Online Learning Update

August 8, 2011

Quality of online learners’ time and learning performance beyond quantitative time-on-task

Filed under: Online Learning News — Ray Schroeder @ 12:09 am

by Margarida Romero, Elena Barberà, International Review of Research in Open and Online Learning

Along with the amount of time spent learning (or time-on-task), the quality of learning time has a real influence on learning performance. Quality of time in online learning depends on students’ time availability and their willingness to devote quality cognitive time to learning activities. However, the quantity and quality of the time spent by adult e-learners on learning activities can be reduced by professional, family, and social commitments. Considering that the main time pattern followed by most adult e-learners is a professional one, it may be beneficial for online education programs to offer a certain degree of flexibility in instructional time that might allow adult learners to adjust their learning times to their professional constraints. However, using the time left over once professional and family requirements have been fulfilled could lead to a reduction in quality time for learning. This paper starts by introducing the concept of quality of learning time from an online student-centred perspective. The impact of students’ time-related variables (working hours, time-on-task engagement, time flexibility, time of day, day of week) is then analyzed according to individual and collaborative grades achieved during an online master’s degree program. The data show that both students’ time flexibility (r = .98) and especially their availability to learn in the morning are related to better grades in individual (r = .93) and collaborative activities (r = .46).

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