Facilitating Learning in Online Environments

Facilitating Learning in Online Environments

Facilitating Learning in Online Environments

Facilitating Learning in Online Environments


This volume presents models, methods, and strategies that facilitate and promote learning within online environments. Arguing that success in online environments is dependent on the role of autonomy in order to create sustained and enduring learners, the introductory chapter presents current research and identifies ways through which autonomous learning is established within the learning environment.

Contributors demonstrate how quality online programs are made up of a "blend" of technology, pedogogy, organization, strategy, and vision; explore the concept of online social presence as a significant factor in improving instructional effectiveness and contributing to a feeling of community among learners; and offer strategies for instructors facing the new challenges and opportunities of the online educational experience. Two chapters examine master's level online programming by exploring a model through which the design template for one such program was built and presenting the actual experiences students who completed master's degrees online.

Editor Steven R. Aragon joins his colleagues to make the case that instructional designers need ways to support quality teaching and learning within online environments that take into account the variability in student learning styles, provide external motivation for the isolated students, and build community, collaboration, and communications among learners. Finally, contributors from the field analyze the impact that online technology is having on training and development initiatives of business and industry and demonstrate how current trends have cultivated an environment open to online learning.

This is the 100th issue of the Jossey Bass series New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education.


M. Gail Derrick

Opportunities to engage in learning anytime or anywhere
must address the issue of how to foster the desire for sus
tained and enduring learning. The need to understand the
conditions necessary for facilitating this type of learning
requires an understanding of the behaviors associated
with autonomous learning coupled with self-efficacy

A technological transformation during the past decade has eliminated the boundaries between formal and informal learning. As we adapt to a knowledge-driven society a cultural transformation is occurring. Lifelong learning is an essential goal of education as a means to improve the quality of life for an individual, a culture, or a society. The value of sustained learning is demonstrated through changes in economic growth and social well-being, as well as the development of a democratic way of life. Although we now have opportunities to engage in learning anytime or anywhere, we must address the issue of how to foster the desire for sustained and enduring learning and, more important, create environments that are conducive to this lifelong learning process.

Establishing the conditions necessary for facilitating and enhancing the capacity for sustained and enduring learning requires understanding which behaviors are important for independent, autonomous learning. The research of Derrick (2001), Carr (1999), and Ponton (1999) establishes a definitive understanding of the specific characteristics associated with persistence, resourcefulness, and initiative in autonomous learning, coupled with self-efficacy beliefs that facilitate learners who can endure and sustain their learning in any setting or medium. Their research was predicated on the belief that autonomous learning behaviors can be identified and quantified through the development of items that assess the relative capacity of intentions to learn (that is, conation).

The original research focused on the development of a conceptual framework that adequately addresses these questions: What are the specific attributes of learners who exhibit initiative, resourcefulness, and persistence . . .

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