Zuochen Zhang, Assistant Professor in the School of Education at Windsor University, and Richard F. Kenny, Associate Professor at the Center for Distance Education, Athabasca University, joined us this week to discuss the perspectives of International students in online courses.
Inspired by a number of discussions at the Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning in Madison Wisconsin, we consider the process of transitioning from a proprietary learning management system such as Blackboard to an open source system such as Moodle.
In May 2009, the US Department of Education issued a meta-analysis and review of online learning studies that compared face-to-face, blended and online delivery modes, and found that: “On average, students in online learningconditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction.” Despite the caveats identified in the research, the conclusion, for some, was still: Online learning is better!Shanna Smith-Jaggars, Senior Research Associate at the Community Colleges Research Center challenges this assertion in her response to the meta-analysis (July 2010). Jaggars more fully explores the comparison of online and face-to-face instruction and finds only 7 studies out of 51 can be used to shed light on this question. Of these 7, Jaggars concludes that there is no significant difference between learning outcome achievement in face-to-face or online courses for certain student populations. Sound familiar? Time to channel our energies into more rewarding directions, perhaps.. As Jaggars puts it in this interesting interview, “what we really need to be doing is spending more time and effort in trying to figure out what are the most effective instructional practices in both modalities”
Xiaojing Liu, Senior Research Analyst at Kelley Business School, Indiana University, joins us this week to discuss how to design effective online cased-based learning courses. Drawing on her research into cased based-learning startegies used in an MBA program, Dr. Liu considers the benefits and challenges of case-based learning from both a student and faculty perspective.
Having recently discussed the need to avoid cognitive overload in online courses, we take a step back to consider whether or not cognitive overload is actually an issue. As Arlene Walker-Andrews, Associate Provost and Psychology Professor at the University of Montana, points out: “I do not believe that attention and cognitive capacities are limited. In my view, attention shouldn’t be considered a finite resource, rather it should be characterized as “attending,” which suggests flexible, skilled action. Recent theories about attention suggest that although not all stimuli are analyzed, nonattended stimuli are not all filtered out and their impact on learning and memory will vary depending on relevance and/or personal experience.” Great stuff!
Join Arlene and the ID team this week to listen to what this means for individualizing the learning experience and tailoring instructional strategies to the cognitive abilities of learners.