MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

Vol.4, No.3, September 2008

Abstracts of Papers in This Issue
The relationship between epistemological beliefs and self-regulated learning skills in the online course environment, Lucy Barnard, William Y. Lan, Steven M. Crooks, and Valerie Osland Paton
Epistemological beliefs and self-regulated learning skills, as meta-cognitive constructs, have been suggested as being associated with positive learning outcomes. Results from research literature, however, have been mixed as to the impact of epistemological beliefs, self-regulated learning skills, or some combination of the two meta-cognitive constructs as being associated with academic achievement. The relationship between epistemological beliefs and self-regulated learning skills as associated with academic achievement among online learners was examined in this study. 

Keywords: Epistemological beliefs, self-regulated learning, online learning, meta-cognition

Using Asynchronous Audio Communication (AAC) across academic disciplines to increase instructor presence and enhance students’ engagement, learning outcomes, and overall satisfaction in the online classroom, Jody Oomen-Early, Mary Bold, Kristin L. Wiginton, Tara L. Gallien, and Nancy Anderson
Facilitating learning online requires an evolving set of teaching skills that embrace Web 2.0 technologies. Asynchronous Audio Communication (AAC) may bridge the virtual “communication divide” between instructors and students. The purpose of this study was multi-faceted: first, to assess students’ and instructors’ satisfaction with asynchronous audio instructor feedback as a teaching strategy in the online courseroom; second, to determine the perceived effect of AAC on student satisfaction, learning outcomes, student engagement, and perceived instructor presence; and third, to examine whether there was a significant difference in the way AAC was perceived by  undergraduate and graduate students attending two southern state universities. Asynchronous Audio Communication in the form of instructor feedback was utilized in graduate and undergraduate online courses in the areas of reading, health education, and family studies across a 9-month period. The total sample included 156 participants. Instructors sent out both group and individual audio communication throughout the course. At the end of the semester, students completed an online survey that collected quantitative and qualitative data. Descriptive, inferential, and qualitative data analyses demonstrated that the majority of students and instructors reported that AAC can improve online students’ perceptions of instructor presence, student engagement, knowledge of course content, and the instructor-student interaction.

: E-learning; social presence; instructor feedback; audio communication, Web 2.0

Learning Support Systems for Management Education: Screening for Success, Owen P. Hall
Working adults are entering MBA programs in increasing numbers.  Some matriculating professionals have difficulty meeting the competitive rigors of business school life for a variety of reasons. One solution to these challenges is to provide learning support systems geared toward individual student backgrounds and interests. The purpose of this paper is to illustrate a screening process for delivering content in a non-residential MBA program for two diverse academic disciplines: organizational management and accounting. The results show that analytical-based classification techniques can effectively identify marginal students for the purpose of providing additional learning resources. The analysis further shows that intelligent tutors can deliver customized Web-based content at a time convenient to the working professional.

Working adults, learning support systems, management education, student screening, Internet, distance learning, intelligent agents, non-residential MBA

 An exploratory study of online learning for professional development: Should club managers go the distance?, Jill Fjelstul, Dana V. Tesone, and Cyd Bougae

The aim of this study was to explore the feasibility and interest level of offering the core professional development program for members of the Club Managers Association of America (CMAA) in an online learning environment.  The article outlines the CMAA’s professional development core courses and the previous research involving online learning for organizations. Findings identified the study population’s general demographics, their background experience in online education, and their interest level for future professional development online initiatives.  Conclusions, recommendations, and strategies were offered for CMAA online learning initiatives globally

.Key Words:  web based learning, continuing education, organizations


Finding the Library in Blackboard: An Assessment of Library Integration, Allyson Washburn
Both faculty and students at Brigham Young University wanted a “one-stop shopping” environment in their Blackboard courses that would contain appropriate library resources and services needed to complete course assignments without having to leave the course. However, most CMSs do not include the library as a component of the courseware system. The author and a programmer from the Lee Library collaborated to address this need using a Library Tab on the Welcome page.  Links to basic library resources and services were automatically included in every Blackboard course.  Additionally, a “Building Block” displayed a customized course list for each student and automatically delivered the relevant Course Research Page (CRP) to the course. This solution provided time-saving benefits for both faculty and students.The Lee Library recently surveyed students about the effectiveness of the CRP. Respondents found the CRP easy to use, found resources needed for their papers or projects, felt that their papers or projects were better as a result of using the page and said they would recommend the page to other students.

