ArticlePDF Available
Engaging Learners in Online
Learning Environments
By Cher Ping Lim
I
nternet technologies allow learners to access up-to-date information anywhere
and anytime, allow just-in-time learning, promote active
and
independent
learning with reflection
and
support communication between experts
and
novices. Attracted
by
these opportunities
for
learning, many organizations
and educational institutions have focused
on the
technological challenges
of
buying
the
right courseware, getting enough bandwidth allocated
to
online
learning
and
obtaining
the
latest state of-the-art online learning platforms
and
tools.
However, hardware, software
and
infrastructure only provide
the
necessary
conditions
for
online. State of-the-art Internet technologies
do not
ensure that
learners
are
willing
or
know
how to
engage
in the
context
of
their learning
and
make sense
ot the
information provided
to
construct their own knowledge.
This paper attempts
to
identify
and
address
the
assumptions that have been
madeabout the engagement of learners
in
online learning environments. Research
studies have shown that learner engagement
is
paramount
to
learning success
(Herrington, Oliver,
&
Reeves, 2003). Engagement here
is
defined
as the "'the
mobilization
of
cognitive, affective
and
motivational strategies
for
interpretive
transactions" (Bangert-Drowns & Pike, 2001, p.
215)
that occur during learning
activities through interactions with others
and
worthwhile tasks (Kearsley
Ik
Shneiderman, 1998).
In the
online learning environment, engagement entails
mindfulness, cognitive effort and the attention of the learners in that environment.
When learners are engaged in the learning process, levels of learning and retention
may be increased. Hence,
the
whole learning experience
is
enhanced (Kearsley &
Shneiderman, 1998).
The
question then
is:
"How
do
we engage learners
in
online
learning environments?"
Assumptions about learners
While online learning environments
may
provide learners with opportunities
to engage themselves
in the
learning process,
it
cannot
be
assumed that these
opportunities will
be
taken
up
(Crane, 2000). Clark
and
Mayer (2002) identify
two pitfalls
in
online learning environments with respect
to
engagement. The first
is
the
failure
to
accommodate
the
learning process
to the
targeted learners. This
may place
a
cognitive overload
on
learners that results
in
disengagement. Second
is
the
failure
to
contextualize
the
learning activities. Learners
may not see the
relevance
of the
concepts
or
theories presented
and
become disengaged. These
pitfalls may stem
fi-om
three assumptions that instructors may have of learners:
learners have acquired
the
learning strategies
to
work through
the
online
learning component;
16TechTrendsVolume
48,
Number 4
L
learners have acquired
the
knowledge
to
learn from
the
online learning component;
and
learners have acquired
the
attitudes that enable them
to
use these strategies
and
knowledge confidently, flexibly,
appropriately
and
independently
of
the instructor.
Learners have the learning strategies
Learners may lack
the
learning strategies
to
work through
the online learning component.
The
multitude
of
options
and choices available to learners may impose
a
cognitive load
on them. Cognitive load may be viewed as the level
of
mental
energy required
to
process
a
given amount
of
information.
Cognitive load theory suggests that effective instructional
materials promote learning
by
directing cognitive resources
toward activities that
are
relevant
to
learning rather than
to
processes that
are an
adjunct
to
learning (Sweller, 1994).
When
the
cognitive resources
are
directed
to the
former,
learners are more likely to be engaged
in
the learning process.
Based
on the
study
by
Hedberg
and his
colleagues (1993)
of
learning
in a
multimedia environment, three possible types
of cognitive load
can be
identified
in an
online learning
environment.
the
structure
of the
online component: learners know
where
the
information/tool
is
stored
and
know
how to
retrieve
and run it
the
response strategies: learners know
how to
respond
when asked questions,
how to
keep track
of
concepts
covered,
how to
jump from
one
topic
to
another
and
where
to
make notes when necessary
the supporting tools: learners know when and how to use
the tools available
When learners lack learning strategies
to
operate
in
the online learning environment,
the
cognitive load
may
overwhelm them. Even
for
more experienced learners,
if
too much effort
is
involved
in
navigating
and
responding
to
the
interactive elements
of the
online component,
and figuring
out how to use the
supporting tools, mental
resources available
for
comprehension
and
achievement
of
the learning goal
may be
reduced. They
may
then become
disengaged
in the
learning process. Motivation
is a
strong
factor that influences learners' engagement
in the
learning
process {Stage, 1996),
and
when learners
are
experiencing
cognitive overload
in an
online learning environment, they
may become de-motivated (lonassen
Sc
Grabowski, 1993).
