Promoting academic integrity online

A new report from Faculty Focus that should be of interest to distance educators titled Promoting Academic Integrity in Online Education has just been released.

Although there’s some disagreement as to whether distance education is more susceptible to academic dishonesty than other forms of instruction, what isn’t up for debate is the fact that for as long as there’s been exams, there’s been cheating on exams. The online environment simply opens up a different set of challenges that aren’t typically seen in traditional face-to-face courses.

This free report features nine articles from Distance Education Report that will give you the latest techniques and technologies for mitigating cheating and other unethical behaviors in your online courses. The 20-page special report features these articles:

  • Combating Online Dishonesty with Communities of Integrity
  • The New News about Cheating for Distance Educators
  • A Problem of Core Values: Academic Integrity in Distance Learning
  • Student Authentication: What Are Your Duties Under the HEA Reauthorization?
  • 91 Ways to Maintain Academic Integrity in Online Courses
  • Remote Proctoring: Key to Secure Exam Administration?
  • A Chink in Our Armor: Can Technology Provide a True Online Proctored Exam?
  • Practical Tips for Preventing Cheating on Online Exams
  • Identity Gift: The Opposite of Identity Theft?

Online learning more effective than face to face

A recent report from written for the U.S. Department of Education has concluded that Online & blended education is more effective than residential method alone.

This conclusion was reached after analyzing research studies undertaken from 1996 to 2008 that address this topic, concluding the following:

  1. Online education is more effective than face-to-face learning;
  2. Online learning combined with some face-to-face learning (blended learning) is the most effective;
  3. Face-to-face learning alone is the least effective method among the three types studied.

Note that these findings are specific to college-level learning as the researchers found that not enough studies exist to merit a valid comparison at the K-12 level.

The full version of this report is available here:

Dept of Education: “Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning” (PDF)

Distance Learning – Still Going – Still Growing


The Sloan Consortium has released their fifth annual report on growth in the higher education elearning market in the US. The results: distance ed enrollments keep growing, at a pace significantly greater than their terrestrial education counterparts. According to the free report, Online Nation: Five Years of Growth in Online Learning, about 3.5 million people registered for an online course fall semester 2006. About 3.2 million did likewise in 2005.  From the fall 2004 to fall of 2005, online enrollment grew about 36 percent. The growth between fall 2005 to fall of 2006, was smaller, a 9.7 percent increase. General college enrollment grew by only 1.3 percent from 2005 to 2006, giving online education nine times more growing power even as it slows. While faculty acceptance continues to be a barrier to e-education growth academics themselves increasingly do not see lack of acceptance by employers of online credentials as a key barrier.

The fifth annual report on the state of online learning in U.S. higher education is based on responses from over 2,500 colleges and universities. The full report is available free as a PDF download.

(courtesy Virtual Education Gazette) 

E-primer series available

A series of ‘e-primers’ authored by Mark Nichols is freely available from the Flexible Learning in New Zealand site. The e-primers are written for those requiring an introductory theoretical and research-based framework for e-learning practice. E-primers have been peer-reviewed and are written from a New Zealand perspective.

This E-Primer series aims to make the unknown known, to place e-learning in a context of learning theory, institutional development, and instructional design. It examines the role of faculty, good practice in hybrid course design, and the dynamics of online discussion — and places all of these in a coherent context, drawing from refereed sources and 7 years of dedicated experience.

The series of E-Primers includes:

1. E-learning in context An introduction to e-learning and the international experience; definitions of terms; a theory for e-learning; technologies; benefits. (PDF, 478KB)
2. E-education and faculty Education theory and e-learning; the changing role of faculty; workload issues; quality. (PDF, 221KB)
3. Designing for e-learning Instructional design; learning objects; constructing a hybrid course. (Available by end of 2007)
4. Online discourse Synchronous and asynchronous communications; designing online discourse; online facilitation. (Draft phase)
5. E-xtending possibilities Web 2.0; ePortfolios; virtual worlds; lifelong learning. (Conceptual phase)

Innovate Online – “experiential eLearning”


The Aug/Sept edition of James Morrison’s Innovate is just out, with a range of papers that caught my attention, particularly as they follow on well from an online discussion about what’s needed for eLearning to take off that we’ve just finished in the DEANZ community. Each paper provide a particular perspective on the notion of experiential education, with a couple of special interest to me…

An interview with Steve Eskow sets the scene. He defines ee-learning thus:

“e-learning2” is experiential learning, a pedagogy that uses the everyday world as the scene of instruction.

