Factors that influence successful online teaching and learning programs in technical computer science subjects
Edith Cowan University
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Computer and Information Science
Since the mid to late 1990s, the World Wide Web has been used as a distributed learning mechanism, enhancing the digital learning environment to support distance and on-campus students. Web technology has been adopted to assist learners with real-time studying at a distance. Consequently, Web delivery has grown rapidly and has been used as a vehicle for learning. Many universities have developed wholly online distance education programs. These changes in distance education have been developed in an attempt to provide easier access to educational opportunities for students who are located remotely from the university, who are working or who have other constraints/commitments such as family commitments. However, online distance learning in Computer Science courses remains challenging for both instructors and students. Research has shown that there is a significant risk factor for online courses in Computer Science. Course developers and instructors need to be aware of the particular needs of Computer Science students when establishing online courses, if they wish to graduate successful and satisfied students. This is particularly true in technical subjects where teaching and learning in an online environment is even more challenging. This paper aims to identify the technological and social enablers and barriers to effective teaching of Computer Science topics in a wholly online environment from the perspective of instructors and learners by using the School of Computer Information Science (SCIS) as a case study. The paper reports the preliminary findings of historical enrolment data from SCIS, to determine if the online environment is a major factor in retention rates for online students.