Godwin, Stephen J.; Thorpe, Mary S. and Richardson, John T. E.
The impact of computer-mediated interaction on distance learning.
British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(1),
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Distance-learning courses were classified with regard to their use of computer-mediated interaction and the degree to which such interaction was integrated into the curriculum and the assessment regime. This produced four groups of courses varying according to their use of interaction and integration. The impact of interaction and integration was investigated in terms of their effects on students' performance, their perceptions of academic quality and their approaches to studying. In all three respects, variations within the groups of courses proved to be more important than variations between the groups. Interpretation of these results suggests that the adoption of interactive environments within computer-mediated learning may not be enough in itself to lead to positive learning outcomes. We found no evidence for this assumption in terms of students' completion rates, pass rates, grades, perceptions of the quality of their courses or approaches to studying. Large variations in the measured indicators were found between courses, and these appeared to be largely independent of the effects of interaction and integration. Courses may differ markedly with regard to how they make use of computer-mediated interaction and how this is integrated into the curriculum and the assessment regime. A case study approach is suggested as being more likely to identify the impact of specific designs based on computer-mediated interaction and to bring together the diverse student responses arising from the use of such interaction in their studies.
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