Learning or lurking? Tracking the “invisible” online student
While much has been written regarding the learning behaviors of students participating in online courses, little research has been conducted to ascertain whether or not students are still engaged and actually learning when not actively involved in online discourse with other students and faculty. This case study of inactive students enrolled in an online graduate course attempts to identify how much time is spent in course-related activity, what the reasons are for student's “invisibility,” and if their preferred learning styles influence online behavior. The data show that these students do, in fact, spend a significant amount of time in learning-related tasks, including logging on, even when not visibly participating, and they feel they are still learning and benefiting from this low-profile approach to their online studies. However, preliminary analyses of course grades indicate that the mean course grade is better for high-visibility learners than for no-visibility learners. Findings suggest that further research in the area of the so-called invisible learner is a critical area of investigation to better understand the dynamics of asynchronous learning and teaching.