On-line or off base?
On-line or off base?
Distance learning, the concept of providing instruction from a central site to
students located at one or more remote locations, has been a buzzword among
educators for decades. But in recent years, growing numbers of non-traditional
students seeking high school, vocational and college education have made the
market flourish. As administrators have sought to maintain or boost enrollment
figures or to further expand their institutions' influence into distant regions,
they have been forced to make education a more flexible commodity. A decade ago
only a handful of states encouraged distance education, but by 1991, nearly
every state had inaugurated a formal policy to encourage this type of
instruction. This rapid growth was partially necessitated by dwindling state
education budgets that made a more parsimonious and versatile form of providing
education a necessity, and in this regard, satellite-delivered courses, which
allowed for simultaneous transmission of courses to several remote locations,
were a Godsend for secondary and higher education institutions struggling to
offer diversified education while making financial ends meet (Jordahl, 1991).
More recently, developments in distribution technology have proven to be a
stimulus in boosting interest in distance learning. Educators have realized
that perhaps the best tool for providing individualized instruction at the
lowest cost is literally at their fingertips: the personal computer. The
diffusion of PCs that began in the early 1980s paved the way for educators to
first experiment with using the computer as an interactive adjunct to
satellite-delivered TV courses to provide feedback capabilities between
instructors and students (Jordahl, 1991; O'Donnell, 1993).
But visionary schools, such as the New York Institute of Technology, also
experimented with offering entire classes by computer as early as 1985.
Educators soon discovered that computer-mediated courses offered tacit
advantages over other forms of distance learning technology. For one, computer
delivery offers greater convenience and flexibility. Students are able to
receive instruction at times that better fit their individual schedules, an
improvement over the rigid demands of university teleconference schedules and
live televised courses that were sometimes offered at odd hours, such as the CBS
"Sunrise Semester," which aired daily at 6:00 a.m. [the series was dropped in
the early 1980s (Ivey, 1988)]. Computer-mediated courses can more flexibly span
time zones, allowing college courses to serve constituents across the country
and/or beyond national borders, since international students can receive credit
from American colleges without physically attending classes in the United
States ("Distance Learning," 1995; DeLoughry, 1996).
The other great advantage touted by proponents is the fact that computer
delivery of course material allows interaction among students and between
students and professors that is arguably better than conventional forms of
distance instruction. Through electronic messaging features such as e-mail and
chatrooms, courses can still be heavily discussion oriented, but with the
advantage that messages can be accessed and answered at times that more
conveniently accommodate the busy schedules of both students and teachers
The computer-mediated course concept has grown tremendously since its first
inception earlier this decade. Britain's Open University, an institution built
on distance education through classes aired on national radio and television,
offered nearly 100 on-line courses by 1995 ("Distance Learning," 1995). In New
York, the New School for Social Research offers more than 90 diverse courses,
ranging from art education to political theory (DeLoughry, 1996). A federal
grant has been awarded to the University of Nebraska's Department of Distance
Education to develop an entire high school curriculum that would be delivered
via the Internet ("Virtual Learning," 1997). Perhaps the greatest effort to
promote on-line education as a viable means of distance learning is the "Western
Governor's University," a 21-member teaching consortium composed of industrial
corporations and universities in the western and southwestern states, which
proposes to offer degree and certificate programs. Under this proposal,
students enrolled in the WGU program would be entitled to take distance classes
offered by participating institutions or they would at least be directed to
appropriate electronic courses at other non-WGU colleges and universities
nationwide (Blumenstyk, 1998).
