Virtual School Meanderings

December 17, 2012 e-Newsletter – 12/10/12

From the inbox this afternoon…

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Risks Associated With The Choice To Teach Online

This article presents findings from a case study related to the risks associated with the choice of traditional, tenure track faculty to teach online. Education offered at a distance via the World Wide Web is on the rise; so too is the demand for university faculty members who will teach those courses. While traditional academic and professional expectations remain unchanged, the new medium presents a new context in which these faculty members live, work, and balance personal and professional decisions. This study provided a multi-dimensional perspective on one college of education’s faculty and administrators as they seek to negotiate this emerging environment. Interviews with faculty, administrators, and faculty peer reviewers were conducted to provide a more complete, triangulated picture of the case.

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration

What Characteristics of College Students Influence Their Decisions to Select Online Courses?

The primary goal of this study was to identify a wide range of characteristics of college students that may influence their decisions to select online courses. The motivation underlying this study is the realization that online courses are no longer exclusively being taken by non-traditional students (for undergraduates, that would be students age 25 years and older with career, family, and/or social obligations). In fact, there are recent reports indicating that traditional undergraduate students (on-site students that are age 18-24) are now including online courses in their course curriculum. To accomplish the goal of this study, an ordered logit model was developed in which a Likert scale question asking students how likely/unlikely they were to take an online course was used at the dependent variable. The independent variables were based on a wide range of responses to questions regarding student demographic, experience, and preference information (these are the students’ characteristics). The data for this study is from a 2010 Oklahoma State University campus-wide student survey. The results of the study have identified a number of considerations that may be helpful to administrators wishing to improve and/or expand online course offering, as well as areas that can be further investigated in future studies. For example, undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in business majors were more likely than those in other majors to select online courses. On the other hand, undergraduate students (traditional and non-traditional) enrolled in engineering majors and graduate students enrolled in anatomy, biochemistry, biology, and botany major were the least likely groups of students to select online courses. Freshman and sophomores were found to be more likely than juniors and seniors to select online courses, and were much more likely than graduate students to select online courses. With respect to residency, out-of-state/non-residents (not including international students) were the most likely to select online courses, while international students were the least likely to select online courses. Finally, a significant and positive relationship was identified between some web 2.0 technologies, such as online social networking (e.g. Facebook) and live video chatting (e.g. Skype), and students’ likelihood of selecting online courses.

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration

Applying Leadership Theories to Distance Education Leadership

The instructional delivery mode in distance education has been transitioning from the context of a physical classroom environment to a virtual learning environment or maintaining a hybrid of the two. However, most distance education programs in dual mode institutions are situated in traditional face-to-face instructional settings. Distance education leaders, therefore, operate in a transition mode which requires some level of flexibility as they authorize and manage change and regularly upgrade their knowledge and skills base to adapt to the constantly changing environment. It is obvious that online distance learning is an evolving learning environment that requires leaders of traditional learning environment to acquire new skills and assume new roles. The requirements for distance education leadership and the dearth of research on how educational and leadership theories influence leaders of distance education programs calls for an examination of leadership theories. Examining various leadership theories provides a theoretical framework for current and prospective distance education leaders. This paper examines theories that can impact distance education leadership. These include transformational, situational, complexity, systems, and adoption and diffusion of innovation theories.

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration

The Resonance Factor: Probing the Impact of Video on Student Retention in Distance Learning

Teaching and instructing is one of the challenging manifestations of informing, within which distance learning is considered harder than face-to-face instruction. Student retention is one of the major challenges of distance learning. Current innovative technologies enable widespread use of video lectures that may ease the loneliness of the distance learner and increase retention. This study explores the impact of video lectures on relatively senior students in a distance-learning environment. The study compares the retention and achievements of overseas students enrolled in a financial theory compulsory course, which is considered difficult. Students tend to study this course only after successfully completing other courses. The results indicate that before the introduction of video most of the students who failed the course dropped out immediately after failing, whereas afterwards nearly all the students who failed the course continued their studies. The main findings suggest that video lectures may increase senior students’ retention, although their achievements were not found significantly better than those of distance learners that did not have video lectures available. This paper contributes to the informing science transdiscipline by demonstrating the importance of resonance for effective informing.

Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects


Factors Affecting the Future of Higher Education: Quality of Learning

By: Farhad (Fred) Saba, Ph. D.
Founder and Editor,

Cole (2009) in a comprehensive book titled: The great American university stated that

“American society today is not preparing enough of its talented students for work in fields that will be critical for the growth of knowledge in science and engineering; nor is it adequately preparing those who will become lawyers, businessmen, members of the Congress, or members of the judiciary by giving them the tools they will need to deal intelligently with decisions related to science and technology that will be critical to the nation’s future. As our dependency on science and technology grows, our literacy diminishes.” (pp. 453).

Higher education: Not what it used to be

American universities represent declining value for money to their students

The Economist

UK universities in online launch to challenge US

A partnership of UK universities is launching an online project, challenging US universities that have dominated this emerging market.


Freelance Professors

“Self-employed professor” could soon be an actual job title, thanks to two companies that are helping a small group of college professors market their own online courses, set prices for them and share the tuition revenue.

Inside Higher Ed

How Does an MITx Course Translate to Community College Students?

Massachusetts community colleges are exploring how an MITx course will work for their students.

Center for Digital Education

New online learning tool brings ‘the crowd’ into homework assignments

In an effort to bring a more human dimension to the online-education experience, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Associate Professor Rob Miller has developed a new computer system that will help provide students with feedback on their homework assignments and create more interaction between students, teachers and alumni.


Farhad (Fred) Saba, Ph. D.
Founder and Editor

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1 Comment »

  1. […] RESEARCH-BASED ARTICLES OF THE WEEK: 'Risks Associated With The Choice To Teach Online'; 'What Characteristics of College Students Influence Their Decisions to Select Online Courses?'; 'Applying Leadership Theories to Distance Education Leadership'…  […]

    Pingback by e-Newsletter – 12/10/12 | Educación a Distancia (EaD) | — December 18, 2012 @ 3:06 am | Reply

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