Bridging the Gap: Micro-credentials for Development

1 month ago

This paper describes current trends and issues in implementing micro-credentials. The Covid19 epidemic, combined with the increasing cost of higher education; employer concerns about graduate skills and competencies; increasing inequities in access; and student frustrations about lack of job opportunities have all been a catalyst for universities, colleges, independent credentialing agencies, and leaders of national qualification frameworks to rethink the broader credentials continuum in terms of open education and micro-credentials. Students desire more options at lower costs to combine their education and training for jobs.  Employers want entry-level employees with better skills and capacity to learn. As a result, major colleges and universities are now actively engaged in granting and/or recognising micro-credentials. Standardising qualifications based on time competencies is an essential requirement for credit transfer among institutions. Micro-credentials are important in ensuring the acceptance and stackability of credentials from different institutions, while providing employers with a secure and unalterable permanent digital record of applicants' abilities to perform skills of high value in the workplace. The OERu (Open Educational Resources universitas) provides an example of how one international consortium is supporting SDG4: Education for All by implementing micro-credentials allowing for maximum transferability among institutions in different countries. The lesson for strategic leaders is simplicity. Micro-credentials should be well Integrated into current institutional programs, rendered easy-to-use with clear validation metrics, providing a value-added benefit for all stakeholders.  A list of recommendations to institutions, governments, UNESCO and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) is provided.

Rory McGreal, Wayne Mackintosh, Glenda Cox, Don Olcott, Jr.

Evaluation of Higher-Order Skills Development in an Asynchronous Online Poster Session for Final Year Science Undergraduates

1 month ago

Preparing a scientific poster and presenting it at a conference supports the development of a range of skills in undergraduates that are relevant to further study and the workplace. This investigation focused on an asynchronous online poster session in a final year undergraduate science module at a UK university to assess evidence of higher-order skills development and determine student perceptions of the benefits and challenges of participating in the session.

The study analysed 100 randomly selected posters from the 2020 session for evidence of scientific understanding, application, and critical evaluation, together with the feedback received on them. While 73% of the posters demonstrated understanding and 70% application, a lower proportion (42%) demonstrated critical evaluation skills. Seventy-eight percent of posters were considered to have received feedback from peers that gave an effective or partially effective evaluation of scientific content.

Focus group discussions involving nine students led to the identification of themes relating to constraints, academic challenges, skills and experience, and personal development. Students recognized the value of the conference for skills development and the experience it gave of “real” science, while acknowledging the challenges involved in producing posters, giving feedback to peers, and managing their time.

The asynchronous online poster session enabled students to develop higher-order cognitive and communication skills that are valued by employers. This format provides a pragmatic and easy to implement alternative to synchronous online conferences, which is relevant to the shift toward online learning in higher education, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and increase in distance learning and international students.

Jennifer Duckworth, Catherine Halliwell

Unleashing Adult Learners’ Numeracy Agency Through Self-Determined Online Professional Development

1 month ago

Opportunities for self-determined online professional development (OPD) are emerging, but their potential for increasing adult learners’ agency is not yet fully realised. Faced with the problem of successfully designing a self-determined comprehensive evidence-based online numeracy resource for educators who are often time poor and do not engage with online learning unless they are intrinsically motivated, we engaged in design research to conceptualise the Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide for educators and families. The Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide fosters educators’ and adult learners’ numeracy capability across numeracy focus areas from birth to level 10 (16-year-olds). This extensive OPD resource incorporates consistent design elements, double-looped learning, nonlinear learning, self-reflection, and metacognition activities to foster educators’ pedagogical content knowledge (PCK) through experiential learning. With a section dedicated to families, the resource provides suggestions and advice to parents and carers on everyday, authentic activities to develop children and young people’s numeracy understandings at home and in the local community. As education systems continue to grapple with the disruption brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, the Birth to Level 10 Numeracy Guide is a timely, freely accessed, viable, and scalable option for providing low-cost OPD.

