Establishing the research questions: Assumptions/Objectives/Hypothesis of the Study

This research takes a case study approach (Yin, 2009) using a theoretical perspective of social action, a theory according to Max Weber,(2009, p. 118) “is action that takes others into account.”  Employing descriptive case study design and methods, this strategy explores instances of GeoTol Online Training during which learning groups (unit of analysis) are exposed to varying degrees of social process and describes the resulting group learning outcomes.  Although the case will observe changes in student behavior, attitudes, and group learning outcomes, what is more important is how the information will be used by the students, trainers, managers and facilitators to improve their online training effectiveness that leads to business results.  This approach endeavors to clarify the meaning of the term social stuff, giving targeted readers a common language about the value of social process employed in online training with workforce learners.

Assumption- Social stuff is critical in the learning process regardless of the delivery medium.  Face-to-face trainings without social processes to support learning do not work.  Hypothesis- Online training courses that do not employ social processes and sound instructional design principles will not work as well.  Merely putting content on line will not improve the outcomes.

Given this assumption and hypothesis, how would a workforce-learning community – people brought together with a purpose, consisting of teachers, facilitators, managers, and students, recognize and describe “Social Stuff” and instructional design principles?  Why is it important for workforce-learning communities to understand the concept of social stuff?  How do the roles that teachers, facilitators, managers, and students engage in contribute to presence in online training?  How do roles change as technology evolves? How do the “presence” roles change in an adult workforce learning environment where the learner’s prior experience can exert great influence on learning? How will workforce trainers adapt social stuff as they attempt to convert onsite face-to-face training to eLearning methods? How will social stuff help learners reach personal and shared-team learning objectives in an effort to perform their jobs in ways that improve the business results of their organization? How will computer-moderated communications in workforce training change the meaning of social presence?


Subject Selection and Description

This case strategy employs descriptive studies to explore instances of GeoTol online training during which learning groups were exposed to varying degrees of “social stuff,” and each instance resulted in different group learning outcomes.  Generation 1– DigitalChalk, Generation 2– Google Docs, and the next Generation–  GeoTol-LMS using Moodle.


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