Facilitation of Web-Based Courses Designed for Adult Learners

Facilitation of Web-Based Courses Designed for Adult Learners

Bonnie McCall Ordonez (Waynesburg College, USA)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 4
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-198-8.ch142
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Abstract

Web-based courses have currently surpassed all other forms of distance education in the higher education field. One of the main reasons in growth is the demand from adult and professional students looking for a convenient yet quality education (Kearsley, 2000). College and university faculty members are a key component in the development and delivery of online courses. Many studies have been conducted on effective course design, and student achievement and outcomes (Kearsley, 2000, p. 46), but less research is available on the instructional techniques necessary to facilitate an online course. New Web-based education programs are being developed at a staggering rate. In the 2000-2001 school year, 43% of two four-year-degree granting institutions offered distance education via the Internet. Of those, 88% planned to increase the number of Internet courses (Waits & Lewis, 2003). Course management programs such as WebCT and Blackboard are being utilized in several of the colleges and universities in the United States and around the world. Web-based instruction offers a variety of benefits. It is fairly inexpensive in comparison to other distance education methods such as satellite. It offers easy access via the Internet and can be used at various levels, supplemental to the traditional course, mixed method, and completely online.
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Introduction

Web-based courses have currently surpassed all other forms of distance education in the higher education field. One of the main reasons in growth is the demand from adult and professional students looking for a convenient yet quality education (Kearsley, 2000). College and university faculty members are a key component in the development and delivery of online courses. Many studies have been conducted on effective course design, and student achievement and outcomes (Kearsley, 2000, p. 46), but less research is available on the instructional techniques necessary to facilitate an online course.

New Web-based education programs are being developed at a staggering rate. In the 2000-2001 school year, 43% of two four-year-degree granting institutions offered distance education via the Internet. Of those, 88% planned to increase the number of Internet courses (Waits & Lewis, 2003). Course management programs such as WebCT and Blackboard are being utilized in several of the colleges and universities in the United States and around the world. Web-based instruction offers a variety of benefits. It is fairly inexpensive in comparison to other distance education methods such as satellite. It offers easy access via the Internet and can be used at various levels, supplemental to the traditional course, mixed method, and completely online.

The Institute for Higher Education Policy (2000) conducted a series of case studies to determine best practice techniques for Web-based instruction. Twenty-four benchmarks were established for institutions delivering online instruction. Four of those benchmarks applied specifically to course implementation. They include: student/teacher interaction, timely feedback, instruction of proper research methods, and assessment of resources. The implementation of these benchmarks, along with the commitment to high standards applied to Web-based instruction, have proven essential for successful learner experience.

Adult Learners

One demographic area in which Web-based instruction is being utilized is adult learners. Adult and professional degree programs are on the rise, and Web-based instruction seems to be a natural fit in adult education. Generally, adults seek convenience, but are highly motivated. Adults are self-directed and prefer practical educational experiences that are relevant to their life (Zemke & Zemke, 1984).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Andragogy: The study of adult education. The term andragogy was coined by Malcolm Knowles, a leading researcher in the study of adult learners

Synchronous: Occurring at the same time, typically used to refer to technologies such as chat

Synchronous: Occurring at different times, typically used to refer to technologies such as a discussion board or e-mail that may be utilized at the user’s convenience

Facilitation: A teaching style that is student centered. Encourages self-directed learning. Instructor is not a content transmitter, but rather a coach and partner in student learning

Adult Learner: A student typically 25 years of age or older who is self-directed, motivated, and an active participant in his or her learning process

Web-Based Course: A course, typically delivered by a higher education institution, which is delivered at a distance utilizing Internet technology. This work was previously published in the Encyclopedia of Distance Learning, Volume 2, edited by C. Howard, J. Boettcher, L. Justice, K. Schenk, P. Rogers, and G. Berg, pp. 918-921, copyright 2005 by Information Science Reference, formerly known as Idea Group Reference (an imprint of IGI Global)

Facilitator: Instructor who utilizes the facilitative method for course delivery. Focused on a student-centered environment, attentive to students needs, and assists students in achieving self-actualization

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