MOOCs Unfairly Maligned

The Chronicle of Higher Education continues to amaze me how badly they can cover a story. This morning’s edition contains an article with a jarring headline reading “Passive MOOC Students Don’t Retain New Knowledge, Study Finds.  The study by Littlejohn and Milligan and is under review for IRRODL and thus no one – neither the Chronicle authors nor the Scottish news article authors (the second hand information upon which the Chronicle article was based) have had a chance to review the final copy. Nonetheless, the study found that indeed many professionals did not appear to apply their new knowledge to professional practice in substantive ways and showed  little  reflection on learning- despite the overall favourable impression of the content and the MOOC course in general.

There was no mention of students retaining new knowledge – or not as implied by the heading.  But more fundamentally, the students learning experience was not optimal compared to what?   I doubt there is a professional alive who has not attended a professional development event in ANY format to which these same criticism could not be levelled- and for some of the ones I have attended the content itself has been terrible and I’ve paid real money for the privilege of attending.

MOOCs are not a “perfect” way to learn, and only starry eyed proponents or venture capitalists would (or at least have) argued they are.  The popular press and the “experts” at the Chronicle have spent the first 2 years of the MOOC gushing about how terrific they are and now they provide equally bad commentary denigrating them.  I’d likely cancel my subscription to the Chronicle, if like MOOCs, the mini electronic email edition I get each work day wasn’t free!


A Publishing Primer for Education Grad students

Ask any academic, and they will get into a long discourse about the value of publishing scholarly work, the politics of doing it, the challenges and the outlets.  Although you haven’t asked, I’d like to share my own ideas with particular relevance to publishing work related to distance education.

By way of background, I’ve been in the publish or perish business (as a full time academic) for the past 20 years. During that time I’ve published (solely or in collaboration) over 60 articles and have had my share of rejections as well (ouch!). I also have been the editor of IRRODL for the past 10 years, and so have been involved in the review and production of over 500 articles and many more rejections!

Why Publish?  If tenure or a promotion is at stake, the answer to this question is obvious. If not, publishing allows you the opportunity to share your work on an international scale. You’ve worked long and hard on a project and not only does your work likely warrant celebration and dissemination, the publication begins building your global academic career and increases your social capital, that you can cash in for a whole variety of rewards.  Publication also insures that your work preservers. It is a great treat when you get old (like myself) to revisit some of your earlier work – without having to find a machine that reads 5 ¼ floppy disks! Finally,  a quality review process, will show you how to improve the article and thus directly lead to increased capacity to express yourself in this format. A video addition to this post for an OER course.

Continue reading

on edited book chapters

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had occasion to think about authoring and editing contributions to edited books. In this post, I’ll releate these incidents and then try to draw some conclusions.

1. Olaf Zawkler Richter and I have been working for the past 16 months on an edited book tentatively titled Towards a Research Agenda in Online Education. The chapter topics were chosen through a  systematic examination of the top issues in the distance education literature during the past decade. We then contacted the “grandest guru” in each of these research topics and asked them to write a chapter summarizing the issues and outlining a research agenda in that area. Of course, they weren’t all willing to do so- no coincidence that the most accomplished people are also the busiest!. But we were very pleased with the list of authors who agreed to author a chapter for us. Of course they didn’t all come in on the due date, but we  were pleased with the results. Olaf and I edited each chapter and each was sent back for revisions, and soon the book was ready for a publisher.

Both Olaf and I were committed to publishing in an open access press and  perhaps this choice of publisher influenced the the high participation rate of our ‘gurus. Thus. we choose Athabasca University Press for submission. The manuscript was reviewed internally and then sent for external review. Last week (about three months later) the reviews came back. One of the reviewers was particularly hard on some chapters and his comments were described by one of our authors as “boorish and ad hominem”. Nonetheless they were useful and will result in edits to most of the chapters.

So hopefully in the New Year, I will be announcing the availability of this book through AUPress. Continue reading

New Issue of IRRODL- Hits the online streets

We are pleased and proud to present you with a large new issue of the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. This issue contains 16 research articles and two book reviews from 11 different countries.

I wish to thank each of the authors for sharing the results of their work and their thinking with us. I would also like to thank our reviewers and our managing editor for the work they put into creating IRRODL for us. Finally, as always, thanks to our sponsor, Athabasca University.

