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Running head: AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES

AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE PHOTOGRAPHY COURSES
USING ASYNCHRONOUS AUDIO/VIDEO DISCUSSIONS

A Master’s Project
Presented to
the Faculty of

Fresno Pacific University

In Partial Fulfillment
of the Requirements for the
Master of Arts Degree in Education
Curriculum & Teaching

By
Maxwell P. Debbas
July, 2017
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES II

Acknowledgements

Special thanks to all those involved: Dr. Matt Gehrett, Dr. Jeanne Janzen, Brandon
Dorman, the faculty, and staff at FPU, the study participants, and the VoiceThread team.
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES III

Abstract

Online education and coursework is quickly becoming a widely used means of delivering

content. However, online coursework delivered by traditional technological means such as text

based discussion forums, fails to address the need for authentic collaboration for true learning to

take place. This is especially problematic in lab based coursework such as multimedia courses.

Can authentic collaboration be achieved in an online photography course using asynchronous

audio/video discussions? Twelve subjects participated in an online survey after completing a

course overview of two separate photography courses; Course 1 utilized the traditional online

technology of text based discussion forums, while Course 2 utilized VoiceThread as its means of

discussion and media playback. Participants were experts in the field of education and/or

photography. The results of the study show authentic collaboration was achieved through the

use of VoiceThread acting as the primary media player and discussion method. Future research

could include a study comparing the learning outcome of a on-campus multimedia lab course to

an online based multimedia lab course using the VoiceThread technology. The results of such a

study would serve to further substantiate the validity of authentic collaboration through online

courses.

Keywords:

Authentic collaboration, Multimedia presentation, Peer assessment, Asynchronous learning,
VoiceThread, Screencast, Video, TIM, Technology
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES IV

Table of Contents

ABSTRACT .............................................................................................................................pg. III

TABLE OF CONTENTS........................................................................................................ pg. IV

SECTION ONE: INTRODUCTION & LITERATURE REVIEW ...........................................pg. 2

Introduction ........................................................................................................................pg.2

Statement of the Problem ..................................................................................................pg.2

The Purpose of this Research ....................................................................................pg.3

Project Description ............................................................................................................pg.3

Research Question ...................................................................................................pg.4

Key Terms ................................................................................................................pg.4

Literature Review............................................................................................................. pge.5

Introduction ..............................................................................................................pg.5

Online Courses .........................................................................................................pg.6

Online Vs Traditional Student Achievement ...........................................................pg.8

Components of Effective Online Courses ................................................................pg.8

Implementing Multimedia in Education ................................................................pg.11

Framework for Multimedia and Technology Integration in Education .................pg.12

Development ..........................................................................................................pg.12

TIM Framework .....................................................................................................pg.13
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES V

Matrix Breakdown .................................................................................................pg.14

Matrix Characteristics and Resources ....................................................................pg.15

Multimedia Learning Principles and Theories .......................................................pg.16

Cognitive Load Theory ..........................................................................................pg.18

The Temporal Contiguity Principle .......................................................................pg.18

The Redundancy Principle .....................................................................................pg.19

Time Compression .................................................................................................pg.20

Segmenting Principle .............................................................................................pg.20

Video and Technology in Online Learning ...........................................................pg.21

Screencasting for Online Education .......................................................................pg.22

Social and Collaborative Learning .........................................................................pg.24

Peer Assessment and Criticism ..............................................................................pg.25

VoiceThread for Collaboration ..............................................................................pg.26

SECTION TWO: METHODOLOGY .....................................................................................pg.28

Introduction. ....................................................................................................................pg.28

Setting .................................................................................................................pg.29

Data Collection ...................................................................................................pg.30

Participants ..........................................................................................................pg.34

Ethical Considerations ........................................................................................pg.34
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES VI

SECTION THREE: EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY INNOVATIVE PROJECT ............pg.36

Innovative Project Design. ...........................................................................................pg.36

Designing the Courses. ....................................................................................pg.39

Project Description. ..........................................................................................pg.41

Timeline ...........................................................................................................pg.53

Statement of Resources ....................................................................................pg.54

Reflection and Analysis ...................................................................................pg.56

SECTION FOUR: ANALYSIS & PRESENTATION OF THE DATA .................................pg.59

Data Analysis ..................................................................................................................pg.59

Discussion of Results .............................................................................................pg.71

Concluding Thoughts/Recommendations .......................................................................pg.74

REFERENCES ........................................................................................................................pg.76

APPENDICES .........................................................................................................................pg.86

Appendix A: Recruitment Email ....................................................................................pg.86

Appendix B: Informed Consent Form ............................................................................pg.87
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 2

Section One

Introduction

The advent of mobile computing and growth of internet access has led to a greater rate of

student participation in online classes. Between the years of 2002 and 2011 there was a 318.9%

increase of students taking at least one online course (Allen & Seaman, 2013). Distance

learning and allowing information to be shared outside the constraints of distance and time are

key factors that have led to this rapid growth.

There is not a definitive answer as to whether online learning is as effective as traditional

learning, however there is consensus on classroom elements that improve learning. Interaction

and collaboration within a class is shown to improve attitudes, encourage earlier completion of

coursework, increase performance in tests, allow deep and meaningful learning opportunities,

increase retention rates, and build learning communities (Falloon, 2011).

Statement of the Problem

Online courses rely on text based discussion forums for collaborative learning and

creating a social presence. While discussion forums have shown to be effective methods for

achieving collaboration within an online class for conceptual issues such as terms and concepts,

they do not work as well in problem based learning (Andresen, 2009). Discussion forums have

shown to be more reflective than in-class discussions, however, learners are disconnected from

the text based discussions. Learners also feel that discussion forums are a less meaningful form

of communication (Andresen, 2009). Text based discussion forums present hindrances for
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students who have poor skills in typing, reading, or writing (Bowe, 2002; Girasoli & Hannafin,

2008a). The elongated time required to clearly explain and write out complex concepts in a

problem based education is an obstacle that leads to lower participation and less helpful

contributions (An & Frick, 2006; Hew & Hara, 2007). Text based discussion forums lack visual

and auditory hints which leads to a higher likelihood of misunderstandings. All of these issues

lend to students feeling lost, isolated and lead to the erosion of effective social presence (Ching

& Hsu, 2015)

The Purpose of this Research

Innovative technologies such as screencasting software, online streaming video,

presentation software, and asynchronous audio/video discussion platforms are promising paths to

solving the lack of collaboration and social presence in online classrooms. Incorporating a tool

that acts as a media player and presentation software with build in discussions into an online

photography class can close the collaboration gap. Presenting the class material through a

platform such as VoiceThread, allows active participation among the students, as well as peer

collaboration. This can lead to a greater understanding as well as deeper engagement of the

material presented.

Therefore, the purpose of this research is to investigate the effectiveness of asynchronous

audio/video discussion software to engage students and promote collaboration in an online

photography course.

Project Description

In order to investigate the effectiveness of asynchronous audio/video discussion software

within an online photography class, an online class must be built with this software implemented.

To fulfill this, two online photography courses were designed and built, one with standard
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 4

discussion forums, and a second with VoiceThread acting as the collaboration tool. The courses

were both built on the CourseSites platform using the same course curriculum. Course 1 hosted

screencast videos using Youtube.com and posted documents directly within the CourseSites

modules. Class discussions took place using the CourseSites discussion forums. Course 2

hosted screencast videos and documents within VoiceThread. Discussions took place directly

within VoiceThread using audio and video.

Both courses were presented to experts in the field of photography and education where

they explored the usefulness of the courses and were able to watch a video that walked them

through the course features. Upon completion of exploring the courses, the research participants

took a survey, using questions based on a Likert Scale, regarding the effectiveness of

collaboration present in each course.

Research Question

1. Can authentic collaboration be achieved in an online photography course using

asynchronous audio/video discussions?

Key Terms

Authentic collaboration – When students and teachers alike are engaged in active

participation and discussions regarding the learning material.

Multimedia presentation – An instructional tool that presents information using both

animation or pictures and text or narration simultaneously (Mayer, 2009).

Peer assessment - A process in which students evaluate, or are evaluated, by peers of a

similar degree status (Phillips, 2016)

Asynchronous learning – The process in which information can be shared outside the

constraints of time by utilizing messaging systems such as email and discussion boards.
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 5

Literature Review

Introduction

As postsecondary educational institutions search for new ways to teach students through

distance education, colleges have started to re-vision how they can develop curriculum and best

practices that are engaging and collaborative to facilitate more student interactions and success in

the online environment. Multimedia production courses, such as photography courses, are

typically taught on campus via in-person courses, limiting the availability of this information to

only those who can physically attend courses. Many college campuses are impacted with

budgets, student to class seat ration and other factors that limit student/teacher interaction time.

Instructors know that there is not a substitute for hands-on lab experience and authentic

collaboration among teacher and students. Online courses have attempted to remedy the lack of

collaboration by using discussion forums and synchronous video communication. While these

technologies allow communication between class participants, they fail to fill the social presence

gap found in online learning interactions. With the proper use of current technologies and

multimedia educational theory, a properly implemented online photography course may be able

to provide authentic collaboration between the class participants. With the advent of education

technologies, EdTech software, and a well thought out online curriculum, it may be feasible to

build an online photography fundamentals course that offers natural interaction including

engaging and interactive asynchronous lectures and the ability for students to present and defend

their work to teachers and peers.

By utilizing the framework of the Technology Integration Matrix to incorporate EdTech

software such as screencasting, VoiceThread, and video, into an online class, a more meaningful
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learning environment will be created (Meigs, 2010). Building upon that technology

implementation with multimedia learning principles and theories such as the cognitive load

theory and the redundancy principle will further collaborative tendencies in an online course and

create an engaging learning community (Moreno & Mayer, 1999). Combining the Technology

Integration Matrix as well as multimedia learning principles facilitates social constructivism that

would be conducive to online photography education in which students would be able to study at

the pace that fits their learning style while still being part of an engaging learning community.

