Volume 5, Issue 3, Winter 2007
An Analysis of Copyright Policies for Distance Learning Materials at Major Research Universities
This study describes an investigation of the intellectual property policies of a stratified random sample of public and private Carnegie Doctoral Research – Extensive Universities. Current copyright law was reviewed as well as the status of the “academic exception.” University policies were examined to determine whether or not they included provisions for distance learning materials or courseware, what provisions were made for ownership, and what exceptions, if any, were applicable. In addition to providing summary statistics, public and private universities’ policies were compared. Policies that were determined to be exemplary and noteworthy were profiled. Results were interpreted in terms of the need for comprehensive and explicit policies to support online course development and delivery.
Effects of Concreteness and Contiguity on Learning from Computer-based Reference Maps
Today’s technology has reached new heights that have not been fully implemented. One of the areas where technology has not yet reached its full potential is in education. This study examined the effects of concreteness of location names and contiguity of location names with textual information on learning from computer-based reference maps. The research was designed to be a 3 concreteness (concrete vs. abstract vs. non-familiar) X 2 contiguity (non-contiguous vs. contiguous) with six treatment levels. One hundred and sixty-seven college students studied a digital reference map presented to them. The results indicate that participants in the contiguous condition recalled significantly more feature-related facts than those in the non-contiguous condition. The results also indicate that the participants’ performance in recall, matching feature-fact pairs, as well as in the inference was significantly more for concrete features names and abstract feature names than the non-familiar feature names. A significant interaction effect was also observed for the matching of fact-feature pairs. The findings are not thoroughly consistent with the concreteness and conceptual peg effects associated with Paivio’s dual coding theory (DCT). More research needs to be done to continue investigating this phenomenon. However, this study will assist teachers and designers better understand how to design cognitive maps and spatial displays that facilitate learning.
Combined Effect of Instructional and Learner Variables on Course Outcomes within An Online Learning Environment
Among many studies focusing on the effect of learner and instructional variables on course outcomes, few studies have investigated the learners’ study habits and the mediating mechanisms among the learner and instruction variables in their influence on course outcomes. This study examined differences in learner satisfaction and learning outcomes based on learner characteristics and study habits and the effects of instructional and learner variables on the course outcomes for an online course. Data analyses revealed the quality of online instructor, learning motivation, and learning involvement as significant variables influencing the course outcomes of the online learning program.
Social Influence for Perceived Usefulness and Ease of Use of Course Delivery Systems
This study explores the extent to which subjective norm beliefs of online learners shape perceptions of ease-of-use and usefulness for the use of course delivery systems. Subjective norm beliefs represent the influence that instructors, mentors, and peers have on students to use the course delivery system. The results show that instructor and mentor influences are significant contributors to students’ perceived usefulness of the course delivery system. However, only mentor influence is significant to students’ perceived ease-of-use of the learning system. These results indicate the importance of the instructors’ roles in shaping impressions of the value of using the course delivery systems and the potential underutilization of peer influence to shape behavior in online courses.
Constructive Student Feedback: Online vs. Traditional Course Evaluations
Substantial efforts have been made recently to compare the effectiveness of traditional course formats to alternative formats (most often, online delivery compared to traditional on-site delivery). This study examines, not the delivery format but rather the evaluation format. It compares traditional paper and pencil methods for course evaluation with electronic methods. Eleven instructors took part in the study. Each instructor taught two sections of the same course; at the end, one course received an online course evaluation, the other a traditional pencil and paper evaluation. Enrollment in these 22 sections was 519 students. Researchers analyzed open-ended comments as well as quantitative rankings for the course evaluations. Researchers found no significant differences in numerical rankings between the two evaluation formats. However, differences were found in number and length of comments, the ratio of positive to negative comments, and the ratio of formative to summative comments. Students completing faculty evaluations online wrote more comments, and the comments were more often formative (defined as a comment that gave specific reasons for judgment so that the instructor knew what the student was suggesting be kept or changed) in nature.
Identifying factors that encourage and hinder knowledge sharing in a longstanding online community of practice
Despite the strong interests among practitioners, there is a knowledge gap with regard to online communities of practice. This study examines knowledge sharing among critical-care and advanced-practice nurses, who are engaged in a longstanding online community of practice. Data were collected about members’ online knowledge contribution as well as motivations for sharing or not sharing knowledge with others. In sum, 27 interviews with members and content analysis of approximately 400 messages were conducted. Data analysis showed that the most common types of knowledge shared were “Institutional Practice” and “Personal Opinion”. Five factors were found that helped motivate knowledge sharing: (a) self-selection type of membership, (b) desire to improve the nursing profession, (c) reciprocity, (d) a non-competitive environment, and (e) the role of the listserv moderator. Regarding barriers for knowledge sharing, four were found: (a) no new or additional knowledge to add, (b) unfamiliarity with subject, (c) lack of time, and (d) technology. These results will be informative to researchers and practitioners of online communities of practice.
Satisfaction with Online Learning: A Comparative Descriptive Study
A 3rd party provider approached university faculty and administration to develop an on-line program for the Master’s degree in educational administration and leadership. While the monetary benefits of an online delivery were attractive, the institution rested its final decision on the instructional merits of the plan. The faculty used a 3rd party provider for technical expertise, design, and student support for the program. A descriptive study was conducted to determine to what degree students were satisfied with the online program and their degree of satisfaction in comparison to on-ground courses. Results indicated that students in the online program were satisfied with the courses; however, they noted valuable concerns to be addressed. Implications of these findings are discussed.
Online Feedback and Student Perceptions
This study focused on students’ reactions to handwritten and typewritten electronic feedback. Students submitted work electronically as part of an online course for which Blackboard was the learning management system. The instructor used a TabletPC to provide handwritten feedback on student work and the review tool in MSWord to provide typewritten feedback. Results indicated students had more positive reactions to the handwritten feedback as opposed to the typewritten feedback.