March 1, 2006

Reflections for 2/23-3/1

My overall impression on the lit review of web/e-mail survey article is that the research is completely inconclusive. That is, some research suggests that you might get better or more or most cost effective data with a web, or e-mail or web plus e-mail survey compared to a mal or phonse survey, or, then again, you might not. My conclusion? Use a web or e-mail survey when it makes sense, and use a paper or phone survey when they make sense based on your sample and research question.

The two articlce on computer mediated discourse were thought provoking. I really don't believe that the ILF example constitutes a virtual community. The participants were basically assigned to participate while in classes at IU. Those IU participants appear to be the bulk of the community along with some faculty and grad students doing research and assessment. Since it is not self-sustaining, I would not consider it an actual community. I was strck that both articles seemed to choose methods that stressed quantitaave counting methods. After coding, they counted. Why didn't they choose methods where after coding they could conduct thematic analysis. In the Thurlow article, I'm puzzleld about why there seems to be a concern about the abbreviations and truncated language used in text messaging. I've been using online communicaiton (remember dial up bulletin board systems, popular back at the end of the 1980s through the early 1990s) for a very long time, and typin/talking is a hassle, so of course you are going to take short cuts. Using a phone keypad is even more of a hassle so people will truncate even more. I still write in formal English and speak with reglar English expressions. People jump from communication style to communication style dpending on the social context.

On a topic unrelated to the readings, today's NY Times had article that talked about students at online colleges and unversities now qualifying for federal student aid. The for-profit education lobby has been trying to get the 50% rule (50% of classes had to be face to face to get aid) overturned. This law was put in place to try and protect students and taxpayers from diploma mills that were miliking the ferderal governement. Although this is stilcould be a problem, I think that the law was not the best way to to protect students or taxpayers. One spokesman forColleges and Universities was complining that there were no studies that proved that online-only degrees were as "good" as the traditional classes. I think this is argument is not relevant. There are plenty of students coming out of of traditional colleges and universities that haven't reached their potential. Students need to have information about what is a "good" college or universityincluding online ones but what is "good" isn't going to come from research. You would have to run comparison studies with all of the traditional colleges and universities also. Acredditation procedures are one indication of "quality" along with the various "reankings." Yes, I know they all have flawed methodologies and need to be taken with a grain of salt, but at least they say "something" if you can decipher their methodology. It is a much better strategy for the tradtional non profite educaitonal institutions to eduocate their customers (the students) why they are the superior product. To be honst, a little competition will keep us "honest."

Posted by danil003 at March 1, 2006 9:25 PM
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