Investigate online learning in higher education

The purpose of this research is to look into online larning in higher instruction, particularly in OU, and its success. It will look at how traditional universities have adapted to this alteration in instruction and larning engineering, by the debut of Virtual Learning Environments ( VLE ‘s ) and besides the issues non merely impacting engineering but besides the consequence this engineering has on both pupils and Lecturers.

The thought of this ‘wireless university ‘ goes back to the 1920 ‘s when educationist J C Stobart pondered over the thought [ 1 ] . It was non till the 1960A?s that this thought was taken farther when a ‘College on the air ‘ attack was used to give grownup instruction a new resource by the agencies of wireless and telecasting [ 2 ] . This so develop into what is now known as on-line distance larning ‘The Open University ‘ . The debut and fast turning gait of ‘The Open University ‘ among society made this a clear chance to present all this new advantages in engineering to alter the traditional instruction and learning attack.

Before we go any farther, there is something that needs to be explained and understood: what is on-line larning? Online acquisition is defined as ‘a mixture of the different preferable acquisition methods, delivered to the scholar through the usage of information engineering ‘ [ 3 ] . I will give a better interior into this impression in the Literature Review subdivision of this thesis. This new engineering brings both positive and negative positions to the manner instruction and acquisition is developed and on-line acquisition is going the prefer method for people to develop their calling or better their educational involvements.

Once this issue is foremost considered, tonss of different inquiries need to be answered in order to to the full understand all the different angles and positions from the direct users of this new engineering. Some of the inquiries that may come to anybody utilizing this manner of instruction and acquisition are:

i⤠What are the advantages of classs and faculties being put online?

i⤠Are at that place any benefits to the university or administration?

i⤠What are the benefits to the pupils?

i⤠What are the benefits for the lector or instructor?

Technology is portion of our day-to-day lives and for that ground we are ever looking for ways to reassure ourselves that this is an progress in the right way and that the people it chiefly affects will, in the long tally, benefit for its advantages. Because of the fast traveling gait of the World Wide Web and intranet engineering the manner we interact and portion information is altering, peculiarly in the instruction sector with the debut of personal computing machines in the 1980 ‘s and the debut of ICT within the National Curriculum For that ground more and more people can derive entree to instruction and it allows Higher instruction constitutions to spread out their offer and to present this new engineering in their classs and faculties

This Research aims to be the get downing point to reply the undermentioned inquiry: How Successful is Online Learning in The Open University?

This survey is the procedure of a long treatment between the writer and pupils from the OU since the progresilly debut of this new engineering by The Open University three old ages ago. Whilst learning one of the linguistic communication classs, the writer received information about the Blackboard system and how it was being planned to be used in the hereafter. The writer developed an progressively involvement in this new tool that Open University was implementing. Besides during a staff development run intoing the writer became cognizant of the online acquisition in general and was interested in how they would be affected.

During the meeting the writer came across faculties that already incorporated the usage of the Blackboard system and this farther interested the writer. As said in the debut above there are many countries to online acquisition. This means that the survey of a peculiar country must be refined for the intent of this survey. With the writer instruction linguistic communications at Open University and holding entree to the Blackboard system and regular contact with both staff and pupils at the University it was decided that the writer would look into on-line acquisition in Higher Education and in peculiar within the Open University. This was backed by the alteration in how faculties are taught at the university, and how other alterations at the university such as the accent on utilizing the Blackboard system, forums, electronic mail for more of the rudimentss such as the manus in of assignments and the discussing of subjects.

It is anticipated that this thesis will differ from other work carried out on this topic country as it will incorporate primary research which will be based on online acquisition and the Blackboard system that is being used within the University. This will intend that the writer is able to give realistic positions and pull clear decisions on the success of on-line acquisition within the OU

The Research purposes are:

To look into the success of higher instruction online larning in Open University,

The thesis aims to research in item the prosperity of online acquisition in higher instruction is in the twenty-first century. It will give the reader a basic apprehension of online and electronic acquisition and how this is transforming higher instruction at university degree. This will include a speedy overview and apprehension of the history of online acquisition.

