Volume 19, Issue 4 - September 2015

Introduction to the Special Issue: Best Papers Presented at the OLC 20th International Conference on Online Learning

Anthony G. Picciano
Graduate Center and Hunter College, City University of New York Guest Editor/ Associate Editor, OLJ

The International Conference on Online Learning traces its origin to a 1995 one-day meeting of grantees of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation’s Anytime, Anyplace Learning Program held in Philadelphia. Ninety individuals attended this first meeting where several invited speakers presented on the possibilities of online learning....

Using Word Clouds in Online Discussions to Support Critical Thinking and Engagement

Aimee deNoyelles
University of Central Florida
Beatriz Reyes-Foster
University of Central Florida

Being actively engaged in a task is often associated with critical thinking. Cultivating critical thinking skills, such as purposefully reflecting and analyzing one’s own thinking, is a major goal of higher education. However, there is a challenge in providing college students opportunities to clearly demonstrate these skills in online courses. This research explores the effectiveness of incorporating word clouds—visual representations of word frequency in a given passage of text—into online discussions. We sought to establish whether implementing word clouds in online discussions would result in a higher incidence of critical thinking and engagement. Survey results from undergraduate participants (n=132) revealed that students analyzing text in word clouds reported moderately higher scores on critical thinking and engagement than students analyzing the text in a linear fashion. A positive relationship was found between critical thinking and engagement, as well as peer interaction. This strategy can be applied to a wide range of educational environments to stimulate critical thinking and engagement.

Student Perceptions of Twitters’ Effectiveness for Assessment in a Large Enrollment Online Course

Linda Rohr
Memorial University of Newfoundland
Jane Costello
Memorial University of Newfoundland

During the Winter and Spring 2014 semesters students registered in the online offering of Human Kinetics and Recreation 1000 (N=589) were asked to participate in two Twitter events encompassing two of the course’s assessment activities. In each Twitter event, students were required to post, at minimum, one original tweet and...

An Analysis of Faculty Promotion of Critical Thinking and Peer Interaction within Threaded Discussions

Alan R. Belcher, Barbara M. Hall, Kathleen Kelley and Keith L. Pressey
Ashford University

The purposes of the research were to (1) examine the relationships between faculty behaviors that promote critical thinking and the resulting critical thinking within peer interaction and (2) identify specific faculty behaviors that result in the highest levels of critical thinking within peer interactions. Using a concurrent embedded mixed methods...

Online Master’s Students’ Perceptions of Institutional Supports and Resources: Initial Survey Results

Natalie B. Milman, Laurie Posey, Christine Pintz, Kayla Wright and Pearl Zhou

The George Washington University

This article presents the quantitative findings of an exploratory mixed methods study that investigatedfirst- and second-year online graduate master’s students’: 1) perceptions of the importance of, andsatisfaction with, administrative, academic, technical, and online community supports; 2) personal factorsand grit level; and 3) differences, if any, that existed among students, in...

An Evaluation of Low Versus High Collaboration in Online Learning

David Wicks, Baine B. Craft, Donghun (Don) Lee, Andrew Lumpe, Robin Henrikson, Nalline Baliram, Xu Bian, Stacy Mehlberg and Katy Wicks
Seattle Pacific University

Researchers in a recent study found that online students’ ability to self-regulate led to more focused attention and time on task, and in turn, these skills could lead to better learning. Given the need for more theoretical work in this area, as well as the potential practical benefits from the...

Does Gender Matter? University Library Access and Career Preparedness

Daniella Smith University of North Texas

The purpose of this exploratory study was to examine how the gender of distance learning students related to variables such as the perception of the availability of library resources, technology available at home and work, technology provided by a university for distance learning, and career preparedness. A total of 166...

Enrollment, Engagement, and Satisfaction in the BlendKit Faculty Development Open, Online Course

Patsy Moskal, Kelvin Thompson, Linda Futch
Center for Distributed Learning, University of Central Florida

BlendKit is a 5-week course designed by the University of Central Florida in an open, online format specifically for the professional development of higher education faculty and designers preparing to design and teach blended learning courses. The evaluation of this course provides us with interesting and valuable information on the...

Innovative Orientation Leads to Improved Success in Online Courses

Jean M. Taylor and Margie Dunn
Excelsior College
Sandra K. Winn
Empire State College

A team of instructional designers, educators, and the School of Liberal Arts (SLA) academic program coordinator from a nonprofit online college, collaborated on producing short voice-over videos with interactive elements that address the most common technology frustrations of beginning students. These videos were inserted into the “Start Here” page of...

Design and Implementation of Therapist Online Counseling

Aaron O. Thomas, Geoff Lee and Brian Ess
University of Florida

The following paper describes the rationale for creating an online therapy program of cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, for students at the University of Florida who are struggling with stress and anxiety. In addition, the paper discusses the unique challenges of the instructional design process of creating psychoeducational materials through...

Introduction to Section II: Faculty Attitudes and Student Engagement

Peter Shea, PhD, Editor-in-Chief,
Online Learning University at Albany, State University of New York

This issue contains two additional articles that were not specifically selected from sessions conducted at the Online Learning Consortium’s Annual Conference. These two articles provide insight into faculty attitudes about and student engagement in online learning....

Understanding Faculty Attitudes About Distance Education: The Importance of Excitement and Fear

Jennifer Bunk, Rui Li, Esther Smidt, Christopher Bidetti and Brett Malize
West Chester University of Pennsylvania

The purpose of the present study is to further understand faculty attitudes about distance education by exploring the psychological processes through which these attitudes are influenced. We explored the following research question: Do feelings of excitement versus fear mediate and/or moderate the relationship between online teaching experience and various faculty...

Measuring Student Engagement in the Online Course: The Online Student Engagement Scale (OSE)

Marcia D. Dixson
Indiana University – Purdue University Fort Wayne

Student engagement is critical to student learning, especially in the online environment, where students can often feel isolated and disconnected. Therefore, teachers and researchers need to be able to measure student engagement. This study provides validation of the Online Student Engagement scale (OSE) by correlating student self-reports of engagement (via...