Volume 7, Issue 1, Spring 2008
Open Book Testing in Online Learning Environments
One continuing concern associated with online courses is assessment of student performance. One option for online assessment is the use of open book tests. This study investigated the impact of training in open book test-taking strategies on student test performance in online, timed, unproctored, open book tests. When the tutorial was required immediately before the midterm examination, the experimental group scored significantly higher than the control group. The effect size or magnitude of the difference in means was moderate. When the tutorial was completed immediately before the midterm examination but was not completed before the final examination, the experimental group’s mean final examination score was higher than the control group’s score, but the difference was not significant.
Best practices in teaching K-12 online: Lessons learned from Michigan Virtual School teachers
Virtual schools are rising in popularity and presence. Unfortunately, there is a relative dearth of research related to teaching and learning in virtual schools. Although there are numerous handbooks addressing teaching online, there is little research on successful online teaching in the K-12 arena. Much of the existing research focused on teaching online is rooted in face-to-face content, not focused on content areas, built upon a post-secondary audience, or fails to use data from the teachers themselves to triangulate findings. This article reports on a study of 16 virtual school teachers from the Michigan Virtual School (MVS). It reports on best-practices from the interviews conducted with MVS teachers; and also provides research triangulation for those practices. The paper concludes with implications for policy, research, and practice.
A Window on Wikibookians: Surveying their Statuses, Successes, Satisfactions, and Sociocultural Experiences
The present study explored the experiences of 80 Wikibookians who had developed or were in the process of developing wikibooks. Both online surveys and email interviews were employed to investigate four main factors, including Wikibookian statuses, successes, satisfactions, and sociocultural experiences. The survey data indicated that the majority of these Wikibookians were young males with varying educational backgrounds (i.e., from high school students to those with advanced graduate degrees). A majority of respondents deemed their most recent wikibook activities as successful. Though challenging, very few were frustrated with the Wikibooks environment. These Wikibookians also recognized the multiple roles involved in the development of a wikibook as well as multiple owners or no owner of a final wikibook product. Interestingly, they viewed a wikibook as a way to contribute and share their knowledge, to obtain personal growth and enrichment, and to learn new ideas from others. Several follow-up research avenues are suggested.
The Effects of a Synchronous Communication Tool (Yahoo Messenger) on Online Learners’ Sense of Community and their Multimedia Authoring Skills
Literature suggests that developing a community of learners is the key to a successful online-learning experience. In this study, the instructor of a multimedia authoring course adopted a synchronous communication tool (Yahoo Messenger) to interact with learners orally on a weekly basis and, thereby, to establish a sense among the learners that the class was a learning community. This study adopts mixed-methodology (the Classroom Community Scale, open-ended questions, and grades) to compare the learners’ development of a sense of community with both the outcomes of the learners’ group-centered online learning and the outcomes of the learners’ group-centered face-to-face learning. The results indicate that in neither of the two groups did a sense of community contribute to the improvement of hands-on skills. Providing clear instruction with constant and accurate feedback is the key strategy by which instructors can help online learners improve their hands-on performance.