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!