17Sins of Omission: The Search for Missing Signs by Abandoned e-Learners

Ruth Gannon-Cook

17.1 Introduction

Some educators warn that technology may be affecting societal trends in ways we have yet to discover, overlooking important factors that may have, in the past and in the future, long-range implications for learning (Popkewitz 1996, 1997, 2008, 25). While there has been research on factors such as “what works best” in new technologies and software, and some effective online practice techniques, seldom is there a question about what other factors could influence online learning: what might be “missing,” or where there could be gaps in e-Learning. As e-Learning continues to proliferate, it is going to become necessary to dig even deeper into what affects it, what can help students learn more effectively, and how it can be made more successful, particularly with respect to student retention.

This research will posit that semiotics, the study of signs, symbols, text, and language, can be strategically utilized to provide internal links to online students’ mental modeling systems, as well as to provide instructional design links. Moreover, since semiotic links could provide important connections for students needing cultural relevance to connect their learning to online courses, the use of semiotic tools could also enlist these students and engage them more effectively. Ultimately, if students can be kept engaged and enlisted in online courses there is a much greater likelihood they ...

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