EDUC-6145-1: WK 3 – Communicating Effectively

What puzzles me about the task set us this week is why the same language is used for all the three communication formats. Following prominent linguistic thought of the 20th century, I suggested in my EDUC-6135-1 Week4 discussion post that speaking and writing belong to different varieties of language-in-use (Bakhtin’s [2010] term speech genres may be more familiar to you). “The actual situation of the communication has evolved two varieties of language: the spoken and the written. . . . Each of these varieties has developed its own features and qualities which in many ways may be regarded as opposed to each other” (Galperin, 2012, p.35).

 Who-should-interact-with-your-PR-firmVsBonhommecrayon

To put it in very general terms, the difference between the two varieties of language is as follows:

“The situation in which the spoken variety of language is used and in which it develops, can be described concisely as the presence of an interlocutor. The written variety, on the contrary, presupposes the absence of an interlocutor. The spoken language is maintained in the form of a dialogue, the written in the form of a monologue. The spoken language has a considerable advantage over written, in that the human voice comes into play. This is a powerful means of modulating the utterance, as are all kinds of gestures, which, together with the intonation, give additional information. / The written language has to seek means to compensate for what it lacks. Therefore the written utterance will inevitably be more diffuse, more explanatory. In other words, it has to produce an enlarged representation of the communication in order to be explicit enough” (Galperin, 2012, p. 35).

Any utterance / message, if it is to sound natural and to be effective, should clearly demonstrate the characteristics that set it as belonging to either the spoken or the written variety. No one can make it belong to both. The context and format of communication determines one’s choice and sue of both linguistic and extralinguistic means.

Therefore, in this week’s assignment, at least one of the three communications is doomed to a resounding failure.

E-mail

text-email1

Communication through e-mail messages is purely written and puts constraints to bear on the message-sender and the message-recipient, the major constraints being that you cannot see the interlocutor, you cannot hear them, nor can you talk to them “to clarify the content, meaning, and implication of the message being sent” (Portny et al, 2008).

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The e-mail we are to analyze in terms of its effectiveness as a piece of communication is a short informal message, presumably, sent by one project team member to another. Although Jane, the message sender, seems to try to persuade Mark, the message recipient, to find time and invest some effort to provide her with the data she needs (as her own task depends on Mark’s task for completion), Jane does so in a most ineffective manner; her message is not informative: for example, it is not specific as to the time Mark still has to work on Jane’s request (she should have included a reference to the project timeline); moreover, Mark may be working on a few projects simultaneously, therefore, Jane should have included the name of the project and a reference to the task that she herself is engaged in. As Portny et al (2008) have it, “be specific”, “the clearer a request, the easier it is for the person to estimate the effort needed to respond to the request and to produce the right results the first time” (p.300).

Dr. Stolovitch (Laureate Education, n.d.a) specifically states that written communications should begin with a clear purpose, state the situation, include possible solutions, specify a response and avoid ambiguity – “communication that is clear, concise, and focused helps everyone stay on target and get the job done”.

As it is, Mark will have to contact Jane (that is if he chooses to do so) to clarify quite a few important points that she failed to include in her initial e-mail.

Jane does seem to be a poor diplomat when she expresses herself in writing. A piece of advice that I would offer Jane is not to rely on the first person singular that much, the use of “we” (the team) creates a greater sense of urgency and importance, as well as accountability. She should have let Mark feel that she is addressing him on behalf of the team, and that she is not really asking him to do anything beyond what he agreed to do. She should have implicitly let him understand that she is not asking him for a personal favor, but that the message is a routine reminder of the project timeline.

An ill-written message may, and often does, result in miscommunication.

Voice mail

phone-email

Considering that voicemail is still one-way communication, it should largely comply with the requirements for effective written communication in that it is to be highly explanatory, with the content carefully sequenced and worded. Therefore, all the critical comments I made on the e-mail transfer on the voicemail.

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However, all things equal, the voicemail seems to be more effective because, besides lexical, grammatical, and syntactical means, the sender has prosody to support the illocutionary force of the message and to achieve its pragmatic end (the perlocutionary act – the effect on the addressee) (Nayer, 2002). Tonality, intonation, pauses, tempo, sentence stress, variations in pitch all serve to help the sender encode and the recipient to decode the pragmatic implications of the message, making it easier to interpret (prosody is frequently used for signaling purposes to focus the listener’s attention on the most important information and, thus, building a better representation of the content [Mayer, 2008]), more informative, context enriching, and more personal.

