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Mobile Computing

June 15, 2010

Power in the palm of your hands – The age of mobile computing

Mobile Computing, in general, and mobile-learning (m-learning), in particular, is my innovation of choice. Mobile computing is the use of network-capable devices that most students carry to access school, public, and private networks for communication and collaboration. Parson and Ryu (2006) broadly defined m-learning as the delivery of learning content to learners utilizing mobile computing devices. M-learning is made possible by the existence and application of mobile hardware and networking technology. By exploring the capabilities of these technologies, it is possible to construct a picture of how different components of m-learning can be implemented. With over 4 billion subscribers worldwide, of whom more than two-thirds live in developing countries, mobile computing will see an unprecedented flow of continuous enhancement and innovation. Smart phones and netbooks are among the growing list of portable tools for productivity, learning, and teaching. In September 2009, the fastest-growing sales segment belonged to smart phones with a 27 % increase in sales when compared to regular mobile phones. This growth is indicative of the increase in the number of worldwide users who will have wireless access to a network from virtually anywhere. With applications in education ranging from cyber universities (Martin & Samels, 2009) to North Carolina State University mobile libraries to filling medical prescriptions, mobile computing is an innovation that is changing the way students learn and educators teach.

The portability of smart devices and their connectivity to the internet from almost anywhere makes them ideal as a digital repository of reference materials and learning experiences, including general-use tools for fieldwork where users can record observations via voice, text, or multimedia and access references in real time. A current application of mobile computing includes library access at Ball State University as described in their Mobile Computing Project PowerPoint presentation (see their mobile site). Additionally, following the model of Japan’s Fukuoka-based cyber university, colleges in the United States are planning full, media-rich course delivered via smart phone (see Martin and Samels’ article).

Problems and challenges

Web format – An ongoing need is for the modification of web pages to work better on small screen devices. That means, more short pages, easy-to-read fonts, easy-to-navigate, minimal images, and anywhere access. In other words, users cannot fully utilize web content without these modifications. Consequently, educational web developers need to redesign web pages with mobile computing and m-learning in mind if users are to view and interact with their web content.

Procedural/Administrative – The main issues to overcome for successful diffusion are concerns about privacy, classroom management, and accessibility across networks. The upcoming ISTE-2010 conference in Denver, Colorado includes sessions that address mobile computing and how to overcome the issues for diffusion.

(See “Experts Talk About Mobile-Learning Challenges” Education Week’s interview with Christopher Dede, Cathleen Norris, and Elliot Soloway)

Societal needs met and benefits

The current mobile devices are better, faster, and smarter, in concert with higher capacity networks. Using Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G, and WiMax, providers can stream video over mobile networks. Additionally, present-day cost/performance for device ownership and subscription fees is better than ever. Students have embraced audio/e-book services and are taking mobile search for quick facts, virtual tours, video tutorial, instructional videos, entertainment, etc. for granted. Mobile computing is increasingly supporting teaching and learning (CMS). Information is available everywhere.

Enhancing mobile computing

While the issues identified are part of the developmental process as users adopt an innovation, they are not “pitfalls” per se. Perhaps a new NETS standard for m-learning will pave the way for expectations and requirements in teaching and learning with mobile devices. Increasing training for teachers in m-learning using mobile devices will provide effectiveness of management of dissemination of content and learner assessment. Furthermore, such training will erode if not remove psychological barriers for m-learning to be fully adopted. Educational administrators need to review policies on student using mobile devices during school hours. Service providers and mobile device manufacturers have to introduce mobile system software that makes unique device interoperable.

Websites

University of Michigan’s launch of MLearning at the department of Internal Medicine where users can access and track learning.

Mobile Learning Institute – Shaping the future of teachers and students through mobile technologies and 21st-century skills.

6th IEEE WiMob 2010 Conference at Niagara Fallas, Canada.