Amid the excitement over computer-mediated courses, the concept has also
attracted a hefty amount of skepticism. Critics argue that while this approach
does make education more accommodating, especially to non-traditional students,
its main drawback is the loss of personal, "over-the-shoulder" instruction that
is vital to some subjects, a traditional complaint about other forms of distance
learning technology ("Virtual Learning," 1997). Quibblers also argue that
such essential components of classroom instruction, such as observing students'
body language to gauge the degree to which points are being effectively
presented, are lost when the student is remotely located at a computer terminal
hundreds of miles away (Guernsey, 1998; Norman & Towles, 1994). In fact, the
American Federation of Teachers has encouraged members to oppose on-line
courses unless teachers can guarantee that the material offered would equal the
quality of traditional classroom instruction. The union's task force argues
that "shared human spaces of [the] campus [environment]" are an essential
component to learning, especially in undergraduate education, and that the
virtual community cannot offer students such an experience. The organization
has proposed strict standards for evaluating on-line courses, including the
mandate that such classes "should be structured to include a substantial amount
of interaction among students and between students and the teacher" (Blumenstyk,
Some critics question whether such meaningful interaction is possible. They
contend that if students are relegated to providing feedback to teachers only
through e-mail and chatrooms, the quality of such feedback may suffer.
Furthermore, the merit of the on-line discussions may be more difficult to
assess, since this forum mandates a particular structure under which students
may provide their comments, a factor likely to inhibit meaningful, insightful
argument, debate or discussion. Some professors of on-line courses already
notice that obtaining quality feedback from students is easier said than done,
and that graduate students are much more likely to post meaningful comments than
are undergraduates (Guernsey, 1998).
AFT members are especially worried that students with limited computer
backgrounds would be at a great disadvantage when taking on-line classes
(Blumenstyk, 1996). Moreover, some scholars question whether computer-mediated
courses can be flexibly structured to accommodate students' varying learning
styles or whether all courses are adaptable to the on-line delivery format.
Critics caution that on-line classes are often designed around such esoteric
topics as "Political Theory for the 21st Century," "Media Manipulation:
Resisting Advertising," and "How to Open a Beer Bar or Brewpub" (DeLoughry,
1996). Whether this format is effective for teaching more fundamental courses,
even if classes are restructured to better suit the PC delivery technology, is
an issue still under question ("On Line," 1998).
The degree to which students are willing to receive education via their PCs
may, in fact, loom as the biggest issue shrouding the wholesale adoption of
computer-mediated distance courses. Experience in the field indicates that a
majority of distance learners come from the ranks of "non-traditional" students,
primarily working adults who have been unable to fit the demands of attending
classes into their already-tight daily schedules (Bruder, 1989). Previously
discussed programs currently being developed by secondary and higher education
to increase computer distance education outreach, however, seem to be built on
educators' assumptions that high school and college students will be attracted
to computer-mediated courses. It could be argued that computer-mediated courses
may be a tougher sell among members of this age group. Students who are already
a part of campus life may find any aspect of distance learning to be a
less-than-adequate substitute for the more personable atmosphere of the
conventional classroom. Although virtual classes can be more accommodating to
the busy schedules and more active lifestyles of on-campus students, this
attribute can also be a disadvantage, since students must be disciplined enough
to maintain their on-line class assignments (Guernsey, February 13, 1998). As
articulated by a student at the California State University-Humboldt:
The students' big fear is that we just don't want to be sitting watching a
monitor...If I'm going to consider a technologically-based course, it had
better be something more...Personally, I don't want to sit in my house
taking these classes. I prefer to go to the campus and be in the classroom
environment (DeLoughry, 1994, p. A-38).
High schoolers and college undergraduates could reject computer-mediated
courses for another reason: technophobia is currently very high among members of
this age group. Data from a study by Scott and Rockwell (1997) even suggests
that such fears may actually make persons antagonistic toward tasks associated
with computers, such as taking courses via computer. Assuming that this finding
is correct, proponents of virtual curricula should be concerned, since the
perceived ease with which distance learners can access and use technology has
traditionally been rated as an important factor among class designers using
other modes of delivery (cf., Hawkes, 1996; Stubbs & Burnham, 1990).
