Anda di halaman 1dari 29

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 1 of 29

RUNNING HEAD: e-LEARNING: A RESEARCH CONSTRUCT

e-Learning: A Programmatic Research Construct for the Future

Edward L. Meyen Ron Aust John M. Gauch H. Scott Hinton Robert E. Isaacson Sean J. Smith Meng Yew Tee

University of Kansas

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 2 of 29

Author Info

Edward L. Meyen is Professor in the Department of Special Education, The University of Kansas. Ron Aust is Associate Professor in the Department of Teaching and Leadership, The University of Kansas. John M. Gauch is Associate Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, The University of Kansas. H. Scott Hinton is Professor and Chair in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, The University of Kansas. Robert E. Isaacson is a Program Associate in the e-Learning Design Lab, The University of Kansas. Sean J. Smith is Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education, The University of Kansas. Meng Yew Tee is a Graduate Research Assistant in the eLearning Design Lab, The University of Kansas. All authors are members of the e-Learning Design Lab, The University of Kansas. Correspondence should be addressed to Sean Smith, 1122 West Campus Road, Joseph R. Pearson Hall, Room 406, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS, 66045. Email to: seanj@ukans.edu.

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 3 of 29

Introduction Building on the capabilities of the Internet, educational institutions as well as industry at all levels have moved quickly to exploit this new technology for instructional purposes. According to some industry estimates, the number of users worldwide will pass the one billion mark by 2005 (United States Internet Council, 2000). In the United States, 97% of full-time faculty and staff at two- and four-year institutions of higher education have access to the Internet, and 40% use Web sites to post course-related information (U.S. Department of Education, 2001). Virtual universities, with no prior education histories have come into being, attracting large enrollments. Two- and fouryear institutions have quickly responded by placing courses and degrees online. In addition, a growing number of universities are attempting to enter the corporatedominated distance learning market through venture startups and partnerships with technology companies including, Columbia University, the London School of Economics and Political Science, Stanford University, Duke University, Harvard University, and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business (DeBellis, 2000). As a further testimony to the exponential growth of online education, The Online Academy, a project funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), has produced 22 online modules for teacher education that were adopted by over 160 universities (Meyen, 2000). Nearly 710,000 students in 1998 were enrolled in at least one online course, and that figure is predicted to reach 2.2 million in 2002 (Meister, 2000). Colleges and universities are now encountering competition from private industry in the form of companies that not only have developed the technology to deliver elearning, but also have the capacity and resources to produce and market content. The

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 4 of 29

corporate e-learning market is expected to surpass the $23 billion mark by 2004, up from $2 billion in 1999 (IDC, 2001). Lou Gerstner, chairman and CEO of IBM, referred to email as the Internets first killer application. John Chambers, president and CEO of Cisco Systems, said that e-learning will be Internets next "killer application." Companies have been formed for the purpose of creating online offerings for institutions of higher education and training for industry. Examples include Blackboard, Web CT, eCollege, SmartForce, KnowledgeNet, Click2Learn and DigitalThink. The Internet and its applications in education and industry have significantly influenced how we teach and learn. This has all occurred as a consequence of emerging technologies and the demands for online instruction by consumers. In the midst of this environment of rapid growth, a new form of pedagogy has emerged. However, much of it is not the result of research. Problem What has not evolved during the rapid emergence of e-learning as a popular mode of instruction and learning is a systematic approach to researching the pedagogy of online instruction, interface designs, the application of technologies to e-learning, and the framing of constructs to guide needed research. Much of the existing educational research on print materials, telephone, radio, television, video, and computer can, in one way or another, carry over to the Internet. However, since all of these media converge on the Internet, a new and challenging area of educational research is becoming more apparent (Moursund & Smith, 1999). In discussing the critical research challenges of the future, Hinrichs and Kelly (2001) suggest that research over the next few years can be expected to result in practical products for post secondary education. The authors go on to identify areas in

