A place to log ideas and thoughts

George Veletsianos, PhD

Interesting articles in Distance Education Journal

The latest issue of Distance Education looks VERY promising, with quite a few articles of interest. I’m especially looking forward to reading the one by Hilton et al that seems to present much needed data on the topic of open teaching. Two thumbs up for empirical research! Enjoy:

Compton, L., Davis, N. & Correia, A. (2010). Pre-service teachers’ preconceptions, misconceptions, and concerns about virtual schooling. Distance Education, 31(1), 37-54. doi:10.1080/01587911003725006
Over the last decade, online distance education has become a common mode of study in most states in the USA, where it is known as virtual schooling (VS), but many people have misconceptions about it. Pre-service teachers’ personal histories as students and their preconceptions, misconceptions, and concerns influence pre-service teacher training experiences. A qualitative study of an introductory field experience course that included this new mode of schooling for the first time analyzed the personal journals and online discussion responses of 65 pre-service teachers in the USA. Analysis identified that common misconceptions and concerns included career threat, viability of VS, academic dishonesty, reduced interaction, teacher feedback, and lack of rigor. The curriculum innovations in this innovative teacher preparation program were shown to address these misconceptions and concerns and facilitate understanding and acceptance of VS as an alternative form of education by many of these pre-service teachers.

Oliver, K., Kellogg, S., Townsend, L. & Brady, K. (2010). Needs of elementary and middle school teachers developing online courses for a virtual school. Distance Education, 31(1), 55-75. doi:10.1080/01587911003725022
Eight teams of elementary and middle school teachers developed pilot online courses for the North Carolina Virtual Public School (NCVPS) in the USA. A qualitative case study with focus groups and a follow-up survey helped to identify common needs of these non-traditional course designers during course development efforts. Findings suggest virtual schools can better support non-traditional course designers by providing leadership components such as technical expertise, regular feedback, and clear expectations, including an understanding of the target students. Findings further suggest designers need a range of bite-sized professional development on replicating model courses, using course management systems, assessing learners online, designing with copyright and safety issues in mind, integrating Web tools, and developing course documentation for deployment. The article concludes with a discussion of support structures that may aid instructors tasked with online course development.

Hilton III, J. L., Graham, C., Rich, P. & Wiley, D. (2010). Using online technologies to extend a classroom to learners at a distance. Distance Education, 31(1), 77-92. doi:10.1080/01587911003725030
The authors studied a course in which an instructor allowed individuals at a distance to participate. Although these students were not formally enrolled in the university where the class took place, the instructor gave them full access to all course materials and encouraged them to complete course assignments. The authors examined the time and technical proficiency required to involve learners at a distance. We surveyed these learners to determine their perceptions of the course and examined their work. Learners at a distance reported receiving some benefit from the course, particularly in terms of learner–content interaction. We surveyed students in the face-to-face classroom to determine whether having students participating at a distance in the same class affected their perception of the course. They reported no impact. The implications and limitations of these results are discussed.

Baggaley, J. (2010). The satirical value of virtual worlds. Distance Education, 31(1), 115-119. doi:10.1080/01587911003725055
Imaginary worlds have been devised by artists and commentators for centuries to focus satirical attention on society’s problems. The increasing sophistication of three-dimensional graphics software is generating comparable ‘virtual worlds’ for educational usage. Can such worlds play a satirical role suggesting developments in distance education practice and policy? The article examines the emergence of Hinterlife, a cartoon world run by a disarmingly despotic academic known to the real world only by his virtual name, Professor Horace. This article suggests that a healthy dose of satire can help distance education to overcome the problems generated in difficult economic times.

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1 Comment

  1. The article “Using online technologies to extend a classroom to learners at a distance” is available at:

    http://contentdm.lib.byu.edu/cdm4/item_viewer.php?CISOROOT=/IR&CISOPTR=983&CISOBOX=1&REC=1

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