The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning <p>The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning (<a href=""></a>) is a refereed, open access e-journal that disseminates original research, theory, and best practice in open and distributed learning worldwide. IRRODL is available free-of-charge to anyone with access to the Internet, and there are no article submission or access charges for publication in this open journal.</p> <p>The Journal targets both researchers and practitionares of open and distance education systems. It thus aims to improve the quality of basic and applied research while also addressing the need for this knowledge to be translated into polices and activities that improve educational opportunity for students and teachers.</p> en-US <p>This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution&nbsp;4.0 International Licence. The copyright of all content published in IRRODL is retained by the authors.</p> <p>This copyright agreement and use license ensures, among other things, that an article will be as widely distributed as possible and that the article can be included in any scientific and/or scholarly archive.</p> <p>You are free to</p> <ul> <li class="show"><strong>Share</strong> — copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format</li> <li class="show"><strong>Adapt</strong> — remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially.</li> </ul> <p>The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms below:</p> <ul> <li class="show">&nbsp;<strong>Attribution</strong> — You must give <a href="">appropriate credit</a>, provide a link to the license, and <a href="">indicate if changes were made</a>. You may do so in any reasonable manner, but not in any way that suggests the licensor endorses you or your use.</li> </ul> <ul> <li class="show"><strong>No additional restrictions</strong> — You may not apply legal terms or <a href="">technological measures</a> that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.</li> </ul> (IRRODL Manager) (AU Press Technical Support) Mon, 15 Mar 2021 12:30:51 -0600 OJS 60 Editorial - Volume 22, Issue 1 <img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Dietmar Kennepohl Copyright (c) 2021 Tue, 02 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 Learners’ Satisfaction With the Website Performance of an Open and Distance Learning Institution: A Case Study <p>This paper explores learners’ awareness of and satisfaction with the e-services that an open university provides its learners through its Website. The paper further highlights the influence of age, gender, and education levels on learners’ awareness and satisfaction levels. A case-study approach was adopted and an online survey was used to collect data from learners in various programs of study at Uttarakhand Open University, India. The questionnaire measured the awareness levels of learners regarding 15 frequently used e-services and their satisfaction levels with the 12 most frequently used e-services that the university offers. Results show that gender, age, and education level have a significant influence on the awareness and satisfaction level of the participants. When maturity level and education level of the participants increased, they are more aware of the e-services provided by the University. In some cases, up to 58% of users were unaware of the university’s e-services, and a large number of respondents were either dissatisfied with or undecided regarding the university’s e-services. Results indicate that infrastructure is required for learners’ optimal use of information and communication technology and the e-services that the university offers, including the provision of Internet connectivity at all of the university’s learning support centers.</p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Gopal Datt, Gagan Singh Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 Micro:bit Robotics Course: Infusing Logical Reasoning and Problem-Solving Ability in Fifth Grade Students Through an Online Group Study System <p class="3"><span lang="EN-US">With rising societal interest in the subject areas of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (STEAM), a micro:bit robotics course with an online group study (OGS) system was designed to foster student learning anytime and anywhere. OGS enables the development of a learning environment that combines real-world and digital-world resources, and can enhance the effectiveness of learning among students from a remote area. In this pre- and post-test experiment design, we studied 22 (8 males and 14 females) 5th grade students from a remote area of Taiwan. A <em>t </em>test performed before and after the robotics course showed a positive increase in students’ proportional reasoning, probabilistic reasoning, and ability to analyze a problem. Results also revealed a gender difference in the association between students’ logical reasoning and problem-solving ability.</span></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Po-Jen Cheng, Yuan-Hsun Liao, Pao-Ta Yu Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 Are Highly Motivated Learners More Likely to Complete a Computer Programming MOOC? <p class="3"><span lang="EN">Computer programming MOOCs attract people who have different motivations. Previous studies have hypothesized that the motivation declared before starting the course can be an important predictor of distinctive dropout rates. The aim of this study was to outline the main motivation clusters of participants in a computer programming MOOC, and to compare how these clusters differed in terms of intention to complete and actual completion rate. The sample consisted of 1,181 respondents to the pre-course questionnaire in the <em>Introduction to Programming </em>MOOC. A validated motivation scale, based on expectancy-value theory and k-means cluster analysis, was used to form the groups. The four identified clusters were named as Opportunity motivated (27.7%), Over-motivated (28.6%), Success motivated (19.6%) and Interest motivated (24.0%). Comparison tests and chi-square test were used to describe the differences among the clusters. There were statistically significant differences among clusters in self-evaluated probability of completion. Also, significant differences emerged among three clusters in terms of percentages of respondents who completed the MOOC. Interestingly, the completion rate was the lowest in the Over-motivated cluster. A statistically significant higher ratio of completers to non-completers was found in the Opportunity motivated, Success motivated, and Interest motivated clusters. Our findings can be useful for MOOC instructors, as a better vision of participants’ motivational profiles at the beginning of the MOOC might help to inform the MOOC design to better support different needs, potentially resulting in lower dropout rates.