Learning Together Online: Research on Asynchronous Learning

Learning Together Online: Research on Asynchronous Learning

Learning Together Online: Research on Asynchronous Learning

Learning Together Online: Research on Asynchronous Learning

Synopsis

This book is about the past and future of research on the effectiveness of learning networks (also known as "e-learning" or "on-line learning" or "web-based learning"). Learning networks are groups of people using computer technology, communicating and collaborating online to build knowledge together. Over the past decade there has been an explosion not only of online courses, but also of studies on them. In Learning Together Online: Research on Asynchronous Learning Networks, leading researchers in the field use an integrated theoretical framework, which they call "Online Interaction Learning Theory," to organize what past research shows and where future research is going. It models the variables and processes that are important in determining the relative effectiveness of online learners working to reach a deeper level of understanding by interacting with each other and with the texts under investigation. Now that there have been hundreds of studies and thousands of courses offered online, what does the empirical evidence show? This book addresses the question directly by presenting what is known from research results about how to design and teach courses effectively online, ranging from the organizational context and characteristics of students to learning theories and research design methods. It also provides a research agenda for the next decade. Learning Together Online: Research on Asynchronous Learning Networks is both a textbook for graduate students and a professional reference for faculty teaching online, researchers conducting studies, and graduate students taking courses about learning technologies who need to know the state of the art of research in the area of online learning.

Excerpt

The public debate over the merits of Internet-based distance learning too often consists of high-pitched vitriol and hyperbole. Proponents ooze with blind adoration, declaring that online learning can resolve all the problems confronting traditional education. Opponents insist that courses taught on the net are incapable of living up to the standards of the traditional bricks and mortar classroom.

The Institute for Higher Education Policy, 2000

This book is about the past and future of research on the effectiveness of learning networks, a type of e-learning, online learning, Web-based learning, computer-supported collaborative learning, or virtual classroom (to use a number of common terms) in which students and teachers learn together online. The formal term is Asynchronous Learning Networks, or ALN for short. An ALN course is one in which students and faculty can have online discussions and work together from their homes or offices or on an airplane, anytime, anywhere, via the Internet. Computer-mediated communication software stores and orders these communications. A much more complete definition and decomposition of the term asynchronous learning network is provided in chapter 1, but learning together online in a structured environment is the essence of the concept.

In this book, leading researchers use an integrated theoretical framework to organize what past research has shown and where future research is going. We call this integrated theoretical model the Online Interaction Learning Theory(see chap. 2). It models the variables and processes that are important in determining the relative effectiveness of communities of online learners, who are working to reach a deep level of understanding by interacting with each other and with the materials under investigation. Rather than being based on unsupported vitriol and hyperbole . . .

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