Learners have the knowledge
Besides
the
lack
of
learning strategies, learners
may
lack
knowledge
of how to
learn from
the
online component
such
as a
lack
of
prior knowledge
and a
lack
of
strategies
for structuring
and
managing knowledge
in
their
own
way. Instructors cannot assume that learners possess prior
knowledge that will provide them with
the
theoretical
capacity
to
understand
the
learning tasks
and
information
presented
in the
online environment. However, even
if
the learners have
the
prior knowledge, they
may
lack
the
strategies
to
manage
the
knowledge they have constructed.
These strategies include making connections between
new
and existing knowledge
and
developing progression from
one learning sequence
or
task
to
another (Cavalier & Klein,
1998).
As a
result,
the
knowledge that
is
acquired becomes
an isolated fact
or
concept
and is not
integrated into
a
larger
scheme (Hedberg et. al, 1993).
Learners have the attitude
It
is
probable that some learners may just browse through
the screens
in the
online learning component,
or
read them
through once
and
expect learning just
to
happen. Some
learners
may be
trying simply
to get
through
the
lesson,
or trying
to get the
"right" results without
the
intention
to learn. Such
an
attitude toward learning
may be due to a
lack
of
clear objectives
or
instructions,
a
lack
of
relevance
of
learning tasks
to
real-world situations
or to the
experiences
of learners
or a
lack
of
urgency
for
learners
to
learn.
In a
case study
of
ELAST,
a
simulation program dealing with
the elasticity
of
demand, Yates (1987) observed that some
learners "were happy just
to
enter values, receive feedback
that told them they were doing badly
and
then enter their
next decision with very little analysis" (p. 40).
Addressing assumptions about learners
It
is
clear from
the
above discussion that instructors
cannot assume that learners have
the
learning strategies,
knowledge
and
attitudes
to
learn effectively
in an
online
environment. Learners
may get
lost
due to the
navigation
aspects
of
the interface, become de-motivated
or
fail
to
make
connections
in the
knowledge they have constructed;
as a
result, they become disengaged from
the
learning process.
Therefore, activities must
be
designed
to
support
and
guide
learners
as
they
are
given control
of
their
own
learning
online (Taylor, Sumner,
&
Law, 1997).
Addressing the lack
of
learning strategies
In order
to
address
the
lack
of
learning strategies
in the
online learning environment,
we
have
to
consider
the
issue
of cognitive load
and
ensure that
we do not
overwhelm
the
learners. In this section,
we
focus our discussion
on
the "learn
how
to
learn online" session
and on
advance organizers.
Although
the
issues
of
scaffolding
and the
facilitating role
of
the
instructor
are
also crucial
in
addressing
the
lack
of
learning strategies,
we
have left them
to the
next section
when discussing how
to
address
a
lack
of
knowledge among
learners.
"Learn how to learn online" session
Very often, learners
are not
aware
of the
structure
of
the online learning environment,
do not
know
the
response
strategies
to the
interactive online elements
and do not
know
how to use the
online support tools.
To
address this
Volume 48, Number
4
Tec hTr ends17
"Learners may get lost due to
the navigation aspects of the
interface, become de-motivated
or fail to make connections
in the knowledge they have
constructed; as a result, they
become disengaged from the
learning process."
lack of learning strategies, it is necessary for
the instructor to conduct a "learn how to learn
online" session. Such a session may include
outlining technical procedures such as logging
on and navigating through the online learning
environment, explaining response strategies
to running a simulation or searching for
information, and demonstrating how to use the
various tools available (Potter, 2000; Lim, 2001).