References

Martin, J., & Samels, J.E. (2009, September). Cellular colleges: The next small thing. Retrieved on June 12, 2010, from http://www.universitybusiness.com/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=1233

Parsons, D., & Ryu, H. (2006). A framework for assessing the quality of mobile learning. Massey University website. Retrieved on June 14, 2010, from: http://www.massey.ac.nz/~hryu/M-learning.pdf

Learner Assessment

February 17, 2010

The following are the six articles (sorted by first author’s last name), among others, that I used in the development and production of the video on Learner Assessment.

Barfurth, M., & Michaud, P. (2008). DIGITAL VIDEO TECHNOLOGIES AND CLASSROOM PRACTICES. International Journal of Instructional Media, 35(3), 301-315. Retrieved from Academic Search Complete database.
This study investigated the use of digital video in the classroom and its impact on teachers’ practices and professional development. Over a two-year period, the two investigators analyzed perceptions and practices of fifteen teachers using digital video technology. This experience gave participating teachers the skill to develop successful classroom management practices to accommodate DV technology with most teachers having changed their teaching processes. This led to more student-centered ways of teaching and the design of projects tailored to meet specific teaching constraints and individual learning needs. The researchers noted that teachers had gained knowledge about teaching and related digital video practices from their teaching in the classroom and through collaboration with other teachers. This is in contrast to the more traditional approach emphasizing the acquisition of abstract principles and isolated “how to” knowledge. This has implications for the planning of effective professional development programs and the role of technology that supports pedagogical change of which learner assessment is a central part.

Cherret, T., Wills, G., Price, J., Maynard, S., & Dror, I.E. (2009). Making training more cognitively effective: Making videos interactive. British Journal of Educational Technology, 40(6), 1124-1134.
The authors observed the development of interactive video to determine the role of learners in presenting work that enhances learner assessment. The researchers studied seventy-five 2nd-year undergraduate civil engineering students when exposed to traditional lecture-based courses and those who utilized the interactive component of videos. It would have been helpful if the authors used a more rigorous approach to analyzing the data in terms of a detailed questionnaire as opposed to short, evaluative ones. The authors noted from the results that videos enhanced comprehension and facilitated superior learner assessment.

Dreon Jr., O., & Dietrich, N. (2009). Turning Lemons into Lemonade: Teaching Assistive Technology through Wikis and Embedded Video. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 53(1), 78-80.
The article focuses on teaching assistive technology (AT) in the K-12 classroom as part of the Instructional Technology courses for pre-service teachers at Millersville University of Pennsylvania. They developed a solution through the YouTube video after one pre-service teacher student demonstrated how such AT device functioned and helped the student in the classroom during a field placement experience. Then they created their class wiki by getting the pre-service teachers post YouTube and TeacherTube videos that demonstrated AT. The reason for this student choosing the article was the important aspect of blending technologies within a YouTube presentation. Furthermore, videos are a good example of an assistive technology provided the assistance is rendered in the manner most suitable for the user. Believing that one would use YouTube to present the final video, this article gave further support for the rationale and the scope of the exercise.

Harris, S., Barden, B., Walker, H., & Reznek, M. (2009). Assessment of student learning behaviors to guide the integration of technology in curriculum reform. Information Services & Use, 29(1), 45-52.
In this study, the authors characterized medical students’ learning behaviors and preferences related to information technology (IT) and assessed their educational needs related to advances in IT and simulation in order to optimize curriculum and educational space design. The researchers administered an online survey to all medical students enrolled in graduate medical education at Emory University School of Medicine. The survey assessed subjects’ demographic data, current technology usage, and experiences and preferences related to: informatics, facilities, online learning, staff support and simulation. The response rate was 49% (214 of 440). Ninety five percent of respondents reported computer use of greater than 6 hours per week, and 75% reported owning and regularly using a laptop computer. Fifty five percent of students reported being under-prepared for the application of clinical informatics in their practice despite their systematically seeking computer-based learning modalities, Forty nine percent of students prefer group learning and prioritize large group learning areas with large desks. The choice of this article was because this student needed to have support for his argument that integrating a video into a curriculum does affect sustained learning behaviors.