</span></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Piret Luik, Marina Lepp Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 Comparative Analysis of Operational Structures in Single- and Dual-Mode Distance Learning Institutions in Nigeria <p>This study examined the similarities and differences in the processes and facilities for distance education at National Open University of Nigeria (NOUN), a single-mode distance learning institution, and Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife, a dual-mode distance learning institution. The study adopted a case study research design, with a population of administrators/facilitators and distance learning students at both NOUN and OAU. The sample for the study consisted of 38 key informants (30 administrators/facilitators and 8 students) selected using a purposive sampling technique. All the administrators/facilitators responded to a key informant questionnaire; 8 of the administrators/facilitators and all 8 students were also interviewed. The 16 interviewees were selected based on gender, institution, educational role, and mode of distance learning. The collected data were analysed using tabular juxtaposition and phenomenological analysis techniques. Results showed that similarities in the operational structures at NOUN and OAU included the use of blended learning approaches. Differences in operations included compulsory tutorial attendance at OAU and the deployment of part-time and quasi part-time facilitators at NOUN and OAU, respectively. The study recommended an increase in the use of information and communications technology (ICT).</p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Taiwo Isaac Olatunji, Tajudeen Adewumi Adebisi Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 Using Open Educational Resources at Viterbo University: Faculty and Student Feedback <p class="3"><span lang="EN-US">This study evaluated a coordinated and collaborative pilot implementation of open educational resources (OER) across multiple disciplines including nursing, accounting, environmental science, religious studies, and finance. Participating faculty were qualitatively surveyed regarding their experience creating and implementing OER in a course. Students were surveyed on their perceptions of OER quality, cost savings, and ease of use. Faculty had an overall positive experience with OER, believing there was a significant benefit to students in cost savings while maintaining learning quality. Faculty felt the OER implementation process took a significant investment of time and recommended that faculty should be compensated for creating and implementing OER materials in future courses. Students overall showed positive responses to using OER in their course; the majority of students agreed with the OER cost savings, quality of OER resources, ease of using OER, and they trusted the use of OER materials. Older students (over 30 years) were more likely to state they would print out OER materials rather than read them online (as compared with students 30 and under). Senior-level students agreed significantly more than did freshman-level students that OER presented a cost savings. Faculty recommendations from this study included focusing on courses with very high textbook costs and courses that would impact the greatest number of students. Additionally, faculty recommended a follow-up revision process to keep OER materials current after implementation.</span></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Alissa L. Oelfke, Jennifer A. Sadowski, Cari Mathwig Ramseier, Christopher Iremonger, Katrina Volkert, Emily Dykman, Lynne Kuhl, Annie Baumann Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 The Impact of Demographic Characteristics on Academic Performance: Face-to-Face Learning Versus Distance Learning Implemented to Prevent the Spread of COVID-19 <p class="3"><span lang="EN-US">The spread of COVID-19 presents an opportunity for many educational institutions to implement distance learning and ensure the provision of educational resources and services, secure income and revenues, and contribute to the control and prevention of the coronavirus. This study was conducted to investigate the impact of demographic characteristics on academic performance. Students’ grades and grade point averages (GPA) were collected from the Admission and Registration Unit, Al Ain University in Al Ain, United Arab Emirates. The data were used to measure academic performance in face-to-face (F2F) learning and distance learning (DL) implemented by the university to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Statistical analysis including the Mann-Whitney test, Spearman’s rho test, and a regression test were used to answer research questions and verify hypotheses. Students demonstrated better academic performance in DL than F2F learning. It was found that the number of weak students in F2F learning dropped sharply by more than 11% in DL. Demographic characteristics demonstrated a significant impact on students’ academic performance and predicted at least 7.4% variation in F2F learning and DL. Findings of the study support the model developed by Tinto (1975) which proposed the impact of student’s attributes, experiences, and family backgrounds on academic performance. The findings suggest non-DL institutions should continue offering DL side-by-side with F2F learning programs.</span></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Ghaleb Ghaleb A. El Refae, Abdoulaye Kaba, Shorouq Eletter Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 Improving Intergroup Relations Through Online Contact <p class="3"><span lang="EN-US">This study examined an online professional development program designed to support meaningful acquaintance and reduce stereotypes and prejudices among teachers from different cultures in Israeli society. The rationale of the online program was based on the premise that indirect online contact might improve intergroup relations in diverse societies. The program was designed to progress gradually, starting from basic and leading to a deeper acquaintance, using a variety of computer-mediated communication (CMC) tools. Findings indicated that upon program completion, participants were more respectful towards one another than pre-program. They held a positive view of online learning and were open to multiculturalism (more tolerant and accepting of others than previously) while still maintaining their respective cultural identities. The program participants noticed the gradual progression in task design, expressly noting that this stepwise structure supported forging a connection and then fostering familiarization. This study fills a gap in the research through demonstrating ways that online contact (indirect contact) can be used to promote acquaintance and reduce stereotypes and prejudices among teachers from different groups in Israeli society.</span></p> <p class="3"><span lang="EN-US">&nbsp;</span></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Meital Amzalag, Noa Shapira Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 First-Generation Students in Distance Education Program: Family Resources and Academic Outcomes <p class="3"><span lang="EN-ZA">Distance education students have less access to classmates as a social resource and may, therefore, rely more on family members for support. However, first-generation students, <a name="_Hlk55155961"></a>or students who are the first in their family to attend university, may lack the academic resources that family members can provide. Overall, first-generation students in distance education programs may be at particular risk of lacking the necessary social capital to thrive in university. This study investigated whether two family resource variables—providing guidance about university and expressing supportive attitudes toward university—varied across generation status among distance education students. The study also investigated whether these family resource variables predicted students’ academic adjustment and academic persistence. A sample of 224 undergraduate, distance education students in South Africa completed an online survey. First-generation students (n = 60) reported receiving less university guidance from family members compared to continuing-generation students. In addition, receiving university guidance predicted students’ academic adjustment. The results suggest that university guidance from family members may serve as a protective factor against potential challenges that can impact students’ academic adjustment, a protective factor that first-generation students are less likely to have.</span></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Michael R. Brubacher, Fortunate T. Silinda Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 Empirical Analysis of Return to Distance Higher Education in Different Disciplines <p class="3"><span lang="EN-US">Few empirical studies have analyzed<a name="_Hlk55166672"></a> the return to distance higher education in different academic disciplines. This study used quantitative methods, data from a nationwide survey, and Mincerian earnings function to analyze the return to distance higher education among different disciplines in China’s labor market. Results were compared with the return to face-to-face higher education and showed that the returns to face-to-face higher education were higher than those to distance higher education. Returns to the disciplines of economics and management were at a high level in both face-to-face and distance education; returns to the disciplines of literature, as well as education and law, were at a low level in both face-to-face and distance education. The returns to the disciplines of science and engineering were higher in face-to-face education than in distance education. This paper proposes several recommendations. Adults who do not have higher education degrees should invest in distance higher education to obtain considerable monetary returns, particularly in the disciplines with higher returns such as management and economics. China’s distance education institutions should improve the quality of teaching in science and engineering education and find ways to provide high-quality experimental teaching practices. At the same time, they should scale back on instruction of literature, as well as education and law. </span></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Fengliang Li, Liang Wang Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 The Relationship Between Learning Mode and Student Performance in an Undergraduate Elementary Statistics Course in the United States <p class="3"><span lang="EN-US">Faculty have conducted many studies on the relationship between learning mode and student performance but few researchers have evaluated final grades, grade distribution, and pass rates in a sophomore introductory statistics course with a non-traditional student population who self-selected the learning mode from among different course sections. Accordingly, we examined 307 end-of-course grades from four different modes of instruction: (a) online, (b) videosynchronous learning classroom, (c) videosynchronous learning home, and (d) traditional classroom in an introductory statistics course. All data on grades, which included pass rate and grade distribution, were collected from the nine-week January 2019 term. All learning modes used the same text, syllabus, assignments, quizzes, and tests. In this study, learning mode was not significantly related to end-of-course score, final grade distribution, or pass rate. Future researchers should explore the impacts of gender, instructor quality, different term lengths, and the standardized use of textbooks and syllabi on student performance when exploring the impact of learning mode on grades, grade distribution, and pass rates.</span></p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> John C. Griffith, Emily K. Faulconer , Bobby L. McMasters Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 A System of Indicators for the Quality Assessment of Didactic Materials in Online Education <p class="3">The quality of didactic materials is a source of concern for teachers, users,&nbsp;and educational institutions that offer online education.&nbsp;There is a lack of indicators to help assess&nbsp;the quality of three key types of didactic materials&nbsp;commonly&nbsp;used&nbsp;in online education:&nbsp;didactic units (i.e., materials that contain program contents), didactic guides (i.e., materials that provide information), and additional didactic materials (materials to deepen knowledge).&nbsp;The objective of this article is to present a&nbsp;system of indicators&nbsp;designed to assess the quality of these types of didactic materials and guide their&nbsp;creation&nbsp;process.&nbsp;The system was developed based on a critical analysis of existing models designed to assess the quality of digital&nbsp;didactic&nbsp;materials.&nbsp;The system&nbsp;was validated by&nbsp;16 international experts in&nbsp;online&nbsp;education,&nbsp;and a trial application of the system assessed five didactic guides and didactic units used by online universities in three different countries. Results of the validation process were triangulated with relevant literature, allowing the authors to make decisions regarding changes to&nbsp;the&nbsp;system&nbsp;in terms of maintaining, reformulating, or removing&nbsp;indicators. The resulting system comprises 43 assessment indicators and serves as a guide for designers, teachers, and users&nbsp;in the creation and selection of didactic materials for use in online education and in the assessment of their quality.</p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Renata Marciniak, Cristina Cáliz Rivera Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 Learners’ Perception of the Transition to Instructor-Led Online Learning Environments: Facilitators and Barriers During the COVID-19 Pandemic <p>Online learning environments (OLE) continue to expand due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the transition of a majority of educational institutions and universities worldwide from traditional classroom settings to online learning methods. The purpose of this study was to understand the perceptions of learners at a university in India toward the sudden transition from traditional face-to-face learning to an instructor-led OLE due to the pandemic-induced lockdown enforced across India in March 2020. Using a qualitative case study approach, structured interviews were conducted via Microsoft Teams with 35 learners from Savitribai Phule Pune University, a large public university in India. Interviews comprised eight open-ended questions, which were validated by experts. Results indicate that learners accepted the transition toward the OLE. Five key themes arose from the interview data: accessibility and comfort, Internet connectivity, OLE effectiveness, course content, and interactions between students and instructors. &nbsp;The study provides insights to the researchers with the emergent themes from the research. Also, it carries practical implications concerning implications regarding infrastructure readiness for remote learners, acceptance, and adoption of OLEs by faculty instructors, organizational support, and facilitating conditions.</p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Aakash Kamble, Ritika Gauba, Supriya Desai, Devidas Golhar Copyright (c) 2020 Wed, 10 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 Book Review: MOOCs and Open Education in the Global South: Challenges, Successes and Opportunities <img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Kirk Perris Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 Preparing Educators to Teach in a Digital Age <p>This article describes the practical implementation of parts of <em>Teaching in a Digital Age: Guidelines for Designing Teaching and Learning</em> by A.W. Bates (2015) in a course for educators in Austria and the development of medical education for universities in Iran. With the publication of the second edition of <em>Teaching in a Digital Age</em> in 2019, the authors show the impact of the book in training educators and developers of educational content. This note from the field emphasizes the benefits of making informed decisions about educational technologies using Bates’ (2015) SECTIONS model and of learning about massive open online courses (MOOCs) and how to work with them using his book.</p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Mohsen Keshavarz, Andrea Ghoneim Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700 Resonance and Current Relevance of IRRODL Highly-Cited Articles: An Integrative Retrospective <p>This paper provides an integrative-retrospective analysis of highly-cited articles from past issues of the <em>International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning </em>(<em>IRRODL</em>). Download metrics of published articles were used to identify the top 100 downloaded IRRODL articles from 2000–2020. Publicly-available citation metrics for the top 100 articles were used to further refine the analysis and identify the top 10 most-cited IRRODL articles. These articles were then categorized into resonant themes to frame a discussion of the key topics in present-day online and distributed learning research and pedagogy. This paper is intended to provide a broad overview and will be of interest to those who are new to the field of online learning.</p><img src="" height="1" width="1" alt=""/> Debra Dell Copyright (c) 2020 Thu, 11 Mar 2021 00:00:00 -0700