Elementary computer-mediated online distance education : identification of criteria for successful implementation and practice
McCaughey, W. Greg.
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This study had three purposes related to the effective implem,entation and practice of computer-mediated online distance education (C-MODE) at the elementary level: (a) To identify a preliminary framework of criteria 'or guidelines for effective implementation and practice, (b) to identify areas ofC-MODE for which criteria or guidelines of effectiveness have not yet been developed, and (c) to develop an implementation and practice criteria questionnaire based on a review of the distance education literature, and to use the questionnaire in an exploratory survey of elementary C-MODE practitioners. Using the survey instrument, the beliefs and attitudes of 16 elementary C'- MODE practitioners about what constitutes effective implementation and practice principles were investigated. Respondents, who included both administrators and instructors, provided information about themselves and the program in which they worked. They rated 101 individual criteria statenlents on a 5 point Likert scale with a \. point range that included the values: 1 (Strongly Disagree), 2 (Disagree), 3 (Neutral or Undecided), 4 (Agree), 5 (Strongly Agree). Respondents also provided qualitative data by commenting on the individual statements, or suggesting other statements they considered important. Eighty-two different statements or guidelines related to the successful implementation and practice of computer-mediated online education at the elementary level were endorsed. Response to a small number of statements differed significantly by gender and years of experience. A new area for investigation, namely, the role ofparents, which has received little attention in the online distance education literature, emerged from the findings. The study also identified a number of other areas within an elementary context where additional research is necessary. These included: (a) differences in the factors that determine learning in a distance education setting and traditional settings, (b) elementary students' ability to function in an online setting, (c) the role and workload of instructors, (d) the importance of effective, timely communication with students and parents, and (e) the use of a variety of media.