Sunday, October 14, 2007

Major project idea?

Still struggling with ideas for EDTEC770 major project (for which I would like to do an evaluation/comparative study for international distance education programs)...

Well, here is where I am:

1. Last year, my colleagues and I did a research on learner perceptions of interaction in the Global Media Network. What we did was a pilot study that examines the learner-learner, learner-instructor, learner-content, and learner-media interaction. We conducted an online survey which resulted in 16 respondents, with 7 from a BSU-located GMN classroom and 9 from their Taiwanese counterparts. It was a fairly small sample size but it was not too bad for a pilot study. The survey consisted of 6 parts: 1. Demographic, 2. Learning Style, 3. Interaction Frequency, 4. Interaction Depth, 5. Satisfaction, and 6. Open-Ended Questions. Likert Scale was applied to all questions except those in Part 1 and Part 6. The reliablity statistics showed our 21-item instrument is reliable (Cronbach's Alpha=.879) and can be distributed to a large sample in the future study. Based on the findings, we suggested that the GMN participants preferred interaction with the classmates and media and they might want to see some improvement in their interaction with the instructors and course content. In addition, findings of group comparison (American VS Taiwanese cross-tab) provided some clue for further study on cross-cultural difference and international collaborative learning in the distance learning environment.

2. For my EDTEC699 class, I planned to develop another evaluation study proposal on the GMN. However, this time the focus is on the faculty and staff perceptions rather than the learners. A possible title for this study might be - Instructional Needs and Technology Support in International Distance Education: A Qualitative Study of Faculty and Technology Staff Perceptions. Professional development and technology support are essential for faculty to successfully develop distance education program. Over the past several years, as the numbers of courses offered through the GMN system has increased, so has the discussion among university faculty regarding the technology support in this environment. Among those discussed issues, what interest me most are the GMN faculty perceptions on their demand for training opportunities and the actual technology assistance they receive, and how such perceptions compare to those from the technology staff involved. In an effort to identify the possible discrepancies between the needs and the actual support which might have an essential impact on the distance course development, I would like to investigate the above-mentioned issues through qualitative methods (e.g., interview, observation, etc.).

3. For EDTEC770 class, I originally planned to do a cross-cultural study on the GMN. However, I found it extremely difficult when cross-cultural issues add to the depth and magnitude of complexities in evaluation. I can still use the methodology from my first study and run some stats to test the difference but I don't know if that is a good idea or not. I really need some help.

Lee, C., Clausen, J., & Ma, W. (2007). Learner perceptions of interaction in the Global Media Network. In C. Crawford et al. (Eds.). Proceedings of Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education International Conference 2007, 1800-1806.

Interaction has critical impacts on the effectiveness of distance learning. To understand interaction based on learners' perceptions can assist learner-oriented learning, as well as enhance the instructional design. This paper focuses on the online interaction perceived by the learners in the Global Media Network (GMN) project, an international synchronous distance learning environment initiated in 2005 at Ball State University, Indiana. The primary data collection method is an online survey which focuses on four types of online interaction. The findings reveal the learning preferences and perspectives of the GMN participants toward different types of online interaction, which could be used for further improvement of the GMN course development. Because of the small sample size in this study, further study should include a much larger number of participants.

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