View Michael's Online Learning Blog responses to readings

Wednesday, December 10, 2003

HoDE Book (2003). Chapter 50 Robin Mason, Global Education: Out of the Ivory Tower

There were two comments in this article which I would like to comment on. First, I completely agree with Turoff (1997) that the use of technology should not be a means to enlarge class size or increase efficiency; rather, it should be a means to increase the effectiveness of teaching. I think technology has great potential in doing this and improving teaching practices should be its primary use (p. 731).

My second comment refers to the idea that studies need to include the elements of benefits (not just costs) when studying distance education (p. 734). As I have mentioned in a past blog, education is too valuable to be relegated to a financial balance sheet as the means of determining effectiveness. The benefits to the students e-learning serves will have a far longer and greater potential for growth and positive change.

Tuesday, December 09, 2003

HoDE Book (2003). Chapter 34 Ryan Watkins & Roger Kaufman, Strategic Planning for Distance Education

The concept of strategic planning is a key element to the future of distance education. The steps of identifying a vision, needs, priorotizing, etc are all godd ideas to facilitate progress to happen.

However, I think one key element that needs to be mentioned is that how this process plays out will depend upon who is involved. Specifically, I would advocate the perspective of students is imperative for any distance education program to be effective. I can imagine that in many situations where planning is done, the objectives of content, cost, and time are given much more attention than the method of teaching.

So, in between steps 4 and 5, I would add: student feedback. Or at least feedback from a teacher who is experienced with effective pedagogy.

Monday, December 08, 2003

HoDE Book (2003). Chapter 32 Peter Dirr, Distance Education Policy Issues: Towards 2010

This article has commented on a variety of issues that are currently being discussed in today's literature. I found the topic of Collaboration and Commercialization to be rather disturbing. Although a later section of the chapter mentioned that the focus of distance education is becoming more and more focused on the student and their needs, I find it alarming that there is a push to make distance education a kind of 'cash cow' for universities and corporations.

With increasing tuition costs, one would like to think that at least part of the money is being put into the funding of resources and equipment to help improve the distance-education system delivery as well as keep instructor-student ratios at a beneficial ratio for the student.

Students are and will continue to demand high quality service for the education that they pay for. Those who view distance education as a money-making proposition will hopefully one day soon be held to account.

Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Paul Treuer & Jill Jenson. (2003, June). Electronic Portfolios Need Standards to Thrive, Educause Quarterly, Volume 26, Number 2. http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eqm0324.pdf

I think that electronic portfolios are a great idea. There are two questions that concern me about them.

First, I think it is really beneficial for them to be posted to the web. This allows others in your field to become familiar with your background and expertise. It is always there. However, I think that web portfolios have limitations in terms of what one should post to them: personal phone numbers, addresses, etc. should not be there. Some even feel personal photos should not be posted.

A second issue with electronic portfolios is students' mastery of the process. Although one would think that students would find this task easy, there are those who struggle with scanning, uploading, etc. Doing this activity in the context of an actual course would help encourage students to get into the process and learn for themselves.

Tuesday, December 02, 2003

The TEACH Act http://www.utsystem.edu/ogc/intellectualproperty/teachact.htm

I think the issue of copyright laws is having a profound impact on the literary, artistic, etc., worlds. Computers and the digital world, it seems to me, are challenging the concept of copyright to the point where the definition will have to change so that authors can continue to receive royalties.

In terms of distance education, access to large varieties of current articles and media information is vital to the educational context. I find it very frustrating that there are many digitized video articles on the internet which would complement my teaching greatly; yet, the possibility of saving them is not possible, at least no easily. I am not out to sell them, re-produce massive quantities, but merely to enrich students’ learning on a topic.

So, I hope that the digital age will help resolve this issue so that those who could really use video articles, for example, to assist in the learning process will have the option to do so.

Monday, December 01, 2003

David Gibson & Helen Barrett (2002, November). Directions in Electronic Portfolio Development. Posted on ITFORUM, ITFORUM PAPER #66 - on November 30, 2002. http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/paper66/paper66.htm

I have developed my own professional portfolio online. Thanks to IU’s free server space, free software to access the server, PDF writer, and Frontpage, I have discovered a whole new medium to showcase my achievements and goals as a future academic.

