Faculty's Examination of Virtual Learning Strategies to Communicate With Students

Faculty's Examination of Virtual Learning Strategies to Communicate With Students

Cassandra Louise Sligh Conway (South Carolina State University, USA), Yvonne Sims (South Carolina State University, USA), Audrey McCrary Quarles (South Carolina State University, USA), Diane M. Burnette (South Carolina State University, USA), Stanley Melton Harris (South Carolina State University, USA), Maria A. James (South Carolina State University, USA), Christopher Mathis (South Carolina State University, USA), Ellen Naomi Zisholtz (Center for Creative Partnerships, USA), Gloria Hayes (Miles College, USA), Bridget Hollis Staten (South Carolina State University, USA), William H. Whitaker Jr. (South Carolina State University, USA), Valerie S. Fields (Valiant Achieving Leaders, USA) and Michelle L. Maultsby (South Carolina State University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-2682-7.ch003
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Abstract

Faculty's examination of virtual learning strategies to communicate with students is essential. Virtual learning is an innovative way to work with student s in higher education. The purpose of this effort is as follows: a) note strategies that can enhance the communication process with students and faculty during the virtual learning process; b) provide a review of contemporary research on virtual learning and activities; c) provide narratives from faculty in higher education that provide virtual learning environments and effective communication strategies to students. Authors from multiple disciplines provide their perceptions of virtual learning and some challenges or experiences in implementing activities to communicate with students in higher education. Their perception of using this type of learning with students is shared and common themes are discussed. In all efforts, there is a discussion of the benefits, purpose, and implications of this type of learning. Recommendations, strategies and future directions are presented.
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Background

Over the last two decades, web-based technology has had a dramatic impact on learning and teaching (Chou & Liu, 2005). Gone are the days when the projector, projector table, television, and transparencies are hauled into the classroom to teach major concepts and application. Today, there is the inclusion of Smart Boards in classrooms, which is utilized to enhance teaching during face to face instruction and to provide additional resources and opportunities for interactivity. In addition to Smart Boards, online classes have emerged. The online class is one that is unique and user friendly, if employed correctly. With teaching an online class, activities must be accessible in a virtual format. This virtual format can be utilized distance education courses and programs. Distance education allows instructors and learners to communicate at a distance through a format that is not the same as a traditional classroom (Walker, 2009). An online class is usually taught in a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). Virtual Learning Environments can be defined as “components in which learners and tutors participate in “on-line” interactions of various kinds, including on-line learning” (Weller 2007, p.3). Another definition of a VLE is a “… a virtual classroom that allows teachers and students to communicate with each other online. Class information, learning materials, and assignments are typically provided in via the Web. Students can log into the class’ website to view this information and they may also download assignments and required reading materials to their computers. Some VLEs even allow assignments and test to be completed online” (Christensson, 2008). In reviewing the research on virtual learning environments, the key word is communication.

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