View Michael's Online Learning Blog responses to readings

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

Warren Wilson (2003). Faculty perceptions and use of instructional technology. Educause Quarterly, 2, pp. 60-62. http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eqm0329.pdf

I liked the ideas and comments presented in this article. I personally appreciated the comment that the learning that instructors do with technology is largely thanks to their own initiative and on their own time. I went through this experience this past summer with wanting to design my own website. After calling UITS, I had an idea of where to start but it was through the advice of Instructional Services that made the process of achieving my objective more visible. However, a lot of what I know now was through trial and error—and frustration.
It has been said that learning through trial and error is the most expensive way to learn. Universities seem to like this method. My suggestion would be to invest the time, money, and effort into some professional development. The payoffs will be tenfold in the future.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

HoDE Book (2003). Chapter 8 Randy Garrison, Terry Anderson, & Walter Archer, A Theory of Critical Inquiry in Online Distance Education

I agree with many of the points raised in this article. I think that CMC (computer-mediated communication) is posing a challenge to the traditional format of university education. However, I do not think that it will ever replace the system society has developed over the past few hundred years although it will complement what mainstream universities are doing.
I like the authors’ comments on critical and higher-ordered thinking. There appears to be an obstacle to achieve this in a CMC format. I notice with the distance-education course that I am currently teaching that the few seconds lag in transmission time of class/instructor comments seems to slow the pace of the class. An inability to maintain facial contact with all class members at once is another issue.
Higher-level ordered thinking is facilitated through the associations the students can make of their own life to the topic of discussion and the variety of activities that attempt to get a concept across. Bloom’s taxonomy begins with facts, goes to comprehension, application, and then evaluation. I think that CMC has the potential to do that; it is the topic and type of activities that lead to this being done, in my opinion.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

Motivation and Incentives for Distance Faculty

Dr. Angie Parker
Yavapai College
Distributed Learning

I liked reading this article. I agree that most college teachers would do distance education courses for intrinsic rewards. It is such a different type of format from the traditional model that only those technologically inclined and comfortable would find satisfaction in doing it.
A friend of mine has been selling Amway products for a few years now—how much money he has made, I don’t know. He told me that it is Amway’s opinion that Malls will no longer exist in the near future. They have never met my sisters and countless others who travel long distances to shop, explore, and buy. They love the social experience and chance to get out and do something.
I think e-learning is the same thing. People who enjoy computers and their many features will feel very at-home with the e-learning system; to them, the traditional classroom could disappear. However, don’t waste your energy trying to tell that to millions of college students who thrive on the social aspect of university. Atleast some go for this reason alone.
In my opinion, e-learning will continue but never replace the traditional university model.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

HoDE Book (2003). Chapter 5 Donald Hanna, Organizational Models in Higher Education, Past and Future

There are organizational models (i.e., Berquist, 1992) related to traditional university settings:

• Managerial culture: how the organization works and inter-relates to facilitate learning and dialogue;
• Developmental culture: encouraging the professional growth of the actual collegial community
• Negotiating culture: fairly distributing resources and benefits
• Collegial culture: the core of the institution—the ongoing work of the faculty (research, scholarship, teaching….)

Hanna (2000c) has added a new cultural characteristic that is having a powerful influence on universities around the world—entrepreneurial culture. It involves the need for change and to do it quickly. So, with the current and continued growth of e-learning, the need for change is real (Hode, pp.75-76).

This article considered a number of models for e-learning from university campuses being wired for students to for-profit e-learning universities being created solely to cater to the e-learning market: extended traditional university; distance-education/technology-based universities; for-profit universities; strategic alliances. E-learning is taking education into the realm of cross-cultural and business-partnership models as well as making learning more responsive to students schedule and geographic needs.

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Harvard Business School (December 16, 2002). Moving Beyond the Classroom With Executive Education: Distance Learning: What the Experts Think (view 2-3 of the videos) http://hbswk.hbs.edu/pubitem.jhtml?id=3217&sid=0&pid=0&t=innovation

There were three phrases of these commentators about the larger framework of e-learning that I would like to focus on: engagement; assessment (measuring learning); and feedback.
I think engagement is a really important aspect of learning in whatever medium one is in. Joel Podolny posed the question of who will take on the role of creating the format that facilitates the creation of rapport between students and instructor? I would suggest that those most involved should have lots of opportunity to create the system(s) and provide feedback.

E-learning has the advantage and limitation of the visual element. I think this is great given that the traditional school model places such a huge emphasis on auditory learning; finally, there is a learning system that takes the focus off of listening and changes it to seeing/watching. I think this will engage a lot of students who were not as engaged in the traditional system.