(Woo & Reeves, 2007)

Online Courses

Online courses and distance learning occur in many parts of the world and this method of

education is growing fast. Per “Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the

United States,” 1,602,970 higher education students took at least one course online in 2002. By

2011 6,714,792 students took one or more online classes, an increase of 318.9%. (Allen &

Seaman, 2013).

Online schooling is typically described or categorized as either supplemental or full time

programs.

Supplemental programs are those where a student is enrolled in a brick-and-mortar

or physical school, and the school allows the student to enroll in one or more online

courses as a way to supplement their curricular offerings. This is common in schools

where a smaller student population or the student demand does not warrant a wide

range of electives. Full-time programs are those where the student completes all of

their education online. (Barbour, 2011)
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 7

The benefits of online education have opened the door for online learning to become

increasingly ubiquitous. This growth has led to changed pedagogical approaches in the 21st

century (Courtney & Wilhoite-Mathews, 2015). Early distance learning relied on simple one- or

two-way communication between the instructor and student. This created an educational sytem

which focused, “solely on the production and distribution of teaching (and learning) materials,

with little or no facility for direct communication between the teacher and learner or

communication between learners.” (Courtney & Wilhoite-Mathews, 2015, p. 263). Following

the first generation of distance learning, the focused shifted from simply delivering the materials

to interaction; there was an increasing focus in asynchronous computer conferencing and

synchronous teleconferencing. Despite the different terminology and areas of focus, the most

common thread beyond the first two generations was the recognition of interaction, “Interaction

has subsequently remained a central focus for distance education” (Anderson & Simpson, 2012,

p.4). Video, audio, and teleconferencing platforms were developed and used extensively

throughout the United States and New Zealand. Teleconferencing systems worked to extend

interaction between teachers and students in distance education, however the use of these

systems emphasized the need for facilitation skills and greater flexibility. The advance of

computer technology and advent of the internet transformed how educators and facilitators could

develop interaction (Anderson & Simpson, 2012).

Synchronous e-learning is held in real-time online classrooms in which students and

instructors communicate through chat and videoconferencing. Synchronous learning has the

benefit of allowing students to interact with teacher and peers to ask and answer questions

instantly. Asynchronous learning allows information sharing outside the constraints of time by
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utilizing messaging systems such as email and discussion boards. This allows students to work

on a course as their own pace while still having a method of interaction.

While synchronous courses with video conferencing and webinars offer the greater

amount of instant interaction, due to the limited freedom in timing, fully synchronous online

courses attract very few students (Courtney & Wilhoite-Mathews, 2015).

Online Vs Traditional Student Achievement

Studies comparing the effectiveness of education in online vs. traditional classrooms are

vast, however the findings are conflicting. While many investigations conclude that exam scores

are higher for traditional classes than online classes others report the opposite, that students

perform at a higher rate in comparable online courses (e.g., Brown & Liedholm, 2002; Figlio,

Rush, & Yin, 2013; Gratton-Lavoie & Stanley, 2009; Means, Murphy, & Baki, n.d.; Parsons‐

Pollard, Lacks, & Grant, 2008). While there is not a definitive answer as to the effectiveness of

online learning compared to traditional learning, there is consensus that interaction and

collaboration within a class improves attitudes, encourages earlier completion of coursework,

increases performance in tests, allows deep and meaningful learning opportunities, increases

retention rates, and builds learning communities (Falloon, 2011). Research also indicates that

higher levels of interpersonal interaction are correlated with better student performance in online

courses (Jaggars, Edgecombe, Stacey, & Columbia University, 2013).

Components of Effective Online Courses

In online courses, it is the teachers job to create a learning platform conducive to

learning, however, it is the student who is in charge of what gets learned. Implementing this

point of view blurs the lines “between effective teaching and pedagogically sound instructional

design” (Pelz, 2004, p. 33).
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Bill Pelz, a Professor of Psychology at Herkimer County Community College, and

winner of the Award for Excellence in Online Teaching from the Sloan Consortium, wrote a

report stating 3 principles for online teaching. Many studies have been published on effective

online courses, and the findings fit into these 3 principles:

1. Let the students do (most of) the work

2. Interactivity is the heart and soul of effective asynchronous learning.

3. Strive for presence.

Principle one, “let the students do (most of) the work. Pelz states, “the more ‘quality’ time

students spend engaged in content, the more of that content they learn (p. 34).” While students

are doing the work, the instructor must be providing support. Instructors can use various

methods for providing this valuable time to learners, such as student led discussions which

influence active learning over passive learning. While having students grade their own

assignments helps teachers save time, it also leads to additional opportunities for students to

further develop their comprehension of a subject (Sadler & Good, 2006). Implementing peer

assistance and peer tutoring provides more time for active responding and an increase in

academic engagement (Butler, 1999). Activities such as finding and discussing resources among

the class allows students to exposed to new ideas and information they would not have found on

their own (Pelz, 2004)

The second principle, “interactivity is the heart and soul of effective asynchronous

learning” must go beyond simple student discussions:

“Interaction is not just discussion. Students can be required to interact with one another,

with the professor, with the text, with the Internet, with the entire class, in small groups

or teams, one-on-one with a partner, etc. In addition to discussing the course content,
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students can interact regarding assignments, problems to solve, case studies, lab

activities, etc. Any course can be designed with required interactivity (p. 37).”

The third principle, “strive for presence” ties in directly with the second principle, in that

every bit of interaction must require presence. Pelz states that there are three forms of presence:

social presence, cognitive presence, teaching presence (Pelz, 2004). When members of an online

course project their personal characteristics into discussions, the instructor and students can

develop a digital learning community that nurtures learning and communication that is genuine

and engaging while developing a connectedness similar to face-to-face courses (HRC, 2009). An

online instructor that creates welcoming online environments and personalizes these

environments should also set guidelines for students to develop a genuine voice and identity.

This will allow members of the online community to feel connected with their peers and with the

curriculum. Positive interactions and positive feelings of engagement between members of the

online community help online courses nurture the learning and community that is typically found

with face-to-face instruction (Salomon & Perkins, 1998).

Principle two and three are found within much of the research in the field of online

education. Community College Research Center of Columbia University found that

“interpersonal interaction is the most important course quality factor” in online courses (Jaggars

et al., 2013, p. 2). According to Moore’s Theory of Transactional Distance, transaction

developed between teachers and students in distance learning needs to take into account three

factors: dialogue, structure, and learner autonomy (Moore & Kearsley, 1996). Dialogue refers to

more than simply two-way communication, but takes into account all forms of interaction. An

article in the Journal of Interactive Online Learning states key characteristics used in effective

online teaching, summarized in the acronym VOCAL (Visible, Organized, Compassionate,
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 11

Analytical, and Leader-by- example). Visibility is closely linked with social presence and “the

degree of awareness of another person in an interaction and the consequent appreciation of an

interpersonal relationship” (Savery, 2010, p. 143). Visibility and social presence are necessary

for effective instruction in traditional and online classrooms; when the level of social presence is

low, interaction is also low. Low interaction leads to high level of frustration, a critical attitude

toward the instructor’s effectiveness, and a lower level of affective learning (Baker, 2010;

Hample & Dallinger, 1995; Savery, 2010)

Implementing Multimedia in Education

Multimedia refers to a communication method that helps spread information through a

variety of forms. Multimedia, in a broad sense, is used to educate, entertain, stimulate, and create

interactive media forms for people through several digital forms such as: photography, video,

illustration, animation, audio, text, interactive websites and engaging environments.

Whereas ‘multimedia’ refers to a wide-ranging set of forms, ‘multimedia learning’

specifically refers to presentations involving visual and audio elements that are intended to foster

learning (Mayer, Heiser, & Lonn, 2001). The research and science into multimedia learning is

growing with the advent of the digital age; one reason for this is multimedia is being used

increasingly to provide computer based instruction with the assumption that multimedia

information helps people learn (Najjar, 1996). Another reason is that computers and technology

are becoming commodities and it is now cheaper and easier to go digital than it would be to stay

analog. These ideas are built off of many learning theories starting with the works of Piaget and

his Constructivist theory, and Papert’s Constructionist theory.

The use of multimedia in learning is growing due to its own merits, another reason

education is adopting multimedia platforms is due to the new generations being more
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comfortable consuming as well as creating digital media than analog media. The “Digital

Generation” video project by EduTopia highlights various ways today’s students are different

than those of the past because of their increased access and uses of media both at home and

school. The project’s authors describe current students as “kids [who] are born digital born into a

media rich, networked world of infinite possibilities. But their digital lifestyle is about more than

just cool gadgets; it's about engagement, self-directed learning, creativity, and empowerment.”

(Barab, Barron, Gee, & Ito, 2009).

Framework for Multimedia and Technology Integration in Education

The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) is an illustration of 25 cells on a grid that

contain levels of technology integration. This grid incorporates five characteristics of

meaningful learning environments and five levels of technology integration that when used

illustrates how teachers can enhance the classroom and learning through technology. The 5 by

five grid provides a framework for defining and evaluating technology integration by setting a

clear vision for effective teaching with technology, giving teachers and administrators a common

language for setting goals, and helping target professional development resources effectively.

