Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Assignment 11, Complete

I apologize for not sharing my process but it mostly involved inappropriate words spoken in inaudible mutterings alternating with head banging and howling 'no, No, NO!!' as my computer locked up not once, but three times in succession. Below I have posted the three new sections to the research paper, but wait, there's more!
Please link to my web page for the entire research paper.


Link to: Learning in New Media research paper

I'm wishing a fabulous Thanksgiving to you and your families.

Assignment 11, Introduction

Members of a graduate level online course in instructional technology conducted a research study that explored people’s attitudes towards new media in education. The availability of online courses and the impact that they are having on education can not be underestimated. While the availability and ease of online classes attracts students who might not otherwise have access to education, ‘unfortunately, attrition from these programs is reaching epidemic proportions and, if educational institutions are to fulfill their commitment to offer courses equivalent to their traditional counterparts, they must investigate ways to address the learning needs and styles of different types of learners.’ (Terrell, 2005)

In an effort to address the learning need and styles this study examined the importance of experience and familiarity with students’ preferences in online education particularly as it related to podcasts. The study examined choice preferences for other types of media including email, enhanced podcasts, voip, blogs, and threaded discussions. Finally, the importance of choice itself was examined as it pertained to androgogical preferences.

These are important questions as we address the needs of all students, and attempt to relieve the high attrition rates online classes are prone to. This survey was rather informally done due to the nature of the class and the selection of participants, but the implications may well be critical to the future of new media in education.

Assignment 11, Results

Table 1: Correlations (will not paste into Blog)

1) Is there a relationship between previous non-music portable media consumption and receptiveness for portable media use in online learning?

In table 1 above, the correlation between prior non-music portable media consumption (item 2) and a preference for listening to educational podcasts while engaged in other activities (item 3) is statistically significant at .609. Correlation decreases when compared to listening to audio only podcasts on a portable media player (item 6), and the use of podcasts that include visual aides such as charts, graphs and images on a portable media player (item 9) but all are statistically significant. Some conclusions might be drawn as to the increase in familiarity with listening to podcasts, and the availability of viewing enhanced podcasts and how that might be reflected in preferences. Another factor could be how comfortable students are with the material being presented. It might be assumed new information might require increased attention and outside activities be perceived as a distraction.

2) What media types do students prefer to use for different course activities related to instructor-student interaction, student-student interaction, and student-content interaction?





Std. Deviation











































Valid N (listwise)


Table 2: Descriptive Statistics Preferences in Interaction

The order of preferences goes from email, threaded discussion, blog, pod-enhanced, video, voip, to pod-audio. It should be noted that the top three preferred means of interaction are email, threaded discussion, and blog. The others range from a close 2.50-2.79.


Technology Mean Standard Deviation


Email 4.45 .62

Threaded Discussion 3.30 1.10

Blogs 3.15 1.13

Enhanced Podcasts 2.79 1.04

Video Conferencing 2.77 1.03

Audio Only Podcasts 2.50 .93

Voice Over Internet 2.52 1.02


Table 3 Means and Standard Deviations of Technologies Used for

Course Related Communication (N=64)

Means were computed for each of the technology items across the various course related communication tasks. Email was rated as most preferred (M=4.45, SD=.62), threaded discussion was next preferred (M= 3.30, SD =1.10) with blogs almost being rated almost as highly (M=3.15, SD=1.13) and near the middle of the scale. Enhanced podcasts (M= 2.79, SD=1.04), video conferencing (M=2.77, SD=1.03), audio only podcasts (M=2.50, SD=.93) and voice over Internet (M=2.52, SD=1.02) were below the middle of the 5 point Likert scale indicating that they were not preferred for course related communication. These means are reported in table 3.

3) What level of involvement in planning, organizing, grading, and making media choices do adult online learners desire?






Std. Deviation













Due Dates






Technologies used






Valid N (listwise)


Table 4: Descriptive Statistics Preferences in Androgogy Choice

Means were computed for each of the andragogy choice preference items across the various course related requirements. Choice in type of media or communications technologies used in the class was rated as most preferred (M=4.41, SD=.88), choice about the assignments that are done was next preferred (M= 4.28, SD =.98) with choices about the due dates (M=3.80, SD=1.20) and choice regarding how assignments are graded or evaluated coming close behind (M=3.77, SD=1.17). All were well above the median of the 5 points Likert scale indicating that they were highly preferred when engaging in the education process at the graduate level.

