MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

Vol.7, No.1, March 2011


Abstracts of Papers in This Issue


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Students’ Perceptions of Online or Face-to-Face Learning and Social Media in Hospitality, Recreation and Tourism
Mary F. Fortune, Melany Spielman, and Dean T. Pangelinan

The implications of learning online versus face-to-face have been discussed for several years in higher education. This study examined these issues in the context of hospitality and recreation majors in an urban, multicultural university in Northern California. Comparison of the online group and the face-to-face group was conducted to evaluate differences in student learning perceptions regardless of the course delivery method and the online environment, including the course and the general use of leisure time spent in online social networks. No statistically significant difference in learning preference was found between those enrolled in the two different learning modes. Students in both learning platforms felt strongly that their chosen mode was the best for them. Participants were able to develop, grow, and be creative while learning in a cutting-edge, high tech environment with little or no physical contact. Regarding time spent online generally, students used “My Space” or “Facebook” frequently, but they did not believe they spent more time online interacting with others than they did face-to-face.

Keywords: college students, learning perceptions, social networks, hospitality and leisure programs

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Relationship between Students’ Motivation and their Participation in Asynchronous Online Discussions
Kui Xie,Vance Durrington , and Ling Ling Yen

This study investigated the relationship between students’ motivation and their participation in asynchronous online discussions during a 16-week online course. Fifty-six students participated in online discussion activities as a normal part of their classes. Their motivation for participating in online discussions was self-reported three times throughout the semester. The findings continue to indicate that students’ motivation has a significant relationship with their participation in online discussion activities at time two and time three. Students’ perceived value, autonomy, competence, and relatedness have different levels of impact on their online discussion behavior. This study also found that students’ intrinsic motivation and their perceived value of online discussions remained at a moderate-high level over time, although the perceived value had a significant drop from the mid-point to the end of the semester.

Keywords: Asynchronous Online Discussion, Motivation, Distance Learning, Collaborative Learning, Learning Community

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Asynchronous Instructional Audio Feedback in Online Envrionments: A Mixed Methods Study
Larisa A. Olesova, Jennifer C. Richardson, Donald Weasenforth, and Christine Meloni

This study explored how instructional audio feedback was perceived by English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and English as Second Language (ESL) students who participated in a collaborative online project involving two classes, one in Russia and the other in the US. Specifically, it examined: 1) the possible differences between EFL and ESL students’ perceptions of audio and text feedback when receiving audio feedback from a non-native speaker (NNS) and 2) the possible differences in their perceptions of the sense of presence (teaching, social, and cognitive) as determined by the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework when receiving audio feedback from the NNS instructor. A mixed methods research design was utilized. The two groups preferred receiving both written and audio feedback, but their perceptions of teaching presence differed. This study has broad implications not only for online learning environments but any learning environment that includes EFL/ESL students.

Keywords : e-learning, instructional audio feedback, teaching, social and cognitive presence, distance education, online asynchronous environment

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Tools to support career advancement of diverse social, behavioral, and mental health researchers: Comparison of in-person and online training delivery modes
Melissa E. DeRosier, Janey McMillen, Naomi Ornstein Davis, Rebecca Kameny , and Carly Hoffend

Career advancement in the social, behavioral, and mental health research fields can be challenging, particularly for researchers who are women or persons of color. Specialized training opportunities are needed to support researchers in key areas of career development, yet few programs exist and even fewer have an established evidence base. The current study describes the development and testing of the Leadership Training Institute (LTI), a training program designed to provide knowledge and support for career advancement of diverse researchers. To examine the effectiveness of the LTI, live and Web-based training delivery modes were compared. Participants (n=37) were randomly assigned to receive training in one of three ways: an in-person training event, a Web-based e-training environment, or a combination of in-person training and e-training. Results indicate a significant gain in knowledge essential to research career advancement for all three conditions from pre- to post-training. Further, at 9 months following completion of training, participants who received both in-person and e-training scored significantly better than e-training only participants, who scored significantly better than in-person participants. The benefits of combining live and Web-based delivery modes for career development of researchers are discussed.