(Florida Center for Instructional Technology, 2016)

Development

The Technology Integration Matrix was developed and first produced by the Florida

Center for Instructional Technology at the University of South Florida to help assess technology

integration in the classroom. It was designed specifically to, “assist teachers, schools, and

districts in evaluating the level of technology integration in classrooms and to provide teachers,

supervisors, and administrators with models of how technology can be integrated into instruction

in meaningful ways” (Allsopp, Hohlfeld, & Kemper, 2007, p. 7). With the improvement in
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student outcomes due to technology integration in the classroom, associations such as

International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) have indicated specific conditions that

should be met in schools (Allsopp et al., 2007; “ISTE NETS Project,” n.d.; Kelley & Ringstaff,

2002). A key component to meeting these conditions is having knowledgeable and well

informed educators, however many experienced teachers have had no formal training in

technology integration. According to the report Teachers’ tools for the 21st century: A report on

teachers’ use of technology 93% of teachers report that they learned about using technology on

their own time. “For experienced teachers, all technology skills are either self-taught or acquired

through staff development programs” (Allsopp et al., 2007 p. 2; Smerdon et al., 2000).

Understanding this issue, the Florida Center for Instructional Technology developed the

Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) to “expand the opportunities for teachers and

administrators to observe exemplary technology integration practices. The (TIM) illustrates how

teachers can use technology to enhance learning” (Allsopp et al., 2007, p. 4).

TIM Framework1

Allsop, Holfeld and Kemker write that the Technology Integration Matrix is “based on two

models that support the integration of technology for facilitating student centered instruction

based on social constructivist theory (p. 7).” The first is Jonassen’s Constructivist Learning

Environments and the second is the ACOT Levels of Technology integration. The 25 cells on

the Technology Integration Matrix are composed of a condensed version of the meaningful,

interdependent, constructivist learning environment characteristics that Jonassen lists: Active,

Collaborative, Constructive, Authentic, Goal Directed (Jonassen, 2003). It is also made up of the

5 ACOT Levels of Technology Integrations: Entry, Adoption, Adaptation, Infusion,

Transformation (Ringstaff, Yocam, & Marsh, 1994).
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Matrix Breakdown

The Florida Center for Instructional Technology produced a keynote TIM introductory

presentation that explains each of the TIM attributes: active, collaborative, constructive,

authentic, goal directed, entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation (Florida Center

for Instructional Technology, 2016). When these attributes are practiced by instructors,

instructors develop a multi-tiered approach in facilitating powerful online teaching and learning.

In addition, when the five levels of technology integration and the five characteristics of

meaningful learning environments are combined into the Technology Integration Matrix, it

creates a framework of effective integration of technology. A matrix grid of these 10 attributes

forms the 25 levels of integration that can be seen in Figure 1.
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 15

From FCIT. (2016) Technology integration Matrix. Retrieved November 25, 2016 from

http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/resources.php

Matrix Characteristics and Resources.

The Matrix creates four separate indicator grids; summary indicators, student indicators,

teacher indictors, as well as one for instructional setting indicators. Each of these grids helps

educators stay on a path towards proper technology integration. The Technology Integration

Matrix goes further than supplying a framework, it also contains digital content to target

professional development and classroom progress (Cavus, Uzunboylu, & Ibrahim, 2007; Meigs,
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2010). The Florida Center for Instructional Technology hosts an interactive digital copy of the

Technology Integration Matrix on the web (http://fcit.usf.edu/matrix/), that contains videos in

each of the 25 cells. Within each cell there are 4 videos that illustrate how teachers can use

technology to enhance learning. These videos are associated with each of four subjects: Math,

Science, Social Studies, and Language Arts. The Florida Center for Instructional Technology

supplies 100 video, broken down by a grade level index, however other educational systems have

built upon TIM and added to the resources. The Arizona K-12 Center at the Northern Arizona

University has created a specific matrix called The Arizona Technology Integration Matrix, that

is specific to Arizona standards. The Arizona K-12 Center states, “Within each cell of the Matrix

one will find two lessons plans with a short video of the lesson. Each lesson is designed to show

the integration of technology in instruction and classrooms as well as the Arizona Educational

Technology Standards” (“TIM Arizona Technology Integration Matrix.,” p. 1). The Florida

Center for Instructional Technology provides a breakdown of tools demonstrated within the TIM,

The Technology Integration Matrix Digital Tools Index. This index groups together the tools in

two ways. The first is by tool type, in which it states 16 groups such as audio tools, spreadsheet

tools, and mobile devices to name a few. Within each of these initial groups, the Digital Tools

Index divides each tool and video by category and sub category from TIM

Multimedia Learning Principles and Theories

Multimedia offers promising and innovative ways to create more interesting and

enjoyable academic environments for. both learners and teachers, and offers more meaningful

and authentic ways to better engage the senses of learners (Wankel & Blessinger, 2013).

Students are now living in a tech first world, if educators do not incorporate technology into the

classroom students will not be interested. According to the International Society for Technology
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in Education (ISTE) “There is substantial research supporting the effectiveness of information

technology-assisted project-based learning (IT-assisted PBL). When IT-assisted PBL is used in a

constructivist, cooperative learning environment, students learn more and retain their knowledge

better. Moreover, students learn the content area being studied, how to design and carry out a

project, and uses of IT” (“ISTE NETS Project,” n.d.). Mayer (1997) states that multimedia

based teaching and learning offers many benefits to not only learners, but educators as well.

Some of these benefits include: a variety of instructional options, more effective learning, and

more efficient use of instructor time especially for very large classes. These ideas are based on

the “Multimedia Learning” principles by theorized Mayer, which state that people tend to learn

more deeply with both words and images than from words alone.

Park and Mills state that it is a challenge in interdisciplinary pedagogy to "integrate

shared thematic and methodological issues across the curriculum,(p. 300) " but if successful can

enrich 3 areas of learning: lifelong learning habits, academic skills, and personal growth. Using

an interdisciplinary method of teaching such as multimedia, students will meet the task of

applying knowledge, methods, and values from all subjects at once, which mimics the

collaborative system of the "real world" outside of school (J. Y. Park & Mills, 2014).

Multimedia is interdisciplinary. In order to create a multimedia product, one has to write, be

creative, know a subject, and execute on a plan.

Wankle and Blessinger, in their book “Cutting-edge technologies in Higher Education”

sum up the reason why multimedia in education is so important, “Developments in relatively low

cost and abundant digital technologies, coupled with the improvements in contemporary learning

theories and pedagogical practices, are quickly enhancing and transforming the way we teach
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and learn in the 21st century and changing our understanding of what it means to teach and learn

in a highly web-based multimedia world” (Wankel & Blessinger, 2013, p. 3)

Cognitive Load Theory.

The predominant theorists of cognitive learning in regards to multimedia, are Sweller and

Mayer. Sweller’s cognitive load theory (Paas, Renkl, & Sweller, 2004; Sweller, 1988), and

Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning (Richard E. Mayer, 2005), clarify how we learn

and how multimedia learning can either act to enhance learning or diminish the effectiveness of

information. By following the guidelines set by Mayer and his research on memory processes of

learning and problem solving, educators can design effective and efficient multimedia

instruction. The cognitive theory of multimedia learning states that “different stages of memory

process audio/verbal and visual/pictorial information in distinct, independent but cooperative

channels” (Konigschulte, 2015, p.76). Learning only occurs through active processing in

working memory, and working memory is on short supply. With a limited amount of working

memory to process new information, it is easy to overwhelm the learner and cause distraction

and poor retention. The primary objective of Sweller’s cognitive load theory is for educators to

avoid giving students excess and irrelevant information. By tying the cognitive load theory in

with Mayer’s theory of multimedia learning, education using multimedia can be meaningful and

effective (Konigschulte, 2015).

The Temporal Contiguity Principle

The temporal contiguity principle states students learn better when corresponding words

and pictures are presented simultaneously rather than successively. When a viewer is able to

visually take in the information via an animation, video, or photos while also audibly receiving

corresponding narration, they are more likely to retain the information. By taking in both sets of
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information simultaneously, the learner can build mental connections between both

representations. According to the cognitive theory of multimedia learning, by viewing the

information followed by hearing the information successively instead of simultaneously “it can

create cognitive overload in which the requirements for essential processing and extraneous

processing (caused by confusing presentation) exceed the learner’s cognitive capacity. In this

case, the learner must hold the words in working memory until the visual representation is

presented, creating an excessive amount of extraneous cognitive processing” (Richard E Mayer,

2009 p.154).

The Redundancy Principle

The redundancy principle states that people learn better from graphics and narration than

from graphics, narration, and printed text. It is important to distinguish the redundancy principle

from the contiguity principle. Where the contiguity principle says integrating visual and audio

simultaneously creates a better learning experience, the redundancy principle states that adding

in a third channel of information it once again creates cognitive overload. Mayer states that by

having a third channel of information such as on screen text, it causes the visual channel to

become overloaded by having to visually scan between pictures and on-screen text. Learners

will then have spent too much mental effort attempting to take in and compare all the data and

lose the ability to create a meaningful learning experience (R.E. Mayer & Fiorella, 2014; Yue,

Bjork, & Bjork, 2013)

Educators must be aware of this and when creating multimedia presentation, they should

be concise with text and narration. When making a multimedia presentation consisting of a

concise narrated animation, do not add on-screen text that duplicates words that are already in

the narration (Richard E Mayer, 2009).
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Time Compression.

Dr. Raymond Pastore and Albert Ritzhaupt have done extensive research on the idea of

using time-compression to make multimedia learning more efficient. In current multimedia

instruction, it is now common to use digital audio and video recordings as part of the

instructional method. With students spending more time learning from digital audio, Pastore and

Ritzhaupt did a study to “present digital time-compression as a way to reduce the amount of time

learners will spend on a learning task, while still maintaining acceptable intelligibility, pitch, and

scores on important dependent measures (e.g., recall, recognition, comprehension, satisfaction)”

(Pastore & Ritzhaupt, 2015, p. 66). In their research paper, “Using Time-Compression to Make

Multimedia Learning More Efficient: Current Research and Practice” Pastore and Ritzhaupt

present two types of time compression algorithms.

