The COVID-19 pandemic has forced millions of students to stay indoors and adapt to the new normal, namely distance learning at home, placing online learning in the spotlight. However, students’ motivation for online learning and its effectiveness in skill development during the COVID-19 pandemic has not been widely studied. This study examined the relationship between students’ fear of COVID-19 and students’ social presence in online learning while investigating the parallel mediating role of student psychological motivation and cognitive problem-solving skills related to online learning. The participants were 472 university students in Malaysia and Pakistan. An online data collection technique using Google Forms was employed. Faculty members of the universities were asked to share the survey with their students. Moreover, using a snowball sampling technique, students were requested to share the survey with their friends. SPSS Statistics (Version 21) was employed to do preliminary data analysis, AMOS (Version 21) software was used to conduct confirmatory factor analysis using a maximum likelihood estimation, and Hayes’ PROCESS model was used to examine proposed hypotheses. The results show that only cognitive problem solving mediates the relationship between fear of COVID-19 and students’ social presence in online learning in Malaysian samples. In Pakistan, cognitive problem solving and psychological motivation mediate the relationship between fear of COVID-19 and students’ social presence in online learning. The study found that developing cognitive problem-solving skills and providing psychological motivation could enhance their engagement with online learning.
The study revisited the community of inquiry (CoI) instrument for construct revalidation. To that end, the study used confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) to examine four competing models (unidimensional, correlated-factor, second-order factor, and bifactor models) on model fit statistics computed using parameter estimates from a statistical estimator for ordinal categorical data. The CFA identified as the optimal structure the bifactor model where all items loaded on their intended domains and the existence of the general factor was supported, essentially evidence of construct validity for the instrument. The study further examined the bifactor model using mostly model-based reliability measures. The findings confirmed the contributions of the general factor to the reliability of instrument scores. The study concluded with validity and reliability evidence for the bifactor model, supported the model as a valid and reliable representation of the CoI instrument and a fuller representation of the CoI theoretical framework, and recommended its use in CoI-related research and practice in online education.
This study investigated how open and distance learning (ODL) reform was managed within the Institute of Extramural Studies (IEMS), at the National University of Lesotho (NUL). The reform was introduced during the 2017/18 academic year with first-year programmes in three departments: (a) Adult Education; (b) Business and Management Development; and (c) Research, Evaluation, and Media. The study employed interviews and analysis of institutional documents as data collection techniques. Interviews were held with eight programme coordinators, four department heads, and the director of IEMS. Purposive sampling was used to select the participants to the study given their strategic position in the management and implementation of the reform. Qualitative content analysis was used to interpret the data. The findings suggested that the ODL programmes were introduced without a policy and comprehensive plan. The implementation faced several challenges such as finance, as well as infrastructural and human resources. Evidence from the literature has suggested that compared to face-to-face strategy, ODL as an educational strategy requires special resources, support, and funding. Thus, curricular materials should be adapted for the ODL context, taking into account students’ characteristics. The study found that these pertinent requirements were not considered, and implementation continued as if the reform still constituted face-to-face or campus-based instruction.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted society in different areas. In education, several reports show the deleterious effects of the disease on the physical and mental health of students, family members, and teachers around the world. Also, in Brazil, affect studies indicate the prevalence of anxiety, stress, and depression among students. The present research, of a qualitative nature, explores what it means, under the lens of affect and from the student’s perspective, to experience remote education during the COVID-19 pandemic. An online questionnaire of 41 closed- and open-ended questions was given to 363 students from a public school in southeastern Brazil. This article analyzes the affective fields that emerged from the discursive textual analysis of the students’ responses (n = 100). Four affective fields were categorized: friends, classes, home, and teachers; intersecting emotions, attitudes, values, beliefs, and motivation. In general, students expressed more negative than positive affect but a positive disposition toward face-to-face classes. Boys focused their affect more on classes, while girls on teachers. The affective fields allow us to consider the friends–home–teachers tripod as fundamental to overcoming the phenomenon of affective fatigue that has been identified.
Flexibility is typical of open universities and their e-learning designs. While this constitutes their main attraction, promising learners will be able to study “anytime, anyplace,” this also demands more self-regulation and engagement, a cause for student dropout. This case study explores professors’ experiences of flexibility in e-learning design and continuous assessment and their perception of the risks and opportunities that more flexibility implies for student persistence and dropout. In-depth interviews with 18 full professors, who are the e-learning designers of undergraduate courses at the Open University of Catalonia (UOC), were analyzed, employing qualitative content analysis. According to the professors, the main causes for dropout are student-centered, yet they are connected to learning design: workload and time availability, as well as students’ expectations, profiles, and time management skills. In the professors’ view, flexibility has both positive and negative effects. Some are conducive to engagement and persistence: improvement of personalized feedback, formative assessment, and module workload. Others generate resistance: more flexibility may increase workload, procrastination, dropout, and risk of losing professorial control, and may threaten educational standards and quality. Untangling the tensions between dropout and flexibility may enhance learning design and educational practices that help prevent student dropout. Stakeholders should focus on measures perceived as positive, such as assessment extension, personalized feedback and monitoring, and course workload calibration. As higher education is globally turning to online delivery due to the COVID-19 viral pandemic, such findings may be useful in both hybrid and fully online educational contexts.