To research how universities have implemented and develop online acquisition,

This thesis will look into how The Open University has used online larning to learn their faculties to their pupils.

To look into online acquisition classs.

This will affect investigation and understanding the consequence of online acquisition to the pupils larning utilizing this new engineering and the instructors who have to present the content of their faculties in this manner. It will besides look into pupils ‘ consequences from this manner of acquisition.

To inform the reader about the issues associating to online acquisition in Higher Education,

The thesis will supply the reader with an apprehension of issues such as security and quality that has affected online larning in Higher Education.

To look into the hereafter of online in higher instruction,

The thesis will considerer the way online acquisition will take in the hereafter and what the consequence on higher instruction sing whether this will be a positive betterment for higher instruction. This will propose any other countries for farther work.

In order to carry through all the purposes of the survey, different aims have to be achieved. These aims are:

Understand and analyze the undermentioned ways of acquisition: online, blending, unfastened and distance acquisition,

Analyse the chalkboard system used at the Open University

Analyse online based classs at Open University

Understand the pros and cons of online acquisition in Higher Education,

Analyse the consequence and importance of quality and security in online acquisition,

Compare the writer ‘s research with other research in the same country

Literature Review

The intent of this subdivision is to supply the reader with an apprehension of the chief issues associating to Online Learning in Higher Education. This subdivision intends to utilize bing stuff on the capable country to turn to the undermentioned cardinal countries associated with Online Learning in Higher Education:

Online acquisition: Definition

History of online acquisition

Virtual Learning Environments ( VLEs )

Professionals and cons of Online Learning

Issues impacting online acquisition

Online acquisition in the twenty-first century is non an easy country to be defined. This is due to the use of on-line online larning in many different ways by different people From the literature research the most common premise is that on-line larning meets the demands of those people where entree to conventional instruction is non appropriate or available, or online acquisition will move as a addendum in educational institutes, to alter the relationships between scholars and instructors and assistance betterment in larning in our community ‘s. [ 4 ]

In peculiar looking at on-line larning in higher instruction establishments, Ryan, Scott, Freeman and Patel refer to the thought of a Virtual University. They explain how the usage of ‘Communications and Information Technology ( CIT ) is holding a major impact on higher instruction and, in peculiar, how the Internet is being ( and can be ) used to back up instruction and larning ‘ . [ 5 ]

The rapid enlargement and development of the cyberspace has had a clear impact on the manner we teach and learn presents. As stated above the Internet is the major component in Communication and Information Technology ( CIT ) , Ryan, Scott, Freeman and Patel agree with Stephenson ‘s premise that the Internet is non merely a manner of presenting classs to conventional pupils but besides to geographically challenged pupils. [ 6 ]

They besides agree on the impact of Internet on staff and pupils in ways such as:

Staff incorporate the Web as a resource,

Staff recommend pupils the usage the Web as a resource,

Partss of classs or whole classs are being delivered online ( this is researched subsequently on in the thesis ) ,

Both staff and pupils are utilizing bulletin boards and electronic mail installations on and off campus. [ 6 ]

From farther research being carried out it can be said that online acquisition is an extension of distance acquisition through the usage of the Internet. Liu, Chan, Hung and Lee explain that this type of larning ‘Uses the Internet to present learning resources and to supply an effectual practical meeting topographic point of e-learners and managers to interact ‘ [ 7 ] . Online acquisition has an active function in heightening distance acquisition and besides plays a big function in traditional universities today for illustration with the debut of Virtual Learning Environments ( VLE ‘s ) , which incorporate the usage of bulletin boards, forums and electronic mail installations mentioned by Ryan, Scott, Freeman and Patel. This debut of Virtual Learning Environments ( VLE ‘s ) in traditional universities means that both pupils and lectors are ‘no longer classroom-bound ‘ [ 7 ] .

