MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

Vol. 11, No. 1, March 2015

Abstracts of Papers in This Issue

Digital Competence in the Knowledge Society
Eliana E. Gallardo-Echenique, Janaina Minelli de Oliveira, Luis Marqués-Molias, and Francesc Esteve-Mon

New Information and Communication Technologies such as the Internet, online gaming worlds, artificial intelligence, robotics and 3D printing require new literacies. In recent years, digital competence has become a key concept in discussions on the kind of skills and understanding learners need in the Knowledge Society. The concept has been interpreted in various ways (e.g. Digital Literacy, Digital Competence, eLiteracy, e-Skills, eCompetence, Computer literacy, and Media literacy) in policy documents, in the academic literature, and in teaching, learning and certification practices. In this paper we review the literature on digital competence and related terms. This review of 73 articles published between 1990 and 2014 shows that digital competence is a multi-faceted concept that has emerged from several backgrounds. Not yet a stable concept, there are still no clear guidelines for evaluating it. While some perceive digital competence as the technical use of ICT, others define it more broadly as knowledge application or 21st century skills.

Keywords: digital literacy, digital competence, multiliteracies, literature review, integrative review


Content or platform: Why do students complete MOOCs?
Yuan Wang and Ryan Baker

The advent of massive open online courses (MOOCs) poses new learning opportunities for learners as well as challenges for researchers and designers. MOOC students approach MOOCs in a range of fashions, based on their learning goals and preferred approaches, which creates new opportunities for learners but makes it difficult for researchers to figure out what a student’s behavior means, and makes it difficult for designers to develop MOOCs appropriate for all of their learners. Towards better understanding the learners who take MOOCs, we conduct a survey of MOOC learners’ motivations and correlate it to which students complete the course according to the pace set by the instructor/platform (which necessitates having the goal of completing the course, as well as succeeding in that goal). The results showed that course completers tend to be more interested in the course content, whereas non-completers tend to be more interested in MOOCs as a type of learning experience. Contrary to initial hypotheses, however, no substantial differences in mastery-goal orientation or general academic efficacy were observed between completers and non-completers. However, students who complete the course tend to have more self-efficacy for their ability to complete the course, from the beginning.

Keywords: Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), Learner Motivation, Distance Learning, Learning Analytics, Mastery Goals, Self-Efficacy


Online Graduate Students’ Preferences of Discussion Modality: Does Gender Matter?
Yu-Hui Ching and Yu-Chang Hsu

Audio/video discussion has been used increasingly in online courses due to its affordances in enhancing online communication. However, whether learners of different characteristics can benefit from this discussion modality has not been investigated extensively. This study examined whether gender plays a role in learners’ preferences and perceptions of audio/video discussion as compared to text discussion. The survey data of thirty-six participants’ perceptions were collected and studied after they participated in an audio/video discussion activity. The findings show that females preferred audio/video discussion more than males did, and more females reported that audio/video discussion strengthened their connection with peers. The top three benefits of audio/video discussion perceived by females and males are presented in this paper. Overall, using audio/video discussion to augment online communication and to connect learners is likely to be more effective and perceived more positively by female students than male students. The findings in this study could provide implications for sound pedagogical decisions that satisfy student preferences.

Keywords: Online Discussion, Discussion Modality, Gender, Audio Discussion, Video Discussion, Instructional Design


Online Graduate Instruction: What Faculty Consider Reasonable In Relation to What Students Expect
Jeffrey L. Bailie

In this investigation, the author utilized a modified Delphi technique to validate whether graduate level online faculty and learners could achieve a consensus of opinion relative to a range of instructional practices commonly associated with online education. A list of administrative guidelines pertaining to online instruction collected from an assortment of post-secondary institutions in the United States was examined by participants to address whether a consensus could be established between what online faculty and online students perceived as important instructional practices in online delivery. The findings of this study offer insight into how administratively driven instructional practices in the areas of Communication, Presence & Engagement, and Timeliness/Responsiveness relate to the expectations of online learners, and the realisms of online faculty.