Kirkwood, A., & Price, L. (2008). Assessment and student learning: a fundamental relationship and the role of information and communication technologies. Open Learning, 23(1), 5-16.
This article is the central reference for the video project as it engages the topics of learner assessment and information communication technology (ICT). The author reviewed the role of assessment in student learning and its relationship to the use of information and communication technologies (ICT). Considering the ample evidence of technology-led innovations failing to achieve the transformations expected by educators, the author drew upon existing research (meta-analysis) to illustrate the links between aspects of student learning, assessment practices, and the use of ICT. Assessment influences not only what parts of a course to which students pay closest attention but also how those parts are studied. While the adoption of ICT does not, in and of itself, change student behaviors, appropriately designed assessment that exploits the potential of ICT can change students’ approaches to learning. The author made a strong argument that ICT can enable the achievement of important learning outcomes, but the assessment strategy must from the basis that cues students to adopt a suitable approach to learning.

Schmidt, D., Baran, E., Thompson, A., Mishra, P., Koehler, M., & Shin, T. (2009). Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK): The Development and Validation of an Assessment Instrument for Preservice Teachers. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(2), 123-149.
Based in Shulman’s idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge, Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) has emerged as a useful frame for describing and understanding the goals for technology use in preservice teacher education. Shulman’s paper addressed the need for a survey instrument designed to assess TPACK for preservice teachers. The paper described survey development process and results from a pilot study on 124 preservice teachers. Data analysis procedures included Cronbach’s alpha statistics on the TPACK knowledge domains and factor analysis for each domain. Results suggested that, with the modification and/or deletion of 18 of the survey items, the survey is a reliable and valid instrument that will help educators design longitudinal studies to assess preservice teachers’ development of TPACK. One of the problems with this presentation is that Shulman offers minimal explanation of the reasoning behind the deletion of the 18 survey items. The rationale for using this paper was to develop an interactive survey for the video that would aid in learner assessment since understanding the effectiveness of one’s teaching was a key concept behind the video.

Concept Map for Technology and Media for Distance Education

February 7, 2010

 

I have identified and described the examples presented in my Concept Map in the text that follows.

Static Content

The web is, by its very nature and scope, the seedbed for both static and dynamic content. The quantum of content availability will boggle the mind as it would the educator’s decision-making ability to choose the most appropriate, the most reliable, and the most up-to-date learning and teaching resource.

Questia: Online libraries, databases, and specialized digital repositories afford the online student unlimited content. The world’s largest digital library of education; Questia, an online library, offers its subscribers multiple thousands of journals and books.

Khan Academy: A valuable resource is the Khan academy that includes teaching videos on numerous topics. 

Online Tutorials: Online SPSS tutorials facilitate clarification on the details of statistics and its application.

Static Collaboration

Wiki Spaces: One of the more popular collaborative tools is wiki pages that are simple to use for friends, colleagues, fellow-students, and business associates. It is essentially free and is easy to use with the distinct advantage of simplicity and effectiveness.

Writeboard: Writeboard is free collaborative writing software that one can use to write, edit, track changes, and rollback to previous versions. This software is particularly useful for authors, editors, and publishers, students, instructors and others who may be collaborating on a paper. One of the advantages of this web-based collaborative tool is that it facilitates the comparison of previous versions of a document.

Spicebird: Spicebird is an open source platform that boasts of an all-in-one suite of communication tools for people who want to collaborate online. Features include email, instant messaging, and an online calendar. It provides easy access to various web services while retaining all the advantages of a desktop application.

Static Communication

Ning: Ning for education is another social networking tool that has grown in popularity. It is the social platform for the world’s interests and passions online where millions congregate to share in the excitement of exploration and expression of common interests, and indulge in new discoveries of distributed pursuits. It provides for network creation and development.

Skype: Skype  permits transmitting and receiving of voice and images over IP used by millions around the world for effective communication. Variations in Skype resources will continue to afford both static and dynamic application.

Blogs: Blogs give you the venue for expression and twitter facilitates your sharing and discovering what is happening right now, anywhere in the world.

Dynamic content

Math Simulations:  Online simulation for statistical calculations that analyze the x and z values and the normal distribution

Simulation Games: A sophisticated POD game where players are transported into the middle of a drug-dispensing center after a small plane has released Anthrax over a city. This game simulates the actions of the health department as first responders and healthcare professionals in the wake of a looming tragedy of monumental proportions.

