November 24, 2014

New journal on research into online learning for k-12 educators

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Image: © myeducation.com

Image: © myeducation.com

The Journal of Online Learning Research (JOLR) is a peer-reviewed, international journal devoted to the theoretical, empirical, and pragmatic understanding of technologies and their impact on primary and secondary pedagogy and policy in primary and secondary (K-12) online and blended environments.

This new quarterly journal (premieres Jan. 2015) is Open Access, and distributed by the EdITLib Digital Library as well as available in print by subscription for institutions/libraries.

JOLR papers should address online learning, catering particularly to the educators who research, practice, design, and/or administer in primary and secondary schooling in online settings. However, the journal also serves those educators who have chosen to blend online learning tools and strategies in their face-to-face classroom.

For Author Guidelines & to Submit: Click HERE

Thanks to Russell Poulin at WCET for directing me to this.

Game-based learning: special edition of the ETS journal

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Forge FX's Heifer Village: Nepal

Forge FX’s Heifer Village: Nepal

Bellotti, F. et al. (2014) Guest editorial: Game-based learning for 21st century transferable skills: Challenges and Opportunities Educational Technology and Society, Vol. 17, No. 1

The Journal of Educational Technology and Society has a special issue on ‘Game-based learning for 21st century transferable skills: Challenges and Opportunities.

This special issue focuses on analysing how digital SGs [serious games] can contribute to the knowledge society’s higher demand towards acquiring transferable, transversal skills, that can be applied in different contexts, dealing with various scientific disciplines and subjects. Examples of such skills, often referred to as 21st century transferable skills, include, for example, collaboration, critical thinking, creative thinking, problem solving, reasoning abilities, learning to learn, decision taking, digital literacy (Voogt & Pareja Roblin, 2010).

Five papers have been selected covering the following topics:

  • a study that identifies a relationship between learning outcomes and physiological measurements of mental workload,
  • an evidence model for assessing persistence
  • two studies on pedagogical models …developed to support the effective use of serious games in formal education settings
  • an empirical investigation aimed at examining the interplay between learners’ motivation, engagement, and complex problem-solving outcomes in game-based learning
  • a large case-study of four formal education programs exploiting serious games based on multiuser virtual environments.

There is also a large number of papers on other topics in this edition. The focus is mainly on the k-12 sector, but the papers on serious games also have implications and potential for post-secondary education.

Education across space and time: Distance Education, Vol. 34, No.2

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Distance education in Australia

Distance education in Australia

This special edition of the Australian-based Distance Education journal presents a selection of papers originally submitted to the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia’s 2013 summit meeting. The themes that the issue attempts to address are as follows:

  • How can we foster engaging and interactive learning with a dispersed and diverse population of students? 
  • How can we shift towards a learner-centred paradigm when institutional practices and physical infrastructures are geared towards teacher-centred delivery modes?
  • How can we enable the social and connected features of technology, when LMSs can be restrictive and clumsy…?

Sims, R. and Kigotho, M. (2013) Education across space and time: meeting the diverse needs of the distance learner:

This editorial sets the context and provides a brief description of each of the papers in the edition.

Hockridge, D. (2013) Challenges for educators using distance and online education to prepare students for relational professions

Relational professions are those which require ‘personal skills and a level of maturity.‘ This paper describes research that investigated educators’ concerns about distance and online education in Australian theological institutions. The paper in particular looks at ‘formation’, or character development, so the findings are more widely relevant than just theology. Her conclusion is well worth summarizing:

…it is overly simplistic to conclude that formational learning cannot occur in distance and online modes. Formational learning is complex and not easy to achieve regardless of the mode of study….a more productive way forward…is to be more intentional about the ways in which formation is addressed whether on campus, distance or online.

Earl, K. (2013) Student views on short-text assignment formats in fully online courses.

Short-text assignments restrict the word counts to 800 words or less. (Bit like a blog.) The study addressed two questions: how do students rate short-text assignments? How do students rate feedback provided by short text assignments? Conclusions:

assessment is more than a summative check of student knowledge and skills; it is an experience and part of the communication, and therefore relationship, between teachers and students. Short-text assignments are rated highly by students not because of a shorter word count but because students appreciated the variety and creativity aspects to these assignments. 

Note that the study was on one class of 21 students taught by the researcher.

