ERIC Number: ED327151
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1990-May
Reference Count: 0
Conferencing for Mass Distance Education.
The Open University pioneered the first use of computer conferencing in mass distance education in 1988, when it was used to provide tutorial support to more than 1,300 students in the United Kingdom via electronic mail and conference messages. A study of the use of the system in the first year revealed that: (1) only one-third of the students logged on extensively; (2) the primary values of the medium were increased communication, a reduced sense of isolation, and direct feedback from tutors to the central staff and to students; and (3) while most communications were banal in content, the practical-help conference was successful. Changes were made in the course after the first year, the success of the changes was evaluated, and it was concluded that the use of teleconferencing as a tutorial rather than as a course delivery medium was beginning to exploit its educational potential. Areas of improvement in the second year were a decrease in the number of misplaced, irrelevant, or inappropriate messages; an increase in the number of students keeping up-to-date with messages; efficient management of queries, requests, and course news; and an increase in the amount of interactive discussion of course issues. Ongoing problems with the use of the computer conferencing medium include student passivity, technological limitations, and the necessity for teaching practical work at a distance. (DB)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Open University (Great Britain)
Note: Paper presented at the Guelph Symposium on Computer Mediated Communication (3rd, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, May 15-17, 1990).