Eskow postulates on Reschooling Society and the Promise of ee-Learning and argues that this sort of learning will be driven by the demand by learners for learning that is provided in and is relevant to the context of their working lives and in which their learning will be applied.

A second paper by Jack M. Nilles is titled Some Historical Thoughts on the ee-Learning Renaissance reinforces this view by stating that…

The world is not structured into a neat set of disciplines to be addressed sequentially. On the contrary, everything is all mashed together, occurring seemingly all at once. Everything is connected to everything else. Students may have learned calculus, history, creative writing, and psychology, but what’s often missing is a working knowledge of the interrelationships between these areas.

and then discusses how ee-Learning is an obvious choice for addressing this because of the flexibility, learner-centredness and notions of currency and relevance of content that it provides. Nilles concludes by stating;

It is no longer a question of whether the academy should experiment with ee-learning; it is a requirement for survival in the near future.

. Now there’s a serious demand-side response to the question “what’s needed for e-Learning to take off?”

e-Portfolio update


ePortfolios are a hot item in the news this week with several items worth noting. One is the posting of the ePortfolio Project and Mahara Update No.3 on eduforge which got a mention by Stephen Downes who also points to a powerpoint presentation you can download for more information.

Mahara is is a collaborative venture funded by New Zealand’s Tertiary Education Commission’s e-learning Collaborative Development Fund (eCDF), involving Massey University (lead provider), Auckland University of Technology, The Open Polytechnic of New Zealand, and Victoria University of Wellington. The project is charged with developing an open source ePortfolio application and to provide implementation strategies for the New Zealand tertiary sector – although it is clear that what is being developed will have much wider appeal, both nationally and internationally.

A Review of the Literature on Portfolios and Electronic Portfolios (.pdf) that was completed as part of the Mahara project has also been released. it provides an overview of benefits, functions, and successful criteria of portfolios, and an exploration of portfolio use in teacher education, medicine, and nursing. The second half of the report explores eportfolios (the section on benefits is quite thorough).

Also recently released is the EduTools ePortfolio Review, a review of seven ePortfolio products on the behalf of seven partner institutions or systems of institutions. I wasn’t able to locate a print form of the report, but there’s a link to a webcast featuring the research results of the ePortfolio project.

And lastly, a list of ePortfolio readings and papers posted on Helen Barrett’s blog. This includes an article from the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology by David Tosh, Tracy Penny Light, Kele Fleming and Jeff Haywood titled Engagement with Electronic Portfolios: Challenges from the Student Perspective. A line from the abstract sums up a lot of my feeling about the use of ePortfolios in education:

If students do not accept the e-portfolio as a holistic means with which to document their learning in different contexts and more importantly, agree or wish to use the e-portfolio as an integral part of their educational experience, then the potential impact the e-portfolio will have on learning will not be realised.

(Cross-post from Derek’s Blog)

Latest “Innovate” Online

Innovate Logo

The latest edition of Innovate is now online – this edition the contributors explore, assess, and illustrate the potential of open source software and related trends to transform educational practice. David Wiley’s article provides a useful overview and background to the use of Open Source software in education, while the rest of the contributors focus on particular aspects of the use of open source software at both tertiary (higher ed) and school level.

There’s also a most interesting article by Stephen Downes that introduces readers to Intute, an open access Web site that represents a significant step forward in the evolution of learning object repositories. He writes:

Created by a network of British universities and the Joint Information Services Committee (JISC), a federal British initiative, Intute represents what learning object repositories were meant to be but never became.

Distance Education Research


If you’re looking for some good research into current practices in Distance Education then the University of Wisconsin site provides some excellent resources.

Of particular interest to many will be the paper titled Future Directions in e-Learning Research Report 2006 which is the second annual survey of eLearning Guild members, and presents data and commentary on e-learning programs, trends, and initiatives in their organizations.