Keynote Speaker Introduction Video

Professional Distance Education Conference Annotated Research Studies Study One: Student Interaction with Online Course Content: Build it and They Might Come Citation: Murray, M., Perez, J., Geist, D., & Hedrick, A. (2012). Student interaction with online course content: Build it and they might come. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 11, 125-140. Findings: This study investigated how students accessed their virtual classroom and whether their approach towards the virtual classroom influenced their success with the curriculum. It found that most students accessed the classroom materials they felt would be necessary to complete the assignments directly aligned with the course assessment and that student satisfaction was aligned strongly with the grade that was received. This study also found that the more a student accessed the classroom materials, the higher the grade the student received. A final conclusion, drawn from a student survey, found that time constraints were the main reason students would “prioritize resources and access only materials that are perceived to be helpful in completing assignments.” (Murray, Prez, Geist, & Hedrick, 2012, p.137) Sample: This study was performed at a regional college in the United States, with 450 students enrolled in the course. Of those students, 120 were enrolled in the online version of the classroom with 100 students successfully completing the class. The students enrolled were from a variety of majors and consisted mostly of female upper-classmen (62 of the students were female and 70 of the students were either in their junior or senior years). Methodology: This study tracked student access to classroom resources to determine if there was a relationship between successful completion of the course and the amount of time a student spent with the course content. The materials students had access to were broken into four categories: core material, direct support, indirect support, and ancillary resources. Data was derived from the school’s online Learning Management System by tracking individual student access to all the materials posted in the course. Access to a resource was counted as whether or not a student opened a resource and an access rate was determined as the percentage of the students who accessed the material. Then the researchers used this data to determine if there was a relationship between the access rate and student grades. Finally, a survey was used to analyze student perceptions of their resource access. Critique of Study: This study shows that students will access the materials they feel are necessary for successfully completing an online course, with 71% of students accessing core materials and 78.8% of students accessing direct support materials but only 29% of students accessing the ancillary materials. The study found a positive correlation between student access rates of classroom materials and their final grades. This has important implications for course designers. Online classroom environments must be created to support mastery of key concepts within the main classroom and must be reflected within the assessment of the course. In addition, courses must be designed to facilitate student interaction with the course content, as the study found the and improvement of student success as there was an increase of interaction with the content. Limitations of the study must be noted. This study did not tally the access students had with either their e-text book or the mandatory computer-based-training program. This is due to the fact that the school’s learning management system is unable to track that information. In addition, the researchers were unable to determine if students had been actively engaged with the resources when they accessed them or if they simply opened them. Finally, there was no data to track the number of times a student accessed a material. These limitations do impact the data provided; the study can’t account for the access students had to these materials and what impact they had on the successful completion of the course. Study Two: Analyzing the Effect of Learning Styles and Study Habits of Distance Learners on Learning Performance: A Case of an Introductory Programming Course Citation: Cakiroglu, U. (2014). Analyzing the Effect of Learning Styles and Study Habits of Distance Learners on Learning Performance: A Case of an Introductory Programming Course. The   International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15(4), 161-185. Findings: This study set out to answer the research question, “What is the relationship between learning styles, study habits, and learning performances in an online learning environment?” (Cakiroglu, 2014, p. 165). It found that if student learning styles and study habits can be matched with the teaching methods in the online classroom, that academic performance would be better served. Students with certain learning styles (described as “divergers, accommodators, convergers, and assimilators”) performed significantly better than others. For example, the divergers learn through watching, so the videos provided within the classroom delivered significant support for these students. In addition, this study found the most important study habits for students were planning and concentration. While concentration is difficult to manage through an online classroom, course design can easily take into consideration the planning of the material. Sample: This study consisted of 66 sophomore students. The students were enrolled in a Turkish facility for educators, in an online introductory computer programming course. There were 24 female and 42 male students within this study. Methodology: To answer the research question, researchers used a Learning Style Inventory, a Study Habits Inventory, and an Achievement Test. Student scores within the Learning Style Inventory and the Study Habits Inventory were analyzed against their growth in the Achievement Test (pretest/posttest) to determine if there was a correlation between how a student learns and their success in an online classroom. Students were given a pretest to determine their baseline