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Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard
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Students needs assessment for online courses in blackboard

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Students needs assessment for online courses in Blackboard at University of Northern Colorado

Students needs assessment for online courses in Blackboard at University of Northern Colorado

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  • 1. Running head: A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR 1UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS A needs assessment of online courses in Blackboard for undergraduate students Kangdon Lee, Joseph Marler, Mark Savignano, and Deborah Genet Fall 2011 University of Northern Colorado
  • 2. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR 1UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS Table of contents Abstract …………………………………………………………………....... 2 Introduction ………………………………………………………………... 3 Literature review Motivation …………………………………………………………….... 4 Learning style …………………………………………………………... 7 Course structure ……………………………………………………….... 9 Interaction ……………………………………………………………..... 12 Results Overview ………………………………………………………………... 14 Motivation ……………………………………………………………..... 16 Learning style …………………………………………………………… 19 Course structure …………………………………………………………. 21 Interaction ……………………………………………………………….. 25 Conclusion …………………………………………………………………... 28 Reference ……………………………………………………………………. 32 Appendix Survey questions ……………………………………………………….... 35 Interviews ……………………………………………………………...... 40 Students’ opinions ………………………………………………………. 45
  • 3. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 2STUDENTS AbstractThe purpose of this research paper is to measure the gap between current state of online classesin Blackboard and the needs of undergraduate students enrolled in online courses, and to findpossible improvements to Blackboard that will help meet the needs of students. The condition ofonline courses in Blackboard will be determined based on the analysis and of data collected froma survey, interviews, and a literature review. The final results of the research will address studentperceptions of Blackboard in terms of its ease of use, presentation of instruction based on avariety of learning styles, and student suggestions for possible improvements. Keywords: online, course, Blackboard, undergraduate, needs, assessment, satisfaction,
  • 4. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 3STUDENTS A needs assessment of online courses in Blackboard for undergraduate students Introduction The perspective of online distance education is expanding more universally without timeand space limitations than ever before, with the assistance of not only the advancements oftechnologies and learning environments, but also the growing acceptance and popularity ofonline course offerings (Ecom, Wen, & Ashill, 2006). Enrollments in online education haveincreased at rates far in excess of the total population of higher education students in the US(Allen, & Seaman, 2010). According to Allen and Seaman, as of fall 2009, the estimated number of onlineenrollments in degree-granting post-secondary institutions showed a consecutive increase oftwenty-one percent by the fall semester 2008, to the total of 5.6 million online students. Theimportance of online courses in higher education is steadily increasing, with nearly thirty percentof higher education students enrolled in online courses. Moreover, Allen & Seaman reported thatin a survey of academic leaders from more than 2,500 colleges and universities nationwide,those who felt online education had a critical role in their long-term strategy, had risen to 63.1%in 2010, from 50% in 2002. This would imply that both students and academic authorities arepaying more attention to online education than in the past. The current conditions of online courses are not likely to meet the needs of diverselearners in higher educational settings. A number of indicators of user satisfaction for onlinecourses, in higher education, have shown that learners found their experiences with onlineeducation unsatisfying. Online learning has been criticized as a passive learning environment,equal to sitting in the back of the classroom. Furthermore, online classes do not seem to consider
  • 5. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 4STUDENTSthe diversity of students’ learning styles, which encompass the four types of the physiologicdimension of learning styles such as visual, aural, read/write, and kinesthetic (Drago, & Wagner,2004). The purpose of the study is to quantitatively analyze the gap between observed onlinelearning systems in Blackboard and the needs of undergraduate students. The performance gapwill be analyzed in four different areas: motivation, learning styles, course structure, andinteraction. Based on the performance analysis this paper will suggest specific, acceptable, andexecutable alternatives to the current state of the Blackboard system at UNC. Literature reviewMotivation The motivation of the online learner has been defined as the intrinsic desire to achieve agoal or an end (Ecom, Wen & Ashill 2006). This is a critical concept when researching andexamining the future success of students in online learning environments. Motivation for theonline student can be separated into three categories: Intrinsic, Extrinsic, and Self (Kim & Frick,2011). The intrinsic desire to achieve is central to the success of any student participating inonline education (Sahin & Shelley, 2008). Extrinsic motivation can be fostered by how theonline classroom is set up in terms of student perception of material covered and the interactionsbetween participants (Sharp & Huett, 2005). Self motivation is how the student sees their abilityin terms of confidence and ability to succeed (Lim, 2004). All three concepts play an importantrole when students sign up and participate in online or distance education. Participating in an online class takes self discipline and motivation. A student taking aclass online needs to have the drive and desire to be educated. Learners who are motivated tendto have more positive results with both online classes and the material learned (Kim & Frick,
  • 6. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 5STUDENTS2011). Intrinsic motivation can be increased when the subject matter the student is learning isrelevant, and has a purpose. It is also increased when learning is broken down into tasks, eitherby the instructor or student, and the student takes ownership of their work (Kim & Frick, 2011).Instructors can promote intrinsic motivation by giving students challenges or quests to complete(Lim, 2004). Assigning tasks that challenge students, tap the personal motivation of students toachieve. However this can be difficult when over 50% of students taking an online class tend toprocrastinate (Lukaitis & Davey, 2010). The inability to get work done ahead of time or to takethe initiative to plan out their work to turn in on time can cause the student to be less successfulin an online environment (Ecom, Wen & Ashill 2006). In addition, failure by the instructor or the online class to meet the expectations of thestudent can decrease motivation (Sahin & Shelley, 2008). This loss of motivation can then rollover into the third concept of motivation; Self. The amount of work assigned to the studentduring a class can play a part in decreasing internal motivation (Kim & Frick, 2011). Thisdecreased motivation can be attributed to stress and anxiety over the students’ ability to completethe assigned tasks (Kim & Frick, 2011). When examining extrinsic factors of student motivation in online education, classroomset-up, workload, and academic support are essential for a successful learner. As mentionedabove, instructor workload can decrease the motivation of the student in an online environment(Kim & Frick, 2011). Instructors can foster student engagement by supplying a reasonableamount of relevant work. If the instructor requires too much work, as perceived by the student,the student will become unmotivated to get the work done. Conversely not supplying enoughwork will make students see assignments as busy work with little to no relevance. Instructorsneed to give ownership to students to help motivate them (Ecom, Wen & Ashill 2006).
