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E-learning commodity or community: Disciplinary differences between online courses

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Internet and Higher Education Volume 11, Number 3, ISSN 1096-7516 Publisher: Elsevier Ltd


Differences in curriculum and teaching styles across disciplines in higher education courses are also evident in online courses. This study used two widely available sources of data, CMS tool usage logs and course evaluations, to analyze differences between online courses in disciplinary quadrants (hard-pure, hard-applied, soft-pure, soft-applied) at a large metropolitan university, over five years (2002 and 2007). For 2007, results revealed significant differences in tool usage between disciplines, particularly for assessment tools. Hard-pure courses used Tests and Pool tools more often than did soft-pure courses. The Document tool was used most extensively in applied courses. Data from course evaluations, for spring 2007 online courses, suggested that applied disciplines had a shorter learner–instructor transactional distance than did pure disciplines. Results suggest that over five years, e-learning in pure disciplines has become more commoditized, while e-learning in applied disciplines has become more diversified and more oriented to community practice.


Smith, G.G., Heindel, A.J. & Torres-Ayala, A.T. (2008). E-learning commodity or community: Disciplinary differences between online courses. Internet and Higher Education, 11(3), 152-159. Elsevier Ltd. Retrieved June 29, 2022 from .

This record was imported from Internet and Higher Education on January 29, 2019. Internet and Higher Education is a publication of Elsevier.

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