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Open access

Sarah Honeychurch, Aras Bozkurt, Lenandlar Singh and Apostolos Koutropoulos

Abstract

Lurkers, who are also known as silent learners, observers, browsers, read-only participants, vicarious learners, free-riders, witness learners, or legitimate peripheral participants (our preferred term), tend to be hard to track in a course because of their near invisibility. We decided to address this issue and to examine the perceptions that lurkers have of their behaviour by looking at one specific online learning course: CLMOOC. In order to do this, we used a mixed methods approach and collected our data via social network analysis, online questionnaires, and observations, including definitions from the lurkers of what they thought lurking was. We then analysed the data by using social network and content analyses and interpreted the research findings using the concept Community of Practice, with the Pareto Principle used to delimit types of learner. Our research findings revealed that lurking is a complex behaviour, or set of behaviours, and there isn’t one sole reason why lurkers act the ways that they do in their respective communities. We concluded that for a more participatory community the more active, experienced or visible community members could develop strategies to encourage lurkers to become more active and to make the journey from the periphery to the core of the community.

Open access

Aggeliki Fotiadou, Christina Angelaki and Ilias Mavroidis

Abstract

The present study aims to empirically examine the relation between learner autonomy and specific aspects of the learning process, such as student-student interaction and tutor-student interaction, in a distance learning environment in Greece. An empirical study was conducted at the Hellenic Open University (HOU) using data gathered via a four-section questionnaire, completed by 100 postgraduate students. The correlation analysis yielded a positive correlation between learner autonomy and both student-student and tutor-student interaction. In particular, the results revealed the existence of a positive correlation between all three subscales of autonomy, namely sensibility to others, ability to manage new situations and self-awareness, and student-student interaction. A significant positive correlation was also observed between selfawareness and tutor-student interaction. Moreover, the results suggested that there are no statistically significant differences of the above parameters in relation to demographic features, such as gender, age and the number of Counselling Group Sessions (CGS) in which students had participated. Yet, results suggested that there is an effect of the number of course modules attended by students on the levels of student-student interaction.

Open access

Mohsen Saadatmand, Lars Uhlin, Maria Hedberg, Lotta Åbjörnsson and Maria Kvarnström

Abstract

Open online courses are becoming more prevalent at local level and for and professional development objectives. Proper instructional design combined with use of online tools can promote learner interaction in online environments. Using the Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework, this study aimed at examining learners’ interaction and their perceptions of teaching presence, social presence, and cognitive presence in an open online course offered for professional development in three Swedish universities. The course was free and open to all, attracting participants from all over the world. In order to understand the online interactions of the course, three presences of CoI were matched to three types of interaction (Moore, 1989). Data were collected through a slightly revised version of the CoI instrument and open-ended questions were added. Survey results showed that participants had high perceptions of the three presences in the course. Results also yielded significant relationships between teaching presence and cognitive presence, as well as social presence and cognitive presence. The findings suggest that deploying a set of online tools combined with appropriate pedagogical approaches in designing open online courses could foster learner interaction especially learner-content interaction and cognitive presence.

Open access

Hanne Voldborg Andersen and Elsebeth Korsgaard Sorensen

Abstract

The purpose of this paper is to investigate in which ways technologies may be used to increase inclusion and a feeling of flow and self-efficacy in learning processes when it comes to learners with developmental and attention deficits (focus learners) in a mainstream classroom. The paper is one piece of outcome of a wider study on ICT facilitated inclusion, and this current piece of research addresses the challenges of enhancing focus learners’ comprehension when working with the curriculum. Several technologies have been tried out in a real school context and seven types of interventions are identified as valuable for focus learners’ capability in learning processes. The paper discusses the findings and concludes that conscious use of technology-based interventions makes it possible to provide learning challenges balanced to the learners’ individual skills. But a broader understanding and acceptance by all stakeholders of the specific challenges of this group of learners in mainstream educational systems seems needed to fulfil the potential.

Open access

Alexandra Pentaraki and Gary J. Burkholder

Abstract

There is emerging evidence that suggests emotions as a discrete factor in academic online contexts that significantly contribute to student engagement and higher order learning (Cleveland-Innes & Campbell, 2012; You, 2012, You & Kang, 2014; Zembylas, 2008; Liaw, 2008). Pekrun (2000) and Pekrun, Goetz, Frenzel, Barchfeld, and Perry (2011) developed the control-value theory of achievement emotion that not only showed that emotions represent a discrete category in student engagement, but that there are certain factors such as perceived academic control and self-regulation that function as antecedents of students’ emotional reactions that affect online learning. The aim of the present paper is to review the emerging research evidence of the impact of emotions on students’ engagement in order to understand the distinct role that emotions may play in online learning. The review also proposes strategies and activities that teachers can use in order to enhance students’ positive engagement in online learning. The findings suggest that emotions are significant factors in students’ engagement in online learning while cognitive and behavioural factors function as antecedents of emotions in online contexts. The inclusion of emotional, cognitive and behavioural strategies in online teaching can enhance students’ engagement and learning experience in the online classroom.

