Volume 2 (2023-2024)

Advances in Online Education: A Peer-Reviewed Journal is free-to-view for all subscribers and subscribing institutions.

Each volume consists of four quarterly 100-page issues, published online. The articles published in Volume 2 are listed below. 

Volume 2 Number 2

  • Editorial:
    Amelia Clarke, Publishing Editor
  • Opinion Paper
    Putting AI to work in education
    Karina Koch, HSTalks

    Karina Koch Karina is the Editor of the Business & Management Collection, published by Henry Stewart Talks, where she curates a multimedia resource of lectures, case studies and interviews to support business school programmes. She has been a writer and editor in the higher education domain for many years, including at Ex Libris, a software provider for libraries and universities. Previously Karina was a policy adviser in the UK government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Karina has a BA in history from Cambridge University and an MA from University College London.
    Keywords: continuity; emergency; planning; crisis; quality; decision making

  • Practice Papers
    Enhanced cultural awareness and collaborative learning via intercountry inter-campus global classroom learning experience
    Anupama Sethi, Monash Business School and Sharon G. M. Koh, Monash University Malaysia

    A growing body of literature recognises the importance of cultural awareness and collaborative learning in the classroom. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the emergence of global classrooms providing students with multicultural awareness and learning opportunities. This paper describes innovative inter-campus teaching across two countries utilising the Zoom platform and various communicative learning tools to encourage active engagement. The activities presented students with exposure to multicultural learning experiences and educators with the opportunity to revitalise their pedagogical practice. The findings will be of interest to practitioners and academics who are interested in creating opportunities for a global classroom. Feedback from students suggests that they value the opportunity to connect and collaborate. The paper concludes with the students’ reflective thoughts about the unit and how these discussions can enhance classroom engagement.
    Keywords: cross-cultural; economics; cultural awareness; collaborative learning; global classroom

  • Making teamwork work in the virtual classroom
    Clifford Davis, Jr., University of West Georgia

    The quality of online programmes is expected to improve as more students enrol. Online programmes offer convenience, enabling students to pursue education despite time constraints and work commitments. Students, however, still expect an experience comparable to that of face-to-face classes. As a result, many colleges and universities are beginning to explore the use of teamwork to provide students with a sense of community in online programmes, while also enhancing their learning. Although virtual teams can overcome the limitations of time, space and organisational boundaries that hinder traditional teams, they face other obstacles in distributed environments, including limited technical abilities and a lack of collaborative skills. This practice paper explores the work of a new assistant professor who incorporated teamwork in virtual classrooms into an online educational leadership programme. This paper aims to share the challenges and benefits experienced by the instructor while engaging in group work in an online classroom environment, including the various successes and lessons learned.
    Keywords: teamwork; virtual learning; online programmes; leadership development; diversity

  • Case Studies
    Technology in education: An analysis of preservice teachers’ experiences, perceived confidence and perspectives on technology use
    Sheri Deaton and Betsy Orr, University of Arkansas, Emily Lawler, Springdale Public Schools, and Rachael Reagan, Apple Seeds Programs

    At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, preservice teachers were forced to shift to remote teaching and learning. During this time, new technologies were utilised to facilitate instruction and support student engagement. This paper explores the level of experience, perceived confidence and perspectives of technology in education among preservice teachers across all subject and grade levels enrolled in a Technology in Education course as part of a preservice teaching programme. The findings of this study reflect participant experiences and confidence linked with using technology to research and present conclusions rather than student-centred engagement. Further analysis revealed trends regarding participants’ values on technology usage in the classroom, highlighting opportunities for growth for teacher preparation programmes.
    Keywords: preservice teachers; teacher education; technology in education; technology perspectives; technology experiences; technology confidence; educator preparation programme

  • Student teachers’ experiences of online learning
    Nerys Defis and Alison Glover, The Open University in Wales

    Teacher education is an important element of education reform currently taking place in Wales. Addressing the challenge of recruiting a high-quality teacher workforce is key. To assist in the recruitment of teachers to rural schools and to encourage those to enter the profession who might otherwise not consider teaching as a career, a new flexible and blended online teacher training offer has been available in Wales since 2020. In 2022 the first student teachers graduated from the new programme that offers a two-year part-time or employment-based route into teaching. Using a case study approach, 50 student teachers’ survey responses identified consistently high levels of satisfaction with the programme information and course materials. It is clear, however, that it takes time for students to become familiar with accessing the materials, with differing levels of satisfaction reported. This has implications for the programme’s induction process, which have since been streamlined. Student teachers reported limited engagement with forum posts. Exploring a range of possible actions to support such engagement is underway, including linking the activity to specific seminar tasks. It was also found that some student teachers are reluctant to interact with their peers during breakout room discussions. Again, this is an aspect that is continuing to be addressed. It is important to recognise that embedding new practices to increase engagement and collaboration opportunities for student teachers takes time to succeed. Since the forced online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, many education providers continue to offer this flexibility for learners and this paper contributes to understanding and improving this mode of delivery.
    Keywords: blended learning; education reform; teacher education; Wales

