Tag Archives: online learning

Some Salient Thoughts Related to Online Learning

The idea with online courses originally stems from extending learning to those that otherwise would not have access to it because of distance, connecting instructor and students, but also, and perhaps more so today, for convenience of students, such as scheduling (Shale, 2010, p.90-91).  One question I have been pondering is, do students learn to think as well in the online environment as they do in the face-to-face classroom? Continue reading


Let’s Change the World!

Dr. Lisa Dawley, Department Chair of EdTech, Boise State University, presents to the EdTech 597 class (Social Networks Learning in Virtual Worlds) on Participatory Learning, Online Learning, and Social Networking in this 52 minute audio recording from 11-12-09.

WMA file (37 MB – Windows Media Player required)

MP3 file (47 MB)

Dr. Dawley’s slides that go with the audio presentation are available through Slideshare. Run them while listening, for a unique experience.

Captured and published with Dr. Dawley’s  permission.

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Educational Psychology

An online course in Educational Psychology is in the works. My group of three professional and hard-working individuals has met, brainstormed, and kicked the project off the ground. Patrick Johnson, Sherrie Orr, and I are developing three learning modules for Dr. Byrd’s first-ever online class. We are helping her and her future students leveraging Second Life. Using learning modules, discussions, and research in-world this will be a top-notch course. Passionate about 21st century learners and the use of technology we are adding in-world activities to engage students and allow for them to visualize, experience, and immerse in learning.

Dr. Warren has kindly arranged a Moodle space for us to develop so that we can set up our online course design in the actual setting. This will provide us with a great opportunity not only to develop the paperwork that goes with the Instructional Design of an online course but also learn to set up the user interface. I took a Sloodle class today held by Fire Centaur to learn the use of the Second Life course management system. Sloode allows for seamless integration with Moodle and once I get access to the Moodle account, I will set it up.

Using Moodle and Sloodle we will be able to allow for both synchronous and asynchronous class discussions depending on student availability. We can have quizzes in-world that automatically submit grades to the Moodle grade-book, and we can have students create and share their work.

Using Second Life as a classroom Dr. Byrd can meet her class real-time and discuss topics from the book, invite presenters, and hold office hours. Being able to meet face-to-face with online students is priceless. Even if it’s only in the shape of an avatar on the screen, it provides the dispersed students with a sense of presence that they cannot get on a discussion board.

Our group will communicate using web2.0 technologies. Our initial meeting was a Skype conference call when we discussed our initial analysis that we had sent back and forth over email. We tried Google docs but a new folder feature in the Google interfaced messed us up and wouldn’t allow us to collaborate. We will also use Second Life as we test our learning modules and write the job aid.

Mostly this educational psychology course is an online course. As such, we will follow the guidelines set forth by MarylandOnline Quality Matters and their rubric for good online course development. Components that will be included are weekly reading, meetings, and discussion, podcasts, and videos. Students will be required to do weekly assignments, quizzes, and save materials for their final portfolios.

Our group’s challenge will be time as I see it. We have the team members, the passion, the spirit, the technology, the tools, the abilities needed. I know we can do this and do a great job with it. I have great confidence in our group.

Technology in the Classroom

I attended a great presentation at UTD today where Dr. Rhonda Blackburn talked about the use of technology in the classroom. Starting off by describing the differences between Digital Natives (those having grown up with digital technology) versus Digital Immigrants (adapting from older technology to digital technology) we went on to use clickers to answers questions about student use of technology based on data from 2007. Having us use clickers was an interesting way to ease us into this particular technology. They are easy to use, but do carry a purchase price and a registration fee for students. Therefore, it is important to ensure that you actually are going to use them in the classroom extensively, enhancing the instruction through their use, not just use them for attendance (which could be done). I can see a great use of clickers in classrooms where there are 40+ students as it provided a way to quiz and get immediate grading done as well as the opportunity to survey student opinion on questions, opening up the floor for discussion in these large classes. In an extension, Dr. Blackburn was looking into giving students the choice with the technology, of using a laptop or a Smartphone as clicker (if faculty allow their use in the classroom). This would become possible through Apple apps in collaboration with the eInstruction company that delivers this particular clicker-system to UT Dallas.

In her presentation Dr. Blackburn discouraged the use of technology when there was no reason for it. There needs to be goals for its use in the classroom and I can see how many educators want to try out technology in the classroom and then fail or have upset students because they don’t tie the use of the technology to something substantial in the educational experience.  In fact, I see that all the time in classes that I am taking.

An interesting question about how many hours of homework to estimate for, for students, came up during the presentation. The dialogue that followed brought out that 1-2 hours of homework per week per credit hour was reasonable. I am so ready to say that most my online courses are way over that. Do educators expect more from online students because they are online? I am ready to answer yes to that question.

Many different technology tools were mentioned during the presentation. I came away with a few new ones as well: bubble.us for brainstorming online,  Gcast for podcasting,  and Xanga which I need to look into. But – perhaps my greatest take away from the presentation was the information that all podcast and videos given students as assignments to listen to or watch, “should” also be be transcribed so that there is a written version – at least a summary thereof. That is, however, rare in classes. I will keep that in mind when I develop my courses.