Chris Walsh, Leicha Bragg, Tracey Muir, Greg Oates

Latent Profiles of Online Self-Regulated Learning: Relationships with Predicted and Final Course Grades

1 month ago

This study used a combined person- and variable-centered approach to identify self-regulated online learning latent profiles and examine their relationships with the predicted and earned course grades. College students (N=177) at a Southeastern U.S. university responded to the Online Self-Regulated Learning Questionnaire. Exploratory structural equation modeling revealed four self-regulation factors: goal setting, environment management, peer help-seeking, and task strategies. Latent profile analysis yielded four latent profiles: Below Average Self-Regulation (BASR), Average Self-Regulation (ASR), Above Average Self-Regulation (AASR), and Low Peer Help-Seeking (LPHS). Compared with the AASR group, when students anticipated obtaining a higher course grade, they were less likely to engage in peer help-seeking and task strategies and more likely to adopt the LPHS self-regulation profile. Relating to LPHS, membership to all other groups predicted significantly lower course grades. AASR and LPHS predicted their performance most accurately, with non-significant differences between the predicted and the final course grades.

Diana Mindrila, Li Cao

Qualifying with Different Types of Quizzes in an Online EFL course: Influences on Perceived Learning and Academic Achievement

1 month ago

This quasi-experimental study explored how different online exam types differentiate learners’ academic achievement and perceived learning. The participants comprised 95 undergraduate students enrolled in an English course at a Turkish university in three groups, each taking a different type of quiz: with multiple-choice, open-ended, and mixed type questions. The results indicated that the academic achievement of the students in multiple-choice and open-ended groups increased and that quiz results improved the most for the multiple-choice group relative to the other groups. The study found a moderate level of significant relationship between cognitive and affective perceived learning and multiple-choice quiz scores. In addition, the study found a weak level of significant relationship between cognitive and affective perceived learning and mixed-design quiz scores, and between cognitive learning and the academic achievement scores of the mixed-design group. Semi-structured online interviews undertaken to further explain the quantitative data displayed positive influences of the different types of quizzes in terms of study behaviors and satisfaction. The findings of this study are expected to shed light for practitioners aiming to use different online assessment types.

Ünal Çakıroğlu, Esin Saylan, İsak Çevik, Adem Özkan

Examining Pre-Service Teachers’ Perceptions About Virtual Classrooms in Online Learning

1 month ago

Using a descriptive research design, this study explored pre-service teachers’ perceptions of synchronous virtual classrooms and Web camera use in online learning. The study sample consisted of 256 pre-service teachers from the education faculty of a university in Turkey, and data was collected using a survey. The results showed that most pre-service teachers did not want to open their own Web cameras, due to reasons such as unsuitable physical environment, unsuitable appearance, and distractions on the screen. In addition, they stated that instructors’ gestures, facial expressions, and verbal-visual emphases were essential, and they wanted instructors to be visible on screen. They also suggested that student-centered practices and question-answer activities should be carried out to increase the effectiveness of virtual classrooms. In addition, sessions should not be scheduled in the early hours of the day, and should be of short duration.

Murat Debbag, Mustafa Fidan

Doing Open Science in a Research-Based Seminar: Students’ Positioning Towards Openness in Higher Education

1 month ago

This study investigates undergraduate students’ attitudes towards and experiences with open education practices (OEP) in a research-based linguistics seminar. Data was collected through written assignments in which two groups of students in subsequent terms were surveyed on their willingness to publish (a) academic posters in open access (OA); (b) teaching concepts as open educational resources (OER); and (c) personal reflections on the research process in OA. Through qualitative data analysis, we examine students’ apprehensions and motivations to publish their artifacts. We find that key motivators are a sense of belonging, personal reward, and an active contribution to a culture of collaboration, whereas apprehensions are grounded in concerns about the quality of their work, uncertainties about licensing, and fear of vulnerability through visibility. We show that open science practices and OEP can be combined synergistically in process-oriented, research-based, and collaborative seminar concepts, and we formulate recommendations for lecturers on how to successfully address OEP in the classroom.

