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Category Archives: EDUC 6135 Distance Learning

This will contain all blogs and materials used in the Distance Learning Course.

Reflection on the Future of Distance Learning

According to eLearning Industry, elearning is a $56.2 billion business that is likely to double in size before 2015. They also stated that by 2019 half of all college courses will be taught online and that right now more than 4.6 million college students are taking at least one course online (Pappas, 2013). These stats show a bright future for e-learning since it is getting accepted by more people. Two of the biggest factors in my opinion that’s going to contribute to an expansion in distance learning are today’s generation and the expanding Web 2.0 technology. Millennials are thought to be addicted to social networking services, they post to their friends, they tweet to their twibes and they pretend in their profiles (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012). Our current generation is growing up communicating using Facebook, YouTube, Wikis, Blogs, and using smart phones for all kinds of functions. They are using these tools to form social communities to stay in touch with friends and family. These same tools are used in distance learning which means that the current generation will be comfortable taking online courses since they have grown up using the tools required to communicate and form learning communities within distance learning courses. One other factor that will lead to wider expansion of distance learning in the future is the economy. Tough economic times have forced many corporations to find ways of saving money and one way is by using distance learning to train their employees. Distance learning is used by 77% of the corporations in our country and they have saved 50-70% by replacing instructor based training with distance learning (Pappas, 2013).

The way to be a proponent for improving societal perceptions of distance learning is by being an advocate and letting people who are interested know on the advantages of distance learning as well as the disadvantages. I would also tell them of the characteristics (self starter, self discipline, motivated) and qualities needed to succeed in an online course. I would demystify the perception that distance learning is easy and let them know that it distance learning packs a lot of things to do usually in a short period and that you must make the time to get it done or it will accumulate and drown you if you fall behind. I would let them know that the quality of training is equivalent to that of classroom training except that instead of an instructor in the front lecturing, you will have different types of technology such as videos providing the lecture. Hopefully by educating people on what distance learning is and what you need to do to succeed, more people will be curious and try a course.

The way I will be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance learning will be to develop and put out the best possible e-learning course that meets the objectives using the proper amount of technology. In order to get support for distance learning we must create courses that will have a positive impact on the learner. The Theory of Reasoned Action model suggests that a learner’s reaction and attitude will influence behavior (Long, Dubois, & Faley, 2006). In other words if learner has a negative learning experience in an e-learning course then likely they will not be satisfied with the training provided by e-learning and will have a negative attitude toward e-learning. Back in the early days of e-learning we were basically producing what seemed to be page turner PowerPoint type of e-learning that bored the learner and gave them a bad feeling of distance learning. We then started adding multimedia and different types of technology to e-learning and made it more engaging and got positive results from the learner changing their attitudes toward e-learning. This is how I will strive to improve the field, by ensuring that learner have a good learning experience by creating quality e-learning courses and going back and revamping older courses based on feedback from formative and summative evaluations.

Reference
Long, L., Dubois, C., & Faley, R. (2006). The Usefulness of Trainee Reactions in Online Training. International Journal of Learning, 13(1), 1-11. Retrieved from Education Research Complete Database

Pappas, C. (2013), Important Statistics about the eLearning Market for 2013 – Infographic. Retrieved from http://elearningindustry.com/important-statistics-about-the-elearning-market-for-2013-infographic#

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance – Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

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Posted by on August 24, 2013 in EDUC 6135 Distance Learning

 

Review of Open Source Course

I was tasked to select a course from a free Open Course site and review it. The course review should be based on the instructional design techniques and concepts that were discussed this week in our textbook. The course review should answer the following three questions:
– Does the course appear to be carefully pre-planned and designed for a distance learning environment? How so?
– Does the course follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook?
– Did the course designer implement course activities that maximize active learning for the students?
The open course I selected for review was Electricity and Magnetism from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Open Course site (http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-02-electricity-and-magnetism-spring-2002/index.htm). This is what I found based on the three questions.

