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What are they doing? How are they doing it? Rural secondary students learning in a virtual school.


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Barbour, M. K. (2007, January). What are they doing? How are they doing it? Rural secondary students learning in a virtual school. Paper presented at the annual Conference on Interdisciplinary Qualitative Studies, Athens , GA.

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What are they doing? How are they doing it? Rural secondary students learning in a virtual school.

  1. 1. What Are They Doing? How Are They Doing It? Michael K. BarbourDepartment of Educational Psychology & Instructional Technology College of Education University of Georgia
  2. 2. Newfoundland and Labrador• area of the island is 43,359 square miles, while Labrador covers 112,826 square miles• according to the 2001 Census population for Newfoundland and Labrador was 512,930 (down from 551,795 in 1996)• 305 schools (down from 343 just three years ago)• 81,458 students (down from 118,273 a decade ago)• average school size 233 pupils (over 40% have less than 200)
  3. 3. Centre for Distance Learning and InnovationSynchronous – Online• 30% to 80%, depending on subject area• taught via a virtual classroom (e.g., Elluminate Live)Asynchronous – Offline• remainder of their time• taught via a course management system (e.g., WebCT)• usually consists of independent work from posted homework or assignments or from their textbooks
  4. 4. Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation• You Will Learn – briefly lists, in student friendly language, the instructional outcomes for the lesson;• You Should Know – lists, and when necessary elaborates on, knowledge and skills students are expected to have mastered prior to the lesson;• Lesson – is self-explanatory and may be broken into multiple pages;• Activities – contains further instructional events the student that students need to carry out in order to master the lesson outcomes; and• Test Yourself – offers an opportunity for the student to gauge the degree to which the outcomes were achieved.
  5. 5. Centre for Distance Learning and Innovation
  6. 6. Previous CDLI Studies• Quantitative study on the effects of individual student learning style and web-based design on student performance• Survey study on the use of instant messaging as a tool for community building• Survey study on the role of school-based or mediating teachers• Interview study on teacher and developer perceptions of effective web-based design for secondary students• Interview study on student perceptions of effective web-based design for them• Survey and interview study on student perceptions of benefits and challenges of virtual schooling• Quantitative study on student performance in traditional and virtual school courses
  7. 7. Students’ Scores Based Upon Delivery Model and Location Public Exam Final Course AverageWeb delivered rural 61.7 69.3 (n = 826) (n = 3,452)Web delivered urban 65.7 66.3 (n = 11) (n = 81)Web delivered total 61.8 69.2 (n = 837) (n = 3533)Classroom delivered rural 62.3 68.5 (n = 15,384) (n = 90,190)Classroom delivered urban 63.1 67.7 (n = 23,080) (n = 115,029)Classroom delivered total 62.8 68.1 (n = 38464) (n = 205219)# of missing cases 1,029 (2.6%) 5,650 (2.6%)Total # of cases 40,330 214,402
  8. 8. Reviewing the Literature• Rural schools are different from urban schools, particularly when it comes to their ability to offer the mandated curriculum to their students.• Initially, rural schools have attempted to address these needs through consolidation, but in the past decade and a half turned to distance education (and more recently virtual schools).• Across North America, virtual school students tend to be a select group of students who are highly motivated, independent in their learning, and have access to and facility with digital technology.
  9. 9. Reviewing the Literature• The claims are that virtual schooling can allow rural schools to offer their students a wider variety of curriculum and access to highly trained teachers in specialized areas.• However, the reality is that most virtual schooling opportunities are designed for only a select group of students and these opportunities are simply out of the reach of many rural school students.• More research is needed to why some learners are more successful in online environments than others and the specific factors that may impact student achievement in these environments
  10. 10. Purpose of the StudyThe purpose of this study was to examine the nature of web-based learning in Newfoundland and Labrador secondary education. Specifically, this study examined the how students interacted with their web-based courses and the process they undertook when they needed help. This general purpose lent itself to three research questions:1. What are the students’ experiences during their synchronous time online?2. What are the students’ experiences during their asynchronous time online?3. When students require content-based assistance, where do they seek that assistance and why do they choose those sources?
