The purpose of the study was to analyze and compare a traditional, face-to-face class and a computer-mediated class to aide making decisions regarding the use of technology and accompanying changes in pedagogy. This research examined how the teaching and learning process differs between a traditional format class and the same class delivered via the World Wide Web. The technology used to mediate the communication as well as the pedagogy used in the classes were different. The pedagogy was selected to best utilize the strengths of the medium.
The study had a descriptive, comparative design. Two intact groups enrolled in a graduate level educational research class, Measurement and Evaluation, were compared. One group was conducted in a traditional format classroom-based course and the other group was conducted in a class delivered on the World-Wide Web during Fall Semester 1999 at The University of Central Florida, Orlando, College of Education. The courses were taught by two different instructors.
By nature of being offered in a traditional classroom environment, or by nature of being offered through the World Wide Web certain strategies are practical in one format but not the other. The instructor in the traditional format class presented live lectures by himself and assigned live presentations given by the students. All students in the online format class were required to post assignments. The online format students were required to respond to the postings of others as well. The courses were otherwise matched in content, using generic course outlines required in the department in which the class was offered.
Findings indicated that the students in the class taught in an online format found communication to be as satisfying as the class taught in a traditional format. However, the online format class students indicated that they found their class to be more interesting. In addition, the online format class students perceived a greater degree of higher order learning outcomes present in the class. The online format class also exhibited more collaboration between students than did the traditional format class.
Recommendations were made for further research comparing a traditional format class to an online format class to further understand the teaching learning processes that take place in those format classes.