You may have noticed the new feature on the Google Scholar page that provides “Metrics,” a calculation of an H factor (a measure of the number of citations per article in the journal) that is a proxy measurement of the influence and prestige of a journal. Check it out. IRRODL does quite well, compared to other journals in our field.

Finally for those in the Northern Hemisphere, our best wishes for a relaxing and rejuvenating summer.

Terry Anderson, Ph.D.


International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

Vol 13, No 3 (2012)

Table of Contents


Editorial: Volume 13, Number 3 HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Terry Anderson i-iv

Research Articles

Odyssey of the mind: Social networking in a cyberschool HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Michael K Barbour, Cory Plough 1-18
Motivation levels among traditional and open learning undergraduate students in India HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Shashi Singh, Ajay Singh, Kiran Singh 19-40
Development and validation of the Online Student Connectedness Survey (OSCS) HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Doris U Bolliger, Fethi A Inan 41-65
Quality assurance in e-learning: PDPP evaluation model and its application HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Weiyuan Zhang, Yau Ling Cheng 66-82
Creating a sustainable online instructor observation system: A case study highlighting flaws when blending mentoring and evaluation HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Marthann Schulte, Kay Dennis, Michael Eskey, Cathy Taylor, Heather Zeng 83-96
Mapping the interplay between open distance learning and internationalisation principles HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Pumela Msweli 97-116
Economies of scope in distance education: The case of Chinese research universities HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Fengliang Li, Xinlei Chen 117-131
Teaching time investment: Does online really take more time than face-to-face? HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Rebecca Van de Vord, Korolyn Pogue 132-146
M-learning adoption: A perspective from a developing country HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Shakeel Iqbal, Ijaz A. Qureshi 147-164
The development of distance education in the Russian Federation and the former Soviet Union HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Olaf Zawacki-Richter, Anna Kourotchkina 165-184
Delivery of open, distance, and e-learning in Kenya HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Jackline Anyona Nyerere, Frederick Q Gravenir, Godfrey S Mse 185-205
Learning in educational computer games for novices: The impact of support provision types on virtual presence, cognitive load, and learning outcomes HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Claudia Schrader, Theo Bastiaens 206-227
Examining interactivity in synchronous virtual classrooms HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Florence Martin, Michele A Parker, Deborah F Deale 228-261
A preliminary examination of the cost savings and learning impacts of using open textbooks in middle and high school science classes HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
David Wiley, John Levi Hilton III, Shelley Ellington, Tiffany Hall 262-276
Using self-efficacy to assess the readiness of nursing educators and students for mobile learning HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Richard F Kenny, Jocelyne MC Van Neste-Kenny, Pamela A Burton, Caroline L Park, Adnan Qayyum 277-296
Identification of conflicting questions in the PARES system HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Avgoustos Tsinakos, Ioannis Kazanidis 297-313

Book Notes

Book review – Quality assurance and accreditation in distance education and e-learning: Models, policies and research HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Kay Shattuck 314-318
Book review – The publish or perish book: Your guide to effective and responsible citation analysis HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Michael Barbour


New Edition of IRRODL

I am please to announce issue 13(2) of the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Education has been distributed to our over 5,600 email subscribers today.  I’ve pasted the table of contents below, but it looks prettier (with pictures!) if you go directly to


As you see there are 9 research articles, 2 field notes and a new section focussed on leadership in open and distance education.  As I noted in my editorial, I am really pleased to see that IRRODL continues to be an International Journal with articles this issue from  Japan, USA, Nigeria, Switzerland, Spain, Catalonia (Spain), Turkey, Iran, Canada, and Malaysia.

Thanks to all the authors, reviewers and of course our hard working Managing editor Brigette for what I think is a very good issue – enjoy!


