International Perspectives in Online Instruction: Volume 40

Cover of International Perspectives in Online Instruction

Table of contents

(13 chapters)


Pages i-xiv
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Tertiary teaching in Australia, as elsewhere, now incorporates a wide array of learning resources delivered across different modes to support student learning. Since the late 1990s, the sector has seen a rapid increase in use of materials that can be delivered online; however, not all students benefit, with static or falling participation rates among vulnerable student groups. This chapter describes the development and implementation of the federally funded Structural Adjustment Fund Flexibility, Innovation, Retention, Engagement (SAFFIRE) initiative to use new technologies to provide choice, flexibility, access, and support for students through a revamped curriculum in a medium-sized Australian university. SAFFIRE provided an opportunity to explore the introduction of flexible resources in tertiary teaching, including understanding the drivers, barriers, supports, and key factors in successful deployment of the changes. Within this context, the authors present a case study examining the effectiveness of course content delivery via video in an undergraduate psychology statistics course. The efficacy of video-based learning in the course was assessed through access rates, feedback, and performance, revealing strong evidence for the inclusion of video aids to improve student performance and satisfaction. The interpretation of the case study is embedded in the wider context of the process of deploying flexible online delivery within tertiary education.


This chapter provides two case studies of online graduate student engagement where a community of learning is fostered using Bronfenbrenner’s (1979, 2001) ecological systems theory. The first case study explores an online graduate Sustainability Science course where students were provided with a space in VoiceThread to create video blogs (vlogs) and to extend course content with dialogue based on their values, relationships, and perspectives on issues like environmental degradation, social justice, and quality of life. The second case study surveys an online graduate course in Solar Energy, Technology, and Policy. These students completed a scholar-practitioner interview assignment of a solar energy expert, professional, entrepreneur, or policymaker. Both vlogging and scholar-practitioner interviews engaged graduate students in all of Bronfenbrenner’s (1979, 2001) ecological systems. For the vlogging assignment, the microsystem, mesosystem, and macrosystem were the most engaged; whereas for the scholar-practitioner interview assignment, the microsystem and exosystem were the most engaged. With respect to community building, both assignments fostered student-to-student interactions. The scholar-practitioner interview also fostered student-to-scholar-practitioner interactions, and, in some cases, student-to-alumni interactions. Innovative course assignments that engage professional, part-time graduate students with course content and other students, allow them to apply new knowledge, and broaden their professional connections are ideal.


Implementing effective strategies for the management of online faculty contributes to the experience of online students by ensuring that faculty are prepared to facilitate courses in a manner in which students are engaged and learning outcomes are attained. Additionally, faculty management impacts the experience of online faculty by reducing isolation; providing direction, feedback, and development; and implementing rewards and recognition to increase satisfaction and engagement. Further, best practices for online faculty management impact administrators by improving the learning outcomes of programs and departments, increasing student retention, reducing faculty attrition rates, and building institutional community. Employing best practices for the management of online faculty serves to create efficiencies and improve operations. This chapter will present best practices for faculty recruitment that aim to reduce the potential for bias and increase collaborative decision making. Additionally, key aspects of effective online faculty training will be discussed, in the context of relevant literature. Further, guidelines for the delivery of engaging professional development in the virtual space will be provided. Best practices for supervision and evaluation will be explored, including expectation setting, regular feedback, and formal assessment procedures. The aforementioned facets of online faculty management will be examined through an analysis of six case studies, based on initiatives that were implemented for the online campus of a small university.


This chapter compares student and facilitator perceptions of what supports learning in teams in online environments. The authors (one Italian and one British) draw on their experiences facilitating modules in a UK-based online international professional doctorate of Higher Education with students from across the globe, as well as a two-year research project on developing best practice in supporting online international graduate students to engage in virtual learning teams. The theories underpinning the educational use of learning teams are those of constructivism and social learning, all of which suggest a facilitative role for the tutor. However, there is disagreement about what this looks like and what it means for student autonomy and facilitator presence. Many students expect greater tutor involvement, especially when teams are not functioning at an optimal level. The chapter offers both an in-depth discussion of the literature that looks at student and tutor perspectives on virtual team learning,and a summary of findings from a mixed methods research project on students’ needs and tutors’ practice while working in dispersed learning teams. Finally, the chapter draws out implications for the development of e-pedagogy to support learning and engage international learners in online contexts at the graduate level.


In this chapter, the authors provide a critical exploration of the concept of lurking in online learning spaces through a phenomenological inquiry. The authors begin from a position that lurking is often misunderstood – or perhaps not understood – in education, and that the term itself is quite problematic, as it is typically applied to a disparate range of behaviors by those who perceive them as problematic. The authors then propose three heuristic lenses to make sense of lurking behaviors: lurking as troublesome, lurking as ordinary, and lurking as political. These lenses demonstrate that lurking behaviors not only stem from a range of different motivations but are also situated in a variety of contexts, that is, lurking is personal and contextual. The authors’ aim is not to define or redefine lurking for readers but to provide a critical analysis of what digital silence might mean for their students based on their contextual experience and in the light of critical literature. The authors invite readers to be part of the reflexive analysis by considering what lurking might mean in their own teaching contexts.