  • 7. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 6STUDENTSEducational institutions need to incorporate academic support for online learners in order to helptheir motivation (Sahin & Shelley, 2008). The instructor can incorporate a system of rewards intothe class structure to increase motivation (Lim, 2004). Giving a student a goal to work towardswill help motivate them to complete the assigned workload. The instructor can provide positive,constructive feedback as a method of rewarding the student (Lim, 2004). Students taking onlineclasses would improve the quality of their work by applying the instructor’s feedback. Teacherswhen leading online classrooms should create a climate of positive learning for the student (Kim& Frick, 2011). Positive interactions between instructor and learner will foster greater motivationto complete work and have a positive experience in an online learning environment (Sharp &Huett, 2005). The perception of Self plays a final role in motivating a learning in an onlineclass. Student motivation can decrease if the learning style of the student is not matched upproperly by the teaching style of the teacher (Kim & Frick, 2011). When students are taking aclass which they are feeling they are not accommodated for academically, the motivation of thestudent will go down. Also, the student’s own personal view of how well they can achieve playsan important role in how successful they will be (Lim, 2004). If the student does not think theycan achieve, they will meet that goal by not achieving. Having a higher self worth is key tobeing successful in an online class. Many other factors can play a part in the motivation ofSelf. The learner’s confidence in using the latest technology to participate in online learning canaffect motivation. If a student does not feel they have a strong knowledge of using technologythey may shy away from participating in class or taking an online class altogether. Many factors affect a learner’s motivation when taking an online class. The three majorcategories are intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, and self. All three forms of motivation
  • 8. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 7STUDENTScan be influenced by the structure of the class, communication of the instructor and the learners’own confidence in being successful in an online class.Learning Styles The construct learning styles encompasses many different ideas, but at its core is the ideathat learners are not a homogeneous group, but diverse individuals with a variety of instructionalneeds and approaches to learning. The various learning style models attempt to identifysignificant learner characteristics so that instruction can be optimized by adapting content to eachlearner’s unique needs. Coffield, Mosely, Hall, and Ecclestone (2004) categorized learning stylesinto five major groups: constitutional, cognitive, personality type, learning preferences, andLearning approaches. Each group takes a significantly different perspective on what a learningstyle is and how to address learning needs. Leite, Svinicki, and Shi (2010) discussed the fact that there is wide spread lack ofagreement as to what constitutes a learning style or what the key components of a learning styleare. In the book, Learning Thinking and Cognitive Styles, Sternberg and Zhang, stated, “Thedisagreement on the definition of learning styles has resulted in a body of research that is veryfragmented, using different instruments to measure different constructs under the headinglearning styles” (as cited in Leite, 2010, p.325). While there is a lack of consensus as to thenature of learning styles there is a large body of researchers who feel that it is a valid concept.Leite, et al. (2010) explained, “Teachers at all levels of education recognize that student’s do not all respond equally well to the same instructional methods, and therefore, teachers are intrigued by the possibility of providing instruction matched to those learner differences… As a result of these almost universal observations about learning, researchers in education have
  • 9. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 8STUDENTS proposed and evaluated many theories and instruments intended to help either the teacher or the learner become aware of learning preferences so that the instructional environment can be tailored to learner needs.” (p. 322-324) Peter, Bacon, and Dastbaz (2010) related that one of the biggest problems associated withlearning styles is that no one has produced a “proven recipe” for adapting learning based onlearning styles. They cite this as one reason for the appeal of the VARK model. Hawk and Shah(2007) explained that the VARK model defines learning styles by sensory input, (visual,auditory, read/write, and kinesthetic), and hypothesizes that individuals have preferences forprocessing and communicating information through one or a specific combination of thesechannels. The implication of this theory is that students will learn best when instruction isdelivered through channels that the learner prefers. The beauty of the theory is that it is very easyto adapt the type of instruction given based on a given students learning style. The Internet is capable of delivering instruction in a variety of modalities andcombinations of modalities through media like text, audio, video, and interactive applications.Despite the many media options available with the Internet, Drago, and Wagner (2004) reportedthat the majority of online learning is text based. Hawk and Shah (2007) attributed this toprofessors that tend to deliver instruction through channels they are comfortable with. Theycautioned that the problem with this approach is that their methods may be a poor match forneeds of their students. There is a general consensus among learning style researchers that regardless ofindividual learning styles that learners should be exposed to multiple ways of processinginformation. Peter, et al. (2010) related that the VARK is a useful guide in developing diverseinstructional materials to address multiple types of learners. Zajac (2009) proposed that one
  • 10. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 9STUDENTSapproach is to create multiple learning resources for the same instructional objective in a varietyof formats. She explained that these learning resources known as Reusable Learning Objects,(RLO), can be reused and recombined to meet the needs of specific learner profiles. Peter, et al.(2010) reported that learning objects can be administered in a buffet style where the learners arefree to choose the instructional materials that best suit them, or specific combinations can becreated for students by instructor design. Through the use of RLOs Learners can find instructionthat fits their preferences and be exposed to information through a variety of channels. Although there is disagreement about the best way to define and measure the differencesamong learners, there is a general acknowledgement that these differences do exist and that theyare important. Also there is a general consensus that regardless of individual learning stylesstudents will benefit from learning a variety of ways to process information. The VARK modelprovides a simple map for diagnosing and delivering content specific to student preferences.With the rich variety of media available through the Internet instructors have a multitude ofoptions for delivering content besides text. Instructors should make an effort to create, locate,and utilize the rich media possibilities of the Internet. Doing so will allow students to havepersonalized learning experiences and enrich their ability to learn from diverse learningresources.Course Structure As other factors of online education, such as motivation, learning style, and interaction;course structure affects not only student satisfaction, but also the extent of skills and knowledgethat learners obtain from online education systems. The course structure plays a significant rolein determining student satisfaction and the quality of online education systems, and is a decisive
  • 11. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 10STUDENTSelement that affects the successful outcome of online distance education (Eom, Wen, and Ashill,2006). In accordance with Moore (1991), the course structure represents the firmness andflexibility of online education systems. That is, the educational objectives, teaching strategies,and evaluation methods of online courses all fall under course structure. Moreover, he arguesthat the design of online instructional courses determines the extent to which online courses canadapt or comply with diverse learners needs. According to Moore (1991), to be successful in online distance education systems,academic organizations need to meet at least two key elements: labeled dialogue or interaction,and course structure. He also explained that labeled dialogue is the interaction betweeninstructors and learners where one provides instruction and the other responds. In terms of theonline course design, Moore (1991) asserted course structure is the guidance that the teachingand learning environments provides in order to deliver diverse teaching strategies, effectiveenvironments, and rich instructional media. In addition, Eom, Wen, and Ashill (2006) explained that the course structure has twoessentials, course objectives and course infrastructure. Course objectives include specifiedinformation related to an online course such as topical issues to be addressed, expectedworkload, desired types of class participation, assignments, projects, and the like. Theseelements are mostly delivered in the syllabus of an online course. The other essential is courseinfrastructure. According to Eom, Wen, and Ashill (2006), course infrastructure is related to theoverall ease of using the web site of an online course and the organization of course materials. Inother words, learners should be able to not only use the web environment of an online courseinteractively and contextually but also utilize various course materials efficiently and effectively.
  • 12. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 11STUDENTS Arvan, et al. (1998) investigated a number of studies in which improvements to theonline course structure. They found that a number of simple redesigns of the online coursestructure resulted in increasing the number of students enrolled in an online course. Improvinggrading systems and counting on peer support resulted in improved learner engagement. Jewett (1998) executed the restructure of an online course using specific technologiesto foster more frequent personal interaction, improve writing, and create challenging tasks in anonline course. The purpose of these changes was to compare students performance between anexisting course structure and a redesigned course structure. With this research, Jewetts (1998)finding was that the group of students in the restructured version of the online coursedramatically outperformed traditional course counterparts in 50% of the criteria, which is asignificant improvement. On the other hand, a controversial argument was made by Eom, Wen, and Ashill (2006).In their study, they contended that changes to online course structure only resulted in a favorablerating of students satisfaction of the online course. They argue that online course structure didnot support the positive and significant relationship between online course structure andperceived learning outcomes. This can be interpreted to mean that a better measure of the qualityof learning activities are other learning factors such as interaction, feedback, and the like, ratherthan the usability of the online course. In other words, meaningful feedback that occurs amongstudents or from an instructor may have a greater impact on perceived learning outcomes thancourse structure. It may be that, as long as students receive meaningful feedback about the coursecontent, it will compensate for poorly designed course structure.
