The learning environments, is based on messages

The factors
that play a critical role to the fulfillment of the learners’ requirements can
be summarized to the following:

1.            Interaction

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2.            Computer-Mediated Communication

3.            Computer-Supported Collaborative
Learning

Each factor
is reviewed, based on current bibliography and relevant studies.

Interaction
is a fundamental issue for the implementation of an effective learning system.
In particular, for a distance learning system, interaction among geographically
dispersed learners is the factor that influences their learning experience
(Mclsaac and Gunawardena, 1996; Moore, 1989; Woo and Reeves, 2008##). The term
interaction in the context of distance learning imposes the bi-directional
communication among people that participate in a distance learning program, in
order to support each other to complete a learning task, raise competition or
build social relationships (Liaw##).

A
communication model that describes meaningfully the interactions in distance learning
environments, is based on messages that carry required information, the sender
who transmits a message and the receiver who receives and acknowledges the
message. According to Moore, the model may describe three types of distance
education: (1) learner interaction with the educational content, (2)
interaction between the learner and the tutor and (3) learner to learner
interaction.

Learner –
educational content interaction

In the
evolution of a distance learning program, learners interact with educational
material that is offered to support the study process. This type of interaction
builds knowledge since it concerns the cognitive process that is developed
between the learner and the particular subject. Holmberg (##) suggested the
term “internal didactic conversation”, by means that the interaction of a human
with the training material implies a conversation. The term “content” may also
include multiple types of educational material, including video, narrations or
even interactive virtual laboratories. Several frameworks have been proposed in
order to support and guide the development of influential educational material
(Janick and Liegle##) (Table ##).

Table ##

Instructor
acts as the originator

Diversity
of the offered presentation styles

Variety of
exercise types

Hands-on
experience for problem solving

Study pace
is controlled by the learner

Multiple
test types

Regular
feedback from the system and the tutor

Intuitive
learning environment with easy guidance of the learner between the steps of the
study process

Access to
help facilities (online tutorials, discussion boards, frequently asked
questions.

Learner –
tutor interaction

Tutors play
a critical role in distance learning initiatives, not only because they set
subjects for the learners to study and practice but also inspires, motivates
and supports them to organize the acquired knowledge. Their role also is to
assess learners, monitor their progress, regularly provide feedback and clarify
issues may arise. Compared to learner – content interaction, this type of
interaction is of higher value, since it directly determines learners’
perceptions and at the same time influences them to successfully complete their
studies (Moore##).

Learner to learner interaction

Learner to
learner interaction is defined as the communication among learners, regardless
of the presence of the tutor. Distance learning systems should thoroughly
support mechanism for communication among learners in order to discuss their
opinions, collaborate on the educational process, realize teamwork and peer
evaluation. This kind of interaction is critical for the success of a distance
learning system, since it provides a digital analog of interpersonal
communication in face to face learning. (Bull##).According to the social constructivist
theory, researchers have accentuated the importance of social interactions in
educational environments, since it promotes social presence and empowers