  11. 11. ParticipantsStudent Pseudonyms Gender Grade Community From Courses TakenJasmine Female 10 Cape Random Fine Arts[1]Justine Female 11 Beaches Language Arts[2] Mathematics ScienceConstance Female 11 Beaches Language ArtsJason Male 11 Clarke’s Bay Language Arts MathematicsPeter Male 11 Beaches Mathematics ScienceNorah Female 11 Beaches Mathematics ScienceMya Female 12 Beaches Language ArtsMax Male 12 Beaches Language Arts Science MathematicsDayna Female 12 Beaches Language ArtsDarlene Female 12 Clarke’s Bay Language ArtsKevin Male 12 Clarke’s Bay Fine ArtsKathy Female 12 Cape Random Language Arts Science Mathematics [1] Fine Arts include courses in art and music. [2] Language Arts include courses in both English language arts and French as a second language.
  12. 12. InterviewStudent Interview 1 Interview 2 Interview 3 Interview 4Jasmine X X X XJustine X X X XConstance X X X XJason X X X XPeter X X XNorah XMya X X X XMax X X X XDayna XDarlene X X XKevin X XKathy X X X X* Plus four teacher and administrator interviews.
  13. 13. Journal EntriesStudent Week 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15Jasmine X X X X X X X X X X X X X XJustine X X X X X X X X X X X X X X XConstance X X X X X X X X X X X X X X XJason X X X X X X X X X X X X X X XPeter X XNorahMya X X X X X X X X X X X X XMax X X X X X X X X X X X X X XDaynaDarlene X X X X X X XKevinKathy X X X X X X X X X X X X X X
  14. 14. Participant Observation – In SchoolDate Fine Arts Language Arts Mathematics Science Synch Asynch Synch Asynch Synch Asynch Synch Asynch03 May 2 104 May05 May08 May 1 1 1 109 May 1 1 1 110 May 111 May 1 1 1 112 May 1 115 May 116 May17 May 118 May 123 May 1 1 1 124 May 1 1 1 125 May 1 1 1 126 May 1 1 2Total 5 5 7 4 4 3 6 4
  15. 15. Participant Observation - OnlineTeacher/Tutor Content-Area Asynchronous Synchronous TutorialPseudonyms (WebCT) (Elluminate Live)Bill Martin Language Arts 2 different 3 classes from 1 course areas courseLori Green-Paul Language Arts 3 different 2 classes from 2 course areas different coursesPamela Bond Language Arts 2 different 2 classes from 2 course areas different coursesJoe Cole Science 2 different 3 classes from 1 course area different courseMegan Matthews Science 2 different 2 classes from 2 course areas coursesDustin Nelson Science 1 TWEP sessionNorman Tiller Social Studies 2 different 4 classes from 1 course areas coursePat Blake Mathematics 7 classes from 3 different courses[1]Paul Murray Fine Arts 4 classes from 1 different course [1] One of these synchronous classes was conducted by a substitute teacher.
  16. 16. Surveys• Potential variables in transactional distance (Lowell, 2004)• High school Internet education survey (Roblyer & Marshall, 2002-2003)• Learning styles inventory (Barbour & Cooze, 2004)• Online learning experiences (Barbour, 2006)
  17. 17. Trends – Question 1Synchronous Time• students tended to stay on task during this time (although not always)• students tended to rely upon each other more than the online teacher for help• students tended to communicate using text rather than audio
  18. 18. Trends – Question 2Asynchronous Time• when the students decided to work, they worked well• students decided to work less than half of the time• students would complete work in a collaborative effort, particularly in the mathematics and sciences• asynchronous time was easy to give up for other school related activities
  19. 19. Trends – Question 3Turning for Help• students primarily relied upon each other for help• local class size played an important role – the smaller the class the more likely the students were to turn to their online teacher as opposed to a school-based teacher• student colleagues, teachers (both online and school-based), and general Internet searches were primarily the only sources students used for help, even though they had access to a textbook, supplemental material in WebCT, a live tutor available in the virtual classroom after schools and during the evenings
  20. 20. So What?
