E-Newsletter for the Flashlight Program
For the Study and Improvement of
Educational Uses of Technology
August 18, 2000
SUMMARY OF THIS ISSUE
This issue of F-LIGHT, the free Flashlight newsletter, features an article
on how to pick a study topic, several case studies, and Flashlight
news. If you have done a study that you would like to see in this
newsletter, please send e-mail to the editor.
E-mail is wonderful: please send the URL of this issue to everyone who needs this
information! For information about starting or ending a subscription, sending us
etc. see the bottom of this message.
In the world of teaching and learning with technology, few
people have seen evaluative studies whose findings have proven
valuable. That's been our experience in doing workshops. We have
also noticed that most people find the process of deciding what to study to
be hard and not very exciting. We think that's a sign that they haven't
looked at enough options for the focus of their study. Emotions can
help you notice when, after twenty other ideas, you've identified a focus
that could produce really important findings. As the examples in this
paper by Steve Ehrmann illustrate, your own reactions of fear and
excitement are "gut" indicators that you're asking questions that
are really worth the effort to answer.
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Kevin Oliver, Virginia Tech
In 1998-99, Virginia Tech had
approximately 215 faculty using CourseInfo to supplement on-campus
courses. We constructed a Fall 1999 survey that utilized some items from
Current Student Inventory to determine how faculty were using this
Sample findings from 38 survey
respondents showed 82% placed content online for students to access, but
only 29% grouped students in electronic teams for document sharing and
cooperative tasks. Further, 97% used the tool for online announcements,
but only 29% used digital drop boxes to exchange papers and provide
formative feedback on student artifacts. While some faculty used
CourseInfo to modify and extend their teaching and learning practices,
many utilized the system only to promote efficiency and increased
information access. Such foci alone may not promote higher-order thinking
and improved student learning.
In response to our survey, and to improve
online teaching among CourseInfo faculty, we developed
a web site entitled "Effective Uses of Online Course Tools."
This web site is divided into sections by each CourseInfo tool (e.g.,
discussion boards, chat rooms, external links, online quizzes, electronic
groups). For each tool section, we suggest activities that faculty may
conduct to more actively involve students.
To encourage faculty usage of this site,
we publicize it across several Internet-related workshops in our
year-round Faculty Development Institute.
We also provide faculty the opportunity to submit their developed
CourseInfo courses for review, then evaluate their usage of the tools. If
faculty are using CourseInfo only to deliver information, we refer them to
our web site and suggest specific activities to more actively involve
To determine if our efforts have been
successful in transitioning faculty courses from teaching-oriented to
learning-oriented, we plan annual, follow-up surveys with similar
questions about faculty usage of CourseInfo tools.
Please send any feedback or suggestions
for improvement to Kevin Oliver.
Flashlight Program has been working for almost two years with a team from
the Indiana University Health Sciences Center University of Colorado, and
the University of Kansas to develop a standard instrument, body of data, and
series of reports on Web-based education in nursing.
Once the instrument completes the cycle of validation and revision,
we will open membership in this evaluation collaborative to other
institutions. The team has been led by Dean Diane Billings of Indiana
University. Two panels at an upcoming
conference of the National League for Nursing will deal with their work
thus far, and with some related work.
(learning, access, convenience, productive use of time, application to
real world work, proficiency with technology tools, and socialization to
practices (active learning, time on task, interaction with faculty,
collaboration with classmates, feedback, and respect for diversity) and
use of the technology.
instrument used in the study was adapted from the Flashlight Project Current
Student Inventory Toolkit. The
instrument has been tested for reliability and validity with nursing
students from these three institutions.
on evidence analyzed to date, the team has already shown that use of
effective teaching-learning practices is important to fostering both
learning outcomes and student satisfaction in web courses.
Orientation to technology, technology support and stable technology
tools also contribute to student satisfaction with these courses.
one of its two sessions the team will also discuss related issues of faculty
rewards, student development, faculty development, and library resources.
the Landscape, Creating a Preferred Future for Nursing Education"
will be held at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville, TN Sept 13-16, 2000.
The following report also deals with a conceptually similar study, this one
done at an institution whose identity is not revealed. It was submitted by
Thomas M. Duffy, Joni Craner, Byungro Lim, and
the Fall of 1999 the Center for Research on Learning and Technology (CRLT)
at Indiana University was asked by the Dean of a large academic program to
evaluate their online courses. While a complete online degree program was not being offered
at the time, online courses were becoming a more integral part of the
program and many non-traditional learners were enrolling.
The purpose of the evaluation was two-fold: (1) to assess the quality of the online instruction and
provide recommendations to the program director regarding general areas
for improvement and (2) to provide specific recommendations to individual
instructors regarding areas for improvement in their individual online
courses. The “7 Principles
of Good Practice” (Chickering & Gamson, 1987) served as a foundation
for developing the evaluation criteria.
