Students Rate SoftChalk Lessons as Highly Effective in Promoting Online Learning

Today we have a special guest post from one of our clients, Lynda Randall, who will describe her research on student’s perspectives of content delivery mediums and their effectiveness in an online course. Find out which tools her students liked and what they say about SoftChalk…



Lynda Randall, Ph.D.

Professor of Secondary Education

California State University, Fullerton

I recently conducted action research to examine the efficacy of a variety of strategies designed to actively engage and challenge students in an online learning environment. I will be presenting my findings at the Sloan-C 4th Annual International Symposium on Emerging Technologies for Online Learning in San Jose, California on July 13 at 10:40 am: Student Perceptions of the Effectiveness of Selected Content Delivery Modes and Collaboration Tools in an Online Course.

This study examined undergraduate student perceptions of effective online instruction. Specifically, the study probed the students’ views of effectiveness in relation to the following questions:

  1. What modes of online content delivery are most valued by students as a means of establishing teaching and cognitive presence? In particular, how do students assess the value of textbook readings, supplemental readings, SoftChalk interactive, web-based lessons; and how do they respond to the use of a digital textbook as piloted in the study?
  2. What kinds of collaborative tools do students appreciate as a means to establishing social presence and supporting their learning?  In particular, what perceptions do students hold for the value of voicethreads and discussion boards in this online learning environment.

Subjects in the study included 35 students in two intact sections of an online course in adolescence (11 males, 24 females). Collection of data included both quantitative and qualitative methods. Students completed an online quantitative survey including 48 likert-scale items to record their responses to particular dimensions of the course design and their perceived effectiveness of these dimensions in promoting learning and satisfaction in the course.  Students also participated in a qualitative survey of 26 open-ended questions through a voicethread in which they recorded their responses as audio recordings. The qualitative survey produced roughly six hours of audio recordings that were later transcribed to a verbatim transcript. Voicethread is a Web 2.0 tool that facilitates group conversations in the form of an interactive slide show containing images, documents, or videos.

Overview of the Findings Related to SoftChalk

Quantitative analysis of the data obtained from a five-point Likert scale showed students strongly agreed that SoftChalk interactive web-based lessons were effective in helping them learning (M=4.44, SD=.98).  Analysis of the qualitative survey provided additional support for SoftChalk interactive lessons, with a general finding that the lessons helped them to master the content and gain more comprehensive understanding.  Students reported that the interactive lessons helped them to make sense of the textbook readings, which were quite dense and sometimes overly detailed.  The opportunity to get immediate feedback through practice activities within the lesson, and to test their understanding after short segments of text, images, audio, and video segments, were particularly helpful features of the SoftChalk lessons.  They found these lessons to be interesting, innovative, engaging, and informative.

Here’s what the students had to say:

“I really enjoyed the interactive lessons, especially the interactive lesson “teen brain.” Learning about the brain is not the most fun topic, however the interactive lesson really helped me understand things about the brain that if I read in a book I would easily forget.”

“The interactive tutorials and activities were my favorite part of the course, because of all the visuals and different interactive things you could do. As I said, I’m a visual learner, so these were by far the most helpful to me, especially more so than the online textbook.”

“I really liked the interactive tutorials and the idea of taking bits and pieces of the quiz throughout the lessons instead of gathering all the information and then taking the test all at once, at the end. It was very helpful in supplementing what I read in the textbook and from the lectures and the PowerPoints.”

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