Simulation Labs: The virtual chemistry labs as developed by Carnegie Mellon University are powerful simulation tools.

Dynamic Collaboration

Team Player:  Team Player 2.2 for Windows allows multiple people to work together on the same computer, edit review documents, discuss ideas and receive feedback from one’s audience. The latest version supports dual and multiple monitor setups. The SandBox is a playground for multi-user projects. In each project different objects can be dragged around while the group finds answers, play games, create new content etc. stimulating group interaction. The SandBox is the first release in a series of true multi-user applications. This feature gives you a glimpse of what multi-user computing is all about!

Interactive Whiteboard: An interactive whiteboard power is now the hands of instructors and students in a more traditional setting. The ēno mini slate allows the creation and delivery of engaging lessons and presentations from anywhere in the room. ēno mini is the mobile companion to the ēno interactive whiteboard, providing even more flexibility and multi-touch collaboration. Students can participate in lessons from the comfort of their seats and teachers are free to move around the class to continue instruction. 

Groupboard Designer: Groupboard Designer is a multi-user whiteboard annotation/mark-up tool based on Groupboard, but with extra features such as cut and paste, pan, zoom, undo and user-defined icons, and the ability to upload Office documents (.doc, .xls, .ppt and .pdf) to the whiteboard. You can also import AutoCAD DXF files, allowing you to view and mark-up AutoCAD files online. 

Dynamic Communication

 
Group World: GroupWorld.net is an advanced but easy to use multi-user collaboration framework, allowing you to set up web conferencing rooms with whiteboard, voice/video conferencing and desktop sharing. GroupWorld.net uses a custom programming language, specifically designed to allow rapid development of multi-user collaborative applications. With the enterprise version of GroupWorld.net you even get the source code to all of the “applets”, allowing you to easily modify them or design your own.

Elluminate: Elluminate is a web-conferencing tool with built-in-class web, audio, video, and social networking solutions that help one create a 21st century teaching, learning, and collaboration environment. It is useful for communication, holding meetings, the built-in whiteboard facilitates presentation of information while hearing and seeing the presenter. One may record entire sessions for later review. Elluminate’s home page states that the tool “enables academic institutions to expand reach, reduce costs, maintain competitive advantage, drive technology adoption, and more.” See NC State University’s example of Elluminate’s use.

iBreadCrumbs: iBreadCrumbs is a social network for researchers to share recorded URLs, track websites, review notes online, and encourage online collaboration research. Similar in function to its DVR counterpart, iBreadCrumbs records all web pages you visit while you research. You can save, review, and share your research with friends and colleagues. The home page states, “iBreadCrumbs allows students, researchers, and professors to organize the world’s data into narrow research ‘breadcrumbs’ or click-streams.” This useful site will prove beneficial to communication and collaboration in research.

David Abraham

Engaging Learners with New Strategies and Tools

January 26, 2010

Students’ levels of performance are higher and their levels of performance superior when online courses engage them in interactive actions (Durrington, Berryhill, & Swafford, 2006). The fundamental interactive components fall under content, collaboration, and communication with examples of four tools that illustrate the nature, scope, and value of interactivity.

 Content:

  1. The first element of interaction is the syllabus that defines the nature and scope of a course. Making it available to students provides them with instructions, schedules, requirements, etc. thus giving them complete control in managing their time and integrating their academic activities with other areas of their lives. Boettcher presents 10 best practices for teaching online. It is critical that rather than focusing on the content, an instructor needs to focus on questions such as: “What is going on inside the students’ head?” “How much of the content is being integrated into their knowledge base?” “How much of the content and the tools are the students using?” “What are the students thinking and how did they arrive at their respective positions.” The nature and scope of the content that a student will encounter in any course starts with the syllabus.
  2. Discussion groups and forums provide participation in a student-led or instructor-led activity. This effective method of engaging in content of a course enhances student-student and instructor-student interaction. The central component that merits attention is the design of effective online discussion questions. Akin and Neal (2007) provide several suggestions regarding the design and rationale for online discussion questions
  3. The sheer wealth of information on the web makes it a powerful tool for students to access information. Lyman and Varian estimated that print, film, and magnetic, and optical storage media produced about 5 exabytes of new information in 2002 alone. Five exabytes of information is equivalent in size to the information contained in 37, 000 new libraries the size of the Library of Congress book collections (see details here). 
  4. Online libraries, databases, and specialized digital repositories afford the online student unlimited content. A few are Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), the world’s largest digital library of education; Questia, an online library, offers its subscribers multiple thousands of journals and books; and the Smithsonian Institution Research Information system (SIRIS)