programming skills and then were tested again upon the completion of the class. The delta score was compared to their learning style and study habits to see if certain characteristics supported the acquisition of skills. Critique of Study: This study demonstrated the need for online classrooms to diversify the materials provided to the students. Students whose learning style was supported by the materials within this course performed statistically significantly better than those whose learning styles were not matched quite so well. The study habit that was found to influence student performance the most was preparation. This is an element that is easy to incorporate within the online classroom. By providing students structure, with a course syllabus, course schedule of events, and an outline of the assignment due dates, online classrooms can provide the structure students need to organize themselves. Study Three: Using Interactive Content and Online Activities to Accommodate Diversity in a Large First Year Class Citation: Snowball, J. (2014). Using Interactive Content and Online Activities to Accommodate Diversity in a Large First Year Class. High Education, 67, 823-838. doi:10.1007/s10734-13-9708 7 Findings: This study examined the use of online content to supplement instruction provided in a traditional face-to-face classroom experience. It found that the online content was utilized by the students with positive impressions (only 20% of students responded that the online components were not helpful). It did note, however, that the online components must be “deeply integrated into the course to be effective” (Snowball, 2014, p.836) and the more interactive elements, such as self-correcting quizzes, had a greater impact on performance than passive activities. They found that providing the content through the online classroom, lectures could be better used with interactive discussions and exercises, such as in a flipped classroom. Sample: For this case study, a large freshman economics class from South Africa participated in a blended learning environment, replacing one lecture a week with online activities. Of this class, 50 students were sampled to determine which assignments were most effective at improving student performance. The students were chosen to represent each grade bracket, in proportion to the number of students within that bracket. For example, if 10% of the students received an A for the course, 5 students from the A bracket were chosen for this study. Methodology: Data was collected through course logs, which recorded the number of times a student accessed a resource and how often a student logged into the classroom. In addition, students also completed course evaluation surveys half-way through the course regarding how students felt about the online elements of the course. Data on student usage of the learning materials was analyzed to investigate the impact of the resource on the student’s final grade. Critique of Study: This study showed that certain online components supported student learning in a blended classroom. It found that the online resources were more heavily used directly before a course quiz or test and that the more interactive materials had a greater impact on student learning. The majority of the students found these online resources helpful in the successful completion of the course. This study only briefly mentioned the effects of diversity within this sample class. This course found that minority students didn’t perform as well as the Black African or white students and only quickly noted that a significant number of students responded that English wasn’t their first language. It doesn’t analyze these populations to determine if there was any cause for their underperformance (for example, they accessed the more passive materials when they logged into the class or they didn’t log in as often as the other students.) Study Four: Narratives from the Online Frontier: A K-12 Student’s Experience in an Online Learning Environment. Citation: Barbour, M., Siko, J., Sumara, J., & Simuel-Everage, K. (2012). Narratives from the Online Frontier: A K-12 Student’s Experience in an Online Learning Environment. The Qualitative Report, 17, 1-19. Findings: This case study explored the virtual classroom through the eyes of a struggling high school student.   This student experienced significant difficultly in this class understanding the content presented and with technical difficulties. It found that, while the professor was seen as “flexible, accommodating, and helpful” (Barbour, Siko, Simuel-Everage, 2012, p.13) she was also difficult to reach. In addition, the student was hesitant to ask for help from classmates she didn’t personally know. The struggles this student experienced provides great insight in how online courses should be developed to best support all students. Sample: This case study followed one student, Darlene, from a rural school. Darlene was enrolled in one online class as part of her K-12 school experience. Darlene is considered a digital native, although had access to only dial-up internet. She used social networking to communicate with friends and to share her short stories and poetry. Despite her outgoing online personality, she was noted as quiet in her face-to-face classroom environment. Methodology: Researchers interviewed Darlene nineteen times about her experiences within the virtual classroom. They analyzed the discussions and categorized them into seven categories: problems, help from, technical difficulties, teacher characteristic, interaction, personal, online content. Critique of Study: This case study is limited due to its small size, but the personal element is also quite informative. It sheds light on the situations that this one student experienced as she attempted to successfully complete this online class and provides information about how to best meet the needs of the individual learner. Darlene’s comments about being too shy to ask questions from the virtual classmates illuminates the need for the online community to support students and her technical difficulties open the discussion about equity for all students. Finally, and maybe most importantly, it