The instructor may also want to set ground
rules or guidelines for participation in the on-
line learning environment.
For example, before learn-
ers participate in their first
asynchronous online dis-
cussion, the instructor may
outline guidelines for online
discussion informing learn-
ers of the suitable length for
messages being posted, the
fact that each message should
contain one main point and
provide elaborations and
justifications for statements
made and reminding
learners to post responses not only to the ques-
tions posed by the instructor but also to re-
sponses of other learners (Lim & Cheah, 2003).
Alternatively, these guidelines may be presented
as a document (downloadable from the course
website) to both learners and instructors prior to
the online discussion.
Advance organizers
Advance organizers are "relevant and inclusive
introductory materials ... introduced in advance
of learning ... at a higher level of abstraction,
generality, and inclusiveness" (Ausubel 1968,
p.l48).
Gagne and Driscoll (1988) claim that
advance organizers provide learners with a
framework that supports them in establishing
integrative relationships between new and existing
knowledge. Tucker (1990) asserts that learners
who are provided with advance organizers while
navigating through computer packages are in a
better position to organize the new information
that is learned. Therefore, the advance organizers
provide learners with
a
structure that guides them
on a given task or learning activity as they work
through the online learning component. Such a
structure addresses the lack of learning strategies,
and learners are then more likely to engage in the
learning process.
Addressing the lack of knowledge
Scaffolding and facilitating discussions are
two strategies that can be employed in the online
learning environment to address learners' lack of
knowledge. These strategies may be employed by
the instructor, or in the case of scaffolding, may be
embedded within the online learning activities or
facilitated by peer interactions.
Scaffolding strategies
Scaffolding can be conceived of as composing
zones of proximal development (ZPD) through
which learners can navigate with the aid of a
supporting context, including but not limited
to people (Vygotsky, 1978). ZPD aredefined by
Wertsch (1985) as "distance between the child's
actual developmental level as determined by
independent problem-solving and the higher
level of potential development as determined
through problem-solving under adult guidance
and in collaboration with more capable peers"
(pp.67-68). This can be perceived as an integrated
cognitive system where learners and instructors
exercise differential responsibility by virtue of
differential expertise and experience. The learner
in this cognitive system appropriates the goals and
strategies that are manifested in jointly organized
activities.
Scaffolding is a two-step process. First, the
online learning environment needs to provide
the cognitive support to identify strategies for
accomplishing learning tasks not attainable by
the individual. This support or assistance is then
gradually withdrawn as the learner becomes
increasingly competent. The cognitive support
may include process modeling (Jackson, Stratford,
Krajcik,
&
Soloway, 1996) and question prompting
(Ge & Land, 2003). This cognitive support may
be provided by the instructors or through peer
interactions, or may be embedded in the online
learning component.
Process modeling focuses on how an expert's
process of thinking about or solving problems
is used as a model for learners who are learning
in the same domain. An example is the Model-It
software that helps model the thinking process of
an expert for learners engaged in science inquiry.
The software models the questions (such as "What
do you expect will happen?") that learners need
to ask themselves when carrying out scientific
investigations (such as examining the relationship
between auto emissions and aquatic life). Such
modeling of the scientific investigation process
18Tec hTr endsVolume 48, Number 4
provides scaffolding
to
help learners reflect upon
their own thinking
or
problem-solving process
by
comparing and contrasting it to the expert's model
(Jackson et.al, 1996).
Question prompts maybe used as
a
scaffolding
strategy
to
help learners focus attention
and
monitor their learning through elaboration
on
the questions asked,
the
issues discussed
or the
problems
to be
solved
(Ge &
Land, 2003).
In
a study
by
King (1994)
on
guiding knowledge
construction
in
science classrooms,
the
author
provides learners with strategy-questioning
prompt cards
to
guide them
in
making inferences
and generalizations. These question prompts
are
designed
to
promote connections among ideas
within
a
lesson
and to
access prior knowledge/
experience
to
promote connections between
the
lesson
and
that knowledge.