Although these definitions have a positive position of online acquisition and its usage of the Internet to be able to make so, they do non take in to account that online acquisition could itself merely be a tool instead than larning in its ain right. This is backed up by Alexander and Boud who argue that ‘online acquisition is, in itself, a misnomer. It is more appropriate to see on-line larning as a tool or support for larning that will well take topographic point offline ‘ [ 8 ] . This point of position makes the writer see the manner in which we learn and besides if on-line acquisition is intended to intend faculties or classs placed wholly on-line or partly on-line with the purpose that the work will be completed offline by the pupil.

It is besides of import when gaining and apprehension of on-line larning to look at the acquisition procedure and focal point of online acquisition. In footings of the alteration from traditional schoolroom based larning to online larning the focal point and learning procedure take a extremist alteration. In schoolroom based larning the procedure is one-to many, this is because the focal point is on the lector go throughing the information and cognition on to the pupils [ 9 ] . Whereas Liu, Chan, Hung and Lee reference that ‘Online larning focal points more on the pupils as information frequently flows to the pupils from the system. It appears to be a one-to-one acquisition environment ‘ [ 9 ] .

Ryan, Scott, Freeman and Patel ‘s definition and apprehension of on-line acquisition and the impact the Internet has been reinforce on a definition provided by the European Union ( EU ) , which outlines e-Learning ( a signifier of on-line larning ) as ‘the usage of information and communicating engineering, including the Internet, to larn and learn ‘ [ 10 ] re-iterating the impact the Internet has on how we teach and learn today, and gives a good definition to establish the chief focal point of this survey.

Due to this proposal deadline and the huge literature available on the country of E-learning, the remainder of the Literature reappraisal associating to the chief cardinal countries mentioned above will be dealt with in the Final study of the research.

Research Methodology

This survey needs a significant sum of research, which needs to be planned and carried out in the most appropriate and effectual manner. It is of import to understand how to roll up informations and guarantee that it is relevant to the topic they are accessing by choosing an appropriate attack. The two chief attacks to be used in this survey are the Qualitative and Quantitative attacks

The qualitative attack is a subjective attack and attempts to demo that existent research can non be classified with Numberss. The qualitative attack allows the writer to look at research in more deepness and is considered to be richer in item [ 12 ] .

Although this attack appears to offer a better item of research to the writer there are restrictions to this attack. These restrictions are:

The information may be less representative – this could intend that the consequences from the research may be excessively general and this will do the consequences more unfastened to doubt than quantitative.

Interpretation may incorporate ‘self ‘ of the research worker – This is when the writer allows their ain sentiments, background and beliefs to play a function in the creative activity of the informations and consequences.

Possibility of decontextualising the significance – This is where the research workers consequences such as notes, text or images are taken to literally and out of context.

The danger of oversimplifying the account – This could take the writer to underact or go forth out elaborate information that does n’t quite fit [ 13 ] .

These restrictions could impact this peculiar research in ways such as the research worker fails to bring forth adequate specialized item in the capable country or province to many personal sentiments, background and beliefs which could convey prejudice to the concluding study.

As with any attack there are a figure of advantages. The advantages are:

The information is grounded – the informations and descriptions that are generated are normally grounded in world.

Richness and Detail – The information accumulated is more focussed and is delved into in great deepness.

Tolerance of ambiguity and contradictions – Qualitative research is able to manage this type of uncertainness better than quantitative research.

Prospect of alternate solutions- Allows for more than one account as it is unfastened to possibilities [ 13 ] .

The Quantitative attack uses figures to perchance bring forth graphs and charts to demo the results of research undertaken. Where as the qualitative attack has a subjective attack the quantitative attack is seen as a more nonsubjective attack. The bulk of research workers prefer this attack as it allows the research worker to take himself from the country of survey and remain nonsubjective [ 14 ] .