  21. 21. Initial Implications• Synchronous instruction is both what makes the CDLI different from other virtual schools and is where the majority of “teaching” occurs• Teachers don’t “teach” asynchronous, they simply assign independent work, as such students don’t make good use of asynchronous time• Many students don’t know about all of the resources available to assist them and even when they do know about them they tend not to take advantage of them – instead preferring to use human resources
  22. 22. Developing a Theoretical Framework Adults in an Online Environment Adult Orientation to Learning • autonomous • independent • self-motivated • self-directed • understands themselves as learners • interested in application of learning Characteristics of Learning in an Online Environment
  23. 23. Developing a Theoretical Framework Adolescents in an Online Environment Adolescent Orientation to Learning • dependent upon others for motivation and direction (e.g., teacher, other students, etc.) • social process • don’t necessarily understand themselves as learners • interested in learning for promotionCharacteristics of Learning in an Online Environment
  24. 24. Developing An Adolescent Theory of Transactional Distance K-12 Student’s Moore; Sutton) Willis & Gunawardena; Interaction (Hillman, Increase Structure (Moore) through Scaffolding and Resource-based Learning (Hill & Hannafin) Develop a Community of Learners (Palloff & Pratt) Increase in Social Presence (Short, Williams & Christie; Tu) Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky)
  25. 25. Developing a Theoretical Model Optimal Adolescent Online Environment Rich in Support and Resources Supportive School Environment (Human and Technology Resources) Asynchronous and Synchronous Instruction Learning Space
  26. 26. BibliographyBarbour, M. K. (2006). Secondary students perceptions of web-based learning. Roundtable presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Educational Communication and Technology,.Barbour, M. K., & Cooze, M. (2004). All for one and one for all: Designing web-based courses for students based upon individual learning styles. Staff and Educational Development International, 8(2/3), 95-108.Hill, J. R., & Hannafin, M. J. (2001). Teaching and learning in digital environments: The resurgence of resource-based learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 49(3), 37-52.Hillman, D. C. A., Willis, D. J., & Gunawardena, C. N. (1994). Learner-interface in interaction in distance education: An extension of contemporary models and strategies for practitioners. American Journal of Distance Education, 8(2), 30-42.Lowell, N. (2004). An investigation of factors contributing to perceived transactional distance in an online setting. Unpublished Ph.D., University of Northern Colorado, Greeley, CO.Moore, M. G. (1972). Learner autonomy: The second dimension of independent learning. Convergence, Fall, 76-88.Moore, M. G. (1973). Toward a theory of independent learning and teaching. Journal of Higher Education, 44(12), 661-679.Moore, M. G. (1983). The individual adult learner. In M. Tight (Ed.), Education for adults: Volume 1 - Adult learning and education (pp. 153-168). London, U.K.: Croom Helm Ltd.Moore, M. G. (1989). Editorial - Three types of interaction. American Journal of Distance Education, 3(2), 1-6.
  27. 27. BibliographyMoore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education: A systems view. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating Online: Learning Together in Community. San Francisco, CA: San Francisco.Roblyer, M. D., & Marshall, J. C. (2002-2003). Predicting success of virtual high school students: Preliminary results from an educational success prediction instrument. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 35(2), 241- 255.Short, J., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). The social psychology of telecommunications. London, U.K.: John Wiley & Sons.Sutton, L. A. (2001). The principle of vicarious interaction in computer-mediated communication. International Journal of Educational Telecommunications, 7(3), 223-242.Tu, C. H. (2000). On-line learning migration: From social learning theory to social presence theory in a CMC environment. Journal of Network and Computer Applications, 23, 27-37.Tu, C. H. (2002). The measurement of social presence in an online learning environment. International Journal on E-Learning, 1(2), 34-45.Vygotsky, L. S. (1962). Thought and Language (E. Hanfmann & G. Vakar, Trans.). Cambridge, MA: The M.I.T. Press.Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychologist processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  28. 28. Contact InformationMichael K. Barbour Doctoral Candidate Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology University of Georgia