Assignment 11, Discussion

It is clear that prior experience with non-music podcasts is associated with a preference for portable media in learning. It is logical to assume that some efficacy with a particular type of media is preferable in any learning environment, not just online. The experience of taking higher education classes is stressful as students strive to convey their new understanding and knowledge in a format that the professor can judge the extent of their learning. The essence of the educational process is to deliver information in an effective way for each student to gain knowledge, and then allow a format for the student to demonstrate mastery of the skills and content learned. It is enough to master the new content, but to be faced with a new system of delivery and communication which must be learned in addition can be a daunting task. It is no surprise that a student would wish to rely on the most familiar delivery system even if it is less effective.

In the online instructional technology class in which this research was conducted, students generally had some experience with various forms of communications technology. The level of comfort in using technology can be assumed to be higher than the average students’. The other variable which must be considered is the perceived costs associated with using various technologies. The high speed connections and web cams required for video conferencing come at a price where email and blogs can be accessed effectively through dial up connections with hardware most students already have available. Another aspect is convenience. Anyone who has struggled through the addition of a reluctant piece of computer hardware can relate to the feeling of frustration as the peripheral is commissioned. Once the hours of troubleshooting are over and the piece is actuated it might be easy to appreciate the added functionality, but new media phobias are understandable.

While it might be assumed that students have an increased familiarity with the top three choices email, blog, and threaded discussion, it can be argued that they are also the most interactive providing a blend of social contact and control. While many students had familiarity with podcasting, it may have been less desirable because it lacked social presence and feedback. Voip and video conferencing have a high level of social interaction, but in exchange you sacrifice the flexibility of being able to access content at any time, a prime attractor for online learning.
The final question regarding control in organizing, grading and media choice also seems to reflect a preference for the known. Most college students have experienced classes in which the teacher practiced differentiated instruction and this choice had the highest rating. Students are familiar with choosing a project or delivery method they feel either best demonstrates their depth of understanding, or would be the most enjoyable to complete. Fewer students have experience choice in deciding how the project should be graded and evaluated and might be uncertain what that is like, preferring to work in the way they are accustomed and this choice had the lowest score, but still showed a definite preference in favor of choice.

Further research is required to construct a more complete understanding of the results of this survey. Student familiarity with podcasts was the only reference explored. Familiarity with each of the other new media should be established to calculate a correlation between them. A qualitative survey could ask questions through the use of an interview exploring not just prior experience, but the reasons students state a particular preference. A more organized method of participant recruitment must be followed and it might be advantageous to group participants by age. It might be argued that there are generational differences in attitude regarding communication. Students who regularly utilize social networking sites such as ‘MySpace’ or ‘Facebook’ may have different attitudes than students who prefer more privacy. Communication and a level of social presence is a personal choice that can be influenced by many factors. Privacy, familiarity, and cost being just a few.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Assignment 10, Method Section

This research study targets the uses of new media in education. Subjects were recruited by students enrolled in an online research class as part of the class participation requirements. Students were instructed to find a minimum of 5 adult learners who would be willing to complete a 10 minute online survey. Each student was left to their own devices on recruiting those volunteers through informal contacts focusing on adults with higher education and the participants were diverse, but anonymous.

The online survey used a Likert psychometric response scale to rate participants opinions on various types of new media in learning on a 1 to 5 scale. The first draft list of questions was chosen by the instructor based on written dialog gleaned from online discussions in student blogs and guided by his own experiences with new media and education. Some consideration was given to information discussed in the available research papers pulled from a prior research assignment.

The original 17 items were grouped by topic like type and use of new media. These groupings sorted into two general categories:

available options and choice of media

andragogy and online learning

Questions were then refined and reduced to eliminate redundancy and choose a manageable number of questions for this limited survey. It was previously decided this survey would be of a quantitative rather than qualitative nature and questions were eliminated accordingly. The instrument was subjected to peer review that included all class members with a description of the final survey. Students were asked for input and several of the questions were altered and the Likert scale adjusted to use the phrasing “very much like me” and “not very much like me”.

