Impact of Technology and Multimedia

August 8, 2012 Leave a comment

I’d like to discuss the impact of technology and multimedia on online learning environments, share considerations for instructors regarding the implementation of technology, and address usability and accessibility.

Multimedia and technology have made a huge impact on online learning environments particularly because of their growing acceptance by the general population. According to George Siemens, PhD in his video “The Future of Distance Education,” the surge in exposure to new technologies allowed a broader range of individuals to gain practical experience with technology tools. (Siemens, G. n.d.)

Technology development has grown rapidly and costs have come down. This facilitates environments where all students – regardless of class or income can participate. Walden students, for example, have no cost and low cost ways to record audio and video from their desktops. (Palloff, R. & Pratt, K. n.d.)

In fact, the “social media” rise has made a larger swath of the world’s population more comfortable with the notion of online discourse. (Siemens. n.d.) I’ve taken classes with students from other countries – all of us using the same technology.

Additionally, the potpourri of new applications e.g. course management systems, blogs, Skype, and Flash, etc. have made it easier for online instructors to recreate and/or repurpose face-to-face activities for online environments. They’ve reduced transactional distance between instructors and students.

This plethora of technologies, literally at our fingertips, can enhance the online teaching and learning experience. However, I’d remind educators that if they’ve proven effective in face-to-face environments, they can adapt to their online roles with patience and practice. (Boettcher, J.V. & Conrad, A. 2010)

I’d also suggest instructors proceed methodically and limit tools within their repertoire to those that facilitate specific educational goals. (Boettcher & Conrad. 2010) In fact Palloff and Pratt (n.d.) suggest keeping outcomes and objectives at the forefront. “If it technology serves the outcomes, then we use it.” (Palloff & Pratt. n.d.)

Instructors should practice tools frequently enough to develop “automatic behaviors.” (Boettcher & Conrad. 2010) Additionally, our text suggests instructors become familiar with their institution’s course management system.

Online instructors should also review the Distance Education Teaching and Learning Resources Web site at Portland Community College. This institution built a matrix tool that instructors may find helpful when matching learning theory approaches and strategies with tools to enable them. This matrix walks educators through the “What (tools), Why (theory), and How (pedagogy)” needed to effectively pair tools and their applications. (“Distance Education Faculty and Staff Web Site,” n.d.)

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Conversely, instructors should give students a choice of technologies that support their learning goals. Mandating a technology just because it is available is not the way to go. (Palloff & Pratt. n.d.)

Finally, educators in online environments should consider the non-technology factors that may influence the quality of their teaching experience. This includes

  • Course overview with introductions
  • Learning objectives and outcomes
  • Assessment
  • Materials
  • Learner support and
  • Accessibility

Speaking of the latter-mentioned “accessibility,” I believe this issue along with “usability” should be reviewed and considered within online teaching and learning. These factors impact course effectiveness and learner satisfaction, particularly for disabled students. (Cooper, M., Colwell, C., & Jelfs, A. 2007). The terms accessibility and usability tend to be used interchangeably within some circles, but they are different.

Our course resource defines usability as the extent a system can be used to effectively achieve specific goals. Accessibility refers to the capability of a learning community to reflect the needs of diverse learners. (Cooper, et al., 2007)

Courses that hinder usability will generally hinder accessibility, again especially among disabled students. (Cooper, et al., 2007)

Here’s one example that may help distinguish usability and accessibility:

A course may be perfectly designed to allow students with varying classifications of disability to participate, but if it contains high-bandwidth videos and high-file size resources, it may not suit students in areas e.g. rural ones with dial up connections – regardless of their ability. (Palloff & Pratt. n.d.)

As I move forward with a career instructional design, I’d have to agree with Drs. Palloff and Pratt (n.d.) that Web.2.0 is the way to go. Inclusion of Web 2.0 technologies would enable synchronous and asynchronous collaboration. Additionally, Web 2.0 would allow me to take advantage of “user generated content” (Palloff & Pratt. n.d.)

I’ve mentioned in other discussions and assignments that I’m a member of the eLearning Guild. Hence I am biased toward Palloff and Pratt’s support of taking advantage of “en vogue” technologies e.g. tablet and mobile. For example, a recent article in Campus Technologies said tablets and smart phones saw “explosive growth” in 2012. (Nagel, D. 2012) This market expansion will allow even more students to download applications e.g. vodcasts or podcasts to their mobile devices.

Finally, as I progress, I will remind myself to be patient learning new technologies and their appropriate applications. I will try not to get distracted by “bells and whistles” and focus on technologies that support my teaching and learning goals.

Works cited:

Boettcher, J.V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Cooper, M., Colwell, C., & Jelfs, A. (2007). Embedding accessibility and usability: Considerations for e-learning research and development projects. ALT-J: Research in Learning Technology, 15(3), 231-245.

Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (nd). Enhancing the Online Experience. Laureate Education, Inc. Baltimore, MD

Nagel, D. (2002). Tablets, Smart Phones See Explosive Growth as Apple and Samsung Solidify Their Leads. Campus Technology. Retrieved fromhttp://campustechnology.com/articles/2012/08/03/tablets-smart-phones-see-explosive-growth-as-apple-and-samsung-solidify-their-leads.aspx.

Portland Community College. (nd) Distance Education Faculty and Staff Web site. Retrieved from http://www.distance.pcc.edu/distancehq/lrchq/

Siemens, G. (2010). The Future of Distance Education. Laureate Education, Inc., Baltimore, MD

Categories: Walden 6510

Setting up An Online Learning Experience

August 5, 2012 Leave a comment

I’d like to discuss steps related to starting an online training module or course. This discussion will consider the importance of understanding available technology and the value of establishing learner expectations and additional considerations for instructors.