Measuring learning is a really tough issue. Having taught for 11 years in elementary schools and courses here at Indiana University, I sometimes feel more confused about assessment than ever. At this point, I kind of feel that one needs to create/construct one’s own measurement of learning; students need to create ways in which they can demonstrate—apply—their new knowledge instead of instructors confining them to a given means.

Finally, feedback is a really important tool to improve any system of instruction. It is when feedback gets ignored that progress is halted. E-learning, given its infant stage, must have a significant degree of feedback built into the system for it to best meet the needs of its students and their clientele.

Additionally, I think e-learning must give the recipients of the students’ new skills and knowledge and opportunity to give feedback. If a student becomes a dental hygienist via an e-learning school, experienced hygienists and the students’ clientele must have the opportunity to comment on the students’ abilities.

Friday, September 19, 2003

White Paper from Jones International University. (2002, September). E-learning: Going the Distance. http://jiu-web-a.jonesinternational.edu/eprise/main/PressReleases/e-Learning_White_Paper.pdf

I liked this article’s concluding comment that corporate training is a young field where questions abound. I think that this article highlight some important trends about this learning tool and its exponential growth given the savings it can give corporations alone. There is no doubt that it can complement and improve upon some areas of the traditional learning format and structure.
This article also discussed an important issue with online learning: the probable cases of technology failure. The distance education class I teach had the technology fail the first night—how demoralizing! This article also commented that dropout rates were lower in traditional school learning formats because VHS programs became frustrating for students when the technology failed.
I believe online learning is a positive tool and will complement the means of delivering information; but, I do not see it replacing formats that have been developed and implemented over the past centuries and decades. TV’s revolutionalized our world; but, we still have radios.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

George Lorenzo & Janet Moore (2002, November). The Sloan Consortium Report to the Nation – Five Pillars of Quality Online Education, Report sponsored by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, http://www.sloan-c.org/effective/pillarreport1.pdf

This report gives a very positive outlook on the future of online learning. In my opinion, I think this in part due to asking biased sources for an evaluation. Would you ask workers at a cigarette plant if smoking should continue to be legal? NO, because they alone are a biased source of opinion.
The report commented on asking students of online courses and their instructors for their opinion about how satisfying online learning is. Results indicated very positive results. I question the representativeness of this sample. Some people are not as comfortable with computers or may favor a more social atmosphere to learning.
I think what is true about the report is that there is a definite segment of the student/instructor population who do excel in this type of education format. Creators of online learning programs should be applauded for their serving this segment of the population. Instructors of online learning deserve to be respected by their traditional peers for this reason alone. However, online learning will not be liked or meet the needs of everyone, in my opinion.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Gordon Freedman, Rob Darrow, & John Watson (2002). The California Virtual School Report: A National Survey of Virtual Education Practice and Policy with Recommendations for the State of California. (2002). http://www.edpath.com/images/VHSReport.pdf

The desire to make virtual high schools and e-learning in general more prevalent in California is a desirable objective to many, I’m sure. While it may facilitate reductions in costs for some aspects of learning, I think it will create and increase other aspects of learning and societal problems at the same time.

I agree with a comment in the report that there is a segment of the student population who will excel in a online learning type of format. However, there are many who will not. Some people do not have the self-discipline to stay on task and complete assignments. Having worked in a K-8 school for 11 years, I think a virtual high school would not be very desirable to many of the students. They really cherish the social aspect that school gives them. Since a virtual high school does not offer this, they would be encouraged to leave the computer/video format and go elsewhere. Where would they go? What would they do? Would they get into trouble? How would this aspect of virtual high schools be perceived by the voting public?

I know that in Ontario, 80% of taxpayers do not have children in school. This is bringing a whole new level of accountability for the education field. Maybe Californians have a more experimental inkling.
Vannevar Bush (1945, July). As We May Think. The Atlantic Monthly; Volume 176, No. 1; pages 101-108. http://www.theatlantic.com/unbound/ flashbks/computer/bushf.htm

I found this article to be descriptive in terms of the advances of technology, its limitations, and its dark side. I especially liked the comments about photography and how it has evolved. One friend of mine recently commented to me that 35mm photography took 100 years to be refined; so, digital photography has a way to go yet.

I have a digital camera and it gives me amazing versatility. I am no longer held hostage to film, having it developed, nor its cost. Yet, as the article mentions about the limitations of technology, digital photography is no different. I find that I cannot take action pictures like I used to due to the time the camera requires to save the picture to its harddrive.

Thankfully, unlike other modern mechanical and computerized inventions, it is not a weapon. It has always amazed me how progress is always made in tandem. For new invention, there is a good use and a bad use. Presidential Candidate Howard Dean has used the internet to raise phenomenal amounts of money; yet, pornographers use the internet to degrade women and men. Technology is a real enigma.
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.
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.

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