Face-to-Face

face-email

Face-to-face communication allows the addresser the widest choice of communication tools possible, making it the preferred means of communication for a vast majority of people. Although it is the most economical in terms of time needed and the language means employed, it has the greatest potential for transmitting a message effectively and for ensuring it is decoded correctly. No wonder, the third format of communication in this week’s task – a face-to-face conversation – would come to many of those watching it as the most natural and effective of the three.

As Dr. Stolovich (Laureate Education, n.d.a) has it, communication is not just words – your spirit, attitude, tonality and body language, as well as timing, are even more important than the words you use. The use of body language is what primarily differentiated face-to-face communication from purely written or purely auditory messages.

“Body language is a kind of nonverbal communication, where thoughts, intentions, or feelings are expressed by physical behaviors, such as facial expressions, body posture, gestures, eye movement, touch and the use of space” (Wikipedia, n.d.).

Moreover, what makes face-to-face communication the most effective of the three dealt with in this week’s task is the use of dual coding as defined in the Multimedia Theory of Learning. The audio and visual inputs are the most natural way we communicate as human beings. Face-to-face communication is easiest to bring in alignment with such important principles of the Multimedia Theory of Learning as the Modality Principle, the Multimedia Principle, and the Personalization Principle (Mayer, 2008).

This week’s assignment offers a vivid illustration of what can foster or impede effective communication in different communication environments. It is important to mind the strengths and weaknesses of different modes of communication to be able to capitalize on the advantages that each of them offers and to reduce or minimize the communication deficiencies that waylay a unadept one.

Considering the fact that communication strategies should be tailored to fit the specific needs of a variety of stakeholder audiences (Laureate Education, n.d.b), a PM must be proficient in using any communication format that a particular stakeholder audience finds most convenient to use.

References

Bakhtin, M.M. (2010). Speech genre and other later essays (12th ed.). USA: University of Texas Press.

Galperin, I.R.(2012). English stylistics (4th ed.). Moscow: URSS.

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.a). Communicating with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.b). Practitioner voices: Strategies for working with stakeholders [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Mayer, R. E. (2008). Applying the science of learning: Evidence-based principles for the design of multimedia instruction. American Psychologist, 63(8), 760-769. doi:10.1037/0003

Nayer, V.L. (2002). Stylistics and pragmatics. Moscow: Moscow State Linguistic University

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Body language. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Body_language

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EDUC-6145-1: WK 2 – Project “Post Mortem”

I would like to devote this post to a project that I was involved in back in 2013. I was not the PM but a member of the project team (a functional employee [Portny et al, 2008]). At the time, I was an Assistant Lecturer at an HE institution, and the faculty were tasked with producing new summative assessment tools and summative assessment materials that would meet the Federal State Educational Standards being introduced in Russia 2013 to replace the State Educational Standards. The FSES were designed to meet the requirements of the Bologna Process and the competency-based approach to education and learning (Pursiainen & Medvedev, 2005).

The project’s outcomes were pitiful, with the new assessment materials low-quality, unverified, not proofread, and often invalid and unreliable. There were many PM mistakes that contributed to the project’s overall failure. The PM was Director of Studies, who had formal direct authority, whose office was located in a different campus, and whom the functional employees never really saw or communicated with – indeed, very few knew the name of the PM. Functional managers (heads of departments) served as intermediaries between the PM and the functional employees, though it was always one-way communication – directives passed down from the PM to the functional employees. That was Mistake No.1 – Poor team communication (Portny et al, 2008), which, inevitably, led to Mistake No.2 – Weak team leadership (Portny et al, 2008) and Mistake No.3 – Lack of commitment by all team members to the project’s success (Portny et al, 2008). There were attempts on the part of the PM and the functional managers to ‘remedy’ the commitment deficiency through coercive measures.

There were no clear objectives, either. The faculty were assigned a task that was in no way specified. It seemed that the team members were supposed to figure out for themselves what the finished product was expected to be. It felt like: Go there, I don’t know where; fetch me the what, I don’t know what! None of the faculty had an understanding of it was that they were supposed to do. No one knew in what way(s) the new FSES were different from the SES, and what the new approach to education implied. It seems only sensible to have provided a training session on the new standards and the competency-based approach raise the faculty’s awareness; however, it was all left to chance.