  • 13. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 12STUDENTSInteraction This review will gather pertinent published findings regarding the student interactiontools available in Blackboard. It will review what practices have proven their success or failurein the online learning environment. Participating in an online course requires 21st century skillsthat are rapidly and constantly changing. One the most enlightening successes of onlineeducation is, that dialogue and learning can incorporate collaborative models of learning anddecrease instructor-dependency. Of note are the drawbacks of interacting online. Technologycannot compensate for the clarity of face-to-face communication. However, the inconvenience oftraveling to campus was has been replaced by anytime, anywhere online accessibility andconvenience (King, 2002). There are several tools for both synchronous and asynchronous communications betweenthe learners and between the learners and the instructor. Both have full access to such features asemail, chat, and the discussion boards. All of these tools provide for individual communicationsor collaborative group communications. The instructor must invest in some efforts for groupcustomization and features, but this reduces the time spent communicating to each individual andthe instructor can broadcast to specific groups or the entire class (Loubert, 2004). A Landry,Griffeth, and Hartman (2006) study revealed that students found the elements associated withcourse content, such as the class documents, lectures, announcements and quizzes were viewedas more useful than the tools for interaction and support, i.e.: discussion boards, emails, facultyinformation and external sites. “Students often report that their favorite features of the Blackboard system are around-the-clock access to course materials (especially when they have misplaced something) and readyaccess to their grades in a private, secure medium” (Loubert, 2004, p. 99). In 2011, Blackboard
  • 14. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 13STUDENTSupgraded a component package called Blackboard Collaborate™. This conferencing platformenables both students and instructors to experience a virtual classroom directly in the Blackboardcourse structure. Students have access to live virtual sessions and recordings with a single click,and greater opportunity to interact in real time in social learning opportunities with peers andinstructors. They benefit from live, dynamic interaction in the online learning environment. Inaddition, teachers and administrators can save time by eliminating the need for multiple levels oftraining and reducing administrative tasks. Tova Duby, senior manager for eLearning PlatformOperations at Babson College states "the streamlined administrative work flows save oureducators time, enabling them to focus on teaching and learning, while our students benefit fromlive, dynamic interaction in our online learning programs." (Technology News, 2011). In May of 2007, Blackboard took another big step in increasing student interaction.Sync™ is a Blackboard application that runs on the Facebook Platform. The goal was to enablestudents to more actively engage in their academic lives by providing notifications and courseupdates sent via Facebook. It is an elective application and when enabled, students can receiveclass information on new assignments, discussion board postings, course materials, and evennew grades while logged on to their Facebook accounts. Additionally students can connect withtheir classmates via Facebook giving them more opportunity to turn social interactions intocollaborative student-to-student learning efforts. “With Blackboard Sync, it is easier to take partin the social sharing of knowledge, learning, and ideas in a friendly setting. Ultimately, that iswhat college should be all about” (Blackboard, 2008).
  • 15. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 14STUDENTS ResultsParticipants The participants of this research are 56 undergraduate students who are enrolled in atleast one online class at University of Northern Colorado (UNC) in 2011. These 56 participantswere randomly selected from two online courses in undergraduate level regardless of gender,age, major, and ethnicity. Two faculty instructors from the same online courses as the surveyparticipants and one expert from the department of information management and technology atUNC were also participated in the focus group interviews.Instruments Data was collected through the use of online surveys using Blackboard. The researchersemployed the Likert scale format as an instrument for this study. The survey was 44 questions inlength. In order to get a broader picture of students’ experiences with Blackboard, a smallnumber of questions were open-ended or checklist questions asked students about theirpreferences and for suggestions to improve the online education environments at UNC. Inaddition to the data captured from the survey, information gained from a literature review andinterviews with faculty members and online education experts at UNC was also employed toanalyze the results of the study and suggest recommendations for more satisfactory onlineeducation systems at UNC.Procedures The researchers for this study individually investigated the literature relating to onlinelearning environments, especially in the institutions of higher education. After critical analysesof online education practices, the researchers had found a large number of valuable articles tosupport their research. In order to find a reliable sample of UNC students, the researchers
  • 16. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 15STUDENTSsurveyed two undergraduate online classes. The survey was given to approximately 100 studentstaking at least one online course and 56 among them responded to the survey. The selectedstudents answered the survey questions within one week window, via online survey. Theresearchers also requested the results of the faculty survey of online education systems from thedepartment of information management and technology at UNC in order to validate andcompliment our research. In addition, two faculty members and one online education expert atUNC were interviewed to get their perspectives on online education and possible changes tocreate and deliver more satisfactory online courses.Data Analysis All obtained data was used to ascertain the current status of online education systems inBlackboard at UNC. By comparing the analyzed survey data with the perception and satisfactionof the present online courses, the gap between students expected online class experiences and theobserved online course conditions has been identified. Specifically, data captured from thesurvey questions was organized into mean, median, mode, standard deviation and percentages, tomeasure frequencies of responses and participants’ preferences. In addition the outcomes of theinterviews with two faculty members and one online education expert were employed to suggestrecommendations for more satisfactory online education systems at UNC.Reliability To investigate the internal consistency of survey questions of this research, theresearchers administered the Cronbach’s Alpha formula on 34 multiple choices questions out ofall 44 questions including 10 open-ended questions for the reliability analysis of this research.The value of Cronbach’s Alpha test for this study is 0.844, which can be interpreted that the
  • 17. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 16STUDENTSsurvey questions of this research have strong internal consistency regarding survey questions thatwere asked to students. Needs AssessmentStudent Motivation From the findings of the literature review there is a gap between student who succeedsand students who do not; based off of the overall motivation. One of the aspects of greatermotivation is the student’s perception of the class and the class work (Sahin & Shelley, 2008).The survey section on motivation found that students were confused about the format andobjectives of the class. Students reported they had a difficult time navigating through stacks oflinks and communications; as a result they became unmotivated to continue working. Oneparticipant in the survey stated that they do more work in the online classes for the same amountof credit than in a face-to-face class. Online classes need to meet the students’ assigned workexpectation in relationship to a comparable traditional class. Motivation was also decreased due to the confusion caused by unclear course objectives.One participate stated that the class was not following the posted guidelines. The survey resultsindicated that over 78% of student was more motivated when taking a face-to-face class thanthey are taking an online class. When paired to 52.6% of students who felt online classes were
  • 18. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 17STUDENTSless important than online classes. Because students were not finding value in the classes theytook online they were less motivated to take the classes and found participating in online classesmore difficult. From the literature review, Kim and Frick (2011) stated that if the workload isnot relevant to the student, motivation will decrease. The survey results support this concept;students in this survey did not find value in the online learning environment (Kim & Frick,2011). The size of the workload an instructor gives during the class will increase or decrease themotivation of the student (Kim & Frick, 2011). The survey tends to support this claim, 61.4% of students reported having a difficult timestaying on top of the course work demands. In the open response section of the survey onestudent stated: “I found myself being very confused with the online class and received a lot ofemail from other confused classmates trying to figure out what exact the assignment was or howto do it”. Time spent navigating through the purpose or requirements of an assignment can add tothe overall workload of a class. Without clear, well written, workload list, students can be stucktrying to figure out what is required of them. This confusion can add to, as the literature reviewsuggests, a lower personal confidence level in the students’ own ability to complete oraccomplish tasks. These factors are evident in the survey, as 63% of student stated they foundtaking an online class less enjoyable than taking a traditional classroom.