Invariant timing, the act of changing the tempo while preserving the pitch, is broken

down into two digital time-compression algorithms Linear and Non-Linear Compression. Linear

time-compression applies a consistent manipulative to the entire audio content, while Non-linear

time-compression is more sophisticated and goes through an analyzation process before

compression takes place. Non-linear time-compression will first analyze the audio content, and

compress based on the type of content recorded. Typically, non-linear time compression involves

“compressing redundancies in audio, including but not limited to pauses or elongated vowels in

an audio stream” (Pastore & Ritzhaupt, 2015, p.69).

Segmenting Principle

One of Mayer’s principles for managing essential processing in multimedia learning is

the segmenting principle. The segmenting principle states that people learn better when a

multimedia message is presented in user-paced segments rather than as a continuous unit. Some
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learners may not fully comprehend one step in the process before the next one is presented, and

thus, they may not have time to see the causal relation between each step. The segmenting

principle is most likely to apply when the material is complex, the presentation is fast-paced, and

the learner is inexperienced. Mayer describes it as such, “In segmenting, we break a complex

multimedia message into smaller parts that are presented sequentially with pacing under the

learner’s control. Thus, the two key features of segmenting are (a) breaking a lesson into parts

that are presented sequentially, and (b) allowing the learning to control the pacing of movement

from one part to the next” (Richard E Mayer, 2009, p. 154).

Video and Technology in Online Learning

One of the key issues of online education is people being physically separated (O.

Conrad, 2015) . The distance and lack of engagement leads to negative side effects including

lower performance in student work (Pascarella, Seifert, & Blaich, 2010), lower student

engagement, and higher dropout rates (Kahn, 2014; Yasmin, 2013). Research into the impact of

video and multimedia technologies is ongoing, however based on the current bulk of research,

using video in online courses shows promise in remedying these issues. The pedagogical impact

of using video in online courses can be summarized into 3 major concepts:

1. Interactivity with content (the learner relates to visual content, whether verbally, by note

taking or thinking, or by applying concepts)

2. Engagement (the learner connects to the visual content, becoming drawn in by video,

whether on-demand or real-time)

3. Knowledge transfer and memory (the learner may remember and retain concepts better

than with other instructional media) (Greenberg & Zanetis, 2012).
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A report commissioned by Cisco Systems Inc. to Wainhouse Research, LLC and authored by

Alan D. Greenberg and Jan Zanetis, analyzed 86 studies in the use of video in education. The

report found that using video in education showed enhancement in overall academic

development. The areas of improvement include grades and performance, school readiness,

collaborative abilities, workforce preparation, motivation, learner engagement, social skills, and

digital and multimedia literacy (Greenberg & Zanetis, 2012)

Screencasting for Online Education

Screencasting is a digital recording of a computer screen. It is a method for capturing the

audio and visual output of a computer, as well as the actions performed on the computer by the

user. Screencasts may also contain audio narration and a picture-in-picture display of the

instructor that is recorded simultaneously with the screen recording. In the many studies on

screencasting, there is a consensus on the benefits:

• Students can access lessons when and as many times as necessary. This is beneficial for

enforcing learning and it accommodates different learning styles and slower learners

• Available online 24/7 so students can access and learn when it suits them

• Simple, low-cost technology

• The visual and audio screencast supports modality and the temporal contiguity principle

• Each lesson can focus on a particular aspect of a course so students can select the lesson

that they require (Peters, 2011)

• Screencasting lends itself to helping create a social presence. A complaint of many

students participating in online education is a sense of isolation. In a study of

screencasting and distance learning, Rebecca Hedreen found that one of the most
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important goals of a distance educator to “be ‘more real’ and accessible to students”

(Hedreen, 2012, p.12).

The participants in Hedreen’s research project were BYU Independent Study students

between the age of 18 and 39 with varying degrees of technology expertise. The students had

to view screencasts via the Library Services Portal and complete a survey about their

effectiveness and usability. When asked to rate the helpfulness of the screencasts the majority

of the students rated them “very helpful.” The respondents who categorized themselves as

technology novices rated the screencasts as “neutral” or “not very helpful.” When asked

about the effectiveness of the screencasting format to deliver the information 33 out of 38

respondents said that screencasts were helpful, while indicated they were not helpful.

Additional suggestions were collected from the respondents such as:

• Make the screencasts interactive

• Increase the speed

• Option for turning off and on the audio

• Have a way to emphasize parts of the video while they are being explained

• Use a slideshow format with a “next” button rather than a video format

• Divide the screencasts into segments so that the student could move on when finished

reading the text

• Make sure that the screencasts “work good on all the media”.

Screencasts have proven to be effective forms of education by utilizing the modality principle

and adding social presence. Articles written by experts in the fields of education and psychology

prove that using multimodal learning such as that in screencasts can have a positive effect on

learner motivation and active cognitive processing. Screencasts utilize a complementary
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relationship between video media and instructor narration, where both information loads stay

within the capacity of working memory (Oehrli, Piacentine, Peters, & Nanamaker, 2011;

Winslow, Ph, Dickerson, Ed, & Lee, 2012)

Social and Collaborative Learning

Collaborative learning refers to any instructional or educational method in which students

work together toward a common goal (Prince, 2004). When students and teachers alike are

engaged in collaborative learning, a social presence is formed which leads to higher course

satisfaction and higher degrees of effective learning (Richardson & Swan, 2003). A study of

2314 online students found that student report a higher sense of learning community and

collaboration when the instructor of a course exhibits more “teaching presence” (Shea, 2006). A

separate study shows that students who report higher perceived social presence also perceive a

higher learning outcome from a course. This indicates a relationship between social presence

and learning (Richardson & Swan, 2003). Meaningful and authentic collaboration among online

learners is key in sustaining an interactive exchange that promotes both retention and

knowledge-building (D. Conrad, 2005).

Discussion forums have shown to be effective methods for achieving collaboration within

an online class for conceptual issues such as terms and concepts, they do not work as well in

problem based learning (Andresen, 2009). Even while discussion forums have shown to be more

reflective than in-class discussions, learners are disconnected from the text based discussions and

feel that discussion forums are a less meaningful form of communication (Andresen, 2009). Text

based discussion forums present hindrances for students who have poor skills in typing, reading,

or writing (Bowe, 2002; Girasoli & Hannafin, 2008). The elongated time required to clearly

explain and write out complex concepts in a problem based education is an obstacle that leads to
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lower participation and less helpful contributions (An & Frick, 2006; Hew & Hara, 2007). Text

based discussion forums lack visual and auditory hints which leads to a higher likelihood of

misunderstandings. All of these issues lend to students feeling lost, isolated and lead to the

erosion of effective social presence (Ching & Hsu, 2015)

Peer Assessment and Criticism

Peer assessment in higher education can be defined as a process in which students

evaluate, or are evaluated, by peers of a similar degree status. Peer assessment takes many forms

including commenting on and critiquing class mates presentations, rating the contribution of a

group members work, and assigning grades to peer’s classwork. Peer assessment has been

shown to be a viable pedagogical tool throughout many fields of higher education, including the

physical sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, and professions (Phillips, 2016).

While many instructors tend to limit peer feedback due to the fact that student reviewers

are novices in their disciplines, research shows that peer feedback may produce greater

improvement than expert feedback (Cho & MacArthur, 2011). In contrast to faculty and expert

feedback, peer feedback provides a greater variety of assessment and more extensive feedback.

Students tend to regard peer assessment and criticism as more understandable and a greater help

than faculty feedback (Cho, Schunn, & Wilson, 2006; Falchikov, 1995; Topping, 1998).

Peer assessment leads to more in depth understanding of each students’ own work as

well. While giving feedback, students are actively engaging in “evaluative and reflective

activities: infer the intended message, interpret or develop assessment criteria, compare message

content and expositional quality to the assessment criteria, identify strengths and weaknesses,

generate and explain possible remedies, and (if assigning grades) aggregate observations into a

summative score.” (Phillips, 2016, p. 2) When providing assessment, students clarify and extend
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their understanding of the subject matter, which they can apply to their own work (Buzzetto-

More, 2014; Roscoe & Chi, 2008)

While students may be apprehensive when first approached with peer reviews, research

shows that students respond favorably to peer assessment after the fact. Students value criticism

from classmates and state it helps them “better understand their own performance relative to

others, to learn from others’ approaches, and to learn how to evaluate others” (Phillips, 2016, p.

6). Research demonstrates that collaborative learning, such as providing explanations during

peer assessment can enhance learning. “In fact, it has larger effects than receiving explanations.

Apparently, giving explanations helps students to clarify their own understanding by making it

explicit for others” (Cho & MacArthur, 2011, p. 78).

VoiceThread for Collaboration

VoiceThread is an online collaboration tool that acts as a media player with an

asynchronous discussion space built within it. The host of a VoiceThread is able to upload

photos, videos, screencasts, documents, into an online slideshow which users can then use text,

video, audio, or their own uploads to leave comments and feedback. By incorporating the

capabilities of video, screencasts, and discussion boards into a single platform, "VoiceThread

enables teachers to capitalize on student learning strengths and preferred learning modalities by

encouraging active participation in the learning process" (Brunvand & Byrd, 2011, p. 33).

VoiceThread was designed to promote social and collaborative learning and help close

the social presence gap found in many online courses. By allowing discussions to occur with

voice, video, text, via a phone, computer, or mobile device, students are able to express opinions

and participate regardless of ability, and at their own pace. Because VoiceThreads are hosted

online, students can access the tool from a classroom, home, computer, mobile device, or any
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internet connected computer. Each VoiceThread archives the full discussion thread associated

with the media, including the comments, recordings, images, and drawings. These can be

accessed at later dates and used by students to revisit a topic or moment within a course they

want to follow up with (VoiceThread, 2017).

