Volume 9, Issue 2, Summer 2010
The Interaction Equivalency Theorem
This paper examines the key issues regarding The Interaction Equivalency Theorem posited by Anderson (2003a), which consists of the three interaction elements found in formal education courses among teacher, student, and content. It first examines the core concepts of the theorem and argues that two theses of different dimensions can be articulated in the theorem, namely, value and amount (or quality and quantity). Prior studies in distance education and blended learning that have tested the validity of the theorem concepts are also examined: all research results support the first thesis; however, further research is required to examine the second thesis. The paper highlights the key issues for further exploration as research schemes.
The Validation of One Parental Involvement Measurement in Virtual Schooling
Parental involvement has been recognized as an important factor for student achievement in traditional school settings. The lack of research regarding the effect of parental involvement on student achievement in virtual schooling is, in part, due to the absence of a valid and reliable instrument to measure this construct. This paper provides an overview of parental involvement in traditional education, discusses its role in K-12 virtual schooling, and describes a study that validates a parental involvement assessment with a virtual school population. The results of this study show the instrument is overall a valid and reliable measurement for parental involvement in the virtual school environment. Implications for research in virtual schooling are addressed, and suggestions were given to modify this instrument for use in future studies.
Synchronous Problem-Based e-Learning (ePBL) in Interprofessional Health Science Education
Health Science teams are increasingly interprofessional and infused with technology. These shifts result in a need for health science students to learn online interprofessional teamwork skills early in their training. In response, one interprofessional communication skills course was remodelled from traditional Problem-based learning (PBL) to include learning in an online collaborative (team-based) environment (Elluminate). This study evaluates the types of interactions facilitated by an interprofessional e-problem-based learning (ePBL) activity. A qualitative analysis of recorded discussions in Elluminate yielded two major categories of results. First, the online learning environment was shown to facilitate small-group collaborative interactions by updating older tools, in terms of offering intuitive, accurate, and multiple communication tools, and enabling novel forms of interaction. Second, the online learning environment prompted discussion of technology-facilitated communication difficulties in a way that led to the remediation of these difficulties. These results suggest that, while there is a need for further research on the relationship between online synchronous (real-time) learning environments and collaborative learning, ePBL can enable positive and novel forms of student interaction and facilitate student learning.
The Use of Alternative Social Networking Sites in Higher Educational Settings: A Case Study of the E-Learning Benefits of Ning in Education
Distance education as a primary means of instruction is expanding significantly at the college and university level. Simultaneously, the growth of social networking sites (SNS) including Facebook, LinkedIn, and MySpace is also rising among today’s college students. An increasing number of higher education instructors are beginning to combine distance education delivery with SNSs. However, there is currently little research detailing the educational benefits associated with the use of SNSs. Non-commercial, education-based SNSs, such as Ning in Education, have been recently shown to build communities of practice and facilitate social presence for students enrolled in distance education courses. In order to evaluate the largely unexplored educational benefits of SNSs, we surveyed graduate students enrolled in distance education courses using Ning in Education, an education-based SNS, based on their attitudes toward SNSs as productive online tools for teaching and learning. The results of our study suggest that education-based SNSs can be used most effectively in distance education courses as a technological tool for improved online communications among students in higher distance education courses.