Keywords: E-training, career development, mental health research, leadership training, women researchers, minority researchers

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Teacher Educators Teaching and Learning Together: A Collaborative Self-study of Support within an Online Literacy Learning Community
Ran Hu,
Tom Caron, Faye Deters, Lanette Moret , and Elizabeth A. Swaggerty

In this self-study, five university instructors who taught the same online literacy course during a summer session formed an online learning community. Through engaging in e-mail exchanges, participating in online discussions, posting weekly teaching reflections, and visiting one another’s online courses, they sought to answer the research question: How can an online literacy learning community support university instructors who teach various sections of a common online course? In answering the research question, the researchers identified the themes that were most prominent in their discussions and reflections, and also the themes that played minor roles in the forming of the literacy learning community.

Keywords : self-study, university instructor, online teaching and learning, literacy learning community, NVivo.

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A Longitudinal Comparison of Online Versus Traditional Instruction
Suzanne C. Wagner, Sheryl J. Garippo, and Petter Lovaas

This article presents a longitudinal comparison of online versus traditional instructional delivery methods. Significant research had been conducted comparing online and traditional courses. However, there is no consensus regarding student performance considering the two instructional methods. Additionally, previous studies have focused on a limited number of courses or a short time period. This research study involves a single introductory business application software course, delivered as a traditional course and as an online course, offered over a period of ten years. The course was taught by the same instructor using the same criteria and standards across all classes, however, new versions of the software were utilized. Student performance was analyzed across 30 sections of the course from the years 2001 to 2010. Results indicate that there was no significant difference in student performance between the two modes of course delivery.

Keywords: Longitudinal Study; Online course; Web-based instruction; Traditional course delivery; Business application software

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Taking the ‘Distance’ out of Distance Education: A Humorous Approach to Online Learning
Donna Gayle Anderson

As online course formats become an accepted long-term strategy in education, instructors who personalize their courses with humor can positively contribute to the students’ learning experiences. The purpose of this paper was to determine student perceptions of humor added to an online undergraduate production operations management course and how that humor influenced student engagement through participation in online discussion forums. Results indicate a statistically significant difference (p = .000) between the two groups, where group 1 had little to no humor added to the course and group 2 had humor added. The addition of humor accounted for 33.76 percent of the effect. In addition, the results of student evaluations from the second group showed that humor positively enhanced the online learning environment. This study supports previous research findings and further advances limited studies on humor and learning online pedagogy. Conclusions are drawn that humor incorporated in online courses helps motivate students to participate more in discussion and contributes to a positive learning environment.

Keywords : Humor, Online humor, Humor pedagogy, Humor and learning, Distance education

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Effective Online Instructional Competencies as Perceived by Online University Faculty and Students: A Sequel Study
Jeffrey L. Bailie

In this sequel investigation, the author utilized a modified Delphi technique to validate whether graduate level online faculty and learners could reach a consensus on the criticality of previously identified online faculty competencies. Comparisons of the leading competencies identified for online instruction and the differing modalities from previous investigations were examined in this study to determine whether they continue to be representative of those contained in the literature. This investigation confirmed that when a modified Delphi approach was instituted, competencies that were identified by similar research studies over the past decade continue to be regarded by vested constituents as important. Finally, it was shown that a consensus between what online faculty and online students perceived as important instructional competencies continues to be possible.

Keywords: Online Teaching, Instructor Competency, Instructional Effectiveness

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Observing Emerging Student Networks on a Microblogging Service
Joanne Badge, Stuart Johnson, Alex Moseley, and Alan Cann

The impact of social networks on lives of the majority of young adults has been enormous, although their impact on education is less well understood. Some consideration has been give to the role Facebook plays in higher education and in the transition from secondary to tertiary education, but little analysis has been conducted on the role of the microblogging social network Twitter. By examining the use made of this service by two cohorts of students, this study found that Twitter is easy for students to use and popular with the majority once they have experience with it. For this study different patterns of use between individuals in the study and between the two different student cohorts were observed, as was the emergence of informal online peer support networks. The results of this study suggest models for future use of microblogging services.

