Given the upsurge of textbook costs, college students increasingly expect universities and instructors to offer alternatives to traditional textbooks. One textbook alternative is using open educational resources (OER). While OER unquestionably save students money, the question remains whether the adoption of OER (instructional materials) is aligned with open pedagogy (methods). This study investigated 46 undergraduate students’ perceptions of using only OER in an introductory course in a large American public university. As reported by study participants, advantages of using OER include textbook cost savings, access to dynamic and plentiful OER materials, that OER enabling mobile learning, and that OER foster the development of self-directed skills and copyright guidelines. Challenges reported include lacking a tactile sense with OER, slow Internet connections, unclear instruction and guidance, and insufficient self-regulation skills. Course design and implementation considerations were discussed.
Much research in face-to-face contexts outlines the importance of early adjustment on students’ higher education experiences. However, few studies have replicated this research in distance learning contexts to unpack the early multifaceted adjustments associated with studying in absence of a physical campus. This is particularly needed from a Global South perspective, where countries like South Africa have become regional hubs for distance learners. To explore distance learners’ adjustment experiences, this study analysed results from a Student Adaptation to College Questionnaire (SACQ) with 320 distance learners at the University of South Africa, mixed with qualitative thematic analysis of open-ended questions. The results outlined key factors that impact distance learning experiences for students in South Africa, including demographic variables, class, language, and access to resources. These findings, compared with similar work in face-to-face contexts, suggest areas in need of additional support from distance education providers in South Africa and beyond.
Despite providing advanced coursework online to learners around the world, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have had notoriously low completion rates. Self-regulated learning (SRL) frames strategies that students can use to enhance motivation and promote their engagement, persistence, and performance self-monitoring. Understanding which SRL subprocesses are most relevant to the MOOC learning context can guide course designers and instructors on how to incorporate key SRL aspects into the design and delivery of MOOCs. Through surveying 643 MOOC students using the Online Self-Regulated Learning Questionnaire (OSLQ), the present study sought to understand the differences in the use of SRL between those who completed their course and those who did not. MOOC completers were found to have significantly higher applications of one SRL specific subprocess, namely goal setting. Additional SRL subprocesses of task interest/values, causal attribution, time management, self-efficacy, and goal-orientation also emerged from an analysis of open-ended responses as key contributors to course completion. The findings from this study provide further support regarding the role of SRL in MOOC student performance and offer insight into learners’ perceptions on the importance of SRL subprocesses in reaching course completion.
Educational research is one of the many fields of knowledge that frequently use case studies as a research method, particularly when applying an interpretive approach. Based on literature reviews and a systematic analysis of current scientific literature, this paper examines the prevalence and characteristics of the case study as a methodology for research on MOOCs. Ninety-two documents were selected from the search results returned by two of the most prestigious scientific databases: Web of Science (WOS) and SCOPUS. Findings showed that (a) even when searching solely for case studies, quantitative research paradigms were more prevalent than interpretive approaches; (b) geographical distribution of these studies was partially biased; (c) case studies were less prevalent in these databases than other empirical investigations on MOOCs; (d) the data collection and data analysis methods most frequently used in the case studies were more aligned with a quantitative approach; and (e) there is still very little instructor-focused research using this methodology. In the light of these findings and their discussion, future directions for research using case study methodology are proposed, given the potential of this method to illustrate certain issues for which other approaches have proved inadequate or insufficient.
This study seeks to investigate the readiness levels of adult students studying in Malaysian higher education institutions. The online questionnaire used in this study consists of 18 demographic variables and 43 items based on six constructs: technical competencies, communication competencies, social competencies, self-efficacy, self-directedness, and readiness. With a sample of 413 respondents, the constructs were evaluated using measures based on students’ self-identification with each item. Descriptive statistics depict competency, demographic profile of students, and level of readiness. The statistical analyses used for this study were Pearson correlation, multivariate analysis of variance, and structural equation modelling. All six constructs were reliable with Cronbach’s alpha (α) above 0.7. Findings indicate that self-efficacy was significant for massive open online course readiness, and additional factors that could influence this readiness are explored. The findings from this study provide important input towards designing effective massive open online courses.
