Optimal Teaching and Learning Practices in Online Multiparticipant Courses
Tami Seifert, Kibbutzim College of Education
Orna Feliks, Kibbutzim College of Education
Miki Kritz, Kibbutzim College of Education
Recently, colleges have begun to employ online learning courses for multiple participants. Consequently, students need to master online learning skills. To improve this teaching model, this study investigated the considerations and teaching patterns of two lecturers in the same multiparticipant online courses: 102 students in one course and 70 students in the second. The students’ learning patterns and preferences were also investigated, especially the preferences of students with learning disabilities, the time they invested in learning, their insights, and their level of satisfaction with teaching-learning methods. Data were collected from in-depth interviews with the lecturers, a questionnaire for all their students, ten semistructured interviews with students at the end of the course, and the course forum correspondence and the course blog. Questionnaire responses underwent quantitative analysis with SPSS software. Interviews and responses to open questions underwent qualitative content analysis. Thematic categories were produced from data from the forums and blogs. The findings show a preference for small groups within the multiparticipant course, fewer targeted messages from the lecturer, and fewer multiple messages from colleagues. Both lecturers’ and students’ visibility and social presence improved in small groups as did the students’ commitment to learning. However, in the large group, multiplicity of participants was advantageous, creating a large community of learners rich in “mass wisdom,” but this required different course assignments and communication practices. Replacing less successful elements in each model (small groups vs. one large group) with more successful elements produces optimal teaching patterns for multiparticipant online courses and opens up further research.
Keywords: online course, multi-participant courses, small groups, evaluation methods, peer evaluation