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 5 of 29

which major advances need to be made for this to occur (e.g., the learning sciences, learning technology tools, and evaluation and assessment). Over the last four years an interdisciplinary group of researchers at the University of Kansas has been engaged in the design, development and evaluation of tools to develop and deliver online instruction. This experience has resulted in the production and dissemination of extensive online instructional programs. It has also lead to the creation of the e-Learning Design Lab (eDL), a partnership between the Center for Research on Learning (CRL) (affiliated with the Department of Special Education) and the Information, Technology and Telecommunications Center (ITTC). The faculty, staff and students affiliated with the Lab come from the fields of electrical and computer engineering, computer science, instructional design, education, special education, and design. Central to the mission of the Lab is the development of a program of research focused on the pedagogy of e-learning from a technology and learning perspective. As an underpinning of this mission, participating researchers have begun to address the issue of creating a research construct as a context both for structuring their own research and as a framework for stimulating research on e-learning among potential collaborators (see Figure 1). The construct is viewed as a work in progress and presented here for the purpose of inviting discourse on how to shape it. The construct is not intended as an all-inclusive research model on learning with the aid of technology. Instead, an attempt was made to ascertain the language used in the literature to define e-learning.

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 6 of 29

Defining e-Learning A number of terms are used in the literature to say basically the same thing. For example, terms that are often used include e-learning, online learning, computer-based training (CBT), Web-based learning, distributed learning, and electronically enabled distance learning (Cramer, Krasinski, Crutchfield, Sackmary, & Scalia, 2000)). For the purpose of this article and the construct proposed we use the term e-learning. We believe that setting parameters on the definition will enhance the refinement of the research construct. An Internet survey found that among professionals working for institutions of higher education and vendors that offer course material, 40% prefer to use the term elearning when asked what they would use to describe learning with technology (Carnevale, 2000). Thirteen percent used the term online training, 10% used Webbased training while the remainder used terms such as technology-based training, distance learning, and computer-based training. On the other hand, 21% of the learners used computer-based training, 19% Web-based training, 18% online learning, and 10% each for distance learning, training, and e-learning.

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 7 of 29

Carnevale (2000) sums up his findings by quoting a training industry professional, who said that different groups attach different meanings to the same terms and concepts. Urdan and Weggen (2000) seem to concur, stating that: Terms like e-learning, technology-based learning, and Web-based learning are defined and used differently by different organizations and user groups (p.4). Urdan and Weggen go on to define e-learning as the delivery of content via all electronic media, including the Internet, intranets, extranets, satellite broadcast, audio/video tape, interactive TV, and CD-ROM. The term e-learning is also used synonymously with technology-based learning. It is also worth noting that Urdan and Weggen consider e-learning as a subset of distance learning, online learning a subset of e-learning and computer-based learning as a subset of online learning. In another study, Wentling, et al. (2000) reviewed terms such as computer-based training (CBT), online training and e-learning, referring to several sources dating to 1994 (Gotschall, 2000; Hall, 1997; Karon, 2000; Porter, 1997; Schreiber & Berge, 1998; Urdan & Weggen, 2000; Willis, 1994; Zahm, 2000). Ultimately, they arrived at their own definition of e-learning. E-learning is the acquisition and use of knowledge distributed and facilitated primarily by electronic means. This form of learning currently depends on networks and computers but will likely evolve into systems consisting of a variety of channels (e.g., wireless, satellite), and technologies (e.g., cellular phones, PDAs) as they are developed and adopted. E-learning can take the form of courses as well as modules and smaller learning objects. E-learning may incorporate synchronous or asynchronous access and may be distributed geographically with varied limits of time. (p.5)

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 8 of 29

This definition of e-learning represents the definition adopted as the basis for the construct illustrated in Figure 1. An Overview Perspective of e-Learning For purposes of the research construct, e-learning must be viewed within the larger realm of life-long learning, target audiences, and the elements that comprise learning environments. Figure 1 illustrates the relationships between target audiences and the elements of e-learning that evolve once learners are formally engaged in elearning as an instructional program. Target groups can be further defined from the perspective of life- long learners; for example, adult learners may be refined to focus on a particular industry or professionals with retraining needs. Conditions characterizing learning environments may generalize or be unique to a particular target population of learners. As will be discussed in defining the features of the research construct illustrated in Figure 1 the learner attributes within target audiences (e.g., those with disabilities) will also vary and result in sub-classifications of learners. This variability, along with the purpose of engaging in e-learning, helps to define the learning environment(s). For example, a secondary student may be engaged in an e-learning experience designed to teach paraphrasing strategies and be studying independently at a workstation in the classroom; a special education teacher may be pursuing a staff development program online and working in the privacy of her home or in a lab setting. Thus, the learning environment becomes defined by (a) the nature of the e-learning program, (b) the attributes of the learner, and (c) the conditions preferred by or available to the learner. As e-learning programs are implemented and the engagement of learners contemplated, a number of elements come into play as noted in the right-hand circle of