As for assigning tasks to the team members, the PM took a very short-cut: each member of the faculty was responsible for the summative assessment tools and materials for each course that he/she taught. This resulted in a highly uneven distribution of workload: some taught one credit-hour-heavy course (worth 6 or more credit hours), while other had several shorter courses (only 3 credit hours each). As there was no financial reward involved, and the project tasks were supposed to be done in addition to the routine teaching activities and mostly outside the workplace for there was no hardware available, the distribution of workload issue caused many a conflict between the team members. According to Greer (2010), the effort and resources were largely underestimated.

Now I see that we were rushed into the Perform phase while the Define phase was not complete (Portny et al, 2008). There was no timeline, no milestones to keep the team members “focused on upcoming tasks, elapsed project time, and remaining project time” (Greer, 2010, p.23), only the deadline, therefore, it is no wonder that many of the team members shelved the task and procrastinated. However, in the end, they proved to have done the right thing. The few who started developing summative assessment tools the moment the project was announced launched, had a lot to redo later, when the PM, finally, specified the task, which was two weeks before the deadline and was, in fact, a major scope change (Greer, 2010). According to the specifications, the only assessment tool that was acceptable for the project was a 100-item multiple-choice test (a strange requirement for the competency-based approach, which should be more consistent with constructivism tenets [Bamform-Rees et al, 2013]).

I shudder to remember myself working almost 24/7 during the ten-day public holiday (May 1 – May 10) in order to prepare such tests for the 7 seven courses that I taught and which, not infrequently, ill-fit any assessment based on recall – it was working against time.

I am not at all proud of or satisfied with part of what I produced. I am certain, my colleagues and I would have done a lot better had we been allowed a chance to, that is, if the project has been better planned.

References

Bamford-Rees, D., Doyle, B., Klein-Collins, B., &Wertheim, J. (2013). 2013 CAEL forum & news: Competency-based education. Council for Adult and Experiential Learning/CAEL.

Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc.

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Pursiainen, C., & Medvedev, S.A. (2005). The Bologna process and its implications for Russia: The European integration of higher education. Moscow: RECEP.

EDUC 6135-1: Week 8 – Reflection

Educators frequently refer to distance education as a disruptive technology (Simonson et al, 2012). Web-enhanced and blended learning seem to have already gained universal acceptance, with online education quickly following suit, and the trend is hardly surprising considering the fact that DE is based on technology utilized to foster learning. The proliferation of technology “has precipitated far-reaching changes in society”, transforming the way people communicate, interact, and access information (Garrison & Anderson, 2001, p.51), which, in its turn, has changed people’s educational preferences.

1However, different countries show different patterns of DE acceptance and adoption (Osborne, January 9, 2013). Most of the EDUC-6135-1 resources on the perceptions of distance learning as demonstrated by different segments of society are confined to the US educational environment. At present, the situation in the Russia Federation is different. “Educational experts say Russia may be lagging five-to-seven years behind the rest of the world”, with the e-learning market still in its embryonic stage (Koshkin, June 16, 2014, para 4). The figures that surveys of US faculty (see, for example, Lederman & Jaschik August 27, 2013; Straumsheim, October 29, 2014), students, and employers (see, for example, Grassgreen, February 26, 2014) show are, perhaps, the figures that Russia will hopefully show in five-to-seven years’ time. I do not think, things will change sooner, for, as I repeatedly said in my discussion postings, human attitudes and values take time to change. The new learner-centered educational paradigm, the very concept of a new learning ecology (Siemens, 2003) is too much of a cultural and conceptual shift for many to genuinely embrace it overnight. Educational rhetoric is not the same as genuine appreciation, nor does it promote appreciation or understanding among those immediately involved in education or those indirectly concerned (the general stakeholders). More often than not this kind of rhetoric is counterproductive; people have seen too much MBBS (management by best seller) to be willing to embrace innovation (McAllaster, 2004), especially in a field so encumbered with “tradition” as education.

