Category: Uncategorized


Introduction

Hello to my readers. I look forward to your comments on my blogs as well as reading what you have to say in your own blogs. 

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.

References:

UOregon (n.d.). Generating and Facilitating Engaging and Effective Online Discussions. Retrieved from Web Article http://tep.uoregon.edu/technology/blackboard/docs/discussionboard.pdf

Wikipedia (2013). Virtual Collaboration. Retrieved from Web article http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virtual_collaboration

I reviewed Yale’s open course program, http://oyc.yale.edu/, 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.

References:

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

The Mindmap

The Mindmap

Distance learning; wait ….distance…….learning….learning from a distance? Yeah, I don’t think this is possible but maybe I’m wrong. The way I learn is by what is presented to me by a vast multitude of media and I cannot accomplish this from a distance unless I have a telescope or binoculars. I see, hear, and feel what I see, hear, and feel; this is how learning and retention is accomplished. I know, yes, I’m being facetious.

Now, to the task at hand; to answer a few questions in regards to distance learning and basically what it is to me. My definition of distance learning hasn’t always been as defined in my mind as it is now; distance learning was something I was involved with since 1995 but never really put my finger on it until I began this Graduate program. Distance learning began with me receiving a series of books in the mail and taking the test on-line when I could finally could afford a computer but back then I didn’t comprehend or even know the term “distance learning”.

Revised definition

What distance learning will be in the future can be summed up in one word, spectacular. Technology advancing by leaps and bounds has enabled educators and instructional designers to explore the realms of imagination that was unheard of or even fathomed just a few short years ago. I can envision more and more classrooms found on-line, not just college courses. Simonson et all I (2012) envisioned the day “when work done by correspondence will be greater in amount than that done in the classroom…” I concur. I can see holograms and literal virtual classes being conducted in classroom settings while the students are sitting in their living rooms, bedrooms, or beside the pool. This may begin with avatars but real representations of the students could soon follow.

Distance learning began with me almost 20 years ago with mail and a website. Today distance learning is my sole mode of attending classes. Even during the last few years of my military career, distance learning was emerging as an effective training aid to prepare a Soldier for an upcoming school. I have to confess; I was vehemently opposed to using on-line training in the Army training doctrine because nothing is as good as sitting in a classroom of your peers and human interaction. Not. In an article titled The Evolution of Distance Education, Tracy and Richey (2005) imply that computer based training is the fastest-growing form of education today.  Get ready folks, there’s more distance learning where that came from.

References:

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

Tracey, M., & Richey, R. (2005). The evolution of distance education. Distance Learning, 2(6), 17–21.

Learning Reflected

What began as a required class, a hurdle to clear as I make my way towards a junction in my educational career, ended as a revelation into my own mind and way of thinking. Many times I have attended a class only to struggle to learn and remember important facts so that I could pass a test or write a difficult term paper. I did not realize that I was limiting myself and my mental capacity. I realize now that there are many different learning processes, aids for memory (both working and long-term), and even simple reflection, applied correctly, can and will enhance my ability to not only learn but retain important information.

Many times we hear or read something and think, “That was so simple but I had never thought about it that way”. As I read and researched, certain phrases would catch my attention, warranting a second look. For example, the book Learning Theories and Instruction, states:

Simply attending to and perceiving stimuli does not ensure that information processing will continue. Many things teachers say in class go unlearned (even though students attend to the teachers and the words are meaningful) because students do not continue to process the information (Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009).

Something as simple as reflecting or elaborating on the subject mentally can enhance one’s ability to retain information. I found that to be so basic but yet surprising.

When I began EDUC 6115-2, I considered myself a Behavioral and Cognitive learner. Behaviorism implies learning comes from a change in behavior through observable performance and Cognitivism is basically a change in knowledge (Ertmer & Newby, 1993). When I was introduced to other learning processes, I had to rethink how I actually responded to information that was presented to me. I am an adult learner who learns behaviorally, cognitively, and with a measurable level of Constructionism. I participate in Social Learning through Connectivism almost on a daily basis. Before this class, I had no idea that I was limiting myself but most of all, that I was such a complex learner.

Learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation are the four areas an on-line learner and instructor must consider and acknowledge when preparing to embark towards higher education. We, as persons involved in knowledge seeking or teaching, must know how we learn, what we do to learn, how we access that knowledge (and the technological environment), and, most of all, stay motivated on our journey. Motivation is probably the most prominent component of learning regardless of the level of education or classroom forum. When there is a motivation to learn, there will be learning if the instructional environment is conducive to that process. Dr. Keller (1999) contends that motivation is manageable and is affected by the teaching environment but ultimately the responsibility of the learner.