Keywords: computer-mediated communication; cooperative/collaborative learning; Twitter, learning communities; learning spaces, microblogging

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The Role of Web-Based Activities in Mediating Student Interaction and Engagement in Four Teacher Education Classes
Qiuyun Lin

This study looked at the role of the integration of online activities in overall course satisfaction and interactive learning experiences in a web-enhanced, traditional teacher education course. Data were collected over two semesters from two graduate and two undergraduate classes. The analysis demonstrated that a majority of the students held positive views of these learning experiences: student-centered flexible learning environment, student-student interactions, and the connection between web-based activities and face-to-face (FTF) learning. These findings suggested that integration of online activities into traditional teacher education courses can shift some of the power, authority, and control from the instructor to the learner while providing the interaction and connection that are central and valuable to traditional classrooms.

Keywords: web-based activities, online discussion, engagement, interaction, connection, student satisfaction

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The Online "Supplemental" Workshop: Course Enrichment to Support Novice Teachers' Analysis of Classroom Video
Laura H. Baecher and Shiao-Chuan Kung

As online learning and video technology become more consistent components of teacher education, the opportunities to blend the affordances of both was piloted in a specially designed online workshop. This workshop was designed to help teacher candidates become more sophisticated in their ability to recognize and describe specific teaching behaviors in videoed lessons. Using QuickTime Pro, iMovie, and Blackboard, a self-paced, asynchronous workshop to introduce techniques for observing and analyzing teachers and classes on video was created. Through a series of video tutorials and activities, teacher candidates were guided through the process of viewing the same video clip through different lenses--they were asked to reflect on student response opportunities, teacher use of praise, and teacher feedback to student error. Results of its administration to a pilot group of 47 teacher candidates indicated that completing the training module increased their comfort level with video analysis, and that video-based activities may be uniquely suited to self-paced, online tutorials.

Keywords: online learning, video analysis, course format, teacher education, instructional design

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Integrating Sustainability into the Business Curriculum through E-Learning
Pia A. Albinsson, B. Yasanthi Perera, and Pookie Sautter

This article presents a set of online activities, using free Internet resources, aimed at increasing students’ understanding of sustainability in business. Incorporating sustainability education into business curricula canshape organizational work climates by influencing various microeconomic objectives such as (1) sustainability certification of products, operations, and supply chains; (2) zero-waste; (3) eco-efficiency; (4) work-place well-being; (5) and community vitality. Currently, European and North American business schools mostly focus sustainability education efforts at the graduatelevel. Due to this gap, the authors designed the activities described in this paper for implementation at the undergraduate level. The outcomes reveal that students who participate in these activities more successfully identify the relevance of sustainability, and corporate social responsibility in the work place and in their personal lives. In contrast, students who did not participate in these activities exhibited a vague understanding of these concepts, and were less adept at both identifying and describing socially responsible practices. In addition, students not exposed to the activities were less apt to engage in sustainability practices in their personal lives. The results indicate that educators can increase students’ knowledge of sustainability, business ethics, and social responsibility by integrating the suggested activities into their curricula.

Keywords: sustainable business, online educational resources, corporate social responsibility, environment, online teaching and learning, marketing curriculum

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Engaging Students through Communication and Contact: Outreach Can Positively Impact Your Students and You!
Wendy Achilles, Kimberly Byrd, Jaclyn Felder-Strauss, Paul Franklin, and Joan Janowich

Student retention is a critical component to the success of any university, whether instruction is provided in a traditional or online setting. Creating an effective student retention program can positively impact student success and, ultimately, the reputation and the image of the institution. The implementation of a student retention program can be especially challenging in the online environment for both the instructors and the institution. Unlike a traditional university setting where students and instructors interact face-to-face, online programs need to rely on alternative methods to engage students. When online instructors take the time to create a consistent proactive outreach program students feel connected to the instructor and strive harder to be successful in the classroom. Online outreach programs can include tasks as simple as consistently emailing students, enlisting the help of student advisors, and taking time to phone students. Each approach has the potential to keep engaged students participating and can re-engage non-participating students by ensuring a high level of faculty and student interaction.