Keywords: Courseware, online courses, academic libraries, course research pages, evaluation, library resources, Brigham Young University, libraries & education

Student Perceptions of Web-based Instruction: A Comparative Analysis, Dana V. Tesone and Peter Ricci
The article presents the findings of a recent longitudinal study that compares student perception of instruction scores between online and regular classes. Participants in the study were campus-based traditional undergraduate students enrolled at a large public U.S. university. The findings suggest that student perceptions of course participation are influenced by matters of convenience. The article concludes with relevant implications for educators who design and teach web-based courses to traditional undergraduate students.

Keywords: distance learning, student evaluations, web-based instruction, online learning, instructor evaluations

Student preferences, satisfaction and perceived learning in an online mathematics class, Julie Glass and Valerie Sue
This study analyzes student preference, satisfaction and perceived learning in an online college mathematics course for business majors.  Using a combination of active and passive learning objects, the online course was developed to investigate the instructional strategies students use the most, prefer and believe impact their learning.  Students answered weekly surveys about the course.  They were asked to report their usage of the learning objects and to reflect on their interactions with the material and with each other.  They were also asked to assess the impact that various learning objects had on their learning and on their satisfaction with the course and with the material.  Of the learning objects investigated, homework emerged as the factor students preferred and used the most, and that they felt had the greatest impact on their learning.  Participation in online discussions did not surface as a favored or significant factor in the students’ learning.  This work is aimed at informing best practices for increasing student engagement, and thus learning, in online mathematics and other similar courses. 

Keywords: Online learning, Learning Objects, Active Learning, Mathematics, Survey Research

The mean business of Second Life: Teaching entrepreneurship, technology and ecommerce in immersive environments, Brian Mennecke, Lesya M. Hassall, and Janea
Second Life is a three-dimensional multi-user virtual environment with a vibrant economy, where avatars (virtual representations of users) can engage in innovative and unique business and collaborative activities.  The immersive nature of this application creates ample authentic opportunities for teaching entrepreneurship, technology and e-commerce.

This article describes a Masters of Business Administration elective course, in which Second Life was utilized to teach strategic and managerial issues related to e-commerce. The  collected  data indicate that the students in this course experienced a steep learning curve with regards to the complicated interface of Second Life, its complex social canvas and non-traditional framing of teaching and learning. The article discusses an array of pedagogical issues to be considered in the design and development of an immersive course.

: e-commerce, virtual worlds, business education, immersive environments, learning activities

Online Faculty Development and Storytelling: An Unlikely Solution to Improving Teacher Quality, Patrick R. Lowenthal
Institutions of Higher Education are beginning to place a greater emphasis on quality teaching and student learning. However, few faculty receive any type of teacher training prior to entering the academy. As a result, faculty development is one likely solution to teacher quality issues. But faculty development is faced with serious shortcomings that impede its ability to improve teacher quality. This paper explores how moving faculty development online while at the same time incorporating the use of teacher stories could be a viable strategy to improve faculty development and teacher quality. 

Keywords: Professional Development, Teacher Training, Narrative, Digital Storytelling

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iLED: interactive Learning Experience Design, Ji Yong Park
Central Queensland University (CQU), Australia, faces declining student enrolment. An economic boom in Central Queensland region such as mining and building construction industries, and apprenticeship training programs within secondary schools and paid traineeships programs have driven secondary school graduates to ‘well-paid jobs’ rather than ‘studies’ at universities. In relation to this circumstance, the Dean of Faculty of Arts, Humanities & Education, CQU, raised a course delivery dilemma where the conventional academic teaching model, lectures, tutorials, workshops, student advice and support, is far from viable for student needs in the context that a significant proportion of CQU students are mature aged and study by distance education. The faculty dean proposed the challenge of designing a new delivery model to fit into this context. As a possible solution, this paper suggests a pedagogical framework called iLED: interactive Learning Experience Design based on defining an interactive learning experience through exploring the online learning experience and context in order to enhance the current CQU online learning system. This paper also discusses the relevant issues in relation to delivery formats, assessments methods, and the required skills for carrying out the online-based learning. At the end, it suggests the five domain prototypes of iLED, categorising the courses and programs being offered by CQU.

