Volume 13, Number 3, Spring 2015
MOOC & B-learning: Students’ Barriers and Satisfaction in Formal and Non-formal Learning Environments
The study presents a comparative analysis of two virtual learning formats: one non-formal through a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) and the other formal through b-learning. We compare the communication barriers and the satisfaction perceived by the students (N = 249) by developing a qualitative analysis using semi-structured questionnaires and content analysis of the virtual communication in both formats. The results show that the students perceive a low level of barriers and that statistically significant differences exist between the formal and non-formal groups regarding psychological and sociological issues. Our findings show that students express high satisfaction in both educational modes, while the groups’ satisfaction differs in matters related to planning, content, professors, and communication. Finally, we reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of both modes, in hopes that the understanding gained from analyzing each mode may improve or complement the scenario of the other.
Student Perspectives of Assessment Strategies in Online Courses
Engaging professional adults in an online environment is a common challenge for online instructors. Often the temptation or commonly used approach is to mirror face-to-face strategies and practices. One premise of this study is that all strategies used in an online environment are assessment strategies, and as such should be considered for their value in measuring student experiences. This research study investigated student responses within a principal preparation course to the use of twelve assessment strategies that included: work samples, “Twitter” summaries, audio recordings, traditional papers, screencast/videos using “YouTube”, group projects, open discussion, paired discussion, response to video, field experiences, quizzes, and interviews. The redesigned course used in this research allowed the researchers to experiment with both traditional and innovative strategies within an online environment to determine how students perceive the value of each assessment strategy. Student experiences were measured in terms of level of enjoyment, level of engagement, and the extent to which students believed the assessments would result in the creation of knowledge that could be transferred to future professional practice. The results indicate that students prefer assignments that are less-traditional and which fully incorporate the technological tools available.
Interpersonal Skills and Education in the Traditional and Online Classroom Environments
The purpose of this descriptive, cross-sectional, quantitative study was to compare the interpersonal abilities of online students to traditional students by evaluating their Emotional Intelligence (EI) through the Situational Test of Emotional Management (STEM). The study sought to determine whether a relationship exists between the number of online courses completed and EI abilities of students. Data were collected using a situational judgment test known as the Situational Test for Emotional Management (STEM) with additional questions added for the collection of demographic data. The sample for this study included 865 students comprised of 765 undergraduate business majors and 91 undergraduate business minors. One of the most interesting findings to emerge from the data was the significant difference of EI scores surrounding the number of online courses completed. Students who completed at least one online course scored significantly higher on the STEM survey than their counterparts who had not completed any online courses. This finding implies that students might benefit from the time, training, experience, and practice of interpersonal skills in an online environment.