Web-Based Technologies for Ensuring Interaction in Online Courses: Faculty Choice and Student Perception of Web-Based Technologies for Interaction in Online Economics

Web-Based Technologies for Ensuring Interaction in Online Courses: Faculty Choice and Student Perception of Web-Based Technologies for Interaction in Online Economics

Olivia P. Morris (Online Learning, Chicago, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9582-5.ch010
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Abstract

This chapter discusses findings from a study of five faculty and 33 students from micro- and macroeconomics sections of online economics courses over the course of a semester. The study investigated faculty choice of web-based technologies for interaction and students' perceptions of such technologies. The objectives of the study were twofold. First, the author investigated faculty choice of web-based technologies for three major types of online interactions (learner–instructor, learner–content, and learner–learner). Second, the author examined student perceptions of technologies and recorded recommendations. Results from two online surveys of faculty and students at 2- and 4-year colleges showed strong agreement with perceptions of Moore, Drouin, Rhode, and Gardner. Faculty and students reported learner–learner interactions as the least important of the three interaction types. Although the discussion board was most effective for all three types of interactions, students from this sample did not prefer more learner–learner discussions.
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Background

Overall reviews suggest that teaching strategies in economics at 2- and 4-year colleges have gradually adjusted to the advent of new technologies. Instructors incorporate more interactive software and games to enhance student learning of concepts, and graphs and charts to develop analytical skills, thereby creating active student-learning environments. However, because technology tools are becoming vital teaching aids in online economics courses, it is important that instructors know how to assess a piece of technology. Faculty choice of technology may not correspond with students’ needs for interaction. Drouin (2008) reported that “while some students enjoyed, needed, or desired social interaction, some students did not desire a sense of community (SOC) in an online course environment” (p. 267). Because students have different needs for online interaction, it is important to investigate whether faculty choices of technology consider the disparities in various learning settings, including economics, and meet students’ expectations.

Consequently, technology resources can be wasted on providing interaction that does not necessarily enhance student learning. A particular level of social interaction may be ideal in online communities and care should be taken to avoid exceeding that level (Rourke, Anderson, Garrison, & Archer, 1999). Future research should focus on qualifying the “ideal amount of student–student and student–instructor interaction within different types of online interactive instructional environments so that educators are better able to construct effective social settings within the online classroom” (Drouin, 2008, p. 281). Though it might be unlikely to find the perfect mix between independent study and interactive learning strategies and activities that meet the needs of all students, it is advisable to aim for an ideal mixture (Anderson, 2003).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Student Perception: Student thoughts and beliefs about technology used in course.

Ideal Mix of Interaction: A specific level of communication where the quantities and three main forms of interactions are most effective.

Learner–Learner Interaction: Any form of communication and collaboration between one student and another or between several students.

Online Interaction: A mutual or reciprocal action or influence over the internet.

Faculty Choice: Faculty selection of web-based technologies used in course.

Ideal Mix of Technology: A: specific level of interface where the quantities and types of web-based technologies used for interaction is most effective.

Learner–Content Interaction: Students studying the subject matter and reviewing course materials.

Learner–Instructor Interaction: Any form of communication and collaboration between students and faculty.

Web-based technologies: Web-based technologies are network applications accessible over the internet (blogs, discussion boards, conferencing sessions tools, online multimedia and mobile technologies, online games etc.) that enable individuals to connect to each other.

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