Open access

Klaus D. Stiller and Regine Bachmaier

Abstract

High dropout rates are still a problem with online training. It is strongly suggested that learner characteristics influence the decision to persist in an online course or to drop out. The study explored the differences in domain-specific prior knowledge, motivation, computer attitude, computer anxiety, and learning skills between dropouts and active learners who enrolled in a vocational online training about media pedagogy for teachers. The data were collected from 575 trainee teachers from which three groups were formed: (a) students who only registered (n = 72) and (b) students who started learning but failed to complete any of the course modules (n = 124) and (c) active students who completed at least one module (n = 379). A dropout rate of 34.1% was observed. In general, only small effects were found. Students dropping out were older, had less prior knowledge, and lower skills in arranging an adequate learning environment.

Open access

Hana Lukášová

Abstract

Introduction: This study summarized the results of research on quality of life as conceived by Czech fifth-graders.

Methods: The subjects responded in writing to three tasks that asked them to describe the characteristics of quality of life. The first task required them to picture what they imagined under a magazine headline entitled “Quality of Children’s Lives”. The second task required them to explain this headline to their classmates, while the third task asked them to generate their own ideas of a bad life, normal life, and excellent life.

The sample consisted of 174 fifth-grade pupils from two Czech localities. The pupils’ statements were open-coded, and then the codes were cumulated to create content categories.

Results: Ten large categories emerged from the data that depicted children’s ideas of quality of life. Data processing the frequencies of the content of the categories were computed to show the ranking of the characteristics of the quality of life as selected by the children. The study revealed that the fifth-grade pupils attributed a wide range of valuable characteristics (social, psychological, environmental, spiritual and personal) to the concept of quality of life.

Discussion: In pedagogical theory, the quality of children’s lives is a concept with a number of meanings. It includes qualities related to biopsycho- personal, social, and spiritual aspects of life.

Limitations: The quality of children’s lives is a multidimensional concept and we can study only some of them.

Conclusions: Responses to the third research question can be summarized into three key answers, illustrated by relevant statements of the Czech fifth-grade students.

Open access

László Trencsényi

Abstract

On the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, this essay analyses those educational innovations in the history of central European education that were introduced by the Church reform in the 16th century, following these modernizations and their further developments through the spreading of the universal school systems in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Drawing examples from the innovations in the college culture of the period, the author emphasises that those pedagogical values established in the 16th century are not only valid today, but are exemplary from the point of view of contemporary education. From these the author highlights: pupils’ autonomy (in the form of various communities), cooperation with the teachers and school management and the relative pluralism of values.

Open access

Ilona Kočvarová

Abstract

Introduction: The article focuses on the situation in the area of secondary education in the Czech Republic. Its aim is to reflect three topics: population reduction, unification of curriculum and diversification of financial support of secondary education in the Czech Republic in 2006 - 2016.

Methods: The results are underlined by available data from the national statistics. The data are collected annually and are accessible on the website of the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. They contain the entire population of secondary schools, teachers and pupils. Analysis was provided with the use of SPSS, version 24.

Results: There is a reduction of vocational and apprentice schools, but at the same time we are increasing financial support to their fields of study. Under the 2004 law, each school has an individual school educational program, but realistically, we see that the curriculum at secondary school level of education rather standardises. On the labour market, we need graduates of vocational and apprentice schools, but we still strongly support grammar schools and other theoretically oriented schools, whose graduates are not motivated for manual professions.

Discussion: Closer analysis focused on reflection of selected trends in the area of secondary education is needed for the purposes of education policy and for planning future research studies in this area.

Limitations: Continuous development takes place in the field of education. All comparisons in the years 2006-2016 are therefore limited. The data were used in their original form, in some cases were not available and therefore they could not be included in the analysis.

Conclusions: Educational policy is very complicated, because education is difficult to control and it is based on freedom of access. Therefore, the most important target for the future is to stabilize the situation and be able to reflect maximum of factors influencing secondary education in our society. Although current trends clearly support lifelong learning and its unification, we should not forget the specific fields of apprentice and vocational schools, which are needed on the labour market.

Open access

Tomáš Svatoš and Martina Maněnová

Abstract

Introduction: The authors consider a book (as a pedagogical text) a traditional and timeless source of knowledge for many different groups of learners. It is a known fact that textbook authors, teachers, researchers, etc. generally pay more attention to the text part of the book than to its visual materials. However, the latter are just as important in understanding the subject matter and its applications as textual information on the topic.

Methods: The psycho-didactic experiment described in this paper aims to widen the findings about the perception and understanding of visual parts of textbooks for pupils in their first years of schooling. In the paper, a less-known research method based on eye-tracking is presented.

Results: The main results of the research are as follows: According to the findings of the authors, each pupil accepts and understands visual materials individually and this acceptance and understanding of visual materials is influenced by pupils’ personality traits. The research also shows that pupils prefer visual materials that depict reality as accurately as possible.

Conclusions: The research was designed as a case study which could be used for further research of a similar form.