Archive for the ‘Online distance learning’ Category
The global Higher Educational landscape is in a period of dramatic change. Although it is too early to say whether these changes will be disruptive, revolutionary or merely evolutionary, a significant driver of change has been the dramatic rise in the use and availability of new educational technology. More specifically the growth of the Internet is challenging conventional modes of delivery and helping to extend access to higher education beyond traditional campus-based learners. In recent years, the demand for “online learning”, whether called open, distance, flexible, or e-learning, has grown exponentially in response to this new environment. Likewise, has the rise of opening up education movement, and the growing development with Open Educational Resources (OER) and Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC), and the entire unbundling approach in education. Increased internationalisation, widening recruitment and upscaling of reaching students are other drivers. Hence, how, where and when students learn, how institutions structure programmes and services, and how these services are structured are global challenges. Improving quality of student experiences is more than ever extremely important.
Due to societal changes there is a growing need for distant and adult learning. The reason to participate in education and the choices that students make may differ. In this study the factors age, gender, rate of studies and parenthood have been analysed in order to see how these relate to different motivational factors for choosing a web-based course. The data has been based on a questionnaire, covering 1270 beginner students in the spring semester of 2011 and contains their background characteristics and items focusing on their motives. These could be categorized into four different motives: (1) Format, (2) Content, (3) Economic, and (4) Curiosity. The results showed that Format was regarded as the most important factor for choosing an Internet-based course, followed by Content, Curiosity and the Economic factor. Furthermore, group differences were investigated with respect to age, gender, parenthood and rate of study. The findings show that distant education fulfils an important function for mature students, women and students with children. These groups presumably consider the flexibility that web-based courses provide advantageous. Family situations or working-life obligations may contribute to this. Changes in people’s working lives are likely to continue, which presumably increases the demand for flexible learning situations.
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New online courses set to start in January 2012 include Software as a Service and Computer Science 101, as well as primers on entrepreneurship. Be sure to check out Stanford’s iTunes U as well.
A couple of months back, we reported on how some IT professors at Stanford University were opening up their courses for the world to participate, with no tuition cost. This fall, courses on Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, Introduction to Databases and Introduction to Machine Learning were launched, all delivered between October and December. (I have been participating in the AI course, it’s really extremely well presented and informative.)
Examining motivation in online distance learning environments: Complex, multifaceted and situation-dependent
Existing research into motivation in online environments has tended to use one of two approaches. The first adopts a trait-like model that views motivation as a relatively stable, personal characteristic of the learner. Research from this perspective has contributed to the notion that online learners are, on the whole, intrinsically motivated. The alternative view concentrates on the design of online learning environments to encourage optimal learner motivation. Neither approach acknowledges a contemporary view of motivation that emphasises the situated, mutually constitutive relationship of the learner and the learning environment. Using self-determination theory (SDT) as a framework, this paper explores the motivation to learn of preservice teachers in two online distance-learning contexts. In this study, learners were found to be not primarily intrinsically motivated. Instead, student motivation was found to be complex, multifaceted, and sensitive to situational conditions.