2Moreover, there are organizational and operational issues to be addressed. For example, Dmitry Repin, director of the Moscow-based Digital October technology center which seeks to foster MOOCs in Russia, points out such problems as “the need to localize content by translating it from English” and “a difficult adjustment of online courses to Russian universities’ curricula” (Koshkin, June 16, 2014, para 9). The latter problem can only be solved on a government level with industry and societal needs in mind. It is the synergy of three forces – the university, the state, and the business – that should reshape education. Broadly speaking, these are the three forces that provide answers to the What-to-teach, Why-to-teach, and How-to-teach questions; and these are the forces that constitute the Triple Helix model of education (Laureate Education, n.d.; LeuphanaIPM, July 1, 2014) provides a structure which demonstrates the synergy of the forces to be involved in an educational transformation.

triple_helix_model

3Learners in Russia seem to be less biased and prejudiced against distance learning than the providers of educational services. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit (as cited by Koshkin, June 16, 2014), “Russians spent about $10 billion annually to enroll in on-line courses in foreign universities” (para 7). It proves that distance education is increasingly seen by Russian learners as valid; the major task now it to make the ultimate decision-makers see the validity of DE and urge HE institutions to create and promote online programs that demonstrate such features as academic integrity and academic fidelity (Gambescia & Paolucci, 2009).

However, as Osborne (January 9, 2013) puts it, “bureaucracy is likely to get in the way” (para 9). Vlasov (September 3, 2013), for example, claims that schools and universities still follow their outdated curricula because “many programs are already obsolete by the time the Ministry of Education gets round to approving them”, which “is partly down to the poor quality of the programs themselves, and partly down to the bureaucratic barriers that stand in the way of the introduction of the most advanced education technologies” (para 3).

My first ID contribution will be to create quality online PD courses for the faculty and K-12 teachers, courses intended and specifically designed to serve as a thorough distance learning orientation that is immediately as contextually relevant for the participants (Cooper & Cowie, 2010; Moller et al, 2008). Smith (2011) expresses the idea very succinctly and clearly:

“Professional development does not easily occur because of external regulations, it depends more on the extent to which the individual teacher experiences a need for change….Professional development is … an internal process the teacher goes through, it is related to examination of current practice, learning, understanding, change in attitudes, all of which lead to changed practice” (p.56).

4According to Dr. David L. Elliott (Sull, July 4, 2008), “the key to quality education, online or classroom, is the interaction between faculty and students”, and “having qualified educators with a commitment to their students and the subject, regardless of the modality of instruction, remains the single most important factor in quality education” (para.9). It is hands-on personal experience that may help teachers to develop an appreciation of online learning and see its potential. The teachers must experience a learner-centered approach as learners to become discontent with and to reconsider their own teacher-centered practices that are no longer (that is, if they ever were) acceptable either in F2F or in distance education as unable to construct an educational environment in which “students would not only learn, but where they would learn to learn”, that is develop “critical thinking and self-directed learning abilities that can serve the individual over a lifetime”, which is an imperative in a knowledge economy (Garrison & Anderson, 2001, p.61). With teachers’ buying in, a true educational reform becomes a reality.

I am certain, I will often refer to my own first-hand experiences as a distance learner when talking to prospective clients and/or create learning objects. I think, I will be involved in facilitating PD programs on distance learning and do my best to practice what I preach. However, if I am to do that, I must keep current with both DE and ID developments, which, for lack of other viable options, I will do by following professional blogs, websites, and academic publications.

References

Cooper, B. & Cowie, B. (2010). Collaborative research for assessment for learning. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26 (2010), 979-986. doi:10.1016/j.tate.2009.10.040

Gambescia, S., & Paolucci, R. (2009). Academic fidelity and integrity as attributes of university online degree program offerings. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 12(1). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/spring121/gambescia121.html

Grasgreen, A. (February 26, 2014). Ready or not. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/02/26/provosts-business-leaders-disagree-graduates-career-readiness#sthash.iN5jaD97.dpbs.

Koshkin, P. (June 16, 2014). E-learning in Russia: Proceed with caution. Retrieved from http://www.russia-direct.org/analysis/e-learning-russia-proceed-caution

Laureate Education (Producer). (n.d.). The future of distance education [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Lederman, D., & Jaschik, S. (August 27, 2013). Survey of faculty attitudes on technology. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/survey/survey-faculty-attitudes-technology.

