While computers are known to facilitate lower levels of learning, such as rote memorization of facts, measurable through electronically administered and graded multiple-choice questions, yes/no, and true/false answers, the imparting and measurement of higher-level cognitive skills is more vexing. These require more open-ended delivery and answers, and may be more problematic in an entirely virtual environment, notwithstanding the advances in technologies such as wikis, blogs, discussion boards, etc. As with the integration of all technology, merit is based more on the instructional design of the course than on the technology employed in, and of, itself. With this in mind, this study examined the perceptions of online students in an introductory Computer Information Systems course regarding the fostering of various higher-order thinking and team-building skills as a result of the activities, resources and technologies (ART) used in the course.
Over the past few decades, more and more students choose to enroll in online classes instead of attending in-class lectures. While past studies consider students’ attitudes towards online education and how their grades differed from in-class lectures, the profile of the online student remains a blur. To shed light on this, an online survey was administered to about 1,500 students enrolled in an undergraduate Fundamental Business Technology course at a Canadian University. The survey was comprised of questions on students’ demographics, their reasons for choosing online courses, their expectations towards the course, the communication channels they use for the course with fellow students and with the instructor. This paper focused on the research question: Do the perspectives of online students concerning the online experience, in general, and in the course in particular, differ according to age profile? After several statistical analyses, it was found that age does have an impact on the reasons why students select online classes instead of in-class. For example, it was found that the perception that an online course might be easier than in-class delivery was a more important reason for younger students than for older ones. Similarly, the influence of friends is much more important for younger students, than for older students. Similar results were found when analyzing students’ expectation about the online course and their use of communication tools. Overall, the age profile of online users had an impact on reasons, expectations and means of communication in an undergraduate Fundamental Business Technology course. It is left to be seen if this holds true across other courses, graduate and undergraduate.