presents the concept that a student must become familiar with how to learn in this environment. It is vastly different from the face-to-face experience most students are comfortable with and many students will require additional support to learn how to navigate content within the online classroom. Study Five: Using Peer Feedback to Improve Learning Via Online Peer Assessment Citation: Zhi-Feng, E., & Chun-Yi, L. (2013). Using Peer Feedback to Improve Learning Via Online Peer Assessment. The Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 12(1), 187-199. Findings: This study sought to understand the implication of peer feedback on student performance. It was found that, from the first assignment, peer feedback improved the quality of student work. Students adjusted their work based on the feedback of their classmates and also reworked their assignments when it was clear that classmates didn’t understand their work. These rewrites included clearer wording and more elaborate responses. All students included in this study expressed positive impressions for participation in peer feedback assignments. Sample: This study followed 12 graduate students enrolled in a Statistics in Education and Psychology class at a university in northern Taiwan. It followed the 11 female and 1 male students for the ten-week course. Methodology: In this case study, students were required to complete homework assignments and submit them online. Students were then anonymously paired to critique the other’s assignment. Students reviewed their peer’s assessments and comments and used them as the basis for improving their work. The study utilized anonymity because previous studies showed that it increased the reliability of the assessment, reduced the pressure to give positive feedback to maintain social relationships, and reduced anxiety with critical feedback. Critique of Study: This study examined the relationship between peer assessment and its effect on the quality of student work. It was found that peer assessment contributed to higher performance within the class and that most students reported a positive impression of the activity. In addition, specific feedback for modifications was highly valued by students, as was confirmation of a “job well-done.” Some limitations must be noted about this case study. First, the small population size (twelve students) limit the generalization of the study’s findings. The study would need to be performed on a larger population to determine if the findings remained the same. In addition, the structure of the statistics class is unique and doesn’t replicate itself with other education or psychology classes. Finally, the findings of this study must be carefully applied. It was found that the more frequent the feedback, the lower the quality of the feedback. To ensure the The more feedback required, the less informative it was   Study Six: Exploring Learner Content Interaction as a Success Factor in Online Courses Citation: Zimmerman, T. (2012). Exploring Learner Content Interaction as a Success Factor in Online Courses. The International View of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 13(4). Findings: This study sought to understand the relationship between how students interact with online class materials and the success they experience within the course. It found that the learners that spend the most time engaged with the course materials received the higher grades than students that spent less time with the material. Sample: This study followed 139 students in an online management course provided by a college in the Southwestern United States. The students were broken into three sections; each section utilized the same materials and had the same instructor. Methodology: The course utilized Blackboard CMS and was presented in an asynchronous method. There was no direct contact between the student and the instructor during the term. Students were required to complete a discussion assignment and a small quiz each week; no missed assignments were allowed to be made up. At the end of the course, the amount of time students spent reviewing the content, the number of discussion board postings, the time spent completing the quiz, and final grade were analyzed. Critique of Study: This study found that students who interacted frequently with the course content achieved higher grades than those students who didn’t interact with the course as often. Student who received higher grades on the timed quizzes actually spent less time completing the quiz than those who didn’t score as well, implying that they already knew they answer and didn’t have to search to find it. For course designers, this would indicate the need for highly engaging course content to increase the amount of time students spent interacting with the materials. In addition, professors could take time to point out the manner in which students could be the most successful (for example, reviewing videos or increasing the number of discussion board posts). Some limitations for this study should be noted. First, the limited generalizability of the study; all the students were participating in the same course and it is uncertain if the effects would be seen in another course topic. In addition, the data regarding student interaction should be considered hesitantly. The measure doesn’t necessarily show student interaction with the content, but simply that the content was opened for that period of time. Additional References: Beese, J. (2014). Expanding Learning Opportunities for High School Students with Distance Learning. American Journal of Distance Education, 28(4), 292-306. doi:10.1080/08923647.2014.959343 Hong-Cheng, L., & Jih-Rong, Y. (2014). Effects of distance learning on learning effectiveness. Eurasia Journal of Mathematics, Science, and Technology Education, 10(6), 575 580. Lister, M. (2014). Trends in the Design of E-Learning and Online Learning. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 10(4), 671-680. Ozdamar-Keskin, N., Zeynep Ozata, F., & Banar, K. (2015). Examining Digital Literacy Competences and Learning Habits of Open and Distance Learners. Contemporary Educational Technology, 6(1), 74-90.


