Owner: Terry Anderson
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The Canadian Initiative for Distance Education Research (CIDER) is a research initiative of the Centre for Distance Education, Canada's largest graduate and professional distance education programming provider, at Athabasca University, Canada's Open University.
CIDER sponsors a variety of professional development activities designed to increase the quantity and quality of distance education research. CIDER's professional development scope is broad, ranging from learning and teaching application, issues of finance and access, the strategic use of technology in distance education settings, and other factors that influence distance education in Canada.
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The purpose of this paper is to build on the insights of educators regarding the relationship between culture and online learning. More specifically, this paper aims to explore the ways in which students’ culture of learning is changing as a result of the introduction of various modes of online learning. It also aims to explore the ways in which culture and cultural values affect the application and success of online-learning strategies. Particular attention is directed to learners’ perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of online communication. The paper is based on primary data drawn from undergraduate female students’ responses regarding how online education is changing their learning culture and how their culture is influencing online education. Sixty-seven undergraduate Saudi female students participated in the survey. The literature in the field of online and distance education is explored to help answer these questions. The participants indicated that online education helped them to challenge some cultural norms, enhance their learning culture, and improve their communication skills.
In recent years, several studies have been carried out into the reasons why students drop out of online higher education, following the rise in the relative weight of this form of education. However, more effort has gone into analyzing the causes of this phenomenon than into trying to characterize students who drop out, that is defining what a dropout student is. But obtaining a proper definition of dropout is just as important as describing its causes. It also appears that the definition of dropout is very sensitive to context. As one of the main findings of this article, we reach a pure empirical definition, at a programme level, of students who drop out of an online higher education context with non-mandatory enrollment. This definition is based on the probability of students not continuing a specific academic programme following several consecutive semesters of “theoretical break”, and is highly adaptable to institutions offering distance education with no permanence requirements, that is ones offering the possibility of taking breaks. Our findings show that there are differences regarding the number of consecutive semesters that define dropout depending on whether the programme requires previous experience or not. Additionally, we observe significant differences in the dropout rate between specific programmes, as well as a higher level of dropout in the first semesters. Analyzing the reasons behind these facts should help higher education institutions to make more sound and efficient decisions.
Learning management systems (LMS) have been proven to encourage a constructive approach to knowledge acquisition and support active learning. One of the keys to successful and efficient use of LMS is how the stakeholders adopt and perceive this learning tool. The present research is therefore motivated by the importance of understanding teachers' and students' perceptions of LMS in order to anticipate possible issues (problems) and help to build a productive learning environment and a committed user community. The paper looks at this process at a Russian university (National Research University Higher School of Economics – HSE) where the system is being implemented and examines the following issues: qualification and readiness of the stakeholders to use LMS and their perceptions of the system's convenience, effectiveness, and usefulness. The research reveals remarkable divergence of students’ and teachers’ perceptions of various aspects of LMS which must be considered when raising the effectiveness of the system and building commitment to e-learning. They are analyzed and explicated in the present paper.
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