  • 19. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 18STUDENTS This survey is suggesting the factors causing students motivation to decrease whenstudents are taking online classes through Blackboard are the student expectation of a reasonable workload motivation and clear course structure. Students had a difficult time navigating therequirements for the class, adding to the already substantial workload required by the class. Both of these issues when taking an online class are avoidable and can be corrected. Overall the survey reflected a split mix when students were asked about their overall learning motivation toward the online courses 33% were satisfied, 38.5% were unsatisfied, and 28% had no feeling one way or another. Although these numbers are low, making changes to how students take online classes can increase the overall motivation.Learning Style This section of the results will analyze the gap between the perceived learning needs ofonline students and the instructional resources currently available. The answer to the question,“Does Blackboard meet the needs of students with diverse learning needs?” is complicated. Theresults of the survey indicated student learning preferences did not significantly affect studentsatisfaction. Students acknowledged that Blackboard courses were heavily biased toward textbased instruction; but, the majority of students were comfortable with that medium, even thoughit was not their preferred learning style. The majority of students felt that despite a lack of variety
  • 20. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 19STUDENTSin the content on Blackboard, their learning needs were adequately addressed by the current formof Blackboard. When asked about their learning preferences, a large majority of students identifiedthemselves as having visual and kinesthetic learning styles. In response to the question, “whattype of learning style are you most comfortable with,” the visual learning style was identified 39percent of the time, kinesthetic learning was selected 31 percent of the time, auditory learningwas picked 18 percent of the time, and read/write learning was chosen only 12 percent of thetime. The read/write learning style was only chosen approximately 1 out of every ten times,making it the least popular learning style by a large margin. Consistent with the literature review, the students identified read/write as the learningstyle that dominates course content on Blackboard. When asked, “Based on your experiences,which learning styles are most commonly addressed in Blackboard,” the read/write category wasselected 52 percent of the time, visual was picked 35 percent of the time, auditory was identified16 percent of the time, and kinesthetic was chosen just 3 percent of the time. This represents alarge gap between student preferences and how the content is delivered. It would seem to followthat students would be deeply dissatisfied with the instructional materials used on Blackboard;however, our research indicates this is not the case. One of the most puzzling results of the survey was the relatively positive studentassessment of Blackboard in relationship to learning styles. Of the students surveyed, 64 percentagreed that “Blackboard adequately facilitates learning in the style that is most effective for me.”Only 5 percent disagreed and no one disagreed strongly. This is an interesting paradox. Whywould a group of students who largely identify themselves as visual and kinesthetic learnersreport that their learning needs are being met by courses that are heavily biased toward the
  • 21. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 20STUDENTSread/write learning style? One possible explanation is that online students have different learningneeds than traditional students. In their research, Drago and Wagner (2004) speculated that based on the learning profilesthey compiled of online students, those who have the option of choosing between traditional andonline classes may choose based on their learning preferences. While few students in our surveychoose the read/write learning style as their preference, their answers indicated that they werevery comfortable with the learning from text based instructional materials. Students who wereuncomfortable with the read/write learning style would be less likely to take an online course, (Inorder to more fully assess this question it would be necessary to survey students who have optedout of the online course work and determine their motivation.) In addition, Diaz and Cartnalreported that students who enroll in online classes were not as “dependant” on their learningstyle to be able to learn, (as cited in Drago and Wagner, 2004). This could explain why students,who clearly preferred visual and kinesthetic learning, reported that Blackboard met their learningneeds. It’s possible that these students were better able than traditional students to learn frommaterials that did not match their preferred learning style. A commonly cited reason for taking online classes is the convenience of the flexibleschedule and the ability to work from home. Students may expect to make some trade-offs forthese benefits, like doing work that involves more reading and writing. This would mean thatwhile students may not enjoy or prefer to learn in the read/write style, they accept it as the priceof taking online classes. The survey results indicate that while Blackboard courses are delivered in a way thatheavily favors the read/write learning style, the platform is meeting student needs andexpectations. Based on the survey answers and a review of the literature it is proposed that this is
  • 22. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 21STUDENTSprobably because of the type student who takes online classes. As the number of students whotake online classes continues to increase, it is likely that online classes will attract students withmore heterogeneous leaning needs, learners who will require more diverse learning materials inorder to be successful. It also likely that as learning materials improve student expectations willrise accordingly and they will no longer find classes dominated by reading and writingacceptable. Therefore despite current student satisfaction with the way Blackboard addresseslearning styles, diversifying the types of learning materials used is likely to become increasinglyimportant.Course structure Regarding course structure including objectives and infrastructure, student were asked torespond to six questions about how they think of course structure in terms of adequate flexibilityand consistent follow-up throughout an online course. Based on their responses, some ofstatistical frequencies such as mean, median, mode, and standard deviation have been analyzedinto a chart below. Figure 1. Frequencies of course structure
  • 23. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 22STUDENTS Overall, students were satisfied with their online course structures provided by theirinstructors, with a mean score of, 3.37 out of 5.00. In addition, the median and mode of coursestructure were 3.50 and 4.00 respectively. This shows that a majority of students are inclined torate course structure as satisfactory in Blackboard classes at UNC. However, student satisfactionwith course structure in Blackboard may not be the best way to determine quality of coursestructure, because the mean of the question asking students’ overall satisfaction of online coursein Blackboard is 2.98, which is below the mean of all six questions about course structure at3.38. In addition the difference was a margin of only two participants between positive responses(29) and negative answers (27) from the mean value, 3.37. Figure 2. Mean of each question According to data captured and the bar chart of the mean of each question above, onlytwo questions have the mean below the total mean of course structure and the rest of the fourquestions have means more positive than the total mean regarding course objectives and
  • 24. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 23STUDENTSinfrastructure. For the question about the overall satisfaction of the online course structure(Figure 3), 18 (32.15%) students responded that they were not satisfied with the overall onlinecourse structure. On the other hand, 20 (35.7%) students answered that the flexibility andconsistent follow-up of online course in Blackboard were satisfactory. The remaining 18participants were neutral in their stances toward online course structure in Blackboard,occupying 32.15% of the 56 survey participants. Figure 3. Participants and percentage of Question about overall satisfaction Furthermore, for other questions in Figure 2 regarding accessibility, feedback easilyfound, consistent feedback, and course materials, participants showed their positive responses tothese questions, rating the mean of responses at 3.66, 3.50, 3.48, and 3.71 respectively, all ofwhich are above the mean of the online course structure, 3.37. These mean values can beinterpreted to indicate that students were satisfied with the accessibility of online courses,feedback from instructors, and course materials. However, there were no significant differencesin the mean values among the four questions and the total mean of course structure.
  • 25. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 24STUDENTS The final question related to course structure, the reflection of students’ needs into theonline course structure (Figure 4), showed students highest rate of dissatisfaction, with a meanvalue of, 2.91, within the context of the six questions concerning the online course structure.Specifically, 21 students (37.5%) responded that they were not satisfied with the reflection ofstudents’ needs into course structures. On the contrary, 19 participants (33.9%) answered thatstudents’ feedback and comments on the online course structure were well reflected byinstructors or online education experts. The rest of the 16 students were neutral in their stancestoward reflecting students’ needs into online course structure, representing 28.6% of the 56survey participants. Figure 4. Participants and percentage of Question about students’ needs To sum up the results of online course structure, students were satisfied with the overallonline course structure with a total mean of, 3.37 out of 5. However, some questions aboutcourse structure indicated student dissatisfaction in reflecting students’ needs into the coursestructure. This result can be interpreted to mean that online course structure does notsignificantly affect the students’ overall satisfaction of online education systems, and that this
