Monthly Archives: October 2014

Reflection: Distance Education

Distance learning will always hold value to me because it afforded me to accomplish tings that I honestly did not think would happen for along time due to my personal circumstances. Generations of the world see things through different glasses; distance learning is one of those things. I think that to the world, we tend to look at something like distance education with a one track mind. Learning is done in the the class room setting and we characterized that by the physical things we know come with the class room, the teacher, the desk, the chalkboard. We forget about the learning tools, learning styles, teaching methods. I can say that I am guilty of my ignorance to what knowing what distance education truly is.

For some this may not have been a shocker, but it was a jaw-dropping, “ wow” moment for me when our text informed us that distance learning occurred throughout my entire education. From the videos showed during Science class, to the audio books in English class. The reality is that distance learning holds significant value in education.

The convenience alone gives the learner a mental calmness because distance learning allows for the learner to have a lot of control in the learning process. This week we were ask to explore the perceptions of other individuals outside our class on what their perception of distance learning was. I must say it start an interesting discussion with one of my teammates at my job who also attends graduate school. One of the participants stated that she had never participated in a distance learning course or program and that she did not think that distance learning was effective because communication was 70% non-verbal and that she would misinterpret things that she read. I found it interesting because in a past conversation about her graduate program she mentioned to me that her classed use discussion forums. I ask this person was she aware that the discussion forums that she used to ask and answer questions pertaining to the class and discussing different topics was a form of distance learning. Her rebuttal to me was “ well we only use it a couple times a week”. I explained to her that blended course only used technological tools to interact in the course a few times as well, it is still apart of distance education. I find it quite interesting that at this point in the information age that anyone in this new generation would still believe distance learning is a big part of education.

We have ventured out of the classrooms, listening to teachers lecture, and using the physical library as our way of retaining sources. We have the vehicle of technology that gives us the tools to enhancing learning and education. Distance education is not a new way of learning, it is just now being utilized more for what it can contribute to the learning experience. I honestly do not want to say in the future, because the future is now, and we are witnessing this field field evolve.

From Face-To-Face Learning to Blended

Converting from Face- to Face to Blended Training

Just like other courses, planning, developing and creating a blended course takes just as much careful considerations. Blended learning can be beneficial and exciting for the learners because it gives a different experience in learning. A blended course can provide a unique learning experience for everyone involved. With the use of technology, blended learning can at times eliminate the need for specific technology, and suggest that tools currently being used continue to be utilized instead of changing. This is an opportunity to make learning more engaging for learners and instructors. This process is not as simple as it seems. Using the scenario below:

A training manager has been frustrated with the quality of communication among trainees in his face-to-face training sessions and wants to try something new. With his supervisor’s permission, the trainer plans to convert all current training modules to a blended learning format, which would provide trainees and trainers the opportunity to interact with each other and learn the material in both a face-to-face and online environment. In addition, he is considering putting all of his training materials on a server so that the trainees have access to resources and assignments at all times.

 

Lepi, 2014 suggest within preplanning strategies the trainer should create conditions for success. Put together ideas for the training, using storyboards that could possibly give ideas a realistic feel. Also, create a timeline for implementing, developing, and when course should go live. The trainer should identify objectives for the course and align them with the goals. Create clear expectations. The modules for the course are available for the face-to-face training; however Instructional modules should still be created and intergraded with what is available. Learners in blended course assume more responsibility for their learning experience. Katie Lepi, 2014, points out that the trainer should determine technological devices that will be used and work alongside with technical support to ensure efficiency. It will also be wise for the trainer create an evaluation plan that helps them assess the success and failures of the training and give feedback on where adjustments need to be made.

The aspects of this course that should be enhanced are the learner activities. Making them available to learners online and allowing them to interact with fellow learners. This will also allow learners to engage in the training from anywhere. Creating discussion forums where questions and answers will be available. The instructor could use multimedia tools foe learners

to follow along. Another aspect that should be enhanced is the communication with the instructor. The role of the trainer changes slightly, the trainer still supports and guides trainees along the course. They provide direction for resources for success. They become a motivational

factor for trainees to stay engaged in the learning and maximize their experience.

