Faculty Articles

Title

How Online Students Describe Their Physical Learning Environment

Document Type

Article

Publication Date

Summer 2019

Publication Title

Quarterly Review of Distance Education

Volume

20

Issue/Number

2

First Page

29

ISSN

2169-1266

Last Page

54

Abstract/Excerpt

A descriptive case study with multiple data collection methods was carried out to understand how online graduate students identify the characteristics of their physical learning environment. Equivalency theory and the science of ergonomics framed the study. Participants were 10 online graduate students, all working adults (60% female, most between ages 45 and 64), at a single university. Data were collected via an online questionnaire, telephone interviews, and photographs. Findings showed that home was the primary location participants spent the majority of their time working on specific learning and research activities. Most used overhead lighting, preferred temperatures between 68 and 74 [degrees], sat in chairs at desks, and heard many types of noise. The majority used laptops with Wi-Fi as Internet connection. The most difficult elements to manage were family responsibilities, inadequate workspace, and inappropriate equipment. Participants overcame those challenges with various innovations. Findings also showed that no participants received university information to help design their learning environments for maximum effectiveness.

Peer Reviewed

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