  • 26. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 25STUDENTSsupports Eom, Wen, and Ashill’s (2006) findings that what matters more as a measure of thequality of learning activities were other learning factors such as active interaction and timely andsincere feedback rather than the ease of use of the online course structure.Interaction The purpose of this research was to measure the gap between current state of onlineclasses in Blackboard and the needs of undergraduate students enrolled in online courses, and tofind possible improvements to Blackboard. The specific results of the student survey, regardinginteraction, produced some interesting results. The interaction questions were grouped into threecategories: student to instructor, student-to-student, and student to content. Not only did thequestions reveal the level of student dissatisfaction/satisfaction, but also what interaction toolsthey used most, and found most valuable. In the student to instructor category, the Mean for all questions ranged in the 3.23 to 3.76range, with a 3 representing neutrality, 1 as Strongly Dissatisfied and 5 Strongly Satisfied. Ofnote was that there were very few instance of a “Strongly Disagree” to any of these questions,suggesting that only a small minority of students were extremely dissatisfied with their instructorinteraction. On the other end of the spectrum, there was a multitude of “Strongly Agree”responses to student to teacher interaction. Of those that responded satisfied, the types ofinteractions that they reported using, over 84% relied on email. Nearly 6% used collaboration,and only a small percentage, at 4%, used the phone or texting. These results somewhat conflictwith the 2006 study by Landry, Griffeth, and Hartman, reporting that students viewed coursecontent tools more useful than interaction tools like email. For those respondents that were notgenerally satisfied with their instructor interactions, what they reported needing more of was asfollows: Email 20.29%, Phone 11.59%, Texting 10.14%, Social Networking. 11.59%, Chat
  • 27. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 26STUDENTS21.74%, Video 13.04% and Blogs at 4.35%. The request for more instructor interaction viaSocial Networking (12%) plus Chat (22%) could be satisfied by the implementation ofBlackboard Sync™ (Blackboard, 2008). Looking at the student-to-student interaction data, there appears to be a higher reportedlevel of dissatisfaction. Specific survey questions were satisfaction with the overall interactionswith my classmates, interaction and/or communication of more than 3 times a week withclassmates, more communications than in a face-to-face class, and overall student-to-studentinteraction tool satisfaction. Overall classmate interaction revealed a Mean of 3.2, just slightlyhigher than neutral, with the Mode at 4.0. Interactions of more than 3 times a week respondedquite unfavorably, with the Mean at 2.0, Disagree, with the Mode at 1.0, Strongly Disagree.What this reveals is that overall student interaction is low in UNC’s Blackboard environment. Asa result, collaboration is probably being compromised. Respondents also reported disagreementwith having more interactions in the online Blackboard environment than in a face-to-face class,with the Mean at 1.64, and the Mode at 1.0. What is extremely noteworthy is the response tooverall satisfaction with student-to-student interaction tools. The Mean reported as 4.8 (Stronglyagree), and the Mode as 4.0. The results reveal that students are not interacting (or at least asmuch as they would in a fact-to-face class) but reporting extreme satisfaction with the toolsavailable. The open ended questions exposed what tools satisfied students are using: Email37.82%, Texting, 16.81%, Phone 12.61%, Social Networking 5.88%, Chat 5.04% and Blogs at3.36%. Dissatisfied students reported needing more Email 19.2%, Chat 16.18%, Video 14.71%,Phone and Social Networking 11.76%, Texting 8.82% and Blogs at 5.88%. Email appears to bethe tool used most and most desirable for student-to-student interaction. In regards to dissatisfied
  • 28. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 27STUDENTSstudents we would speculate that this is an individual learner problem and not a problem withBlackboard, because the tool depends on the student initiating its use. The last category of interaction is student to content. The survey polled if students weresatisfied with the content, used the content at least 3 times a week and if the content facilitatedtheir learning more than in a face-to face class. The data showed that most were satisfied, with aMean of 3.12, and a Mode of 4.0. Interactions of at least 3 times a week revealed a Mean of 2.69and a Mode of 4.0. The most dissatisfaction occurred when comparing the online course to aface-to-face class. The Mean response was 2.23 and a Mode of 2.0. Most disagreed that theonline course was a better facilitator of learning. For those satisfied with student to contentinteractions, the data reported students utilizing: Attachments 31.18%, Sharing 21.51%,Importing 10.75%, Embedded 7.53, Conversion 4.30% and Blogging at 3.3%. For dis-satisfiedstudents the data revealed they wanted more Sharing 22.08%, Collaboration 18.18%, SocialNetworking 14.29%, Blogging 12.99%, Conversion 10.39%, Attachments and Embedded 7.79%and Importing at 6.49%. The implementation of Blackboard Sync™ (Blackboard, 2008) wouldsatisfy most of the students concerns in this area. Based on these interaction results, some of the conflicts between student dissatisfactionand needs may be due to the effects of the Technology Acceptance Model (Landry, Griffeth, andHartman, 2006). This theory, created by Fred Davis in 1989, stated that a person’s attitudes andperceptions towards technology can affect their behavior. If Blackboard student users do notperceive the interaction technology as “useful” or “easy”, then they may not utilize it. Perceivedease of use is defined by Davis as “the degree to which a person believes that using a particulartechnology would be free from effort” (Landry, Griffeth, and Hartman, 2006, p. 88). The factthat the data reveals dissatisfied students want more interaction with tools that already exist, may
  • 29. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 28STUDENTSsupport this Model. A professor interviewed for this research paper proposed that a simplesolution to close this performance gap would be to offer an introductory course on how to use theinteraction tools in Blackboard and what the level of expected student interaction is. Stating thatstudents should have at least one instructor interaction every 2 weeks, 5 student-to-studentinteractions each week and interact with Blackboard content at least 3 times a week would alsoprovide some framework for acceptable interaction levels. Exposing students to the chat room,virtual classrooms, group tools etc would familiarize them with each tool type and experiencewhat each tool can do. In essence, these measures would change their perceptions of the onlineclass environment.Instructor Interviews Two UNC faculty instructors on Blackboard were interviewed. Both were well seasonedinstructors in Blackboard, with a combined total of over 60 semesters of instructing online in thisenvironment. The interviews revealed that one of the biggest challenges for instructors wasreading and assessing the discussion boards. They described this process as “cumbersome”, andthe grade book as “challenging”. Also, these instructors would like better and easier ways tointeract with students. One interviewee expressed her desire to develop an introductory video forthe first week of class, especially due to the number of non-native English students enrolled. Shealso noted that courses in Blackboard are too heavily text based and wanted to see moreincorporation and utilization of visuals, reducing cognitive load, not only for the student, but forthe instructor as well.Conclusion Clarke and Estes (2008) propose that there are only three kinds of organizationalperformance gaps; gaps related to skills, gaps related to motivation, and gaps related to
  • 30. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 29STUDENTSorganizational conditions. They also assert that there are only three solutions to organizationalperformance gaps, improving skills, motivation, and organization conditions. The purpose of thispaper was to analyze the performance gaps between the needs of students enrolled in onlineclasses at UNC and the current resources available in Blackboard. We evaluated the performancegaps in meeting student’s needs in four areas: motivation, learning styles, course structure, andinteraction. In this section we will discuss our recommendations based on the literature reviewand our analysis of the survey. It was determined that there is a skills gap related to student competence in usingBlackboard to interact online. There is evidence this gap is related to the Technology AcceptanceModel, because the tools needed to close this gap already exist. We recommend a week longintroductory course to familiarize students with the tools available in Blackboard and facilitatetheir uses for interaction. This course would give students the skills they need to interacteffectively through Blackboard. This study revealed that many students view online classes as less important than face-to-face classes. This attitude creates a motivation gap, because students who do not perceiveonline classes as important will not be motivated to produce quality work. The best way toimprove the image of online education is to improve online education, each positive studentexperience, and each quality online graduate will build the brand of online education. That is theoverarching goal of this paper and the other measures reported here will be part of that process. Many students many students feel that the workload for online courses is larger thancomparable face-to-face classes. The disproportionate workload is an organizational conditionperformance gap that creates a motivational performance gap. The research has demonstratedthat excessive workloads depress student motivation. We recommend that the workload for each
  • 31. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 30STUDENTSclass be evaluated in terms of the actual amount of time required to do the work and that theworkload be consistent with the credit hours received for the class and with comparable face-to-face classes. Addressing this on an organizational level should address it on a motivational levelas well. Another organizational condition performance gap that results in a motivational gap is thecourse organization. Many students were frustrated by the amount of time consumed navigatingthe system to obtain basic course information. Time spent navigating the system added to theworkload of students who already felt overworked. We recommend that the format of onlineclasses at UNC be standardized as much as possible. A consistent format would increase thestudent ease of use, reduce time spent navigating the system, and reduce student frustration.Again addressing this gap on an organizational level should close it on the motivational level. In regard to learning styles it was determined that Blackboard is meeting the needs of thecurrent students enrolled in online classes. However, it is recommended that as the scope ofonline education expands and more diverse learners enroll in online classes, instructionalmaterials should likewise expand in variety to accommodate student needs. In relation to course structure it was found that improvements to the organization andusability of Blackboard could be made to increase student achievement. However, the researchindicated that the most important criteria for a successful online experience were activeinteraction and feedback from the instructor. In conclusion, we have analyzed the performance of Blackboard at UNC and identifiedsignificant gaps related to student skills, and the efficiency of user interactions. We have maderecommendations to address these gaps on the skills, motivation, and organizational level. As
  • 32. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 31STUDENTSonline education continues to grow in scope and importance we hope these recommendationswill be of use of Blackboard as an online learning resource at UNC.          
