Friday, July 29, 2011

Distance Education Technology Graphic Organizer

Siemens (2008) stated in his paper that his focus was, "the intent of exploring how many of the most significant changes within society today might influence of change the role of educators and, as a consequence, the role of instructional designers."  The graphic organizer above states many of the technologies that have changed the distance education environment and enabled it to become more interactive and effective to the point that it is now considered in many circles to be as effective the traditional brick and mortar classrooms.  The Internet has allowed online learning to take tremendous steps in the advancement of distance learning.  Siemens (2008) says in this regard that, "The popularization of the World Wide Web as a medium for commerce, communication, information sharing, and education has raised the profile of networks as a means of human organization. All of the elements above are a product of the World Wide Web.  

There is a crossover of many of the elements listed above that could fall under several categories, especially in the area communication and collaboration.  It could be argued that many of the technologies under collaboration could very well be found under communication and vice-versa.  I felt the content area could very broad when incorporating distance learning.  It would seem that anything that could scanned, uploaded, downloading, or posted to the Internet could be considered "Content".  So graphics, pictures, magazine articles, videos, etc. could all be considered content in that realm.  

In reflecting on the content of my graphic organizer, the three areas of content, collaboration, and communication are three central components of distance learning.  If there is a deficiency in any of these three areas then distance learning is not nearly as effective.  Content drives the distance learning process and, just as traditional education, serves as the foundation for the learning process.  There is a special emphasis that is placed on communication due to the fact that it must be done through virtual channels as opposed to face to face in traditional learning settings.  Collaboration is probably the latest innovation and is now feasible due to technologies such as Skype, video-conferencing, social networking, and wikis.  Overall, it is the technologies that have fallen into these three categories that have allowed for distance education to become as effective as it is today.

Siemans, G. (2008, January). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. ITForum

Sunday, July 17, 2011

My Presentation Storyboard

Motivating the Adult Learner

I.    Adults in Education
      A.  Who is Defined as a Adult Student
      B.  Adult Student Statistics

II.  Characteristics of Adult Learners
      A,  Lifestyles
      B.  Income
      C.  Education Level
      D.  Other Demographics

III. Adult Learning Styles
      A.  How do They Learn
      B.  Best Learning Environment
      C.  Teacher-Adult Student Relationship

IV. What Adult Learners Want to Learn
      A.  To Further Careers
      B.  Improve Income
      C.  Quality of Life

V.  Challenges for the Adult Learner
      A.  Job
      B.  Family
      C.  Physical/Health Issues

VI. Teaching Strategies for the Adult Learner
      A.  Interaction with Instructor
      B.  Interaction with Students
      C.  Projects, Assignments, and Lessons
      D.  Assessing the Adul tLearner

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Assessing Collaborative Efforts

Assessing students an online collaborative learning group is a difficult task.  It is difficult enough assessing a traditional learning group in a “brick and mortar” classroom.  In a virtual classroom you do not have the luxury of see the group interact and notice who is and isn’t participating in the group and to what degree.  I think in order to truly get a valid assessment of the group, an educator must become more involved in the group itself by sometimes acting as an initial facilitator by getting the group together for their initial visit then handing it off.  This is especially true if the group is using technology such as Skype or some visual medium that not everyone is familiar with.  Once the group is comfortable together then they will have a better chance of being productive. 
In terms of assessment, Seimens (2008) provide three models for assessing an online collaborative group.  They are students assess their peers, students receive feedback from online communities, and educators assess based on student contributions.  All three of these have the potential to provide adequate assessment.  I do feel that student and community assessments can tend to be a little subjective just because of a lack of criteria.  One solution might be to provide each group member a rubric that tells of the expectations each member.  That might allow the members to be more informed in their assessments.  Assessing students on contributions could also be effective.  However, while an educator can get a good idea of student participation, how well can the educator assess the quality of work completed? 
If an individual desires to not be a part of a collaborative leaning group, the educator should encourage him to do so but at the same time understand that there is probably some anxiety of participation in an online group.  Some anxiety might be due to the fact that group learning goes against the way he has learned in the past.  Most students are raised to learn individually.  Siemens (2008) states that “students are evaluated as an individual and that their individual contributions to the class are graded and these contributions are being used as a premise for schools t hat they will eventually enter into.”  Students are most comfortable when they have total control over their academic performance.  Collaborative learning groups tend to put this control at risk thus, impacting their academic performance.  Educators, especially those that teach online must recognize and be sensitive to this.
So what should be the most effective way to assess online collaborative learning groups?  According to Palloff and Pratt (2005), there are six elements that can contribute to an effective online learning community.  First there is people.  Despite the virtual environment, there must be physical presence by both instructor and student.  This can be done through a visual technology such as Skype or it may be as simple as a phone call and a human voice to connect to.  Second is a shared purpose.  This is definitely enhanced with communication.  Individuals in the group should be encouraged to all share interests, ideas, information, and resources in order to make the group effective.  Third are guidelines.  This is important to set expectations and rules for deadlines and due dates in insure that all participate.  Fourth is technology.  The better and interactive the vehicle for course delivery is, the better the collaboration.  Fifth is collaborative learning.  The interaction among student ultimately determines the meaning and creation of knowledge that dictates the success of the group.   Finally, the sixth one is reflective practice.  This helps determine what was learned and was it understood among all the group members.    
Palloff & Pratt (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.
Siemens, G. (2008). Assessment of collaborative learning. Vodocast. Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from:
Siemens, G. (2008). Learning Communities. Vodocast. Laureate Education, Inc.  Retrieved from: