Virtual Learning and Higher Education

By David Seth Preston | Go to book overview

Online Resource Page:
Using Technology to Enhance Online Interactivity
Brent Muirhead
Abstract
Today’s online administrators and instructors are investigating ways to foster a dynamic learning environment. Currently “Internet technology empowers the joint exploration of the delivery mechanisms of previous generations, adding stronger collaborative learning elements” (Passerini and Granger, 2000, 3). Contemporary Internet technologies are helping remove the idea of distance from online education. The online teaching and learning process could produce more relevant and consistent interaction than that produced in traditional undergraduate classrooms. A large traditional classroom does create communication barriers that make it difficult for all students to participate in class discussions. It is interesting that university students are using emails more often to share with their classmates and teachers. The Internet is providing a practical way to remove learning barriers and encourage greater access to intellectual resources. The idea of distance education has fostered the pursuit of new educational paradigms that encourage online education to be more personal and student-centered. The potential instructional advantages and challenges associated with the Resource Page, a new web-based tool created for online teachers at the University of Phoenix, will be highlighted.
1. Contemporary Distance Education Challenges
A major concern among academic officials has often focused on the quality of educational experiences within an online class. Carnevale relates that research studies indicate that the essential features of a good course include “interaction between instructors and students, a studentcentered approach and built-in opportunities for students to learn on their own” (Carnevale, 2000, A46). Creating and sustaining a quality online degree program is a challenging venture. There are a variety of factors that can have either a positive or negative impact on the online educational setting:
the level of expertise of the online faculty (technical and online experience)
the degree of administrative financial support
the technological infrastructure of the school
the student support system to handle academic and computerrelated issues
the depth and quality of faculty training and professional development programs

(Cooper, 2000).

-55-

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