 Collaboration:

 Numerous tools provide the facility for collaboration. Robin Good’s collaborative map is one of the more detailed, interactive, and editable maps on the web. 

  1. Problem-based learning activities enhances collaboration by engaging students and instructors in addressing and solving relevant fuzzy and messy issues pertinent to the content of a specific lesson. A site that models an integrated curriculum of collaborative problem-based learning activities has several valuable examples. Portfolio assessment relates problem-based learning to particular frameworks and benchmarks. Go here  to find several ideas and resources.
  2. One of the more popular collaborative tools is wiki pages that are simple to use for friends, colleagues, fellow-students, and business associates. It is essentially free and is easy to use with the distinct advantage of simplicity and effectiveness.
  3.  Writeboard  is free collaborative writing software that one can use to write, edit, track changes, and rollback to previous versions. This software is particularly useful for authors, editors, and publishers, students, instructors and others who may be collaborating on a paper. One of the advantages of this web-based collaborative tool is that it facilitates the comparison of previous versions of a document.
  4. Spicebird  is an open source platform that boasts of an all-in-one suite of communication tools for people who want to collaborate online. Features include email, instant messaging, and an online calendar. It provides easy access to various web services while retaining all the advantages of a desktop application. The application is based on projects like Thunderbird , Lightning,  and Telepathy and adds more functionality and integration among its components.

 Communication:

Social interaction is one of the central activities that will enhance communication. Muirhead suggests interesting activities that result from research studies on interactivity and related applications. 

  1. One of the fundamental tools for communication today is email. By far email boasts of highest numbers of users for e-communiation around the globe; approximately 700 million users . One of the downsides to email is the burden that users bear to maintain communication with the copious number of unsolicited emails received. Email continues to be the number 1 mode of communication among users who compose more than a few lines of information. Blogs give you the venue for expression and twitter facilitates your sharing and discovering what is happening right now, anywhere in the world.
  2. Ning for education is another social networking tool that has grown in popularity. It is the social platform for the world’s interests and passions online where millions congregate to share in the excitement of exploration and expression of common interests, and indulge in new discoveries of distributed pursuits. It provides for network creation and development.
  3. iBreadCrumbs is a social network for researchers to share recorded URLs, track websites, review notes online, and encourage online collaboration research. Similar in function to its DVR counterpart, iBreadCrumbs records all web pages you visit while you research. You can save, review, and share your research with friends and colleagues. The home page states, “iBreadCrumbs allows students, researchers, and professors to organize the world’s data into narrow research ‘breadcrumbs’ or click-streams.” This useful site will prove beneficial to communication and collaboration in research.
  4. Elluminate is a web-conferencing tool with built-in-class web, audio, video, and social networking solutions that help one create a 21st century teaching, learning, and collaboration environment. It is useful for communication, holding meetings, the built-in whiteboard facilitates presentation of information while hearing and seeing the presenter. One may record entire sessions for later review. Elluminate’s home page states that the tool “enables academic institutions to expand reach, reduce costs, maintain competitive advantage, drive technology adoption, and more.” See NC State University’s example of Elluminate’s use.

 

References

Akin, L. & Neal, D. (2007, June). CREST + Model: Writing effective online discussion questions. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3(2). Retrieved on January, 25, 2010 from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol3no2/akin.htm

Durrington, V. A., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment. College Teaching, 54(1), 190-193.