I have already began to modify by instructional strategy when I work with students. I no longer require rote memorization which places the responsibility for learning on the students. I now facilitate association and elaboration to help the students not only remember but understand what they are learning, which is my responsibility. I have learned that within each student is a person who retains knowledge in different ways and has a different approach to learning [Gilbert & Swanier (2008)] and I, as the instructor, must not only instruct but facilitate that learning process and style for each student.

While there is irrefutable evidence of various learning theories, processes, and strategies as well as unlimited resources for knowledge, the burden of learning or knowing rests on us, the student. We have to self-evaluate. Knowing about when and how to use particular strategies for learning or for problem solving (metacognition), as defined in Wikipedia, is where our strength lies in learning.

References

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Performance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4), 50–71. Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspective.

Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal [Vol. l]. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/~witteje/ilsrj/Journal%20Volumes/Fall%202008%20Volume%201%20PDFs/Learning%20Styles%20How%20do%20They%20Fluctuate.pdf

Keller, J. (1999). New Directions for Teaching and Learning; Summer99, Issue 78, p39

Metacognition, (n.d.). In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metacognition

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

I’ve Come A Long Way

I am a life-long leaner only I haven’t come to realize that until recently. Education has always been important to me, even as a child. I know what it’s like to milk the cow or slop the hogs before getting on the bus to head off to school. I’ve had to miss school to plow or work in our 5-acre garden. It was hard and it would have been easy for me to believe that living was more important than learning. Nevertheless, I did my homework and studied. In a class of 125, I graduated number 26. It would be another 16 years before I opened a college textbook and 12 more years until I would earn my bachelor’s degree. And it took all that time to figure out how I learned and what else could work for me other than trying to remember facts.

For a long time I believed that learning was simply remembering what was taught and doing what you were told. Teachers could be strict or nice and some would rant and rave while others were more compassionate. That’s what I thought teaching and learning was. Having said that, I see that teaching could be demonstrations, lectures, small group sessions, or (unfortunately) making me memorize, just to name a few. The teaching I enjoy the most is that instructor that can ask the right question at the right time to put me into a deeper mode of thinking or reflection.

Learning is so much more complex than simply recalling an answer and regurgitating facts. People are different, I am different, and we have brains that function similarly but so very differntly. I did not realize, until recently, that we have so much in common but learn in so many different ways.

I still prefer hands-on learning with demonstration and I still prefer to see and hear what I’m being taught versus one or the other but I have discovered within myself another method that I find equally satisfying- comprehension, to read, reflect, and understand. I also enjoy input from others as we discuss relevant issues of learning. I learn from learning about you and how you think. I discovered on-line Social Learning. I had no idea it was even out there but I enjoy it immensely.

Then I discovered that my home computer, my laptop, and my phone were part of an infrastructure of knowledge that could be harnessed and brought right to the learning part of my life. Connectivism combined with social learning and reflective questions, sprinkle in some cognitive thinking and metacognition, with a smart phone and wah lah…higher education. If we consider that knowledge is all around us in the world and not just in our heads (Wikipedia, 2011), why not learn every chance we get? We have come a long way since the blackboard, chalk, and a notebook. I have come a long way.  

 

Connectivism. (2011). In Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Connectivism

Connectivism

I’ve only just began studying connectivism but I have already developed some opinions of the theory. I take connectivism quite literally, meaning I apply definition to the theory by breaking the actual word down to its basic components. If connect means to join and ism is a condition or state of being then connectivism is the state of being connected. One of the accepted definitions of connectivism is “the integration of principles explored by chaos, network, and complexity and self-organization theories” (Seimens, 2004). I like the word “principle” in this definition. I believe connectivism is not a learning theory but a conduit of knowledge. Once that knowledge is presented to the learner, the learner must apply the method of learning that is appropriate to enable recall or introduction to long-term memory (LTR) for use in the future. Simply put, connectivism is technology of every shape and form being accessable to millions of people who seek knowledge. Knowledge is not a tangible comodity but it is the act of knowing.

I like Westerns and several years ago, HBO had a series called “Deadwood”, a show about a small but booming mining town in the foothills of South Dakota. The show represents the way life was in the late 180o’s for gold miners in the Black Hills. In one episode, Trixie shot a man in the head for hitting her. In the ensuing chaos, Doc was called and it was evident that the man was going to die but Doc was absolutley amazed that the man was still alive, even able to mutter, “She shot me.” Well, the man died and Doc took him down to his office for an autopsy. Doc had an active interest in medicine and I suppose he even graduated medical school but the show never disclosed that part of Doc’s past. Doc learned most of his skills on the battlefields during the Civil War. Doc cut and prodded but never discovered how the man lived for a full 20 minutes after being shot in the head. You see, Doc didn’t have the internet, at least not on the show.