This has been a real learning process for I have never created webpages before. Although the initial learning stages were difficult as a novice, they are now easy which facilitates my being able to revise and update components of my website on my own computer at home independently.

Sometimes I have wondered if I should have as much information as I have on my website. So, I have refined it over time to give insight into my background and expertise without revealing personal information such as address and phone number. Others do post these items; I think it is bad practice. Do all that you can to protect your home.

I would advocate a blending of generic tools and customized systems. The more varied portfolios can be, the better in my opinion.

Sunday, November 30, 2003

Carlson, S. Weblogs Come to the Classroom. The Chronicle of Higher Education. From the issue dated November 28,2003.http://chronicle.com/weekly/v50/i14/14a03301.htm

I have created my own blog for the purposes of reading reflections for this class. As the author of this article comments, it has been an experiment in the sense that I did not know how it would evolve and work out.

It seems as though it has been an experiment that has profited myself the most. Although I invited the members of the class to join my blog and make comments and give feedback, only about four did so; only one actually commented.

It seems as though there is a finite amount to accomplish tasks that one is expected to complete. Only if commenting on one’s blog is an expected task will people actually do it.

So, given the great versatility of blogs as the author mentions, it seems that unless it is hooked to a type of rubric, it ends up being a personal journal.
Oblinger, D. G., and Sean C. Rush. (2003). The Involvement of Corporations in Distance Education. In M. G. M. a. W. G. Anderson (Ed.), Handbook of Distance Education (pp. 587-598). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

I have completed two Undergraduate degrees and one Master’s degree in Canada with ever taking a distance-education course. Although I knew that distance education courses existed and virtual universities existed, I was not aware of their prevalence and future exponential growth.

I am teaching my first distance-education course this semester to a group of Master’s-level teachers in the Columbus, Indiana, area. For the first class, the video-conferencing equipment failed.

Thankfully, my co-instructor went to the site in person. While I waited in the Radio-Television building for the equipment to be repaired (which did not end up happening), I was able to watch another nursing distance education course on hospital record keeping. It was not exactly riveting television; however, for people in rural communities, it is better than commuting extremely long distances. Depending on the delivery method, it can also allow students to work on a class lesson at a time convenient to them. So, it has its advantages in addition to low costs.

The Power of the Internet for Learning: Moving from Promise to Practice

Commission, W.-b. E. (2000). The power of the Internet for learning: Moving from promise to practice. Retrieved September 10, 2003, from http://interact.hpcnet.org/webcommission/index.htm

I think that the content of this report is well intentioned, but falls short of attempting to solve some chronic social, political, and economic issues. While the internet and information-based economy is the wave of the future, the question remains of how to help the disenfranchised of our society to have the family, economic resources, and technological equipment to partake in this “electronic” feast.

Having all of these resources are great; but do all the people who need them the most have easy access to them? The answer is ‘no’. Just as students are profiled into being ‘unable’ due to their lack of nice clothes, proper routine of hygiene, academic routines at home (or at school), etc., many students will also lose out on this new revolution because they do not have access to the equipment nor have the literate practices that are part and parcel of the information-based economy.

I agree that we are in the Information Age. However, we need to remember that those elements of our society that lost out in the Industrial Age will lose out in this new one if we as a people just passively leave one era and move to the next.
HoDE Book (2003). Chapter 48 Insung Jung, Cost-Effectiveness of Online Education

This article mentions that many educators and decision makers view online learning as way to save money. I hope that this will become increasing less evident over time. Education is far too important an issue in our technological age to be constrained by the issue of money. If we want our economy to grow and prosper, education is a very wise investment.

What I found to be encouraging in this article was her comment that improving the quality of students’ learning and increasing access were also motivators for decision makers to adopt online learning. I think these are the hallmarks to online learning’s success in the future. I would agree with her that online learning opens up new opportunities for interaction with other students and instructors as well as access to a variety of multimedia resources.

As Injung comments on page 722, it is good to see that research in online learning is focusing more on the learning process, satisfaction, and achievement of students as opposed to cost-effectiveness. May this trend continue!

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