  • The effect of collaboration and utilisation of academic coaches in online learning environments
    Brittany Grissette and Amanda Hawkins, Columbus State University, Sarah Kuck, Albany State University, and Joe Fernander, University System of Georgia eCampus

    A nursing shortage is being felt across the US and the problem was only amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic that began in late 2019. There are many registered nurses (RN) who hold an Associate of Science in Nursing (ASN) degree; however, hiring new RNs with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) is a national priority. Therefore, the University System of Georgia (USG) established a Cooperative Academic Agreement of 13 institutions in Georgia which offer the RN to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN to BSN) programme. In an attempt to increase pre-licensure programme enrolment and capacity, RN to BSN faculty were released to teach in pre-licensure programmes. For the Cooperative Academic Agreement to be utilised to its full potential, academic coaches were hired to assist students in the successful progression through the collaborative courses. The purpose of this longitudinal study was to examine students’ perceptions of support provided by academic coaches in an online learning environment. To assess students’ perception, the researchers added five items to the course evaluation administered in the collaborative courses. Although the response rate was low, the results from the course evaluations suggest that students perceived the academic coaches positively contributed to their academic success.
    Keywords: academic coach; collaboration; cooperative agreement; online learning; student success; student support

  • There and back again: Implementing and assessing a digital reading, research and writing application
    Arin Haverland and Kayle Skorupski, University of Arizona, Catrina Mitchum, University of Maryland Global Campus, Rochelle Rodrigo and Anna Leach, University of Arizona

    The processes of reading, research and writing are complex and intertwined. Currently, the larger educational technology landscape requires using multiple tools to do these processes. Being able to pull them into a single tool can allow learners to focus on learning and streamlining processes instead of using their cognitive bandwidth to learn multiple new technologies. The weary travellers who conducted this study set off on a journey to discover such a tool and determine its efficacy in their various online courses across the disciplines of environmental science, nutritional science, writing studies, literature and information science. The study was conducted through a series of pre- and post-surveys asking students about the strength of their reading, research and writing skills, the ease with which they performed them, and how much they enjoyed completing the tasks associated with those skills. The travellers found that many students felt more confident in their abilities, found processes to be easier and enjoyed the processes more than they did before the tool was introduced. This case study suggests that when we remove the complexity of balancing various technology tools in our online classes, students can focus on the process and not the tool; however, there was a small subset of students who did not find the tool improved their processes because they already had processes in place that they liked. This suggests that tools that ‘rule them all’ should be introduced early in an academic career and be made available by the institution throughout a student’s time at their academic institution.
    Keywords: digital reading; digital writing; online learning; evaluation of online environments; higher education; teaching research

Volume 2 Number 1

  • Editorial:
    Amelia Clarke, Publishing Editor
  • Papers
    Remaining ‘open’ during a crisis: Managing academic continuity at The Open University, UK
    Helen Cooke and Helen Barton, The Open University

    When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, higher education institutions (HEIs) around the world faced an unprecedented amount of complexity and uncertainty, regardless of their mode of delivering teaching, learning and assessment activities to their students. Despite already having robust policies and processes in place for delivering such activities online, distance learning institutions around the world were far from being exempt from this disruption. This paper highlights that the continuity of academic decision making during a crisis affects all institutions and needs to be managed carefully to maintain the expected quality of academic standards and student experience, while protecting the health and well-being of students and staff. By evaluating the effectiveness of The Open University’s approach to considering academic issues during the COVID-19 pandemic and considering longer-term implications for the institution, this paper presents a modified version of an academic continuity model to assist other institutions in managing academic continuity during crisis situations. This revised model takes into account the cyclical and ongoing nature of The Open University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact that prolonged uncertainty can have on applying such a model in practice.
    Keywords: continuity; emergency; planning; crisis; quality; decision making

  • Thinking outside the Zoom box: Discovering resilience, innovation and creativity for large instrumental ensembles during the pandemic
    Kira Omelchenko, Wilfrid Laurier University and Colleen Ferguson, Texas A&M University School of Music