In
another study
by
Lim (2001)
on
task-orientation
in
computer-
based classrooms teaching economics,
the
author
suggests that learners
are
more task-oriented
when they are provided worksheets with question
prompts than when they are not.
In
both studies,
the question prompts scaffold the learning process
by directing learners' attention
to key
variables
or concepts (Land, 2000). As
a
result, thoughtful
responses such
as
explanations
and
inferences
are elicited,
and
learners are more engaged
in the
learning task.
Facilitating online discussions
One
of the
most important components
in
any educational process
is
dialogue. Dialogues
include instructor-learner discussions, instructor's
guidance and feedback, learner-learner discussions
and feedback
and
guidance from other learners.
Learning environments with dialogues
are
rich
with experiences
and
distributed intelligence.
Online discussions
are
increasingly being used
in online learning environments
to
facilitate
interactions that support
the
shared construction
of knowledge among participants
of a
learning
community. However, learners often lack
the
knowledge and learning strategies
to
participate
in
such discussions.
Harasim
and
colleagues (1995) warn, "unless
the teacher (instructor) facilitates
the
networking
activities skillfully, serious problems may develop.
A conference
may
turn into
a
monologue
of
lecture-type material
to
which very few responses
are made.
It may
become
a
disorganized
mountain
of
information that
is
confusing
and
overwhelming
for the
participants.
It may
even
break down socially into name calling rather
than building
a
sense
of
community."
In
order
to
provide
a
positive experience
and
ensure effective
discussion
for
learning,
the
instructor's role
in
setting meaningful tasks, participating actively,
keeping discussions focused, drawing conclusions
and recommending resources
for
extension
of
learning are crucial (Lim
&
Cheah, 2003).
Setting meaningful tasks—Set a task
or
topic
that
is
meaningful
to
learners
to
promote their
active participation
in
discussions. Klemm (1998)
suggests that
the
task
or
topic should appeal
to
learners' experiences and vested interests. Figure
1
illustrates starting
off
an online discussion with
a
case study
in
a teacher education course.
M; litn
1$
attempting
to
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On Die other
hand,
Ms Tan gould aho use
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ernironment whare a student-cei^red dpprodch i& d^^ltcabffl
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be
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c
!:
liislnictor opening
a
discussion
in a
teacher
eciuccition
course
Participating actively by answering queries, pro-
viding feedback and posing conflicting views
to
elicit thinking/reflection—During the discussion,
instructors should
be
active
in
participation.
Answering queries, providing feedback and posing
conflicting views
to
elicit more thinking are some
of the roles
to be
taken
up by
instructors. A study
by Shank (2001) recommends that instructors
contribute
at
least
10% of
discussion postings.
Research studies have shown that
in
discussion
boards where
the
instructors
are
more involved,
learners respond with more enthusiasm
and
regular participation (Harasim
et al.,
1995).
Figure
2
shows
the
same discussion forum
as
above
in
which
an
instructor acknowledges
the
contributions
of the
learners
and
extends
the
scope
of
the discussion.
Keeping
the
discussion focused—Klemm
(1998) recommends that discussions
or
activities
Volume 48, Number 4 Tec hTr ends19
should
be
structured
to
keep discussion focused.
Instructors should
not
allow
off
topic discussions
even though there
may be a
tendency
for
participants
to
stray
off
topic. Strategies include
formulation
or
reframing questions
to
redirect
the
discussions.
-•*-
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Rein*
HoneHiitov
MA*
Group Discussion Board
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bs
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f»s«d qoes tejond
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be
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Figure 2: Instructor achiowleiiging learners
and
extending
a
discussion
Drawing conclusions and providing content
ex-
pertise—Instructors should contribute advanced
content knowledge
and
insights, weave together
discussion threads
and
help participants apply,
analyse
and
synthesise content (Shank, 2001).
