MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

Vol. 2, No. 4    December 2006


Abstracts of Papers in This Issue


Beyond the Printed Page: Style Suggestions for Electronic Texts, Gary L. Bradshaw and Robert J. Crutcher

When compared to their traditional print-based counterparts, electronic texts often fall far short of the mark in readability, portability, rapid access to information, and the ability to personalize a printed text by highlighting and jotting down notes in the margin. Given these advantages, readers typically exhibit a strong preference for a print-based text instead of its electronic counterpart. The authors propose that these deficiencies derive from an inappropriate model of an electronic text, utilize psychological principles to suggest how to improve electronic texts that are difficult or impossible to reproduce in print media, and describe student reactions to an electronic text, ePsych, that employs these principles. A survey revealed that students in a variety of classes reacted positively to ePsych and rated it better than traditional print-based texts.    HTML ( 59 kb) PDF ( 371 kb)


International Online Collaboration: Modeling Online Learning and Teaching, Jennifer Lock and Petrea Redmond

Working through an inquiry process within an international online classroom, pre-service teachers identified and discussed critical issues embedded in cultural diversity and inclusion and explored how to honour diversity within their pedagogical practices in elementary/primary classrooms within Canadian and Australian contexts. A discussion of the findings based on a qualitative research case study is presented through the lens of an online collaborative framework. The role of teaching presence within the intentional design and throughout the implementation of the online collaborative educational experience is paramount.  If the goal is to engage pre-service teachers in higher order thinking within online collaborative learning environments, the intentionality of the design of the work and the facilitation of the discourse throughout the work must be modeled and facilitated by educators.   HTML ( 137 kb)   PDF ( 340  kb)


An Examination of Online Instructor Presence via Threaded Discussion Participation, B. Jean Mandernach,  R. M. Gonzales, and Amanda L. Garrett

Central to the effectiveness of online learning is the issue of instructor presence and the role of interactivity in establishing this presence. Though the literature clearly supports the need for instructorsí active engagement in online courses, concrete standards and expectations for guiding this interaction are lacking. The purpose of the current study is to examine faculty perceptions regarding the extent to which instructor interactivity, operationalized as participation in online threaded discussions, should be evaluated and regulated in order to establish clear benchmarks and expectations for instructor presence in the online classroom. Feedback from online instructors revealed little agreement among experienced online instructors in the extent to which the quality and frequency of online instructor interaction should be monitored and/or evaluated. The implications of these findings suggest that institutions must establish clear standards for instructor interaction, as well as criteria for evaluation of instructor engagement, in order to guide faculty concerning best practices in online learning.   HTML ( 108 kb)   PDF ( 313  kb)


Online Training for Sport Professionals: Lessons Learned from an Inaugural Initiative, Jill Fjelstul and Dana Tesone

The article provides a report of an inaugural training intervention that was conducted to prepare professional golf instructors to successfully complete certification testing. The intervention was a collaborative venture involving university educators and representatives from the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA). The article identifies the background, purpose, and methodology of the online initiative. The authors present the findings of the study with emphasis on lessons learned from their experiences. The article concludes with suggestions for educators to enhance the effectiveness of future collaborative training initiatives.   HTML ( 84 kb)   PDF ( 208  kb)


Electronic Note Passing: Enriching Online Learning with New Communication Tools, Paul Sparks and Lisa Mentz

Online students are caught using unsanctioned communication tools in class. Faculty debate the implications and begin to note positive effects.  The effects are listed with examples and commentary. Multichannel learning is also considered. Further research is needed to understand how new technologies are assimilated into existing online programs.   HTML ( 58 kb)   PDF ( 177  kb)


Learning by Tagging: The Role of Social Tagging in Group Knowledge Formation, Jude Yew, Faison P. Gibson, Stephanie D. Teasley

This research presents a case study on the use of Social Tagging in an undergraduate classroom at the University of Michigan during the Fall 2005 semester.  Students were between 20 and 22 years of age.  Students tagged their individual blog posts to contribute to themes and conversations in an online learning environment.  Using content analysis of the blog posts and tags as well as semi-structured interviews, the study examines the role of online social tagging for tracking and aiding group knowledge formation. HTML ( 144 kb)   PDF ( 438  kb)


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