The final survey determined to answer the following questions:

Is there a relationship between the amount of portable media (podcasts) a student consumes and their desire for portable media use in online learning?

What level of involvement in planning, organizing, and making media choices do adult online learners desire?

Is the use of collaboration to comment on other students’ work viewed as beneficial by online students?

What media types to students express a preference for using for a variety of activities related to instructor-student interaction, student-student interaction, and student-content interaction.

The subject factors that were used for sorting variable were the following two items:

Do you own a Portable Media Player Y/N

I frequently listen to podcasts on a portable media player

One of the reason that these limiting factors were chosen is that many students might have experience listening to portable media players like the ubiquitous iPod, but might not have experience in listening to podcasts for informational purposes. The assumption was that some experience with this media would affect the comfort level in using new media and influence the responses. Participants were instructed to assume they were beginning on online class utilizing each one of several new media delivery methods. There were forty eight items on the survey grouped into similar questioning of attitudes towards the use of technology in education. The new media included were podcasts, blogs, email, threaded discussions, online video, and voice over internet protocol. The final four items explored preferences in androgogy.

The use of the online survey method to gather information probably affected those adults who chose to participate. It would limit voluntary participants to those with easy access to a high speed internet connection, efficacy with surveys, and perhaps some affection for the requestor. It might be assumed that each of the students enrolled in the class also took the survey if only to experience it from a different perspective. Actual survey items are available in the appendix located on my home computer. For purposes of brevity, this article has had an appendectomy!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Assignment 8, Literature Review

This review examines literature relating to adult learning and andragogy, new media in online education, and social presence and learning with new media. Discussed here, these topics are closely intertwined with and possibly center on andragogy. While it is true some elementary and secondary school students use online learning because circumstances necessitate its use, it might be assumed the current majority of online students are adults and this review addresses their andragogical needs. As the availability of new technology increases, educators are resolute to determine the most effective ways to integrate these new systems into our delivery of content. Adults are not compelled to fit into a factory model of education and have the freedom to pursue information in whatever way best fits their individual needs, while simultaneously following a course that provides deep understanding and mastery of the subject.

Adult Learning and Andragogy
Most components of online learning have an ancestor that can be traced back to a traditional classroom setting. In the case of instant messaging (Sparks, 2006), the faculty compare it to “passing notes in the back row” as the professors were caught completely unaware that students who were supposed to be fully engaged in an online discussion were multi tasking socially. In traditional classes students form social support groups and are able to check for understanding with each other before they ask the teacher. Students who establish virtual social networks can accomplish the same thing with even less class disruption by the use of instant messages. These tactics are employed because they fill the adult need of not wanting to call attention to yourself if you are off task but trying to get back on task, or if you have a question you believe to be unworthy of class time. Faculty was initially uncomfortable with this idea because as Burge (1988) notes, “Teachers and tutors of those adults also will show wide variations in maturational stages and needs for power and control. Many educators for example are conditioned to work in transmittal authoritative modes; others know no other styles for working with learners, or are psychologically unprepared to give up leadership and control.” This issue would rear its ugly head for any online course that utilized technology that puts more control in the hands of the student created a learner centered environment.

In the case of a teacher who is vested in creating a learner centered environment and becoming more of a facilitator of learning then “the facilitator’s guidelines are grouped into four R’s Responsibility, Relevance, Relatedness and Rewards” (Burge 1988). This acknowledges that responsibility for learning is shared by student and faculty. It has been acknowledged for years that individuals have their own learning styles, and there are several ways to categorize them, but most include some provision for auditory, visual, kinetic, and reading preferences. At least one essay (Bonk, 2006), acknowledges “Learners in online environments, especially those born after the mid-1970s, want learning that is responsive to their preferred styles of learning.” And that learning increasingly makes use of hands on activities or problem based learning, another important component of andragogy. Online learning takes advantage of the variety of electronic tools available and uses the array to accommodate students’ preferences.

