Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Understanding the “Human Factor” in Completion of Online Training and Its Implications to Distance Education from a Global Perspective.

Jeff Hoyer, Darlene McDaniel Southard.

Although technology has enabled online learning to increasingly become an option world-wide, the approach is not a perfect process due in part to difficulties centered mainly around the “human factor.” Obstacles to completion of distance education have been reported in organizations all over the world, with the obstacles generally categorized as environment, design, technology, and learner motivation. As identified, it is noted that most difficulty centers around the human element. The authors use triangulation, comparing results from a quantitative survey of 137 participants using online training provided by the United States Department of Energy (DOE) Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and two case studies involving humanities courses taught internationally, to assess the human factors involved in the successful completion of online training. Although some nonhuman obstacles are identified in the study, the emphasis of this paper is a discussion of the human factors and what they mean to the growth and future trends in global distance education. The quantitative portion of the study involved use of a one-shot questionnaire survey. Multivariate Analyses of Variances (MANOVAs) were used to look for demographic differences in identified factors. ANOVAs were used to determine how groups differed within each significant factor. The case studies used in-depth interviews of persons not completing online education to determine factors negatively affecting completion.


Jeff Hoyer  (United States)
Assistant Professor in Public Relations
Faculty of Communications
University of Tennessee at Martin

Assistant professor or Communications, UT Martin. Over 25 years experience in pubic relations, editing, writing with several firms including Lockheed Martin and Bechtel. Currently employed (last five years) as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communications at the University of Tennessee at Martin. USA. Ph.D. in area of Health Communications, MS in Communications, MS in Biology, BA in Biology, Psychology, and Bible.

Darlene McDaniel Southard  (United States)

Nuclear Fuel Services

  • Global Distance Education
  • Online Learning
  • Human Factors

(30 min. Conference Paper, English)