Communication – the communication category gave students access to e-mail or a real time virtual chat room Virtual Chat – this category allowed students to browse the archives for a previous virtual chat room sessions as well as access to the virtual chat room External Links – finally, this category allowed students to access educational data bases like ERIC.
As users opened up Blackboard they would automatically find themselves at the announcement web page. Carefully designed instructions would direct users to the pre-activity assessment, course information, course documents, and then the assignment web pages. At the assignments web page users would be prompted (if they have not done so) to complete the pre-activity assessment. The assignment page instructs the users to select one group member to be the instructor. The instructor of the group has the responsibility to demonstrate to the other members what he or she learned from watching a streamed movie file. The streamed movie was a very short video tutorial about how to make a web page using a Word document. The goal was clearly stated, after the instructor viewed the movie file, he or she would decide how best to instruct their group members how to make a web page using Microsoft Word.
As group members mastered making a web page using Word, each member of the group had to demonstrate new knowledge by completing their own HTML documents. Completed assignments were then forwarded to an email address on the assignments web page.
For feedback purposes, each member of the group was asked to participate anonymously in a pre- activity assessment. The survey was designed to stimulate thoughts concerning the topics of cooperative learning. All survey questions were designed using Blackboards management system. At the end of the required assignment, this survey will be used as a reflective evaluation. The following questions are from this pre- activity assessment:
Do you feel that high quality learning can take place without going to a traditional educational facility? Why or why not?
Do you like the idea of sharing your work, life and educational experiences as part of the learning process? If your answer is yes or no explain why?
Do you think it is possible for increased learning to take place when work/knowledge/life experiences are shared with peers? Why or why not?
Do you accept the value of facilitated learning as an advantage over the more traditional lecture based learning process? Why?
Have you incorporated cooperative learning into instructional methods? If so, how?
Notification of the survey was linked in two general web pages, within the announcements page and within the assignments web page. Both notifications had a brief introduction and informed individuals about directions. Instructors were requested to complete the survey and that confidentiality was assured. After each survey was taken, access to it again was denied. This operated as a check against respondents filling out the survey more than once.
Faculty Interaction: Pre-Activity Assessment
To question one, do you feel that high quality learning can take place without going to a traditional educational facility? All except two instructors said yes to this question. Most faculty members felt that high quality learning outside the traditional educational facility happens all the time such as people learning at the work place, reading/learning at home, or people learning about a new sport. Many instructors still feel that there is distinct value in face-to-face communication with students and teachers. Some instructors felt that only technology literate students could benefit from online learning. While others said, “it seems that online learning can be a very viable option for people to receive quality education.” One instructor said, “the more options people have the better the opportunity to learn.” Another faculty member responded, “I think it depends on two