Academic journal article Quarterly Review of Distance Education

THE IMPACT OF RICH MEDIA PRESENTATIONS ON A DISTRIBUTED LEARNING ENVIRONMENT: Engagement and Satisfaction of Undergraduate Students

Academic journal article Quarterly Review of Distance Education

THE IMPACT OF RICH MEDIA PRESENTATIONS ON A DISTRIBUTED LEARNING ENVIRONMENT: Engagement and Satisfaction of Undergraduate Students

Article excerpt

The digital revolution has ushered in a generation shaped by the integration of emerging communication technology into everyday life, including today's traditional-aged college students. While research on how this generation utilizes technology is prevalent, research and reflection on the effective integration of technology into the learning environment is still sparse. This study attempts to fill that gap by blending distance and distributed learning research into analyzing how a distributed learning environment affects the satisfaction and engagement of traditional, face-to-face undergraduate students enrolled in a research project course.

INTRODUCTION

Distributed learning is a term used to describe the use of the emerging electronic learning environments to deliver synchronous and asynchronous instruction. Distributed learning environments integrate the interactive capabilities of networking, computing, and multimedia with learner-centered teaching approaches such as collaboration, discovery learning, and active learning (Oblinger, Barone, & Hawkins, 2001). These tools have primarily been used for the delivery of entire courses to remote learners (distance education), but they are being used increasingly as supplements to classroom-based education as well. These learning environments can include technologies, delivered in part through electronic media, such as videoconferencing, videotape, interactive television, electronic mail, and web-based instruction for the distant learner, the commuting learner, as well as the traditional on-campus learner (Havice & Havice, 2005).

Technological innovations such as Blackboard, online chats, videoconferencing, and rich media presentations have revolutionized the delivery of course content as well as our thinking with respect to learning. Cobb (1997) redefined learning as "a highly interactive set of events shared between a learner and various human/nonhuman agents, tools, and media" to be more representative of the digital age in which we live today (p. 24).

The digital revolution has ushered in a generation, often referred to as the NetGeneration, Millennials, or Echo Boomers, influenced and shaped by the integration of technology into everyday life (Junco & Mastrodicasa, 2007). The technological savvy of this generation, their unique learning styles and need for instant gratification this technology propagates, has once again forced higher education to reexamine teaching and learning strategies. Distributed learning is one result of that reexamination. The purpose of this study was to critically examine whether a distributed learning environment positively or negatively affected the satisfaction and engagement of traditional, face-to-face students enrolled in a research project course.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Student Satisfaction With Distance Learning Courses

Some students enrolled in online courses have been found to report less satisfaction, lower perceived sense of belonging and less perceived participation than students enrolled in the same course in a face-to-face classroom (Salisbury, Pearson, Miller, & Marett, 2002; Summers, Waigandt, & Whittaker, 2005). Ocker and Yaverbaum (1999) found students using a computer to complete a group assignwere less satisfied with the group interaction than their classmates who met face-toface. Students perceived online courses as more academically demanding compared to the face-to-face classroom (Wyatt, 2005) and as having a greater workload than blended instruction (a mix of online and face-to-face classes) (Lim, Morris, & Kupritz, 2006).

In contrast to the aforementioned findings, D'Angelo and Woosley (2007) found that students believed their chances of being successful in a course increased with the utilization of modern technology. College students report being comfortable using new classroom formats based on their personal experience with technology; online students actually felt they were learning better than face-to-face classroom environments (Stein, Wanstreet, Calvin, Overtoom, & Wheaton, 2005). …

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