Blog reflection: Expectations for Learning Online
Is online learning as efficacious as face-to-face learning? One way we think about the difference in learning is how online learning is (sometimes) delivered. Synchronous (e.g. GoToMeeting, Skype, etc.) vs. asynchronous tools (e.g. Discussion Forums). Which is better at fostering online learning? Why? What are your reasons and evidence for this?
Also, are we asking the right questions about distance learning? Should we be comparing online to traditional face-to-face learning?
Based on several of the journals that I’ve read for this week’s assignment, it appears that the final word has not been spoken. The design and delivery of both face-to-face (f2f) and online courses share the same consequences, where some are good and some are bad. Since there is a continuous growth of online courses away from f2f course environments, there is much research still to be done to identify the best of both worlds. Some of the research indicate “studies of distance learning concluded that technologies were not significantly different from regular classroom learning in terms of effectiveness” (Means, Toyama, Murphy, Bakia, & Jones, 2010, p. 13). As many of the f2f course are “re-conceptualizing and converting a traditional classroom course to an online course doesn’t necessarily make it better or worse” (Fredericksen, 2015, p. 1). The difficulty of measuring the goodness or badness of a course is the variations that exists with the design of f2f, online and blended course content delivery. This variety of instructional designs have impact on both K-12 and post-secondary education.
The integration and use of various technologies in the education process has added complexity and variation to an otherwise year-over-year standardized instructional delivery. In Terry Anderson’s research entitled “Theories for learning with emerging technologies” (Anderson, 2016), there was a quest to understand the impact of the new and growing technologies available for use in education environments. Anderson had two issues to address (Anderson, 2016): identification of a guide (law) to help educators and instructional designers decide the best technology to use and just because a technology is utilized commercially and in business does not determine its effectiveness in educational contexts.
Besides the impact that technologies have had on course designs and delivery, there are many students that raise concerns about the social interactions that are missing in online courses versus f2f classes. The suggestion that “learning occurs through the interaction of social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence within a community of inquiry that is composed of teachers and students” (Stodel, Thompson, & MacDonald, 2006, p. 3). Since the research focused on the impact and concerns of the students lack of social interactions, the design of the synchronous and asynchronous interactions were evaluated. I speculate that those students that missed the f2f interactions were due in part to becoming familiar with the new paradigms associated with the synchronous and asynchronous designs of the online course. Most students in the K-12 grades today are more likely to experience +12 years of f2f environments. Although that experience is changing with K-12 online and homeschooling environments, I also speculate that the concerns associated with social presence will diminish with these increases. As the implementation and integration of technologies continue to be common place, the comparisons between the f2f and online courses will diminish. Furthermore, f2f and online courses don’t necessarily compare as the comparison is apples to oranges.
Anderson, T., (2016). Theories for learning with emerging technologies. In G. Veletsianos (Ed.) Emergence and innovation in digital learning: foundations and applications. (pp. 35-50). doi:10.15215/aupress/9781771991490.01
Fredericksen, E., (2015). Is online education good or bad? And is this really the right question? Retrieved from: https://theconversation.com/is-online-education-good-or-bad-and-is-this-really-the-right-question-35949
Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., & Jones, K., (2010). Evaluation of evidence-based practices in online learning: A meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Center for Technology in Learning. Retrieved from: https://www2.ed.gov/rschstat/eval/tech/evidence-based-practices/finalreport.pdf
Stodel, E., Thompson, T., & MacDonald, C., (2006). Learners’ perspectives on what is missing from online learning: Interpretations through the community of inquiry framework. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 7(3) 1-24