Utilizing a 5-Stage Learning Model for Planning and Teaching Online Courses: Looking Forward – The Future of Online Learning, Emerging Research, Web-Based Technologies, and Opportunities

Utilizing a 5-Stage Learning Model for Planning and Teaching Online Courses: Looking Forward – The Future of Online Learning, Emerging Research, Web-Based Technologies, and Opportunities

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2042-0.ch007
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Since the 5Ds Model for Planning and Teaching Online Courses was republished for the second time in 2009 and updated in the years beyond, numerous relevant models and approaches for online teaching have been emerging. Also, the utilization of the internet as an instructional delivery medium for both formal education and training has been widened as the number of online learners of all kinds has been on the rise. This is all happening as the web-based and instructional technologies are constantly changing and new challenges and opportunities in the online learning arena are evolving. This chapter presents some summaries of the emerging online learning research, web-based instructional technologies, and identifies some of the opportunities in this online learning field.
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A Review Summary Of The Recent Online Learning Research

According to the Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report released by the Babson Survey Research Group on May, 2017, Allen and Seaman reported that enrollment in online courses has increased for the fourteenth straight year. Also, the report shows that 6.3 million students in the U.S. took at least one online course, which is a 5.6% increase from the previous year (Digital Learning Compass: Distance Education Enrollment Report, pp. 11-12).

With the popularity and growth of online learning are both on the rise worldwide, it is essential for educators and researchers to further study the efficiency of online learning in comparison to other instructional delivery mediums such as face-to-face and blended learning. Relevant research indicates that there is a sizable number of students that still would prefer to receive their education in a traditional face-to-face classroom, but the convenience and flexibility of online classes offer more practical options for them. Thus, the learner’s perspective of the effectiveness of online education is greatly influenced by the learners’ point of view and attitude toward such experience. Simonson et al. (2015) explained that researchers are not merely looking at achievement but are examining learner attributes and perceptions as well as interaction patterns and how these contribute to the overall learning environment. Therefore, the focus of the research has been shifted to a more learner-centered approach. Hence, the pressing question today is how students can be supported and engaged in online learning programs? In response to this question, Marianne Stenger of the e-Learning Industry (2018) offered the following Top 5 Research-Based Online Learning Tips:

  • 1.

    Engage Online Students with Active Participation: Lack of engagement with the online course instructional materials is one of the biggest reasons that students struggle with online courses. Research shows that students learn more when they actively participate in the learning process through discussion, practice, review or application-based activities;

  • 2.

    Foster Collaboration Between Online Students: Collaboration between students has been found to have a positive impact on student motivation is interaction and collaboration with peers. A survey of 1,500 current, prospective, and recently graduated online college students found that more than 50% considered interaction with their academic community important and a quarter of them said having more contact with instructors and more engagement with classmates would improve the quality of their online courses;

  • 3.

    Recognize Cultural Differences: With students of all ages, from all walks of life, and from different parts of the world now using online education to achieve their career goals, it’s important for cultural differences among course participants to be recognized. Recently, researchers from Stanford University found that people in less-developed countries are less likely to complete an online course or MOOC. For the study, learners were assigned one of two activities before they started a MOOC. One was a social belonging activity, which had students read and summarize testimonials from previous students about how they initially felt worried about belonging in the course but felt more comfortable over time;

  • 4.

    Encourage Self-Governance: Although it is important to provide students with frequent feedback and support as they work their way through an online learning program, much of a student’s success will depend on their own persistence and motivation to see things through. Researchers from the College of Business Administration at Louisiana State University suggest that the key to success in online learning is individual self-governance;

  • 5.

    Use Humor Strategically: Online courses are sometimes viewed as boring and impersonal, so one way to engage online students is to incorporate some humor into online instruction. Research shows that humor can produce psychological and physiological benefits that help students learn. This is because laughter helps us relax, and when we’re relaxed, our capacity to retain information expands. A study led by Ohio State University psychology professors even found that the use of humor in online courses can boost student interest and participation.

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