Here in the real world, many if not most of us, carry a cell phone with applications. One company brags that there are over a half a million “apps” their phones can access. There is at least one computer in every home and if there is not, there is one at work or the neighbor’s house. The internet is the common denominator of technology that we live our lives around. Connectivism is what brings knowledge to our doorsteps. This morning, I sat on my front porch and checked my email, chatted with a friend who lives 3000 miles away, and worked on a school project- all on my cell phone. Then I logged on to my computer in my office, double checked my references, imported a file from a major university, and published a blog using most if not all information I obtained from the World-Wide Web. If I had a mind to, I could post a question and a complete stranger on the other side of the world could answer it. That, my friend, is connectivism to me. It is not a learning process or theory, it is the act of obtaining knowledge from those to whom I am connected, from the systems that bring knowledge to me and puts the world at my feet.

 

References

Seimens, G. (2004) Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age. Retrieved from: http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/connectivism.htm

Learning and Self-Confidence

I woke up this morning thinking about learning and what it takes for one to receive data in some form or fashion and actually apply it long-term memory (LTR). I’m new to the area of learning theories and functions of the brain so my knowledge is limited and some of my reasonings may even be naive but this is what was on my mind this morning. I have a friend who is trying to get her GED. She studies and works but some areas of her study just don’t “click” for her. She has had particular difficulty and disappointment with fractions. I would devote a lot of time with her, showing her how to perform the functions, drawing depictions, and she would simply say, “I can’t do it’. One day she came to me very excited and hugged me. With a big smile she said, “I get it! It clicked”.

So how much does confidence play into the act of learning? Countless studies have been conducted on what happens in the brain when one receives data and how the brain stores such data. We all have different ways we apply ourselves to commit data to memory for later recall. Sometimes it works, sometimes we have to work a little harder but what happens we don’t believe we can learn it, when we allow ourselves to be intimidated by the subject matter? One study I found suggested that the way we handle our problems is a direct reflection on our learning ability and that those who seek knowledge tend to have more self-confidence (Radwan, 2012)). Where is the link between self-confidence and learning? How does one inspire someone who doesn’t believe they can “do it”? All the learning theories and methods that are present in today’s classrooms are ineffective if the student does not believe in himself. We, the instructor, professor, teacher, or whatever your professional title may be, have to consider “where” your student is mentally when you expect them to learn during your presentation.

When we consider that working memory (WM) only lasts for a few seconds, we have to assume we only have a few seconds to convince or persuade our student to associate that data with something inside their head and learn. We have to make them believe they “can do it” or our instruction falls on deaf ears so to speak. We need to find a way to make our subject be of interest to them if they feel it is too hard for them. Inspire them. I propose that in all our endeavors, we never forget that our students are individuals with situations at home or processes running in the back of their minds while they attend our classes. Just because they are sitting there does not mean they will learn. Children in school are not necessarily knowledge seekers but they are forced (lack of a better word) to attend class. We must not forget to HELP them learn, not just teach them.

Radwan, M. (2012) http://www.2knowmyself.com/the_connection_between_self_esteem_and_learning

My Blogs for Class EDUC 6115

This is my first attempt at blogging so I am muddling through it. I am a novice instructional designer in that I have played the part once about a year ago developing lesson plans for an updated helicopter for the Army. I found four blog sites that were interesting to me and hope that by reading these blogs, I will enhance my knowledge of what I want to pursue with the rest of my career. I am intrigued by training and have always enjoyed it but never ventured outside of military schools and methodology. These sites address what I feel will benefit me the most.

http://theelearningcoach.com/ This blog interested me because it seems to delve into where we are going today with technology and the online classroom. I feel I have a certain inadequacy when it comes to finding the right words sometimes and this blog addresses that for me as well as an abundance of information about instructional systems design. I

http://blog.cathy-moore.com/ This particular blog address making learning interesting, something I am definitely interested in. It describes using scenarios and practical applications to enhance the learners experience. She discusses creating scenarios that tests the student’s ability to actually put their knowledge into play, not just know it. She also address networking and how to

http://www1.astd.org/Blog/syndication.axd The American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) has this blog on their homepage. This blog was interesting to me because it addresses corporate instructional systems design, something I know very little about. I feel that my past experience in the military will benefit me to a point but I need to learn more about corporate culture and how to explore it.

http://christytucker.wordpress.com/ Christy Tucker blogs a lot about learning styles and methods, something I have recently grown interested in. It will be good to read other accounts of learning methods outside of required course reading.