Providing the trainees with an activities syllabus is one way to encourage virtual

communication. Activities could include trainees to form groups within the forums and require them to complete assignments as a whole. The trainer could solicit feedback from trainees through assessment software’s. The trainer can create schedules and times of when trainees should log on and require some form of participation.

In all blended course make the most of technology use, it makes learning efficient for everyone. Lepi, 2014 says that learning in multiple modalities yields more and better data that creates an integrated and customizable learning experience.

 

Lepi, k. (2014) How to Implement Blended learning. Retrieved from http://www.edudemic.com/implement-blended-learning/

 

Open Source Sites & MOOCs

In these last 4-5 weeks of this Distance Learning course to so many new concepts and components that go in to distance education. As a distance learner it is important that one has many different tools and resources available to assist during their educational journey. Technology has afforded learners access to many different resources. One of the most recent trends in E- Learning tools is Open Course websites or MOOCs. MOOCs or open courses allow for learners to log into different courses, from different instructors and universities world wide. This can be free to the learner or offer certificates of completion. While these courses will not offer the learner credits, they provide valuable knowledge. In some cases these course can help learners prepare for upcoming classes they will be receiving credit from.

There is a lot to consider when planning a course. With every concept and component targeted towards the leaner. Not all courses created ( especially in distance learning ) are designed effectively for the learner to utilize. With more and more courses being made available, one has to carefully examine what is being offered, did the creator keep the learner in mind when planning and designing. I checked out Openculture.com from this weeks resources, this actually is my first experience with MOOCs, I only recently heard about them in this course. So this id definitely something new for me. Our text in chapter for points out that “ The key to success in an online class room is not which technologies are used, but but how they are used and what information is communicated using the technologies (Simonson et al., 2012). There are many open course websites, which is one of the first things I notice when I typed it in Google, to eliminate confusion for me I chose Open Culture, since it was offered in our resources. I browsed through several different courses being offered. One of the first thing I noticed was each course had a short introduction for learners to know what would be explored. This helps the learner a lot when deciding if the information is beneficial to them or not. It was explained in the first course I looked at that it was an introductory course, and that no prior knowledge was needed. It offered information about the instructor, the duration of the course. One of the key thing I like about this course was that it gave the learner options for tuning in either watching the lecture on video or thru a podcast. It also allowed learners to subscribe to a thread where more lectures would be offered. Learners are able to provide immediate feedback about the course since there was a comment section available. The layout here is very clear, and easily accessible for a learner. It did not require any additional downloaded which could take time away from the learning process. Another detail about this particular course is that it did not require registrations, it was a simple click on the course and you were there I the classroom.

As I continued to look through other courses offered I landed on a course that offered a “ statement of accomplishment”. This course was designed differently. The learner has different requirements such as first registering with the site that it is offered and then joining the course. Learners are able to see all the information regarding this course before joining. All the course materials and recommended material s were right there available for the learner to download and prepared. Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek (2010) advises us in chapter 4 that instructors of online courses must make the course organization, calendar, activities, and expectation as clear as possible. Students need this kind of instructor and detail to help them stay organized and on task. I believe that I seen two scales of planning in the courses I viewed, on one end it seems that an instructor simply stream his lecture and made it available to anyone studying that particular topic. It was easily accessible and did not require much effort of the learner. On another end the second course was well thought out. The instructor organized the sections to accommodate the learners needs. There was direction s within the course that guided students on what to do to participate. Simonson et al., 2012, says that students need to be trained to use the course website. Students can not use course web tools effectively if they do not know how. Provide clear instructions that learners can always reference back to.

Since there are so many open course sites available it becomes the learners responsibility to select which course offers content that will satisfy their educational need. Our job as designers are to make sure we are following solid objectives that promote learning.

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

OpenCulture. (2014). Retrieved October 4, 2014, from http://www.openculture.com/