Figure 3 shows how
an
instructor weaves together
eounses
.
feasts
O'OT
Cuiisiit PMum: Case Siudf
Ms
Tan's Dilermriii
Dale:
Sat
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ir) the
lesming environmert Hawser, we have
to be
aware thai
as
lsei:hers,
we ai°
constrained
by
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ard
tlaetroum Ir^etructute that we're
in
tvtsTar
may
<uanl lotry
out
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dri9-»nd-practice appn>aoh «rsuree tJiit
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class will
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may be
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conElrarlE andlhmh about iKwthe)
can ba
addressod
CiHTBnt IhrBid Detail;
Constraints of the arrjifor
2I
Re
Coistiamt", o:"lhtiSun Jijl
29 M1
Figure 3: Instructor weaving together discussions
and
starting
n new
thread
the discussions in
a
previous thread and starts off a
new thread
on
"Constraints
of
the environment."
Recommending resources
for
extension
of
learning
While responding to learners' queries as well
as
providing feedback
on the
issues being discussed,
instructors should search
for
resources that
can
be recommended
to the
learners. This ensures
that learners have a better background knowledge
of
the
issues being discussed.
It
also provides
opportunities
for
learners
to
explore more deeply
into
the
issues being discussed
(Lim &
Cheah,
2003).
Addressing the lack of
appropriate attitude
Authentic activities have
the
capability
to
motivate
and
encourage learner participation
by facilitating learners' engagement with
the
instructional message
of the
online learning
component. Learners need
to
know
why
they
are learning something. Herrington
and his
colleagues (2003) state that such immersion
in
authentic activities can provide motivation that
is
needed
for
the initial perseverance of an otherwise
"discomforting
and
unfamiliar setting"
(p. 69).
When such familiarity
is
developed, learners
are
more likely
to be
engaged
in the
learning process
and,
as a
result, more likely
to
apply
the new
knowledge
and
skills
to
their work
or
lives.
Authentic activities include activities that
are based
on
real situations
and
simulation
models that focus
on
applying
new
knowledge
and skills (Bennett, Harper,
&
Hedberg, 2001).
They include virtual laboratories, case studies
and problem scenarios. These activities provide
opportunities
for
learners to examine individually
or collaboratively
the
issue
or
task from different
perspectives that
are
mediated
by
various
resources,
and
provide opportunities
to
reflect
on their learning (Herrington
et. al.,
2003).
In
this section,
we
look
at
problem-solving
and
simulation-based activities that
may
provide
an
authentic online learning environment
to
address
the lack
of
appropriate attitude among learners.
Problem-solving activities
Many research studies have shown that
solving authentic problems helps learners
to
see
the
meaningfulness
and
relevance
of
what
they learn (lonassen,
1997;
Brandsford, Brown,
& Cocking, 2000). Unlike traditional direct
20TechTrendsVolume
48,
Number
4
instruction, learning by problem solving begins
with the presentation of an authentic problem
around which the learning will be centered.
These problems serve as springboards for
inquiry, information-gathering and reflection on
theoretical concepts and relationships, industrial
standards, norms and practices and culture.
Ill-structured problems are messy and complex
in nature, with no fixed and "right" solutions.
The following is an example of an ill-structured
problem presented in a course on effective
communication:
"You have overheard two of your
IT staff complaining about the lack
of clarity in your expectations and
instructions. They agreed that you
were task-oriented and friendly,
but commented on your inability
to communicate your ideas and
instructions effectively. They also said
that many of the staff members were
often at a loss to know what to do and
how to proceed. What do you think
has gone wrong? How do you intend
to address the problem?"
The learners in the course are expected to
access new information, appraise it critically and
apply it to the problem they are presented with
taking into account the context that they are in
and converting "raw knowledge into professional
wisdom" (Dixon, 2000, p.41). However, learning
by solving a problem may make strong demands
on learners. These include a high cognitive
complexity, since learners are expected to test
concepts against reality, and an increase in task
management because learners are expected to
exhibit learning independence (Perkins, 1991).
These demands on learners point to the need to
break up the focal problem to sub-problems or
question prompts (as discussed above). Based on
the focal problem presented above, some of the
sub-problems include:
What is the message strategy that I should
employ?
How can I organize a strategic message?