Although the quantitative attack seems the more scientific and accurate attack there are a figure of disadvantages that must be considered by the research worker:

Quality of informations – the consequence information is merely every bit good as the method used to acquire that information.

Data overload – The analysis may go to complex if the research worker does non take attention when roll uping big volumes of informations.

False promise – Decisions can be seen as far out from the consequences that really emerge.

Technicist – A research worker becomes obsessed with the techniques used to carry on the analysis instead than the issues that were set to transport out the research [ 15 ] .

This attack besides has a figure of strong advantages. These are:

Scientific – This attack allows statistical informations to be obtained by the research worker

Presentation – Because figures are produced by set abouting this type of attack so charts and graphs can be produced to show clearly the findings. This manner of showing informations can be used as an effectual manner of pass oning the findings.

Analysis – Large sums of quantitative informations can be analysed rapidly utilizing this attack.

Measurement – Analyzing quantitative informations can supply a good foundation for farther analysis or descriptive grounds [ 15 ] .

After looking at both attacks it is clear that in order to transport out this survey successfully and obtain the consequences required to reply the chief inquiry facets of both attacks will be used within the research methods selected. Quantitative informations will supply existent figures that can be displayed in graphs and charts in order to be analysed and clearly show consequences. Whereas qualitative will give sentiments and positions on this subject which could be used to demo in more item peoples responses and besides show the countries of research for future.

In order to roll up the information required for this survey the undermentioned research options have been considered:

i⤠Questionnaires,

i⤠Interviews,

i⤠and Observation,

After serious consideration about the different research methods reference, the chosen one will be questionnaires. The questionnaire method has been selected as it allows the research worker to roll up a big sum of informations in a short sum of clip, which is ideal for this peculiar undertaking as it is restricted to peculiar deadlines. Questionnaires besides allow for the aggregation of both qualitative and quantitative informations as they allow for both unfastened and closed inquiries to be asked. The concluding ground for choosing questionnaires is that there is small force per unit area on the participant because they do non experience under the force per unit area that they may hold experienced in an interview. This will let them to take their clip and finish the questionnaire at their ain gait and in their ain environment.

Although questionnaires have been selected as the chosen research method it should still be justified why the other research methods were non chosen. First interviews must be good organised and structured so that the research can derive the most information from the participant in the allocated clip. This peculiar thought of holding a good structured interview technique and the clip to carry on the interviews were the chief logical thinking behind this peculiar research method non being selected. The research worker besides does non hold any anterior cognition of interview techniques and more importantly clip is non on the research worker ‘s side in order for techniques to be researched and learnt and adequate clip to be allocated to puting up the interview and so carry oning the interview.

The concluding research method observation was non chosen either because in order to happen the information and information needed to do decisions and reply the inquiry of the survey observation was non appropriate as the research worker would be unable to asses whether a individual was satisfied with the characteristics of online acquisition. Besides the writer would non be able to successfully reason whether online acquisition was a success without holding to near a possible participant, which is non the correct technique for carry oning experimental research.

Reynolds ( 1979, p65 ) states, “ Ethical motives refer to the regulations of behavior when utilizing human research participants ” . For this survey it is of import that before research begins, informed written consent is received from every participant within the survey. This ensures that the participants to the full understand the purposes of the survey and that the information they provide will be used merely within the analysis of the survey, and that they may retreat from the undertaking at any clip. Encumber ( 203 ) agrees that consent in composing Acts of the Apostless as a manner of officially entering the understanding to take part and corroborating that the participant has been informed about the research. Throughout the undertaking informed consent is non a one-off event, but instead a dynamic and elusive procedure ( Martin, 2004 ) .

Confidentiality is besides a major ethical issue when working in a survey like this therefore out of regard for their privateness, confidentiality will be promised in the consent signifier. This may besides add cogency to the research findings as people may be more honorable cognizing their parts are confidential. To guarantee confidentiality, participants will non be asked to place themselves on the questionnaire. The questionnaire will be kept purely confidential and will be merely available to the research worker. Statements ( if needed ) made may be used as portion of the concluding research study, but under no fortunes will names or any identifying characters be included.