Technology-mediated distance education (TDE) has become part of the new normal in the range of teaching strategies used in universities in Zimbabwe. Contemporary literature abounds with studies that highlight challenges associated with access to education in universities, yet very little is highlighted about how TDE can be used to enhance access to education in Zimbabwean universities during the COVID-19 era and beyond. The purpose of this study was therefore to investigate determinants of students’ behavioural intentions to persist with TDE in universities in Zimbabwe during COVID-19 and beyond. The study employed a quantitative approach that used a self-constructed structured questionnaire for data collection from a sample of 1,300 distance learning students selected from five universities using a stratified random sampling strategy. Structural equation modelling using IBM SPSS Amos 22 was used for data analysis. Results of the study show that cultural and norms issues (β = .325; p < .001) and characteristics of the students (β = .329; p < .001), the lecturer (β = .362; p < .001), the institution (β = .427; p < .001), and external stakeholders (β = .279; p < .001) were all significantly associated with the behavioural intentions of university students to persist with TDE. Results of this study have implications for both policy and practice with regard to implementing TDE in universities.
The introduction of open educational resources (OER) provides new opportunities for learners worldwide to access high-quality educational materials at the lowest cost. As a developing country, Vietnam is one of the countries that can most benefit from the OER movement. However, the concept of OER in Vietnam remains little known to the public, with few institutional OER repositories (IOER) developed. This study contends that IOER development in Vietnam is complicated and constrained by many contextual difficulties; it was designed to explore the challenges and opportunities. After a literature review, 20 semi-structured interviews were conducted with relevant stakeholders. Building on the findings from the literature, this study found that IOER development in Vietnam is constrained by five categories of challenges: (a) technological and infrastructure matters, (b) economic constraints, (c) sociocultural characteristics, (d) pedagogical concerns, and (e) legal limitations. Many of these challenges are not identified in the literature and provide insights into potential implications and solutions for future IOER in Vietnam and other countries.
This collaborative self-study examines how five higher education institutions in British Columbia (BC), Canada, have achieved momentum with openness and are implementing and sustaining their efforts. A goal of this research was to see whether an institutional self-assessment tool—adapted from blended learning and institutional transformation research—can help to assess how an institution has progressed with its open education initiatives. By adopting both an appreciative and a critical approach, the researchers at these five BC institutions compared the similarities and differences between their institutional approaches and the evolution of their initiatives. The paper includes discussion of how a self-assessment tool for institutional open education practices (OEP) can be applied to OEP initiatives at an institutional level and shares promising practices and insights that emerge from this research.
This paper describes the functionality, scalability, and cost of implementing and maintaining a suite of open source technologies, which have supported hundreds of thousands of learners in the past year, on an information technology infrastructure budget of less than US$10,000 per year. In addition, it reviews pedagogical opportunities offered by a fully open digital learning ecosystem, as well as benefits for learners and educators alike.
The Open Education Resource universitas (OERu) is an international consortium made up of 36 publicly funded institutions and the OER Foundation. The OERu currently offers first-year postsecondary courses through OER-based micro-courses with pathways to gain stackable micro-credentials, convertible to academic credit toward recognised university qualifications. The OERu, adhering to open principles (Wiley, 2014b), has created an open source Next Generation Digital Learning Ecosystem (NGDLE) to meet the needs of learners, consortium partners, and OERu collaborators. The NGDLE—a distributed, loosely coupled component model, consisting entirely of free and open source software (FOSS)—is a global computing infrastructure created to reach learners wherever they are. All OERu services are hosted on commodity FOSS infrastructure, conferring significant advantages and creating opportunities for institutions adopting any of these services to enhance education opportunities at minimal cost. The NGDLE can also increase technological autonomy and resilience while providing exceptional learning opportunities and agency for learners and educators alike.
This is a literature review analysing articles published on virtual learning environments (VLEs), otherwise known as learning management systems, in higher education in the years 2014–2018. The Web of Science database was used to identity relevant articles over this five-year period. The sample comprises 99 peer-reviewed, academic journal articles. A coding sheet is used to analyse each article, identifying the research method, the classification of research (macro, meso, or micro), the focus of research (students, instructors, or both), and, where applicable, the specific brand of VLE. Most output on VLEs is found to be quantitative, to focus on students and on the micro level of learning and teaching, to not have a clear theoretical focus, to not specify which brand of VLE is used, and to be produced in affluent countries. This article adds to the understanding of VLE research by identifying the most frequent foci of research on VLEs, as well as identifying areas that have been under-researched.
Back issues of International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning