Online Learning

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Online Learning Bibliography


Online learning is a new method of delivering instruction that has become popular in higher education. However, those considering online learning have to understand that this learning option has a number of challenges that distinguish it from ordinary face-to-face learning. This annotated bibliography will investigate the challenges faced by international students enrolled in online higher education programs in western universities.

Chen, R, Bennett, R & Maton, K 2008, The Adaptation of Chinese International Students to Online Flexible Learning: Two Case Studies, Distance Education vol. 29, no, 3, pp. 307-323.

Chen, Bennett and Maton (2008) explore the perception of two Chinese students enrolled in an online course at an Australian university. The two case studies are based on the John W, Berry’s acculturation framework (1980, 2005) which outlines that individuals may experience intercultural contact differently and conflict may arise. The student reported that the challenges experienced in learning in online delivery environment include lack of a teacher-student relationship, reduced input from the teacher, absence of a learning community, and poor enforcement of learning. The student felt less satisfied with online learning and preferred face-to-face communication, and strongly supported the teacher-in-charge approach instead of the student-centered approach.

The study helps to illustrate some of the negative perceptions of student of online learning. The study shows that students perceive reduced teacher input, poor teacher/student relationship and the absence of learning communities as serious limitations of online learning. However, the study has major limitation as it is a case study which collected the perceptions of only two students.

In conclusion, the students perception of the problems of online courses can help course designers include element that are absence from online learning environments.

Chun-min, W & Reeves, T 2007, Synchronous Online Learning Experiences: The Perspectives of International Students from Taiwan, Education Media International, vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 339-356.

Chun-Min and Reeves (2007) explore the perception of Taiwanese students learning in the use of synchronous online learning environments. The study reported that Taiwanese students in the US found online learning challenging and overwhelmingly preferred face-to-face learning. According to the student, some of the challenges in online learning environments include distraction by online chatting, emails and internet surfing. In addition, online communication was not accompanied by body language particularly facial expression which makes it easier to understand the message communicated. Moreover, the student reported that they were affected by language barriers that made it difficult to understand messages, concentrate on lectures and simultaneously take notes and listen in online classes. Furthermore, the Taiwanese students found it hard to understand examples based on American cultural backgrounds.

This study emphasizes the challenge faced by international students enrolled in online classes in western universities. The study agrees with evidence from the other studies reviewed that cultural and language barriers are great challenges in online learning environments. The study presents credible evidence as it collects data from a large sample of Taiwanese students studying in the US.

The study illustrates that it is important for online classes to balance the online and face-to-face components of online classes to make them more effective.

Fujuan, T 2009, Tri-fold Transformation: An International Adult Student’s Reflections on Online Learning.” Adult Learning, vol 20, no. ¾, pp. 38-40.

Fujuan (2009) presents the perception of a Chinese English as Second Language (ESL) graduate enrolled in his first online course at a US university. The research is based on the multi-fold formation theory which holds that language learning should include three areas: culture, language and technology. The study report that online language learning is weak as it favors reading and writing skills. According to the findings, the online language program paid little attention to the listening and speaking areas. Consequently, the graduate student lacked confidence and was uneasy when listening or speaking the English language. Moreover, the asynchronous online learning environment failed to provide cultural understanding and sharing which would otherwise help international students cope with the cultural shock of moving to a western country. The study also reported that the study subject also initially experience problem in using the online platform, but the problem soon dissipated with repeated use of the technology

Hughes, H 2007, Actions and Reactions: Exploring International Students’ Use of Online Information Resources’, Australian Academic & Research Libraries, vol 36, no. 4, pp. 169-179.

Hillary (2005) aimed to discover the challenges experienced by international students in using online resources in an Australian university. The study recruited 12 participant enrolled in online course at the Central Queensland University, Brisbane Campus. The study purposively selected the students for their linguistic and cultural diversity. Using the Critical Incident Technique as the methodological basis, Hillary (2005) collected data related to the participant’s online actions, their cognitive and affective reactions, help sought and challenges faced. The study reported that international students exhibited competence in Information communication technologies, but had poor information search skills. Some of the challenges experienced by the students include unfamiliarity with course resources, English language limitations and unfamiliar learning approaches. Most students were severely affected by their poor English language skills when reading through online resources. The researcher recommended the use of information literacy classes and design on online course content in a way that caters for the cultural and linguistic diversity of international students.

The study is useful to my research topic as it outlines and describes some of the challenges faced by international students enrolled in online learning programs. However, the study is limited by the small sample size used as this limits the generalization of the research.

English language competence is important as it enhances the ability of online learners to comprehend concepts set out in online reading materials. It is therefore necessary to ensure students are competent in the language before they are enrolled in online courses.

Liu, X, Liu, S, Lee, S & Magjuka, R 2010, Cultural Differences in Online Learning: International Student Perceptions, Journal of Educational Technology & Society, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 177-188.

Liu et al (2010) reports the results of a case study whose aim was to explore the experiences and student’s perceptions of an online MBA program. Cultural difference may be a significant barrier to international student effective participation in online learning. According to the researchers, the difference in Eastern and Western education models means that Eastern students learning in the Western education may be uncomfortable with the self-development oriented Western education model. This exploratory study found out that international students perceive language differences, plagiarism standards, communication tools use and time zone as major challenges in online learning experiences. In addition, most online materials lack diversified cases that are relevant in Eastern contexts.

The study reveals the challenges of time zones, plagiarism and communication tools as major barriers to the development of online learning. In addition, the study confirms that language barriers are a serious issue in online course effectiveness. Moreover, it highlights international student’s perception of online course material as western-oriented, and calls for greater diversification of course material. The main limitation of the research is its use of the single case study methodology which is susceptible to researcher bias.

The study illustrates the need for online course designers to create diversified and inclusive learning environment. Cultural sensitivity and a focus in reducing language and cultural barriers can make online education more effective for international students.

This research highlights the challenge of lack of immediate and interactive discussions between instructors and students that are important in language learning. However, the study has a major limitation as the conclusions are based on the perception of single student chosen for the case study.

Despite the weakness, the study helps to bring attention to the need to increase instructor/student interaction in online learning environment. By offering immediate assistance and feedback, online courses can enhance student learning and overall competence in the course being taught.