  • 33. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 32STUDENTS ReferenceAllen, I. E. & Seaman, J. (2010). Class differences: Online education in the united states 2010. Babson Survey Research Group, 6-13, Babson Park, MA, USA.Arvan, L., Ory, J. C., Bullock, C. D., Burnaska, K. K., & Hanson, M. (1998). The SCALE efficiency projects. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Network, 2(2). Retrieved November 27, 2002, from http://www.aln.org/alnweb/journal/vol2 issue2/arvan2.htmBlackboard Inc.; Blackboard launches blackboard sync on facebook platform. (2008). Science Letter, (15389111), 3366. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.source. unco.edu/docview/209073580?accountid=12832Coffield, F., Moseley, D., Hall, E., & Ecclestone, K. (2004) Learning style and pedagogy in post-16 learning: A systematic and critical review. London: Learning Skills Research Centre.Clark, E., C., Estes, F. (2008). Turning research into results: A guide to selecting the right performance solutions. Charolette, NC: Information Age Publishing, inc.Drago, W. A., & Wagner, R. J. (2004). Vark preferred learning styles and online education. Management Research News, 27(7), 1–13.Ecom, S., Wen, J., & Ashil, N. (2006). The Determinants of Students’ Perceived Learning Outcomes and Satisfaction in University Online Education: An Empirical Investigation., Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education. 4(2), 215-235.Hawk, T. F., & Shah, A. J., (2007) Using learning style instruments to enhance student learning. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education. 5, 1-19
  • 34. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 33STUDENTSJewett, F. (1998). Course restructuring and the instructional development initiative at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University: A benefit cost study. Blacksburg, VA: Report from a project entitled Case Studies in Evaluating the Benefits and Costs of Mediated Instruction and Distributed Learning. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. (ERIC Document: ED 423 802).Kim, K-J. & Frick, T. (2011). Changes In Student Motivation During Online Learning. Educational Computing Research, 44(1). 1-23.King, K. (2002). Identifying success in online teacher education and professional development. The Internet and Higher Education, 5(3), 231-246).Landry, B.L., Griffeth, R., Hartman, S. (2006). Measuring student perceptions of blackboard using the technology acceptance model. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 4(1) 87-99.Leite, W. L., Svinicki, M., & Shi,Y. (2010) Attempted validation of the VARK: Learning styles inventory with multitrait-multimethod confirmatory factor analysis models. Educational and Psychological Measurement. 70, 323-340.Loubert, P. (2004). Blackboard. Journal of Physical Therapy Education, 18(1), 98-99.Lukaitis, A. & Davey, B. (2010). Motivations of the Online Student. Issues in Informing Science and Information Technology, 7, 25-39.Moore, M. G. (1991). Editorial: Distance education theory. The American Journal of Distance Education, 5(3), 1-6.Multimedia and graphic software companies; blackboard upgrades integration for blackboard learn and blackboard collaborate. (2011). Technology News Focus, 207. Retrieved from http://0-search.proquest.com.source.unco.edu/docview/889934603?accountid=12832
  • 35. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 34STUDENTSPeter, S.E., & Bacon, E. (2010) Adaptable, personalised e-learning incorporating learning styles. Campus-Wide Information Systems. 27, 91-100.Sahin, I. & Shelley, M. (2008) Considering Students’ Perceptions: The Distance Education Student Satisfaction Model. Educational Technology & Society, 11(3), 216-223.Sharp, J. & Huett, J. (2005). Importance of Learner-Learner Interaction in Distance Education. Information Systems Education Journal, 4(46), 3-10.Zajac, M. (2009) Using Learning Styles to personalize online learning. Campus-Wide Information Systems. 26, 256-265.Zapalska, A., & Brozik, D. (2006) Learning styles and online education. Campus-Wide Information Systems. 23, 1-12.
  • 36. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 35STUDENTS Appendix A: Survey Questions1. MotivationThese questions below ask you about what you think of learning motivation in Blackboard. (SD: Strongly Disagree, D: Disagree, N: Neutral, A: Agree, SA: Strongly Agree) Rating Scale 1. SD 2. D 3. N 4. A 5. SA Questions 1. I am satisfied with the overall learning motivation of the online courses in Blackboard. 2. I am more motivated in the online course than in the face-to-face class. 3. It is harder to get assignments done on time in the online course than in the face-to-face class. 4. I find the online course just as enjoyable as the face-to-face class. 5. The online course seems less important than the face-to-face class. 6. I find it easier to keep on top of the online course than the face-to-face class. 7. I find it difficult participating in the online course.2. Learning styleThese questions below ask you about what you think of the reflection of students’ learning stylein Blackboard. (SD: Strongly Disagree, D: Disagree, N: Neutral, A: Agree, SA: Strongly Agree) Rating Scale 1. SD 2. D 3. N 4. A 5. SA Questions 1. I am satisfied with the reflection of the overall learning styles in the online courses of Blackboard. 2. The online courses in Blackboard meet the needs of students with different learning styles.
  • 37. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 36STUDENTS 3. What type of the learning styles are you most comfortable with? Visual ____; Auditory ____; Read/Write ____; Kinesthetic ____; Others (_________) * Kinesthetic: Kinesthetic learners learn best by doing. They are often high energy and like to make use of touching, moving and interacting with their environment. 4. Based on your experiences, which learning styles are most commonly addressed in the online courses in Blackboard? Visual ____; Auditory ____; Read/Write ____; Kinesthetic ____; Others (_________) 5. The online courses in Blackboard favor particular learning styles. 5-1. If 4 (A) or 5 (SA) are chosen, which learning styles are they? Visual ____; Auditory ____; Read/Write ____; Kinesthetic ____; Others (_________) 6. The online courses in Blackboard do an adequate job of presenting instructions in a visual way. 7. The online courses in Blackboard do an adequate job of presenting instructions in an auditory way. 8. The online courses in Blackboard present adequate written instructions. 9. The online courses in Blackboard are good media for kinesthetic learning style. 10. The online courses in Blackboard adequately facilitate me in the learning style that is the most effective for me. 11. My experiences in the online courses in Blackboard include a variety of instructional media that fit my learning style.3. Course StructureThese questions below ask you about what you think of the online course structure ofBlackboard regarding their objectives, organization, and materials. (SD: Strongly Disagree, D: Disagree, N: Neutral, A: Agree, SA: Strongly Agree) Rating Scale 1. SD 2. D 3. N 4. A 5. SA Questions 1. I am satisfied with the overall online course structure.
  • 38. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 37STUDENTS 2. The objectives of the online course are easily accessible. 3. The instructor’s feedback is easy to find. 4. The feedback given in a consistent format and location. 5. The course materials are well organized and delivered. 6. The structure of the online course adequately reflects students’ diversity and needs. 7. What improvements do you think the online course structure is needed in terms of their objectives, organization, and materials?4. InteractionThese questions below ask you of how you feel about interactions among students, instructors,and content made and incorporated in online courses. (SD: Strongly Disagree, D: Disagree, N: Neutral, A: Agree, SA: Strongly Agree)<Student to Instructor> Rating Scale 1. SD 2. D 3. N 4. A 5. SA Questions 1. I am satisfied with the overall interactions with the instructor throughout the online course. 2. I have received adequate feedback from the instructor. 3. I am satisfied with the response time for the instructor feedback that I have received. 4. I am satisfied with communications with my instructor regarding assignments, exams, and due dates. 5. I am satisfied with the types of the interaction with the instructor. 5-1. If 3 (N), 4 (A), or 5 (SA) are chosen, what interactions with the instructor do you have in the online course? Email __; Phone __; Texting __; Social Networking __; if checked (_________) Online Chat __; Video Conference __; Blog __; Collaborating work __
  • 39. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 38STUDENTS * If checked, the checked items are positive to be used as a means of interactions between instructors and students throughout online course.5-2. If 1 (SD) or 2 (D) are chosen, what interactions with the instructor do you need more in the online course? Email __; Phone __; Texting __; Social Networking __; if checked (_________) Online Chat __; Video Conference __; Blog __; Collaborating work __ * If checked, the checked items are what students want to have more as a means of interactions between instructors and students throughout online course.<Student to Student> Rating Scale 1. SD 2. D 3. N 4. A 5. SAQuestions1. I am satisfied with the overall interactions with my classmates throughout the online course.2. I interact with my classmates in the online course at least three times a week.3. I communicate with my classmates in the online course more than in the face-to-face class.4. I am satisfied with the student interaction tools provided in the online course.4-1. If 3 (N), 4 (A), or 5 (SA) are chosen, what interactions with the classmates do you have in the online course? Email __; Phone __; Texting __; Social Networking __; if checked (_________) Online Chat __; Video Conference __; Blog __; Collaborating work __ * If checked, the checked items are positive to be used as a means of interactions among students throughout online course.
