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.