What must I emphasize in the message?
What are my objectives as a communicator?
Who is my audience?
Such scaffolding acts as a schema or knowledge-
based representation that contains the typical
problem goal, constraints and solution procedures
useful for the focal problem. Although most
learners may adopt
a
more positive attitude toward
learning than in traditional direct instruction.
some learners may be incapable of learning
in a vastly different paradigm of instruction
where they are expected to assume increasing
responsibility for their learning. Scaffolding
ensures that by placing the control of the learning
process at the fingertips of learners, they are not
abandoned and left to deal with the complexities
of
a
real-world context on their own (Lim, Tan, &
KIimas,2001).
Simulation activities
Simulations transport learners to another
world or environment where they control the ac-
tion by applying or exploring a knowledge base.
Learners observe particular phenomena and learn
from the processes and the variables that will af-
fect the simulated actions. Due to being placed in
such an authentic environ-
nient, learners may adopt a ^^g^fyre involving learners in
better attitude toward learn- -^ '^
ing and then be more likely the online learning component.
to engage in the learning
process (Herrington et. al,
2003).
In the online learning
environment, simulation-
based objects using applets
provide opportunities for
learners to explore abstract
concepts and relationships
anywhere and anytime, at their own pace.
An example of simulation activities is the
integration of Virtual Economy, an online
simulation package, into an introductory
economics course. Unlike pure sciences, the "what
if" questions in economics cannot be explored as
they would be in a scientific experiment. In the
real world it is impossible to change one variable
and yet hold all others equal. This makes "what
if" questions, which are central in economics,
very difficult to answer with traditional textbooks,
lecture and discussion methods. Computer-based
simulations overcome this problem, and meet the
needs of learners who want to see the practical
application of theories and the relationship
between theories and real-life situations (Lim,
In Press). Figures 4 and 5 (see next page) show a
simulation carried out with Virtual
Economy
that
provides opportunities for learners to manipulate
direct and indirect taxes and government
spending to explore their effects on the economy.
Such simulations serve three very important
pedagogical features: they give learners direct
access to the behavior of the object domain; they
give intrinsic feedback on learners' experiment
with that domain (Laurillard, 1988); and they
provide real-world relevance and utility for the
instructor has to make sure
zarners are ready for
the activities and are able to
work through the activities
themselves!'
Volume
48,
Number 4 TechTrends21
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4:
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a
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change
in
direct
taxes from 23%
to
29%.
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Figure 5: The effect of the change in direct
ki.xe.s
on difjetent economic
indicator.s.
learners (Gredler, 1996). Such experiences fulfill
the pedagogical goals of allowing learners to
apply theories, use evidence and recognize the
legitimate range of application of
analysis.
In this
case,
learners are more likely to adopt a proactive
and positive attitude towards learning (Lim, In
Press).
However, discovering relationships based on
real-world data is difficult. The real world is far
less organized than many learners expect and
exact relationships do not exist. The complexity
of the scenario presented may overwhelm the
learners since they lack both basic knowledge
related to the scenario and strategies for addressing
multifactor problems (Gredler, 1996). Although
the use of computer simulation packages may
serve as anchors for online activities, scaffolding
needs to be in place to link prior knowledge to
present learning, guide learners through the
multifaceted simulation activities and help them
to reflect upon their experiences by linking them
to relevant theoretical frameworks. It is only then
that learners are more likely to engage in the
learning process.
Conclusion
The online learning environment provides
opportunities for learners to have control over
their learning process and become more engaged
in it. However, online learning is by no means a
replacement of the old formula "the instructor
is everything, and the learner is nothing" with
its opposite of "the learner is everything, and the
instructor is nothing." Before involving learners
in the online learning component, the instructor
has to make sure that the learners are ready for the
activities and are able
to
work through the activities
themselves. The instructor cannot assume that
learners have the attitude, knowledge and learning
strategies to learn independently in the online
learning environment. These assumptions need to
be addressed by the instructor and/or the online
component. They include "learn to learn online"
sessions and advance organizers to address the
lack of learning strategies, scaffolding strategies
and facilitating discussions to address the lack of
knowledge and problem-solving and simulation
activities to address the lack of appropriate
attitude.
