Date of Award

Spring 2005

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Information Systems - (Ph.D.)

Department

Information Systems

First Advisor

Starr Roxanne Hiltz

Second Advisor

Julian M. Scher

Third Advisor

David Mendonca

Fourth Advisor

Katia Passerini

Fifth Advisor

Marilyn M. Tremaine

Sixth Advisor

Lisa Neal

Abstract

This study explores the possibilities of applying digital audio to the ALN environment, so that students can speak and listen rather than type and read. Two sets of 1x2 field experiments (text vs. digital audio) were conducted with two formats of digital audio -recorded voice messages and narrated Microsoft PowerPoint presentation - used in several NJIT courses conducted via ALN. The perceptions of communication media were measured from two different user perspectives: active use when the subjects created their assignments using prescribed communication media (audio or text) and passive use when the subjects viewed/listened to other students' work.

The perceptions of digital audio were positive in general among the subjects who used digital audio. However, the evaluation of digital audio was negative compared to text: digital audio decreased motivation in both active and passive use though it increased social presence a little in passive use. It was also found that motivation was a stronger indicator of perceived learning and satisfaction than social presence. In particular, extrinsic motivation measured by perceived usefulness was the strongest indicator of perceived learning and satisfaction. Between the two digital audio formats, the narrated Microsoft PowerPoint presentation was more favored than recorded voice messages.

These results imply that the use of digital audio in ALN classrooms needs to be conservative. Digital audio could be used as a supplementary communication medium together with text. However, it should not be the major communication medium of choice, especially compared with text. In fact, the content coding results showed that the evaluation of digital audio was based on comparison with text, i.e. the benefits of text which cannot be provided by digital audio were perceived as the problems with digital audio.

However, the results of this study should be interpreted in the context of the study. Above all, this study examined the effects of digital audio based on one-time use results, and a longitudinal study may produce different results. Also, the formats of digital audio - voice recording and narrated PPT presentation - adopted by this study were rather primitive, so that different formats of digital audio may bring about different perceptions about digital audio.

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