Apprehension about the conveyance technology itself could emerge as an
obstruction to learning in computer-mediated courses, assuming that less
computer-savvy students would not already be so intimidated by the technology
that they might avoid this method of instruction in the first place.
Designers of virtual curricula would be wise to determine to what extent the
concept of computer-mediated courses would be accepted by the heavily targeted
high school and undergraduate student populations. To what extent are members
of this group willing to take classes by computer in lieu of classroom
Few, if any, studies have attempted to determine consumer perceptions of
on-line courses. Scholars have offered general methods for evaluating and
developing more effective distance classes (cf., Hawkes, September 1996; Hawkes,
October 1996; Stubbs & Burnham, 1990), a field of literature that provides both
a strong theoretical base and prescriptive guidelines for virtual course
planners. Earlier outcome-based data also exists to evaluate the effectiveness
of courses delivered through other means of distance technology (cf.,
Whittington, 1987). In terms of computer-mediated courses, the American
Association for Higher Education is currently launching an evaluation program to
determine the effectiveness of computer technologies in instruction, either when
used as an adjunct to classroom instruction or as a means of delivering courses
("On Line," 1998). Perhaps data about the effectivness of on-line instruction
will be available in the future, but at present, there is little research in
this field. Furthermore, the more basic question of how potential distance
learners anticipate receiving instruction via computer is a field of study that
scholars have apparently avoided altogether.
The study of journalism and/or mass communication and its related components of
advertising and public relations are all by definition based in all
communication. The purpose of the journalism, public relations and advertising
is to interact with others using communication tools to get across ideas. Two
important communication process components, outlined by Claude Shannon and a
host of others, include senders and receivers and everything that gets in
between the two. This study is an attempt to identify what a new technology,
computers and on-line access, suggests for a group of potential users or
receivers of communication, undergraduate students. Most of the research done
has been directed from the provider, or sender's, point of view; the research
done on end-users or receivers has concentrated on graduate and/or
non-traditional users, not traditional undergraduate students and not
specifically in a profession based on communication skills. This study focuses
on their perceptions of moving on-site campus classes from classrooms onto the
World Wide Web.
Undergraduate students enrolled in the university's introductory media and
society course during a fall and a spring semester were used as the initial
population for these interviews. Because the majority of literature about
on-line course development focuses on course delivery for non-traditional and
graduate students, particularly those not involved or served in traditional
on-campus courses, responses from traditional students in the general
introductory media and society were sought to suggest ways to begin the study of
this large group.
The literature about technophobia, particularly the findings of Scott and
Rockwell (1997), provided the basis for developing the following research
y Are you comfortable enough with computer technology to take an entire course
y In the on-line format, class discussions would be conducted in chatrooms; what
are your attitudes about this?
y Because the course is all on-line and all participation is done by writing on
the computer, do you think you will have more opportunities to improve your
writing skills than in the traditional classroom?
y Is 24-hour-a-day access to course materials , including lectures, and the
course instructor using the Web an advantage or disadvantage?
y Is the opportunity to cheat in an on-line course greater than in a traditional
Students also provided the following demographic information;
y Extent of computer ownership among undergraduate students;
y How many total years of experience each student had with computers;
y Students' self-assessed proficiency level with computers and programs;
y Students' self-assessed comfort level to take an on-line course.
General Study Participant Characteristics
The majority of students in this study were journalism/mass communication
majors; including 18 print journalism majors; 29 broadcast majors; 58 public
relations majors; 41 advertising majors; and 26 majors from other fields.
Twenty-one of the respondents were freshmen; 39 were sophomores; 65 were
juniors; and 45 were seniors. Fifty-eight of the 172 students indicated they
owned their own computers.
Students were asked about their attitudes toward using chatrooms in place of
traditional classroom discussion.
Traditional Undergraduate Students Perceptions
About Chatroom Use In An On-line Course
Favorable Unfavorable Mixed NA
Male (70) 15 29 25 01
Female (102) 16 46 36 04
Totals (172) 31 (18%) 75 (44%) 61 (35%) 05
Slightly less than one-half of the students were not in favor of replacing
traditional class discussions with chatroom discussion while more than one-third
of the students gave the idea mixed reviews.