Datas Analysis

It is of import to see how the information will be analysed one time the questionnaire has been designed and distributed for its completion. One of the chief issues to see is that the informations should be analysed in a manner that can be presented in this survey.

For that ground and after an thorough probe into the tools that could be used to analyze the consequences from the questionnaire, it was decided that the most available and good cognize to the research worker was Microsoft Excel. Within Microsoft Excel all the informations can be imputed as it is received and the information is easy updated. The the charts and graphs ace can be used to make graphical stuff to expose the consequences. This peculiar option of being able to expose the consequences diagrammatically is the chief ground behind this peculiar tool being chosen as it will let to breakdown the consequences by different scenarios, for illustration by age, gender or degree class.

[ 1 ] The Open University website hypertext transfer protocol: //www.open.ac.uk/about/ou/p3.shtml The Early Old ages, The thought starts with the BBC accessed on 04/07/2010.

[ 2 ] The Open University website hypertext transfer protocol: //www.open.ac.uk/about/ou/p3.shtml The Early Old ages, Aresponse to the job of exclusion accessed on 04/07/2010.

[ 3 ] The Oxford E-Learning website hypertext transfer protocol: //www.oxford-elearning.com/demo/elearningcourse/ accessed on 05/07/2010.

[ 4 ] Stephenson, J ( 2001 ) , Teaching and Learning Online: teaching methods for New Technologies, UK, Kogan Page Limited, ISBN 0-7494-3511-9

[ 5 ] Ryan, S, Scott, B, Freeman, H, Patel, D, ( 2000 ) , The Virtual University: The Internet and Resource-Based Learning, Page 2, Kogan Page Limited, ISBN 0-7494-2508-3

[ 6 ] Ryan, S, Scott, B, Freeman, H, Patel, D, ( 2000 ) , op. cit. ,

[ 7 ] Liu, J, Chan, S, Hung, A and Lee, R, editors: Jain, L.C, Howlett, R.J, Ichalkaranje, N.S, Tonfoni, G, ( 2002 ) , Virtual Environments for Teaching and Learning: Vol 1, World Scientific Publishing Co.Pte, LTD, ISBN 981-238-167-8, Page 76

[ 8 ] Stephenson, J ( 2001 ) , op. cit, . page 1

[ 9 ] Liu, J, Chan, S, Hung, A and Lee, R, ( 2002 ) , op. cit, . page 78

[ 10 ] European Commission, Elearning: Design Tomorrows Education, hypertext transfer protocol: //europa.eu.int/comm/publications/booklets/others/03/txt_en.pdf accessed on 04/06/10

[ 11 ] Clark, R, Mayer, R.E, ( 2003 ) , e-Learning: and the Science of Instruction, Page 12, Jossey-Bass / Pfeiffer, ISBN 0-7879-6051-9

[ 12 ] Haralambos M & A ; Holborn M ( 2004 ) , Sociology: Subjects and Positions, 6th Edition UK, Harper Collins Publishers Ltd, ISBN 000-715447-X

[ 13 ] Denscombe M, ( 2003 ) , The Good Research Guide: for small-scale societal research undertakings, 2nd Edition, Page 280, Open University Press, ISBN 0-335-21303-0

[ 14 ] Dunsmuir A & A ; Williams L ( 1992 ) , How To Make Social Research, UK, Unwin Hyman Ltd, ISBN 0-00-322242-X

[ 15 ] Denscombe M, ( 2003 ) , op. cit, . page 264

[ 16 ] Burns, R, B ( 2000 ) , Introduction to Research Methods, Page 571, Pearson Education Ltd, ISBN 0-761-96593-9

[ 17 ] Denscombe M, ( 2003 ) , op. cit, . page 163