MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

Vol.5, No.3, September 2009

Abstracts of Papers in This Issue

Use of an Interactive NMR Spectroscopy Course to Enhance NMR Understanding for University Students
Saksri Supasorn and Sunanta Vibuljan

NMR spectroscopy is one of the most important techniques used in the structural identification of a compound. For this reason, a spectroscopy course that includes NMR is required for undergraduate chemistry students. However, many students have difficulty understanding the concepts of NMR spectroscopy and how to interpret NMR spectra. An interactive NMR (iNMR) course containing highly interactive animations and exercises was developed based on constructivist learning environments to support self-studying and to provide practice in NMR problem solving. Third-year chemistry students (n = 26) volunteered to use the course as a supplement to their regular spectroscopy class. Students’ understanding of key NMR spectroscopy concepts was statistically increased after completing the interactive course. Moreover, the average course grade of students completing the iNMR course was significantly higher than that of students completing traditional lessons in each of the previous four years.

Keywords: iNMR, interactive course, structural identification, structural elucidation, e-learning


Measuring Ecoshock and Affective Learning: A Comparison of Student Responses to Online and Face-to-Face Learning Ecologies
David San Jose and Tom Kelleher

A 12-item ecoshock index was developed and tested to measure differences in university students’ responses to online and face-to-face learning ecologies. The index yielded promising internal reliability scores in pilot testing and experimental conditions. Construct validity was supported with evidence from within-subjects experimental comparisons (N = 49) showing that ecoshock was significantly higher in online conditions than face-to-face conditions as predicted. Also as predicted, ecoshock correlated negatively with an 8-item index of affective learning, which was found to be greater in face-to-face conditions than online conditions. Implications for instruction and student learning outcomes are discussed.

Keywords: Culture shock, transition shock, lifelong learning, communication education


Learner Media Preferences in an Evidence-Based Practice Asynchronous Web Module
Ann M. York, Teri Stumbo, and F. R. “Fritz” Nordengren

Evidence-based practice (EBP) is considered an integral element of healthcare education today. Using an asynchronous online tutorial may be an effective and efficient way to introduce EBP to students. The primary purpose of this case study was to identify student preference for delivery format of an online EBP tutorial by comparing interactive web modules with PDF text modules. The secondary purpose was to demonstrate student mastery of subject matter. A first year cohort (N=50) of doctor of physical therapy students was enrolled in a self-paced, online EBP tutorial consisting of five modules, each produced in both an interactive and a text format. The students were randomly allocated into two groups. A cross-over design alternated the module format between groups for the first four modules, then students chose their preferred format for module five. Pre/post surveys revealed most students preferred having both the interactive and text formats available, and accessed both when given a choice. Pre/post test scores indicated that all students achieved content mastery with no significant difference between groups. Students preferred having a choice of delivery methods. Type of delivery method did not significantly impact learning.

: Web-based learning, online learning, interactive, evidence-based practice, evidence-based medicine, EBM, EBP


Student Perceptions of the Use of Instructor-Made Videos in Online and Face-to-Face Classes
Katherine Kensinger Rose

The rise in online education, coupled with research suggesting the influence of instructor-learner interaction and frequency of student engagement with course materials on academic outcomes, highlight the need for innovative ways to keep the online learner connected to the course. This article describes results from a study conducted to examine students’ perceptions about the use of instructor-made videos that provided explanations of course assignments, syllabus requirements, discussed weekly topics, reviewed for exams, and answered student questions in video format in both a 100% online course and in several face-to-face courses. Student perceptions of this instructional strategy were overwhelmingly positive, with all of the students surveyed expressing satisfaction with this method of instructor-learner interaction. Open-ended answers revealed that students felt more connected to the instructor when able to view instructor-made videos. Descriptive results are provided for both the 100% online course and the face-to-face courses on variables related to frequency of viewing videos, purpose of videos viewed, and perceptions about the videos in regard to their experience with the course. Recommendations are also provided for online instructors interested in employing this teaching technique.

Keywords : teacher-learner interaction, distance education, pedagogy, hybrid education, computers and education


Distance Learning in the Visual Arts
Susan Miiller and Linda Smith

Projects submitted in both online and in face-to-face versions of Introduction to Drawing and Design are explored and compared. Students in both versions of the course explored problems in drawing, painting and design using a variety of processes and materials with no loss of quality. In many instances, the online version of the course excelled. This was especially true in discussion board “critiques”, where students experienced freedom from face-to-face stress and were far more enthusiastic and forthcoming with their comments and constructive criticism. This paper demonstrates the successful online version of a seated studio course using digital photographs of actual student drawings. Ability to use the digital camera and Blackboard technology for class presentations and critiques demonstrate student progress to educators considering developing an online studio course at their institution.

Keywords: Critique, Color Theory, Discussion Board, Impatica, Mandala, Turnitin, Value, Negative/Positive, PowerPoint, Second Life


The Case for Distance Education in Nursing
Cheryl Holly

This paper presents the case for increased distance education course offerings in nursing education as a way of addressing the United States shortage of nurses and to meet the call from the National League for Nursing to increase informatics content in the nursing curriculum.

Keywords: Distance education, nursing, nursing shortage, distance education in nursing, online learning


Replacing Professor Monologues with Online Dialogues: A Constructivist Approach to Online Course Template Design
Cynthia Stewart, Christine Bachman , and Stephanie Babb

Online course delivery requires a divergence from conventional teaching methods. Many online educators have instituted a constructivist approach to course delivery, but have created superficial connections between the technology used and the approach itself. The following article addresses the value of theory-driven online course development and provides a model for launching a constructivist “best practices” course template.