An educator’s goal is to create experiences that provide students with opportunities to learn. This goal is the same whether the opportunities are presented face-to-face, fully online or hybrid formats in both formal and informal educational settings. All of the examples presented in this chapter come from experiences in a R1 university, however, the information presented is just as valid in any educational setting. For more than a decade, the authors have used knowledge checking to help students test their understanding of the content whether it is using clickers in large-enrollment lectures or embedding questions directly into the course content online. Knowledge-checks and other types of low-stakes quizzing are examples of a learning strategy called retrieval practice. This chapter briefly reviews the rich history of retrieval practice and what the research says about it, mainly that students benefit when they take time as they learn to practice retrieving stored information (Roediger & Butler, 2011). Examples from current courses as well as a fictional case study illustrate how retrieval practice can be used in online courses to keep students engaged and give them opportunities to practice retrieving information that they have learned.

Good pedagogy is good pedagogy whether being taught in a traditional brick and mortar building, fully online using a course management system or leveraging the best of both formats using a hybrid model. Retrieval practice is an example of this. In this chapter, the authors will provide a brief history and literature review on retrieval practice. Following our literature review, the authors provide examples of how different retrieval practice options have been incorporated into the online courses they design at Penn State, as well as a case example of a course redesigned with retrieval practice in mind.


This chapter employed a systemic meta-synthesis literature review to reflect on the transactional variables of the theory of transactional distance (TTD) in addressing barriers to student engagement in the open and distance learning (ODL). Literature sources were obtained from unlimited databases around the globe; however, articles published before 2015 were not included in this review. Through the literature review, the authors identified barriers to student engagement in the ODL through the lens of TTD. The identified barriers to student engagement are presented according to three transactional variables of the TTD and later classified concerning student engagement dimensions. Findings suggest that key instructional dialogue barriers emanate from the teacher and student personality. For program structure, the authors found the poorly designed courses while for learner autonomy there are situational, institutional, and dispositional barriers. The identified barriers to student engagement in ODL revealed the interrelatedness of the transactional variables and the strong link with the student engagement dimensions. By integrating the transactional variables of TTD and student engagement dimensions, this chapter identified possible strategies to address barriers to student engagement in the ODL.


The syllabus serves as a plan that can be utilized for discussing course (re)design. The Online Community of Inquiry Syllabus Rubric© (OCOISR) was developed for collaborators to review online course plans for continuous improvement. It assesses the potential to engender cognitive presence (CP), social presence (SP), teaching presence (TP), and learner support (LS) in online college courses based on interactive treatments. In one case study, two raters with advanced degrees in instructional design and online teaching experience reviewed 31 online syllabi across disciplines to determine their potential for producing an online community of inquiry. They achieved a good degree of consistency among measurements, intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) = 0.821, p < 0.001, and 95% CI [0.40, 0.932]. Raters found above-average CP, moderate SP, and basic TP. These results mirrored that of the previous case study at a different institution. Other findings included basic educational technology use in both cases. The lead author, serving as the college’s instructional designer, provided course-specific recommendations to instructors based on their syllabi review for action research. This chapter describes the use of the OCOISR© to maximize student–student, student–teacher, and student–content planned engagement for improved online learning experiences.


Online teaching particularly through Open Distance and e-Learning (ODeL) has become a phenomenon in the twenty-first century. ODeL and blended approaches inevitably lead to increasing dependence on electronic communication systems. The University of South Africa (Unisa), where the author teaches, enables students through its Learner Management System to interact with lecturers and e-tutors online. The responsibilities of e-tutors are of an educative and technical nature. Their roles include guiding and assisting students, encouraging active participation, responding to their queries and grading their assignments. In addition, e-tutors provide notifications and assign tasks or activities that students are expected to complete and submit. In several cases, these forms of assistance are absent, when there is a lack of follow-up within the response period which is 24 hours – missing notifications and lack of guidance – rendering these e-tutors ineffective. The chapter provides strategies that were analyzed and implemented to motivate effective tutoring and enhance student participation learning. The author draws on her analysis as a virtual ethnographer and long-term participant observer as an e-tutor and lecturer who supervised e-tutors and taught a large number of students – 2,500. The objective of the chapter is to encourage effective tutoring that can enhance students’ success.

Name Index

Pages 157-163
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Subject Index

Pages 165-172
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Cover of International Perspectives in Online Instruction
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Book series
Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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