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Guide to Converting from Instructor-Led Training to Hybrid Models

June 23, 2012 Leave a comment

I recently drafted this guide in response to the following training scenario:

A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.”

My guide addresses:

  • pre-planning strategies that should be considered before making this shift
  • enhancement of legacy programs and materials to accommodate new technologies
  • the changing role of trainers in hybrid environments, and
  • ways to foster community among learners/trainees online.

Read the complete application assignment. (WK7APPLDurantS) PDF.

Categories: Walden 6135

The Impact of Open Source … and Open Course

June 5, 2012 Leave a comment

Open Course Web (OCWs) sites offer free courses from top institutions to students worldwide.

These courses may hold particular appeal to distance learners. “One pervasive characteristic of the distance learner is an increased commitment to learning.” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvaeck. P. 219. 2012) We are self-starters, highly motivated, live in a variety of areas, and sometimes have limited statewide resources. I grew up in Michigan. While we have a plethora fine colleges and universities, I’d love the opportunity to learn from a science professor from MIT or Yale.

While OCWs may sound promising at the onset, there are design issues to consider – as well as faculty attitudes.

Let’s review the use and implications of OCW sites in distance education. I’ll provide a specific analysis of an Open Yale Course (OYC) as it relates to traditional recommendations for designing distance learning.

I chose to review Yale’s GG140: The Atmosphere, the Ocean, and Environmental Change, http://oyc.yale.edu/geology-and-geophysics/gg-140.

Open course offerings, as I stated earlier, allow anyone to take quality courses entirely free. “The incentive for taking these courses is not college credit, but rather to simply acquire knowledge or engage in a unique learning experience.” (Laureate Education. n.d.) For example OYC “provides lectures and other materials from selected Yale College courses to the public free of charge via the Internet.” Note: “Registration is not required. No course credit, degree, or certificate is available.” (Yale, n.d.)

We’ve studied four approaches for the instructional design of online asynchronous courses. I believe most open courses, including Yale’s, follow the model of “learner-directed design.” OYC students can “decide the order for studying topics, and may move throughout the modules in any order.” (SSAZ. P171. 2012) Note: additional instructional design approaches include linear, branched, and hyper-content applications.

The course design of GG140 appeared to address many factors related to detailed pre-planning and design for distance learning environments. For example, I compared it to Bates’ 12 “golden rules” using technology in education. (SSAZ. 2012) However, interaction and discussion did not seem to be the focus of the course. Lectures were dominant. Our text repeatedly stressed the value of community and conversation among students and instructors.

Students were encouraged to communicate via social media including FaceBook and Twitter. However, I wonder how many learners would actively interact if participation were not required for credit?

OYCs “are designed for a wide range of people around the world, among them self-directed and life-long learners, educators, and high school and college students.” (Yale, n.d.) This seems like a broad range of learners encompassing factors of culture, geography, age, and cognitive ability. A net cast this wide seems to negate the value of instructional designers’ and professors’ requirements to understand learner characteristics. High schoolers, to life-long learners, to educators…” Really? I think the audience needs to be more focused for distance learning to be effective. In my opinion, a learner-base this broad makes it nearly impossible for an instructor to assess learner readiness prior to the course. How do these professors “in the cloud” know their learners’ experiences, attitudes, or cognitive abilities?

Let’s also talk a bit about accountability. OCWs may exist outside the realm of an LMS. For example the OYC does not require learner registration. An organization cannot follow the application or transfer of acquired knowledge without the tracking functionality of a Course or Learning Management System. This deficiency impedes transfer — one of the key education contexts we studied. Transfer “considers opportunities for transferring the knowledge and skills to new situations.” (Morrison, Ross, Kalman, Kemp. P. 66. 2011) The transfer context follows the orientation and instructional contexts.