Keywords: Retention, Retain, Online, Non-traditional, Distance

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“Virtually there”: Making Online Training ‘Real’ for Caribbean Literacy Coaches – What Governments Can Do
Michelle McAnuff-Gumbs

The paper examines the implications of online training for the effectiveness of literacy instructional coaches being trained to operate in the English-Speaking Caribbean. Prior to the year 2000, no specific training program for literacy professionals at the masters’ level was available in the region. Hence, the University of the West Indies’ Open Campus’ attempt at using the online mode to training reading specialists in the use of research-based practices represents a fairly bold innovation, and research is needed to determine the efficacy of such a venture. Through an analysis of a series of asynchronous learning conversations involving four group facilitators and 77 teacher trainees in an online best practice course in the program, the author reveals the reactions of coaches-in-training to exemplary practices to which they were being exposed. Using a socio-cognitive lens through which to examine such learning conversations, the researcher demonstrates the movement in the cognitive response of trainees from awe and admiration, to skepticism that practices can work in Caribbean settings, and finally, on being presented with images of exemplary practices in Caribbean contexts, to an eagerness to emulate practices observed.

The study reveals that, while Caribbean teachers tend to initially admire depictions of best practice in resources ”borrowed from more privileged contexts”, they ultimately respond with some psychological distancing and skepticism that may prevent them from applying practices observed to their own instruction. Trainees’ suggestions regarding adjustments to be made to the virtual environment become the basis for recommendations for the mounting and maintenance of a teaching resource repository to be used for training and professional development purposes by Caribbean teachers and teacher trainers. It is recommended that a consortium of experts should collaborate to mount, lead, and sustain such an initiative with master teachers and regular teachers supplying recordings from their own classrooms to be vetted and then made available in this repository. The readiness of Caribbean nations to undertake online teacher training and to sustain such a supportive resource is examined.

Key words: online teacher training; multi-media resources; Caribbean consortium; online resource repositories

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Military Learners: Considerations for Online Course Design
David Starr-Glass

Distant learning utilizing Web-based technologies has provided learners and educational providers with unprecedented opportunities. One sector rapidly adopting distant learning is the military learner, represented by active service persons and veterans. Military learners clearly exhibit the characteristics of adult learners; however, they may also represent a special class with unique strengths and weaknesses. The values and problems of classifying student populations are explored. Experience of dealing with military learners is analyzed in an attempt to highlight the opportunities and challenges that this group brings to online learning environments. While conclusions are drawn, it is emphasized that the military learners at the center of this study were re-enlisted and had long service records, making findings difficult to generalize to all military learners.

Keywords: Military, distant learning, adult learners, classification, learning design, learner attributes, experiential learning

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YouTube across the Disciplines: A Review of the Literature
Chareen Snelson

YouTube has grown to become the largest and most highly visited online video-sharing service , and interest in the educational use of YouTube has become apparent. Paralleling the rise of academic interest in YouTube is the emergence of YouTube scholarship. This article presents the results of a review of 188 peer reviewed journal articles and conference papers with “YouTube” in the title that were published between 2006 and 2009. Four questions were answered through the review of YouTube literature : (1) What is the overall distribution of publication activity for refereed journal articles and conference papers with "YouTube" in the title? (2) How are publications with "YouTube" in the title distributed across academic disciplines? (3) What have scholars writ ten about instructional methodologies involving YouTube in a sample of literature containing "YouTube" in the title ? (4) What have scholars reported about the results of studies involving YouTube in a sample of literature containing "YouTube" in the title ? An analysis of the publications revealed that the literature emerged from multiple academic disciplines. The sample of literature included 39 articles and papers describing methods for teaching with YouTube. A total of 99 articles and papers containing the results of research studies were identified and categorized. This literature review is particularly relevant to those online educators who are interested in learning what scholars from their own academic disciplines are writing about YouTube . An emphasis is placed on trends in teaching and research discussed in the sampled literature .

Keywords: YouTube, online video, video-sharing, Web 2.0, publications, trends, teaching, research, discipline, content area

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Expression and Connection: The Integration of the Reflective Learning Process and the Writing Process into Social Network Sites
Ji-Yong Park and Jeong-Bae Son

A number of instructors have recently adopted social network sites (SNSs) for learning. However, the learning design of SNSs often remains at a preliminary level similar to a personal log book because it does not properly include reflective learning elements such as individual reflection and collaboration. This article looks at the reflective learning process and the public writing process as a way of improving the quality of reflective learning on SNSs. It proposes a reflective learning model on SNSs based on two key pedagogical concepts for social networking: individual expression and collaborative connection. It is expected that the model would be helpful for instructors in designing a reflective learning process on SNSs in an effective and flexible way.

Keywords: Online reflection; reflection process; reflective learning; public writing process; social network sites

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Last Modified : 2011/03/15