LeuphanaIPM (Producer). (July 1, 2014). Insights into the Triple Helix Model [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pn2sjPxhBQ

McAllaster, C. M. (2004). The 5 P’s of change: Leading change by effectively utilizing leverage points within an organization. Organizational Dynamics. 33(3), 318-328.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66-70.

Osborne, C. (January 9, 2013). Top ten predictions for online learning in 2013.Retrieved from http://www.zdnet.com/article/top-ten-predictions-for-online-learning-in-2013/?tag=content%3Bsiu-container#.UUCUKgTXh5o.

Siemens, G. (2003). Learning ecology, communities, and networks: Extending the classroom. Retrieved from http://www.elearnspace.org/Articles/learning_communities.htm.

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

Smith, K. (2011). Professional development of teachers – A prerequisite for AfL to be successfully implemented in the classroom. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 37 (2011), 55-61. doi:10.1016/j.stueduc.2011.03.005.

Straumsheim, C. (October 29, 2014). Online ed skepticism and self-sufficiency: Survey of faculty views on technology. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/survey/online-ed-skepticism-and-self-sufficiency-survey-faculty-views-technology.

Sull, E.C. (July 4, 2008). What’s the future of online education? Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/asynchronous-learning-and-trends/asynchronous-learning-trends-what%E2%80%99s-the-future-of-online-education/.

Vlasov, A. (September 3, 2012). What is wrong with higher education in Russia? Retrieved from http://valdaiclub.com/culture/48440.html.

Image is retrieved from LeuphanaIPM, July 1, 2014: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0pn2sjPxhBQ

Click on the link for a pdf. version of the Reflection

Five Alternatives to the Talking Head Video for MOOCs & Online Courses

Online Learning Insights

VideoCameraCircleMost xMOOCs, and some for-credit online courses rely heavily upon what many refer to as the ‘talking head’ video format. The ‘talking head’ is usually the subject-matter expert delivering a lecture in his or her area of expertise. There’s great value in this format when used strategically and sparingly. Yet the effectiveness of lecture videos as a primary content source for online courses and MOOCs is difficult to determine. Thanks to a comprehensive study done via edX  we have data on student engagement patterns with videos specific to MOOCs to draw upon (Guo, Kim & Rubin, 2014). Key findings include:

  • The optimal video length is six minutes or shorter
  • Videos produced with a more personal feel could be more engaging than high-fidelity studio recordings
  • Khan-style tablet drawing tutorials (screencasts) are more engaging than PowerPoint slides

Video Viewing Patterns: A Non-MOOC Perspective
There is also data on student video engagement in non-MOOC courses to consider. The School of Continuing Education at Columbia University examined video viewing patterns of…

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The course I will be looking at this week is K-12 Blended & Online Learning by Anissa Lokey-Vega, Ph.D., and Jordan P Cameron. The course is offered in partnership by Kennesaw State University (KSU) and the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), “the leading professional organization devoted to advancing quality online learning providing professional development, instruction, best practice publications and guidance to educators, online learning professionals and organizations around the world” (Coursera.org, n.d., para.4).

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According to Daphne Koller, Coursera co-founder, the mission of the Coursera project is to entice “top universities to put their most intriguing courses online for free — not just as a service, but as a way to research how people learn and how knowledge is processed” (Koller, June, 2012). From the Learning Theories perspective, the course is arranged in compliance with a mix of two theories: the cognitive and the constructivist learning theory. From the Distance Learning Theory perspective, the course appears to be grounded in Malcolm Knowles’ Theory of Adult Learning in that it provides “a psychological environment that provides for a feeling of mutual respect, collaborativeness, trust, openness, and authenticity” and “promotes respect and dignity for the adult learner”; allows for “options regarding learning activities”; includes “clear course descriptions, learning objectives, resources, and timeless for events”; and encourages participation based on both felt and ascribed needs (Simonson et al, 2012, pp.50-51).

The course under consideration, K-12 Blended & Online Learning, is ongoing and, although it is its Week4 and the late registration will not earn the learner a PD certificate, the course is still open for registration and content-browsing. Thus, the course provides an opportunity for flexible participation.