Carey Nelson of the American Association of University professors said open courses “can be terrific for delivering educational materials to retirement homes, where folks are unlikely to assume any social responsibilities for the ‘knowledge’ they have acquired.” (Basu. P. 2. 2012) Nelson went on to say open courses were “not education” and “not even a reliable means for credentialing people.” (Basu. P. 3. 2012)

John Orlando, PhD did not seem concerned with accountability when he wrote The “Open Education movement is challenging the dominant educational paradigm by re-engaging students with the world outside of the classroom.” He argued the constraints of today’s Learning or Course Management systems put students in boxes akin to closed classrooms. (Orlando. 2011)

Distance education should support the needs of students according to the “rubrics” outlined in our text. I do not see the following “best practices” being applied by OYCs. For example:

  • There are no incentives or rewards tied to the course.
  • There are assessments, but no demonstrative learning outcomes.
  • Yale does not provide student support services.
  • Accreditation is not available for these courses. (SSAZ. P. 174. 2012)

Concluding,

I’ve heard very little about the response of our own Faculty communities to the OCW models. A colleague forwarded an article that gives a bit of insight to faculty thought. Three themes were expounded upon.

  1. Online Open courses could hamper the “democratization” of education by creating a system where only wealthy students benefit from the “social rite” of attending to a brick and mortar campus to interact with real professors. The rest of the world would take online courses.
  2. Online open courses could threaten the livelihoods of higher education faculty if universities view this as a growing industry that would overshadow “mom-and-pop” stores, or community colleges as equated in this reference.
  3. Online open courses would create “super professors” at elite universities that replace lectures by university faculty and harm faculty morale and engagement.

Works cited:

Basu, K. (2012) Faculty Groups Consider How to Respond to MOOCs. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/05/23/faculty-groups-consider-how-respond-moocs.

Morrison, R., Ross, M., Kalman, K., Kemp, E. (2011), Designing Effective Instruction, (6 th ed.) Hoboken, NJ. John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Orlando. J. (2011). Tapping into the Power of Open Education to Improve Teaching and Learning. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-with-technology-articles/tapping-into-the-power-of-open-education-to-improve-teaching-and-learning/.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson

Open Yale Courses (n.d.). Retrieved June 2, 2012, from http://oyc.yale.edu/.

Open Yale Courses (n.d.). The Atmosphere, the Ocean, and Environmental Change. Retrieved June 2, 2012, from http://oyc.yale.edu/geology-and-geophysics/gg-140.

Categories: Walden 6135

Distance Learning: Week 3 Assignment

May 20, 2012 Leave a comment
Categories: Walden 6135

Distance Learning: Week 3 Assignment

May 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Week 3 Assignment

Application: Blog—Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

Blogs are typically conversational and informative. I will blend both as I delve into asynchronous training solutions for “Example 3.”

I have relatives who work in automobile manufacturing plants in Michigan. I’ve heard first-hand there are no unions, contracts, paramedics, or doctors that can fix negative interactions between man and machine.

That is why I have chosen to focus on “Example 3” of our Distance Learning class.

“Example 3: Asynchronous Training

In an effort to improve its poor safety record, a biodiesel manufacturing plant needs a series of safety training modules. These stand-alone modules must illustrate best practices on how to safely operate the many pieces of heavy machinery on the plant floor. The modules should involve step-by-step processes and the method of delivery needs to be available to all shifts at the plant. As well, the shift supervisors want to be sure the employees are engaged and can demonstrate their learning from the modules.”

Essentially, we are tasked with creating a series of safety training modules for a manufacturing plant that needs help. In addition to the training, we need to focus on asynchronous delivery because we are dealing with shift workers.

I will focus on the benefits of Course Management Systems (CMS) and Podcasting as forms of asynchronous delivery of these critical training materials. Each method would first require training students to use the medium.

I believe both CMSs and Podcasts can support the application of “adult learning principles with nontraditional students.” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albreight, Zvacek. P. 136. 2012) This includes that notion that if our students are working adults, “the course design should incorporate the basic principles of adult learning. Adults are more self-directed and have specific reason for taking the course.” (SSAZ. P. 136. 2012).

In our case, it appears safety is the issue. That would be a big motivator if I was a rank-and-file employee, a manager, or an executive.
Our text indicates an andragogical approach would include activities and assignments focused on the immediate needs of the leaners. They need to know how to safely operate heavy machinery on the plant floor.

