The Sloan Consortium recently honored Starr Roxanne Hiltz, PhD, distinguished professor of information systems at New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) for achievement in online teaching and learning. Hiltz is a recognized authority on computer-mediated communication and learning networks. The consortium is an association of more than 450 institutions and higher education groups engaged in on-line learning.
Hiltz received the honor during the consortium’s annual conference on asynchronous learning networks. Asynchronous learning allows students to access course material online while communicating with the instructor, and fellow students, through threaded discussion boards and text chats.
The award recognized Hiltz for creatively using the asynchronous learning approach to online learning, including the use of quality course materials and effective instructional strategies.
Hiltz directs the WebCenter for Learning Networks Effectiveness Research (www.ALNResearch.org) with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and was instrumental in developing NJIT’s large selection of online courses and degree programs. Recently, she co-edited with Ricki Goldman, PhD, professor of Information Systems at NJIT, Learning Together Online: Research on Asynchronous Learning Networks, (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., 2005). The text highlights research on the effectiveness of electronic learning.
Hiltz recently was the keynote speaker at the International Conference on Web Based Communities, in Portugal, where she presented findings about building learning communities in online courses. Her findings were based on years of research following the online degree programs in information systems and computer science at NJIT.
“Online courses are generally more effective than, or at least as effective as, in-classroom courses, if they incorporate what I call the three C’s-- constructivism, collaboration, and community,” said Hiltz.
Constructivism means that students, through online discussion and activities, actively build and share concepts and skills, rather than passively listening to or reading a lecture.
Collaboration refers to the practice of having groups of students within an online course work together on projects which they then present back to the class, such as computer programs, case study analyses, or Web page designs.
Community means that social presence and a sense of personally knowing the other students and the instructor emerges through the daily online discussions and activities.
Hiltz believes that students who attend on-line rather than traditional classes also graduate faster.
Hiltz received her bachelor’s degree in sociology from Vassar College, and her master’s degree and doctorate both from Columbia University in sociology. She has taught at NJIT since 1985.