With the use of VoiceThread, information can be transformed from passive to active. The

use of interactive audio/video discussions creates an ongoing interaction with the instructional

material, teacher, and peers, allowing an increase in active learning and learning success (Lerner

& Johns, 2008). Communicating in a collaborative environment leads students to become

improved digital citizens as well. By participating in a collaborative environment, students

acquire confidence to express themselves in a respectful manner among a group communication

(Jenkins, 2007).

The VoiceThread environment has shown to increase motivation among students to do

higher quality work. The collaborative knowledge creation that VoiceThread provides

encourages students to perform at a higher degree since they know peers will be viewing the

comments, projects, ideas, and work that is posted within the platform (Smith & Dobson, 2009).

The multimedia components built within VoiceThread such as the ability to host images, audio,

video, and documents also promote higher quality student work by fostering exploration of

content (Hokanson & Hooper, 2000)
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Section Two: Methodology

Introduction

The purpose of the study was to find out if effective authentic collaboration could be

achieved in an online photography course using interactive asynchronous lectures and discussion

forums. This project examined an online photography course hosted on CourseSites.com with

the focus of creating an environment that was conducive to online photography education.

Through the use of CourseSites as an LMS, VoiceThread software for interactive

collaboration, and Screencasts, the study attempted to create authentic collaboration to help teach

the analysis of photography fundamentals including: types of photography, composition, and

technical quality. An online course was built with the focus of ensuring efficient delivery of

educational information, authentic discussion, collaboration, and the assessment of student

learning.

With the proper use of current technologies, a properly formatted online photography

course may be able to provide authentic collaboration between the class participants. With the

advent of education technologies, edtech software, and a well thought out online curriculum, it

may be feasible to build an online photography fundamentals course that offers natural

interaction including engaging and interactive asynchronous lectures and the ability for students

to present and defend their work to teachers and peers. By building an online course that is

conducive to online photography education, students would be able to study at the pace that fits

their learning style while still being part of an engaging learning community.
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The study researched how asynchronous communication, through voice threading and

video technology, could improve peer collaboration in an online photography course. The data

was collected by surveying experts in the field of education, photography, and multimedia

education, on the usefulness of the implemented technologies within the online course.

Setting

The surveys were conducted using Google Forms (forms.google.com), a free survey

platform provided by Google, a subsidiary of Alphabet Inc. The survey data was collected

within the Google Forms platform and exported into a Google Sheet (sheets.google.com), a free

spreadsheet software provided by Google.

Due to the fact that the participants in the study were not part of a single institution, there

was not a specific site in which the study could take place. The online photography course was

built on CourseSites.com, a free LMS provided by Blackboard. A link to the course was made

available to the participants in the study where they were be able to view and interact with the

online course and its components. The participants were able to take part in the course and

survey from any location with an internet enabled mobile device or internet connected computer.

The online course was launched in May, towards the end of the academic school year.

In order for the participants to study the usefulness of the audio enhanced asynchronous

discussions, the site was hosted for 8 weeks. This allowed all study participants to view the

course and experiment with the built-in features.

The study had 12 participants of adult age. Each participant was an expert in the field of

education, photography, or multimedia education.
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Data Collection

This action research project used a mixed research design, of both quantitative and

qualitative data surveys.

A survey was conducted upon conclusion of the course buildout. The participants had

access to two separate courses, once without the interactive elements as well as one with the

interactive elements. The survey had both quantitative questions and qualitative questions.

The quantitative questions provided measurable and specific data regarding the courses. Using a

Likert Scale for each question given, the survey collected both separate and summative data from

the participants. The survey also provided an area for additional comments. This additional

comment section allowed a space for the participants to provide observations. The qualitative

data helped with thematic development of the study and helped provide a larger meaning in

which to attribute the quantitative data.

Participants were asked to view two different versions of the course on CourseSites.com.

Both courses contained the same information, lessons, lectures, and discussion questions.

Course version 1 was a standard, non-enhanced version of the course. Video lectures were

posted with standard YouTube embed codes with a text based discussion forum below the video.

In course version 2, the video lectures and discussions were integrated into VoiceThread and

posted in the course via the VoiceThread embed code. Participants were asked to review both

courses as well as view a short screencast that guided them through each course version. This

screencast explained the features of each course version and walked the participants through

instructions on how to leave forum comments on course version 1 and how to interact with

VoiceThread in course version 2. The participant guide also contained links to videos created by

VoiceThread that further explain how VoiceThread works in an online classroom environment.
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Upon conclusion of the above activities, participants continued to an online survey hosted

on Google Forms. The survey collected the participants’ responses to the questions and placed

them into an anonymized Google Sheet.
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The total time for to view both versions of the course, view the screencast, and take the

survey was estimated to take a total 30 min to 1 hour. The variance was based on how much

time each participant spends reviewing each course version.

Participants

Due to the nature of the project, there was not a specific site or organization in which

participants were recruited. The study was planned to have 12 to 15 participants between the

ages of 26-72. Each participant was an expert in the field of education, photography, or

multimedia education, and was recruited from various organizations. Participants were recruited

from CSU Fresno, each having received a degree, taught, or were currently teaching in the

Multimedia department. Other participants were recruited from the teaching staff at CMAC, the

Community Media Access Collaborative, as well Crescent View Charter School.

CourseSites.com, an online Learning Management System, acted as the host of the online

course. CourseSites was the "location" of the course, while Google Forms acted as the

"location" of the surveys.

Ethical Consideration

An email was sent out to recruit participants in the research project. The email was sent to

the MCJ Department at CSU Fresno, (Media, Communications, and Journalism), as well as to

the instructors at CMAC and Crescent View Charter school. See Appendix A

The survey was conducted via Google Forms (forms.google.com). Google forms offers

an option for anonymous polls and surveys. By simply sending the link to the recruited

participants, they were able to visit the online survey and fill it out anonymously. The data

collected from the survey was automatically collected in a Google Sheet where it was used for
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 35

study analysis. Upon completion of the study, the survey and the collected data was deleted from

Google service.

Upon receipt of correspondence from individuals who showed interest in study

participation, a second email was sent to the participant asking for informed consent. The email

included a form asking for a signature. See Appendix B
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Section Three: Educational Technology Innovative Project

Innovative Project Design

The goal for this innovative project was to design and build an online photography course

that facilitated authentic collaboration among the teacher and students. The aim was to develop a

course with a constructivist learning environment that closed the social presence gap by fostering

active learning, communication, and peer assessment. Additionally, the online course focused on

utilizing multimedia learning principles such as the cognitive load theory and redundancy

principle to ensure efficient learning was taking place.

In designing an online photography course that included the ability for students and

teachers to participate in authentic collaboration, multiple tools and software were tested. Tools

that facilitated learning management, screencasting, video hosting, slideshows, image hosting,

and synchronous video sessions, were needed to build this online photography course. While

reviewing and testing software, each program was looked at through the lens of the Technology

Integration Matrix to make sure it enabled student centered instruction and constructivist

learning environment characteristics: Active, Collaborative, Constructive, Authentic, Goal

Directed (Jonassen, 2003).

Learning Management Systems are heavily used in education due to the many functions

they serve in Universities and in online education. LMS’s are online platforms that centralize

curriculum, communication, assessment, and delivery of class material. LMS’s support

additional technologies such as media players, document hosting, and synchronous and

asynchronous communication tools such as chat rooms and discussion board (J.-Y. Park & Son,

2010). Learning Management Systems can be used to effectively communicate with students
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and create an open portal of collaboration between the teacher and the class. With an LMS in

place, it allows teachers to deliver material to the students and communicate in a timely manner

while simultaneously allowing students to learn independently and collaboratively.

There are many LMS platforms available for teachers to use independently or

Universities to implement campus wide. The three most used LMS systems among American

Universities are Moodle, Blackboard, and Canvas (“LMS Stats 2017,” n.d.). While Moodle,

Canvas, and Blackboard all have similar feature sets, after testing each of these LMS platforms,

CourseSites by Blackboard was chosen as the LMS to be used within the online course due to the

fact that 33% of institutions rely on Blackboard, nearly double that of Moodle, the second most

used LMS. CourseSites acts as the free, non-licensed, fully featured version of Blackboard, for

up to 5 courses.

Screencasts are digital recording of a computer screen that capture the audio and visual

output of a computer, as well as the actions performed on the computer by the user. For the

benefit of this project, the screencasts also needed to contain audio narration and a picture-in-

picture display of the instructor that could be recorded simultaneously with the screen recording.

The ability to add narration and video of the instructor is crucial in helping create presence and

interpersonal interaction (Jaggars et al., 2013). This feature was sought after in the screencasting

software in order to follow Moore’s Theory of Transactional Distance, which states that

dialogue, including visibility, is one of the most importance factors to distance learning (Moore

& Kearsley, 1996). Deploying a screencast within this online course allowed students to connect

to text, voice, and video of a teacher irrespective of time zone or physical distances. This fit into

the Transformation Level within the Collaborative Learning Descriptor of the Technology

Integration Matrix. After reviewing many of the most popular screen recording software,
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 38

Screencast-O-Matic was chosen for its ease of use, ability to add narration and picture-in-picture,

publish to online hosting as well save as a video file.

Video is a vital component in online courses as it helps close the distance and lack of

engagement that is commonly found in distance learning (Pascarella et al., 2010). LMS

platforms have made it simple to use video in online courses by allowing videos to be hosted

directly within the LMS platform. HMTL can be used to embed video within an LMS through

HTML embed links from many of the most used video hosting services such as YouTube and

Vimeo. YouTube provides free video hosting and simple embed codes that can be used across

most LMS platforms, while also providing a commenting system and easy way to share videos

with others. For these reasons, YouTube was used to host the videos within course 1. Videos

hosted on YouTube included photography tutorials, as well as the lectures created for the course.

