Monthly Archives: July 2012

Is it worth taking distance learning?

After 2 weeks of intense learning in this subject matter, I can confidently say that YES, it is worth taking distance learning courses. There are many benefits that outweigh its challenges.

Here are a few reasons I believe that distance learning is worth it:

  • It’s good for bridging time and space (Dr. Kowch, 2012). When you are a busy mom and are working full time, it’s nice to have the flexibility of doing courses when you can find time. Whether that means you dedicate a night to course work or certain weekends, you can be flexible.
  • It enhances the learning experience (Heinich et al., 2002 as cited in Simonson et al., 2012). If designed well, a distance course can provide me with multiple ways of accessing and viewing materials. This can be done through audio, videos and visuals (diagrams/pictures/3D images). As Amber stated in class: “if you have a very good visual, it will make it easier to access the harder concepts” (Amber Mazur, 2012)
  • It allows users to review content several times. I like having the option to review course notes, reread assignment/group work expectations and deadlines. I can refer to discussions made in class by reading notes that were posted online.
  • “If it’s designed well, engagement won’t be a problem” (Brian ‘t Hart, 2012). It won’t be difficult to keep student’s attention if the content is interesting, well presented in various ways, allows for interaction and reflection.

So, the next time you are offered an opportunity to take a distance course, take a look at how it’s structured and designed and then enroll yourself in the class. If it’s well designed then you won’t be disappointed.

References:

Kahramaner, D., Rodriguez, J. & Kallman, B. (2012). Remote Learning Project. Retrieved from http://remotelearningproject.com/

The possibilities with Web 3.0 are endless

I was blown away in my class this week when Dr. Eugene Kowch explained our current Web 2.0 and the new and upcoming Web 3.0. For those of you who don’t know, Web 2.0 “allows users to interact and collaborate with each other in a social media dialogue as creators of user-generated content in a virtual community” (Web 2.0, n.d., para. 1). We use tools such as wikis, blogs, Google doc sharing and so forth to collaborate and create. We are very connected to content and others when using the world wide web.

The new features of Web 3.0 are being able to combine or integrate things and people together (Dr. Kowch, 2012). It will create an artificial intelligence where technology can problem solve and provide solutions based on known information. It can be as simple as turning off the lights when no one is in the room or checking the fridge’s inventory and making an online order to replenish food items. It will allow users to think in a way that was never possible before. This computer intelligence will affect the way we live, think and act. There are obvious advantages to having Web 3.0 and there is no doubt that it will make life a lot easier. I just hope that it never comes to the day when we base all our decisions the suggestions provided by artificial intelligence. I hope we will continue to be critical free thinkers when embracing and using this new technology.

To see a great example of Web 3.0, please view the video below:

**This video was shared by Dr. Eugene Kowch in our EDER 677 course. It was posted on his website and on YouTube**

Reference:

Web 2.0 (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_2.0

Visual medias in distributed learning environments

“Taking the time to develop good visual media will enhance the quality of the learning experience” (Heinich et al., 2002, p. 134).

Heinich et al. (2002) make a very good point. Good visuals will increase the interest in learning and will also assist with comprehension. Visuals need to be detailed so the important concepts are covered, but not too detailed to confuse or frustrate the learner. Audio or video media should not be too lengthy or you may loose the student’s interest. If it is lengthy cut it down by asking students to watch certain parts of a movie or edit a self made podcast to shorten it.

Let’s look at some sample visual media that could be used to explain Bernoulli’s principle of flight in grade 6. Which of these visuals would you prefer?

1)

2)

3)

I personally would prefer the third visual media. Not only does Dr. Carlson explain the principle using a demonstration, he showed how it applied to different materials and in different ways. I really got the understanding of how principle of lift works. I must also mention that the second visual is good too as it’s provides all the elements required to produce lift as well providing a concrete image for the visual learners. Unfortunately the first image falls a little short on explanation. It states the speed of the air above and below the wing, but neglects to explain why the air speeds are different and how that affects the air pressure on the wing.

Please answer my poll as I’m interested to see whether people agree or disagree with my choices.

