Volume 4, Issue 2, Fall 2005

Do Gender and Learning Style Play a Role in How Online Courses Should Be Designed?

Diana Garland
Barbara N. Martin
Missouri State University


The Kolb Learning Style Inventory was used to identify differences between the learning styles of 168 students in traditional face-to-face courses and students in matched courses taught online. Additionally, the data for the online courses were divided by gender to determine if gender was a factor. Results of the analysis found that there was a difference in the learning style of the online student and the student in the face-to-face course and that gender was a factor in the relationship between learning style and student engagement. The implications for online course designers are significant. When designing online courses the learning style and gender of all students must be considered.

A Method for the Analysis of Data from Online Educational Research

Alison Hramiak
Sheffield Hallam University, UK


Much of what can be described as online learning research and analysis advocates the use of software not only to collect the data, for example via an application such as a virtual learning environment, but also to analyze it, using a package such as NUDIST© or NVivo©.

Transitioning to Online Course Offerings: Tactical and Strategic Considerations

Lisa A. Burke
Louisiana State University in Shreveport


Much has been written about the effectiveness of face-to-face (F2F) versus online (OL) courses, and comparisons of learning and retention across both media, but less has been targeted toward important tactical and strategic considerations. Having little formal guidance to manage the transition to offering a portion of their university courses and programs online, administrators and universities appear inadequately positioned to execute their OL foray effectively. This paper outlines strategic and tactical points to help administrators better manage the transition to offering university courses online.

The Web Pen Pals Project: Students’ Perceptions of a Learning Community in an Online Synchronous Environment

Joellen Maples
Susan Groenke
University of Tennessee-Knoxville

Dan Dunlap
Virginia Tech


This paper draws on data gathered from a five-month phenomenological study of middle school students’ perceptions of the effects of computer-based technologies on a learning community in an online synchronous environment. Twenty-four eighth-grade students participated in the Web Pen Pals project, a university-secondary telecollaborative partnership which brings middle school students together with pre-service teachers enrolled in an adolescent literature course in online chat rooms to discuss young adult literature. The complexities of creating a community are explored through interviews of the middle school participants, which reveal several themes affecting the development of a learning community: 1) obstacles to community-making, which include anonymity and lack of ease with technology; 2) establishing friendships; 3) an emergent language system; and 4) the symbolic inversion of traditional “teacher” and “student” roles.

Establishing Guidelines for Determining Appropriate Courses for Online Delivery

Janet Smith Strickland
Judy Butler
University of West Georgia


The purpose of this case study was to determine if one particular course is appropriate for online delivery. Two classes, one offered online and one offered traditionally, of a comparative education course were compared. Results of the study indicate that students’ satisfaction with the online course was at least comparable to that of the traditional class. The results also indicate that the online course assignments were appropriate for meeting the course objectives. Guidelines useful for determining appropriate courses for online delivery are discussed.

BE VOCAL: Characteristics of Successful Online Instructors

John R. Savery
The University of Akron


While classroom teaching and management strategies are well documented, the online learning environment presents different challenges and benefits. Teaching in an online environment requires a special set of teaching skills since many of the strategies and tactics associated with best teaching practices are somewhat constrained by the primarily text-based environment. The VOCAL approach summarizes the key characteristics that a master instructor utilizes to be effective in an online environment. VOCAL is an acronym for Visible, Organized, Compassionate, Analytical and Leader-by-example. The ability of the teacher to effectively infuse these characteristics into their instructional practice – to BE VOCAL - will promote a supportive, challenging, constructive, rigorous and effective instructional environment. Instructors who practice a VOCAL approach will have more productive learning environments, fewer management problems and more positive learning experiences with their students.

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