The instructor plays a pivotal role in the online
learning environment. Instructors have to
understand their roles well and adopt the best
strategies to enhance the learning experience
of the learners in such an environment. Often
in online learning literature one encounters the
phrase that the role of the instructor changes
from being "sage on the stage" in traditional
settings to "a guide by the side" online (Harasim
et. al, 1995). As learners are creating knowledge
for themselves, the instructor's role is to facilitate
this process. Although such descriptions may
imply that the instructor can be nothing more
than a sort of non-expert but motivational
cheerleader (Campos & Harasim, 1999), the role
of the "guide by the side" is pivotal for effective
learning in online environments. Such a role
includes recognising the potential and limitations
22TechTrendsVolume
48,
Number 4
of eacb learning medium (face-to-face,
stand-alone and online), organizing
and carrying out activities to provide
guidance, providing strategic support
and assistance to help learners
assume control of their own learning
and reflecting upon and readapting
activities accordingly.
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Volume
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Number 4 TechTrends23
... Rights reserved. (Bangert-Drowns & Pyke, 2001, p. 215) that occurs during learning activities and interactions between students and instructors (Lim, 2004). Engagement is a vital factor that helps keep students committed to learning (Dennen et al., 2007;Kehrwald, 2008;Robinson & Hullinger, 2008;Shea et al., 2006;Swan et al., 2000). ...
... Primarily, Moore's theory of transactional distance includes three elements: dialogue, structure, and learner autonomy. As explained earlier, dialogue interconnects between student-instructor, student-student, and student-content interactions (Ertmer et al., 2011;Lim, 2004;McBrien et al., 2009;Zhu, 2006). The term structure in this context refers to the way the content of a course is designed and delivered. ...
... Learners' autonomy, on the other hand, is embodied by how each student perceives their independent and interdependent participation in the course, and it is directly related to their attitude toward learning (Lim, 2004;McBrien et al., 2009). Online learning is commonly perceived as a student-oriented environment, and students have the ability to decide when to participate and what type of activity they want to participate in. ...
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Digital learning has often been criticized due to its lack of student engagement, which results from the physical absence of teachers and the lack of direct communication with their students. Critics of digital education have also pointed out that students’ disengagement is a major factor behind this education format’s inability to positively impact all stakeholders. This can be frustrating for the students themselves and may result in poor educational outcomes. Therefore, digital learning is regarded as a temporary arrangement and not a potential replacement for face-to-face education because of shortcomings that can lead to disengagement among students. To test the validity of this belief, we conducted an experimental study on 245 female Kuwaiti students. We trained teachers in the digital education shifting (DES) model. Following this model, we placed emphasis on student–teacher communication, cooperation among students, and enhanced the principles of digital learning. We asked the trained teachers’ students to respond to a self-assessed student engagement checklist survey to measure their engagement during online classes. We found that the students of the experimental group performed better on various parameters of observable and internal engagement compared to control group students. Contrary to general belief, we proved that the innovative DES approach can indeed make digital learning more engaging, effective, and a viable alternative or at least an aligned and integrated form for conventional education in the long run.
... Community Theory (Rovai, Wighting, & Lucking, 2004;Wenger, 2008) also influenced student engagement theorizing, with its emphasis on active participation, a sense of belonging and/or a feeling of membership, and the development of trust in self, peers, and the teacher. While Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) recognizes the role that teachers and peers play in influencing levels of intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, motivation is instead seen as an antecedent to engagement, as the intent that energizes behavior (Lim, 2004;Reeve, 2012;Reschly & Christenson, 2012). However, students can engage in learning without waiting to be motivated (Reeve, 2012). ...
... The microsystem includes the students' immediate setting, for example, home or the classroom, and includes interaction with teachers, peers, authentic and worthwhile tasks (Kearsley & Shneiderman, 1998;Lim, 2004), the institution, family, and technology (Willis, Povey, Hodges, & Carroll, 2018). These external factors play a vital role in students' ongoing sense of connectedness, well-being, engagement, and success (Aldridge & McChesney, 2018). ...
