How Ready are College Students to Learn Online Today?

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Presentation for the SLATE Conference 2014 on research in college student online readiness and expectations.


  • 1. How Ready are CollegeStudents to Learn OnlineToday?Anastasia Trekles, Purdue University North CentralSunila Samuel & Kathleen Gordon, American School

2. Todays Students and Online Courses What makes todays students different fromthose of years past? What attitudes, knowledge, and skills dostudents bring with them to college? What do todays students prefer - online,hybrid, or traditional? 3. Research on Millennials One of the most-studiedgenerations Generalizations comemostly from research -still, important not tostereotype Includes students withbirthdays from 1980-early 2000s 4. Characteristics of the Millennial Generation Diverse Grew up with helicopterparents Largest, healthiest, andmost cared-for generation Strive to achieve - motivatedby grades and recognition Family oriented Technology is commonplace Confident and team-oriented 5. Success in Online Learning Many factors in course design can also playa part in how well students perform Good online courses tend to be:o Logically sequencedo Interactiveo Easy to use and navigateo Involve real-world problems and solutionso Focused on course objectives 6. Success in Online Learning A number of indicators of online success have beenidentified in the literatureo Self-esteemo Intrinsic Motivationo Locus of Controlo Reading skillso Independent Learningo Technology skills 7. Do Millennials Have These Skills? What do instructors think? What do students think? How are students prepared in high school? The answers might surprise you! 8. Method Two surveys - instructors and students - about onlineand hybrid learning expectations and preparedness Key research questions:o What are college students current perceptions of the valueand delivery of hybrid and distance education courses?o What are college instructors current perceptions of studentsneeds and preferences with regard to hybrid and distanceeducation?o What kinds of support do college students need to prepareand participate in online learning successfully? 9. Instructor Perceptions Survey: Preliminary Responses: 50 (n=400) 77% had taught at least one online or hybrid course 40% preferred traditional teaching, however, while21% preferred online and 28% preferred hybrid (5% notsure) Mix of full- and part-time instructors 10. Basic Stats 79% believe that online and hybrid courses helpstudents balance their schedules 30% believe that students are not prepared for thetechnical demands of online learning, and 54% believethey are not prepared for the pedagogical demands 58% believe students can learn as much online as FTF 93% agreed that faculty responsiveness is essential 81% believed that discussions are essential 76% felt that multimedia is essential 11. Qualitative Feedback from Faculty Some faculty will never teach online for personalbeliefs; many expressed preference for hybrid Good online experiences as learners = positiveperceptions as teachers Many continue to express concerns about academicintegrity in online classes Some believe students enter online learning with thewrong expectations for the course or about theirsuccess 12. Student Perceptions Survey: Preliminary Responses: 266 (n=3383) 29% Freshman, 22% Sophomore, 22% Junior, 26%Senior, 1% Graduate 89% had taken at least one online or hybrid course 13. Basic Stats 68% feel online and hybrid classes are importantbecause they help them balance their schedule 76% felt adequately prepared to learn online 55% believe they can learn as much online as in FTFcourses 91% believe instructor responsiveness is essential totheir success 26% Agree and 33% neither agree/disagreeresponses on the importance of discussions 70% believe that multimedia is essential online 14. Qualitative Feedback from Students Bad experiences = negative perceptions of all onlinecourses Some loved online/hybrid, some hated it Many like interacting with others FTF Some students equate online courses with not reallyteaching Many admitted they preferred FTF because they wereunable to keep up with online course demands RELEVANCY of learning was key and noted by many 15. Preliminary Findings Q1 & Q2: Many instructors and students see hybrid as abest of both worlds Q1 & Q2: Instructor-student interaction is more valuedby students than student-student interaction Q1 & Q3: Students believe they are far more preparedthan faculty perceive - big differences in expectations Q3: Quality learning experiences with relevant coursetopics and no busywork are keys to success and helptime management 16. Instructor Perceptions - High School Survey: Preliminary Responses: 25 (n=35) Mix of full-time and part-time instructors 0-2 years of online teaching experience 17. Key FindingsStatement:I believe that students can learn the same amount in anonline course as in a traditional course: 18. Key FindingsStatement:I believe that instructors who are responsive to studentsquestions/needs are essential to their success in onlinecourses: 