Student experiences with computer mediated conferencing: a case study.
Campbell, Karen B.
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Computer conferencing provides students with the opportunity to interact with each other and with the instructor with greater ease and more flexibility than ever before. The literature indicates that conferencing was initially used as a supplemental form of interaction but is now a main form of teaching- learning activities in distance delivered post-graduate programs. For the purpose of this study interaction is assumed to be a critical component of the learning process. Despite the interaction that conferencing provides, conferencing experiences can be both positive and negative. The literature to date has not exhausted this area of inquiry. This study utilized a single case study research design to investigate what students experience (both positive and negative) in computer conferencing and how their experiences may relate to instructor objectives. In addition to the specific course instructor, 8 subjects from a course of 22 students responded by completing questionnaires and participating in telephone interviews. Student subjects answered questions relating to both their positive and negative conferencing experiences and offered suggestions for conference improvement. The instructor answered questions relating to objectives for including conferencing as a component of the specific course, as well as the method that was used to determine whether the students had met the objectives. Data analysis found that both of the instructor objectives were met and, despite the negative aspects of conferencing, all student subjects found conferencing to be an overall beneficial endeavor. In addition to a variety of opinions, student subjects gave interesting and constructive comments and suggestions regarding the improvement of conferencing. Finally, limitations of the study are described and further research ideas are suggested.