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Engaging students in their learning, and within their learning community, is a key goal of educators. However, ongoing discussions about its nature, conceptualization, and measurement have led to a diffusion of the concept’s understanding, and ability to apply it within both research and practice. This chapter draws on theoretical and empirical primary and secondary ODDE research, and provides an overview of student engagement and disengagement, particularly as they relate to educational technology. The four dimensions of behavioral, affective/emotional, cognitive, and social (dis-)engagement are presented, alongside example indicators. In addition, a bioecological model of student engagement is explored with explicit links to digital learning. The chapter concludes by providing open questions and directions for future research, including further emphasis and exploration needed on the role of social engagement in ODDE contexts, as well as disengagement as a separate construct.
... The adaptation of modern and emerging technology has an effect on the system [17]. The development and progression of online education system has been aided by internet networking, cloud storage and computing, smart sensors, distributed databases, enhanced security systems, user-friendly programming languages, complex software convergence frameworks, and portable devices [20]. ...
... Learners may use them to apply their tasks and to comment on the tasks of others. Blogs may also be used as learning logsa place to reflect, gather ideas and have smaller discussions [20]. ...
... The adaptation of modern and emerging technology has an effect on the system [17]. The development and progression of online education system has been aided by internet networking, cloud storage and computing, smart sensors, distributed databases, enhanced security systems, user-friendly programming languages, complex software convergence frameworks, and portable devices [20]. ...
... Learners may use them to apply their tasks and to comment on the tasks of others. Blogs may also be used as learning logsa place to reflect, gather ideas and have smaller discussions [20]. ...
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... Motivation is often associated with engagement and learning environment because motivation is known to have impacts on behavior, as it gives an activity its purpose and goal [8][9][10]. This motivational aspect can be traced to the environment where online learning takes place. ...
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... The summarised feedbacks (Figure 3) are shown as part of the apps since it was given by a person with credentials. It is essential for an educational mobile application to provide support and assist learners on their own pace and process of learning, reflecting and readapting (Lim, 2004). ...
... There is consensus in literature that learner engagement is one of the key factors of learning success (Chi and Wylie, 2014). Nevertheless, past research shows that learners lack engagement in online learning environments (Lim, 2004). Meaningful interactions, such as scaffolding dialogs between educators and learners, help learners to become more engaged in the learning process (Ferguson and Clow, 2015). ...
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The coherence principle is important because it is commonly violated, is straightforward to apply, and can have a strong impact on learning. This chapter summarizes the empirical evidence for excluding rather than including extraneous information in the form of background sound, added text, and added graphics. What is new in the chapter is some updating of the growing research base, but the main conclusion remains the same: Adding interesting but unnecessary materials to e-learning can harm the learning process. The chapter explores the merits of adding extra sounds, pictures, and words that are intended to make multimedia environments more interesting to the learner. The authors recommend avoiding adding extraneous sounds or music to instructional presentations, especially in situations in which the learner is likely to experience heavy cognitive processing demands. Much of the research reported in the chapter deals with short lessons delivered in a controlled lab environment. e-Learning
Article
Following teacher-presented science lessons, pairs of fourth and fifth graders studied the material by asking and answering each others’ self-generated questions. In one condition students’ discussion was guided by questions designed to promote connections among ideas within a lesson. In a second condition discussion was guided by similar lesson-based questions as well as ones intended to access prior knowledge/experience and promote connections between the lesson and that knowledge. All students were trained to generate explanations (one manifestation of complex knowledge construction). Analysis of post-lesson knowledge maps and verbal interaction during study showed that students trained to ask both kinds of questions engaged in more complex knowledge construction than those trained in lesson-based questioning only and controls. These findings, together with performance on comprehension tests for material studied, support the conclusion that, although both kinds of questions induce complex knowledge construction, questions designed to access prior knowledge/experience are more effective in enhancing learning.