These videos were placed within the learning modules using YouTubes embed code. Course 2

used the same videos from YouTube as in course 1, however, these videos will be hosted in

VoiceThread using the “Share URL” feature from YouTube. By hosting the videos in

VoiceThread, students are able to leave comments and have discussions directly in the

VoiceThread as opposed to a separate discussion forum or the YouTube comment system.

Use of slideshow presentation software has become common use in higher education

courses due to its ability to present information and increase student knowledge retention (Siegle,

Del; Foster, 2000). Slideshow presentation software helps to enact the temporal contiguity

learning principal by presenting corresponding words and pictures simultaneously (R.E. Mayer

& Fiorella, 2014). While Microsoft PowerPoint is synonymous with slideshow presentation

software, Microsoft Sway was used to create the slideshows for the online photography course.

While PowerPoint is primarily a desktop application, Sway was built from the ground up to be
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 39

used online and in online environments. Sway provides simple share functions through URL

sharing and embed codes, as well as the ability to update the presentation after it has already

been shared.

Image hosting is provided by most LMS platforms via a media upload function.

CourseSites built in media hosting will be used to post images within course 1. Images were

posted for the students to comment on and discuss factors of each image, including type, and

composition. Course 1 handled the comments and discussions through the discussion forum

platform built into CourseSites. The images were hosted in VoiceThread and then embedded

within the course via the VoiceThread embed code. Students were able to discuss and comment

on each photo directly within VoiceThread.

Designing the Courses

Slideshows covering the basics of photography be created using Sway. These slideshows

covered the topics of composition and types of photography. Both of these slideshows were

created using curriculum from a current photography course CSU Fresno. The slideshows

consisted of text as well as photographs to emphasize the information on each slide.

The first course was broken into 2 modules, the first consisting of the Sway slideshow

regarding types of photography and the second consisting of the slideshow regarding

composition. Each of these slideshows was made within Sway, then narration and picture-in-

picture of the instructor was added using Screencast-O-matic. These slideshows were embedded

into the CourseSites course using the standard CourseSites embed feature for students to refer

back to. Both Modules 1 and 2 also had a discussion assignment asking the students to view

photographs and post a discussion regarding each topic. For Module 1, the students were asked

to view photos and write a post discussing what type of photo each image is and why they think
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that, then comment on another users’ post. For Module 2, the students again were asked to view

photos, then to write a post discussing what composition techniques were used in each photo,

describe them, and comment on another students’ post.

The second course was also broken into 2 modules, also consisting of Sway slideshows.

In course 2 however, the Slideshows were hosted within VoiceThread instead of directly within

CourseSites. Students were asked to have the same discussions as the first course, using

VoiceThread and the ability to add audio, video, and the pen tool to post discussions and respond

to one another instead of the standard discussion forum. Using Screencast-O-Matic, screencasts

were made to walk through the features of each course.

Study participants were provided links via email, that enabled them to sign into each

course as a student. They were instructed to explore the courses, curriculum, and the

collaboration tools within each course. Participants were also instructed to experiment with the

discussion forums in course 1 as well as the VoiceThread integration of course 2. Upon

completion of exploring the courses, participants in the study completed a survey that was hosted

within Google Forms. The data from the survey was collected into a Google Sheet where it

could be analyzed to complete the study.
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Project Description

Participant Steps

Step 1: Participant Consent Form
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Step 2: Participant Guide. The participant guide walked the participants through each step of the

project.
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Step 3: Participants visited www.coursesite.com

They were instructed to create an account on www.CourseSites.com

a. Sign up as a Student

b. They could use the links provided in the participant guide to find the courses,

rather than try to navigate the CourseSites.com Course Search.
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Step 4: Participants then created an account on https://www.voicethread.com

Step 5: For very quick overview of what a VoiceThread is and how it works, participants could

view the videos listed on the participant guide.
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Step 6: Participants could then view a video screencast video that walked them through the

features of each course.
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Step 7: Participants then signed into course #1
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Step 8: Participants viewed the lecture for Week 1, then participated in the discussion board.
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Step 9: Participants viewed the lecture for Week 2, then participated in the discussion board.
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Step 10: Participants then signed into course #2

Step 11: Participants could then take part in the Week 1 lecture via VoiceThread. This included

participating in the discussion via the VoiceThread.
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Step 12: Participants could then take part in the Week 2 lecture via VoiceThread. This included

participating in the discussion via the VoiceThread.
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Step 13: Review the Course Documents and Photo Help.

Course #1 and Course #2 had identical “Course Documents” and “Photo Help” tabs that included

the slideshows for week 1 and 2 and links that explained camera settings and exposure.
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Step 14: Upon completion of going through Course #1 and Course #2, the participants took a

survey on Google Forms.
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Timeline

Phase 1 (January -February 2017): Decided on and narrowed down the thesis project. Began

preliminary research: What will the project be? What tools will be used? Think through all

issues and come up with possible solutions.

• Turned in IRB paperwork (Institutional Review Board)

Phase 2 (February-March): Wrote Literature Review and Methodology

• IRB Approved

Phase 3 (March-April): Wrote Action Plan and Project Design. Built online platform and

Survey.

Phase 4 (April-May):

1. Designed curriculum for online courses.

2. Began recruiting study participants.

3. Created the learning materials in Microsoft Sway.

4. Used Screencast-O-Matic with Sway to record the class lectures.

5. Uploaded the recorded class lecture videos to YouTube.

6. Built Course 1 in CourseSites by adding all class materials.

7. Built VoiceThreads of all class content.

8. Built Course 2 in CourseSites by adding all class materials inside VoiceThread.

Phase 5 (May-June):

1. Recorded Screencasts that go over each course.

2. Emailed study participants to have them begin exploring the online courses.
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 54

Phase 6 (June-August):

1. Analyzed data from survey.

2. Wrote Section 4

3. Finished project and turned in Thesis

Statement of Resources

• Online LMS platform: CourseSites (www.coursesites.com)

• Software for slide presentations: Sway (www.Sway.com)

• Software for screen recording: Screencast-O-Matic (www.screencast-o-matic.com)

• Collaborative Asynchronous media hosting software: VoiceThread

(www.Voicethread.com)

• Video Hosting: YouTube (www.Youtube.com)

• Surveys: Google Forms (www.forms.google.com)
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 55

Phase 1: January - Phase 2: February- Phase 3: March- Phase 4: April-May Phase 5: May-June Phase 6: June-
February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 2017 2017 August 2017
Decide on and Write Write Action Design Record Analyze data
narrow down Literature curriculum for Screencasts that from survey.
Plan and go over each
thesis project Review and Project online course. Write Section 4
course.
and begin Methodology Design. Built Begin Finish and turn in
preliminary Email study
• IRB Approved online recruiting participants and
Thesis
research. Wha study
t will the platform and have them begin
Survey. participants. exploring the
project online courses.
be? What Create the
learning Have study
tools will I
materials in participants take
use? Think the survey.
through all Microsoft
issues and Sway.
come up with Using
possible Sreencast-O-
solutions. Matic with
• Turn in IRB Sway to record
the class
lectures.
Upload the
recorded class
lecture videos
to YouTube.
Build Course 1
in CourseSites
by adding all
class materials.
Build
VoiceThreads
of all class
content.
Build Course 2
in CourseSites
by adding all
class materials
inside
VoiceThread.
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 56

Reflection/Analysis

Many impediments were met during the implementation of the action research project.

Time limits, LMS limitations, and the general season of the year were all contributing factors to

the roadblocks that occurred during the course design and implementation section of the project.

This action research project coincided with the end of the general school year, a span of

time when educators have strict deadlines for finishing curriculum and students are finishing

projects and finals. With most of the research participants in the education field, the courses and

survey had to be distributed as early as possible to avoid participants from being overwhelmed

and disregarding the study. With an impacted timeline to create the curriculum and courses for

the study, there was little time to develop in-depth curriculum, fully built courses in the LMS, or

high production value lecture videos. The curriculum had to condensed into the core themes of

photography production, while larger ideas such as story and emotional impact were heavily

reduced from the initial plan.

There were also issues regarding the technology in use. CourseSites.com, the LMS used,

had recently had a significant update in the user interface which made building the sites more

cumbersome and time consuming than the original timeline allotted for. Upon working through

the courses, the Guest feature did not work as planned, and participants would simply be able to

simply view the course as a guest. Instead, participants needed to create a CourseSites account

and register for the two courses, adding a layer of complexity to the participation. Upon signing

up for CourseSites many participants were stuck during the sign up process when asked to search

for instructor and course.
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 57

Upon searching for Fresno Pacific University, the courses created for this action research project

did not appear within the search results. In order to resolve this issue, the participant guide was

updated to explain that this step in the CourseSites sign up could be skipped by directly

following a link to the study courses.

There were also difficulties while implementing VoiceThread. While VoiceThread fully

supports Learning Management System integration (LTI), CourseSites does not. With LTI, users

of the courses would have been able to begin interacting with VoiceThread as soon as they

logged into the course, however the absence of LTI changed the way VoiceThread worked

within the courses. Participants now had to sign up for VoiceThread as an additional service

before interacting with the courses. Instead of the participants simply logging into Course 2 and
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 58

taking part in the discussions via VoiceThread, they first had to visit the VoiceThread site and

create a user account. This created additional complexity and time needed for the participants to

take part in the study. The added technological complexities with the already impacted time

frame led to many possible participants abandoning the study during the sign up process.