  • 40. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 39STUDENTS4-2. If 1 (SD) or 2 (D) are chosen, what interactions with the classmates do you need more in the online course? Email __; Phone __; Texting __; Social Networking __; if checked (_________) Online Chat __; Video Conference __; Blog __; Collaborating work __ * If checked, the checked items are what students want to have more as a means of interactions among students throughout online course.<Student to Content> Rating Scale 1. SD 2. D 3. N 4. A 5. SAQuestions1. I am satisfied with the overall interactions with the course content throughout the online course.2. I use the content/context in the online course at least three times a week.3. The interactions with the content in the online course more facilitate my learning more than in the face-to-face class.4. I am satisfied with the interactions of the content/context in the online course.4-1. If 3 (N), 4 (A), or 5 (SA) are chosen, what interactions with content or context do you have in the online course? Attachment __; Embedding __; Sharing __; Importing/Exporting __; Converting __; Blogging __; Collaborating __; Social Networking __ * If checked, the checked items are positive to be used as a means of interactions between students and content throughout online course. 4-2. If 1 (SD) or 2 (D) are chosen, what interactions with content or context do you need more in the online course? Attachment __; Embedding __; Sharing __; Importing/Exporting __; Converting __; Blogging __; Collaborating __; Social Networking __ * If checked, the checked items are what students want to have more as a means of interactions between students and content throughout online course.
  • 41. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 40STUDENTS APPENDIX BDr. Linda Lohr, University of Northern ColoradoProfessor of Educational TechnologyInterview Date 11/8/11Interviewee: Deborah GenetInstructor 1. How many online courses do you teach in a semester, on average? 2 2. How long (semesters) have you been using Blackboard for your instructional method? 10 years, about 30 semesters, Fall, Spring and Summer 3. What difficulties have you experienced using Blackboard as a course management system? How disjointed things are. 4. What do your online students want more from you as an online instructor and from online education environments in UNC? Things are a layer or two away. It is hard to get a message across. Short term memory as there are too many steps (clicks). STM is compromised. There is also little to no imagery used. 5. What improvements can be made for more satisfactory online teaching experiences? There should be an easier way to video tape yourself or a lesson. The international students have a better time with verbal on video rather than just text in Blackboard. They handle a course introduction better via a taped introduction. It should be more engaging. They did add feedback to new blackboard version, but it needs to be more pronounced to the student. Some don’t know when you give them feedback. Too much cognitive overload in general.
  • 42. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 41STUDENTSDr. Mia Williams, University of Northern ColoradoAssociate Professor, Educational Technology and Social FoundationsInterview Date 11/15/11Interviewee: Deborah GenetInstructor 1. How many online courses do you teach in a semester, on average? Too many. 1 or 2 by myself, but 4 additional with GA assistants 2. How long (semesters) have you been using Blackboard for your instructional method? Since 1999, about 11 years * 3 about 33 semesters 3. What difficulties have you experienced using Blackboard as a course management system? Biggest challenges reading and assessing the discussion board, it is cumbersome. Also, the gradebook is a challenge but it mostly works. More students glitch with the teimed release repercussions of assignments and exams. Duplicate questions from the students. The same question(s) get asked over and over. 4. What do your online students want more from you as an online instructor and from online education environments in UNC? Based on teacher evaluations, clear directions and more feedback. 5. What improvements can be made for more satisfactory online teaching experiences? Better ways to interact. There should be less complicated and easier ways to interact with each other (student to teacher, and student to student).
  • 43. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 42STUDENTS Blackboard Expert Interview with Sam PennQ1. What kinds of requests from faculty members and studentsA1.Blackboard technical support department mostly get some requests of improvement from facultymembers and students such as browser compatibility, upgrade timeline, technical issues, trainingitems, and so on.Based on faculty survey results (from the 2009 Faculty Task Force Review), faculty membersare mostly concerned about issues below.1. The inefficiency of the grade book2. Lack of Printed Manuals/Classes Inconvenient/More information on advanced tools/Tip Sheets3. Provide more detailed training for new faculty the week before classes4. Concern about how System Announcements override instructor announcements5. Blackboard doesn’t integrate well with newer applications (Facebook, twitter) or allow outside applications (simulations etc.) or have the ability to show videos that are shown in class6. More personal communication, not just emails from “LMS team”7. Supported browsers issuesQ2. Differences between Blackboard at UNC and othersA2.The main differences between Blackboard at UNC and other LMS like Canvas will be interfaceand social integration. That is, Blackboard at UNC mostly uses traditional modules such ascourse sites. On the other hand, other LMSs such as Canvas has more social-friendly interfacesthat Blackboard at UNC right now doesnt have.Q3. Improvements on Blackboard at UNC that can be madeA3.Blackboard technical support has been continuously trying to improve Blackboard services andsupports in ways that Blackboard should be well functional, reliable, and stable. In addition tothat, one more aspect of Blackboard to be taken into account as an improvement may be socially
  • 44. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 43STUDENTSenhanced and integrated features including inserting social networking services, easy sharing,and efficient communications among instructors, students, and content.Q4. Thoughts on transferring Blackboard into Canvas of LMS of Brown UniversityA4.Since Canvas is a newer LMS found in 2008 than Blackboard, transferring into Canvas is a greatopportunity for Brown University to make their LMS improved and socially enhanced. Otheruniversities were most likely reviewing newer LMS’ and had different criterion and rational forthe selection of one LMS over another. I have not yet had the opportunity to review Canvas andcould only suggest that the last time a review was completed at UNC, that Canvas was not anavailable option.UNC has been gradually upgrading its LMS, Blackboard, in various ways that faculty membersand students are satisfied with including increasing functionality, reliability, and stability ofBlackboard by supporting items and administering trainings. Our team of instructional designersand information technology continues to learn about and evaluate our current LMS andalternative LMS’ to ensure that we address the changing needs and expectations of the campuscommunity.Q5. Future plans for LMS at UNCA5.Right now, UNC doesnt have a major change of its LMS, Blackboard, but has a upgradeschedule of Blackboard within a month or so. Blackboard version 9.1 provides a number ofenhancements which we had discussed could be found within the context of the website. Thespecifics the IDIT (Instructional Design and Information Technology) group provided areincluded here:New Features: Blackboard 9.1 includes the following new features that will be beneficial forUNC faculty and students:- Wikis- Graded Blogs, Wikis, Journals- Audio and Visual content integration (direct link to YouTube to insert video)- Advanced Accessibility Features (Gold Level certified by National Federation for the Blind)
  • 45. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 44STUDENTS- File Management (streamline upload of revised course documents)- Direct link from control panel to items that Need Grading.- Learning Modules and Lesson PlansIn terms of socially enhanced LMS like Canvas an evaluation conducted by Faculty, Staff andStudents of all LMS options would need to be conducted to identify an appropriate LMS solutionfor our LMS. However, UNC definitely benchmarks best practices of LMS from otherorganizations in order to reflect current trends of LMS to its LMS, Blackboard, for providingfaculty members and students with better functionality, reliability, and stability of LMS.