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 9 of 29

Figure 2. While their substance may vary, the need for each one generalizes across formal instructional organizations. Learner Populations and Learning Environments K-12. E-learning opportunities for K-12 schools are currently limited primarily to middle school and above. However, with emerging technologies and as teachers gain more experience with Web-based instruction, independent forms of e-learning applicable to all levels will evolve, especially engaging learning environments to meet the needs of students with disabilities. As this occurs, the K-12 population of learners will become the focus of a full array of e-learning designs. Higher education learners. This learner population includes those individuals who are enrolled in post-secondary education. Included are those enrolled in all forms of public and private higher education such as community colleges, 4-year colleges, universities, technical colleges and trade schools. Adult learners. This group of postsecondary learners ranges from young adults who opted to enter the workforce rather than pursuing postsecondary education to midcareer adults (i.e., teachers related service providers) seeking instruction to develop new skills or preparation for career shifts. Their sources for e-learning may be institutions of higher education, professional associations, for-profit educational organizations, or online experiences resulting from personal initiation. The latter category may well increase, as URL sites become more information-based and better structured for learning. Preschool learners. The computer games industry has already demonstrated that preschool learners can effectively learn via e-learning experiences. Yet, e-learning instruction is just beginning to gain a presence in preschools, in part due to the instructional focus on group experience and a concern for the development of social

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 10 of 29

skills. As research is carried out to determine ways to employ e-learning experiences that complement and enhance interpersonal interactions and goals associated with the social development of young children, more attention will likely be given to designing elearning experiences for preschoolers. Elements of e-Learning Environments and Technology Infrastructure Pedagogy. Principles of teaching are well established in traditional methods of instruction. These principles may generalize to e-learning, however, limited data-based research has been conducted to systematically assess the application of teaching principles to online instruction. Pedagogy includes teaching methods related to the presentation of experiences, engagement of learners, reinforcement, motivation, organization of teaching tasks, feedback, evaluation, and curriculum integration. Assessment. In traditional forms of instruction, teachers collect anecdotal and other forms of evaluative data in addition to the results of formal assessments when making judgments on students progress. In e-learning, informal assessments are difficult to employ, as assessments must be planned and precisely designed to evaluate performance, to provide feedback, and to be aggregated for grading purposes. Assessment in e-learning is more essential than in traditional instruction due to the nature of the limited opportunities for traditional informal assessment and related faceto-face interaction that traditional instruction offers. It may also be more critical to assess frequently and to target different levels of instruction (e.g., pre- and postassessments tasks associated with activities, instruction, units, midterm and final exams, and task-specific assessments (Dereshiwsky, 2001). Content. Theoretically, the content of instruction should not differ across instructional methodology and delivery systems. However, some content may lend itself more readily to instruction via e-learning (e.g., introductory material). Traditional forms

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 11 of 29

of content need to be researched from the perspective of structure to determine if a broader base of content can be taught as effectively via e-learning. Instruction delivery. Electronic delivery is the one feature that clearly differentiates e-learning from other forms of instruction. Too often, e-learning is viewed primarily as an instructional delivery system. In reality the delivery element of online instruction makes possible the pedagogy, that is, the methodology of e-learning. It is the pedagogy that is most significant in e-learning. Instructional management. Two aspects of instructional management become more important in e-learning than in traditional forms of instruction. These include resources and systems (a) to facilitate student management of resources, feedback, and assessment data; and (b) to enhance instructional management of student performance, resources, formative data or course design, student work, and anecdotal information.. Standards and policies. Prior to the advent of the Internet and e-learning, academic policies and standards in educational institutions were based on traditional forms of instruction, that is, classroom delivery models. A similar situation of training programs within industry also existed. The features of accessibility, flexibility, asynchronous learning and structure that characterize e-learning result in circumstances that alter the conditions under which instruction and training occur. This changing condition calls for different policies and standards. While neither designs nor models of e-learning will be discussed in this article, it is important to note that no e-learning designs or models at this time have been validated via research to be the most effective. Not only is an absence of research on elearning designs and model, there is also a paucity of research on the effectiveness of e-learning. Yet, the unprecedented growth in e-learning offerings at the postsecondary

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 12 of 29

level indicates a strong learner preference for the instructional features that characterize e-learning. Although some would argue that learners responsiveness to e-learning as reflected in growing enrollments is sufficient evidence of its effectiveness, it can be argued that programmatic approach to research will maximize the effectiveness of this new form of pedagogy and result in more efficient and effective uses of technology. Additionally, there is much to be learned about translating sound instructional principles that have benefited from research on traditional instructional environments to e-learning environments. Programmatic Research Construct In building the research construct, a major decision involved determining the primary dimensions or families of variables for the construct. From prior development and evaluation work, much was known about the specific variables. We wanted to create a construct that was expandable and that was most likely to enable researchers with a wide array of interests to relate their research to it. The latter was important, as we wanted to subject the construct to input from others who share an interest in building a construct that might both stimulate research on e-learning and bring some order to addressing the most significant research questions as a way of improving the power of the pedagogy. Three categories of variables (i.e., outcome variables, in situ variables and independent variables) were selected from a number of options, because we believed they offered meaning to researchers and developers as well as to instructors or trainers. Each of these groups has much to offer in the framing of research. In contrast to researching areas where the practices, beliefs or knowledge are well established, elearning represents an area of study where there is very little experience on the part of learners, instructors, developers or researchers. This calls for a sharing of what is

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 13 of 29

known as research agendas are formed toward building the needed knowledge base for optimizing the pedagogy of online instruction.

Outcome Variables In defining outcome variables, attention was given to the array of conditions, other than learner performance, that might be impacted by the implementation of elearning programs and/or the engagement of learners in e-learning experiences. Given the newness of e-learning as a pedagogy, and from a programmatic perspective, it was considered important to extend the array of outcomes beyond those specific to learner performance. Research is needed to bring about solutions for those who design, develop, administer, and create policies for e-learning programs. For these reasons, we defined outcome variables as the variables associated with the consequence of implementing or engaging in e-learning that can be measured. They are analogous to dependent variables. They translate into results such as competencies achieved, rates of gain, costs, need for new policies, data on instructional effectiveness, and so on. Academic policy implications. Policies are framed in academic institutions, professional organizations, and industry to enhance and govern the education, training,

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 14 of 29

and professional development they provide. Policies must be responsive to emerging conditions such as those brought about by e-learning. Pedagogical effectiveness. E-Learning is a form of pedagogy, and the effectiveness of pedagogical practices can be measured. A knowledge base of pedagogical practices can evolve over time. Examples include practices related to communication, assessment, instructional design and mediation. Economic implications. This involves measures of economic elements, including time needed, human resource needs, and cost of equipment. Technology implications. This variable focuses on all technologies and infrastructure requirements essential to facilitate e-learning. Learner performance. Instructional programs influence the performance of learners in a number of ways (e.g., achievement, demonstrated competencies, attainment of student objectives). This variable involves validating interventions and practices that enhance learner performance in the realm of e-learning. In Situ Variables A significant concern in researching e-learning relates to the conditions surrounding the educational training experience. In contrast to traditional instruction, which has tended to be place bound, e-learning has few parameters related to access. This in turn alters the context of the e-learning experience and broadens the conditions under which learning occurs. In addition, it transfers much of the control for where learning occurs to the learner. Most important, a new aspect of learning is introduced with the emergence of elearningthe design of the instruction itself. Whereas, traditionally, instructors structure how they teach and may employ selected strategies in the engagement of all learners, e-learning is designed instruction, specific to the individual learner. The design is