Three weeks into the participation phase of the study there were only 5 participants who

had completed the study instead of the planned 12-15. Emails were received from educators

explaining that the timing for the study was too close to the end of the school year and it was

hard to find the time to participate, “We are in the final week and a half of classes and then finals

so things are quite busy for me right now.” In order to acquire more experts to take part in the

study, further emails we sent to the possible participants asking for help to find associates in the

educational field who would be willing to join the study. Recruitment posts were also added to

Educational Technology groups on Facebook seeking educators willing to take part in the action

research project. These recruitment emails and social media posts brought the total amount of

participants to 12 within 6 weeks of starting the implementation phase of the project. Once 12

participants had sent in consent forms, gone through the courses, and participated in the survey,

the analysis began.
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 59

Section Four: Analysis & Presentation of the Data

Data Analysis

At the end of the study, surveys were conducted to evaluate if effective authentic

collaboration could be achieved in an online photography course using interactive asynchronous

lectures and discussion forums. These surveys collected quantitative data from a series of Likert

scale questions as well as qualitative data from a space for additional comments. The data

reveals that the second course, using VoiceThread, was thought to have a higher degree of

authentic collaboration compared to the first course using standard LMS tools such as discussion

boards and embedded video.

A broad overview of each question shows that participants were willing to agree to the 17

survey statements in Course 2 in a favorable manner, while answering the same questions about

Course 1 negatively. The findings from each question in the survey provided clear evidence that

the second course, using VoiceThread, provided authentic collaboration, whereas Course 1

lacked collaboration.
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 60

Course 1
70%

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Not at all To a minor extent To a moderate extent To a great extent To a very great extent

Course 2
70%

60%

50%

40%

30%

20%

10%

0%
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17

Not at all To a minor extent To a moderate extent To a great extent To a very great extent

To compare the data from each course, the results regarding how many of the participants

answered in any particular way per question was converted into a percentage. A second step was

taken to view only the data regarding favorable and unfavorable answers. All answers in which

participants did not have a strong negative or positive opinion, “To a moderate extent” were

labeled as the Baseline. Furthermore, all answers that were labeled “Not at all” and “To a minor

extent” were combined into a percentage as “Below Baseline”. Answers labeled “To a great
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 61

extent” and “To a very great extent” were combined into a percentage as “Above Baseline”. This

created a clear understanding of the participants thoughts on features of each course.

Question 1: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the lecture videos?

[The lecture videos are engaging.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 0% 8%
To a minor extent 8% 0%
To a moderate extent 67% 25%
To a great extent 25% 50%
To a very great extent 0% 17%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 8% 8%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 25% 67%

The data shows that 67% of participants thought that the videos in Course 2 were

engaging “To a great extent” or “To a very great extent”, while 25% percent thought the same in

Course 1. The breakdown also reveals that while 17% of participants believed the Course 2

videos to be engaging “To a very great extent”, 0% of participants thought the same of Course 1.

There is a 42% difference in favorability, favoring Course 2 over Course 1.

Question 2: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the lecture videos?

[The format of the lecture videos are collaborative.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 50% 8%
To a minor extent 8% 0%
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 62

To a moderate extent 33% 8%
To a great extent 8% 58%
To a very great extent 0% 25%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 58% 8%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 8% 83%

Regarding how well the videos are formatted for collaboration in Course 2, 83% of

participants rated them “Above baseline”, while only 8% rated them “Above baseline” in Course

1. This left 8% of participants in Course 2 rating the videos as collaborative “To a moderate

extent” and 8% rating them as “Not at all” collaborative, while 50% of participants thought the

Course 1 videos were “Not at all Collaborative”. There is a 75% difference in favorability,

favoring Course 2 over Course 1.

Question 3: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the lecture videos?

[The lecture videos provide a sense of teacher presence.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 17% 0%
To a minor extent 17% 8%
To a moderate extent 42% 17%
To a great extent 17% 42%
To a very great extent 8% 33%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 33% 8%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 25% 75%

Regarding how well the videos in each course provided a sense of teacher presence, there

is a 50% difference in favorability, favoring Course 2 over Course 1. Seventy-five percent of

participants believed the videos to be “Above baseline” in Course 2, while 25% of participants

thought the same of Course 1. The “Below baseline” ratings had a 25% percent difference, with
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 63

33% of participants agreeing the videos from Course 1 provided teacher presence “To a minor

extent” or “Not at all”, while 8% were of the same opinion in Course 2.

Question 4: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the lecture videos?

[The lecture videos provide a sense of social presence.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 25% 8%
To a minor extent 33% 0%
To a moderate extent 25% 25%
To a great extent 17% 58%
To a very great extent 0% 8%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 58% 8%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 17% 67%

The data shows that 67% of participants agreed the videos in Course 2 provided a sense

of social presence “To a great extent” or “To a very great extent”, while 17% of participants

agreed the same for Course 1. There is a 50% difference in favorability, favoring Course 2 over

Course 1. Furthermore, while only 8% agreed the Course 2 videos were “Below baseline”, 58%

of participants believed the Course 1 videos were “Below baseline”.

Question 5: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the lecture videos?
[The lecture videos are interactive.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 50% 8%
To a minor extent 25% 0%
To a moderate extent 25% 0%
To a great extent 0% 50%
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 64

To a very great extent 0% 42%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 75% 8%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 0% 92%

The data regarding the interactivity of the videos is in line with the previous questions,

showing participants favored Course 2 over Course 1. Ninety-two percent of participants agreed

that the videos hosted in VoiceThread in Course 2 were “Above baseline”, while Course 1 had

0% agree to the same. There is a 67% difference in “Below baseline” ratings, with 75% of

participants rating Course 1 “Below baseline”, and only 8% rating the same for Course 2.

Question 6: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the lecture videos?
[The videos provide an easy way to emphasize important areas.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 42% 0%
To a minor extent 17% 0%
To a moderate extent 33% 8%
To a great extent 8% 33%
To a very great extent 0% 58%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 58% 0%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 8% 92%

Regarding how well the videos provide an easy way to emphasize important areas, the

trend continued with Course 2 scoring a much higher favorability rating. Ninety-two percent of

participants agreed that the videos in Course 2 provided an easy way to emphasize important

areas “To a great extent” or “To a very great extent”, while only 8% of participants said the same

about Course 1. Furthermore, while 58% of participants rated the videos “Below baseline” in

Course 1, 0% rated the courses “Below baseline” for Course 2.
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 65

Question 7: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the discussion method
that corresponds with each video? [The discussions are engaging.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 8% 0%
To a minor extent 58% 17%
To a moderate extent 25% 17%
To a great extent 8% 50%
To a very great extent 0% 17%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 67% 17%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 8% 67%

The data from the questions regarding discussions is very similar to the data regarding the

videos. The data shows that every question regarding discussions favored Course 2 over Course

1 in terms of agreeing to the statements being “Above the baseline”. Regarding how engaging

the discussions were, 8% of participants agreed that the discussions in Course 1 were engaging

“To a great extent” or “To a very great extent,” while 67% agreed to the same in Course 2. In

Course 1, 67% of participants agreed “Below baseline,” while in Course 2, 17% agreed “Below

baseline.”

Question 8: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the discussion method
that corresponds with each video? [The format of the discussion forums is collaborative.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 17% 0%
To a minor extent 8% 0%
To a moderate extent 67% 17%
To a great extent 8% 50%
To a very great extent 0% 33%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 25% 0%
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 66

Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 8% 83%

The data from question 8 has a high percentage of participants agreeing “To a moderate

extent” that that the discussion forums in Course 1 are collaborative. While these statement

ratings are not “Below baseline,” they are below the level of agreement in Course 2 in which

83% of participants agreed “Above baseline” that the discussion forums are collaborative.

Question 9: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the discussion method
that corresponds with each video? [The discussion forums provide a sense of teacher
presence.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 0% 0%
To a minor extent 58% 0%
To a moderate extent 33% 8%
To a great extent 0% 58%
To a very great extent 8% 33%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 58% 0%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 8% 92%

Data regarding how the participants felt about how well the discussion forums provided a

sense of teacher presence once again showed overwhelming support for the structure of Course 2

over Course 1. Ninety-two percent of participants agreed “To a great extent” or “To a very great

extent” that Course 2 provided teacher presence in Course 2 compared to only 8% in Course 1.

While 0% of participants ranked Course 2 “Below baseline,” 58% ranked Course 1 “Below

baseline.”
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 67

Question 10: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the discussion
method that corresponds with each video? [The discussion forums provide a sense of social
presence.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 17% 8%
To a minor extent 42% 0%
To a moderate extent 33% 8%
To a great extent 8% 58%
To a very great extent 0% 25%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 58% 8%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 8% 83%

Data shows that participants once again ranked Course 2 higher than Course 1 in areas

related to discussion forums. Eighty-three percent of participants agreed “Above baseline” that

the discussions in Course 2 provided a sense of social presence, while only 8% agreed the same

about Course 1. 58% of participants agreed that Course 1 provided a sense of social presence

“To a minor extent” or “Not at all”, compared to only 8% in Course 2.

Question 11: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the discussion
method that corresponds with each video? [The discussion forums are interactive.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 17% 0%
To a minor extent 50% 8%
To a moderate extent 33% 0%
To a great extent 0% 58%
To a very great extent 0% 33%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 67% 8%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 0% 92%
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 68

Regarding the interactivity of the discussion platforms, Course 2 had 92% of participants

agree “Above baseline” that the discussions were interactive while Course 1 had 0%. Course 2

only had 8% agree “Below baseline” compared to 67% in Course 1.