Keywords: Flexible learning delivery model; Distance education; Interactive Learning Experience; online Learning

Classroom Management in the Online Environment, Daniel Stewart

This paper explores the role of classroom management in the online learning environment of a community college history course.  It is posed that despite the unique nature of the online learning environment, many of the same features that are essential to the success of a traditional classroom management plan also apply in the online classroom.  However, the instructor must be aware of potential stumbling blocks such as complacency of rules, the needs of non-traditional students, and feelings of isolation that may be exaggerated in an online environment and plan preventive classroom management accordingly. This paper demonstrates that when appropriate preventive management strategies are applied, the online learning environment can be as rich and productive as the traditional classroom.

Keywords: Preventive management, online instruction, learning styles, community college, diversity, non-traditional students, learning communities.


Blackboard Management and Professional Development Strategies to Augment Teaching and Learning, Cynthia Gautreau and Shariq Ahmed

In committing to provide a learning management system (LMS) that integrates supplementary uses for campus constituents, a university must analyze the opportunities and challenges associated with technology advancements. In addition to the primary uses of a learning management system, university administrators, faculty and staff have incorporated a diverse array of applications for Blackboard©.  This paper introduces the innovative uses of an LMS among the campus community. The LMS resources available include the Content System, Electronic Reserves, e-Portfolios, Building Blocks, and Professional Development and Training provisions.

Keywords: Blackboard, learning management system, technology, integrative approaches Blackboard Management and Professional Development Strategies to Augment Teaching and Learning


Beyond critical mass: a case study investigating the use of WebCT for course delivery by faculty in a campus based UK University, Simran K. Grewal and Lisa J. Harris
This case study investigates the use of WebCT for course delivery by faculty in a campus based UK university. Whilst numerous studies have been carried out which explore the use of online learning technology using indicators of critical mass of adoption, minimal research exists which analyses the use of content management systems (CMS) such as WebCT for course delivery by faculty examining both pace and level of use. The research findings highlight that using traditional models of critical mass in isolation is potentially a misleading indicator of the successful diffusion of a complex innovation. This paper presents the findings of case research study drawn from 60 semi-structured interviews with faculty. The paper builds on the diffusion of innovations literature by applying a conceptual model incorporating indicators of both pace and level of use of WebCT by faculty for course delivery to provide a structure to the findings. The analysis provided a more detailed understanding of the acceptance of WebCT, and from this analysis a series of practical recommendations for achieving more widespread and effective use of CMS for course delivery within higher education have been developed.

Keywords: Adoption, content management systems, WebCT, higher education, online learning, faculty.

The Virtual Philosopher: Designing Socratic Method Learning Objects for Online Philosophy Courses, Karen L. Hornsby and Wade M. Maki
This case study describes the Virtual Philosopher, a series of digital learning objects which were created as a Socratic method activity for online ethics courses.  Each Virtual Philosopher is a scenario-based, active learning exercise designed to foster students’ reflective analysis and application of previously introduced course concepts. The pedagogical aims of these learner-centered objects are increased student metacognition, development of students’ logical abilities, and formative self-assessment of students’ moral reasoning. After reviewing students’ evaluation of the Virtual Philosopher exercises, suggestions for improvement of these learning objects will be discussed.

Keywords:  ethics, online learning, learner-centered, metacognition, active learning, formative assessment

Implementation of Online Human Touch in Programming and Instruction to Increase Online Student Engagement and Retention, Kristen Betts
The long-term sustainability of online degree programs is highly dependent upon student enrollment and retention. While national growth in online education has increased approximately 10% between 2005 and 2006 to 3.5 million students, student attrition in online programs remains higher than on-campus traditional programs (Allen & Seaman, 2007). To proactively address student attrition, the Master of Science in Higher Education Program at Drexel University has developed and implemented the concept of Online Human Touch (OHT) instruction and programming. This interactive and personalized approach to online education has resulted in high student retention rates and high levels of student satisfaction. This article is the first of a two-part series that focuses on OHT in online education

.Key words: Online education, distance education, instruction, engagement, retention, attrition, online communities, work-integrated learning, and communication

Teaching Behavioral Skills Online, Gerri Hura
With the rapid increase of online courses and programs, effective methods for teaching behavioral-based skills online become a growing necessity. Besides implementing best practices for online teaching, using methods such as videos, audio clips, simulations and carefully constructed assignments and assessments provide the tools and aids for effectively teaching the behavioral-based skills such as coaching skills, listening skills, teaming, and presentation skills.

Keywords : Online methods, Distance learning methods,Behavioral skills, Performance skills,Online teaching best practices,Teaching methods,Management development skills,Online tools and techniques



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Last Modified : 2008/09/15