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Monthly Archives: April 2013

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Distance Learning: Is it going the distance?

“Students listened and took notes, and then regurgitated the same information back to the teachers on exams.  This ‘Teacher-Centered’ model continues in many courses delivered to distant learners via today’s synchronous, video based technologies.  With computer based technologies, however, have come exciting new opportunities for providing learning experiences to students.  This philosophy of education has become popularly known as student-centered learning, because it so strongly promotes active learning, collaboration, mastery of course materials and student control over the learning process” was quoted from Barr & Tagg (1995) in our course text.  (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 123.)

How far has distance learning come, in the last eighteen years, at taking the full opportunity to offer truly exciting experiences in distance learning?  It appears, from my best observation and understanding of all content gleaned from this recent course; that there are two divergent factions continuing to form a strong-hold in the distance learning field:  Formal academia transferring content and lessons thoughtfully to online course management systems, vs. Practical application and skills instruction which is pushing the boundaries of the latest web 2.0 technologies using just-in-time and student-centered learning philosophies (Leadbeater, 2010).

Charles Leadbeater: Education Innovation in the slums (20 Minutes) (Fast-forward to Minute Marker 1:25)

Formal vs. Informal Online & Distance Learning

Learning:

Online Academia / Degree Courses Online Instruction / Industry Tutorials
Focus Quality Standards / Scholarly Content Skills Mastery / Brief Learning Curve
Outcome Assimilation into Academic Rigor Assimilation into Applied-Skills Culture
Structure Curriculum “Pushed” to Student Resources “Pulled” by Discover-Learner
Motivation Extrinsic – After Learning is Gained Intrinsic – Gain Knowledge to Change
Measure Grades / Degree / Certification Completion / Demonstrate Skill / Concept
Credibility Citing Sources / Degreed Faculty Rate of Skill Mastery for New Learners
Value Map / Conduct Further Research Performance / R.O.I. of New Skills
Materials Recorded Video / Written Documents Video / Document / Live Chat / Streaming
Methods Written Essay / Quiz / Project YouTube Demos / Social Media Sharing
CMS Portal Blackboard / Moodle Canvas / Facebook / LiveStream Video

Callejas, E, (2013) Introduction to Distance Learning Blog Post.  Retrieved from https://123keyconcepts.wordpress.com/2013/04/28/distance-learning-is-it-going-the-distance/

While academia questions the rigor and quality standards of itself, its competitor colleges and universities, and all other informal training programs; Informal training proponents question the value and return-on-investment of degreed online programs, based on their end use and assessment measures.  Either way, whether a proponent or opponent for online learning, one must first recognize and agree on whether the discussion at hand is evaluating one or both of these divergent cultures of distance and online instruction.  While online universities site the use of “primarily text and document based instruction” for the “ease of worldwide student access” and documented cognitive learning theory support, Students in remote areas can now more rapidly access the latest Google and Ted, and YouTube postings from notable centers of research and innovation, on advanced and emerging things like sustainable Hydroponics and Bio-Fuels Resource Construction (Anderson, 2010). Video tutorials on re-manufactured smartphones, can sometimes be easier to access than multi-layer classroom portals students must use to read assignment requirements (posted elsewhere) and upload an average scholarly-source-supported “discussion post” essay assignment.  Both learning models are occurring at a distance from the instructor and the source content author, and both use technology and the internet.  In which situation is learning really occurring?  In which situation is it efficient for greater populations of learners?

Chris Anderson: How web video powers global innovation  (Fast-forward to Minute Marker 12:12)

As a proponent for distance education, I must both express and justify my experience-based understanding that applied creativity in instructional material design and methodology is important for the field to grow.  Greater advancement and acceptance may come in Distance Leaning as there is a merging of Academia and Informal Methods in the distance learning arena.  Credibility may grow for online Institutions as graduates are able to better apply knowledge to solve real-world problems, and network successfully with colleagues in post-degree collaborations.  Credibility may grow as informal students can more easily and rapidly search for and access video and interactive resources, posted online by recognized scholarly sources, and the materials they share are designed in a way that is both engaging and easy to understand.