I met with Orin and Patricia on Monday night, August 10, 2015.  I have attached my comments to their blogs.  I am attaching my links below.




Module 5


Within the static-dynamic continuum, I believe I am in two different places.  As an educator, I think I am more towards the static end, as I am not able to immerse my students within a dynamic setting due to lack of student skills and access to technology.  However, as a student in an online program, I feel I function more towards the dynamic end.  I feel quite comfortable utilizing the technology available to me, whether considered static or dynamic, and feel that I tend to utilize both technologies with success.

I would like to move further towards the dynamic end of the continuum within my own classroom.  I believe that, with access to more technology, I would be quite adept at providing this type of learning for my students.  We have worked with simulations of butterfly life-cycles and with life cycles of plants.  It would be fun to have students use MindCraft when we do our habitat unit to build an environment that would sustain the life of a certain animal we are studying or have the students use a wiki as their science notebooks.  It is incredibly frustrating, however, to know what best teaching practice may be but not be able to implement it.

Module 4: Engaging Learners


Within my second grade classroom, the tools my students are using are generally provided by me. Very few of my students have access to their own device (tablet, ereader, computer, etc.) and often do not have experience using them beyond the playing stage. Occasionally my students have used computer software to practice academic skills, and some do use ereaders infrequently, but other than that their exposure is quite limited. I believe that their lack of experience is both a blessing and an obstacle within my classroom; the introduction of a device instantly receives their full attention but appropriate use of it requires a significant amount of time preparing and practicing with the children.

For providing instruction with the curriculum, I find that YouTube videos are incredibly effective. After a significant amount of lobbying of the IT department, this valuable tool was finally unblocked. I had previously been using an app on my iPad, PlayTube, to download and show instructional videos for my students. I find that YouTube is a quick and efficient way to build interest in a lesson, while simultaneously building background knowledge of the topic. I also like to Skype with experts when studying a topic; during our habitat unit we Skyped with a marine biologist in Florida about sharks and a Yellowstone Park Ranger about the plethora of animals in the park. The children often sit, open-mouthed, while the presentation is taking place, and during the Q & A, ask some incredibly insightful questions, displaying an interest in the topic they may not have had without speaking to the experts in the field.

During independent work periods, I also like to use QR codes to allow children the “freedom” to access information about a topic in a self-guided manner. Providing students with QR codes eliminates the need of their limited keyboarding skills and reduces the likelihood of inappropriate content exposure. Ebooks, with the use of Read-to-Me functions, also enhance the ability of my students to access information for themselves.

I have never had my students use Google Hangout, but my experience with it was pretty impressive. I liked how easy it was to use and to work with during my group meetings. Kidblog is a program I have had the students dabble with, but have found that it was inefficient due to my lack of devices for the students. In addition, their lack of keyboarding skills made the process tedious. Because of this, we have used iMovie as an alternative; the students have created video-blogs and posted them in our classroom website. A few even took the time to comment on their classmates’ blogs at home with another video. This was an activity they truly enjoyed and were quite engaged with.

As for collaboration, the only true collaboration my students have done is with Prezi. They worked together to compile research for their biography project, then each completed a section of a Prezi (I had created a template beforehand for them to fill-in). While it wasn’t the most collaborative effort, I feel it was a good starting point for my seven-year-olds. We have tried to Skype with other students to create a habitat project, but the scheduling was difficult with the other class.

Module 3

Assessing Collaborative Efforts

Grading cooperative collaboration in a learning community is a difficult process and one that is not perfect.  It can be difficult to determine where the line is when valuing student interactions with the quality of their responses.  What is more beneficial to a learning community?  A student who participates selectively, but contributes a significant amount when doing so or the student who participates often but provides very little in diversity of thinking or quality of product?

I agreed with Siemens in his video that there needs to be a mix of individual and collaborative work.  I am often the student who is hesitant to participate in group work for two reasons.  The first is I hate the feeling of being uncertain of the quality of my work.  It’s one thing if I submit work that I am unsure of but the grade will only affect me.  It’s another thing entirely when the inadequate grade will bring down a classmate’s score.

The second reason is the feeling of being on the other side of that situation.  I have often been let down by group members.  I once did a Civil War history report where my partner confused Confederate soldiers and misunderstood them to be Union soldiers.  During our oral presentation, we lost a significant amount of points when she stated that the Confederate Army won the Civil War.  In this situation, I remember wishing that we were receiving separate grades for our work.

If a student is requesting to complete a project independently, rather than as a member of the group, I think the collaborative group needs to step up.  It can be difficult to trust the partners in your group, as they can be strangers you have never met or worked with before.  It can be helpful if the instructor could determine if there is a classmate in the group the student has worked successfully with previously and make sure they are placed together.

As Siemens discusses in his video, collaboration is often necessary to achieve large tasks.  While the student doesn’t wish to work within a group setting, it must be required as it is an essential skill for students to master.


Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: Assessment of collaborative learning. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: Learning communities. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Blogs I commented on:



Module 2

Collaboration in distance learning has evolved quite dramatically.  It began with snail-mail correspondence between student and teacher.  As digital technology emerged, work was submitted via email and classes were open through an online environment, with little to no student-to-student interactions.  Now student collaboration through a course is expected; students discuss classroom materials as a requirement for successful completion of the program.

There is a large range of mediums for students to collaborate through.  Students may use simple discussion boards or chat rooms to converse.  Collaboration on projects is made possible with technology such as Google Docs or wikis.  Even face-to-face discussions are possible with programs such as Skype or Google Hangouts.  Truly the biggest obstacle to overcome is time-zones.

