The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning ( is a refereed, open access e-journal that disseminates original research, theory, and best practice in open and distributed learning worldwide. This journal was formerly named the "International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning", the name change from "distance" to "distributed" to emphasise the new focus on openness and particularly on open educational resources (OER).


The library contains articles of the International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning as of vol. 1(2000) to current.

Recent Submissions

  • Sprinting to the Finish Line: The Benefits and Challenges of Book Sprints in OER Faculty-Graduate Student Collaborations

    Zapata, Gabriela C. (Athabasca University Press, 2020-04-08)
    This article investigates the results of a book sprint experience whose main objective was the development of instructional modules for an open textbook for the teaching of Spanish as a second language. Six graduate students at a public American university participated in the project for a week, working in pairs in the creation of activities that required the incorporation of the tenets of the dual pedagogical frameworks of performance- and literacy-based instruction (as realized through learning by design). Data were collected through both an opinion survey and the assessment of samples of the participants’ products. The results of the survey showed that graduate students felt that being part of the book sprint had been beneficial both at the professional and personal levels, but they had also experienced difficulties similar to those reported in previous studies. The products analyzed pointed to a lack of connection between the required pedagogical tenets and the materials developed, which has also been reported in existing works on pre- and in-service teachers as materials developers. The article discusses how these results could have been a consequence of the structure of the book sprint, and it offers recommendations for future activities of this kind.
  • Why do University Teachers use E-Learning Systems?

    Goh, Chin Fei; Hii, Puong Koh; Tan, Owee Kowang; Rasli, Amran (Athabasca University Press, 2020-04-08)
    University teachers are the main players when it comes to integrating e-learning systems into higher education institutions. Prior studies have identified four main antecedents that explain teachers’ technology acceptance in the educational context: (a) subjective norms (SN), (b) technological complexity (TC), (c) constructivist beliefs (CB), and (d) motivation for instrumental use (MOT). In this study, we proposed and tested the dual roles of MOT, one as a causal variable and the other as a mediating variable, to explain university teachers’ acceptance of e-learning systems. To test the research model, we collected data from 174 teachers at a large public university in Malaysia using a self-administered survey. Our study shows that MOT mediates the direct effects of SN, TC, and CB on perceived ease of use (PEOU), perceived usefulness (PU), and behavioural intention (BI). This study offers important policy insight for university administrators who seek to enhance acceptance of e-learning systems among university teachers.
  • An Empirical Study on Service Recovery Satisfaction in an Open and Distance Learning Higher Education Institution in Malaysia

    bin Mohd Amin, Mohd Rushidi; Kumar Piaralal, Shishi; Rosli bin Daud, Yon; bin Mohamed, Baderisang (Athabasca University Press, 2020-04-01)
    This study investigated the relationships among justice dimensions (distributive, procedural, interpersonal, and informational), university image, service recovery satisfaction, and customer behavioural outcomes (trust, word of mouth, repurchase intention, and loyalty). This study adopted a cross-sectional survey approach and data were collected through a survey of 303 students of Open University Malaysia in Malaysia who experienced service failure and service recovery. The framework was tested via partial least square structural equation modelling, and the results revealed a significant relationship between justice dimensions and service recovery satisfaction in terms of procedural and interpersonal justice. Service recovery satisfaction had a significant effect on all customer behavioural outcomes investigated. University image did not have a moderating effect on the relationship between justice dimensions and service recovery satisfaction. Theoretical and practical implications of the study are discussed in this paper.
  • Open Textbooks: Quality and Relevance for Postsecondary Study in The Bahamas

    Bethel, Edward (Athabasca University Press, 2020-04-08)
    Open educational resources (OER), are openly licensed text, media, and other digital and analog assets that are useful for teaching, learning, and research. Recent research has shown that in courses where open textbooks are assigned, students perform as well as or better than students in similar courses with commercially licensed textbooks. Despite cost savings and demonstrated effectiveness, perceptions about quality, relevance, ease of access, and other concerns persist. The objectives of this study were twofold: (a) to develop a practical and reusable measure for evaluating open textbook quality in terms of pedagogy, openness, accessibility, and relevance; and (b) to use the measure to rate the quality and relevance of open textbooks for use in higher education in The Bahamas. The study confirmed the viability of the quality measure as a practical tool to assess open resources and found that the open textbooks studied were accessible and well matched to course content, but of varying quality. More study is needed to explore ways to increase faculty adoption, use, adaption and production of OER.
  • Evaluating Pre-Service Teaching Practice for Online and Distance Education Students in Pakistan: Evaluation of Teaching Practice