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 15 of 29

consistent within the instructional experience although designs vary. The use of technology requires specific design features for the instruction to be effective for each learner. Yet, e-learning still occurs in the larger context of traditional learning environments (e.g., meeting the needs of all learners) and content structures which largely remain unchanged. Thus, in researching e-learning it is important to know the stable conditions under which e-learning is occurring. While they are not easily controlled or manipulated, they may be researched in terms of their impact. Examples include age, gender, disability, ethnicity, content of subject matter, school or program organization, the composition of classes, and available technology resources. It is difficult, if not impossible, to research e-learning without taking into consideration these in situ variables. Learner attributes. Basic characteristics including age, gender, disability, area of origin and residence, ethnicity, race, first language, socio-economic status, learners ability, subject matter experience, learners perception, and educational history. Learning environments. This includes the settings and natural environments in which teaching and learning occur. All elements of teaching and learning are involved, including social and motivational factors. Nature of content. Content varies in form and how it is configured for instruction. The accommodation of varied forms of content interacts with how it is delivered. Elearning is one form of content delivery that remains to be assessed as to its capacity to accommodate the varied forms of content. Technology infrastructure. This refers to the configuration and adequacy of technology (software, hardware, and bandwidth) within a learning environment. Independent Variables

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 16 of 29

From a research perspective this is the primary dimension because these are variables that can be manipulated for purposes of research. They are also the variables that are impacted significantly by enabling technology such as bandwidth, computational power, sensor and mobile technology. In reviewing them it is important to view them reference to their interaction with in situ and outcome variables. Levels or types of interaction. This includes interaction between students and instructors, interaction among students, as well as the interaction with the e-learning mode. It also includes the technology required to accommodate types, modes and frequency of interactivity. Instructional design. Instructional designs vary in content and media richness, structure, instructor dependency, and technology requirements, including interactivity, computational power, bandwidth, sensors and wireless capabilities. Learner interface. This refers to non-human elements that learners interface with in order to perform e-learning activities. This can include the phone, desktop computers, handheld computers, and so on. Instructional environments. This includes the settings in which learners engage in e-learning, that is, the elements essential to implementing e-learning experiences. These may take the form of an office or home setting, a laboratory, classroom or setting where learners access connectivity or utilize wireless technology for instructional purposes. Expansion and Application of Construct The present status of the construct as illustrated in Figure 2 contains 100 cells, with each cell defined by three major descriptors: the dimensions of outcome, in situ, and independent variables. These categories of variables provide the three primary parameters, however minimal, for each cell.

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 17 of 29

The next step is to further define each cell as subsets from the perspective of research questions characterizing the work to be done in the respective cells. The goal is to engage researchers and developers nationally in this process. The variables defining each cell will also be subjected to review. As variables in the three dimensions are added, the number of cells will increase proportionately. The intent of the construct is to provide researchers a structure for framing and categorizing research questions. As research questions are generated across the 100 cells, it may become necessary to expand the construct or to revise the three primary dimensions of the variables within each dimension. To illustrate one strategy for bringing definition to each cell, three examples of preliminary expansion will be presented. Each falls within the interests of the eDL, but collectively do not fully represent the interests of the Lab. The intent of the examples is to illustrate that each cell can be further defined and contribute in a generative way to the development of research agenda. The outcome of this process across all cells may be the beginnings of a base for prioritizing research needs as a way of maximizing the effectiveness of e-learning designs in meeting the needs of all learners. The ultimate goal is not to replace face-to-face instruction but to ensure that when e-learning solutions are developed, it is research-based and maximally effective.

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 18 of 29

Figure 3 illustrates the cell excerpt that focuses on the impact various technology infrastructures will have on the learner interfaces that can be developed for future elearning environments. The technology infrastructures for this cell could include a matrix of technological capabilities, including bandwidth, client-side computational power, server-side computational power, display size, multimedia capabilities (e.g., video, sound, pen-based input, voice input), wireless or fixed connectivity, and internet security requirements. This technology infrastructure will provide the main limitations for the type of learner interfaces that can and will be developed. These learner interfaces vary in complexity from a simple text-based Web page running on a network browser to interactive voice- and pen-based input that includes intelligent agents to manage the entire learning process. The outcome of these studies of the interrelationships between technology infrastructure and learner interfaces will result in identification of the technology requirements for each of the different types of learner interfaces. These technology implications can then be used to help school districts, universities, corporate training centers, and so on, understand the type of infrastructures they need to provide to meet their e-learning objectives. Research questions. Some of the research questions bound by the dimensions of this cell include: 1. What are the technological requirements and societal implications of intelligent agent-based learning environments that automatically adapt the learning process to the students learning profile? 2. What are the technological requirements for interactive multimedia learning environments?

