Philip Ice, Reagan Curtis, Perry Phillips, John Wells


This paper reports the findings of a case study in which audio feedback replaced text-based feedback in asynchronous courses. Previous research has demonstrated that participants in online courses can build effective learning communities through text-based communication alone. Similarly, it has been demonstrated that instructors for online courses can adequately project immediacy behaviors using text-based communication. However, we believed that the inclusion of an auditory element might strengthen both the sense of community and the instructor’s ability to affect more personalized communication with students. Over the course of one semester, students in this study received a mixture of asynchronous audio and text-based feedback. Our findings revealed extremely high student satisfaction with embedded asynchronous audio feedback as compared to asynchronous text only feedback. Four themes, which accounted for this preference, were culled out in an iterative, inductive analysis of interview data: 1. Audio feedback was perceived to be more effective than text-based feedback for conveying nuance; 2. Audio feedback was associated with feelings of increased involvement and enhanced learning community interactions; 3. Audio feedback was associated with increased retention of content; and 4. Audio feedback was associated with the perception that the instructor cared more about the student. Document analysis revealed that students were three times more likely to apply content for which audio commenting was
provided in class projects than was the case for content for which text-based commenting was provided. Audio commenting was also found to significantly increase the level at which students applied such content. Implications of this case study and directions for future research are addressed in the discussion and conclusions section of this paper.


Online Learning,Personalized Communication,Student Satisfaction,Embedded Asynchronous Audio Feedback,Nuance,Retention of Content,Instructor Caring

Full Text:



Berge, Z. L. New Roles for Learners and Teachers in Online Education, 2001.

Liu, X., C. J. Bonk, R. J. Magiuka, S. Lee, and B. Su. Exploring four dimensions of online instructor roles: A program level case study. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 9(4): 29–48, 2005.

Bennett, S. and L. Lockyer. Becoming an online teacher: Adapting to a changed environment for teaching and learning in higher education. Educational Media International 41(3): 231–244, 2004.

Goodyear, P., G. Salmon, J. M. Spector, C. Steeples, and S. Tickner. Competences for online teaching: A special report. Educational Technology Research & Development 49(1): 65–72, 2001.

Salmon, G. E-moderating: The Key to Teaching and Learning Online. London: Taylor & Francis, 2000.

Berge, Z. L. Facilitating Computer Conferencing: Recommendations from the Field. Educational Technology 15(1): 22–30, 1995.

Bonk, C. J., J. R. Kirkley, N. Hara, and N. Dennen. Finding the Instructor in Post-secondary Online Learning: Pedagogical, Social, Managerial, and Technological Locations. In J. Stephenson (Ed.), Teaching and Learning Online: Pedagogies for New Technologies, 76–97. London: Kogan Page, 2001.

Arbaugh, B. Is there an optimal design for online MBA courses? Academy of Management Learning & Education 4(2): 135–149, 2005.

Dreyfus, H. On the Internet: Thinking in Action. London: Routledge, 2001.

Ward, M. and D. Newlands. Use of the Web in undergraduate teaching. Computers and Education 31(2): 171–184, 1998.

Bullen, M. Participation and critical thinking in online university distance education. Journal of Distance Education 13(2): 1–32, 1998.

Collis, B. Tele-Learning in a Digital World: The Future of Distance Learning. London: International Thomson Computer Press, 1996.

Vygotsky, L. Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1978.

Short, J., E. Williams and B. Christie. The Social Psychology of Telecommunications. London: John Wiley and Sons, 1976.

Rourke, L., T. Anderson, D. R. Garrison, and W. Archer. Assessing social presence in asynchronous text-based computer conferencing. Journal of Distance Education 14(2): 50, 2001.

Swan, K. Building communities in online course: The importance of interaction. Education, Communication and Information 2(1): 34–49, 2002.

Lombard, M. and T. Ditton. At the heart of it all: The concept of presence. Journal of Computer Mediated Communication 3(2): 1997.

Laffey, J., G. Lin and Y. Lin. Assessing social ability in online learning environments. Journal of Interactive Learning Research 17(2): 163–177, 2006.

Doursih, P. Where the Action Is: The Foundations of Embodied Interaction. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2001.

Gunawardena, C. and F. Zittle. Social presence as a predictor of satisfaction within a computer-mediated conferencing environment. The American Journal of Distance Education 11(3): 8–26, 1997.

