CEC Theses and Dissertations

Title

The Impact of an Online Conference in Education: A Case Study

Date of Award

2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences

Advisor

Getrude W. Abramson

Committee Member

Maxine S. Cohen

Committee Member

Marlyn Kemper Littman

Abstract

The study dealt with the effects of the International Online Conference "Opening Gates in Teacher Education" that was held at the MOFET Institute in Israel in 2001, on the educators who participated in it. The study was aimed at indicating the areas in which an online conference in education can contribute to enhanced use of technology in the educational community. It tested the hypothesis that when teachers are placed in the familiar context of participating in a conference in their field of specialization, and where the only novel factor is online technology, they would be able to learn the technology easily. This is shown by identifying the changes in participants' attitude and behavior toward technology, and the knowledge they acquired. Specifically, the study analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of such an online conference and the differences between different groups of participants in terms of attitude to the conference.

This was a descriptive study with qualitative instruments (interviews) in the development stage. The developmental study served to construct the survey for the quantitative main research. The questionnaire was validated by an expert panel. People who took part in the online conference answered a Web survey that they received through e-mail. The responses were analyzed to determine the effects of various technological tools used in the conference on the educators-participants in terms of thinking, attitudes to technology, behavior and changes in teaching. The questionnaire assessed participants' expectations regarding an online conference in education and whether these expectations were met. It profiled the participants as to the perceived advantages of an online conference in education and looked for features that made a difference in the impact of the online conference.

Findings showed that as a result of the conference, about half of the respondents started to incorporate online teaching or reported encouraging their students to use the computer. Respondents who had a low initial level of technology use reported a change toward greater personal use of technology after the conference. On the other hand, respondents who were initially high in technology use reported greater integration of advanced technology into their teaching.

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