Keywords: Course design, Constructivism, Introduction to Psychology, online template, cognitive theory


Students’ Experiences of Technology-Enhanced Learning in Two Traditional Teacher-Preparation Classrooms
Hui-Wen Huang and Rodney McConnell

The purpose of this study was to explore the perceived differencesin students’ learning experiences and their learning role adjustments by integrating online discussions into the instructional design of two teacher-preparation courses. Forty-eight students participated in this study in a northwestern public university in the spring 2009 semester. The results showed: 1) students indeed appreciated the educational value in the combination of online discussions with F 2F discussions; and 2) students found that as learners they changed their normal classroom roles from being passive to more active. Additionally, the majority of the participants recognized the process of reading and writing appeared to translate to more thoughtful and meaningful oral discussions while meeting in the traditional F 2F classroom. This activity was shown to fully explore the topic in question after having interactions with peers in online discussions for the assigned reading text. Finally, implications for designing online and F 2F discussions are discuss

Keywords: online discussion, F2F discussion, blended learning, hybrid learning, role adjustment, technology-enhanced learning, course design


Online Education: the Needs, Interests, and Capacities of Wisconsin Public Health Professionals
Kaija L. Zusevics, Gary D. Gilmore, Robert A. Jecklin, and Geoffrey R. Swain

The need to develop online educational opportunities for public health professionals has been clearly documented nationwide and specifically in Wisconsin. Preliminary evaluations have identified the advantages and effectiveness of online learning for public health education. However, few studies have examined public health professionals’ use of, confidence with, and interest in online technologies, formats, and topics. These data are pertinent to the development of online education modules that reflect professionals’ learning needs. Consequently, a descriptive prospective study was implemented to assess the technology and content needs, capacities, and preferences of Wisconsin public health professionals. The results clarified what appropriate technologies, formats, and topics should be included in online learning environments for public health professionals and are aligned with the components of the Theory of Innovations. Respondents reported utilizing and confidence with basic computer technologies and programs, but preferred short, self-paced, asynchronous, non-degree continuing education programs. Respondents were not as confident using online chat rooms, forums, discussion boards, or video-technologies, and were less interested in semester-long courses and full degree programs. Results indicated that public health online education programs should include a technology training course for students. Future research should survey additional public health professionals and evaluate public health online programs.

Keywords : public health, online education, distance education, continuing education, professional development


Online Teaching Strategy: A Position Paper
Daniel W. Keebler

This article discussed the online teaching strategies and the pedagogical aspects of online teaching. This author’s position is that an effective online learning environment includes the use of online teaching strategies that incorporate dialogue as part of the pedagogical design. Based upon the information researched and discussed in this article, the use of virtual teaching strategies that incorporate effective dialogue as part of their pedagogical design are in the best position to provide an effective online learning environment.

Keywords: Online, Teaching, Strategy, Position, Paper, Pedagogical, Design, Dialogue


Exploring the Immersive Parasocial: Is it You or the Thought of You?
Shalin Hai-Jew

Immersive and persistent 3D virtual spaces have been adopted for e-learning in higher education. These spaces involve multi-sensory, real-time interactivity with other learners through high-fidelity, human-embodied avatars as well as automated ‘bots; these involve virtual contexts that situate various types of learning. Practitioners have discussed promoting immersive addictions to support long-term, deep-transfer, and complex systems-based learning. The social presences of human-embodied avatars, in individuals and groups, and their communications-heavy interactivity, have encouraged the development of parasocial relationships in several forms: self-love of people for their own avatars (which they may build up with a range of attractive features and digital powers), and other-love for others’ online personas. Understanding the parasocial spectrum will be important for those heading into immersive multiverses, especially with campuses starting to offer full-service virtual and distance support systems that encourage distance learning without the hybrid / blended or any aspect of face-to-face (F2F). This position paper explores ways to build immersive learning and to communicate to elicit the salutary parasocial effects while avoiding possible negative ones.

Keywords: parasocial, 3D immersive, persistent virtual space, human-embodied avatar, social presence, virtual relationships, multiverses, haptics


Wayfinding Affordances Are Essential for Effective Use of Virtual Environments for Instructional Applications
Mary Jo Dondlinger and Leslie Matthew Lunce

Virtual environments (VEs) are becoming increasingly popular as a delivery medium for instruction. However, to leverage the unique affordances of such environments for learning, VE designers need to incorporate wayfinding mechanisms that aid users in navigating the environment into their designs. This paper discusses six wayfinding affordances to assist VE users in constructing mental models in virtual environments, information that useful to both VE designers and to educators who use VEs to teach.

Keywords: Affordances, anchored instruction, cues, avatar perspectives, decision making, dynamic route descriptors, landmarks, problem solving, situated cognition, virtual environments, wayfinding


The Online Educator: Instructional Strategies for Effective Practice
Noela A. Haughton and Liz Romero

Although many online instructors have varying degrees of classroom experience, limited experience with the online environment makes them novices in this teaching and learning context. This paper, which is aimed at the novice online educator, articulates a unified online learning framework that: describes the higher education online instructional environment in terms of student inputs, institutional influences, and student outcomes; describes the relationship between student inputs, instructional strategies, and instructional outputs; and provides instructional prescriptions to guide the practice of the online educator. Prescriptions are based on an authentic example of a research methods course taught at multiple virtual universities over a five year period. Future research includes broader application of this framework and gathering feedback on its efficacy from instructors with different experience levels.

Keywords: Instructional strategies, novice instructors, online learning, higher education


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