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 19 of 29

3. What are the technological requirements for wireless audio-based learning environments? 4. What types of learner interfaces are possible with 56Kb/s modem-based learning environments? 5. What are the security risks for school districts, universities, and corporate training centers by providing server-side e-learning environments? 6. What learner interfaces can be created to take advantage of heads-up displays?

In Figure 4, the cell focuses on the interaction between learner attributes and elearning instructional designs in the context of assessing pedagogical effectiveness. Learner attributes for this cell may include a variety of learner characteristics such as age, gender, area of origin, ethnicity, race, learning styles, first language, socioeconomic status, intellectual ability, previous educational experience, as well as learning challenges associated with disability (e.g., processing difficulties, reading comprehension, organization).

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 20 of 29

Selected learning attributes may influence the performance of learners in elearning environments. For example, individuals with a learning disability may face significant challenges interacting with text-based content that does not offer design component options designed to accommodate their disability. The current knowledge base on students with learning disabilities suggests that instructional design features should offer a variety of options to accommodate this student population. In generalizing to e-learning environments, one might assume this would apply; that is, content-rich, multimedia Web pages offering user-interactive illustrations to anchor their comprehension for future applications of what they are learning. However, there is still no research base supporting this in e-learning environments. This is true of learner attributes across all age levels. Many learner attributes impact the ability to learn efficiently. However, we do not know how these attributes interact with the features of elearning. The outcome of studies in this cell that explore the interrelationships between learner attributes and instructional design could result in identification of e-learning pedagogical and design requirements that will effectively accommodate varying learners attributes. This in turn could influence the pedagogical practices of teachers, teacher educators, designers and developers who engage in creating e-learning experiences. Research questions. Examples of research questions specific to this cell include the following: 1. What e-learning instructional design features lead to effective pedagogical practices that accommodate particular learner attributes? 2. To what extent does matching the needs of learners with accommodating instructional design features influence learner performance in e-learning environments?

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 21 of 29

3. What learning characteristics most significantly enhance performance in elearning environments? 4. What are the instructional design features that influence effective instruction and the accommodation of learners with disabilities? 5. What types of pedagogical e-learning practices are required to meet the instructional needs of students with language comprehension problems? 6. What are the instructional design limitations of e-learning for individuals with learning challenges? 7. What learner attributes most significantly affect the instructional design of elearning environments? 8. Which learner attributes have the greatest influence on the performance of learners in e-learning environments? 9. Do specific learner attributes influence the ability to navigate e-learning environments more than others?

The cell in Figure 5 illustrates how instructional design factors that are mediated by learner attributes interact with learner performance. The instructional design umbrella covers a broad range of topics that impact e-learning, including message design (e.g.,

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 22 of 29

learning object design, richness of media, message redundancy, and feedback), instructional strategies (e.g., cooperative learning and knowledge structures), and instructional systems (e.g., pacing, advice mechanisms and personalized learning systems). The degree to which these instructional design components affect learner performance is often influenced by the learner attributes such as age, gender, learning styles, previous knowledge, and cognitive abilities. For example, visual learners might benefit more from the animated illustrations than verbal learners; adult learners might benefit more from time-and-place shifting than traditional students; or learners with an internal locus of control might benefit more from advice systems. Research questions: Research questions that may be explored within the perimeter of this cell include: 1. Do learners in an online course with interactive animated equations obtain significantly higher scores in solving equations than students in an online course that presents equations as text only? 2. Is there any interaction between an animated illustration treatment and visual/verbal learning styles on problem-solving ability? 3. Do learners in an online foreign language course who engage in target language live discussions anytime and anyplace achieve significant higher pronunciation and vocabulary scores than learners who have only limited access to live discussions? 4. Is there an interaction between access to online discussions and learner level (adult professionals vs. university students) on pronunciation and vocabulary performance?