Watson, S. (2013) Tentatively exploring the learning potentialities of postgraduate distance learners’ interactions with other people in their life contexts

Little consideration seems to have been given to the possibility that distance learners may be interacting with other people in their life contexts about their studies in a way that is making a positive contribution to their studies. The study involved semi-structured interviews of 15 Australian post-graduate students studying at a distance. Although the findings suggest that students vary widely in the extent to which they interact with others outside their course for study purposes, when they do interact, they produce identifiable learning benefits. Watson identified five types of life context interactions:

  • gathering information for assignments
  • getting help with difficult content
  • discussing the application of content to real-world contexts
  • sharing knowledge with others
  • getting feedback on assignment drafts

Watson suggests two course design implications from her studies so far:

  • encourage learners to talk to appropriate colleagues, friends or family about the application of particular theories in practice
  • encourage the establishment of mentoring relationships between learners and appropriate industry personnel

Higgins, K. and Harreveld, R. (2013) Professional development and the university casual academic: integration and support strategies for distance education

Casual academics are university instructors who are not entitled to either paid holiday leave or sick leave (such as, presumably, adjuncts and contract instructors in North America). In this study, twelve casual academics who taught distance education courses discussed their work through an in-depth semi-structured interview. The interviews revealed that these instructors managed their own professional development informally, and were sometimes unaware of the formal professional development activities available to them from the university.

Murphy, A. (2103) Open educational practices in higher education: institutional adoption and challenges

In this study, 110 individuals from higher education institutions in 29 countries participated in a survey aimed at identifying the extent to which HE institutions are currently implementing OERs and practices. The sample was focused on people with an interest in OERs; half the participants were from UK.

Main findings:

  • 23% were in organizations actively involved in the OERu network – 
  • 88% ‘knowledgeable’ about OERs
  • 29% were in institutions that were actively publishing OERs
  • the adoption of OERs and practices is still in its infancy
  • additional support such as funding and dedicated human resources are needed

Yasmin (2013) Application of the classification tree model in predicting learner dropout behaviour in open and distance learning

This study compares pre-enrollment student data with student attrition/drop-out for 12,000 post-graduate distance education students admitted to the University of North Bengal, India. The study indicated that married, employed, older, or remotely located students were more likely to drop out.

Note that the study used mainly demographic data, rather than data based on previous academic performance or the influence of factors during courses.

The paper’s main value is that it provides an analysis of drop-out factors for distance education students in a developing country, complementing the vast array of similar studies in developed countries.

Todhunter, B. (2013) LOL – limitations of online learning – are we selling the open and distance education message short?

This article questions the terminology being used to promote an institution’s programs. The author is particularly concerned that focusing on the term ‘online learning’ does a disservice to the special aspects of open and distance education. He argues it is necessary to pay close attention to the different needs of off-campus or distance learners, which can be lost in a discussion of the merits of online versus campus education. But above all, Todhunter is concerned that a focus on ‘online learning’ will put off many who are potential learners, whereas the terms ‘open’ and ‘distance’ will not only be be more appealing to some students, but may require different policies and strategies than a focus on ‘online’ learning.

Students embarking on graduate theses involving online learning, e-learning, distance education or open learning will benefit from reading this article when it comes to clearly defining what they are researching.

Comments

First, an explanation of why I have taken the time to ‘abstract’ these papers. This is not an ‘open access’ journal; you require a subscription from Taylor and Francis Group publications at nearly $40 an article. So pray that you have access to a good library, or you need to be sure that the article will be worth it to you. I have complained several times to Distance Education about a journal on open and distance education not being open access, but this is the policy of ODLAA (the Open and Distance Learning Association of Australia).

Second, some of the individual articles are well worth reading, depending on your interest. From reading the journal I picked up the following points (these are my interpretations, not necessarily the author’s):

  • good pedagogy is more important than mode of delivery (Hockridge) – further evidence for my law of equal substitution (i.e. most of what applies to good teaching in classrooms also applies to online education, and vice versa. Most things that can be taught in class can also be taught online, so we need to focus on the exceptions, not the rule.)
  • we need to do far more research and development on online assessment methods (Earl)
  • we are underusing learners’ life experiences in the design of distance courses (especially important for adult learners) (Watson)
  • institutions need better policies for casual/adjunct/contract instructors, and need to pay particular attention to professional development for this increasingly important human resource in higher education (Higgins and Harreveld)
  • even amongst the supporters of OERs, actual use, and especially secondary use, of OERs is still minimal (Murphy) – how long does maturation have to take?
  • studies of drop-out that focus on the demographics of incoming students are pretty useless. These are your students: find ways to help them succeed – don’t screen them out just because they are a higher risk, especially if you are an open institution (Yasmin)
  • open and distance learning are not necessarily the same as online learning; institutions need to be clear about markets and values as well as about mode of delivery. (Todhunter)

However, I do feel for journal editors who have to try to pick the best papers and at the same time try to find a common theme. The theme and the questions set out for this edition are only partly addressed in these papers, but nevertheless the articles are well worth reading. It’s just a pity they are so inaccessible.

What happened in online learning in the summer? – 3

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Egmont, BC

Egmont, BC

An Ontario online university?

I have a strict rule when reporting news to make sure it’s based on published secondary sources – in other words, if I get it wrong, I can blame someone else. Now I’m no longer working for Contact North, I don’t have such good access to ‘official’ developments in Ontario, but some of my colleagues in other Ontario institutions have been passing on rumours about the possible development of an institution-wide Ontario online initiative, a step beyond the original proposal for an Ontario Online Institute that sank from sight when Ministers changed last year.

