Some papers describe transformation of "traditional" programs to online modes in terms of the level of student and staff satisfaction with the online learning environment. Farrell and McGrath (2001), Albury (2001) and Talay-Ongan and Gosper (1999) describe the conversion of face-to-face programs to either fully online programs or programs heavily supported by online materials and activities (mixed mode programs). Farrell and McGrath and Talay-Ongan and Gosper note increased student satisfaction with the flexibility afforded by the online environment. Feedback from the Farrell and McGrath study of the conversion of a Bachelor of Nursing program to online delivery indicated students needed more preparation for online learning.
Students also experienced a lack of motivation to study and computer frustrations. While staff were encouraged to attend professional development courses, some had difficulty adapting to new technologies.
Overall, students recommended that traditional methods of teaching be combined with online learning. Talay-Ongan and Gosper also compared academic results for students studying in internal mode with those studying online and found parity between these two cohorts of students.

It has been noted that student cohort characteristics need to be known and taken into account when planning the use of technologies. Peat, Franklin, Lewis and Sims (2000) describe the establishment of a virtual learning environment at the University of Sydney to provide educational resources within a single first year biology course attended by students from a variety of degree programs. Evaluation focused on the students? use of the overall teaching and learning process, rather than the effectiveness of individual resources. Seventy-five percent of students made some use of the environment by the end of the course, although results for the different features varied. Staff reported that they needed to be more informed of student cohort characteristics, and have more realistic expectations of students? use of the educational technology resources.
The authors concluded there were some students who embraced educational multimedia and information and communications technologies and others (approximately 15-20 percent of the cohort) who did not. They also concluded that more support for the latter group may be required, as well as sufficient room for traditional offerings.

Albury (2001) focused on the role of the academic leader in supporting changes to a whole program delivery method. This paper describes the whole-of-program approach to offering a Bachelor of Arts degree in flexible learning mode. The project involved a small regional university, funded by the Federal Government to improve access to higher eduction in rural areas. Notable changes to staff culture were: an increasing need for interdisciplinary approaches; and the extension of staff technical and curricula design skills.

Howard (2001) describes the University of Virginia?s development and implementation of its own course management tool to deliver course information to students. The tool was used mainly for distributing online documents and enabling computer-mediated communications and computer-based assessment. When student satisfaction was measured, the software was found to be "exceptionally popular". Staff were described as finding the tool flexible and manageable, perhaps due to the fact that it did not require large amounts of technical expertise to use.

On this site

Go to top