Volume 14, Number 1, Spring 2016


Student Perceptions of a Successful Online Collaborative Learning Community

Michael L. Waugh
Jian Su
The University of Tennessee at Knoxville


This paper shares the perceptions of a group of 11 successful online students regarding the value of the collaborative learning community that developed as part of their participation in the first cohort of the WebIT online Master of Science Degree in Instructional Technology program, at The University of Tennessee at Knoxville during 2008-2010. All 11 students began the program in the Summer semester of 2008 and graduated at the end of the Spring semester, 2010. These students voluntarily completed an electronically-administered Program Completion Survey to provide the WebIT program faculty with information to help improve the design and delivery of the program. The survey consisted of 66 items, 17 of which constituted a subscale that addressed aspects of collaborative learning community. These seventeen items were further grouped into 6 concept clusters that serve to organize the discussion in this paper. The WebIT online program characteristics appeared to be strongly supportive of the emergence of a collaborative learning community among the program completers. These results demonstrate the value of promoting cohort group inter-connectedness as well as the benefit of incorporating professional practice experiences within the instructional program.

Are Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) pedagogically innovative?

Alejandro Armellini
University of Northampton
Brenda Cecilia Padilla Rodriguez
Autonomous University of Nuevo Leon


While claims about pedagogic innovation in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are common, most reports provide no evidence to justify those claims. This paper reports on a survey aimed at exploring how different stakeholders describe MOOCs, focusing on whether they would consider them pedagogically innovative, and if so, why. Respondents (n = 106) described MOOCs primarily as free, openly accessible online courses that attract large numbers of participants. Views on pedagogic innovation fell into three categories: 1) MOOCs are pedagogically innovative (15.1%). Explanations referred to the massiveness, openness and connectivism. None of the participants offered a clear definition of or criteria for pedagogic innovation. 2) MOOCs are not pedagogically innovative (84.9%). More than half of the respondents added an unsolicited opinion, including strong criticisms of MOOCs. 3) MOOCs may or may not be pedagogically innovative. The evidence suggests that caution should be exercised when characterising MOOCs as pedagogically innovative.

Collaboration Levels in Asynchronous Discussion Forums: a Social Network Analysis Approach

Cecilia Luhrs
Lewis McAnally-Salas

Autonomous University of Baja California, Mexico


Computer Supported Collaborative Learning literature relates high levels of collaboration to enhanced learning outcomes. However, an agreement on what is considered a high level of collaboration is unclear, especially if a qualitative approach is taken. This study describes how methods of Social Network Analysis were used to design a collaboration index. The study was conducted in a heterogeneous context of hybrid and online courses, in  a virtual classrooms system, in higher education. Results show that the collaboration index effectively identified levels of collaboration in asynchronous discussion forums. 

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