    This paper provides readers with insights and strategies to tackle challenges of various remote and in-person large ensemble rehearsal situations, as well as hopefully inspires others to find the opportunities through the obstacles. The authors provide tips and strategies for creating innovative and cross-disciplinary projects and providing valuable experience for the ensemble students in virtual, hybrid and socially distanced in-person educational settings. Strategies presented are gathered from the authors’ first-hand experiences with their large orchestral ensembles (ranging from 50–70 students) during the pandemic. Finally, the authors provide insights on what has worked well, challenges faced, technologies applied and lessons learned during the process. This paper also discusses various creative strategies to highlight collaboration and create a sense of community and belonging in a remote environment. Readers will gain ideas regarding unique teaching concepts for the music ensemble in the current environment including fully remote instruction, hybrid instruction and in-person settings. Matters such as utilising the audio Jamulus platform, engaging students in synchronous format, wellness for the instructor and students, finding value and motivation and embracing technology will be explored throughout the paper.
    Keywords: symphony orchestra; ensemble remote delivery; online music instruction; music; performing arts; cross-disciplinary areas of arts and humanities; innovative music projects

  • Digital storytelling: A relational pedagogic approach to rebuilding hybrid places for creativity, equity and community building in a crisis
    Zoe Parker Moon, Polly Palmerini, Jen Drayton, Rob Noon, Kayanna Gibson, and Lisa Gold, Manchester Metropolitan University, and Erinma Ochu, The University of the West of England

    The COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on human flourishing worldwide as in-person teaching and learning provision within universities and schools rapidly shifted online. This exposed challenges as staff and students worked from home. Digital competences in online pedagogy differed across teaching teams, access to digital equipment, technical and social infrastructure was limited, specific fields of study had different requirements, and physical distancing measures heightened social isolation. ‘The Ship of Theseus’ is a thought experiment that poses the question: if every part of a ship is replaced, is it still the same ship? The authors apply the Ship of Theseus to reflect on experiences of rebuilding and reimagining teaching and learning online in a crisis. This intergenerational, practice-informed case study considers a strategic role for digital storytelling on the Digital Media and Communications BSc (DMC) at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) during the COVID-19 pandemic. A student-led component was supported by two research internships as part of MMU’s extracurricular programme, Rise. Catering specifically for students with culturally diverse backgrounds, Rise enables students to enhance their degree profile through activities such as volunteering, self-study on other learning platforms, work experience or research projects. The two student co-authors cooperated as peers, and as part of the research team in order to critique and reimagine curriculum content delivery in a crisis. This was informed by the literature and student co-authors’ critical reflections on their lived experience of pandemic online teaching and learning and prototyping an equitable alternative to build a creative community that co-imagines different desires and visions of the future from an inequitable present. In applying the Ship of Theseus to the use of digital storytelling to support online teaching and learning, we offer active learning strategies to reinvigorate relational pedagogic approaches that position online learning within wider debates to transform higher education. The authors suggest that digital storytelling can rebuild social connections and transform online spaces into hybrid places where meaningful and creative playfulness can become anchored within practice. We conclude that designing for equity by extending digital storytelling communities of practice beyond university learning environments provides alternative spaces that potentially transform how learners respond equitably to global crises together. While new forms of digital storytelling, cooperation, co-learning and community building are invaluable, the rapid convergence of digital technologies and media by industry warrants active stewarding to address emergent digital media ethical challenges, including accessibility, privacy and equity.
    Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic; digital storytelling; digital equity; relational pedagogy; active learning; online and hybrid; community building

  • ‘There is space for the official and the unofficial’: A case study of a module-led Facebook page in online distance education
    Sharon Mallon, Staffordshire University and Beccy Dresden, Freelance

    The emergence of social media platforms has been associated with a shift of students from university-moderated spaces towards Facebook; however, there has been a general reluctance among lecturers to engage directly with students on this platform. This paper provides evidence of how students at one online institution engaged with a module-specific, lecturer-mediated Facebook page, alongside the reflections of the staff who led the group. The case study shows that the page was both motivational and engaging for staff and students alike. As only one-third of students engaged, however, it is not a sole answer to problem of disengagement in this sector.
    Keywords: Facebook; higher education; digital pedagogy; student engagement; social media; teaching; social networking

  • Inclusive excellence online: Pandemic lessons learned supporting traditionally underserved students
    Ken Baron, John Fritz, and Yvette Mozie-Ross, University of Maryland, Baltimore County

