Week 17 – A2: Students’ frustrations

Hara and Kling (1999) ‘Students’ frustrations with a web-based distance education course’.

1. What kinds of distress do the authors report students experiencing?

In literature review, authors argue that studies about using technologies in education ‘ do not examine surrounding issues , such as students’ isolation and effective advising from instructors.’ But are these still valid points for today’s web 2.0 tools ?

‘students’ frustrations were found in three interrelated sources: lack of prompt feedback, ambiguous instructions on the Web, and technical problems. It is concluded that these frustrations inhibited educational opportunities.’

a) Computer competency may affect students’  level of frustration.Technological problems.

b) Students find it hard to resolve  ambiguities that can be resolved more readily in a face to face class meeting i.e. lack of effective advising.

c) Spend longer time online than the course required due to need to communicate with all collegues (be email).

d) Absence of physical cues, lack of prompt feedback from the instructor.

‘It appeared that there were two foci of frustration among students in this course. The first focus was technological problems; students without access to technical support were especially frustrated. Students whose computer skills were inadequate, like Amy, also faced persistent technological problems. The second focus involved the course content and the instructor’s practices in managing her communications with her students. Students were frustrated because of a lack of immediate feedback from the instructor and ambiguous instructions on the Web and via e-mail.’

‘In summary, in this distance education course, students’ frustration originated from three sources:

  • technological problems;
  • minimal and not timely feedback from the instructor; and,
  • ambiguous instructions on the Web site as well as via e-mail.’

2. Do you think this kind of experience is common?

In this reading, it seems that the frustrations of students are still present nowadays. Hara & Kling argue that students’ frustration originated from three sources:

* ICT competence
* Lack of instructor guidance
* ambiguous guidelines

Research in Block 2 emphasised the need for proper teacher training (Price et al., 2007) and clear guidelines for students (eg Richardson, 2005).

On the other hand, Web 2.0 has made the internet more user friendly for non technical users.

3. What recommendations do Hara and Kling have for addressing the problems they have identified?

Need of mutual support.

an experienced and skilled instructor

It is time to seriously consider the actual experiences among students in distance education courses and to critically discuss the phenomena of distance education.

we need more student-centered studies of distance education. We need research that is designed to teach us how the appropriate use of technology and pedagogy could make distance education beneficial for students.


4. Do you think these kinds of solution are effective?

Post your thoughts on these questions to your tutor group forum. In your forum comments consider how Hara and Kling’s article relates to issues raised in the video you watched, ‘A vision of students today’.

Distress reported by the authors is not valid for today’s students as nowadays there is a higher level of online access, hardware access, costs are down when compared to 1999. Web 2.0 tools provide online communication and collaboration with peers and lecturers.

Aren’t students also frustrated with F-2-F education ?

Study site was based on a traditional classroom. The authors argue that the students should have felt more at ease due to the familiar environment. But didn’t this build false expectations? Wouldn’t students expect to have the same type of learning?

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One thought on “Week 17 – A2: Students’ frustrations

  1. Fascinating question about F2F education! If you were to consider Wesch’s video about students today, you might well assume frustration with f2f.

    I suspect it depends on your own viewpoints what you find or how you interpret the information. Is that cynical?

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