Naomi Truan, Dennis Dressel

Open Textbook Author Journeys: Internal Conversations and Cycles of Time

1 month ago

One of the challenges experienced in South African higher education (HE) is a lack of access to affordable, appropriate textbooks and other teaching materials that can be legally shared on online forums and the Internet. There are also increasing calls to address transformation and social justice globally and in South African HE through curriculum transformation. This article draws on the research of the Digital Open Textbooks for Development initiative at the University of Cape Town (UCT). It presents the journeys of four open textbook authors at UCT in relation to the social injustices they witness in their classrooms. It also makes use of Margaret Archer’s social realist approach to explore dynamics related to open textbook authors’ agency and ultimate concerns, as well as how their internal conversations shape their practices and approaches to open textbooks. Open textbooks are framed as a set of practices that play out in varying cycles of time and hold promise in terms of addressing the need for greater access and inclusivity in HE.

Glenda Cox, Michelle Willmers, Bianca Masuku

The Landscape of MOOC Platforms Worldwide

1 month ago

Previous studies have mainly investigated major massive open online course (MOOC) platforms such as Coursera, edX, and Udemy. This study used 21 metrics to explore 35 MOOC platforms from across the world. Five Web analytics tools were used to analyze these MOOC platforms using data from MOOC platform directories and exploration of platform sites. The findings revealed that many universities, companies, and organizations have cooperated with the platforms and provided MOOCs through them. Major global platforms have offered thousands of MOOCs while regional platforms were more likely to have offered dozens. Some large platforms had millions of registered users while others registered just thousands. The major global platforms were established in the US to offer MOOCs mainly in English, though they offered MOOCs in other languages as well. The regional platforms offered MOOCs mainly in local languages, and to some extent in English and other languages. Some platforms engaged users for long periods while others failed to keep users after they viewed the first page of the platform. On average, a visitor stayed on a platform for 8 minutes visited 7.2 pages per visit. Major global platforms attracted users from all over the world, while regional platforms mainly attracted users from countries where the regional platform language was spoken. Some platforms had very few accessibility and contrast errors while other platforms performed poorly. Most platforms were mobile-friendly. However, administrators of almost all MOOC platforms should take actions to increase the speed of their platform. Other recommendations include undertaking marketing campaigns to increase the number of partners, the number of MOOCs offered, and the platforms’ visibility.

Maria Perifanou, Anastasios A. Economides

Revising and Validating the Community of Inquiry Instrument for MOOCs and other Global Online Courses

1 month ago

Globally, online course enrollments have grown, and English is often used as a lingua franca for instruction. The Community of Inquiry (CoI) framework can inform the creation of more supportive, interaction-rich online learning environments. However, the framework and its accompanying validated instrument were created in North America, limiting researchers’ ability to use the instrument in courses where participants have varying levels of English language proficiency. We revised the CoI instrument so it could be more easily read and understood by individuals whose native language is not English. Using exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses (EFA and CFA) on data obtained from global online courses and MOOCs, we found the revised instrument had good fit statistics once seven items were removed. This study expands the usability of the CoI instrument beyond the original and translated versions, and provides an example of adapting and validating an existing instrument for global courses.

Jered Borup, Joan Kang Shin, Marvin G. Powell, Anya S. Evmenova, Woomee Kim

Extending The Community of Inquiry Framework: Development and Validation of Technology Sub-Dimensions

1 month ago

Since the mandatory switch to online education due to the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, technology has gained more importance for online teaching and learning environments. The Community of Inquiry (CoI) is one of the validated frameworks widely used to examine online learning. In this paper, we offer an extension to the CoI framework and survey, arguing that meaningful and appropriate use of technologies has become a requirement in today’s pandemic and post-pandemic educational contexts. With this goal, we propose adding three technology-related sub-dimensions that would fall under each main presence of the CoI framework: (a) technology for teaching, (b) technology for interaction, and (c) technology for learning. Based on exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses, we added 5 items for technology for teaching sub-dimension, 4 items for technology for interaction sub-dimension, and 5 items for technology for learning sub-dimension in the original CoI survey. Further research and practice implications are also discussed in this paper.