Assessing Collaborative Efforts

January 12, 2010

 “How do we know they know?” is the fundamental question that determines the nature, scope, and value of learner assessment (Paloff & Pratt, 2009, p. 3). Assessment is central to defining and measuring the degree to which a learner achieves stated learning objectives. Instruction that includes appropriate assessment-based methodology utilizes constructive alignment, which as a fundamental principle of education, requires a good teaching system to bring teaching method and assessment into alignment so that all aspects of the system are in accord in supporting appropriate student learning (Biggs, 2003). (Here’s a rubric on developing an online course as defined by the California State University)

Assessment demands the alignment of teaching method and assessment to learning activities and collaboration is no different. Assessing participation in a collaborative community must include the following:

  1. a well-defined  collaborative objective that includes a clearly articulated rationale
  2. a distinct system to assess collaboration that includes a clearly articulated rationale

In #1, the instructor describes what is to be achieved and why. In #2, the instructor explains how he/she will perform the assessment and why he/she chose that method of performance. Paloff and Pratt (2009) indicated that, as a rule, collaborative activities are best assessed collaboratively. By requesting students submit self-evaluations of their individual activities and peer assessment, instructors could achieve this requirement. This is in agreement with Swan (2004) who identified four distinct interactions for learning effectiveness in online environments, interactions with content, instructors, classmates, and course interfaces. These interactions help develop divergent thinking where team members are not unanimous in their thought processes as much as they are harmonious. They also strengthen ongoing support for instructors, provide timely feedback, automate testing, and ongoing course development. The virtual university design and technology division of Michigan State University (MSU) has a well-defined system to develop online and peer assessment. MSU’s Faculty and Organization Development site includes links to several online instructional resources.

 Paloff and Pratt (2009) identified several principles that should guide student assessment in an online course in reference to collaboration. The pertinent ones include:

  1. Design and include grading rubrics for the assessment of collaboration
  2. Include collaborative assessments through public posting of papers that accompany comments from student to student
  3. Using assessment techniques that fit the context and align with learning objectives
  4. Asking students to incorporate their input into the method for conducting assessment

Using these four principles, an instructor could assess a student’s participation in a collaborative learning community. Since collaboration is the effective interactivity based on well-defined goal of a learning community, the participants are the best judges of each other’s activity in the progress toward a collaborative objective. The instructor may need to create a rubric that includes the evaluation of participants’ areas of strengths. Palloff and Pratt (2007) suggested that the human side of online learning appeals to the need for “connectedness, and coalescence” (p. 50). By involving the learners in the assessment process, expresses the conviction that students can be experts in areas of their own learning and that promotion of self-direction is important (Paloff & Pratt, 2009). Hurst and Thomas (2008) presented their experience with online team training and building skills in action and identified the accomplishing of a team project as the common goal toward which online education administrators need to strive.

Principles #1 and #2 above address the acceptance of students’ comments on each other’s work in thereby demonstrating, to a degree, the instructor’s attempt at “fair and equitable assessment” based on well-defined grading rubrics (See article by Swan, Shen, and Hiltz for sample rubrics for assessing collaborative work). Macdonald’s work on the assessment of online collaborative learning as a process and product highlights the importance of assessment in ensuring online participation (You will find the abstract to Macdonald’s article here ). Furthermore, by linking theoretical discussions to one’s own experience can give opportunities for students with particular skills and knowledge to contribute to achieving collaborative goals. (See Bobby Elliot’s article “Online Collaborative Assessment”  

I think that incorporating principles #4 and #5 above will further enhance the students’ perspective of the instructor’s intent to be “fair and equitable” in assessing their work. Arnold, Ducate, Lomicka, and Lord (2009) in a study of computer-supported collaborative learning among foreign language graduate students determined that success in interaction depends largely on the group members themselves. Consequently, it is incumbent upon the members of the collaborative community to encourage one another to participate and hold each one accountable.

