Students' frustrations with a Web-based distance education course

Noriko Hara, Rob Kling


Many advocates of computer-mediated distance education emphasize its positive aspects and understate the kind of work that it requires for students and faculty. This article presents a qualitative case study of a Web-based distance education course at a major U.S. university. The case data reveal a taboo topic: students' persistent frustrations in Web-based distance education. First, this paper will analyze why these negative phenomena are not found in the literature. Second, this article will discuss whether students' frustrations inhibit their educational opportunities. In this study, students' frustrations were found in three interrelated sources: lack of prompt feedback, ambiguous instructions on the Web, and technical problems. It is concluded that these frustrations inhibited educational opportunities. This case study illustrates some student perspectives and calls attention to some fundamental issues that could make distance education a more satisfying learning experience.

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