The effects of a computer-based instructional management system on student communications in a distance learning environment


The practice of using technology to deliver coursework in higher education has seen a veritable explosion. While this use of technology has enabled educational institutions to expand learning experiences beyond the popular notion of "classroom", it has also created several new problems related to the delivery of instruction. Of these problems, maintaining quality communication opportunities is perhaps one of the most critical to the instructional process. This paper presents data from a two-year study concerning the communication behaviors of students in a distance learning environment. On-line as well as traditional communication behaviors from students receiving instruction over the Internet using "stand alone" communication software were compared to a similar group whose instructional opportunities were managed by a commercial instructional management software program with integrated communication software. Significant differences were observed between the control and experimental groups in the volume of instructor-student email usage, student-student e-mail usage and use of the Internet for research purposes. Use of more traditional communication technologies (telephone and fax) showed no significant difference in volume between the control and experimental groups.


Counseling, Leadership, and Special Education

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Educational Technology and Society