E-Learning Master's Degree Program in Teaching Literature Review

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E-learning is gaining great popularity worldwide for its cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and speed of knowledge transfer.The number of students enrolled in e-learning classes has more than doubled in the past three years, from 670 students during the 2005-2006 to1350 students during the 2007-2008 academic year.This growth has meant more -and different - classes are being offered through e-Learning This is a great opportunity for students who are juggling work and family obligations. Some who have started their degree on campus are finding the online option a great way to finish - rather than postpone - their academic goals ( Mclaren 2010).Carnevale (2005) reported the results of a 2004 study that showed about 937,000 students in the U.S. were enrolled in e-learning courses at the end of 2004. By 2006, more than 1.2 million students are expected to be taking such courses, representing about 7% of the 17-million students enrolled at degree granting institutions. Distance learners are typically older than traditional students with an average age over 25 years old. They are more likely to be female and married, apt to have higher incomes, and tend to have family and job responsibilities that restrain them from attending traditional on-campus classes (Ashby, 2002). Feasley (1983) observed that distance education students mostly seek to satisfy specific life goals, such as job-related training, as well as their own intellectual curiosity. In a study of graduate distance learners, Becker (as cited in Purdue, 2003) found that students expected their distance program would have increased interaction with instructors and learners, require less campus time, be more flexible, and be more engaging due to the use of media. E- learning has leveled the academic field for many post graduate students, it is important to highlight its impact in a Master's degree program and the characteristics of a successful e-learning Master's degree as well. It is hypothesized that cost, curriculum and convenience are the keys for success in an online Masters degree program. E- learning or online education has been defined in a variety of ways, but the two most common descriptions: (1) E-learning is an enviromnment in which the teacher and the learner are physically separated and (2) there is a technologically-based delivery system involving some combination of print, multimedia materials and computer networking to allow the instructor and the learner to communicate and exchange course content (Martin 1994). As e- learning delivery stands currently, it has evolved from the unique delivery of course materials and basic interaction to providing graduate students with interactive pedagogically sound online platform where teacher student interaction in the tradional classroom setting is still very present. Instructors and students use various methods to keep in touch. Using the establishments internal interactive medium (Blackboard) none of the connectedness once feared lost in moving from the tradiotnal class room to online delivery is still vey prevalent. In a study conducted by Valenta, Therriault, Dieter and Mrtek (2001) it was reported that student often had different perceptions regarding distance learning experiences.A majority of the students in their 2001 study perceived the most important factor of distance learning was the flexibility provided by theonline delivery method. They were mostly concerned with online issues such as a lack of social interaction or face-to-face interactions in class group discussion; however degree granting institution offering graduate degrees online have established intricate interactive platforms where active teacher student interaction, class discussions, course material exchange even class cyber cafes where students can network.Other researchers (Gregory, 2003) noted similar opinions being voiced by students.In a study of adult students planning to enroll in online courses, the respondents believed the value provided by online course would be of equal value than the value provided by traditional course. Klesius, Homan and Thompson (1997) conducted a survey with students enrolled in distance education and traditional classes for in service and pre-service teachers. The results of their study found that the student who completed an online course of study felt that the online course quality was also equal or better than traditional instruction. They pointed out that online learning allows students more control over the learning situation as a whole. They also emphasize the lack of flexibility of traditional classes because they have set meeting times and locations and individuals student goals or backgrounds are often not taken into consideration. rather, every student listens to the same lectures and/or discussions and completes the same activities without the ability to slow down, repeat or speed up the learning process.These verified arguments support decisions to enroll in distance education courses, research consistently demonstrates that convenience is a major factor for the increase of online matriculation. (Dixon, Pellicone & Dixon 2005).In a research study comparing online learning perception in a five-year period, it was found key components relating to student satisfaction include detailed information about what was required to complete the module/course, helpful and timely feedback from teachers, and continued communication with the instructor. Unlike traditional class settings appointment or offices hours are obsolete. Furthermore, it was also mentionned that important factors related to student success in the distance learning environment were not limited to course related components. Good time management skills and self-discipline are needed attributes.Several studies also challenge the notion that students who enroll in e-courses have higher chance of failure due to an overestimation of their technological expertise. As it stands in current e-learning practices, upon matriculation to an e-learning graduate program, students are given online training course with the purpose to familiarize them with the university's interactive learning medium be it Wec-CT or Blackboard.In a five-year comparative study conducted by researcher during the years 2001 and 2006, a majority of students (85% in 2001 and 84% in 2006) felt that they were adequately prepared for using-required technologies associated with their online learning courses. No significant difference was noted between the 2001 and the 2006 student's perceptions regarding the adequacy of the training received.Student felt they were properly prepared for interacting with the technologies being used to deliver the online course even though most had received some formal on how to use the technologies. The reason might lie in the fact that the same technologies were used by instructors. Course management systems such as Blackboard and WebCT are commnly used to support both traditional and online course delivery formats (Carliner,2005). Moreover this sudy also addressed students reasons for enrollement and course quality. As to the course quality perception, students surveyed in 2006 during the course of this study rated online courses co-equal or better than traditional courses. Those questionned in 2006 were more likely than the group surveyed in 2001 to recommend learning courses to their friends. Better quality perceptions and the willingness to recommend e-learning to their peers clearly demonstrates that those surveyed in 2006 were more satisfied and more comfortale with their oline courses. Increase in course satisfaction may be influenced by better exposure to technology and faculty experience. Since course management software has been increasingly used in the tradional academic setting, student familiarity makes its use less foreign popularizing the use of boards, online resourses and other course management tools imperative to the success of e-learning. Curriculum design and its integration in the digital environment also appeals to proponensts of e-learning. E-learning curriculum allows for greater individual growth as its basis is found in sharing findings and creating an atmosphere of greater exchange amongst students vs. traditional classroom settings were exchange will take place during set class meeting times. This goal is accomplished in the discussion forums area of web- based teaching platforms, accesses only by students enrolled in the course, wherein the instructor places thoughful questions after information and assignments for the week are completed, for instance. The purpose of the questions are to generate personally integrated responses and to encourgae dialogue with the class. Student are free to write in these forums responding to each other posting and there by enriching their prospective digital learning experience. For the most part, forum participation and postings are considered an integral part of the e-learning experience and mandate that postings be completed in within a set time frame with minimum word count and references, and a minimum of three posting per week. Instructors also actively engage in these evolving discussions with students.These exchanges, although time consuming albeit accomplish the goal better than what could be done in a traditional classroom setting.By presenting open ended, broad questions aimed at increasing self-awareness and knowledge, students in the e-learning environment have the opportunity to process and reflect with one another. This types of engagement seems to increase depth of thought and connection with others in the class.While this online experience would be different in the traditional classroom, it can be estimated that it could be an equally powerful avenue for experiencial activity. In addition, it is important to note, that each online class has a group component inherent to it and students are required… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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