Current Research Project Updates

Exploring the Awareness of Web 2.0 and 3.0 Tools in Fully Online Learning Community Environments 

Ashley Hope, Jessie Branch, Graham Lean & RvO – EILab Research Project (Projected Submission Date – 2023)

Link to an earlier version of this study written by S. Webb. Click here to download.

Abstract:In order to participate in the co-creation of the digital space inherent in Fully Online Learning Community (FOLC) environments (vanOostveen, DiGiuseppe, Barber, Blayone & Childs, 2016), learners must be familiar with the types of web-based tools that are available, and how they can be used to support collaborative learning. Bower (2015) states that educators have a narrow conception of web-based technologies and consequently there are many web-based applications which have not yet been found or utilized. It is suspected that this is also the case for many learners. This paper examines the awareness of web-based tools as well as their use in learning contexts by instructors and students working in FOLC environments. Specifically, the investigation looks to determine if learners and faculty are aware of web-based tools that can help learners to understand concepts, models and theories and how the tools allow for the development of learner autonomy and resilience within fully online learning environments. Participants in fully online courses at a medium-sized Canadian university were asked to respond to a survey as well as participate in a series of repertory grid focus group sessions, held in an audio-video conferencing virtual room. Preliminary results suggest that while awareness of some tools is more prevalent than previously suspected, the use of these types of tools is constrained by a number of factors including a lack of knowledge of how to incorporate the tools into online environments, and a lack of interest in using these tools. The paper includes a full analysis of all collected data.

Keywords: Web 2.0, Web 3.0, semantic web, fully online learning community, online learning, connectivism

COVID-19 Teaching and Learning Experiences Project: Using the GREx Dashboard to Investigate Online Skill Development During the Pandemic

Matthew McGravey & RvO – EILab Research Project (ICERI Conference Paper – 2022)

Link to ICERI Conference Paper in ResearchGate. Click here to download.

Abstract: The increased drive towards digital economies, coupled with the transition to online modes of educational access and work during the COVID-19 global pandemic, necessitated a heightened focus on being able to assess digital competencies. Organizations such as the World Economic Forum and Conference Board of Canada state that developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills are vital for individuals to adapt to increasingly digitized and digitalized spaces in a rapidly changing world. The Global Readiness Explorer Project (GREx), a customizable, comprehensive digital toolkit for individuals, institutions, and organizations, offers potential users sets of assessment tools that can provide feedback and insights while using specific indicators regarding digital competency and readiness to engage in fully online learning environments. GREx can also be utilized to develop additional tools to meet the needs of potential users. Utilizing the GREx toolkit, The COVID-19 Teaching and Learning Transition Project (CTLTP) was intended to examine the potential effects of a rapid shift to online teaching and learning at a medium-sized technical university in Ontario. The university espouses a technology-enhanced learning environment using various digital tools. While there were several fully online social and health sciences programs, even before the pandemic, most students learned in physical classrooms and laboratories. This project invited these students, new to fully online learning environments, to participate in responding to three surveys that probed their digital and fully online learning skills and asked about the transition that they experienced during the pandemic. Participants recorded significant negative effects regarding the move to the fully online environment; however, additional research needs to be conducted to determine what lies behind the negative participant perceptions.

Keywords: fully online learning environments, transition, Global Readiness Explorer (GREx), digitization, digitalization, technology-enhanced teaching and learning

Fully Online Learning Community Proposal: Design and Implementation of Online Additional Qualifications Courses with the Ontario College of Teachers

Developing Online Courses Through University Professional Partnerships – W. Barber, R. vanOostveen, E. Childs, D. McGuckin, S. Vohra

Link to EDULearn 2020 Conference Paper. Click here to download.

Abstract: In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we are surrounded by a plethora of digital learning spaces, and the variety of definitions of the term online learning can mean anything from synchronous to asynchronous and blended to flipped. In addition, the numbers of students taking online courses in post-secondary environments continues to increase dramatically. In 2013, in the U.S., 33.5% of higher education students were taking at least one online course [1]. By 2015, approximately 360,000 Canadian students, accounting for 29% of all Canadian university students, were registered in an online course [2]. Almost 35% of all post-secondary students in the USA are taking at least one online course [3,4]. In recent years, the emphasis on e-learning and virtual learning environments has made the stakes for professional development even higher. Increasing demands on adult learners mean that learning needs to be available anywhere, anytime, and the ubiquitous presence of the internet requires learners to be critical consumers, self-directed problem-solvers, and astute designers of their own learning experiences. As such, the need for partnerships between universities and professional organizations has grown dramatically, with businesses and institutions of higher education searching for better strategies for employee professional learning and student development. Educators, today still believe in the role partnerships can play in both teacher development and school improvement. For many researchers, too, it is currently widely held that, “school-university partnerships hold significant potential to enhance teachers’ professional development and thereby foster student learning” [5, p. 155] Both individually and collectively, learners are relying more and more on communities of practice wherein they can collaboratively participate in meaningful discourse, , disrupt old ideas, think creatively and develop innovative strategies to make online learning more effective and relevant. This research reports on a Canadian university Faculty of Education’s partnership with the professional accreditation body of the Ontario College of Teachers (OCT), as the university researchers supported teachers in developing effective online learning courses. Through the Fully Online Learning Communities (FOLC) model, teachers collaborated with university faculty to develop a model focused on problem-based learning, wherein the co-design of the learning environment was shaped by social presence and cognitive presence. Through intentional disruption of previously held ideas of online learning, participants gained new understandings of how the role of teacher shifts to one of facilitator and the role of the learner becomes more self-directed and interdependent with the rest of the learning community.

Keywords: Online Learning, Professional Learning Communities, Teacher Development, Digital Learning Environments