    Ahmed Abdullah, Nauman; Sultana Mirza, Munawar (Athabasca University Press, 2020-04-08)
    In addition to conventional modes, teacher education programs in Pakistan are also offered through online and distance education. Teaching practice is a significant component of pre-service teacher education programs. Assessing the quality of teaching practice for pre-service student teachers is important, as these modules train the prospective teachers for their professional teaching careers. Virtual University of Pakistan (VU), an online university, offers pre-service teacher education programs. This research is an investigation into the learning opportunities and practices of VU student teachers in their teaching practice modules. Students enrolled in different teacher education programs served as the population of this study. Those in the fall 2018 semester who were enrolled in teaching practice modules were selected as a sample. Data sources included lesson plans prepared, lessons delivered, administrative and co-curricular duties performed by the students, as well as evaluation reports by supervisors, cooperating teachers, and school principals. There were improvements in the student teachers’ lesson plan formation and their overall learning. Data obtained through personal visits by VU faculty was used to verify and assess actual classroom teaching. Lack of regular attendance and punctuality by student teachers was observed as a result. Internal review of the VU system as it relates to the teaching practice modules was conducted to address any shortcomings in the course(s), its procedures, and its controls. Recommendations for improving the system, such as grading the modules, peer-assessment, and orientation workshops for student teachers are provided, as well as suggestions for developments in the teaching practice modules themselves. 
  • Editorial – Volume 21, Issue 2

    Kennepohl, Dietmar (Athabasca University Press, 2020-03-20)
  • An Exploration Into the Importance of a Sense of Belonging for Online Learners

    Peacock, Susi; Cowan, John; Irvine, Lindesay; Williams, Jane (Athabasca University Press, 2020-04-08)
    Fostering a sense of belonging and a personal connection is seen as fundamental by many educational researchers, regardless of the learning environment. Online learning certainly provides flexible learning opportunities but comes with notable issues. For online learners, nurturing a sense of belonging may present a way of improving their experiences and attainment, as well as reducing attrition rates. Research specifically exploring sense of belonging and online learning is limited. This article addresses that gap and reports on a small-scale exploratory study using qualitative data-collection and analysis methods to investigate the importance, or not, of sense of belonging for postgraduates’ online education by exploring the origins and nature of their lived experience of online learning and their sense of belonging therein. Our initial findings emphasise its importance for them as online learners and have identified three significant themes: interaction/engagement, the culture of the learning, and support. These early findings highlight the importance of these three themes in promoting a sense of belonging and in ensuring that there are opportunities for meaningful group and peer interactions; they will be of interest to all engaged in online education.
  • Emotions Among Students Engaging in Connectivist Learning Experiences

    AlDahdouh, Alaa A (Athabasca University Press, 2020-04-08)
    Emotion has long been a question of great interest in a wide range of fields. As a general rule, emotions are categorized as positive, which we seek, and negative, from which we turn away. However, empirically-backed connectivists claim that even negative emotions produce positive effects on student performance. What is less clear is how this process happens. This study had two primary aims. First, to assess the prevalence and distribution of emotions in connectivist environments. Second, to provide in-depth and experiment-based analysis that shows how and when negative emotions have their positive effect. Data for this study were mainly collected using an aided think-aloud protocol with nine participants, each of whom received ten tasks. Findings of the current study confirmed the dominance of negative emotions in connectivist learning environments and presented a model that could explain the variation of empirical results. Implications for researchers and teachers in distance education are discussed.
  • Postgraduate Distance Education in University of Cape Coast, Ghana: Students’ Perspectives

    Andoh, Raphael Papa Kweku; Appiah, Robert; Agyei, Paul Mensah (Athabasca University Press, 2020-04-08)
    The study explored perceptions of postgraduate distance education students of University of Cape Coast (UCC). Specifically, associations between UCC postgraduate distance students’ characteristics and satisfaction, as well as students’ perceptions of physical facilities, staff-students relationship, facilitator quality, and student support services were examined. Determinants of students’ satisfaction regarding physical facilities, staff-students relationship, facilitator quality, and student support services were also investigated. A census was used for the study, whereby a questionnaire was used to collect data from 125 students. It was revealed that satisfaction was not dependent on age, gender, or programme of study but was significantly related to study centre location and semester of study. The students were generally satisfied with physical facilities, staff-students relationship, and facilitator quality but were unimpressed with student support services. The three domains that students were impressed with were deemed to be determinants of their satisfaction. It was recommended that those aspects of the programme that received satisfactory responses should be maintained but improved on with time. Those aspects with unfavourable responses, on the other hand, were to be critically considered for immediate improvement.
  • Open and Shut: Open Access in Hybrid Educational Technology Journals 2010 – 2017