As reported by Guernsey (1998); Norman & Towles (1994); and Blumenstyk (1996);
losing the atmosphere created by direct personal contact and feedback in the
classroom and replacing that with chatroom feedback was an often-mentioned
concern about on-line courses. Student comments in this study found that: "The
essence or spirit in conducting a live discussion session isn't the same using
on-line services;" "Correspondence through chatrooms and e-mail also loses the
actual human interaction which physical classrooms provide;" "Some of the things
I have learned in college I remember only because we had stimulating discussions
about them...;" "So many components of communicationDtone of voice, nonverbal
cues, facial expressionsDcan be lost when one talks through type;" "I think the
worst part of the Internet classes is the professor/student relationship. How
would this occur over the Internet?"
A substantial percentage of students, however, cited the use of chatrooms as a
positive tool because they felt it would allow them to "express themselves in
class without the usual fears of speaking out in class;" "I must admit that I
am slightly intimidated by extremely large classes;" "Participating in
discussions with a large class can be intimidating. I think people tend to
express their opinions more openly on the computer than they do in person;"
Other students felt that not being in the same physical space at the same time
was not a problem; "...they (students) would still be able to interact with
their fellow classmates and express any feelings of confusion...students could
also use the chatrooms as a source of feedback or any new ideas about any of the
possible essays or reports due."
Mixed responses centered on the suggestion that chatrooms might not be
considered "real" conversation: "I think that it (a chatroom) might be more of
an incentive for people that are more shy about talking in class to get involved
in a conversation in these chatrooms, but at the same time, there is no real
conversation taking place."
Other students questioned the identify of chatrooms participants; "How would
you know who is truly doing the conversing in the chatroom?" "The question still
remains: who is sitting at that keyboard?" "Without a face or a person to link
the words to, a user feels no qualms ridiculing another person's ideas or
Students were asked whether they thought more writing using the computer would
improve their writing skills.
Traditional Undergraduate Students Perceptions
About Writing Improvement In An On-line Course
Will Improve Won't Improve Mixed NA Male
(70) 18 17 31 04
Female (102) 15 43 37
Totals (172) 33 (19%) 60 (35%) 68 (40%)
The majority of students felt their writing might improve by using writing on
the computer to communicate during the class, but they also identified some
trade-offs or fears that might occur using this method.
Because comments and assignments would be generated on the computer, students
generally somewhat agreed that writing skills would improve in on-line course,
but the majority quickly qualified that statement with a variety of reasons
including saying that communication involved more than just typing words on
Representative student comments about writing improvement include: "I feel that
the computer is a perfect medium...to improve the skills that students will be
expected to have in their future profession. Students will have to form skills
that would cause people to want to hear or read their ideas."
But students also had fears that echoed Scott & Rockwell's (1997) writing
apprehension findings: "There are many opportunities to show writing skills
besides on the computer;" "All the chatroom would show is who's the fastest
typist;" "I don't think that someone would talk with poor grammar in class and
suddenly be transformed by writing it down. It would still just demonstrate a
person's ability to write."
The students who saw both positives and negatives to writing in chatrooms and
for on-line assignments voiced similar concerns. "I feel the opportunities to
demonstrate your writing and communication skills would be the same either way;"
"To me the interpersonal communication is just as beneficial as the writing
experience;" "I guess that since all correspondence in this new class will be
done over the computer, it will give instructors more of an opportunity to
critique our writing skills. I think that in the chatroom system everyone will
be writing so fast that there will be many mistakes in spelling, grammar and
punctuation;" "I agree that your typing skills and computer use will be
enhanced, but I disagree that your writing skills will improve, because when you
write on paper you can go back and check your work;" "It's true that since
participating will be done by writing on a computer, writing skills will
improve. On the flip side, speech skills will decline."
