MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

Vol. 3, No. 1    March 2007

Abstracts of Papers in This Issue

Student Satisfaction with a Distance Learning MPA Program: A Preliminary Comparison of On-Campus and Distance Learning Studentsí Satisfaction with MPA Courses, David Powell

This research explores student perceptions of course quality and instructor effectiveness in a hybrid MPA distance learning program. The MPA distance learning program under analysis utilizes a synchronous computer software program for 21 hours of instruction per course, an asynchronous computer software program for 21 hours of instruction per course, and six hours of on-campus in-person instruction per course.


Survey data from students who have completed eight (8) courses in this distance learning program (repeated samples n = 90) will be compared to the evaluations of students who have taken the same courses from the same instructors in the on-campus program (n=100). 


The purpose of the research is two-fold. First, the research will determine if there is a significant difference between the perceptions of course quality and instructor effectiveness between students in the distance learning program and students enrolled in the on-campus program. Second, the research will explore student satisfaction with the use of the synchronous and asynchronous computer delivery methods. It is anticipated that students will express satisfaction levels with course quality and instructor effectiveness equal to, or exceeding, the satisfaction levels expressed by students in the on-campus program.

distance, education, internet, web, graduate
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Online Learning, Quality, and Illinois Community Colleges, Deborah L. G. Hutti

In 2005, the Illinois Community Colleges Online (ILCCO) conducted a survey of faculty, staff, and students in order to identify the pressing issues surrounding quality, retention, and capacity building related to online learning.  Over a six month period, nearly one thousand individuals from seventeen Illinois community colleges provided data relevant to these three issues.  The following article focuses on the issue of quality and online learning, and the information obtained related to quality.


The data collection method included three different tools:  an electronic survey of faculty, staff, and students; a focus group that included faculty, staff, and students; and interviews with select faculty, staff, and students.  The results of the analysis of the data collected indicated that faculty, staff, and students agreed on the quality benchmarks that were most important and least important to online learning.


In addition, components for maintaining and improving the quality of online learning were identified.


Keywords: Online, Online Learning, Quality, Community College, Distance Learning   HTML ( 173 kb)   PDF ( 266  kb)

Designing and Implementing Virtual Courseware to Promote Inquiry-based Learning, Robert A. Desharnais and Melvin Limson

Web-based learning objects continue to evolve as technological advances enhance our ability to create and share high-quality learning resources. An important class of learning objects are simulations intended to supplement traditional science instruction. After several years of experience in this endeavor, the Virtual Courseware Project has arrived at a set of ten design principles that it uses to guide its development of new web-based learning activities. These guiding principles place an emphasis on educational standards, open-ended inquiry-based learning, scientific methodology, critical thinking, and an intuitive and interactive user interface that includes linear tours, assessment tools, and documentation. These design principles are exemplified Drosophila, an activity for learning the genetics of inheritance.    HTML ( 84 kb)   PDF ( 1620  kb)

Confronting Challenges in Online Teaching: The WebQuest Solution, Jacqueline L. Rosenjack Burchum, Cynthia K. Russell, Wendy Likes, Cindy Adymy, Teresa Britt, Carolyn Driscoll, J. Carolyn Graff, Susan R. Jacob, and Patty A. Cowan

When faced with the need to prepare students to be successful in using technology in an online class environment, faculty from the University of Tennessee Health Science Centerís College of Nursing faced multiple challenges. Among these challenges was not only a severely restrict timeframe to complete the task, but also to design a course that would meet the needs of a diverse student population who had a wide range of experiential and technical knowledge. Determined to stimulate interest of students who were more at ease in using technology while not overwhelming those with very limited technological skills, faculty turned to WebQuests. WebQuests, which use an authentic scenario to engage students in active learning, not only met best practice standards for online teaching, but also provided a way to integrate several learning outcomes within a single assignment. The decision to use WebQuests proved to be beneficial for both students and faculty. Lessons learned in incorporating WebQuests can be used to equip interested faculty in all disciplines to adapt WebQuests to address similar challenges that are faced in other institutions.

: education, best practices, constructivism, innovation, undergraduate, nursing, template   HTML ( 188 kb)   PDF ( 450  kb)

Seeing the Past: Digital History as New Model Scholarship, Crandall Shifflett


Digital scholarship will develop discrete research techniques, theoretical models, and vocabularies.  Visual techniques and methodologies provide historians with break-through technologies for producing scholarship in new forms.  Visual history has the potential to expose new interpretive relationships, provide historians with new tools to reimagine the past, and deliver the results of recent research in a timely manner and efficacious format.

visual history, new model scholarship, breakthrough technology, electronic publication, visualization, collaboration teams
  HTML ( 79kb)   PDF ( 218  kb)

Supporting the Hybrid Learning Model: A New Proposition, Farhang Mossavar-Rahmani and Cynthia Larson-Daugherty

With the growth of online learning doubling over the last several years, learning delivery methods are continually being explored for viability and effectiveness. This paper examines a hybrid course delivery model that positively impacts course delivery and student success.  Hybrid delivery is defined as a course in which at least 50 percent of learning activities are transferred to the online format. The modelís effectiveness is measured by student success in the course and their satisfaction with the delivery system.


Keywords:  hybrid, online, learning community, online delivery   HTML ( 146 kb)   PDF ( 664  kb)

The Language of Teaching Well with Learning Objects, Carla Meskill and Natasha Anthony

Providing our students access to digital learning objects is one thing: how we as educators then converse with our learners about those objects in our online courses Ė how we teach using them- is quite another. This paper discusses the many ways in which instructional conversations about digital learning objects can be powerful and powerfully different from how we have traditionally taught with analog realia (textbooks, worksheets, overheads) and how such conversations can be enriched through awareness of digital learning object attributes and their potential roles in instructional conversations. A brief introduction to the concept of instructional conversations is followed by discussion of the attributes of learning objects that can serve instructional conversations well. The anatomy of resulting instructional conversations then serves as the foundation for direct application in teaching and learning. Samples of the language that can be used when teaching in concert with learning objects are then provided and discussed.

Keywords: instructional conversations, digital learning objects, language in education, online instructional strategies
HTML ( 94 kb)   PDF ( 1490  kb)


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Last Modified : 2007/03/14