    Costello, Eamon; Farrelly, Tom; Murphy, Tony (Athabasca University Press, 2020-01-01)
    Little is known about open access publishing in educational technology journals that employ a hybrid model which charges authors only if they wish to publish via gold open access. In this study we sought to address this gap in the scholarly understanding of open access publishing in hybrid journals that publish research into the intersection of education and technology. We analysed three categories of article access types: gold, green, and limited access, and collected data on their prevalence in the seven-year period from 2010-2017 across 29 journals. Data was gathered from Scopus, Unpaywall, Sherpa RoMEO, and via manual searches of the journal websites, resulting in a dataset comprising the metadata of 8,479 articles. Our findings highlight that most research remains locked behind paywalls, that open access publishing through legal means is a minority activity for the scholars involved, and that the complexity and costs of legal open access publishing in these journals may be inhibiting the accessibility of research to readers.
  • Book Review: High-Impact Practices in Online Education

    Faulconer, Emily Kaye (Athabasca University Press, 2020-01-01)
  • Studying Learner Behavior in Online Courses With Free-Certificate Coupons: Results From Two Case Studies

    Littenberg-Tobias, Joshua; Ruipérez-Valiente, José A.; Reich, Justin (Athabasca University Press, 2020-01-01)
    The relationship between pricing and learning behavior is an important topic in research on massive open online courses (MOOCs). We report on two case studies where cohorts of learners were offered coupons for free certificates to explore how price reductions might influence behavior in MOOC-based online learning settings. In Case Study 1, we compare participation and certification rates between courses with and without free-certificate coupons. In the courses with a free-certificate track, participants signed up for the verified-certificate track at higher rates, and completion rates among verified students were higher than in the paid-certificate track courses. In Case Study 2, we compare learner behavior within the same courses by whether they received access to a free-certificate track. Access to free certificates was associated with lower certification rates, but overall, certification rates remained high, particularly among those who viewed the courses. These findings suggest that some incentives, other than simply the cost of paying for a verified-certificate track, may motivate learners to complete MOOCs.
  • Designing a Community of Inquiry in Online Courses

    Fiock, Holly (Athabasca University Press, 2020-01-01)
    This article describes a practical approach for implementing instructional strategies in order to build a Community of Inquiry (CoI) into an online course. Online community building has positive effects on the quality of student learning, increases student engagement, and encourages motivation of students in online courses. The CoI is a theoretical framework focusing on facilitating meaningful learning experiences through three presences: cognitive presence, social presence, and teaching presence. This article will introduce the CoI framework by way of literature review focusing on CoI instructional strategies. Using Sorensen and Baylen’s (2009) seven principles of good practice, the author will structure CoI instructional activities into presence categories for practitioner use.
  • Getting Started With Open Badges and Open Microcredentials

    Clements, Kyle; West, Richard Edward; Hunsaker, Enoch (Athabasca University Press, 2020-01-01)
    This article is intended as a practical resource to help interested organizations design and implement an open badging system. Open badges are a type of open credential designed to recognize a variety of skills, knowledge, and experiences, both inside and outside of traditional educational settings. While growing in popularity, common questions asked by those interested in using open badges include: How do I get started? What technologies exist to produce open badges? And what do I need to know? This article seeks to address questions such as these. First, we introduce the reader to key terms in the badging world and explore open badge design precedents, responding to who, what, how, where, and why open badges have been used in the past. Drawing on this research as well as our own personal experience, we then present a possible framework for getting started with open badges and a step-by-step guide for implementing that framework within your organization.
  • Editorial – Volume 21, Issue 1

    Blomgren, Constance (Athabasca University Press, 2020-01-01)
  • Open to Open? An Exploration of Textbook Preferences and Strategies to Offset Textbook Costs for Online Versus On-Campus Students

    Anderson, Talea; Cuttler, Carrie (Athabasca University Press, 2020-01-01)
    As open textbook initiatives are on the rise, a burgeoning literature has begun exploring student perceptions of openly licensed textbooks used in higher education. Most of this research has lacked consideration of potential differences in the perceptions of online and on-campus students and has failed to include a control group of students using traditional textbooks. Therefore, the authors employed a 2 x 2 design to directly compare perceptions of online students with on-campus students assigned either open or traditional textbooks. Students (N = 925) enrolled in multiple sections of psychology courses at a midsized R1 institution completed a survey on their perceptions of their particular book’s format and features, as well as strategies they typically employ to offset the cost of expensive course materials. The results revealed that online and on-campus students report disparate strategies for offsetting the high costs of textbooks, different preferences in textbook formats (print versus digital versus both) when cost is not a factor, and differences in their ratings of the importance of various textbook features. Moreover, the results indicate that the use of open textbooks may increase preference for free digital textbooks over paid printed textbooks. Based on these results, the authors suggest that campuses might consider providing customized support to different student populations as open textbook initiatives gain in popularity on university campuses. Additionally, they suggest that prior exposure to open textbooks may increase students’ willingness to use openly licensed materials in future courses. They recommend future research on this question, using a longitudinal within-subjects designs.  
  • Distance Learners’ Experiences of Silence Online: A Phenomenological Inquiry