Keywords: Graduate Online Instructional Practices/Graduate Online Learner Expectations


Student Attitudes Towards The Integration Of YouTube In Online, Hybrid, And Web-Assisted Courses: An Examination Of The Impact Of Course Modality On Perception
Nicole Buzzetto-More

Current mediated realities and the proliferation of user generated online content have introduced a multiplicity of measures for publishing and accessing instructional resources. Educators are encouraged to harness these contemporary modalities in order to engage today’s digital learners. In particular, the research suggests that targeted YouTube videos enhance the engagement, depth of understanding, and the overall satisfaction of students. This paper will discuss the benefits of the use of YouTube in the instructional process consistent with the Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning. Additionally, the findings of a study conducted at a Mid-Atlantic Historically Black College or University (HBCU) that focused on the impact of YouTube on course instruction and student engagement as well as differences in perception based on gender and course modality will be presented. According to the findings, incorporation of YouTube into course instruction enhances student’s perception of learning efficacy and increases engagement, gender has no impact on the perceived value of YouTube in the teaching and learning process, and course delivery method impacts student opinion whereas students who favor fully online instruction demonstrate a predilection to want YouTube integrated into course instruction, watch course YouTube videos, and consider course embedded videos more favorably than traditional students.

There are a number of relevant implications to the findings presented in this paper that illustrate that YouTube supports multimedia learning and student engagement and is particularly effective at enhancing the educational experience of fully online learners. Finally, it puts forward the idea that course delivery method should be taken into consideration when determining use of online videos and video sharing services.

Keywords: YouTube, Multimedia Learning, Instructional Video, Educational Videos, User Generated Content, Online Video, Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning ,Web 2.0 Tools in Education, Online Education, Video Sharing Services


Comparing Changes in Content Knowledge Between Online ProBLem Based Learning and Traditional Instruction in Undergraduate Health Professional Students
Kathleen Gould, William Sadera, and Scot McNary

Problem Based Learning (PBL), a student centered instructional strategy, has been used as an effective pedagogical technique in the education of health care professionals to bridge the gap between theoretical knowledge and practical application. PBL has also been proposed as an instructional method that provides for active and collaborative learning in the online environment. Current research is inconclusive regarding the effect of PBL on content knowledge change. Furthermore self-directed learning readiness (SDLR) and motivation have been identified as attributes that may affect student success in PBL and online learning environments. This study investigated changes in content knowledge after participation in an online PBL module or traditional instruction in an undergraduate nutrition course. The study also examined the relationships between student SDLR and motivation and content knowledge change. The findings of this study indicated that online PBL was as effective as traditional instruction in promoting content knowledge change. Student attributes of SDLR and motivation did not affect the observed change in content knowledge.

Keywords: Learning outcomes, self-directed learning, motivation, student centered learning, nursing education


Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education: Effective Online Course Design to Assist Students’ Success
Tena B. Crews, Kelly Wilkinson, and Jason K. Neill

The purpose of this study was to apply the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (Chickering & Gamson, 1991) to online course design to enhance students’ success in an online course. A survey was created to determine students’ perception of strategies and skills they perceived as important to complete an online course. The survey was created based on behavioral learning, cognitive learning, and social learning frameworks. The responses of the 179 students in this study in an undergraduate Computer Applications in Business course at a large southeastern university were categorized by the Seven Principles. Results of the survey showed the course design strategies and what students valued matched well with the Seven Principles Implications of the study provide evidence that good course design embeds the seven principles to ensure students are successful in the online learning environment.

Keywords: online learning; course design; online design; seven principles; and undergraduate education


Teaching an Online Pedagogy MOOC
Sandra L. Miller, Ed.D.

When MOOCs arrived, there was an immediate response of how wonderful it was that a course could reach so many students – hundreds of thousands of them. This remains true, but access needs to be tempered with quality. Just as higher education is held accountable for the quality of its traditional, blended, and online courses, MOOCs must be held accountable. There is a call for quality assurance in MOOCs just as much as with online, but less guidelines. Over the past two decades, quality assurance in online learning has developed and matured, yet some of the basic principles are not carried forth in MOOCs. This case study of an Online Pedagogy MOOC found that MOOCs can conflict with certain established best practices in online learning. Teacher/learner interaction and the development of learning communities online are two missing components in MOOCs. Student learning outcomes can be achieved in MOOCs as in online, but stronger persistence is required. Some features such as learning support services are needed in MOOCs to aid in persistence.