Vol 13, No 2 (2012)

Table of Contents


Editorial: Volume 13, Number 2 HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Terry Anderson i-iv

Research Articles

Asian learners’ perception of quality in distance education and gender differences HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Insung Jung 1-25
Are online learners frustrated with collaborative learning experiences? HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Neus Capdeferro, Margarida Romero 26-44
Examining the reuse of open textbooks HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
John Levi Hilton III, Neil Lutz, David Wiley 45-58
Conceptual framework for parametrically measuring the desirability of open educational resources using D-index HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Ishan Sudeera Abeywardena, S Raviraja, Choy Yoong Tham 59-76
Contradictions in a distance course for a marginalized population at a Middle Eastern university HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Irshat Madyarov, Aida Taef 77-100
The relationship between flexible and self-regulated learning in open and distance universities HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Per Bernard Bergamin, Simone Ziska, Egon Werlen, Eva Siegenthaler 101-123
“Everybody is their own island”: Teacher disconnection in a virtual school HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Abigail Hawkins, Michael K Barbour, Charles R Graham 124-144
Building an inclusive definition of e-learning: An approach to the conceptual framework HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Albert Sangrà, Dimitrios Vlachopoulos, Nati Cabrera 145-159
Determining the feasibility of an e-portfolio application in a distance education teaching practice course HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Ilknur Kecik, Belgin Aydin, Nurhan Sakar, Mine Dikdere, Sinan Aydin, Ilknur Yuksel, Mustafa Caner 160-180

Field Notes

Developing and deploying OERs in sub-Saharan Africa: Building on the present HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Clayton R Wright, Sunday Reju 181-220
Assessment of challenges in developing self-instructional course materials at the National Open University of Nigeria HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Charity Akuadi Okonkwo 221-231

Leadership in Open and Distance Learning Notes

Editorial: Who needs leadership? Social problems, change, and education futures HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Marti Cleveland-Innes 232-235
Educational leadership for e-learning in the healthcare workplace HTML PDF MP3 EPUB
Dorothy (Willy) Fahlman 236-246

Another edition of IRRODL

I’m pleased to share below the Table of Content for issue 12(6) of the International Review of Open and Distance Learning.

This issue has 10 research articles and 4 book reviews. When you go the IRRODL site, you will see that we are adding graphical enhancements – including  anew colour scheme, photos of the first authors, snaps of book covers and updates to  special issues.

Remember the price is right to subscribe – Free.


Table of ContentsEditorial

Terry Anderson

Research Articles

The importance of interaction for academic success in online courses with hearing, deaf, and hard-of-hearing students
Gary L Long, Carol Marchetti, Richard Fasse
Examining motivation in online distance learning environments: Complex, multifaceted and situation-dependent
Maggie Hartnett, Alison St. George, Jon Dron
Factors that impact student usage of the learning management system in Qatari schools
Ramzi Nasser, Maha Cherif, Michael Romanowski
Quality assurance in Asian distance education: Diverse approaches and common culture
Insung Jung, Tat Meng Wong, Chen Li, Sanjaa Baigaltugs, Tian Belawati
Literacy at a distance in multilingual contexts: Issues and challenges
Christine I Ofulue
Distance students’ readiness for social media and collaboration
Bruno Poellhuber, Terry Anderson
Applying the community of inquiry framework to an online professional practice doctoral program
Swapna Kumar, Kara Dawson, Erik W Black, Catherine Cavanaugh, Christopher D Sessums
Applying constructionist principles to online teacher professional development
Nathaniel Mark Ostashewski, Doug Reid, Susan Moisey
ODL and the impact of digital divide on information access in Botswana
Olugbade Oladokun, Lenrie Aina
Increased technology provision and learning: Giving more for nothing?
Emmanuelle Quillerou


Book Notes

Book Review – The Perfect Online Course: Best Practices for Designing and Teaching

Marta Ruiz-Corbella

Book review – Bridging the knowledge divide: Educational technology for development
Aminudin Zuhairi

Book review – Web 2.0-based e-learning: Applying social informatics for tertiary teaching

Juan Leon
Book review – Learning with digital games: A practical guide to engaging students in higher education
Maja Pivec

Interaction Equivalency Site Announcement

I am pleased to be able to introduce a new site – created by Terumi Miyazoe from Tokyo Denki University and myself to invite more use, critique and understanding of my 2003 distance education Interaction Equivalency Theorem.

