Thursday, June 30, 2011

Communication

In looking at Distance Learning, I feel that the central element to its growth, effectiveness, and legitimacy is due to the communication tools that we now have that aid in the implementation of distance learning classes.  Siemens (2008) hit is on the head when he stated that one of the items that is providing a "Growing Acceptance of Distance Education is Fueled by the Practical Experience with New (communication) tools."  Skype, video-conferencing, chat, blogs, and wikis are just a few of the tools out there that help distant educators and students overcome the obstacles and challenges of not being educated in a traditional classroom.  These tools seem to be bridging the gap of not having a physical professor or instructor in a classroom that is providing immediate feedback to every question.  While we are still not quite there in terms of interactivity, there have definitely been advances that have brought us to the point where we are much more comfortable with learning from a distance.

I feel there is another factor that has benefited learning, teaching, and instructing in a distant education environment.  That is the rise of social networking.  Today, people are much more at ease in communicating online.  From Facebook to Twitter to Online Dating, people are accepting the idea of building relationships and communicating online.  This type of interaction is no longer considered out of reach or overly expensive or difficult to use.  It is now considered a viable communication medium that is quickly becoming on the same level with making traditional telephone calls and email.

Reference

Siemens, G. (2008). Assessment of collaborative learning. Vodocast. Laureate Education, Inc.

4 comments:

  1. You're right, David, to point out the significance of social networking. Siemens, of course, was right as you mentioned, in that online communication is the big winner of the continuing social networking wave.

    I'm waiting to find out where tech entities such as MySpace will end up, particularly in light of the recent sale to another tech company. We all, of course, remember the dot-com burst, but it's difficult to tell, at least on my part, if MySpace's sale is another technology harbinger.

    Nice job, David,on putting everything into perspective.

    Fred Davis

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  2. Hi David:

    It is true that our students seem to be at ease using the social networking scene. Unfortunately, teachers and administrators are not as comfortable. Until there is a mandate, I am afraid bringing distance learning into the everyday classroom is going to be a while in making the mainstream.

    What do you think we can do to shorten that time element?

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  3. Hello David,
    Glad to see your Blog. I enjoyed reading your post. I see your point on social networking bringing ease to the online classroom. I feel the ease will eventually catch up with those who are actually teaching. Ms. Crisanti points out in her comment that teachers and administrators are not as comfortable. She is correct. However, I feel this will phase out for two reasons. First, online communication is rapidly increasing and you have to get on board to communicate. Second, the older generation will eventually retire out. They will be replaced by the "generation of computer wizards". In my school, our principal just implemented online evaluations. You had to be willing to learn how to get on board in order to get your evaluation results, comment and document.
    Debra

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  4. HI David,
    I'm in agreement with you on your findings about communication and how the growth of tools that support connection have facilitated the acceptance of distance learning.
    In my online courses that I teach with high school students, I sometimes feel that the interaction is of a more quality level than it is in a face-to-face environment. When students contact me in an Elluminate session or through instant message, they are discussion content with me or specifics about an assignment. Our discussions are almost always course focused and, in fact, our Elluminate sessions have been some of the most interactive I've seen when several students join at one time!
    I think your social media connection is an important one? Do you think our schools will ever accept it as a learning tool under proper supervision, of course?

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