References:

Carlson (2007, October 22). Bernoulli Effect – Science Theater 17 [Video file]. Retreived from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olVJzVadiFs

Eric MacDonald (2011, March 9). Science and the Rationality of the Creator [Web log post]. Retreived from http://choiceindying.com/2011/03/09/science-and-the-rationality-of-the-creator/

Ed Tech journals in elementary are rare

Did you know that it’s very difficult to find good peer reviewed material on educational technology in elementary? Educational technology is not a new concept. In fact, distant learning has been around for many decades. It was first used as an audio/video lecture for external students (students not on campus) at the secondary or post-secondary level. Now it can be used as a stand alone distance learning environment or a blended environment (M. Gosper et al., 2010).

Why has there been no need to try distant education for elementary students?

There can be two reasons for this:

1) People perceive early elementary students as incapable of understanding or accessing technology tools at such a young age

Although this may be true for some students, I believe that the majority of students are capable and eager to use new technology tools. In fact, my 4 year old son starting learning how to operate a mouse and turn on/off the computer at the age of 2.5 years. He now knows how to access YouTube, Netflix and mobile apps on his own. He can then navigate through these sites and find the information he needs. He’s well on his way and able to use technology tools. Same holds true for my second grade students this year. During projects and computer lab time, students will assist each other on using the different technology tools. They will help troubleshoot and introduce new tools they learned at home.

2) Young students aren’t able to guide their own learning

This is a statement than can be both true and false. I think it all depends on what teaching style and pedagogy the teacher uses (just like Dr. Kowch mentioned in class) and the readiness of the student. If the teacher creates an enviroment where students are trained to be independent learners and are motivated to work through learning models on d2l (Desire2Learn), then students can be quite successful at guiding their own learning. In fact, grade 2 and 3 students at Brian’s school are responsible for guiding their own learning. The teachers at his school provide students with a rubric of expecatations and responsibilities for learning and projects. On the otherhand, if students are very young (K-4), they will still need a lot of guidance and support through guiding their own learning. At these ages, children are just starting off with formalized learning and still need that guidance and on-on-one support to figure out what they need to learn and what needs to be learned. Most students may not be ready to take on their learning independently.

With the constant changes and advances in technology, ed tech journals in elementary may be more common than they are now.

Reference:

Gosper, M., McNeill, M., Phillips, R., Preston, G., Woo, K., & Green, D. (2010). Web-based lecture technologies and learning and teaching: A study of change in four Australian universities. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, Research in Learning Technology, 18(3), 251-263. Retrieved from http://www.researchinlearningtechnology.net/index.php/rlt/article/view/10768.

Teacher readiness is key

In class the other day, Amber asked how to get staff on board with the idea of learning new technologies or attending technology workshops.  This was a very intriguing question of which I had some ideas to the answer, but it wasn’t until Dr Kowch answered the question that I realized that teacher readiness is really the key answer to this problem.

Rogers S curve (1995)

Rogers addresses this idea using an S curve (see graph). It starts with innovators/early adopters to technology and goes all the way to laggards. If you wait for teachers to become laggard, you will more than likely be unsuccessful at getting them to “buy-in” to the new pedagogy/tool.

To motivate staff and get them ready for change, they will need to share a value in the innovation, in our case the student outcomes (Dr. E. Kowch). They then need to be provided with skills and knowledge, as well as support with content and pedagogy.

I wonder what would motivate my staff…

Our school currently uses skill surveys and optional technology workshops to meet teacher needs. We have done short pd on tools relevant to our practice. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone was motivated to learn about distributed learning by attending an e-pd course? How do we motivate busy, overworked teachers to take on this extra workload? My suggestion: explain the student outcomes associated with distributed learning and then incorporate course work into PLCs and PD days so they can complete assignments during their work hours.

Reference:

Paul Stacey (2010). Foundation Funded OER vs. Tax Payer Funded OER – A Tale of Two Mandates. Retrieved from http://edtechfrontier.com/tag/hewlett-foundation/

Would you use a bike or a Ferrari?

My instructor, Dr. Eugene Kowch, made a very interesting analogy today in regards to technology tools. He asked the class whether we would take a bike or drive a Ferrari to get some groceries at the store. The obvious answer is the bike as no one really needs a fancy car to pick up groceries (unless their bike was broken of course). The same analogy should apply when considering what technology tools to use in class. We should be asking ourselves if this tool will enhance the student’s learning or whether this is just a fancier way of doing a task that could be done more easily the way we do it now. Do we need to buy an iPad to watch movies when we have a perfectly functioning dvd player? Probably not. Could we use an iPad and install instructional gaming to support learning outcomes? Absolutely! So before buying or using that shiny new piece of technology we should always be asking ourselves if it will make a difference in our student’s learning.