Reading Group II: How do we measure success?

For this week’s reading group, I discussed a recent article I read by Alshare and Freeze:”The impacts of system and human factors on online learning systems use and learner satisfaction.”

The value, again, was not so much in the article or the research, but in what it makes you consider. That does not mean the article or research does not have value; I simply like to see direct correlations or comparisons built upon data, like students’ scores or completion rates, versus how the student feels. Oh, I may be digging a hole here–student’s perceptions have value. I just want to be able to measure improvement.

This article inspired thoughts on whether or not we compare a class that is run simultaneously in two different learning management systems. How would that work? Could we have the same content, the same instructor? Would it matter that there would be different students?

This sparked discussion as to ‘how could the content be the same?’ Blackboard differs greatly from WordPress. The experience would be greatly different regardless of whether or not the content was the same. Plus it is hard to come up with ‘the same’ when the platforms are so different.

In addition to that point of interest was the learners idea of their own web efficiency. The student’s reflection on whether or not they believed they were web savvy enough or tech-ready enough to succeed in an online course. Since this was a subjective measure I was skeptical. I want hard measures. However, did the student who believed he or she was ready do better than the student who didn’t? Hey – isn’t that just self-fulfilling prophecy?

Personally, I like the idea of making one change and seeing how grades or participation or a simple item like ‘turning work in on time’ improves. Perhaps that is where my focus should be.

Alshare, K. A., Freeze, R. D., Lane, P. L., & Wen, H. (2011). The impacts of system and human factors on online learning systems use and learner satisfaction. Decision Sciences Journal Of Innovative Education, 9(3), 437-461.

PS the article I really wanted to share was:

Morris, L. V., & Finnegan, C. L. (2008). Best practices in predicting and encouraging student persistence and achievement online. Journal Of College Student Retention: Research, Theory And Practice, 10(1), 55-64