My first reading assignment for Weeks 1-2 is a published article that focuses on the two key areas to see if there is a relationship between a student's learning (specifically the perceived success by the student) and both/either the technological offering from the institution and/or the relationships formed by the student.
As I'm not looking to write an abstract here, I'll just cover my observations/opinions on the research points and results.
When looking at the technological aspect, I think it is fair to look at flexibility, usefulness, and ease of use as factors in student success. It seems obvious that if courses are not available to fit around a busy, working student's schedule that there is little hope of completing a course, no less an entire doctoral degree program. The same can be said of the difficulty in the tools provided to students. If they can't figure out how to retrieve assignments, perform collaboratively, or submit the results, they will fail. As for usefulness (the technology used perceived useful/valuable), I think it is more individualistic in the effect. Some can simply use the tool given and give little concern for whether it was the right tool. Others get tripped up seeing it as a practice in shoving square pegs through round holes and possibly become overstressed.
Relationships during learning are in my personal experience a much higher driving force than the latter two technological factors. I've been on both the student and the instructor sides. As a student, I know that I had a great impact on helping other students understand the material being taught as well as how to overcome some of the technological hurdles in monitoring and submitting work. I too benefitted during several courses from the differing viewpoints offered by my fellow students. This was especially true during team contract writing. The student-faculty relationship is a no-brainer for me. There is little doubt in my mind that if I didn't have certain instructors during my academic journey, I would never have bothered to reach my Masters, no less attempt for a Doctorate. And lastly, interaction with non-teaching staff has not had an impact on my journey. Perhaps I did not experience significant enough issues at MGA, but I can't imagine a student would allow issues with registration, bursar, or another department to derail their goal.
Okay, so the paper's conclusion matched my expectations fairly closely. It did place more emphasis on the relationships to success than I did. Perhaps my take-away will be to attempt more frequent contact with the other students and instructors than I normally would? As a busy person, communication takes time. But perhaps the return on that time will be worth more than I expected.
Lee, H. K., Chang, H., & Bryan, L. (2020). Doctoral Students’ Learning Success in Online-Based Leadership Programs: Intersection With Technological and Relational Factors. The International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, 21(1), 61–81. https://doi.org/10.19173/irrodl.v20i5.4462