Students were asked whether 24-hour-a-day access via the computer to course
materials, including lectures and the course instructor, would be an advantage
Traditional Undergraduate Students Perceptions About 24-Access
to Course Materials & Instructor
Advantage Disadvantage Mixed NA Male (70)
40 12 15 03
Female (102) 29 34 35
Totals (172) 69 (40%) 46 (27%) 50 (29%) 07 (04%)
This was the most well-received part of the proposal to putting the course
on-line, supporting Monaghan's 1996 study findings.
Student comments outlined the following advantages: "You cannot beat having
lectures right in front of you at any time for your convenience;" "This would
definitely allow students to do the classwork when it would be most convenient
for them...;" "The 24-hour availability is great! Some students work better at
night, while others work better in the morning or afternoon. Also, it would
help those students who have jobs or play sports manage their time a little
better;" "...I think more students would make more of an effort to do this than
have to wake up at 8:30 to get the class lecture notes."
Students also found several different objections to 24-hour computer access,
echoing the self-discipline concerns Guernsey (1998) found. "I feel, as college
students, we would take advantage of this. If they can participate "any time" I
believe this class would be pushed down to the bottom of priority lists...;"
"Procrastination is already a popular trait among us students, and this would
only add to it."
Other students agreed with findings about learning styles in On-Line's 1998 and
Guernsey's 1998 studies and concerns voiced by the American Federation of
Teachers: "I am a verbal person and I do better by listening to others than I
do by reading by what they say. Not hearing the lectures would make it more
difficult...to decipher what was important and what was just words;" "Being able
to look over the lecture at any time of the day and probably more than once
would be a big help if you understood what the instructor was talking about. In
some ways it may be harder to read the lecture as opposed to listening because
by listening I get a better idea of what is being said;" "The 24-hour
availability is helpful, but what about students who still have questions after
the given instructions?"
Still others were more directly representative of Scott & Rockwell's 1997
technophobia characteristics: "We already have 24-hour access to our course
materials. At least I know that my notes, class handouts and textbook are
available to me at any time, and I don't have to go anywhere to get them."
Cheating was another topic students were asked to comment on; specifically is
the opportunity to cheat in an on-line course greater than in a traditional
Traditional Undergraduate Students Perceptions That More Cheating
Opportunities Will Occur In An On-Line Course
A Concern Not A Concern Mixed
Male (70) 03 46 21 Female (102)
01 73 28
Totals: (172) 04 (02%) 119 (70%) 49 (28%)
Ken Dickinson (1997) and Drew Tiene (1997) speculated that students would have
more opportunities to cheat during on-line courses; students in this study
somewhat agreed with him but also maintained that people who cheat will pay for
their deeds later. Clearly the majority of students were not concerned with an
increase of cheating in an on-line course as compared to a traditional
Most people said they believe cheating now will catch up with students later.
"Those who want to learn, will, and those who don't will always find a way to
get out of it;" "Everyone should be acting like honest adults by this point in
their lives, and if they are not, we all need to be praying for them;" "I do
not think an on-line course would make it easier to cheat than a traditional
class. If someone wants to cheat, he or she will find a way to do it."
Students were asked whether they felt confident enough in their computer
capabilities to take an entire course on-line.
Traditional Undergraduate Students Perceptions About Enough
Confidence To Take A On-line Course
Yes No Mixed
Male (70) 41 29 00
Female (102) 48 44
Totals: (172) 89 (52%) 73 (42%) 10 (06%)
Answers to this question produced the most readily identifiable technophobic
responses in this study. Slightly more than one-half of the students said they
felt confident enough with their computer skills to take an entire course
on-line; but even though they felt confident, many often added the "but..."
factor: "I love technology, but I do not entirely trust it." "I am
comfortable enough with computers to take an entire course on-line, but I do not
own a computer." "I do own a computer, but it is not the most up-to-date model
and it does not have a CD-ROM." "I do own a computer, but I do not have
Internet access because I live in a sorority house."
