In the spring semester 2000, a Penn State course, ECE 479 (The Young Child's Play as Educative Process), was taught by the same instructor in four delivery formats. One group consisted of a regular classroom, held on campus. A second group, also on campus, was taught in a computer lab via the Internet; and there were opportunities for interaction with peers and the instructor. A third group took the course on the Internet as part of a local distance education group; hence, there were some limited opportunities for face‐to‐face interaction with peers and the instructor. The fourth group took the course on the Internet, as part of a statewide distance education group, where there were no opportunities for face‐to‐face interaction. Twenty students who enrolled in the course (5 per group) completed questionnaires and phone interviews. Information was gathered on professional backgrounds, computer experience, and initial level of content knowledge on the topic of the ECE Internet course. Sixteen students who completed the course were interviewed again to evaluate satisfaction with the course and to estimate learning outcomes. Across the four conditions general satisfaction was expressed with the content, activities, and course requirements and with the teacher. However, students in the three computer groups expressed dissatisfaction over technical problems (all four who did not complete the course came from these computer groups). Significant gains in content knowledge occurred for the classroom group, while the learning in the three Internet‐based instruction groups did not show the same gains. Concern was expressed related to the lack of face‐to‐face interaction, making the learning environment less desirable. Although Internet technology provides a great deal of promise, these results suggest that improvements are needed to make this delivery modality more effective for in‐service distance learning.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Social Sciences (miscellaneous)