Question 12: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the discussion
method that corresponds with each video? [The discussions provide an opportunity for
natural peer feedback]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 33% 0%
To a minor extent 25% 8%
To a moderate extent 42% 17%
To a great extent 0% 42%
To a very great extent 0% 33%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 58% 8%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 0% 75%

The data reveals that 0% of participants agreed “Above baseline” as to whether they

thought Course 1 provided an opportunity for natural peer feedback, while 58% of those

participants agreed “To a minor extent” or “Not at all”. Course 2 had a higher favorability rate,

with 75% agreeing “Above baseline” and 8% Below baseline.

Question 13: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the online course?
[The online course implemented technology in a meaningful way.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 8% 0%
To a minor extent 8% 8%
To a moderate extent 67% 8%
To a great extent 17% 33%
To a very great extent 0% 50%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 17% 8%
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 69

Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 17% 83%

The data regarding how each course implemented technology in a meaningful way once

again revealed that participants agreed favorably with Course 2 over Course 1. Eighty-three

percent of participants rated Course 2 “Above baseline,” with 8% “Below baseline.” Seventeen

percent of participants rated Course 1 “Above baseline,” with another 17% rating it “Below

baseline,” and the remaining 67% of participants rating it “To a moderate extent.”

Question 14: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the online course?
[The online course is interactive.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 8% 0%
To a minor extent 50% 8%
To a moderate extent 25% 0%
To a great extent 17% 50%
To a very great extent 0% 42%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 58% 8%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 17% 92%

The data regarding how participants feel about the interactivity of the courses showed a

difference of 75% in favorability with Course 2 being favored by 92% of participants.

Participants agreed courses were “Below baseline” by a difference of 50%, with 58% agreeing

Course 1 was “Below baseline” and 8% for Course 2.

Question 15: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the online course?
[The course is designed in a way to transfer knowledge effectively.]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 8% 0%
To a minor extent 50% 17%
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 70

To a moderate extent 25% 0%
To a great extent 17% 67%
To a very great extent 0% 17%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 58% 17%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 17% 83%

The study participants though that Course 2 was designed in a way to transfer knowledge

effectively with 83% agreeing “To a great extent” or “To a very great extent.” While Course 2

did have 17% of participants agreeing “Above baseline,” 58% agreed “To a minor extent” or

“Not at all.”

Question 16: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the online course?
[The course is conducive to student collaboration]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 8% 0%
To a minor extent 50% 8%
To a moderate extent 17% 8%
To a great extent 25% 50%
To a very great extent 0% 33%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 58% 8%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 25% 83%

The survey data regarding student collaboration favors Course 2 over Course 1. Eighty-

three percent of participants agree “Above baseline” in Course 2 compared to 25% in Course 1.

58% of participants found Course 1 to be “Below baseline” with only 8% in Course 2.

Question 17: To what extent do you agree with these statements about the online course?
[The course is conducive to teacher - student collaboration]

Course Number Course 1 Course 2
Not at all 8% 0%
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 71

To a minor extent 58% 8%
To a moderate extent 17% 0%
To a great extent 17% 67%
To a very great extent 0% 25%

Below baseline (To a minor extent + Not at all) 67% 8%
Above baseline (To a great extent + To a very great extent) 17% 92%

Regarding collaboration between teacher and students, the participants favored Course 2

over Course 1 with a 75% difference in “Above baseline” answers. Ninety-two percent of

participants found Course 2 to be conducive to teacher and student collaboration “To a great

extent” or “To a very great extent,” while only 17% of participants thought the same about

Course 1.

Discussion of Results

Can authentic collaboration be achieved in an online photography course using

asynchronous audio/video discussions? Yes. The results clearly reveal that Course 2, with its use

of VoiceThread, allowed active participation, peer collaboration, and deeper engagement over

the standard technology used in Course 1. Course 2 was favored by the participants in every

concept covered in the survey including:

• The engagement of the videos

• Collaboration of the videos

• Sense teacher presence in the videos

• Sense of social presence in the videos

• Video interactivity

• The ability to emphasize importance in the videos

• Discussion engagement
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 72

• Discussion collaboration

• Sense of teacher presence in the discussion forums

• Sense of social presence in the discussion forums

• Interactivity in the discussion forums

• Natural peer feedback in the discussion forums

• Meaningful technology implementation

• Interactivity across the entire course

• How well the courses are designed to transfer knowledge

• How well the courses were designed for student collaboration

• How well the courses were designed for teacher to student collaboration.

Aside from the quantitative data presented in the charts, the qualitative data collected via

participants’ responses in the “Additional Comments” section of the survey further supports the

conclusion that Course 2 is structured in a more collaborative fashion. For example, participant

A notes, “The most helpful aspect of course 2 was being able to draw on the pictures during your

comments and feedback. It gives a real hand on approach to online learning.” This comment

endorses the theory by Lerner and Johns that ongoing interaction with the instructional material,

teacher, and peers, allows for an increase in active learning and learning success (Lerner &

Johns, 2008).

In regards to collaboration across the course, participant B stated that the, “2nd course seems

better. It has a virtual hand raise, to ask questions during the video, just leave a comment, video,

etc.” As the paper Confronting the Challenges of Participatory Culture: Media Education for the

21st Century states, communicating in a collaborative environment leads students to become

improved digital citizens. Participating in a collaborative environment allows students to express
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 73

themselves in a respectful manner among a group communication (Jenkins, 2007). Participant C

had similar thoughts about the usefulness of VoiceThread for group communication:

I wasn't sure how I'd feel about the Voice Thread option because I was concerned about

having to record my voice - This could be limiting if doing homework in a public place,

whereas typing in a forum can be done anywhere without disturbing those around you. I

was pleased to learn that I could still interact with the material via typing by using Voice

Thread - The context of the typing in Voice Thread, however, is collaborative in a more

immediate and more authentic manner. I like that Voice Thread allows the material and

the discussions about the material to take place in the same place - This is far closer to the

context of a face-to-face classroom than discussion forums are. Ultimately, as a student, I

think I would find it more interesting and easier to invest with legitimate feedback using

a tool such as Voice Thread than I would with a traditional discussion forum format.

The feedback from participant C supports the research that states text based discussion forums

are less meaningful than forms of discussion with social presence (Andresen, 2009).

A comment from participant D reflects the data acquired from the survey, agreeing with

the research regarding interactivity and collaboration within the course:

I believe the online instructor has the framework to create a successful and effective

online course that will allow students to learn the introductory aspects to photography. I

enjoyed the interactive and engaging aspects of VoiceThread and will consider piloting

VoiceThread in my online classes to determine how students engage in a "non-discussion

board" response system. I appreciated how VoiceThread allows students and instructors

to provide feedback through several mediums along with grouping that feedback together
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 74

in one thread…The lecture videos felt personable and educational along with the content

used during the first two weeks of instruction.

Concluding Thoughts/Recommendations

The action research project reveals that incorporating engaging videos, screencasts, and

VoiceThread is pedagogically effective. The Course built using VoiceThread as the primary

media platform succeeded in its design to promote social and collaborative learning and help

close the social presence gap found in many online courses

Based on this study, and the preceding research as outlined in the literature review, further

exploration of the implementation of these features in the classroom is warranted, especially in

conjunction with enhancing hands-on laboratory style classes such as with multimedia

production.

Multimedia production, defined as video production, photography, and audio production, is

typically taught on campus via in-person courses, which limits the availability of this education

to those who are able to physically attend. Many college campuses are impacted with budgets,

student to class seat ration and other factors that limit student/teacher interaction time. While

there are many media theory courses or 'how-to' videos online, these do not fill the education of

students attempting to learn how to create a video with proper story, audio technique, camera

know how, and post production skills. Further research could answer the question, “Would a

properly formatted online lab course provide similar learning outcomes as face-to-face learning

and would the online resources create a more efficient learning experience for complicated

multimedia tasks? With the educational technologies studied in the preceding action research

project, along with technology such as live streaming of 360 degree footage, professional camera
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 75

apps, and a well thought out online curriculum, it would be feasible to build an online

multimedia production course with authentic activities, tasks, and authentic collaboration.

An introduction to multimedia production course could include basic theory and lab work

involving video, photography, and audio. By focusing on creating an online multimedia course,

it would help schools offer multimedia courses in a distance learning environment expand the

reach of multimedia education to those who are unable to attend classes in-person.
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 76

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Appendices

A: Recruitment Email

Hello,

For those who don't know, I am currently completing my Graduate

Degree in Educational Technology, and for my thesis I am conducting a research

study.

You are receiving this email because you are an expert in the field of

photography, multimedia, an educator, or all the above, and I am looking for

participants to be part of the research study. The goal of the research project is to

build an online course with authentic collaboration through asynchronous video

and audio discussions. If you take part in this study, you would be asked to view

a screencast video explaining the online class with and without the asynchronous

video elements, as well as examine the online courses. You will then be asked to

participate in a short survey asking about elements within the courses. Completion

of both portions should take no more than 30 minutes. Participation is completely

voluntary and your answers will be anonymous. If you are interested in

participating or have any questions about the study, please email me at

imdebbas@gmail.com or call me at 559-349-7289.

Thank you,

-Max Debbas
AUTHENTIC COLLABORATION IN ONLINE COURSES 87

B: Informed Consent Form

Title of Study: Authentic Collaboration in Online Photography Courses using

Asynchronous audio/video discussions.

Study Purpose: The purpose of this study is to build an online photography course that

provides authentic collaboration conducive to education.

Participant Consent: Participating in the interview will not affect your relationship with

the school, teachers, administrators, or researchers in any way. There are no known risks or

discomforts associated with participating in this study. The survey will be anonymous and all

collected data will be destroyed upon completion of the study. You are free to decide not to

participate or withdraw from participation at any time. Feel free to ask questions at any time. The

results of the study will be made available to you upon request.

By signing below you are agreeing to participate in this study and understand the nature

and purpose of the study and procedures of the research.

Signature: ____________________________________________________________

Date:_______________