Understanding by Design, Moodle, and Blended Learning: A Secondary School Case Study
Timothy P. Florian, EdD and Jay P. Zimmerman MA, NBCT

In a 2013 report, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) discussed the need to develop skills for the knowledge society. Education institutions must develop opportunities for students to gain the skills needed to participate in an increasingly global economy. The OECD uses knowledge intensity to identify economically successful countries. All countries that have high knowledge intensity are innovative, have good education systems, economic incentives, and current information and communication technology available for their citizens. This increase in knowledge intensity has precipitated the need for a more skilled workforce. Starting learners on the path to knowledge intensity cannot wait for postsecondary education institutions. Secondary schools need to start the process of integrating the skills necessary to succeed in a knowledge society. Skills that enable students to succeed globally promote critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and the ability to connect one learning situation to another. The researched institution was guided by the development of the aforementioned skills in an effort to give teachers a focus for their courses. The use of the understanding by design (UbD), Moodle, and blended learning (BL) models has provided opportunities for students to develop the skills in knowledge intensity that they will need to compete globally.

Keywords: Backward design, blended learning, Moodle, PISA, OECD, secondary school, understanding by design, virtual learning


A Simple Suggestion for Reducing First-time Online Student Anxiety
David St Clair

This is a case study of a best-practice suggestion for addressing anxiety among first-time online students. This is a significant problem with many students new to online classes and one that benefits from early intervention. A simple devise for alleviating first-time online student anxiety is presented. Through the use of a Check-in Quiz, first-time online students can be taken on a tour of the class website without the fear and anxiety that typically accompany assignments and exams. This is a simple, low-pressure, and effective way of quickly introducing first-time students to the online class format. The essential elements that make an effective Check-in Quiz are also discussed.

Keywords: online anxiety; first-time online student fears; Check-in Quiz; attributes of effective Check-in Quizzes; novel uses of fill-in the blank questions


Cyborg Teaching: The Transferable Benefits of Teaching Online for the Face-to- Face Classroom
Olivia Burgess, PhD

Critics of online education often assume that traditional classrooms offer the most meaningful form of learning. Some instructors equate physical presence with intimacy, engagement, and effectiveness, though others like myself have discovered that presence and engagement are equally available in an online setting. It is time to reassess what counts as "effective" learning and consider how online education and online technologies can enhance rather than diminish student learning. This development in my own thinking as a once firm believer in the face-to-face classroom came from a one-year experience of developing and teaching my full-time course load from a distance. In addition to discovering new possibilities in online teaching, I found that best practices applied in the online classroom can be transferred to the face-to-face classroom to enhance student learning in any environment. For example, online discussion boards, consistent e- communications, course content videos, and online conferencing are tools that can be implemented into the face-to-face classroom—merging the benefits of embodied presence with the less limited boundaries of technology. When guided by a pedagogical focus on creating effective student learning, online technologies offer higher education a meaningful way to meet the needs and expectations of 21st century learners.

Keywords: online education; online learning; student engagement; online composition


Virtual Teaming and Digital Learning Strategies: Preparing Students for a Global Workplace
Darlene Andert and George Alexakis

Many organizations use technology and social media as the cost-effective, even the preferred, rapid communication and teaming modality. University students must consequently be more than just Facebook ready to meet the greater business needs. They must possess fluency in the selection and use of computer mediated communication and virtual teaming applications. The paper examines the changing role of technology in teaching group principles, concepts, and theories to students competing in the global/virtual realities of teaming and group projects. The contribution presents a comprehensive online/on-ground (i.e., hybrid or blended) course design that accelerates team and group theory beyond the traditional live team application. The paper describes how students taking a teams class fully explored the variety of ever-expanding computer mediated communication platforms. They used action-learning labs to test and apply the use of a variety of face-to-face, computer mediated communication, and a blend of the two learning platforms to complete group assignments and discover the application of group theory as it relates to group project planning, group development, and conflict resolution.

Keywords: Virtual interaction design, online group work, virtual group work, virtual team building, differentiated learning, computer-mediated communications


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