Nearly as many said they definitely did not feel confident enough to do so.
Students talked about anxieties about whether the systems would be operating
properly, whether or not assignments "arrived" correctly through cyberspace.
"I'm afraid that I wouldn't know how to work the program, or If did understand
it but got stuck I wouldn't know where to turn for help." "Dealing with
computers on a regular basis has taught me that any thing can happen."
Another facet of technophobia was identified using a scale where "1" indicated
great computer proficiency and "10" indicated no computer proficiency at all.
Students assessed their own computer skill level.
Traditional Undergraduate Students Self-Assessed Computer Proficiency
1-2 3-4 5-6 7-8 9-10
Male (70) 12 27 21 10 00
Female (102) 08 28 44 22 00
Totals (172) 20 (12%) 55 (32%) 65 (38%) 32 (18%) 00
Slightly less than one-half of the students indicated they felt they possessed
a fairly high level of computer proficiency, while fewer than one-fifth felt
they were lacking in computer skills. The findings of Scott & Rockwell's 1997
study on technophobia, were clearly evident in this self-assessed computer
proficiency. "To be quite honest, I don't have a full understanding of what a
chatroom is. I have never done this, so I guess I would be hurting in this
area, also;" "There are a number of people who are unable to operate a computer
and they should not be penalized because of this;" "I would not be the first in
line to sign up for a class structured by computer technology and
participation;" "I disagree with on-line classes for the simple reason that I
don't even own a computer. My typing skills suffer because of this, which would
put me at a disadvantage;" "I toy around with the computer, but I don't know
enough to base an education on it."
But students also confronted their technophobia fears in this study. ""The
idea is complicated and exciting. If handled properly, it could be a way for
more people to complete their college educations;" "To have the opportunity to
take Media & Society as an on-line computer course would be an exciting, new
opportunity. I am not completely confident on a computer, but I feel I would be
able to become more confident by taking this course on computer;" "Many people
in this world have never used a computer...I feel like these people better get
on the ball and learn how to use a computer. Computers are taking over the
world whether we like it or not;" "Although I am not a computer whiz, I believe
that an on-line class is an excellent idea, especially for a journalism and
broadcasting class;" "If this class was in fact offered, it would definitely
give me an incentive to go and learn how the program works."
Issues and Implications
Findings from this study of undergraduate journalism/mass communication majors,
the end-users of this technology, highlight some of the previous research
findings about distance education and suggest some considerations specifically
for distance education proponents both in design and philosophy.
Undergraduate students, even those in favor of participating in an on-line
course, often mentioned not losing the social connections of a traditional
classroom. Guernsey (1998), Norman & Towles (1994), and Blumenstyk (1996) found
that direct personal contact was valuable not only for providing direction to
students but for assessing instructors' own personal effectiveness in teaching.
Guernsey also found that the quality of interaction present in on-line courses
was questionable, and students in this study also questioned the quality through
such answers as concerns about the role of body language and talking through
type. To combat the change from total traditional personal classroom contact,
students often suggested an integration of on-line technology where they saw
distinct advantages, such as posting notes, lectures and assignments to the Web,
and maintaining some number of traditional classroom meetings. Perhaps the
message here for journalism/mass communications educators is that we teach
within the framework of people-oriented professions, and that future
practitioners in these professions need to develop social interaction skills to
function as media professionals. Students responding in this study felt that
this pedagogical goal should not be ignored or compromised.
Nor does the computer-delivered model promote what John Goodlad (1983) calls
"developing productive and satisfying relations with others based on respect,
trust, cooperation and caring." The only social behaviors mentioned in most
on-line courses is chatroom or on-line discussion, which uses technology not
only to link people, but to separate them from any contact other than what
appears on the screen.