First it’s critical that an instructor understand the technology options and tools because the right combination makes it possible repurpose learning experiences and activities previously designed for face-to-face environments. (Boettcher, J. & Conrad, R. 2010)

Vodcasts and Podcasts for example can help instructors reproduce lectures and posting these lectures to iTunes makes them portable via mobile devices. Additionally, tools such as Web cameras, video services such as Skype, and conference tools including Adobe Connect allow physically separated learning communities to have synchronous discussions and see facial expressions or hear verbal inflections missed in threaded discussions.

While there are several technologies available for teaching and learning, I’d recommend instructors initially choose up to three – and these should be germane to specific learning goals. (Boettcher & Conrad. 2010)

Finally, it is essential that instructors understand their institution’s course management system  (CMS). At a minimum, the CMS should facilitate file uploads, document sharing and revision, discussion forums, grade books, and groups. (Boettcher & Conrad. 2010)

Tangentially, the CMS we use at my organization allows students to access their transcripts. It also supports Adobe Connect.

The second aspect an instructor should understand is students need clear guidelines of what’s expected of them. Our resource indicates students tend to be more satisfied with a course when they know exactly what is required. This includes setting and sharing policies related to feedback and participation. (Boettcher & Conrad. 2010) Clarity of expectations ties into Malcolm Knolwes’ andragogy theory. Knowles believed adult learners were motivated and self-directed. These are fine qualities to possess and will better serve students when they are paired with a clear understanding of course goals and desired outcomes. (Conrad, R. & Donaldson, J. 2011)

A third set of considerations includes introductions of instructors and students. Instructors are encouraged to talk about the human aspects of their life. (Paloff & Pratt. n.d.) Additionally, icebreakers are suggested to help build social presence of the community. Instructors should be aware of students’ time zones. This will be helpful when forming groups.

Concluding, I’ve learned that I must be present and active within the online community to support effective online instruction. Regular feedback to students is a part of this. When it comes to students, I’ve learned that each of them will bring their own personal experiences, skills, and ideas to the experience.

Works cited:

Boettcher, J.V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The Online Teaching Survial Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J.A. (2011). Engaging the Online Learner: Activities and Resources for Creative Instruction (Updated ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass

Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (nd). Launching the Online Learning Experience. Laureate Inc.

Categories: Walden 6510

Online Learning Communities

July 10, 2012 1 comment

A weak online learning community can lead to high student attrition rates and low levels of learner satisfaction (R. Paloff & K Pratt. n.d. Laureate Education, Inc.) Hence, I’d like to focus on properties of successful online learning communities. I believe they must be “two-way” streets. Students must reach out to instructors and peers when necessary and instructors should stay in touch with students and involved in the dialogue. I’d like to discuss issues that make an online learning community satisfying for students, touch on the essential elements of building and sustaining online communities, and finally, tie a strong community to effective online instruction.

First let’s define an online community. Drs. Paloff and Pratt, in their video “Online Learning Communities,” said successful communities have three main elements:

  1. People
  2. Purpose
  3. Process

People are necessary to create a social presence or a sense of familiarity. The purpose of online communities is often tied to the transfer, application, and assessment of knowledge. Process refers to the way a course is delivered.

Strong online communities generally operate around clear guidelines that define, for example, the frequency of user participation and tone. They also thrive on creative, supportive instructor facilitation, and learner engagement.

Learner-to-learner engagement was essential to student satisfaction. In fact, Dr. Paloff related learner engagement and empowerment to social constructivism. Successful online communities transfer the focus from instructor to the student – however, that does not mean the instructor’s role is not critical. For example, I’ve heard educators in online environments referred to as “guides on the side.” Dr. Lawrence Ragan, in his article “10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching…” negates that phrase. He said the best thing an instructor can do is “show up and teach.” Drs. Paloff and Pratt supported Dr. Ragan’s notion and were adamant that instructors must be present to set the tone of the class. Tone setting can be done by actively and regularly contributing to discussions and asking questions that help students build upon their learning. However, Drs. Paloff and Pratt warn against instructors being intrusive with extensive postings – and individual responses. This forces an environment of Facilitator-to-Learner and stifles the Learner-to-Learner aspect of online classrooms.

Successful online communities are respectful, safe, and dynamic. This respect should be modeled by the instructor. Drs. Paloff and Pratt warned instructors in “Best Practices for Online Facilitation” against being disrespectful or pejorative or “making [students] feel like they’re stupid.”

Rather than calling the student “wrong” or “stupid” Drs. Paloff and Pratt said they respond to off-topic posts with “C” words. For example:

  • Confused e.g. “I’m confused about what you mean. Can you elaborate?”
  • Concerned e.g. “I’m concerned that you feel this way. Can you tell me why?”
  • Clarification e.g. I need some clarification. Can you help me understand where you are going?

Of course they also said tone-setting is an art that takes practice to perfect.

Finally, ideal communities also yield what Paloff calls “scholar-learners” who take responsibility for their knowledge acquisition (Paloff. n.d. Laureate Education, Inc.)

Works cited:

Paloff, R. & Pratt, K. (nd). Best Practices for Online Facilitation. Laureate Education, Inc. Baltimore, MD.

Paloff, R. & Pratt, K. (nd). Online Learning Communities. Laureate Education, Inc. Baltimore, MD.

Ragan, L. (nd). “10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education.” Faculty Focus. Referenced from http://www.facultyfocus.com/free-reports/principles-of-effective-online-teaching-best-practices-in-distance-education/

Categories: Walden 6510

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