    When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and all higher education pivoted to online learning, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) created ‘Finish Line’, a programme designed to help former students with some college, but no degree to complete their studies, often several years after they had left the institution. More than 200 students have done so to date, which was a surprising pandemic silver lining for an institution with fewer than 5 per cent of all courses delivered online before 2020. But was Finish Line just a temporary strategic initiative to get through a global health crisis? Or could it also be a proof of concept for how to meet and support ‘non-traditional’ adult learners where they are — and want to go? In this reflective case study, we offer candid lessons learned to go beyond the logistics of an enrolment management strategy of ‘re-recruiting’ former students through the affordances of online education to reassessing and redefining our ‘inclusive excellence’ mission in a post-pandemic, often digital-first world.
    Keywords: inclusive excellence; student success; online education; institutional transformation

  • Importance of measuring student experience in a short online course for educators
    Karen Ferreira-Meyers, University of Eswatini

    This case study discusses the importance of measuring student satisfaction in online teaching. Student satisfaction is a crucial metric for any educational institution, regardless of whether it offers face-to-face, conventional education or open, distance and e-learning (ODeL). It is essential that students feel engaged and supported in their learning journey to ensure the best possible outcomes, especially in low-resourced countries such as Eswatini. ODeL have each been shown to provide unique advantages when it comes to student satisfaction due to their flexibility and convenience. However, it is important to note that wanting to recommend a course to someone does not necessarily mean that they were completely satisfied with all aspects of the course. For example, a student may have found a course to be very challenging but still found it valuable and would recommend it to others who are interested in the subject matter. Early on in research on blended and e-learning, it was highlighted that the quality of the instructors and the appropriate design and good facilitation of online learning activities are important determinants that influence student learning and satisfaction. Satisfaction is possibly the most accepted measure of teaching/learning quality and effectiveness. In addition, relevant and appropriate support services (quality) are seen by a substantial body of literature on education as a key factor and great predictor of student satisfaction in a blended/online learning environment. Therefore, measuring student satisfaction can help maintain quality teaching and learning by identifying areas for improvement. The case study also provides best practices for measuring student satisfaction in online teaching. These include using surveys or questionnaires that cover various aspects such as course content, instructor support, technical support, communication channels, assessment methods, among others. It is important to use validated instruments or develop customised ones based on specific needs. Furthermore, it is recommended to collect data at different points during the course delivery to capture changes in student satisfaction over time. The data collected should be analysed and used to inform decision making and improve the quality of teaching and learning. In conclusion, measuring student satisfaction in online teaching is crucial for maintaining quality teaching and learning. OSeL have unique advantages when it comes to student satisfaction, but it is important to ensure that students feel engaged and supported throughout their learning journey. Best practices for measuring student satisfaction include using validated instruments, collecting data at different points during course delivery, analysing data and using it to inform decision making.
    Keywords: student experience; student satisfaction; short online course; educators; Eswatini; quality assurance; Institute of Distance Education

  • A realist evaluation of online examinations and remote proctoring for pre-registration nursing students
    Claire Ford, Laura Jillian Park, and Claire Leader, Northumbria University

    Due to the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions in 2021, it was not possible for face-to-face examinations to be held on Northumbria University campus. Alternative examination methods needed to be utilised; however, due to the Professional Statutory Regulatory Body (PSRB) requirements for nursing students, these also needed to be appropriately supervised. This research study aimed to evaluate and explore the use of remote proctoring services for online unseen exams and how this changing assessment strategy affected pre-registration nursing students during the COVID-19 pandemic. A realist evaluation methodology was used to uncover understanding that can improve undergraduate implementation of online proctoring by providing explanations and understanding into why online proctoring programmes may or may not work, for whom, and in what contexts. Pre-registration nursing students from all fields of nursing (BSc and MSc) who sat an online assessment in 2021 and 2022 were invited to participate in an online survey and were recruited using purposeful and volunteer sampling. Students (n=87) completed the online survey, which contained both qualitative and quantitative questions. Data was independently analysed, and emerging themes identified were compared and agreed upon by the research team. Five interconnecting themes emerged which were formulated into a diagram comprising the following: familiarity with software; practice with hardware; confidence with IT issues; ongoing pastoral support; and academic misconduct awareness. The findings of this study might help inform the academic institution’s practices regarding the benefits of conducting examinations and assessments remotely and the necessary steps to take in order to enhance students’ experiences of using this alternative approach.
    Keywords: remote proctoring; nursing assessments; academic misconduct; technology-enhanced learning; realist evaluation