One of the most important features determining successful adjustment and learning in the virtual classroom (VCR) is an individual’s ability to quickly, independently, and flexibly orient oneself in the new learning environment. It means grasping an idea of information-technological resources as well as the course organization with its academic, administrative, technical, and communicational requirements. In our research, this ability of twenty five students enrolled in the author’s online psychology class was investigated. The research methodology includes an analysis of the students’ preparation for their study in the course, an evaluation of correlation of these data with students' previous online experience as well as academic performance, and an analysis of the students’ descriptions and drawings of their classroom in the virtual space. According to the results, 1) different students’ orientation strategies were identified, 2) dependence of the orientation strategies rather on the personality traits than the online experience was discovered, 3) an impact of the orientation strategies on academic performance was shown, and 4) absence of complete and/or correct cognitive maps of their VCR was found in majority (63%) of investigated population. We suggest that farther enhancement of the online courses’ design should account for the potential difficulties in orientation in the virtual learning environment. New forms of instructional support are needed to help online students, especially beginners, develop skills to orient in, and get adequate knowledge of, their VCR. A better understanding of the instrument of learning would allow for a more productive study of the course subject.
Anna Toom, Touro College, USA
Stream: Technology enhanced and distance learning
This paper is part of the ECE2015 Conference Proceedings (View)
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