New Media in Online Education
What exactly are those online tools and how can they be used? Research has examined a few common tools being utilized in education. First the blog or weblog, is a journal in which the writer posts comments, graphics, and links to other web based information. These journals are interactive when the owner allows other people to post comments and reflections on the writing. In online education blogs are often used to post assignments and comment on other students’ writing. They are used as assessment tools to ascertain if a student understands the material or task at hand. In a study that compared student attitudes toward educational blogs to the tools audio conferencing, the Rotisserie system, and instant messaging, blogs consistently came in least popular tied with Rotisserie although “students admitted that they had been ‘won over’ to the benefits of blogging through the exercise of having to use it and reading the blogs of their peers”. (Weller, 2005). The other advantage to blogs is their flexibility in how and when they can be accessed by students to “provide opportunities for instructor–student as well as student–student real-time and/or time-delayed collaboration.” (Beldarrain 2006) an important consideration for many students in choosing on-line classes. The other component is the degree to which a student feels they are controlling the direction of their learning, another component of andragogy. In an Australian study of the use of blogs in an MBA course they found “The inherent creativity of blogging and the distinctly open environment for topic advancement allowed students to direct their own learning in a manner that transcended the existing curriculum.” (Williams, 2004)

Podcasting is also being explored as new media. Podcasts are audio or video recordings that can be played using a computer, or downloaded to a portable media device. They appeal because of their flexibility and address the needs of auditory learners. “The versatility of podcasting may impact the way distance educators deliver instruction as well as the manner in which students are engaged in learning. New models of teaching may take advantage of RSS technology to deliver up-to-the-minute expert commentaries, for example, or to have students broadcast their analysis of topics studied.” (Beldarrain, 2006) Learners have more choice in the way they can communicate their understanding of the topic. Educators have some misgivings about them and studies have been conducted to verify or contest some of the negative attitudes. In a study that examined several of these ‘myths’ namely, that podcasting promotes social isolation, negatively affects attendance, wastes time through repetition, increases anxiety and information overload, and finally that it requires special platforms the conclusion was that these ideas were inaccurate and podcasting was an engaging and popular tool. The authors concluded that “If educators are looking at the key pedagogical goal, which is to provide learners with the tools they need to succeed, inspire them in the process, and foster a trust-based relationship, the authors will claim that, in this case, podcasting is not a gizmo, but definitely an instrument worthy of utilization to its full potential as an edifying mentor inside and outside of the classroom.” (Luanne and Martin, 2007) The podcast can also be seen as an instrument of choice as students take control over their learning. “The potential applications for podcasting as an instructional strategy embrace the necessary flexibility and challenge that the adult learner seeks. Podcast courses minimize technical support demands and empower students to self-manage many elements of the process.” (Hollandsworth, 2007)

‘New media’ can be considered a relative term. What might be considered new media in a developing country might be considered obsolete or an undesirable means of communication in this one. Wikis, audio conferencing, and instant messaging might be considered readily available here, but in technically developing countries like India, they are just acquiring common use of technology. There, the ubiquitous cell phone is the only form of technology in wide enough use to be utilized in distance learning. The availability of text messaging allows for the delivery of short content, keeping students informed of class progress and assignment. Full online learning is limited to only a privileged few. Fortunately, students can also take advantage of phones that have mp3 capability. This provides flexibility and choice and “for example, that people can learn more effectively if ‘information’ is broken down into smaller, more easy-to-comprehend units. It is suggested here, therefore, that mobile learning is an ideal medium simply because it supports this ‘new way’ of learning by via the use of SMS, pre-recorded MP3 files, and so forth.” (Fozdar, 2007)

Social Presence and Learning with New Media
The greatest perceive disadvantage to online learning is the lack of socialization. Interaction with peers and instructors is important, and distance learning can decrease the amount of social contact, and it is far easier to misinterpret writing because it doesn’t have the visual cues face to face communication does. Also, students can begin to feel isolated and cut-off from the learning processes. Interactive tools like blogging can help alleviate that experience of being inaccessible to others or of them to you. Steven Glogoff’s research indicates that blogging can add a dimension of interaction beyond what is usually experience in the traditional classroom setting. He states, “Finally, the opportunities for each student to post substantive comments to other students' blog entries add an additional tier of interactivity and social interaction. In online courses where communication remains largely text-based, such opportunities to enhance community can make significant contributions to student learning.” (Glogoff, 2005) There is some thought that blogs might create actual virtual communities even after the course has ended, but this remains a topic for further research. In an actual classroom, some students form social bonds that exist and continue outside the confines of the class, and many continue on with their own direction, occasionally meeting again in another required course. One can imagine the obstacles involved with maintaining friendships through a chance meeting would be exacerbated by the limited contact of a virtual course, but maybe not. Maybe the availability of a virtual relationship unconstrained by physical location would promote the ability to continue.