19. Key FindingsStatement:I believe that my students can cope with the demands ofonline courses:Technical Demands: Pedagogical Demands: 20. Qualitative Feedback from Faculty To improve engagement, simulate face-to-facestudent-teacher interaction Course introduction is key for student success Need to mitigate student difficulty in followingdirections Need to create more authentic assessments 21. Student Perceptions - High SchoolData/comments from course reaction sheet: 96% prefer online exams, 4% prefer paperexams Preferred the one-on-one interaction withinstructor in online courses Enjoyed the flexibility of online courses 22. Giving Students What They Need Assessment performance versus actual deepsubject learning may lead some instructors andstudents to find online learning inadequate Real-world cases and authentic assessmentmay help bridge the gap Set the stage with objectives and navigationinstructions for the LMS 23. Best Practices in Online Course DesignAt the start of the course, provide the following: Clear expectations of workload, participation/interaction, andcompetencies gained by end of course. Pacing guides. An explanation of the course structure (e.g. number ofmodules) and navigation with screenshots. A list of technical requirements and programs they may need Links to free online tutorials and videos on various applicationstheyll likely use in their assignments. 24. Best Practices in Online Course DesignThroughout the course, do the following: Coach them on time management skills (a skill that many students lack).Students are self-paced, but shouldnt be left alone completely.Encourage and periodically check in on them. Explain differences between using technology for academicwriting/research and social networking. Use announcements for reminders about deadlines and pacing (remindthem of the pacing guides). Use discussion boards for frequent interaction. Post news articles, blogposts, videos, podcasts, anything intriguing that will motivate them andkeep their interest! 25. Next Steps for Institutions Faculty need better and more comprehensivetraining in pedagogy and effective course design Institutional PD should focus on helping facultyestablish common learning outcomes Students need to understand the demands ofschool Standardization of course design may be thefuture for successful online/hybrid courses 26. ExamplesSeveral examples of activities from online andhybrid courses that reflect best practices 27. ReferencesAtkinson, R. K., Derry, S. J., Renkl, A., & Wortham, D. (2000). Learning from examples:Instructional principles from the worked examples research. Review of Educational Research, 70(2),181-214. doi: 10.3102/00346543070003281Bernard, R.M., Abrami, P.C., Lou, Y., Borokhovski, E. Wade, A., Wozney, L., . . . Huang, B. (2004).How does distance education compare with classroom instruction? A meta-analysis of the empiricalliterature. Review of Educational Research, 74(3), 379-439. doi: 10.3102/00346543074003379Bransford, J.D., Brown, A.L., & Cocking, R.R. (Eds.). (2000). How people learn: Brain, mind,experience, and school: Expanded edition. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Retrieved from, N. (2011). The shallows: What the Internet is doing to our brains. New York: W.W. Norton.Dray, B.J. Lowenthal, P.R., Miszkiewicz, M.J. Ruiz-Primo, M.A., & Marczynski, K. (2011). Developingan instrument to assess student readiness for online learning: A validation study. DistanceEducation, 32(1), 29-47. doi: 10.1080/01587919.2011.565496 28. ReferencesKerr, M.S., Rynearson, K., & Kerr, M.C. (2006). Student characteristics for online learning success.Internet and Higher Education, 9, 91-105. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2006.03.002Merrill, M.D. (2012). First principles of instruction. San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.Nicholas, A. (2008). Preferred learning methods of the millennial generation. Faculty and Staff -Articles & Papers. Paper 18., B., & Anderson, T. (2011). Distance students readiness for social media andcollaboration. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 12(6). Retrievedfrom, M. (2014). The world needs a new curriculum. Educational Technology, 54(3). Retrievedfrom, A., & Sims, R. (2013). Designing instruction for speed: Qualitative insights into instructionaldesign for accelerated online graduate coursework. Online Journal of Distance LearningAdministration, 16(4). Retrieved from 29. ReferencesTrekles Milligan, A., & Buckenmeyer, J. (2008). Assessing students for online learning. InternationalJournal on E-Learning, 7(3), 449-461.van Merrinboer, J.J.G., & Sluijsmans, D.M.A. (2009). Toward a synthesis of cognitive load theory,four-component instructional design, and self-directed learning. Educational Psychology Review,21(1), 55-66. doi:10.1007/s10648-008-9092-5Wilson, W., & Gerber, L.E. (2008). How generational theory can improve teaching: Strategies forworking with the millennials. Currents in Teaching and Learning, 1(1), 29-44. Retrieved from 30. For More InformationFor additional resources, visit our Google site:Online Student Readiness