Exploring the Fully Online Learning Community Model: Comparing Digital Technology Competence and Observed Performance on PBL Tasks

Roland van Oostveen, Wendy Barber, Elizabeth Childs, Maurice Digiuseppe, Kristen Colquhoun

The Fully Online Learning Community (FOLC) model (Childs, vanOostveen, Flynn & Clarkson, 2015) is intended to operate within co-created Digital Space to (a) reduce transactional distance (Moore, 1993), and (b) incorporate newcomers into the established learning community (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Furthermore, to determine readiness to work in the Digital Space, an operationalized version of the General Technology Competency and Use (GTCU) framework (Desjardins, Lacasse & Belair, 2001) was used for a convenience sample of Ontario Tech University students to complete randomly distributed Assessment and Performance Assignment Modules (APAMs), organized according to the four orders of competency in the GTCU framework. The assessment portion of the GTCU-based module captures a participant’s self-reported Frequency and Confidence Rating (FCR), while the performance portion of the APAMs has been constructed with a “given” or “own” orientation (Watts, 1991). The FCR questions are matched to both types of Performance Assignment Tasks (PAT), which participants were asked to complete as a demonstration of their self-assigned FCR. Initial findings generally confirm the results of an earlier study (Blayone, 2017), which found positive correlations between self-reported scores and overall performance quality at the high and low ends of the spectrum. We suspect that while the GTCU aids in the identification of a threshold-based approach to identifying readiness, the instrument is insufficiently granular to identify a precise readiness point. This led the team to develop a more sophisticated version of the GTCU, the current Digital Competency Profiler (DCP), and its companion, the Fully Online Learning Community Survey (FOLCS).