Professor & Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology at Royal Roads University

Your thoughts on our Table of Contents for an upcoming book proposal?

Posted on July 22nd, by George Veletsianos in Ideas, my research, online learning, open. 11 comments

My colleague Ash Shaw and I are working on a book. The book aims to highlight student voices in online learning. The main aims are to surface the experiences of online learners in an evocative and accessible manner, synthesize literature on the topic, and present our original work. Below is our draft table of contents. If you have a couple of minutes, could you take a look at it and let us know if there are any topics/debates/issues that might be of interest to the average faculty member and student that we are missing?

Thank you!

# Topic Summary and questions answered
2 Demographics Examines who today’s online learners are and how online learners demographics have changed over time. Who are today’s online learners? How many students enroll in online courses nationally and globally? How have demographics changed over time?
3 Who succeeds? (or, The online paradox) Investigates the reasons why students who take online courses have greater degree completion rates when online courses are characterized by higher attrition rates.
4 Motivations Investigates the reasons that individuals take online courses. Shows that students take online courses for a variety of reasons, and reveals that reasons differ depending on the type of online course (e.g., some learners take MOOCs for different reasons than online courses).
5 Digital Literacies Examines the need for skills and the skills required to participate productively in online courses.
6 Note-taking Uses note-taking to illustrate that online learning research that focuses on tracking student activity on platforms alone is insufficient to understand the human condition and hence improve learning outcomes.
7 Self-directed learning Investigates self-directed learning as a process necessary for contemporary learners to develop and apply.
8 Openness Investigates the meaning of the term openness in the context of online learning.
9 Personalized learning Examines efforts to develop adaptive learning software and automate instruction (system control), and juxtaposes those efforts with designs that allow learners to personalize their own learning (learner control). Explores instructor strategies and designs to personalize learning.
10 Flexibility Examines the ways that online courses can be designed to accommodate learners’ lives and allow flexible participation. Investigates issues of modality and (a)synchrnonicity.
11 Social Media Investigates how social media are used in online courses and shows how intentional integration of such tools can lead to positive outcomes.
12 Loneliness or “The student who watched videos alone” Examines how online learning can be a lonely and isolating experience and proposes strategies for enhancing presence and immediacy.
13 Emotions Shows that learning online is an emotional experience, calling for a more caring pedagogy and critiquing the calls to employ online learning to simply make online learning offerings more efficient.
14 Lurking or “The student who learned as much by just watching videos” Investigates the topic of lurking. Highlights the visible and invisible practices that online learners engage in. Demostrates…
15 Time or “The student who stole time from his family to study” Explores the topic of time-management in online students’ lives, and investigates how courses can be designed to fit with the complexity of learner’s day-to-day realities (e.g., work and family requirements).
16 Dropout, Attrition, and Persistence Explores the topic of attrition, as online courses often face higher attrition rates than alternatives.
17 Instructor The role of the instructor in online learning environments. Investigates instructor presence, support, and explores how instructors can contribute to meaningful and effective learning experiences
18 Online vs. face-to-face learning Investigates the question as to whether face-to-face learning is better than online learning. Presents the empirical research on the question and highlights (a) how different forms of education serve different needs, and (b) how learning design is a more significant factor in determining learning outcomes than modality.
19 MOOCs or “The student who completed 200 courses: And other, less profound, online learning experiences” Explores the topic of MOOCs and summarizes the empirical research that exists on the topic. Explains the origins of the term, the different designs, and how the concept has evolved over time, with particular emphasis on students’ experiences in MOOCs.
20 The Learning Management System and Next-Generation Digital Learning Environments Investigates the idea that Learning Management Systems contribute little to student learning. Proposes the courses are “nodes in a network” as opposed to hermetic containers of knowledge. Shows how course design differs between these two ideas.
21 Challenges and remediation strategies Investigates the challenges that online learners face and the strategies employed by themselves and others to remediate them.

11 thoughts on “Your thoughts on our Table of Contents for an upcoming book proposal?

  1. A few very quick thoughts:
    #1 (and throughout) to what degree are you going to treat online on campus and online remote as different populations?
    #6 this seems like an odd title for what you’re describing; agree that online activity on its own eg note taking and ereaders is a troublesome / biased metric for learning.
    #7 agree wholeheartedly but begs question – given that online learning often requires greater student self-direction/ regulation, to what extent does the structure/ design of online learning often risk restricting (programatically as well as within course) the opportunities students have to exercise self-directed learning?
    #11 will you cover risks and negative outcomes? problems of forced public presence?
    #12 & 13 thank you for including this
    #14 in the context of lurking. Given the narrative that students who engage are more likely to complete (yes), is one of the counter narratives that busywork frustrates online learners?
    #15 especially important wrt instructor understanding of student demographic and estimations of time for tasks. on campus four fixed assignment deadlines per week might fit the lecture schedule, for an online student this may defeat the purpose of taking an online course.
    #17 yes teaching not just design! – but where’s the chapter on design? I think one needs both design and build in advance and teach responsively.
    #18 , 1) does it have to be “vs” ? 2) what about blended / hybrid?
    #19 – is this going to cover open courses as well? if you’re covering moocs – does this also need a chapter on training/ certification – etc. ? [for self regulated learner one question will be what do I do in the program? what can i do outside of uni?]
    #21 include access to support services? online students may have different access to student services
    other questions: cost issues – impact of variability of grants / fees / proctoring between campus and online.

  2. Looks inyerwsting!I am a little uncomfortable with the presentation of Ch12, which seems to presuppose loneliness as a given in online learning. Is the loneliness a function of the design or is it inevitable? Does it depend on the context – MOOC vs Uni class? Along those lines, perhpas a chapter about creating community in online learning settings – especially asynchronous. Thanks for listening.

  3. Your goal is very laudable, and your book seems to be covering a lot of material. Nonetheless, i could not detect the underlying narrative for the text. Is it about a journey, the outcomes, the educational value proposition…whose narrative is this?

    Indeed, I did not notice anything in terms of immersive learning environments, simulations, serious games, online games, emotional intelligence, gamification, experiential learning, AR/VR/MR, instructional technologies, etc.

    If the text will be for the learners to voice their experiences, the critical areas outlined above form an underlying foundation and are very relevant to online learning.

  4. Hi George,

    Here are my thoughts on your TOC:

    Chapter 3 (higher completion rates vs higher attrition rates) seems to overlap with chapter 16 (attrition); you may want to either combine these chapters or have them closer together.

    Chapter 6 seems out of place, so does chapter 8. By out of place I mean from the perspective of cohesion I found chapters 4,5,9 would make more sense being closer together.

    Chapter 18 does require a bit more: there is f2f and online, as well as blended, augmented reality, collaborative learning, social learning/working (not always online), and curation

    Chapter 20 You may want to include something about a “personal learning network”, since the LMS is merely just one node amongst the many that form the vast web of learning networks that students rely on to acquire new knowledge and skills.


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