|dc.description.abstract||This thesis examines the feasibility of evaluating online collaborative education programs, specifically, it explore the question, to what extent does Comics Go Global (CGG), an extra-curricular, online collaborative arts based project, represent a positive educational experience from the perspective of its students, as defined by the Community of Inquiry as a framework (Arbaugh, 2008). In exploring this question this study addresses how the promise of collaborative online learning for education might be delivered through projects such as “Comics Go Global” (CCG). The role of the “Community of Inquiry” (CoI) framework was to serve as a tool for gathering and measuring empirical research. This helped identify the extent to which students perceived the CGG program as a positive experience and also explore what promise online collaborative learning has for education.
In this feasibility study the two mentor/teachers who I selected to participate in the study received two professional development sessions in July 2016, under my direction. These focused on delivering the Comics Go Global project within a CoI framework as well as establishing norms and expectations of student behaviours and the monitoring of technical issues. Later, in order to gather qualitative and quantitative data about their experiences and viewpoint with respect to the CGG program and student involvement, I interviewed them at the end of week four and eight. The interviews enabled mentor/teachers to share their views with me; they reported that the students had a positive learning experience in the CGG program. These interviews were also designed to provide data to identify what promise online collaborative learning has for education and how that promise might be delivered.
In order to assess the extent to which students perceived themselves to have had positive experience as per the set criteria identified by the Community of Inquiry framework, five of the six students who participated in the study were surveyed, using the CoI Survey Instrument. This survey has been validated in large-scale trials. Participant surveys were analysed using descriptive strategies and the Wilcoxon Signed-Rank Test “a non-parametric test designed for comparing pairs of results that may not represent a normal distribution or be derived from an equal-interval scale”. The results of the CoI survey confirmed that students perceived the program to be a positive experience. These positive findings were echoed in the transcripts provided by the eight weeks of online classes and the mid and post program semi-structured interviews.
To build on the findings of this research, further work needs to be conducted to demonstrate whether the experiences in a full scale study, students and teachers could be replicated, or improved, if greater numbers of teachers utilising the CoI framework model could work with larger numbers of students exploring fields other than CGG visual narratives. For example, alternative online collaborative classes might cover subjects and activities focusing on a broad range of topics, including Journalism, Ecology or Debating. Further research is also required to investigate whether larger scale blended learning options, for local schools, might enable a greater exploration of face-to-face extra-curricular opportunities with digital tools such as teleconferencing, password protected NINGS environments, blogs and emails. Such research might provide insights into new and effective ways to improve student engagement, outcomes and wellbeing through the support of such teaching and learning networks.||en_US