Rovai, A. A preliminary look at the structural differences of higher education classroom communities in traditional and ALN courses. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 6(1): 41–56, 2002.

Richardson, J. and K. Swan. Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students’ perceived learning and satisfaction. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks 6(1): 68–88, 2002.

Arbaugh, J. How instructor immediacy behaviors affect student satisfaction and learning in web-based courses. Business Communication Quarterly 64(4): 42–54, 2001.

Gorham, J. The relationship between verbal teacher immediacy behaviors and student learning. Communication Education 37(1): 40–53, 1988.

Rice, R. Media appropriateness: Using social presence theory to compare traditional and new organizational media. Human Communication Research 19(4): 451–484, 1993.

Tang, J. and E. Isaacs. Why do users like video? Studies of multimedia-supported collaboration. Computer Supported Cooperative Work: An International Journal 1(3): 163–196, 1993.

Liaw, S. and H. Haung. Enhancing interactivity in Web-based instruction: A review of the literature. Educational Technology 39(1): 41–51, 2000.

Watt, J., J. Walther and K. Nowak. Asynchronous videoconferencing: A hybrid communication prototype. Proceedings of the 35th Hawaii International Conference on System Science, 2002.

Walther, J. and J. Burgoon. Relational communication in computer-mediated interaction. Human Communication Research 19(1): 50–88, 1992.

Jelfs, A. and D. Whitelock. The notion of presence in virtual learning environments: What makes the environment “real.” British Journal of Educational Technology 31(2): 145–152, 2000.

Olson, G. Beyond evaluation: The recorded response to essays. Teaching English in the Two-Year College 8(2): 121–123, 1982.

Mellen, C. and J. Sommers. Audio-taped responses and the two-year-campus writing classroom: The two-sided desk, the guy with the ax, and the chirping birds. Teaching English in the Two-Year College 31(1): 25–39, 2003.

Kim, E. The effects of digital audio on social presence, motivation and perceived learning in asynchronous learning networks. Dissertation, 2005.

Reeves, B. and C. Nass. The Media Equation. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Bargeron, D., J. Grudin, A. Gupta, E. Sanocki, F. Li and S. Leetiernan. Asynchronous collaboration around multimedia applied to on-demand education. Journal of Management Information Systems 18(4): 117–145, 2002.

Flahery, L. and K. Pearce. Internet and face to face communication: Not functional alternatives. Communication Quarterly 46(3): 250–268, 1998.

Noble, D. Digital diploma mills: The automation of higher education. First Monday 3(1): 1998.

Creswell, J. W, V. L. Plano Clark, M. L. Gutmann and W. E. Hanson. Advanced mixed methods research designs. In A. Tashakkori and C. Teddlie (Eds.), Handbook of Mixed Methods in Social and Behavioral Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2002.

Morse, J. M. Approaches to qualitative-quantitative methodological triangulation. Nursing Research 40: 120–123, 1991.

Morgan, D. L. Paradigms lost and pragmatism regained: Methodological implications of combining qualitative and quantitative methods. Journal of Mixed Methods Research 1(1): 48–76, 2007.

Denzin, N. K. and Y. S. Lincoln (Eds.). Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2003.

Marshall, C. and G. B. Rossman. Designing Qualitative Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 1989.

Searle, C. Quality in qualitative research. In Y. S. Lincoln and N.K. Denzin (Eds.), Turning Points in Qualitative Research: Tying Knots in a Handkerchief. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2003.

Spencer, D. Student survey. 2001.

Thompson, M. Student post-course questionnaire. 1999.

Gibson, C. and T. Gibson. Lessons learned from 100+ years of distance learning. Adults Learning 7(1): 15, 1995.

Berg, B. L. Qualitative Research Methods for the Social Sciences. Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc., 2004.

Patton, M. Q. Qualitative Evaluation and Research Methods. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 1990.

Strauss, A. L. Qualitative Analysis for Social Scientists. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

Tesch, R. Qualitative Research: Analysis Types and Software Tools. New York: Falmer, 1990.

Woolfolk, C. Educational Psychology, 10th Edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2006.

Slavin, R. Educational Psychology: Theory and Practice, 7th Edition. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 2002.

Ryan, G. W. and H. R. Bernard. Data management and analysis methods. In: N. K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.), Collecting and Interpreting Qualitative Materials, 2nd Edition. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc., 2003.


Copyright (c) 2019 Philip Ice, Reagan Curtis, Perry Phillips, John Wells