NVC Professor Creates Distance Education Survey to Examine Classroom Effectiveness

With the COVID-19 pandemic closure of school buildings and university campuses this spring, most students of all ages suddenly became online or distance learners. In this new academic landscape, educators have struggled with how to best educate in an online environment.

Northwest Vista College Professor Scott L. Walker, ScEdD, developed the Distance Education Learning Environments Survey (DELES) to give real-time reporting to provide educators and  educational leaders with a view into the digital classroom, and the impact and opportunities of their online educational offerings.

“Many online learning surveys focus on course organization or technology use. The DELES is grounded in social ecology and focuses on the humans in their online environment,” said Scott, who’s also NVC’s Geography & Environmental Sustainability discipline coordinator.” Understanding how students perceive the online psychological-social environment allows for instructors to make instructional changes to help student learn better.”

A recent DELES international pandemic impact survey found significant reductions in students’ perceptions of their leaning environment when abruptly shifted to online education. Additionally, the survey found over 54% of students accessed their “remote” learning class via smartphone. The study also said students shifting to synchronous (real-time) classes felt there was little room for classroom interaction, as they felt they would be interrupting during live remote classroom sessions. A recommendation for faculty using synchronous tools (Zoom, for example) should be overt in allowing students to interrupt to ask questions…even encourage it.

The DELES provide key findings, such as:

  • Instructor Support– Understand how approachable and amenable the online instructor is to students
  • Student Interaction and Collaboration– Identify what opportunities students have to interact with each other and collaboratively learn
  • Personal Relevance– Learn about the connections between students’ out-of-class and online classroom experiences
  • Authentic Learning– Gauge the extent to which students can engage with real-world problems
  • Active Learning– Assess students’ opportunity to take an active role in their educational growth
  • Student Autonomy– Ascertain if students have the option to initiate their own ideas and make their own learning decisions
  • Enjoyment– Measure student enjoyment and satisfaction with the learning environment

Since the release of the survey, it has been administered internationally by educational online programs in Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America.

To learn more about the survey, visit here.

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