We found that while the seven general principles at the general level
applied equally to both
instructor-led on-campus and online courses, the specific evaluation
strategies provided for each principle (Chickering & Gamson, 1987)
applied primarily to face-to-face courses.
One outcome of this evaluation was the development of a
corresponding set of specific evaluation criteria for evaluating online
courses based on the seven principles.
The evaluation included a review of the web site, an analysis of the
discussion areas, and interviews with the instructors.
A technical report describing the evaluation criteria and the
findings can be found on the CRLT web site: http://crlt.indiana.edu/publications/crlt00-13.pdf.
Here are the findings regarding two of the seven principles:
Regarding "Good Practice Gives Prompt Feedback."
We found that a certain type of “acknowledgement feedback” was
often overlooked by instructors. Online
students don’t have the same assurance as in a face-to-face environment
that their assignments have actually made it to the instructor when they
submit it by email or other electronic means.
In addition to providing prompt feedback on the quality of the
submission, online instructors need to promptly acknowledge the receipt of
an assignment or assignments need to be posted in an electronic submission
box where the students can verify that it has been deposited.
Regarding "Good Practice Encourages Cooperation Among Students"
We found that instructors often needed help with developing
assignments that required meaningful peer interactions online.
Facilitating asynchronous discussions online is quite different
from facilitating group discussions in a classroom.
Instructors often struggle in making the transition.
Students need a task to focus their discussion and some type of end
product that can bring closure to the discussion.
Additionally, the discussion structure (including public, private,
topical, team forums, etc.) should be simple and easy to understand.
Multiple posting from the students in the wrong discussion space is
a clear indication that the discussion structure is too complex.
number of institutions with site licenses for the Flashlight Current Student
has reached about 200 colleges, universities, corporations, hospitals and
schools around the world.
these are forty-six institutional
members of our leadership group, the Flashlight
Network. The newest members of this distinguished team are the
University of South Carolina, Harcourt Higher Education, Valencia Community
College, California State University-San Marcos, Mira Costa Community
College, Palomar Community College, East Carolina University, Fayetteville
State University, George Washington University, North Carolina State
University, West Carolina University, Winston-Salem University, and Bucks
County Community College.
addition to extensive program benefits, Network institutions are working
with our staff to develop the next generation of evaluation tools and
consulting services. We are really excited about the new directions in which
our collaboration is moving. For more information about the Network,
see our Web site or send
e-mail to Flashlight@tltgroup.org.
are doing more and more events but most are at just one institution and
only for its staff. One exception that is now on the schedule for
this year: a talk and day-long workshop at the Syllabus
Conference in Boston, Nov.30-Dec. 3.
other Flashlight-related conference sessions at the National
League for Nursing conference this September are described briefly in
the article above on Web-based education in nursing.
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a Question about Educational Uses of Technology?
Sometimes you just need a bit of help - a contact, an idea, a reaction. We try to be as
helpful as we can, so drop us an e-mail and
let us know what's on your mind.
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(including free demonstration accounts), the TLT Group, and F-LIGHT
Program for the Study and Improvement of Educational Uses of Technology
is part of the non-profit TLT Group, Inc., an affiliate of the American
Association for Higher Education.
your institution needs to get a better look at the Flashlight Current
Student Inventory, or at Flashlight Online (the Web-based system that lets
you use the CSI, among other utilities), the best way is for someone at
your institution to request a temporary, free demonstration account.
Send e-mail to Flashlight@tltgroup.org
with the header "Free Demo Account" to ask for details. One
account per institution, please.
The TLT Group publishes F-LIGHT every few weeks. You can see the name of the
author-editor at the bottom of this message; please feel free to send me mail about issues
of evaluation or research on teaching, learning and technology. Recent issues are posted
on our Web site.
Our thanks to Washington State University for their many ways of supporting
Flashlight, including providing the listproc for distribution of F-LIGHT.
We are also grateful to St. Edward's University and the Rochester Institute
of Technology for extensive support for Flashlight; to the founding
corporate sponsors of the TLT Group (Blackboard, Compaq Computer
Corporation, Microsoft Corporation, the SCT Corporation, Student Online, and
WebCT); the TLT Group's other corporate sponsors; key public sector funders
of the TLT Group's work such as the Annenberg/CPB
Projects, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fund for the Improvement
of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), and the National Science Foundation.
If you know someone else who would like to be alerted to new issues of
F-LIGHT, please suggest
that they send e-mail to LISTPROC@LISTPROC.WSU.EDU with the one line message SUBSCRIBE F-LIGHT (the subscriber's first and last name)
To stop receiving the bulletin about F-LIGHT, please send e-mail to LISTPROC@LISTPROC.WSU.EDU with
the one line message SIGNOFF F-LIGHT
Stephen C. Ehrmann, Ph.D.
Director of the Flashlight Program and
The Teaching, Learning and Technology Group
Headquarters office hours: 10AM to 6PM Eastern
One Columbia Avenue, Takoma Park, Maryland 20912 USA
phone (301) 270-8312 fax: (301)270-8110
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