Archive for October, 2013

It’s important to be aware that most face-to-face courses are not compatible with online learning. Simply converting handouts and Powerpoint to a web-based application is ineffective and simply boring. The training should be interactive and prompt the learner to “want” to learn versus just wanting to pass the course. Adult learners bring experience to the course and have a need to be challenged (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). Each has viewpoints and opinions, experiences that may relate the course subject, and a simple need to belong to not just participate in the class. The active ingredient in online learning is interactivity. When students are in an online environment, they are engaging in active learning by participating in research and collaborative activities. This prompts critical thinking and offers the challenge that most online learners require to learn and retain material.

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

Week 7 -Application


In addition to CMS technology, there are many other distance learning technology tools that can be used to deliver learning experiences. The use of technology tools can enhance and tailor a distance learning experience to fit the needs and requirements of the learning context itself. Various technology tools exist that can enhance face-to-face instruction, blended learning, and asynchronous and collaborative learning.

For this week’s Application, you have been provided with three real-world examples, each of which describes a unique distance learning technology challenge. While reading through the examples, consider the needs and requirements of the learning context presented and which technologies could provide solutions in each situation.

Chose one example on which to focus and, in a blog post, identify one to two distance learning technologies you think provide the best solution for the given challenge. Support your decision with information and rationale from the Learning Resources. In addition, provide examples of the use of these technologies by searching the Internet for two external resources that showcase how these technologies have been successfully used in distance learning.

Example 1: Collaborative Training Environment

A new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. Unfortunately, the staff is located throughout all the different offices and cannot meet at the same time or in the same location. As an instructional designer for the corporation, you have been charged with implementing a training workshop for these offices. As part of the training, you were advised how imperative it is that the staff members share information, in the form of screen captures and documents, and participate in ongoing collaboration.

In a collaborative environment, there are many technologies available to enhance and share training between users located in different geological locations. Wikipedia (2013) lists several, such as discussion boards, video- and audio-conferencing, chat rooms, and wikis, just to name a few.  The collaborative training workshop that involves offices in different regions could be managed and implemented using any number of these technologies. As the instructional designer, I feel that using a wiki and discussion board would prove successful and economical for the implementing company. The wiki and discussion board can also be password protected which would add a measure of security to the company.

Wikis have been successful in nearly every aspect of personal, educational, and corporate networks. Anyone can create a wiki and, provided the wiki administrator approves the work, most anyone can contribute to a wiki. An example of this is Wikispaces, used extensively by educators and students to collaborate during projects, share documents, and graphics.

Discussion boards are used to share thoughts and ideas. Some online educators estimate that they have as much as three times the interaction with students in discussion boards as they do with face-to-face students (University of Oregon, n.d.). From my own experience, discussion boards can be engaging, entertaining, challenging, and thought provoking. Questions can be answered by student peers and fellow employees.


UOregon (n.d.). Generating and Facilitating Engaging and Effective Online Discussions. Retrieved from Web Article

Wikipedia (2013). Virtual Collaboration. Retrieved from Web article

I reviewed Yale’s open course program,, and delved into several of the online courses Yale offers. Each course has lectures that are recorded and the opportunity to buy books or download course pages. The video and audio of the lectures are available on YouTube and iTunes. Transcripts are also available for download. As it turns out, that’s all that is available for the course. My overall impression was, “Wow, Yale offers free courses? Cool!” but after digging through a few of the courses that interested me, I had to say I’m a little disappointed. “Shovelware” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012) comes to mind in which standard face to face course content was placed online without being retooled or modified to enable distance learning.

  1. Does the course appear to be carefully pre-planned and designated for a distance learning environment? How so?

No, not at all. The distance learning environment should have visual presentations but be engaging, collaborative, and offer feedback and assessments. These courses were not pre-planned nor designated for distance learning.

2.  Does the course follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook?

The courses I reviewed were simply lectures with the option to download the text from the textbook. The video presentations were simply recorded lectures. Key points aren’t emphasized; there were no options for interactivity except for a modest question and answer forum which had not been responded to in 28 days. It appears the Q & A forums aren’t moderated. Nowhere in the course does it require or give the instructor interactivity with the students.

3.  Did the course designer implement course activities that maximize active learning for the students?

Active learning is not possible with the open courseware that I examined. The “student” simply watches a series of videos. It almost seems like the courses are “feeder” courses to spark interest in the university to promote enrollment. Activities that prompt interactivity (Simonson et al) are non-existent as well as any opportunity for student group work.

What appears evident to me as I examined these courses is the university placed videos online and calls them online classes. They are not in any way, shape, form, or fashion distance learning tools. There is no student interaction, no contact with the instructor, no ability to collaborate, and lastly, no assessment or evaluation. The syllabus lists mid-term and end-of-term exams along with the grade breakdown but the course does not offer the student a tool for taking either exam. This is definitely not the way distance learning is to be conducted.


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