  • 46. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 45STUDENTS APPENDIX CThis is 31 students’ raw data out of 56 for an open-ended question about the course structure.1. I feel like since it was online the grades landed in a grey area because it wasnt stated exactlywhat was wanted. For example, it seemed as if the criteria for the multimodal presentationchanged. As I was looking through them, no one seemed to be following the initial guidelines yetsome of those people scored higher then those who did.2. I do not know if this was a personal computer issue or not but I was never able to subscribe tothe online message boards to get notifications of new postings--I had to keep checking backevery few hours to see whether or not anyone had responded to discussion points.3. Overall, I understand that you can not do a whole lot with an online class. However, it wouldbe nice if we could somehow do something hands on to help the hands on learners better. Theorganization and the materials were easy to understand and easy to find. This is random but a lotof the students think that you do way more work in this class than a class that we are getting 3credits for, just a thought. It feels like this course should be worth more credits to at least warnstudents what they are getting into.4. I found myself being very confused with the online class and receieved a lot of email fromother confused classmates trying to figure out what exact the assignment was or how to do itproperly. I feel i would excel in a different online class but for technology i think i need moreface-to-face teaching5. In the couple of courses I have taken online, the instructors are not very understanding of thetechnical difficulties that are often associated with technology. I need my instructors to postinformation when they say they are going to. I lot of the time things were not posted withadequate time to react. When something is due that week, we should be able to have the entireweek to work on said material, especially if there is a big project due. Submission links also needto be posted ASAP. A ton of people are very busy and may not have time to submit on thespecific due date, so they want to submit in advance. I do not like not being able to discuss
  • 47. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 46STUDENTSproblems with assignments face-to-face. It makes the instructor less sympathetic, and thing canbe taken out of context. Timed tests on blackboard need to account for a fair amount of time tocomplete the test. I personally like to be able to think over my answers a little and when they areso rushed I tend to fail them. Plus it is not an accurate assessment of my knowledge to just speedthrough things, though I do understand the some teachers do this so you can not simply look upall of the answers. It is to me an impersonal way to learn. I feel as if the teacher doesnt careabout me as a student, and I myself feel less invested in the class.6. Please present different forms of material.7. All teachers need to be consistent with format and grades need to be kept up to date objectivesshould have its own tab.8. Dont make people do group projects. We are taking Online courses because we are busy ascan be. NOBODY LIKES DOING GROUP PROJECTS IN AN ONLINE COURSE.9. In all honesty, I feel that I would have learned more about educational technology if this hadbeen a face-to-face class. I am strongly opposed to online classes because it is easy to forgetabout them when you have other face-to-face classes to worry about. Furthermore, I feel termsand concepts could have been demonstrated to me (and others) in a live classroom moreeffectively rather than reading instructions that were not always clear. or organized in an easilyaccessible manner. Technology in the classroom is a broad subject and by having weekly themedassignments with no physical person to explain them, we only brushed the tip of the icebergrather than a live class that could meet two or three times a week. Furthermore, the campussuffered a snowstorm a few weeks back that knocked out power in much of Greeley. Supposethis situation of interrupted power had lasted for an extended period of time? The class is toovulnerable to setbacks when technological mishaps of glitches, power loss, incompatiblecomputer systems, computer viruses, hackers, etc can all affect the learning of students, whereasa physical class is not as easily interrupted. Furthermore, I am strongly dissatisfied with the factthat two of the three professors were not at their posted office hours. While the teachers wererespectful, reasonable and helpful throughout the semester, and even though I can email, I prefer
  • 48. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 47STUDENTSto talk face-to-face when I have more than just a simple question about an assignment. When aprofessor is not at his/her office hours it sends a message to the student that he/she doesnt care.If the teacher doesnt care, why should the students? I STRONGLY believe that education is asocial activity and a computer screen CANNOT and WILL NOT replace the effectiveness ofphysical interaction. At the very least, the class could be improved by having all students link upthrough a chat room at a regular time (preferably a video chat room) where the teacher canlecture to everyone and demonstrate technology concepts. In addition to this, I am verydissatisfied with the course book "Technology in Education". It is immoral to require collegestudents, many of whom are short on money, to spend ninety dollars on a textbook that is usedonly THREE TIMES in the entire semester! It is a blatant robbery and I strongly request thebook be removed from the course or used more actively next semester to balance out the costspent. It would be more reasonable to post required chapters of the book online, thus savingstudents money and at the same time encouraging the theme of using technology. An additionalflaw I found in this course was the chaotic nature of the group projects. Had this been a face-to-face class it would have been much easier to coordinate and arrange efforts in class rather thandepend on the unreliable Bearmail. Overall, while the assignments were all graded fairly, Ihonestly feel that this class could have been more effective if it were in person. I do not wish tooffend and I appreciate your time reviewing my feedback.10. Do a little more explaining instructions and expectations for assignments.11. I think more information about some of the assignments need to be on the site, I had to emailmy instructor to clarify some of the instructions for the video project and I was confused aboutthe lesson plan assignment.12. With my experience, every class is different, based on the instructor. Maybe a simple formatfor all would help.13. I think that organizing where you put information on blackboard would help a ton.14. Less work for a 1 credit class! I did more for this class than I ever have for an online class,
  • 49. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 48STUDENTSespecially one that is only 1 credit.15. I think it would be helpful to add some face-to-face time with people in the class who mightneed some more information or assistance. Perhaps an opportunity to meet with instructors,classmates and have a look at some of the <div>ways we can incorporate and use technology inthe classroom setting.</div>16. Just better instruction17. I dont think that the organization needs to be changed because it is all laid out in an easy touse format and you know where to expect things. I think that the courses would be better if wecould involve maybe video chat or some way to be able to see who we were talking to and whoour instructors were. I am also a Kinesthetic learner so finding some way to meet the needs ofthose kind of learners would be beneficial. I think that if there was a way to create more learningways then just writing and reading posts in a discussion board students would learn better and getmore out of their online courses.18. If there is a book assigned to the course it should be used more often than just a few chaptersout of it to save our bank accounts in the long run. Also the organization of assigning a groupproject is unfair as well as highly unlikable seeing that the course is online.19. I would say that the need to focus on less reading, focus more on discussion boards that needto be done during a smaller length of time20. Examples of work would be the most effective way to ensure correct completion of work.21. I like being able to directly learn something from a teacher, rather than be provided a link tolearn how to do something on my own.22. More task analysis type of instruction. The step-by-step instruction for online courses makesit much easier to make sure we are meeting all objectives.
  • 50. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 49STUDENTS23. I think professors need to be <u style= "font-style: italic;">extremely</u>clear in theirinstruction on blackboard because students do not have that face time to ask for clarification.They should always post examples as a way to model which is part of good teaching. This willalso ensure they are doing everything they can to be clear in their expectations.24. I felt that everything was very easy to find and that nothing really needed to be changed withthe objectives or the material.25. No group work. I found it difficult to work in groups26. Materials and organization could be listed out ahead of time so the students can planaccordingly for the semester27. I can not disagree that for some students or for teacher can did a test hat want to teach onlinecourses, but for the majority of students that want to teach in the classroom, I feel that spendingout rime going through ways to use SMART Boards, or classroom management with labs ornetbook sets would be much more effective.Examples of what is expected for the assignment would be helpful.28. I feel that the objectives need to be less demanding or the online classes need to be worthmore credits. I do more work in online class I do in some of my normal (3 credit) classes.29. Have a video chat aspect or an a way to have face-to-face contact with your students30. This online class has been my best so far. Its organized and there are multiple links andresources to use per assignment. I have enjoyed the long process projects because they requiremore think time and thats what I benefit from instead of trying to squeeze the work into a weekin addition to everything else in life. I also like the weekly updates keeps me on track and thingsare graded in a timely manner which reduces my stress :)
  • 51. A NEEDS ASSESSMENT OF ONLINE COURSES IN BLACKBOARD FOR UNDERGRADUATE 50STUDENTSClearer models and step by step instructions...for example with the wiki, I had no idea how it useit because the assignment was basically just figure it out on your own.31. Online courses need to send updates when things are coming close to their due date. Also Ithink that all online courses under each department should have one night a week with the sametime and day that assignments are due. For example all health online courses should havematerials due on Wednesdays at 10pm while all ET courses are always due sundays at 10pm.This would really help us keep track and organize.

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