Computers afford an environment in which use of communication tools can promote deep learning. This may be ascribed to the creation of a varied learning environment, and to the induction of active, collaborative and self-directed learning. A quantitative study was performed based on the results of a questionnaire developed to evaluate the students experience of web-supported learning. The association between presumed active use of communication tools, and perceptions concerning learning principles (varied and challenging learning environment, application of higher order thinking skills, and lecturer feedback and encouragement to interact frequently), was evaluated. The results indicate that in general, learners associated a varied and challenging learning environment with the lecturer’s feedback and encouragement to interact frequently (e.g. with discussions; e-mail contact etc.) and with perceived active communication via the bulletin board and e-mail facility. It appears that CMC using all communication tools, excluding the calendar, was dependent on encouragement by the lecturer to interact frequently. Perceived active use of e-mail and the chat facility was significantly associated with recognition of the need to apply higher-order thinking skills in order to do well in the course. These findings support previous reports that CMC promotes deep learning. It is recommended that · The e-mail facility is used for deeper problem analysis and where alternate solutions and strategies are to be generated. · The bulletin board is used for application, analysis, evaluation, and synthesis. · The chat facility is used to build attitudes, beliefs, confidence and motivation. · The challenge of an environment should be created in which communities of learners are formed. Opportunity should be provided for socialising as well, as this promotes interdependence and collaboration. · Feedback to individuals and groups and encouragement is provided timely and continually via e-mail and the bulletin board.
Dissertation (MEd (CIE))--University of Pretoria, 2005.