    Duran, Leslie (Athabasca University Press, 2020-01-01)
    Although learner silence in face-to-face classrooms has been the topic of considerable research interest, relatively little investigation has been done into learners’ experience of silence in distance education. Guided by a phenomenology of practice approach, this study explores the lived experiences of online silence, using interview data gathered from 12 graduate students who were engaged in cohort-based distance learning. Iterative rounds of a whole-part-whole interpretive process were used to identify key themes that emerged regarding the participants’ lived experiences. The findings highlight that silence is a complex, multifaceted phenomenon that was both enacted and received by the participants. Speaking out online was done carefully, sometimes with partial voice and sometimes in fuller voice, sometimes as an obligation and other times with a sense of spontaneity and connection. The six themes that emerged were as follows: (a) learners enact purposeful silence; (b) learners absorb silence from others; (c) learners perceive, and use, silence as demarcation; (d) learners experience silence within voice; (e) learners use deliberate, complex strategies while engaging in online discourse; and (f) learners hear each other in a trusted community. These six themes give new understandings to the experience of online silence. They reflect the multifaceted and nuanced aspects of the phenomenon and have implications for distance education instructors, learners, and curriculum developers.
  • The Relationships Between Self-Efficacy, Task Value, and Self-Regulated Learning Strategies in Massive Open Online Courses

    Lee, Daeyeoul; Watson, Sunnie Lee; Watson, William R (Athabasca University Press, 2020-01-01)
    This study examines the relationships between self-efficacy, task value, and the use of self-regulated learning strategies by massive open online course (MOOC) learners from a social cognitive perspective. A total of 184 participants who enrolled in two MOOCs completed surveys. The results of Pearson’s correlation analysis show a positive correlation between self-efficacy and the use of self-regulated learning strategies, as well as a positive correlation between task value and the use of self-regulated learning strategies. The results of hierarchical multiple regression analysis show that self-efficacy and task value are significant predictors of the use of self-regulated learning strategies. There was a statistically significant difference in the use of self-regulated learning strategies between learners who possessed high self-efficacy and those who possessed low self-efficacy. In addition, learners who had high task value showed statistically significant higher average self-regulated learning scores than those who had low task value. Implications and future research directions are discussed based on the findings.
  • Doctoral Students’ Learning Success in Online-Based Leadership Programs: Intersection With Technological and Relational Factors

    Lee, HyunKyung; Chang, Heewon; Bryan, Lynette (Athabasca University Press, 2020-01-01)
    This study examines how technological and relational factors independently and interactively predict the perceived learning success of doctoral students enrolled in online-based leadership programs offered in the United States. The 73-item Online Learning Success Scale (OLSS) was constructed, based on existing instruments, and administered online to collect self-reported data on three primary variables: student learning success (SLS), relational factors (RF), and technological factors (TF). The SLS variable focuses on the gain of knowledge and skills, persistence, and self-efficacy; the RF on the student-student relationship, the student-faculty relationship, and the student-non-teaching staff relationship; and the TF on the ease of use, flexibility, and usefulness. In total, 210 student responses from 26 online-based leadership doctoral programs in the United States were used in the final analysis. The results demonstrate that RF and TF separately and together predict SLS. A multiple regression analysis indicates that, while all dimensions of TF and RF are significant predictors of SLS, the strongest predictor of SLS is the student-faculty relationship. This study suggests that building relationships with faculty and peers is critical to leadership doctoral students’ learning success, even in online-based programs that offer effective technological support.
  • Constructing a Design Framework and Pedagogical Approach for Adaptive Learning in Higher Education: A Practitioner's Perspective

    Cavanagh, Thomas; Chen, Baiyun; Lahcen, Rachid Ait Maalem; Paradiso, James (Athabasca University Press, 2020-01-01)
    While adaptive learning is emerging as a promising technology to promote access and quality at a large scale in higher education (Becker et al., 2018), the implementation of adaptive learning in teaching and learning is still sporadic, and it is unclear how to best design and teach an adaptive learning course in a higher education context. As early adopters, a team of instructors, instructional designers, and administrators at the University of Central Florida (UCF) identified five key design features as an adaptive learning design framework to guide the unique course design process. These five features involve deliberate design and development efforts that could bring significant benefits to student learning. The purpose of this field note is to present a design framework and best practices for teaching from both a systems and a pedagogical approach in the context of implementation at UCF. We also share the rationale and classification framework UCF has adopted to ensure the term “adaptive learning” is universally understood across campus. This paper offers insights into the design, delivery, and implications of utilizing adaptive learning systems in higher education courses at a public research university and attempts to capture the intimacy of lessons learned and best practices gathered since the project’s inception in 2014.

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