Anne Marie highlighted a few questions that address collaborative learning. It is interesting to note that regardless of the field, students and educators find online collaboration hard. She opined as to why evaluators are concerned about assessing online collaboration when instructors are happy for students to work in small groups in a tutorial without assessing relative contributions. Anthony Cocciolo included an excellent diagram to visualize the components of a community network which he noted defines how one analyzes and assesses in terms of member interaction which he referred to as “sociality.” As Siemens (2009) suggested it is the intentional creation of connections between the participants that leads to effective collaboration and mutual accomplishment of clearly defined goals. Consequently, it may be important to focus on the rationale for creating the connections between members of a learning community in the real world and in its virtual counterpart rather than on achieving collaborative steady state.

References

Arnold, N., Ducate, L., Lomicka, L., & Lord, G. (2009). Assessing online collaboration among language teachers: A cross-institutional case study. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 8(2), 121-139.

Biggs, J. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university (2nd ed.). Buckingham: SRHE and the Open University Press.

Hurst, D. & Thomas, J. (2008). Developing team skills and accomplishing team projects online in Anderson, T. (Ed.). The theory and practice of online learning, (2nd ed.). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.

Palloff, R. M. & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom, (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Paloff, R. M. & Pratt, K. (2009). Assessing the online learner: Resources and strategies for faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Siemens, G. (2009). Learning Communities. Resource vodcast in Principles of Distance Education (EDUC 8842, Winter 2009), Walden University, Laureate Education.

 Swan, K. (2004). Relationships between interactions and learning in online environments. The Sloan Consortium.

Learner Assessment

January 10, 2010

Learner Assessment

“How do we know they know?” is the question that determines the nature, scope, and value of learner assessment (Paloff & Pratt, 2009, p. 3). Assessment is central to defining and measuring the degree to which a learner achieves stated learning objectives. Any instructional methodology that includes appropriate assessment-based methodology utilizes constructive alignment, which as a fundamental principle of education, requires a good teaching system “to align teaching method and assessment to the learning activities stated in the objectives so that all aspects of the system are in accord in supporting appropriate student learning” (Biggs, 2003, p. 11). Assessment demands the alignment of teaching method and assessment to learning activities. Consequently, the instructor’s evaluation of learning activities will be a direct measure of the learner achieving stated learning objectives. Methods based on information communication technology (ICT) principles to evaluate learning activities are the focus of this video project and the answer to the question, “How do we know they know?”

Storyboard

The images below comprise my storyboard. I will be modifying it as I proceed in the various stages of the video project.

References

Biggs, J. (2003). Teaching for quality learning at university (2nd ed.). Buckingham: SRHE and the Open University Press.
Paloff, R. M. & Pratt, K. (2009). Assessing the online learner: Resources and strategies for faculty. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

(David Abraham, Blog assignment for Module 3)

Collaborative Interaction

December 30, 2009

Collaborative interaction – what it is

Collaboration is to online education what a toothbrush is to dental health. One may use a variety of methods to maintain and promote dental hygiene but without the instrumentality of a toothbrush and the brushing of one’s teeth, the margin of diminishing utility will favor neither. Palloff and Pratt (2005) identified the process of collaboration with a well-defined community that includes a group of individuals with common interests, experiences, and goals. Ted Panitz viewed collaboration as a philosophy of interaction and personal lifestyle where the collaborators are responsible for their learning and demonstration of respect for the abilities and contributions of peers. In this article, Panitz compares collaborative learning with cooperative learning to help understand the concepts of interactive learning. Palloff and Pratt limited interaction to the ‘student-to-student’ and ‘student-to-instructor’ aspects that have become the hallmark of online learning. However, by including material that facilitates active learning online, this interaction becomes interactivity. Puntambekar (2006) identified divergence, shared understanding, and construction of knowledge as the key components of the social process of collaborative interaction. (Read abstract to Puntambekar’s article here). Using these three elements, one may further analyze and quantify how collaborative interactions contribute toward the construction of knowledge, experience, and the community of collaborators.

How has collaborative interaction evolved?