A CMS potentially allows

  • instructional designers to craft individual modules for specific behaviors/skills
  • learners to access these modules ad-hoc/as needed or sequencing can be enforced
  • interaction between learner and instructor
  • recording of learner start and completion dates
  • transcripts
  • pre and post assessments
  • grades
  • flexibility of access because of the Internet

While I’m a big fan of CMSs. I am a member of the E-Learning Guild and cannot discount the emerging value of mobile learning to communities outlined in our scenario. I believe individuals in “Example 3” can benefit from portability of their learning experiences.

A Video Podcast allows

  • Instructional designers to craft individual modules for specific behaviors/skills
  • learners to access these modules
  • video demonstration of key concepts
  • access via portable devices including laptop computer, PDA (smart phone), and tablet device

(Sloan, Shea, Lewis. P27. 2010) argue that video podcasts were “generally seen as less useful than audio podcasts. This is primarily because of the need to stop multitasking and, if the charts or graphs are detailed at all, view them on a device with a larger screen than an MP3 player, like a computer.”

I’d counter that by saying a lot has changed in two years including the increase in screen size and resolution of devices.

Concluding, I believe only time will tell, but technology trends coupled with applied instructional design offer great portable potential in the academic, business, and manufacturing education environments.

Works cited:

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson

Sloan, T. Shea, T. and Lewis, D. (2010) “Use of New Technologies in Distance Education: The Case of Operations.” California Journal of Operations Management, 8(1) 21-30.

“The eLearning Guild : Learning Management Systems 2008 : Research Library”, n.d. from: http://www.elearningguild.com/research/archives/index.cfm?id=130&action=viewonly.

Categories: Walden 6135

Week One Assignment

I feel the definition of distance learning is always changing because our definitions of “distance” and “learning” are always changing.

For example, air travel, the telephone, and Internet have breached barriers of distance. Additionally, E-learning has continued to evolve with technology to deliver “learning” and “education.” This has taken us from correspondence courses, to closed-circuit television, to the Internet.

ID professionals have managed to ensure institutionally-based formal education can connect learning groups (teacher, student, resources) regardless of geography and time (Simonson, 2012)

I can relate this to my own experience of older relatives taking courses by mail. In my rural community, it was common for the school district to use its television networks to deliver instruction in subjects such as advanced French and physics.

The caveat is that regardless of the situations outlined above, educators need to be proficient in the technologies required to deliver effective instruction. I know veteran educators who say they know the principals of instructional design, but cannot apply them in distance – specifically online – environments. This supports the notion that “Not only is there a pedagogical difference, but also the inclusion of technology often requires new skill sets, new ways of thinking, new time and resource management skills, new ways of communication …” (Moller, Foshay & Huett. 2008. P. 68)

My personal definition of distance education (DE) has always included a model of “one-to-many.” This can mean one instructor off-site delivering content to many learners or one medium (with multiple instructors) delivering content to many learners. However, I do acknowledge that DE can be one-on-one. This week’s readings have confirmed my personal definitions.

I’d like to think distance learning can move away from societal stigmas and faculty fear to large scale adoption and even collective bargaining for its employees. I work for a labor union. Hence, I believe “course development, control of the learning process, collaboration, and intellectual property rights are not the only adjustment issues for faculty. Faculty also have concerns about training, salary, workload, and promotion and tenure.” Everything in the aforementioned-sentence can be addressed by a collective bargaining agreement.  (Moller, Foshay & Huett. 2008. P. 68)

Finally, I was home schooled for a few grades of secondary school. I’d be interested to see what DE can contribute on K-12 levels to home-schooling parents in the United States.

Works Cited:

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, N., &Zvacek, S. (2102). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearosn.

Chapater 2, “Definitions, History, and Theories of Distance Education” (pp. 32-41)

Moller, L, Foshay, W., & Huett, J (2008). The Evolution of distance education:  Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education). TechTrends, 52(4). 66-70

Categories: Walden 6135

Welcome to My

May 2, 2012 2 comments

I’m studying Distance Education at Walden University via a method of distance education. Does this mean I’m wearing the sweater and knitting it at the same time?

Categories: Walden 6135