Apparently there was a meeting in Toronto in July between Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities (MCTU) bureaucrats and university and college presidents at which the following was discussed:

  • the setting up of a not-for-profit consortium to develop and deliver online degrees and diplomas across the province
  • the consortium would somehow represent all public post-secondary institutions in the province (or at least those interested in joining the consortium)
  • a sum of $42 million to support the initiative
  • the universities and colleges were then to come back with a proposal for this organization on which they all agreed. (I don’t know how this was going to be done, or by whom).

Now summer is the silly season for news, and I may have got this all wrong. However, if anyone can provide me with further information on this (especially if it’s ‘official’), I’d be grateful.

Call for papers on student support services

Open Praxis, the peer-reviewed online journal of the International Council for Open and Distance Education, has a call for papers on innovative and effective student support services in open, distance and flexible education for its Volume 6, No. 1 edition. Contributions that address aspects such as the following will be accepted:

  • Distance learning students’ needs and justification of support services in open and distance education.
  • Innovative services to promote students’ retention, performance and occupational guidance.
  • Role of technologies for student support services. Possibilities and limits.
  • Successful and relevant experiences of student support services in distance learning higher education institutions.

Deadline for submission: October 30th 2013 (please send to Open Praxis)

Publication: January-March 2014

European Conference on Open and Flexible Higher Education

What: This year’s theme is about “Transition to open and on-line education in European universities“.

Who: The European Association of Distance teaching Universities (EADTU) and EADTU and hosted by the Fédération Interuniversitaire de l’Enseignement à Distance, France (FIED), with the support of the French Ministry of Education and Research

Where: Paris, France

When: 23-24 October, 2013

Speakers

The following keynote speakers are confirmed, and details of their presentations can be seen by selecting the links.

How: Go to the conference web site

Call for papers for The Arab Open University’s 1st Conference on Open Learning

What: The following themes:

  • Techniques and methods of open learning and the required learning resources
  • Academic accreditation for open learning degrees and institutions
  • International trends and experiences in open learning
  • Quality assurance in open learning
  • The role of open learning in development
  • Success stories in open learning

Who: the Arab Open University (AOU) in collaboration with the Regional Center for Development of Educational Software (RedSOFT).

Where: Kuwait

When: 25-27 November, 2013

Deadline for papers: August 31

How: Go to conference web site

This is the last of my ‘catch-up’ posts for the summer. I will revert to single posts from now on.

IRRODL, Vol. 14, No. 1 now available

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IRRODL (International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning), Volume 14, Number 1 is now available, for free downloading as open educational resources.

This is a valuable pot-pourri of different topics, so it is not possible for me to do a review, but Terry Anderson provides an excellent editor’s summary of each of the articles.

Contents

Green curriculum: Sustainable learning in higher education HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Willa Petronella Louw 1-15

 

A predictive study of student satisfaction in online education programs HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Yu-Chun Kuo, Andrew E Walker, Brian R Belland, Kerstin E E Schroder 16-39

 

On-the-job e-learning: Workers’ attitudes and perceptions HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Josep-Maria Batalla-Busquets, Carmen Pacheco-Bernal 40-64

 

An OER architecture framework: Need and design HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Pankaj Khanna, P C Basak 65-83

 

Development of ODL in a newly industrialised country according to face-to-face contact, ICT, and e-readiness HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
J Marinda van Zyl, Christoffel Johannes Els, A Seugnet Blignaut 84-105

 

Employability in online higher education: A case study HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Ana Paula Silva, Pedro Lourtie, Luisa Aires 106-125

 

Identifying barriers to the remix of translated open educational resources HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Tel Amiel 126-144

 

Uses of published research: An exploratory case study HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Patrick J. Fahy 145-166

 

A framework for developing competencies in open and distance e-learning HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Patricia B Arinto 167-185

 

Peer Portal: Quality enhancement in thesis writing using self-managed peer review on a mass scale HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Naghmeh Aghaee, Henrik Hansson 186-203

 

Learning in multiple communities from the perspective of knowledge capital HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Hayriye Tugba Ozturk, Huseyin Ozcinar 204-221

 

A multimedia approach to ODL for agricultural training in Cambodia HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Helena Grunfeld, Maria Lee Hoon Ng 222-238

 

Automatic evaluation for e-learning using latent semantic analysis: A use case HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Mireia Farrús, Marta R. Costa-jussà 239-254

Field Notes

“Opening” a new kind of school: The story of the Open High School of Utah HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
DeLaina Tonks, Sarah Weston, David Wiley, Michael K. Barbour 255-271

Comment

This journal is possible only because of strong support from Athabasca University, which is undergoing some convulsive changes at the moment. If nothing else remains, I hope this journal survives, as it is an essential resource for those working in the field.