As education becomes increasingly complex, effective continuing professional learning is an important strategy to support teachers in schools. However, current professional development approaches may not meet contemporary teachers’ needs. Seeking to enhance teachers’ professional learning opportunities, this paper presents a model of learning as a connected professional. The model draws upon the findings of a qualitative case study of 13 teachers who interact with others through a personal learning network (PLN). Theories of connectivism, networked learning, and connected learning underpin the model, which conceptualises the whole experience of learning as a connected professional. The model comprises three elements: arenas of learning, teacher as learner, and PLN. Key characteristics of the experience are practices described as linking, stretching, and amplifying. These practices recur in various ways across all three elements of the model. The model promotes professional learning that is active, interest-driven, and autonomous, meeting personal learning needs while being socially connected. As education becomes increasingly complex, effective continuing professional learning is an important strategy to support teachers in schools. However, current professional development approaches may not meet contemporary teachers’ needs. Seeking to enhance teachers’ professional learning opportunities, this paper presents a model of learning as a connected professional. The model draws upon the findings of a qualitative case study of 13 teachers who interact with others through a personal learning network (PLN).Theories of connectivism, networked learning, and connected learning underpin the model, which conceptualises the whole experience of learning as a connected professional. The model comprises three elements: arenas of learning, teacher as learner, and PLN. Key characteristics of the experience are practices described as linking, stretching, and amplifying. These practices recur in various ways across all three elements of the model. The model promotes professional learning that is active, interest-driven, and autonomous, meeting personal learning needs while being socially connected.
Videoconferencing as a learning tool has been widely used among educators and learners in order to induce effective communication between learners and teachers or learners and their peers, especially when face-to-face means are not possible. Different types of videoconferencing platforms or systems have emerged for use in today’s higher education institutions. Previous research has focused on examining the potential of three different forms of videoconferencing systems: desktop videoconferencing (DVC), interactive videoconferencing (IVC), and Web videoconferencing (WVC). In this study, a review of the literature was conducted to increase the current knowledge regarding the use of these videoconferencing systems. A classification of the videoconferencing paradigms from the constructivism and cognitivism perspectives was provided. The summary of the results for these videoconferencing systems revealed specific learning opportunities, outcomes, and challenges for both learners and instructors. The results suggest that current policy and teaching strategies are not ready to provide an accessible and comprehensive learning experience in DVC and IVC. Relative to previously conducted studies regarding the use of videoconferencing in higher education, this study offers a broader consideration of relevant challenges that emerge when using certain videoconferencing systems in both learning and teaching situations.
A growing number of higher education institutions have adopted tools to promote mobile learning. However, studies into the driving factors of its adoption are insufficient. This article identifies the aspects that have an effect on the adoption of mobile learning (m-learning) among university students. The theory of planned behavior (TPB) and technology acceptance model (TAM) have been shown to be valid and powerful models in the research on the adoption of learning technologies. Based on TPB and TAM, we propose a model to explain how perceptions influence m-learning adoption among Colombian university students. To confirm the acceptability of the model, a self-administered questionnaire was applied to 878 undergraduate university students from the Instituto Tecnológico Metropolitano (ITM), a higher education institution in Colombia The results suggest that all of the constructs of TPB and TAM have a moderate impact on the intention to adopt m-learning. Specifically, perceived usefulness and attitude have a significant influence on students’ acceptance of m-learning. These results can stimulate future research and promote an effective diffusion of m-learning in developing countries.
Dropout rates of distance education students is a serious problem for many distance education institutions as well as their students. A psychological factor that is related to dropout is the academic persistence of students, or their intent to finish their degrees. One factor that could predict academic persistence, which is often used to identify and help at-risk students, is the academic competencies of students. However, another factor that could predict persistence is the intrinsic motivation of students, or whether they enjoy their academic work and find it interesting. In the present study, 350 distance education undergraduates in South Africa completed a survey that measured their persistence, perceived academic competence, and intrinsic motivation. The survey also measured experienced workload, help-seeking attitudes, and general stress. Results show that intrinsic motivation was a significant predictor of persistence while competence was not. Further, help-seeking attitudes and general stress had indirect effects on persistence through intrinsic motivation. The study highlights the need for educators to be aware of the intrinsic motivation of distance education students, and the factors that could impact it, in order to increase the academic persistence of students.