The course does not target K-12 teachers only, but is intended to introduce all those interested to K-12 blended and online learning. To make learner-learner communication more targeted and focused on the interest shared by a group of participants, each discussion forum has sub-forums: General Discussion, Discussion for Elementary teachers, Discussion for Middle School teachers, Discussion for High School Teachers. Each student can choose the sub-forum to contribute to (the number of sub-forums for a learner to participate in and benefit from is not limited). There is also a Forum Reputations (Top Forum Posters) option for the discussion forum participants to be able to view their own place in the discussion contribution rating as well as to read/reread the posts which the instructors and the course participants rated as top-of-the-week. Moreover, each week closes with a week wrap-up video in which one the instructors summarizes the opinions voiced by the learners, reiterated the main issues studied, and provides recommendations on how to approach the next week’s materials and activities.

Although those aspiring at earning a PD certificate are obliged to “design a blended or online unit and develop one module to use with K12 students” to earn the “50 professional learning hours” or to be eligible to submit their course scores “to Kennesaw State University’s assessment center for graduate course credit towards a graduate degree in education” (Coursera.org., n.d., para.2), the course provides options for flexible participation for those interested in simply acquiring knowledge or engaging in a unique learning experience (Walden University, n.d.).

The course is linear-programmed (Simonson et al, 2012), has clear course policies, well-defined instructional objectives, and assessment information (Simonson et al, 2012); the design of the materials takes into account the principles of the Multimedia Learning Theory (Mayer, 2007; Simonson et al, 2012): besides the reading materials, the course offers video lectures supported by such options as downloadable transcripts or subtitles. Each participant receives weekly information letters outlining the week’s activities, which produces an effect of social presence (Simonson et al, 2012).

The detailed syllabus, high-quality videos, options for flexible participation by K-12 professionals as well as a broader community, high-quality facilitation, learning activities that promote learner engagement, and various knowledge assessment tools (including peer-assessments) all testify to the fact that a lot of planning went into the course. And although there are cases of attrition, I am certain, participants leave the course for reasons that have little, if anything, to do with the course design and/or implementation.

References

Coursera.org. (n.d.). K-12 Blended & Online Learning. Retrieved from https://www.coursera.org/course/k12blendedlearning?from_restricted_preview=1&course_id=974229&r=https%3A%2F%2Fclass.coursera.org%2Fk12blendedlearning-002

Koller, D. (June, 2012). What we’re learning from online education [Video]. Retrieved from http://www.ted.com/talks/daphne_koller_what_we_re_learning_from_online_education.

Mayer, R. E. (2007). Five features of effective multimedia messages: An evidence-based approach. In Fiore, S. M., & Salas, E. (Eds.). Toward a science of distributed learning (pp. 171–184). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

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

Walden University [Producer]. (n.d.). Application: Blog—The Impact of Open Source. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_6529293_1&content_id=_23289753_1

How Interactive is Your Online Course? Self-Assess with this Rubric

It is an excellent and insightful post on a most important aspect of online learning. Thank you.

Online Learning Insights

Online instructors and course designers can enhance existing online courses and create active, engaging courses by considering five elements included in an adapted version of Robyler and Ekhamil’s “Rubric for Assessing Interactive Qualities of Distance Courses” described (and embedded) below. 

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Interactivity is a much discussed topic in online learning. It’s considered the essential ingredient for quality learning. It’s also considered the missing element in online learning—an element that critics claim make face-to-face learning superior. There is no question that interactivity is a necessary component of online, for-credit education. Three out of seven principles presented in Chickering and Gamson’s seminal paper “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education(1987) stress interaction and active learning: Principle 1. encourage contact between students and faculty, 2. develop reciprocity and cooperation among students, and 3. encourage active learning. Chickering and Gamson’s principles are just as relevant to online education as they are to face-to-face instruction. Also worth…

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EDUC 6135-1 Week 3 Assignment – Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

Teamwork Business Company

As Brown and Adler (2008) emphasize, a highly competitive innovative company boasts a workforce who “acquire new knowledge and skills on an almost continuous basis” (career-mobile life-long learners); however, hardly anyone already pursuing a career has ample opportunity to engage in full-time formal education, and on-line tools that promote a learner’s active participation and engagement in the learning process are increasingly viewed by many as effective complements, supplements or adequate (or even superior) substitutes for the conventional face-to-face instruction (Redecker et al, 2009).