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 23 of 29

5. Do students who receive integrated advice in how to sequence and pace the use of learning objects perform better in recalling facts and problem solving than those who receive the same learning objects without integrated advice? 6. Is there an interaction between the use of advice systems and locus of control on recall of facts and problem solving? Summary The research construct presented in this article represents the early efforts of researchers affiliated with the e-Learning Design Lab to frame a programmatic research initiative intended to guide the generation and categorization of research questions on the design and pedagogy of e-learning. The ultimate goal is to stimulate the development of a systematic approach to researching the many technical and pedagogical elements of effective e-learning instructional environments for all learners, especially those with disabilities. The construct presented has evolved from five years of R&D work in e-learning by the participating researchers. In addition, the Lab is currently carrying out six externally funded projects, involving target audiences such as preservice students in teacher education, practicing teachers, secondary students, and leadership personnel in the military. The largest project completed to date is the Online Academy (Meyen et al., 2001). The Online Academy was funded by OSEP in 1996 to develop online modules for pre-service teacher education in reading, positive behaviors supports and technology in education. The 23 modules developed and tested by the Academy were content-rich and employed streaming media. They were designed to be completed as self-contained online independent instructional units or as interactive online instructional units with the involvement of an instructor. Table 1 illustrates the extensiveness of the modules. They were beta tested by 32 institutions of higher learning and have been

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 24 of 29

adopted by 161 institutions for implementation. Development included the use of content experts as judges in moving research to practice through the development of content, the creation of a template-based tool to automate transitioning content to the online module format and the development and validation of production processes. New generations of module designs and processes have been developed. Research projects are underway and in proposal stage. Researchers currently affiliated with the Lab come from the disciplines of electrical and computer engineering, instructional technology and education. Affiliation will continue to expand in numbers a well as disciplines. While all affiliate researchers are engaged in sponsored projects, that is not a requirement. Figure 6 illustrates the areas of R&D interests that characterize participating faculty, students and staff.

The core activity of the e-Learning Design Laboratory is focused on research, development, and understanding of enhanced learning environments. Thus, it is the intent of the Lab not only to contribute to the research of the new e-learning environments but also to participate in their development.

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 25 of 29

Research The first research focus will be e-learning technologies. This work will include exploring both the hardware and the software technologies required to create the technology-enhanced learning environments needed to support the e-learning of tomorrow. The second research focus is e-learning pedagogy, including the exploration and development of teaching methodologies that are effective for e-learning environments. The third research area of focus is e-learning policy. Initially, this effort will focus on participation on e-learning standards committees. The fourth research area of focus is centered on understanding the economic impact of e-learning. This area is not only important to business, but also to the entire international university system. Finally, we also need to understand the social impact of e-learning. Development The first of the developmental areas of focus is demonstration prototypes. This area focuses on the construction of research prototypes designed to demonstrate the ideas and technologies developed by the research arm of the Lab. It is important that eDL develops a strong relationship in an effort with industry to allow them to complete the final product development. The second developmental area is content development. Here the Lab wants to work with faculty and industry to create new content for enhanced learning environments using the tools and techniques developed by the Lab. The third developmental area is evaluation services. Specifically, the Lab wants to establish partnerships with industry to participate in the testing and evaluation of new elearning products. The final developmental area of focus is technology transfer. Here the Lab hopes to successfully transfer e-lab intellectual property to the marketplace. Through the involvement of national and regional advisory boards, a council of principal investigators and a management team, the Lab is being operationalized. The

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 26 of 29

infrastructure is in place, and individual projects are being shaped into research programs. Further, partnerships with researchers and developers in private industry are being pursued, as are formal relationships with labs having similar missions. While most of the work is project-specific, a series of professional initiatives such as the development of the research construct serve as the common theme for the professional growth of participating researchers. TABLE 1: Scope of Academy Modules Production Modules................................................................................ 23 Lessons................................................................................. 92 Interactive Open Response Items* ................................... 1,200 Unique Glossary Terms* ................................................. 1,380 Interactive Multiple Choice Items* .................................. 1,400 Interactive Glossary Links* ............................................. 3,600 Streaming Media Files* ................................................... 4,600 Graphics* ...................................................................... 13,800 Unique Files* ................................................................ 50,000 Words*......................................................................1,600,000 Total Size of all modules (zip. compressed)* .......... 1 Gigabyte * estimates

The aspiration of the Lab is to attract researchers and developers nationally who are inclined to engage in collaborative work with lab researchers. The outcome may be collaboratively developed research projects, joint work in refining the research construct, and/or the establishment of a community of individuals who share a common commitment to inquiry centered on e-learning environments.

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 27 of 29

Reference Carnevale, D. (2000). It's education. It's online. It's someplace you aren't. What do you call it? Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved September 12, 2001 from http://chronicle.com/free/2000/12/2000120801u.htm. Cramer, S., Krasinki, S., Crutchfield, M. D., Sackmary, B., & Scalia, L. (2000). Using collaboration and the web to implement the new CEC standards. Teaching Exceptional Children, 32(5), 12-19. DeBellis, M.A. (2000). Universities and VCs are getting cozy. Red Herring, March 16, 2000. Retrieved September 29, 2001 from http://www.redherring.com/ index.asp?layout=story_imu&doc_id=1600014160&channel=40000004. Dereshiwsky, M. I. (2001). 'A' is for assessment: identifying online assessment practices and perceptions. Education at a Distance, 15(10). Retrieved from http://www.usdla.org/ED_magazine /illuminactive/JAN01_Issue/article02 .html. Gotschall, M. (2000). E-learning strategies for executive education and corporate training. Fortune, 141(10), S5 S59. Hall, B. (1997). Web-based training cookbook. New York: Wiley. Hinrichs, R.J., & Kelly, H. (2001). The full draft roadmap for the Learning Federation. Retrieved August 8, 2001, from http://www.learningfederation.org/ documents/roadmap.pdf IDCs worldwide corporate eLearning market forecast and analysis, 1999-2004 (2001). Retrieved September 29, 2001, from http://www.idc.com:8080/ Services/press/PR/GSV022701pr.stm

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 28 of 29

Karon, R. L. (2000). Bankers go online: Illinois banking company learns benefits of e-training. E-learning, 1(1), 38-40. Meyen, E.L. (2000). Using technology to move research to practice: The Online Academy. Their World 2000. New York: National Center for Learning Disabilities. Meister, J.C. (2000, April 3). Savvy e-learners drive revolution in education: The case for corporate universities. Financial Times, Business Education, page 1. Moursund, D., & Smith, I. (1999). Research on internet use in education. Eugene, Oregon: Research and Evaluation Group of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE). Retrieved September 2, 2001, from http://www.iste.org/research/reports/tlcu/internet.html Porter, L. R. (1997). Creating virtual classroom: Distance learning with the internet. New York: J. Wiley & Sons. Schreiber, D. A., & Berge, Z. L. (1998). Distance training: How innovative organizations are using technology to maximize learning and meet business objectives. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. Urdan, T. A., & Weggen, C. C. (2000). Corporate e-learning: Exploring a new frontier. WR Hambrecht + Co. Retrieved August 3, 2001 from http://www.wrhambrecht.com/research/coverage/elearning/ir/ir_explore.html. U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2001). The condition of education 2001. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. United States Internet Council. (2000). State of the internet 2000. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved September 20, 2001, from http://usic.wslogic.com/intro.html

e-Learning: A Research construct:

Page 29 of 29

Wentling, T.L., Waight, C., Gallaher, J., La Fleur, J., Wang, & C., Kanfer, A. (2000). elearningA review of literature. Retrieved August 8, 2001 from http://learning.ncsa.uiuc.edu/papers/elearnlit.pdf. Willis, B. (1994). (Ed.). Distance education: Strategies and tools. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications. Zahm, S. (2000). No question about it e-learning is here to stay: A quick history of the elearning evolution. E-learning, 1(1), 44-47.