This study sought to collect URLs (web addresses) of all K-12 schools in the United States (N = 98,477) and analyze website home page system and service data for all available U.S. institutional websites (n = 65,899). Building upon previous research related to Web 2.0 educational potentials, this first-of-its-kind study sought (a) to provide descriptive results of system and service adoption and website data for all schools in the United States and (b) to detect theorized differences based upon school demographics and service/system type (e.g., open source vs. proprietary). Results indicated that proprietary and purchased systems were much more common than free and open systems, that adoption patterns were generally not meaningfully influenced by demographic data (except for charter school status), and that K-12 institutional adoption of Web 2.0 seems to be more focused on educational uses of these tools that might not strictly be considered pedagogical (e.g., community outreach).
Online academic courses provide students with flexible learning opportunities by allowing them to make choices regarding diverse aspects of their learning process; hence, such courses support personalized learning. This study aimed to analyze the ways students make use of flexibility in online academic courses based on learning time, place, and access to learning resources, as well as to investigate how this relates to differences in course achievement. The study examined 587 students in four online courses. Educational data mining (EDM) methodology was used to trace students’ behavior in the courses and to compute 34 variables, which describe their use of flexibility. The results show that students developed different patterns of learning time, place, and access to content, which indicates that flexibility was used substantially. Students’ achievements were significantly related to patterns of learning time and access to learning resources. Understanding the different patterns of flexibility usage may support the design of personalized learning and increase collaboration among students with similar characteristics.
Over the last decade, several studies have focused on massive open online courses (MOOCs). The synthesis presented here concentrates on these studies and aims to examine the place held by content in these studies, especially those produced between 2012 and 2018: sixty-five peer reviewed papers are identified through five major educational technology research journals. The analysis revealed that these research articles covered a wide diversity of content. Content was mainly defined in terms of objectives of MOOCs, prerequisites required for participation in the MOOC, types of learning scenarios, and, though rarely, through the strategies used to convey content. In addition, empirical studies adopted a variety of conceptual frameworks which focused mainly on learning strategies without relating to the content in question. Finally, content was seldom considered as a research object. These results can provide MOOC researchers and instructors with insights for the study and design of MOOCs by taking into account the specificity of their content.
Approximately one in 10 employed Canadians worked in health care and social services in 2016. Health professionals perceive life-long learning as an important element of professional life and value flexibility in their continuing education activities. Online learning is ideally suited to meet this need for flexible health sciences continuing education. The present study sought to identify and characterize online graduate programs in health sciences offered by Canadian universities. All Canadian (non-technical) university websites were hand searched for online graduate programs in health and related fields. Each identified program was characterized by 10 features: province, university, flexibility (i.e., fully online or blended), subject area, curriculum (e.g., coursework, thesis or project, practicum), duration and timing options (i.e., full-time, part-time), admission requirements, class size and acceptance rates, and employment outcomes. The search identified 171 Canadian university online graduate programs in health and related fields. Across Canada, the greatest numbers of programs are offered in Ontario and British Columbia. Most programs are master’s and graduate certificate programs, with graduate diploma and PhD programs being less common. While the majority of programs require an undergraduate degree for admission, some programs base entry requirements on previous work experience. Most programs offer a blended learning experience, with fewer being fully online. The most common content areas include nursing, public health, occupational health, and occupational therapy. These findings highlight opportunities to advance fully online, health continuing education in novel subject areas.
The evaluation of online courses is an important step in providing quality online courses. There are a variety of national and statewide evaluation tools used to help guide instructors and course designers of online courses (e.g., Quality Matters, OSCQR). This paper discusses a newly released course evaluation instrument from Canvas, the second largest learning management system (LMS) used by higher education institutions in the United States. The characteristics and unique features of the Canvas Course Evaluation Checklist (CCEC) are discussed. The CCEC is also compared to established national and statewide evaluation instruments. This review is helpful for those interested in online course design and developments in the field of online education.
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