Instructional uses of computer-based communications in selected university learning environments
Jeffrey Clayton Plant, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, United States
Southern Illinois University at Carbondale . Awarded
The purpose of this study was to contribute to a better understanding of the use of computer based communications in selected universities. The study identified issues and concerns in universities which have incorporated computer based communications as a part of their curricula. Further, the study examined selected universities to determine current utilization, assessed perceptions of university educators, and identified barriers and recommendations regarding implementation of computer based communications. A series of conclusions and recommendations were generated for consideration by the University Council for Vocational Education (UCVE). The study included both quantitative and qualitative research methodologies.
For the quantitative methodologies, the researcher conducted an E-mail survey of eighteen member institutions of the UCVE to assess extents to which those institutions utilized computer based communications to support distance learning.
The findings suggested that vocational educators strongly believed the utilization of computer based communications to be of value to the future of their university programs. In addition, vocational education faculty believed having time to develop educational materials was an important factor in supporting computer based distance learning activities. The Internet served as the primary computer based communications technology to support traditional lecture based courses.
All eighteen university programs utilized E-mail as a means of computer based communication with peers and students. Approximately ninety four percent of vocational education faculty utilized the technology in some manner to support distance learning. Clearly, vocational educators believed the utilization of E-mail and on-line List Serve discussion groups, were beneficial in supporting new forms of computer based distance learning.
For the qualitative methodologies, two case studies were used to better identify characteristics of active and passive UCVE members in terms of their use of computer communications. The passive UCVE member institution was considered helpful in terms of perceptions and barriers to the implementation of computer based communications to support distance learning.
Case studies revealed that university vocational education faculty perceived the re-certification of vocational education professionals and the growth of graduate student programs as potential markets for the future utilization of computer based communications.
Case study participants reported the use of Internet as a computer based communications tool held a high degree of interest for students utilizing the technology. Case study participants further reported their students were more aware of materials placed on the Internet and were better prepared for class. The high degree of student interest was viewed as one of the most valuable contributions computer based communications has to offer to university learning environments. Case study participants were quick to point out that delivery of instruction via computer based communications had not made their job any easier, but the dividends of increased student interest and involvement made their efforts worthwhile. Recommendations addressed the need for further study and possible actions for the University Council for Vocational Education.
Plant, J.C. Instructional uses of computer-based communications in selected university learning environments. Ph.D. thesis, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale.
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