Mutlu Şen-Akbulut, Duygu Umutlu, Serkan Arıkan

Emergency Online Learning: The Effects of Interactional, Motivational, Self-Regulatory, and Situational Factors on Learning Outcomes and Continuation Intentions

1 month ago

This study investigated the effects of interactional, motivational, self-regulatory, and situational factors on university students’ online learning outcomes and continuation intentions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data were collected from 255 students taking a business course at a university in southern China. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses revealed that while family financial hardship caused by COVID-19 was a marginally significant negative predictor of students’ learning outcomes, learner–content interaction; instructors’ provision of e-resources, course planning, and organisation; and students’ intrinsic goal orientation and meta-cognitive self-regulation were significant positive predictors with the latter two sets of predictors mediating the effects of learner–instructor and learner–learner interactions, respectively. Multinominal logistic regression analyses showed that learner–instructor interaction, learner–content interaction, and private learning space were significant positive predictors of students’ intentions to continue with online learning, but learner–learner interaction was a significant negative predictor. These findings point to the differential effects of various types of interactional and situational factors on learning outcomes and continuation intentions, and the instructor- and learner-level factors that mediate the effects of learner–instructor and learner–learner interactions on learning outcomes. They contribute to our understandings of emergency online learning and provide implications for facilitating it.

Jun Lei, Teng Lin

Students’ Intention to Take E-Learning Courses During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Protection Motivation Theory Perspective

1 month ago

This study proposes a new model for integrating the protection motivation theory (PMT) with the technology acceptance model (TAM) to explore factors affecting students’ intention to attend e-learning courses during the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 432 valid responses to an online questionnaire were received from freshmen students studying in universities in Vietnam and Taiwan. Structural equation modeling was used to evaluate the proposed research model and test the hypotheses, and model evaluation reflected a good fit between the data and the proposed research model. Differences between perceived vulnerability, perceived severity, and intention to take e-learning courses across two countries were also established, suggesting that both the TAM and the PMT should be considered for use in studies related to technology adoption in the pandemic context. The factors influencing students’ intentions to take online courses can be quite varied when different educational settings are considered; therefore, a more contextual understanding of students’ e-learning intentions during pandemic times should be carefully examined. Suggestions for governments and policy makers are also proposed.

Hoai Than Nguyen, Chia Wei Tang

Educational Processes and Learning at Home During COVID-19: Parents’ Experiences with Distance Education

1 month ago

Due to the lockdown measures and severe restrictions taken to reduce COVID-19 transmission, which has globally been inflicted on people since March 2020, a new type of education in the form of online homeschooling has brought the role of parents to the forefront. Using online semi-structured interviews, this study aimed to investigate parents’ views on the implementation of distance education during COVID-19 in Istanbul, Turkey. The data obtained from parents with different socioeconomic backgrounds and whose children were at public and private schools were coded using initial, process, and emotion qualitative coding techniques. The data were categorized into three main themes: beginning of distance education, process of distance education, and outcomes of distance education. The beginning theme was further analyzed under three subcategories: problems related to the child, problems related to parents, and problems related to public schools. The problems encountered during the process of distance education were investigated under three subheadings: problems related to the child’s academic and social life, problems related to parents, and problems related to parent–child relationships. Data under the main theme, outcomes of distance education, were defined as positive or negative outcomes in terms of the child and parents. Results revealed that at the beginning of the process, during the process, and during the outcomes of distance education, parents experienced problems with digital technology, the new education model, teachers, themselves, and their children, as well as economic, social, and psychological problems. Parents also had various constructive suggestions about distance education during COVID-19.

Mehmet Raci Demir, Hülya Yildizli