Greater advancement will come within my own industry, as creative teachers continue to push the boundaries on radically using the most prolific Web 2.0 and social media tools to teach content, so professionals continue their learning, and apply it to their daily work, but can also recognize that the consultation and coaching they received was both intentional and instructional, and was based on applied theories of learning and researched methodologies of educational practice.  When, rather than being overwhelmed by the formality of a syllabus and cited sources, wary learners are allowed to gain and apply their understanding first, and then investigate the foundation upon which their experience had been skillfully crafted and customized to meet their needs and offer them solutions, it is then that learning and progress can advance hand-in-hand.

References:

Anderson, C. (2010).  Chris Anderson: How web video powers global innovation.  (Beginning at Minute Marker 12:00 and 16:00) Retrieved from Ted.com: http://www.ted.com/talks/chris_anderson_how_web_video_powers_global_innovation.html

Leadbeater, C.  (2010).  Charles Leadbeater: Education Innovation in the slums.  Retrieved from Ted.com: http://www.ted.com/talks/charles_leadbeater_on_education.html

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S., (2012).  Teaching and Learning at a Distance. Fifth ed. Boston:  Pearson.

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Posted by on April 28, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
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Thy Distance Learning Design Commandments

Thy Distance Learning Design Commandments

 
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Posted by on April 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

 
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Evaluating Open Courseware on Game Design at MIT

Computer Games and Simulations for Investigation and Education:

Course Link:  http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/urban-studies-and-planning/11-127j-computer-games-and-simulations-for-investigation-and-education-spring-2009/

As I looked through the resources included in this undergraduate course, I noticed first that students have access to all of the readings and elements from a very basic menu, which segments the “Syllabus, Readings, Assignments, projects, Related Resources and Download Course Materials “as separate pages, upon which topics are listed chronologically by week, rather than in the reverse order as we have at Walden (Resources and assignments listed together in a week-by-week chronology ).

This format allows the learner to skip around in the course, and access content or assignments of interest, rather than forcing them to participate along a mandated timeline.

The fact that the courses are creative-commons licensed, means that they can be integrated as links into other lessons and resources provided by educators.  Because there is no enrollment restrictions, students of an age and at any time can utilize the information, without being informed that the course is “full” or that it is not yet “scheduled” to begin or allow access to the content.  The challenge with completing a course like this, even though one has access to all of the content (with the exception of needing to buy one’s own books on Amazon.com, is that an individual student would lack the necessary interaction to play the example games or partake in “group” assignments, and would be forced to find their own volunteer-participants when team-mates or opponents are needed to collaborate or compete as part of the assignments.

As a fan of using informational and educational games, including “board” games which are aided by the graphic design capabilities of a computer, but printed and played “off-line,” this undergraduate class gives a great foundation for understanding the formats and processes involved in interactive play, which may be a necessary foundational lesson for learners who have never had the kinesthetic experience of board-game play.

The fact that the course introduces traditional board games before transitioning into computer-based games gives shows planning and the pedagogical understanding of transfer of knowledge.   The fact that students are able to design their computer game using a platform/software called Scratch™, they are able to see a variety of projects form other learner-designers, and add to their community of scholarly work on the topic.  The course not only introduces the concept of social-constructivist learning theory, but is clearly built upon its tenants of group design and real-life problem solving and community-sharing of the collective current knowledge and resources.

If an individual is considering following through with taking such a course, then it might be beneficial for them to formulate their own cohort group with which to interact and simultaneously follow along with the content, similar to founding a book club, whose members individually read and then share their comments and insights with one another in regular gatherings.  Such a cohort could be designed by another teacher, utilizing the content with a group, or by group members themselves, in either a synchronous or asynchronous format.

I have included a photo of the computer-aided bingo game which I recently created for my Orientation Module.  The bingo game asks the learner to print, cut, shuffle and re-assemble and adhere the photo squares to a blank game board.  The directions then require the learner to follow through with the suggestion I made above, which is to form their own group of volunteers or colleagues to be their cohorts in playing the game.  The game is designed to expose them to the idea of integrating technology into their work-tasks, and serves to reinforce the introduced concepts through auditory, verbal, and visual repetition and interaction through the task of playing the game.  Bingo is classic to the industry in which I used this custom-created game, and by re-designing it, students are further exposed to the concept of customization of materials to meet alternate needs.

Orientation to Tech Resource Bingo Cards            Orientation Tech Resource Bingo Card Blank

Klopfer, Eric. 11.127J Computer Games and Simulations for Investigation and Education,Spring 2009. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), http://ocw.mit.edu (Accessed 04 Apr, 2013). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

 
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Posted by on April 5, 2013 in Uncategorized