s findings support the EPEC model applied in this context, which holds that success with e-learning and e-teaching is dependent on four preconditions: 1) ease of use, 2) psychologically safe environment, 3) e-learning self-efficacy, and 4) competency. However, the results also suggest two other factors that impact the success of the online learning experience when working with various sized groups. The study demonstrates that the effectiveness of a multi-location group model may not be dependent only on the EPEC preconditions but also the effectiveness of the instructor support present and the appropriateness of the tool being implemented. This has led to the revised EPEC Hierarchy of Conditions for E-Learning/E-Teaching Competence (Version III).
The Online Student Connectedness Survey (OSCS) was introduced to the academic community in 2012 as an instrument designed to measure feelings of connectedness between students participating in online degree and certification programs. The purpose of this study was to examine data from the instrument for initial evidence of validity and reliability and to establish a nomological network between the OSCS, the Classroom Connectedness Survey (CCS), and the Community of Inquiry Survey (COI), which are similar instruments in the field. Results provided evidence of factor validity and reliability. Additionally, statistically and practically significant correlations were demonstrated between factors contained in the OSCS and established instruments measuring factors related to student connectedness. These results indicate that for the sample used in this study, the OSCS provides data that are valid and reliable for assessing feelings of connection between participants in online courses at institutions of higher learning.
Within the K-12 online learning environment there are a variety of standards that designers can utilize when creating online courses. To date, the only research-based standards available are proprietary in manner. As such, many jurisdictions have begun adopting online course design standards from the leading advocacy organization, which that have yet to be validated from a research perspective. This article reports on the second phase of a three-stage study designed to examine the validity and reliability of the iNACOL National Standards for Quality Online Courses. Phase two utilizes two groups of expert reviewers to examine and provide feedback with goal of further refining these standards (after the standards had been scrutinized through the lens of the available K-12 online learning literature).
The war for talent remains a challenge that many organisations face but more so for distance education institutions to deliver on its mandate to provide effective online academic offerings. The question that remains is: How can intellectual capital be managed effectively in order to recruit and retain talent that is necessary for success? This study was conducted at a mega open and distance learning institution, and this institution has identified talent management as one of the key strategic initiatives to ensure institutional strategic goal attainment and adopted an inclusive/developable talent approach as its framework. The aim of this article is to report on the perceptions of senior line managers regarding their experience with implementing the talent management strategy in their operational areas at the institution. This study adopted a qualitative approach and purposive sampling was used to select interviewees. The population group included chairpersons of 26 talent committees who are senior line managers and 11 of them were interviewed. Participants were of the opinion that policies and strategies do not always support the implementation of talent management in their respective environments. The findings show that although the university embraces the inclusive/developable talent approach in its strategy, the impact thereof is inhibited by a lack of methodological implementation, a lack of integration of supporting Human Resources policies with talent management, and insular line manager discernment.
In this study, a blended synchronous learning environment (BSLE) was created to support a group of graduate students when they were taking a course. Instruction was delivered to both face-to-face (F2F) and online students simultaneously. The purpose of this paper is to present how this BSLE was gradually designed, implemented, and improved by following the educational design research approach. Results showed that the BSLE environment had the capability to support online and classroom students at the same time and provide equivalent learning experiences for them, but challenges emerged in the process. Design principles were summarized to guide researchers or teachers when they design similar learning environments.
MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) have changed the way in which OER (Open Educational Resources) are bundled by teachers and consumed by learners. MOOCs represent an evolution towards the production and offering of structured quality OER. Many institutions that were initially reluctant to providing OER have, however, joined the MOOC wave. Nevertheless, MOOCs detractors strongly criticize their high dropout rates. The dropout rate is a commonly accepted metric of success for traditional education, but it may not be as suitable when dealing with OER, in general, and with MOOCs, in particular, since learners’ motivations to take a course are very diverse, and certain self-regulated learning strategies are required to tackle the lack of personalized tutoring and keep pace in the course. This paper presents an empirical study on the motivation and learning strategies of MOOC learners. Six thousand three hundred and thirty-five learners from 160 countries answered a self-report 7-point Likert-type questionnaire based on the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ) as part of a MOOC titled Introduction to Programming with Java. Results indicate that learners were highly motivated and confident to do well in the course. Learning strategies, however, can be improved, especially regarding time management.
Since it was first introduced in 2008, Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) have been attracting a lot of interest. Since then, MOOCs have emerged as powerful platforms for teaching and learning academic writing. However, there has been no detailed investigation of academic writing MOOCs. As a result, much uncertainty still exists about the differences of writing MOOCs compared with traditional types of writing instruction in the classroom. Drawing on historical emphases in writing instruction, five approaches are illustrated: skills, creative writing, process, social practice, and a socio-cultural perspective. This study uses data from six academic writing MOOCs to examine what approaches are revealed within their writing instructions. Focusing on a group of six academic writing MOOCs at college level, attributes and features of writing MOOCs were explored by analyzing syllabi, video lectures, and assignments. Overall, the study found that these academic writing MOOCs stick to a traditional model of teaching writing, “writing as skills.” These findings suggest that instructors who teach academic writing through online platforms showed that their immediate concerns were not a social practice or socio-cultural context. Rather, teaching and learning of grammatical accuracy and surface features of texts at college level appear to be best purpose of academic writing MOOCs.
A study of academics and professional staff engaged in the emerging field of Technology Enhanced Learning (TEL) reveal three areas of significant difference in reference to perspectives about TEL. These differences rest on the following individual characteristics: 1) research areas and competencies, 2) academic level, and 3) attitudes towards teaching. While the number of respondents is small, the data set is rich due to a diverse group of respondents. Leadership strategy that rests on appreciative inquiry to draw these perspectives together could begin with implementation of five ways of working collaboratively: acknowledge unique skills different from one’s own, understand driving forces from different vantage points, learn enough about other views to show respect, identify common goals and incentives for all, and include people from all relevant groups.
Higher education institutions operate in a complex environment that includes influence from external factors, new technologies for teaching and learning, globalization, and changing student demographics to name a few. Maneuvering such complexity and change requires a leadership strategy that is flexible and supportive. This paper reviews two leadership theories in reference to this need: adaptive leadership theory and transactional leadership theory. Three conceptual categories of environmental readiness, leadership complexity, and followers’ motivation are used as points of comparison for each theory. A recommendation is made for leadership strategy in higher education institutions based on this comparison.
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