Online learning provides a great pathway for students in varied circumstances to advance their education – to connect with content and engage with instructors and peers. But a predominantly asynchronous learning environment puts limits on that experience. As online instruction and distance learning platforms attempt to keep up with the advancements of technology, it is crucial that students have access to multiple learning resources to ensure success in meeting their educational goals.
One of the strategies for promoting student success and more meaningful conversations through online courses includes live chat sessions. Ultimately, the goal is to enhance the learning process so that students can gain the motivation and drive that they need to continue their online education. This, in turn, will guide the student in becoming successful in their educational journey. Implementing Live Learning sessions to all sections of a course on a weekly basis will assist students in understanding current and upcoming assessments, not only from the professor, but also from students in later weeks of the course.
The Community of Inquiry framework emphasizes the importance of social presence, which involves an inclusion of virtual office hours as an additional learning source for students. Offering weekly “live learning” video sessions as an additional resource within asynchronous online college courses will increase course satisfaction and learning of the course concepts, thereby, increasing the likelihood of student success and retention.
Since April of 2020, faculty within the Academic Engagement Center have been offering optional live learning sessions. And while the required Live Learning sessions in GEN103 were a direct result of insights and research conducted by this group, those sections are not monitored as part of this research. Data is collected and collated on a number of points – reflecting a deeper picture of the student and their needs.
The outcome will determine if weekly “live learning” sessions can positively impact student achievement and satisfaction. It will also provide insights about how course levels, sequencing, and session schedules may help students access this “live learning” opportunity.
The Professors Leading the Research:
Over the course of her career, Dr. Sonja Bethune has worn many hats in a variety of settings as an educator, administrative manager, as well as a mental health provider. She is a licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of California in which she has served the mentally ill population in different capacities. However, for the past 10 years, she has been a dedicated professor, course content developer, and supportive colleague for different projects, while overseeing the General Education Capstone course at the University of Arizona Global Campus (previously known as Ashford University). She has demonstrated her passion for teaching through various scholastic accomplishments in which she co-authored a book that focuses on teaching strategies for online instructors. She also co-authored and published a journal article that centers on implicit bias within the online classroom. Furthermore, she has written psychology-related articles for the UAGC Hub Newsletter that emphasize ways of improving one’s mental well-being.
Dr. Nathan Pritts is an award-winning educator, course developer, and faculty mentor with a strong focus on innovation with practical applications. He brings expertise in writing, business communication, advertising & marketing, and online user experience to the General Education classroom to maximize student learning and heighten engagement, infusing curriculum with foundational outcomes bolstered by clear ties to a student's academic and career path. He serves as Professor in the Academic Engagement Center of the University of Arizona Global Campus. Dr. Pritts is the author or co-author of twelve books including Decoherence (Indiana University Press), Film: From Watching to Seeing (3e), Essentials of Academic Writing (4e), and he served as editor and wrote the introduction for Living Online: A Digital Fluency Handbook.