The Resonance Factor: Probing the Impact of Video on Student Retention in Distance Learning

By Geri, Nitza | Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning, Annual 2012 | Go to article overview

The Resonance Factor: Probing the Impact of Video on Student Retention in Distance Learning


Geri, Nitza, Interdisciplinary Journal of e-Skills and Lifelong Learning


Introduction

The informing science transdiscipline (Cohen, 1999, 2009; Gill, 2010; Gill & Cohen, 2009) studies all issues concerned with informing clients. The classic definition of the purpose of informing science is providing clients with information "in a form, format, and schedule that maximizes its effectiveness" (Cohen, 1999). The term client that refers to the recipient of the information is somewhat misleading because it may implicitly imply that the client is a customer of the information sender. However, practically, informing science uses the term clients to describe all sorts of recipients, such as machines (e.g., computers), customers, patients, students, employees, the general public, business associates, and soldiers who take orders from their commanders.

Teaching and instructing is one of the most challenging manifestations of informing because it involves imparting new knowledge or skills

to a learner. The immediate association that comes to mind is teachers teaching pupils in schools or students in universities and other higher education institutes. However, business corporations, governmental services, and diverse sorts of other organizations, all need to train their employees and keep them up-to-date with relevant knowledge and skills. Furthermore, lifelong learning is an evolving trend and people seek frameworks of study that will be compatible with their other commitments, such as work and family.

Distance learning enables flexibility of time, place, and pace of learning. Contemporary technologies, particularly instant worldwide connectivity through the internet, provide organizations and individuals with convenient opportunities for deploying distance learning. However, studying, as well as instructing, in a distance-learning environment is considered harder than that conducted in face-to-face frameworks. In educational contexts, student retention has always been one of the major challenges of distance learning (Levy, 2007; Simpson, 2003; Tinto, 1998; Woodley, 2004). Much is attributed to the lack of social interaction, especially the "loneliness of the long-distance learner" (Eastmond, 1995). Current innovative technologies enable widespread use of video lectures (Copley, 2007) that may ease the loneliness of the distance learner, and increase retention.

From the informing science perspective, video lectures may enhance resonance by supporting the social aspects of learning and satisfying the students' need for social interaction. Gill (2008) developed the concept of resonance, based on Cohen's observation that in order to achieve effective informing, the sender must understand not only the task, but also the client's psychology (Cohen, 1999). Following this observation, Gill & Bhattacherjee (2007, 2009) argued, in the context of academic research, that besides rigor (i.e., research quality from a discipline's perspective) and relevance (i.e., the potential utility of the research to client activities), resonance is necessary for effective informing. Resonance is defined by Gill (2008) as the ability to impact client mental models. Gill (2008) indicates several filters that can interfere with resonance, and the type of filters that is most relevant in the context of this study is visceral filters, such as emotions and moods. The relatively rich medium of video lectures as opposed to written text may help to overcome such filters.

This study contributes to the informing science transdiscipline by demonstrating the importance of resonance for effective informing in distance learning environments. The study explores the impact of video lectures on relatively senior students in a distance-learning environment. Student dropout in distance learning frameworks is a multifaceted issue (Woodley, 2004). However, as students progress in their studies their tendency to quit decreases (Geri & Gefen, 2007; Simpson, 2003). Therefore, this study examined relatively senior students who have already proven their ability to learn in a distance learning mode and successfully completed on average about 7-8 courses. …

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