Sorry to be a little late in catching up with this, but the latest edition of the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, Volume 12, No. 2,  is now available. (One reason I’m late doing this is that there were so many interesting articles in this edition that it took me much longer to read than usual).

As its excellent editor points out, this is a general, rather than a themed, edition, but nevertheless many of the articles focus on the design of online and distance education, in particular with respect to newer developments such as mobile and blended learning.

I was particularly interested in the following articles:

Atkinson, S. (2011) Embodied and Embedded Theory in Practice: The Student-Owned Learning-Engagement (SOLE) Model IRRODL, Vol. 12, No. 2

Simon Atkinson of the London School of Economics proposes a model and toolkit essentially for preparing instructors for working with new technologiesL

a new model of learning design is proposed with a practical, accessible, and freely available “toolkit” that embodies and embeds pedagogical theories and practices. The student-owned learning-engagement (SOLE) model aims to support professional development within practice, constructive alignment, and holistic visualisations, as well as enable the sharing of learning design processes with the learners themselves.

Power, M. and Gould-Morven, A. (2011) Head of gold and feet of clay IRRODL, Vol. 12, No. 2

This is a much more provocative article from authors at the Université de Laval, Québec. They argue that ODL suffers from a reputation of poor quality from most faculty which prevents the more widespread adoption of online learning. They go on to critique John Daniel’s ‘iron triangle’ of access, cost and quality, and analyze it from perspectives of the different stakeholders: faculty, student and administrators. They then argue for a model of blended learning that reduces the tensions in the ‘iron triangle.’ This article is a very neat piece of theory that unfortunately avoids any empirical data to support the assumptions. (It may also reflect differences in faculty views of online learning between Québec and Ontario. In an earlier post, we saw not only a high uptake of online learning in Ontario, but also high completion rates, which suggests that the poor quality of online learning is more of a phantom dreamed up by faculty than a reality. In another post, we saw data that suggested a relatively low take-up of distance education in Québec). I’m not arguing that there is no value in blended learning designs, but they are not appropriate for all kinds of learners, especially those that cannot attend campus or fit with synchronous delivery on a regular basis. However, despite my caveats, this is a very interesting article.

Yeonjeong Park (2011) A pedagogical framework for mobile learning: Categorizing educational applications of mobile technologies into four types IRRODL,Vol. 12, No. 2

This is another article that develops a design model, this time for an area much in need of some design principles, mobile learning. Park states:

I compare mobile learning (m-learning) with electronic learning (e-learning) and ubiquitous learning (u-learning) and describe the technological attributes and pedagogical affordances of mobile learning presented in previous studies. I modify transactional distance (TD) theory and adopt it as a relevant theoretical framework for mobile learning in distance education. Furthermore, I attempt to position previous studies into four types of mobile learning: 1) high transactional distance socialized m-learning, 2) high transactional distance individualized m-learning, 3) low transactional distance socialized m-learning, and 4) low transactional distance individualized m-learning.

Again, essential reading for anyone interested in mobile learning.

There are also  two other articles in this edition about mobile learning:

Lim, T., Fadzil, M. and Mansor, N. (2011) Mobile learning via SMS at Open University Malaysia: Equitable, effective, and sustainable IRRODL, Vol. 12, No. 2

Elias, T. (2011) Universal instructional design principles for mobile learning IRRODL, Vol. 12, No. 2

and two articles about training adjunct faculty:

Shattuck, J.,Dubins, B. and Zilberman, D. (2011) MarylandOnline’s inter-institutional project to train higher education adjunct faculty to teach online IRRODL, Vol. 12, No. 2

Dolan, V. (2011) The isolation of online adjunct faculty and its impact on their performance IRRODL, Vol. 12, No. 2

Finally, a paper from New Zealand that came to the astonishing conclusion that students don’t participate in online discussions if they perceive them as being irrelevant to their end of course assessment:

Naughton, C., Roder, J. and Smeed, J. (2011) Delimiting the prospect of openness: An examination of initial student approaches to e-learning  IRRODL, Vol. 12, No. 2

Overall, a very rich edition from IRRODL. I’m suffering a little from indigestion, as a result.


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