Volume 8, Issue 1, Spring 2009
“Am I making sense here?”: What Blogging Reveals about Undergraduate Student Understanding
Educational researchers are interested in whether what is learned in the classroom is transferred to new situations. This qualitative case study explores how computer-mediated communication, specifically web logs (blogs), can extend learning and facilitate transfer of learned concepts. Participants blogged for seven weeks about concepts related to nutrition. Data included blog posts and comments and interviews. These data were analyzed inductively for emergent themes addressing our research questions. Four themes were identified: (a) concepts contextualized to participants' daily lives; (b) barriers to applying learned concepts; (c) sources of "expert" knowledge; and (d) unanswered questions revealing gaps in understanding. Implications for using blogs to support actor-oriented learning environments are presented, along with directions for further research.
Frequency and Type of Instructor Interactions in Online Instruction
Concerns for faculty time spent in online instruction are replete in the literature; some authors suggest that online instruction increases faculty work. In a specific rather than global manner, this case study focused on the frequency and types of instructor-to-student interactions that occurred in a graduate online course. Using archival records, interactions were classified by communication tool, message content, and recipient, and then tallied. Most instructor-student interactions occurred through the LMS gradebook, followed by emails. Most communications were related to course assignments and sent to individual students. The overall total of interactions was comparable to other findings and may suggest that online teaching, at least in this case, increased faculty work. This may be due, in part, to the individualized nature of the instructor-student interactions. Further study is recommended.
Evaluation of the Persistent Issues in History Laboratory for Virtual Field Experience (PIH-LVFE)
The Persistent Issues in History Laboratory for Virtual Field Experience (PIH-LVFE) combines a database of video cases of authentic classroom practices with multiple resources and tools to enable pre-service social studies teachers to virtually observe teachers implementing problem-based learning activities. In this paper, we present the results of two studies designed to provide formative evaluation results from our initial implementations of PIH-LVFE resources with pre-service social studies teachers. In study A, we examined usability issues with regard to the PIH-LVFE interface with a small group of pre-service teachers. In study B, we examined pre-service teachers’ perceptions of the usefulness and benefits of PIH-LVFE resources when they were integrated into a focused reflection activity utilizing one specific video case.
Collaboration and Learning with Wikis in Post-Secondary Classrooms
This research examined the use of wikis used in support of collaboration and learning in two post-secondary courses in a large Mid-Western university that adopted wikis in pedagogically different ways. In the first course, students used their wiki as a course content glossary for posting and editing original contributions. They perceived the wiki as positively supporting collaboration efforts and effectively supporting learning and engagement. In the second course, wikis were used to develop, share, and edit project assignments. These students perceived the wiki as not supporting collaboration, and they reported modest perceptions of the wiki supporting their learning and engagement and supporting the development of high-quality assignment products. Technical aspects of the wiki tools impacted the two group’s respective perceptions.
Evaluating the Implementation of a Social Bookmarking Activity for an Undergraduate Course
This manuscript describes an exploratory study of a social bookmarking activity in an undergraduate course for pre-service teachers. During a 10-week activity, students were required to post links to Internet resources relating to course objectives and also to rate the content posted by other users. The analysis of data from this activity includes descriptive data regarding usage of the software system as well as a descriptive analysis of users and non-users of the social bookmarking web-based application. The results of the study provide additional insight into trends of user behavior and a basis for possible modifications to the web-based system and the course activity.