More and more businesses come to realize that professional development and training is pivotal to organizational success; however, “training budgets continue to decrease, and doing ‘more with less’ is a repeated utterance throughout the [ID] profession. No matter the study, training budgets have been and continue to reduce or run flat” (Pontefract, 2011, para.4). Considering the budget constraints, one of the best possible ID solutions to create high-quality training that meets the needs of the 21-century learner and is grounded in learner-centered, “contribution-oriented pedagogy” (Beldarrain, 2006) is to resort to new Web2.0 technologies.

Web 2.0 tools, which afford a user an opportunity not just to access information but to actively engage in generating and distributing content, have contributed to a lot of innovations in pedagogy and instruction. By focusing on knowledge constructed through social interactions rather than acquired from or delivered by the instructor (Brown & Adler, 2008; Redecker, 2009; Redecker et al, 2009; Simonson et al, 2012), Web 2.0 technologies have transformed learning paradigms (Redecker et al, 2009) and shifted educational agendas from the traditional supply-push instruction issues to the development of demand-pull approaches to learning and instruction (Brown & Adler, 2008) which put the learner at the center by changing teacher and student roles (Simonson et al, 2012) and “better accommodating the interests and needs of students within educational systems”, emphasizing “the importance of making ‘learner voice’ heard”, enabling “peer-to-peer learning” and “a greater personalization of education” (Redecker, 2009, pp.40-41; also in Redecker et al, 2009), and stressing “learning to learn”, which “requires individuals to learn autonomously and with self-discipline, organising [sic] their own learning, evaluating and reflecting upon their progress and seeking advice, information and support when appropriate” (Redecker et al, 2009, p. 25), which are the skills and learning strategies prerequisite for successful life-long learning.

Case-Study

Consider the following scenario:

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.

It is obvious that the scenario calls for an asynchronous distance learning approach which would allow the trainees to access the learning materials and provide feedback while physically situated in different locations and different time zones. Such a Web2.0 tool as a wiki could solve the issue of geographical and time differences, and allow the ID creating the training workshop to meet the requirements set by the client organization.

A wiki is one of the most useful types of asynchronous groupware to advance social learning, which is based on constructivism and collaboration (Beldarrain, 2006). Wikis are widely used at all levels of instruction to produce dynamic co-creative learning environments. Practical applications of wikis are numerous: from team project development, collecting/ sharing information (text, images, video, audio), and discussions to creating digital portfolios (Richardson, 2010).

From a purely educational perspective, wikis serve to “enhance reflection as well as analytical, critical and creative thinking by encouraging students to engage with positions divergent from their own”, thus improving peer assessment, teamwork, communication, general social and civic skills; as well as to “promote more engaged learning, increasing student motivation and participation” by giving the wiki participants “a sense of responsibility, authorship and ownership” and fostering “deeper and more meaningful interactions” (Redecker, 2009, p.33; also in Redecker et al. 2009).

The wiki as a learning tool rests on the Engagement Theory, according to which, collaborative efforts and project-based learning “lead to engagement and authentic learning” (Beldarrain, 2006, p.148).

Wikis have already proven to be effective learning tools, and some major corporations, for example, IBM, fully rely on wikis for employee training (Ruffolo, 2008).

References

Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2), 139-153

Brown, J. S., & Adler, R. P. (2008). Minds on fire: Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. EDUCAUSE Review, 43(1), 16–32.

Pontefract, D. (2011). Learning With and From Others: Restructuring Budgets for Social Learning. Retrieved from http://www.danpontefract.com/learning-with-and-from-others-restructuring-budgets-for-social-learning/

Redecker, C. (2009). Review of Learning 2.0 practices: Study on the impact of Web 2.0 innovations on education and training in Europe. JRC Scientific and Technical Reports. Luxembourg: European Commission & Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. Retrieved from https://observatorio.iti.upv.es/media/managed_files/2009/03/12/JRC49108_.pdf

Redecker, C., Ala-Mutka, K., Bacigalupo, M., Ferrari, A., & Punit, Y. (2009). Learning 2.0: The impact of Web 2.0 innovations on education and training in Europe: Final report. JRC Scientific and Technical Reports. Luxembourg: European Commission & Institute for Prospective Technological Studies. Retrieved from http://ftp.jrc.es/EURdoc/JRC55629.pdf

Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms. USA: Corwin, SAGE.

Ruffolo, R. (2008). IBM uses wiki approach to corporate training. Retrieved from http://www.itworldcanada.com/article/ibm-uses-wiki-approach-to-corporate-training/4494

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