Student motivation ala Guernsey (1996) was another issue discussed by some of
the students in this study. Major concerns included creating "lazy,
procrastinating students" to future "robots" and "hermits." In traditional
classroom situations, many students said they were at least motivated to get out
of bed and come to class. Just pushing a button to log-on seemed to squelch
that motivation, several students wrote.
The suggestion here is that on-line instruction, both in content and
presentation, will have to include enough incentives for students to find a
computer, log-on and complete work on deadline. For journalism/mass
communications students this is particularly crucial since the nature of media
work is based almost entirely on deadlines. Without a firm foundation in time
management, students entering their first work experience with deadlines will
The students' own perceptions about their ability to successfully complete an
on-line course were mixed. More males than females said they could do it,
although more females said they owned computers. This suggests that gender may
play a factor in attempting such a course; perhaps women do not perceive
themselves being as technically adept as men, something Scott and Rockwell
(1997) mentioned. However, a number of students said such a course would force
them to become more familiar with computer technology and that would make them
So a list of topics for future research could include:
y how much gender influences students' confidence level in attempting new
technological methods of learning;
y instructors and administrators need to be aware of the types of communication
courses that lend themselves to computer-based instruction, especially paying
attention to those skills, such as journalistic interviewing and public
relations persuasion, that require face-to-face or personal interaction;
y this study also suggests that attention be paid to student learning styles
and instructor teaching methods. As discussed above, some students and
instructors are more technically oriented and experienced, while others seem to
feel more comfortable with more conventional classroom instruction. Another
factor is the learning curve for both students and instructors in not only
operating new technology, but not experiencing anxiety using it.
y the tendency is to lump all students together as one homogenous mass. It is
no surprise that non-traditional students prefer adjustable courses given their
decreased ability to find time to sit in a traditional class at a specificed
time. Undergraduates, however, seem to expect and welcome those experiences as
part of the college experience. . Because there are significant differences
between traditional undergraduate students and non-traditional and graduate
students, further research should segment these groups to determine who wants to
learn what in what formatDin other words, matching learning preferences to
course delivery methods
Because this was an exploratory effort, this study has acknowledged
limitations. First, the sample was not random nor was any effort made to
construct a random sample. The suitability of using these undergraduate
students as subjects in this pilot study, however, is that they are the target
audience for this particular course as it changes from a traditional classroom
course to an on-line format. Therefore, their concerns and attitudes provide
important suggestions of what of end-users might see. The responses, however,
cannot be nor should be generalized to any other group.
As teachers in the media-related professions, one of our first goals is to
teach students about the importance of acknowledging the varying preferences,
attitudes and perceptions of our audiences. In the on-line literature little or
nothing has been done to assess attitude levels of the primary audiences for
this technologyDstudents. Without consulting and planning with these audiences,
the move to a new course delivery format may experience more difficulties than
necessary, and may even fail.
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On-Line or Off-Base?
A Pilot Study to Determine Undergraduate Student Perceptions About Offering A
Journalism/Mass Communication Course on the Web
the Communication Tech and Policy Division of the
1998 Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication Conference
Barbara J. DeSanto, Ed.D, APR
J. Steven Smethers, Ph.D.
School of Journalism and Broadcasting
206 Paul Miller Building
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, Oklahoma 74078
Fax: (405) 743-2396
<[log in to unmask]>
On-Line or Off-Base?
A Pilot Study to Determine Undergraduate Student Perceptions About Offering A
Journalism/Mass Communication Course on the Web
Computer-based distance education is being touted as one of the futurist ways
to offer a variety of students courses they otherwise would not be able to take
because of distance and/or time. While studies have been done on the designing
Internet courses, little has been done to assess student perceptions or
preferences about participating in this type of course. This pilot study
specifically targets undergraduate communication students to ascertain their
reactions to on-line courses in a profession that demands a certain level of
social interaction to be successful. This study identifies a number of issues
that students identified as important considerations in designing undergraduate
Web-based journalism courses.