In an 2011 Edutopia article, Andrew Marcinek discusses the importance of student collaboration in today’s classroom.  He discusses how students will enter a workforce that requires them to work collaboratively with one another and how the classroom is where we must start teaching these future employees how to do so.  I believe that this is one of the strongest aspects of distance learning.  As a second grade teacher with limited means in the manner of technology, I do not have many options for allowing my students digital collaboration.  In my personal life, however, I watch as my husband coordinates jobs internationally; working with various companies all over the globe to complete a job.  It requires a lot of collaboration and communication in order to be successful, something that can be difficult to achieve in different time zones and different languages.  The collaboration that is built into distance education simulates the expectations students will encounter in the real world.

Lev Vygotsky, a noted developmental psychologist, discussed his theory of that “social interactions play a fundamental role in learning”(Instructional, 2013).   In the distance learning classroom, those social interactions can be more difficult to achieve, however this can be overcome with careful planning.  The Te@chthought author, Mariam Clifford, comments that, “Collaborative learning teams are said to attain higher level thinking and preserve information for longer times than students working individually.” (2014).  They recommend using various tools, such as Google groups or Mikogo for virtual meetings.

I think that for distance learning to truly rival the brick-and-mortar classroom, mastery of online collaboration is a must.  Students not only learn best through their peer interactions, but thrive in such an environment.


Clifford, M. (2014, September 23). 20 Collaborative Learning Tips and Strategies for Teachers. Retrieved June 20, 2015, from

Culatta, R. (2013). Social Development Theory. Retrieved June 22, 2015, from

Marcinek, A. (2011, February 6). Importance of Collaborative Assessment in a 21st Century Classroom. Retrieved June 20, 2015, from

Blogs I commented on:



Module 1

After reading the three articles by Moller, Huett, Foshay and Coleman, and listening to the Simonson video programs, compare and contrast the reasons these authors believe there is a need to evolve distance education to the next generation. Do you agree with their positions? Why or why not?
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Simonson says that distance education will evolve until distance education is “incorporated into most learning environments.” (2008). He believes that education at a distance should not be identical to the instruction given in a face to face environment; instead it should be equivalent. He believes that improving distance learning not only benefits institutions who can reach more students, but also benefits the student. The student can incorporate the flexible courses within their busy lives. Distance learning provides students increased access to the content they need to know to be successful. Simonson believes that distance education needs to be improved to maximize the benefits of distance learning.
The articles by Moller, Huet, Foshay, and Coleman also discuss the need for evolving distance education. They discuss how competition may have played a role in distance learning programs, describing institutions creating courses and programs as having a “land rush mentality” (Moller, Foshay, and Huett, 2008b, p.66). They also believe that companies using distance learning for training purposes put little thought into the quality and usefulness of the training, stating that “effectiveness is either natively assumed or not particularly valued.” (Moller, Foshay, and Huett, 2008a, p.70).
Both groups of authors believe that the move towards distance education wasn’t generally done in an organized and thought-out manner. Simonson commented about the initial push in distance education attempting to simply recreate the classroom environment and how the equivalency theory recommends that the distance learning provide equivalent experiences, not identical ones. Moller, Huett, Foshay and Coleman agree that more thought needs to be put towards implementing distance learning, with effectiveness being considered as a required element.
I do agree with the positions taken by these authors. My experiences with distance education, from four separate universities, has improved greatly through the years. Initially, I was simply reading course texts and submitting papers through email. This evolved into utilizing simulations for psychological coursework on behavior and exploring online resources like Google Earth. Currently, my online classes require me to collaborate with classmates, utilize multimedia presentations to synthesize information, and create units of study to effectively present learning experiences for my students. The layers of learning in distance education have increased dramatically over the past decade.
I also agree with their discussions on the possibilities for distance learning. The very nature of distance learning allows it to reach students who may not have had access to a brick and mortar school. It is also a viable solution for employee training, as it can reach a significant number of people once the course is created.
I think the quote that best exemplifies how I feel about distance learning, and its potential, is from Part 3 of The Evolution of Distance Learning. In it, Huett, Moller, Foshay, and Coleman state, “The effectiveness of distance education has more to do with who is teaching, who is learning, and how the learning is accomplished and less to do with the medium.” (p.63).

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W. & Coleman, C. (2008, September/October). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: Distance education: The next generation. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: Equivalency theory. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008a, May/June). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 1: Training and Development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70–75.
Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008b, July/August). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 2: Higher Education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.