One may trace the evolution of collaboration in terms of the key components that Puntambekar identified. Students bring divergent ideas to a face-to-face or online classroom. Since one of the general educational goals include the students’ development of critical thinking skills, collaborative interaction becomes one method to synthesize divergent ideas in order to contribute toward this development by allowing the construction of their knowledge experiences. (Go here http://constructivist-education.blogspot.com/ for entries on the constructivist approach and constructivism in the context of education). Byproducts of collaboration progressively result in individual reflection, co-creation of meaningful knowledge, and “transformative learning” thus leading to the development of a collaborative community (Paloff & Pratt, 2003, p. 35). The discussion breakout groups of the face-to-face classroom have evolved into the online counterpart that time, space, or global diversity no longer limit. The need to communicate course definitions, content, and methodology, among other things, among students and between students and their instructors have led to the development of various platforms for collaborations.

Tools available to facilitate collaborative interaction

Lina Lee’s article (http://llt.msu.edu/vol8num1/lee/) highlighted the perspectives for learners on networked collaborative interaction with native speakers of Spanish. Lee identified the process as networked collaborative interaction (NCI). The basic idea of networked computers with a common interface and a common language is all that it took for a group whose members were widely spread to initiate, maintain, and utilize collaborative interaction. Another illustration of collaborative application is Berkeley’s elaborate website (http://www-writing.berkeley.edu/TESL-EJ/ej32/int.html#Synchronous_Tools_), which is the gateway to an online community of practice that actively seeks out and experiments with free and educationally valuable tools on the internet. (Go to Ruben Quinones’ blog for a description of Google documents, Zoho Suite, and Thinkfree http://rubenquinones.com/2009/12/29/online-collaboration/).

More recent collaboration tools include Cisco’s tool (http://www.webex.com/) to share ideas, documents, presentations, applications, with anyone, anywhere using integrated voice conferencing, video streaming, and recording meetings all for a reasonable monthly fee. A similar tool is the popular GoToMeeting (https://www2.gotomeeting.com/?Portal=www.gotomeeting.com) where one may deliver online training, meet and collaborate, make a sales presentation from across the globe for a flat fee. A common tool today is http://www.wikispaces.com/  where collaborators can edit a common document, upload images and files, link to pages on the web, and use unlimited number of pages for a variety of collaborative uses. This online collaboration website has numerous features that make it as easy to use as it is effective in outcome. Go here (http://educationaltechnologyguy.blogspot.com/search/label/collaboration) to read David Andrade, a Physics teacher and educational technology specialist’s brief description of Scribblar, an online whiteboard.

Analysis and critique of blogs on collaboration and online education

Terence Armentano (http://terenceonline.blogspot.com/search/label/distance%20learning) includes a variety of resources and his take on several online aspects of education at his blogspot. As an educator and teacher-trainer, Terence identified a variety of issues that are pertinent to success in distant learning (see his 9/17/09 entry). I do not agree with his view that the presence of one’s voice on the web liberates the information that universities had “hoarded” in the past. This voice is a mere expression of one, single megaphone of personality, need, and experience that others hear based on the commonality of community. I agree that the sudden outgrowth of online courseware attests to the need that information is no longer a commodity by itself but the interaction with experts and one’s peers giving it the value that it deserves in the context in which it flourishes.

In this learning community, e-collaboration members work in dairy development organizations based in the Netherlands. The purpose of this blog (http://icollaborate.blogspot.com/ see 2/16/09 entry) is to share stories about experiences with working over the internet. I found this idea to be useful in that it fostered individuals growing to know each other, preparing for the learning event by sharing and discussing case studies online, organizing the logistics, and disseminating the validated information. The education organizers created a wiki to keep themselves informed and to plan for up-scaling dairy development. I think the organizers should have extended the use of the wiki to all participants and encouraged their individual input to mirror true collaboration. It appears the hierarchy of the earlier traditional methods employed appears to have found equivalency in form and function in the wiki created by and for the organizers. For collaboration to be effective, each participant must have equal access and opportunity in the process of achieving specific learning objectives.

References:

Palloff, R. M. & Pratt, K. (2003). The virtual student: A profile and guide to working with online learners. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.

Palloff, R. M. & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. San Francisco, CA: Josey-Bass.

Putambekar, S. (2006). Analyzing collaborative interactions: Divergence, shared understanding, and construction of knowledge. Computers and Education, 47(3), 332-351.

David Abraham