Interaction has always been a defining (but expensive) component of all forms of education. In distance education, we have  expanded the definition of interaction to include that taking place between students and content- in addition to student-student and student-teacher interaction. Randy Garrison and I wrote an article in 1998 detailing the final three forms of educational interaction (teacher-teacher, teacher-content and content-content,- however the 3 student forms are the focus of most DE research and discussion.

In 2003 I began thinking that if you could get one of the three student forms of interaction at very highly levels of both quantity and quality in a formal course, then you have the necessary ingredients for a quality  learning experience – even in the absence of either or both of the other two forms. I expressed these and other ideas in more academic form in the 2003 article, but never took the idea much beyond this because I couldn’t figure out a way to disprove the theory . As the citizendium wiki puts “for a proposition to be considered scientific, it must, at least in principle, be possible to make an observation that would show it to be false. Otherwise, the proposition has, as Karl Popper put it, no connection with the real world.”

Thus, I was most delighted when Bob Bernard and his colleagues published a meta analysis of empirical DE research articles that generally served to support the theorem.  Since then a number of authors and doctoral studies have also confirmed or expanded upon my origional idea. Links to these articles and more is available at the website

Terumi and I welcome suggestions for other links, discussion or expansion of these ideas at the site.


Anderson, T. (2003). Getting the mix right again: An updated and theoretical rationale for interactionThe International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning (IRRODL), 4(2).

Anderson, T. D., & Garrison, R. D. (1998). Learning in a networked world: New roles and responsibilities. In C. C. Gibson (Ed.), Distance Learners in Higher Education (pp. 97-112). Madison, Wisconsin: Atwood Publishing. – The first manuscript that referred to the fourth interaction dimension of teacher-teacher, teacher-content, and content-content, called Modes of Interaction.

Bernard, M. R., Abrami, P. C., Borokhovski, E., Wade, C. A., Tamim, R. M., Surkes, M. A., & Bethel, E. C. (2009). A meta-analysis of three types of interaction treatments in distance educationThe Review of Educational Research (RER), 79(3), 1243-1289 – A meta-analysis on interaction research in light of the Equivalency Theorem covering 1985 – 2006 empirical studies in distance education.


Three Generations of Pedagogy and Elephants in the Room

The good folks at DERN (Australia) posted a nice summary of Jon Dron and my article from the recent Connectivist special issue of IRRODL.  They write:

“A review of the three dominant learning theories: Cognitive-Behaviourist, Social-Constructivist and Connectivist, and the pedagogies derived from them. The review is very relevant to the use of digital technologies in education using a community of inquiry analysis model beginning with a description of each learning theory and then analyses of the cognitive presence, social presence and teacher presence, and concludes with a summary of the strengths and weaknesses of each. This paper is a must read for educators interested in elearning.

Over a beer and salty tears yesterday, (we were watching the Canucks get hammered by the Bruins), Jon and I were talking about a slide set he was preparing for a presentation to our Nursing Faculty here at Athabasca.  One of the slides shows a fourth integrative pedagogy that it refers to as holist. Continue reading

The Publish or Perish Book

Well, after surviving end of term marking, coupled with two online keynotes and a real f2F one at Canadian MoodelMoot I’ve finally found some time to skim through two books that arrived on my desk that I want to share with you.

Product DetailsThe first is The Publish or Perish Book (P 0r P) by Anne-Wil Harzing. Harzing is one my heroes because she created and released  PorP Open Access program that uses Google Scholar to evaluate journals, articles, and authors based upon the number of citations of the work, collection or journal in other scholarly works. Continue reading

Connectivism – Special Issue of IRRODL

I’ve decided to repost the email I sent to subscribers to IRRODL, announcing this VERY special issue.  If you want to be one of the 5054 (and growing) IRRODL subscribers (its free) and get your very own email announcement of each new issue, rather than read this boring old blog, click here.

I am especially pleased with this special issue, partly because, I am becoming a connectivist evangelist, partially because this is the first full issue on Connectivsm in a peer reviewed Journal and certainly not least because Jon Dron and I have an article in it!

I usually shy away from publishing in IRRODL – too easy to be less than objective about reviewing and editing your own work!  But I took the opportunity of a hot topic, personal interest, great guest editors (who of course were ruthless in their reviews – making it a better article!!) and a brilliant co-author made this opportunity irresistible.

Here is the subscriber letter: Continue reading