Student perspectives on transitioning to new technologies for distance learning

Juliana C Cartwright, Reneé Menkens
Computers, Informatics, Nursing: CIN 2002, 20 (4): 143-9
This article reports on students' perceptions of their learning experiences when an existing distance-learning master's program transitions to new technologies and new instructional strategies. Unique elements addressed in this article include (1) findings when a program with extensive experience delivering distance education changes to new technologies and (2) findings when a multidimensional format is used to evaluate program delivery. The technology changes involved migrating from a satellite-based technician-supported videoconferencing system to a land-based faculty-operated videoconferencing system and the addition of class Web materials and asynchronous computer conferencing to course delivery. The multidimensional evaluation format examined student experiences within the context of specific interactions among instructional activities, technology applications, and desired learning outcomes. The evaluation process involved (1) open-ended and structured items in course surveys and (2) an end-of-year student focus group discussion. A formative evaluation approach was used; this article reports on efforts to address the problems identified. Findings include (1) program planners should not assume that prior institutional experiences with distance education facilitate a smooth transition to use of different technologies and (2) a formative multidimensional approach to program evaluation is critical for understanding student experiences with technology-mediated distance education.

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