The needs of online graduate students


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Findings from a doctoral study on the needs of online graduate students.

Presented at CSSHE (higher education) in Montreal, Quebec in May 2010

Published in: Education
  • Hi Kelly,
    thanks for the link, I'll have a look at it. Yes, I'm involved with Peer2Peer University, and I'll start my PhD in fall focusing on platforms for collaborative peer-learning using OERs, at OISE/UToronto.
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  • Hi, Stian. Thanks for your interest and suggestions on a better format but my PDF version or one with smaller fonts seems to be appearing. I am having one of those bad technical days.
    You present a few broad questions that I will try to answer in a brief way. From the literature, what we know about online teaching is professors from traditional academic classrooms are now managing technical environments and designing online learning with little past experience, training or support from leaders or institutions.

    As well, from the lit it appears that one gap is a large number of faculty in North American postsecondary institutions are resisting this mode of teaching due to concerns about quality education, commodification of education, and overburden of tasks.

    Hopefully my work will provide evidence of the perceptions and needs of online graduate students in mainstream universities with enough details for leaders to consider important aspects and issues. This is the main crux of my dissertation but not this slide presentation.
    You can see a summary of my thesis on my blog with further link to my actual dissertation posted online. This link will take you to Tony Bates blog where he posted an announcement about my work.

    Thanks again for your interest. Are you involved in online learning, as well?

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  • Hi Kelly,
    I'm very interested in this kind of research. Two quick (hopefully constructive comments): First, some of the text seems badly formatted. This often happens when Slideshare converts the slides. It is often safer to upload in PDF format (you can export to PDF from Keynote or Powerpoint). Second, and I realize I wasn't present at your presentation and don't know what you said: It would be very useful with a few slides situating your research in the literature... What do we already know about online teaching? What are the points of contention, or the gaps? How do you feel your study can contribute? Good work, looking forward to hearing more about your research.
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The needs of online graduate students

  1. 1. A Doctoral Research Study CSSHE Conference Montreal, QC May 2010 Dr. Kelly Edmonds Wired Learning Consultants Inc.
  2. 2. <ul><li>Online learning increases </li></ul><ul><li>access to education </li></ul><ul><li>and is becoming more popular in HE </li></ul>
  3. 3. <ul><li>Educational leaders must </li></ul><ul><li>take into account </li></ul><ul><li>the needs of an expanding </li></ul><ul><li>and diverse student population </li></ul>
  4. 4. <ul><li>… to understand </li></ul><ul><li>current and future populations of </li></ul><ul><li>online students </li></ul>More research is needed … … in order to grasp the complex relationship between learner characteristics, delivery technologies, and instructional design
  5. 5. <ul><li>163 graduate students </li></ul><ul><li>Western Canadian university </li></ul><ul><li>Analyzed: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Student characteristics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Motives for and perceptions of online learning </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Mixed methods </li></ul><ul><li>3 stages </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Online survey </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual focus groups </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Virtual and f2f interviews </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. <ul><li>Middle aged </li></ul><ul><li>Female </li></ul><ul><li>Married </li></ul><ul><li>Work full-time in education </li></ul><ul><li>North America </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Rural </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Urban </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Online at night and weekends </li></ul><ul><li>Master and doctoral degrees </li></ul><ul><li>Education programs </li></ul><ul><li>7 years since formal education </li></ul><ul><li>4 fully online courses </li></ul><ul><li>Adequate technology and info literacy skills </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Online program costs </li></ul><ul><li>Online program credibility </li></ul><ul><li>Ability to learn online </li></ul><ul><li>Adequate technology skills </li></ul>
  8. 8. <ul><li>Staff </li></ul><ul><ul><li>IT: quick responses, telephone; online supports </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Administration: program and policy questions; email </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Student advisor: lacking; email, f2f </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Library: navigate online databases; email </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Instructor </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Student online support; newbies </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Guidance: expectations </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Feedback: on track; assignments </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. <ul><li>Instructor presence </li></ul><ul><ul><li>More contact: personal connection </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Facilitate: overwhelming and meaningless postings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Participate: input, expertise, challenge, be interested </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Communication </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Live: simulate f2f; voice, real, hear </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Interaction: motivating; all participate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Timeliness: immediate response; feel connected; questions answered </li></ul></ul>
  10. 10. <ul><li>Course structure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Comprehensive syllabi: expectations, schedule, assignments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Be prepared: timely materials; skilled instructor </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Consistent construction: easy navigation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Adult learner needs: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>flexibility; workloads; time zones </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>student-centred; choice; personalized; diverse LS </li></ul></ul></ul>
  11. 11. <ul><li>Program structure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Credibility: rigor, recognition, applicable content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blended learning: engaging; summer time; virtual settings </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online resources: library, payment, registration, tutorials </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. <ul><li>Online Program </li></ul><ul><li>Costs </li></ul><ul><li>Too high </li></ul><ul><li>Unequal treatment </li></ul><ul><li>Credibility </li></ul><ul><li>Quality of education </li></ul><ul><li>Perception of others </li></ul><ul><li>Faculty </li></ul><ul><li>Participation </li></ul><ul><li>More faculty participation, feedback, contact, and leadership online </li></ul><ul><li>Development </li></ul><ul><li>Lack of faculty online management and technical skills </li></ul>