E-Learning: an Investigation into Online Learning Behavior

The following four articles were the primary focal point of an investigation in an information expert search on online learning behavior: Comparison of Online Learning Behaviors in School vs. at Home in Terms of Age and Gender Based on Log File Analysis, Relationships that Foster Intrinsic Motivation for Information Seeking, Innovation in Construction Education: The Role of Culture in E-learning, and Re-appraising information seeking behaviour in a digital environment: bouncers, checkers, returnees and the like. Although two of the articles are about information seeking rather than online learning behavior, after reading the articles, it could be concluded that information seeking is synonymous with learning. The secondary focus of this search is how students are evaluating the information, the importance of that information to students (per their culture, gender, or age), how they are finding it (with help of relatedness to teachers or peers), how they are learning about it (the environment the student is in).
In the first article, Comparison of Online Learning Behaviors in School vs. at Home in Terms of Age and Gender Based on Log File Analysis, Relationships that Foster Intrinsic Motivation for Information Seeking, (Ben-Zodk, Leiba, Nachmias 2010) the primary focus is on age and gender as indicators of online learning behavior in school and home environments. “Variables such as gender, age, culture, and learning styles seem to indicate different patterns in learning preferences, usage, and interactions in online learning environments” (Ben-Zadok et al., 2010, p.307). This study suggests there are some advantages to online learning. One advantage being the ability for the user to have more influence over their learning in terms of pace. Students were able to score higher on assignments because there were no time restrictions (Ben-Zadok et al., 2010, p.318). Another advantage to online learning for students is there being more sense of control over their learning. Additionally, this study provides evidence that students are doing better with more time to work on assignments. School media specialists and teachers can benefit from online learning and class room lesson commingling. Teachers can use the extra time during class that is normally be taken up by the students finishing the assignment to teach. Students are not rushed in class and have the time at home to truly learn the material. This study however revealed that neither gender or age or locale are significant factors in online learning behavior. The only outlier detected were girls performing “better at communication and at scheduling their learning” (Ben-Zadok et al., 2010, p. 309).
mageyeThe primary focus of Sherry Crow’s (2009) study is the attempt to try to understand how children’s experiences help develop intrinsic motivation in information seeking behavior. This study found four major aspects that effect young library users: play, ‘point-of-passion,’ “anchor” relationships, and working in groups. This article emphasizes the importance of relationships on young library users information seeking behavior (Crow, 2009, p.92). The result of the research in this article is that relationships “play a role in fostering intrinsic motivation” in young library users (Crow, 2009, p. 97). With the support and relatedness of professionals, students can cultivate their interests (Crow, 2009, p. 103). This article however does not bring up the issue that not all students will have a cultivating relationship with an adult or their peers. Despite that, it does stress the importance the role of the teacher plays to students. “Relatedness to their teacher that provides the most influence on those students’ emotional engagement in the classroom” (Crow, 2009, p. 97).
The article, Innovation in Construction Education: The Role of Culture in E-learning found in this article describes the importance of culture in the e-learning and the role that culture plays for students in e-learning, the article makes two distinctions about e-learning- importance and role. Importance being the value that is placed on culture in e-learning and role being the behaviors surrounding cultures in e-learning. Students coming into an online learning environment have experiences, values, perceptions, and needs that need to be accommodated according to the authors’ research (Liu, Hodgson, Lord, 2010, p.98). Without the accommodation to given cultures successful e-learning learning cannot be achieved. In order for this to happen the authors urge “the constructivist theories that acknowledges learning as a phenomenon that is socially grounded within people’s cultures, values, and expectations” (Liu et al., 2010, p.100). Professionals, according to this study, should maintain the idea that “students need to develop” and that instructors should always “challenge their own beliefs” (Liu et al., 2010, p. 94).
The article, Re-appraising information seeking behaviour in a digital environment: bouncers, checkers, returnees and the like, aims to “characterise and categorise the information seeking behaviour of the digital information consumer” (Nicholas, Huntington, Williams, Dobrowolski, 2004, p.25). The issue that is being addressed is that large amounts of information are being digested by users at alarming rates. Users are now making the choices libraries once made for them (Nicholas et al., 2004, p.39). The issue this raises is how users are seeking information. The article states that the “Internet is not only a major piece of technology, it has given birth to a cognitive model of obtaining knowledge” (Nicholas et al., 2004, p.41). Professionals are urged to bare in mind, “loyalty might be a thing of the past” (Nicholas et al., 2004, p.40). Users are now using an evaluative process to determine the value (content), “authority, access, design, currency, and interactivity” (Nicholas et al., elearning2004, p.40). Users are not simply satisfied with the first item that matches their criteria. This information is important for school library media specialists in understanding students in an e-learning environment.
The implication of the research for school media specialists is knowing the way children seek information is related to online learning behavior. “In the past, information seeking was seen to be the first step to creating knowledge. Now, it is no longer just the first step, it is a continuous process” (Nicholas et al., 2004, p.42). Also, knowing gender and age does not make a huge difference in the way students use electronic learning, but that culture should not be seen through a homogeneous lens. Rather, professionals should acknowledge that “e-learning is no longer seen as a ‘tool’ but is at the forefront of driving a culture change- changing the way teachers teach and learners learn” (Liu et al., 2010, p. 94).
Heather Gayton, Masters of Information Science 2012, Intern Delaware Branch of the Albany Public Library, heathergayton@gmail.com
Bibliography:

Ben-Zadok, G., Leiba, M., & Nachmias, R. (2010). Comparison of Online Learning Behaviors in School vs. at Home in Terms of Age and Gender Based on Log File Analysis. Interdisciplinary Journal Of E-Learning & Learning Objects, 6305-322.

Crow, S. R. (2009). Relationships that Foster Intrinsic Motivation for Information Seeking. School Libraries Worldwide, 15(2), 91-112.

Liu, A., Hodgson, G., & Lord, W. (2010). Innovation in Construction Education: The Role of Culture in E-learning. Architectural Engineering & Design Management, 6(2), 91-102.

Nicholas, D. D., Huntington, P. P., Williams, P. P., & Dobrowolski, T. T. (2004). Re-appraising information seeking behaviour in a digital environment: bouncers, checkers, returnees and the like. Journal Of Documentation, 60(1), 24-43. doi:10.1108/00220410410516635

 

Image 1 by Baltimore County Schools {link to http://www.bcps.org/offices/lis/models/tips/encountering.htm}

Image 2 by High Performance Learning, Inc. {link to http://albany.patch.com/groups/schools/p/what-advice-would-you-give-to-an-albany-high-school-graduate}

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