In 2016, we received a grant from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) to help support our research.
We are at a pivotal moment globally in the evolution of educational technologies where increased financial pressures on educational institutions makes potential savings offered by online courses particularly attractive. We therefore need to carefully identify the most promising opportunities for maximizing learning in online learning environments rather than allowing online course design to be guided by financial and technological imperatives. We have both the research tools and the research program to carry out that task.
The project's core technology is a web-based collaborative workspace offering specialized knowledge-building features and social networking tools to support learners in building learning communities promoting both social trust and ideas.
Research using PeppeR has generated promising results within three key online learning areas:
- The importance of interaction (peer to peer; student to instructor) to learning outcomes.
- Students' sense of social presence and cultural identity online, especially in an increasingly multicultural environment which requires equitable pedagogical approaches to help everyone cultivate the social capital for online success.
- Using online performance measures such as reading, revisiting, and revising and social media tools that support social presence and community development to examine relationships between such measures and learning outcomes.