Social interaction might help retention, especially in places where attrition rates are high, but for a motivated student the most important goal is the learning. Socialization can help the learning process and provide a welcoming atmosphere. For some students, the structure of a face to face environment becomes overwhelming. An advantage to online learning is the freedom for the student to take a break and re-energize at will. The question becomes, does face to face instruction and high level of socialization affect the attrition rate? In a Madonna University, School of Business study a class was taught by the same instructor using the same content with similar populations as both an online class and a traditional classroom setting. “The results revealed no significant difference in test scores assignments, participation grades, and final grades, although the online group’s averages were slightly higher. Ninety-six percent of the online students found the course to be either as effective or more effective to their learning than their typical face-to-face course. There were no significant differences between learning preferences and styles and grades in either group. The study showed that equivalent learning activities can be equally effective for online and face-to face learners.” (Neuhauser, 2002) and the attrition rate for both groups equaled 86%. This shows that the effectiveness of the delivery is equal as long as you have a teacher who is comfortable with both methods of teaching. Student attitudes must play a significant role in the success or popularity of online classes and the social factor plays a minor role in the reasons why students stay in school.

Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance Education Trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education. 27 (2), 139-153.

Bonk, C & Zhang, K. (2006). Introducing the R2D2 Model: Online learning for the diverse learners of this world. Distance Learning, 27 (2), 249-264.

Burge, L. (1988). Beyond andragogy: some explorations for distance learning design. Journal of Distance Education, 3(1), 5-23.

Fozdar, B.I., Kumar, L.S. (2007) Mobile learning and student retention. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 8, http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/345/916 Retrieved October 25, 2007.

Glogoff, S. (2005) Instructional blogging: Promoting interactivity, student-centered learning, and peer input. Innovate 1, 1-6

Hollandsworth, R.J. (2007) Managing the podcast lecture: A hybrid approach for online lectures in the business classroom. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 5 39-44

Luanne, F., Martin, M., (2007). Plugging into students’ digital DNA: Five myths prohibiting proper podcasting pedagogy in the new classroom domain. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3, 277-287

Neuhauswer, C., (2002) Learning style and effectiveness of online and face to face instruction. American Journal of Distance Education, 16 99-113

Sparks, P., Mentz, L. (2006). Electronic note passing: Enriching online learning with new communications tools. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 2(4), 1-6.

Weller, M., Pegler, C., Mason, R. (2005). Use of innovative technologies on an e-learning course. The Internet and Higher Education, 8(1), 61-71.

Williams, J., Jacobs, J., (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20, 232-247

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Assignment 7, Research Ideas

Potential Research Questions
Do online classes increase student retention?
Are students who register for online classes initially more or less committed to completing the course?
Are students who have taken an online class more or less likely to take another online class if a choice is available?
Are the perceived benefits of online classes (flexibility, convenience) outweighed by the perceived pitfalls of distance learning (social isolation, delayed feedback, limited access to the instructor)?
Does prior student efficacy with the technology employed increase the success of students in an online environment?
Is there a statistically significant difference in student achievement between on online class and a traditional one?
Do students in an online class need to be more self sufficient and motivated than students in a traditional setting?

Methodology Ideas
These questions might best be researched through both quantitative and qualitative studies. Sometimes an individual’s own perception of his/her efficacy does not match the actual amount of skill acquired. Surveys of perceptions and attitudes should be carefully constructed to highlight preconceived ideas and prior indications. Pre-course interviews and post-course interviews should explore changing attitudes to on line learning. One important concern should be to identify how student efficacy is affected by an online vs. traditional course.