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Learning via Web-based Distance Education Noriko Hara & Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics Indiana University, Bloomington

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Presentation on theme: "Learning via Web-based Distance Education Noriko Hara & Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics Indiana University, Bloomington"— Presentation transcript:

1 Learning via Web-based Distance Education Noriko Hara & Rob Kling Center for Social Informatics Indiana University, Bloomington; October 29, 1999

2 History of the Study zInterested in students’ experience in a Web-based DE course zEthnographic study zCollaboration with an instructor who taught B555 in Fall, 1997

3 The Course (B555) zGraduate level course in language education zEntire course was web-based zCourse designed during Summer ‘97 z6 students were enrolled — one student at a distance (2 students at a distance dropped after the 1st week)

4 Instructor zA Ph.D. candidate in language education zKnowledgeable about the course content zA part of the Web course design team zHad prior face-to-face teaching experience

5 Media zWorld-Wide Web zClass Listserv zE-mail z1 “trip” to SchMOOze University

6 General Question zWhat are students’ experiences of taking a Web-based distance education course?

7 Description of the Study zMethodology yData Collection observation, interview, document analysis yData analysis categorizing, looking for patterns and inconsistencies member checking, triangulation zEthics yInformed consent; Pseudonyms

8 Assertion zIn B555, students felt major frustrations zThese frustrations were so overwhelming that some students would not take another DE course

9 Assertion (cont.) zSurprise! Small face-to-face elective graduate courses usually have higher satisfaction level, yet despite the small class size, the students in B555 felt high level of frustration

10 Inexperienced & Expectations Amy’s interview: “At SchMOOze University, I got lost. Before this event, I had to set up software, some special software for MOO on a computer. So, I downloaded it and set it up. I checked if I could go to the meeting room before the class activity time. Then I went there successfully and thought everything was fine. But, when I went there to see classmates at the meeting time, I got lost. I could see their on-line conversation, but they couldn’t see my messages. So, I called Sheryl and she taught me how to use commands and so on.

11 Inexperienced & Expectations (cont.) I just forgot to put parentheses when I typed. That’s why the classmates couldn’t see my messages. I talked to other people from different places at SchMOOze University, but not with my classmates. I was so frustrated because everyone else could do it, but why not me. Not only for the SchMOOze University activity, but I put in lots of time for this course overall, but I couldn’t see the results.”

12 Issues of Feedback John pointed out a message from the instructor, “I agree with her, but I’m not sure if I should send a message saying, ‘I agree.’ That’s the problem with this e-mail. If this is the classroom, you can just nod your head to show your agreement. I’m not always sure if I am contributing enough or not. Other people, like Julie and Kathy, are really active. I feel a sense of competitiveness. So, my survival skill is not to respond. In fact, I haven’t gotten any feedback about my contribution. I cannot tell from the e-mail. You can tell from the classroom what the professor think about you, like from the body language and the way they talk. So, I’m not feeling that I’m getting enough assessment.

13 Reduced Social Cues Kathy’s interview : “ The instructor has been good about responding immediately when you ask something. However, I have been in school in my life and I didn’t realize how much I relied on my knowledge of what teachers are looking for, you know. You sit in a classroom with somebody and you analyze who they are and what they like. And you cannot analyze [online] because you’ve never seen them. So, you are only guessing it what teacher really wants.”

14 Students’ Reactions after Taking the Course zTwo students claimed that they will not take distance education courses again to avoid frustrations zOne student was inspired by this course and continued to take a technology- related course

15 Discussion zThe CMC communication channel amplified the frustrations among students: yLack of simultaneous feedback — it requires efforts to create effective social presence yDisrupted turn adjacency (Herring, 1999)

16 Understated Topics zHard to find Computer-Mediated DE research & practitioner literature which examines: yStudents' frustration in CMDE yThe needs for development of social communication process on CMC for students & faculty

17 Tips for Facilitating Social Communication Process (Charles Huff, St. Olaf College) zClearing things up yrevealing confusion yclarifying yindicating alternatives ytesting for agreement yidentifying areas of disagreement ysuggesting an integrative agreement or compromise zSocial & emotional work yrelieving group tension yencouraging yexpressing feelings yagreeing with another participant's comment, question, feeling

18 Tips for Facilitating Social Communication Process (Charles Huff, St. Olaf College) zDirecting traffic ybringing up a new topic ysetting standards ypointing out prejudiced, narrow- minded, or simplistic arguments ygatekeeping (helping someone else in or out of the discussion) zAsking for things yasking for clarification yraising new questions yparaphrasing another's statement to test for understanding yseeking information from other participants yseeking opinion from other participants

19 Conclusion zNeed more student-centered studies of CMDE zNeed balanced views of CMDE: Potential of CMDE vs. Actual efforts required to run CMDE Working Paper is available at:

20 Considerations zWhat is the appropriate training for the 1st time teaching online? zHow can “we” best inform students & instructors about appropriate expectations and social communication process in CMDE? zWhat kinds of institutional supports should be provided to both students & instructors?

21 Biographical Notes zNoriko Hara yresearch associate in Instructional Systems Technology Department at Indiana University y zRob Kling yprofessor of Information Science and Information Systems at Indiana University y

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