Does the course appear to be carefully pre-planned and designed for distance learning environment? How so?
After reviewing this course what I can conclude is that this in not really a distance learning course at all but more like someone took some of the classroom course material and converted it electronically and saved it to the internet for people to view. The course has 36 lecture videos that are pretty much someone set up a camera in the classroom and recorded the instructor teaching his students. The course assignments and exams with solutions are all posted on a link in the course. Some fundamentals of teaching online that should be considered is avoid dumping face to face course onto the web, integrate the power of the web in the course and apply adult learning principles (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). This course pretty much did the opposite and dumped a whole lot of material from the classroom online, did not use any interactivity or tools the web provides and definitely did not apply any adult learning principles since there is no particular set guidance or structure for the student on how to go through the course. Simonson, et al. 2012, stated that when planning for instruction at a distance that faculty should keep in mind that traditional classroom courses may need to be retooled, revised and interactivity implemented. None of this was planned in this course and the course is just a static bunch of classroom material that has been given some kind of organization on a website.

Does the course follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in your course textbook?
The course does not follow the recommendations for online instruction as listed in the course textbook. In any instructional setting, students benefit when they have a clear view of such issues as class organization and student responsibilities (Simonson, et al. 2012) This is usually done through a syllabus but this course has a weak syllabus that does not provide the objectives, learning goals or outcomes that are expected from the student. Students need to have a sense of community within their class (Simonson, et al. 2012). There is no communication with other students or an instructor in this class to establish a sense of community. As I stated before there is no type of interactivity within the course other than watching 36 lecture videos. There are also not many activities such as an application to enforce what was learned in the videos other than the 11 assignment items on the link and some can’t be done unless you have the equipment mentioned in the assignment. Pretty much this course does not follow the majority of recommendations and concept for distance learning prescribed in our textbook.

Did the course designer implement course activities that maximize active learning for the students?
The course designer did not implement any course activities that maximized active learning. All that was done in this course was the classroom lectures were recorded and placed online with some additional material. The course is very static with no interactivity to engage the student through scenarios or simulations and through dialogue engagement with other students by using a threaded discussion or class blog.
Open source courses is best use to learn additional knowledge on a subject you have some familiarity with but I would not recommend it if you want to learn something new.

MIT Open Courseware (2013), Electricity and Magnetism, retrieved from http://ocw.mit.edu/courses/physics/8-02-electricity-and-magnetism-spring-2002/index.htm
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance – Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

 
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Posted by on August 4, 2013 in EDUC 6135 Distance Learning

 

Selecting Distance Learning Technlogies

Asynchronous Training Scenario

In an effort to improve its poor safety record, a biodiesel manufacturing plant needs a series of safety training modules. These stand-alone modules must illustrate best practices on how to safely operate the many pieces of heavy machinery on the plant floor. The modules should involve step-by-step processes and the method of delivery needs to be available to all shifts at the plant. As well, the shift supervisors want to be sure the employees are engaged and can demonstrate their learning from the modules.

Before I propose a solution, I would want to find out if the actual cause for the poor safety record is related to employees not properly trained on how to safely operate the equipment. I would conduct a performance analysis and observe the employees at work using each of the machinery. I would also check out the work environment, each machine and conduct employee interviews to see what they can provide on what they believe is the cause of the poor safety record. Once the analysis is done and it shows that safety is a problem, then I can start designing a solution. Since the course would have to be available for employees on all shifts, I would recommend an asynchronous type e-learning course. I would set up a two phase training to ensure employees understand the safety procedures on each equipment. The first part would be the online training and the second part would involve an actual equipment hands on portion where the employees would demonstrate and be certified they can perform the safety procedures by an experienced shift supervisor.

The online portion would involve several modules of instructions on each piece of equipment. The modules would show each task needed to be performed to safely to operate each equipment. The best approach to show a task oriented process such as teaching proper safety procedures on equipment is to have a course that has a combination multimedia approach. People learn better from both words and pictures (Mayer, 2009). Employees should be able to get a visual of the safety procedures they must follow along with narration explaining each process. The best way to capture this is by making a video for each piece of equipment with a subject matter expert explaining all the safety procedures involved for the equipment. The video would be added to each equipment module in the e-learning course by converting them to a Flash video or a YouTube type. It’s also important to just provide the relevant information in the videos as well as throughout the course. People learn better when extraneous material is excluded rather than included (Mayer, 2009). In the video as well as the course in general you want to just give information explaining and related to safety procedures. You don’t want to start giving extra info not relevant to safety such as tips on how to use the equipment since the objective of the course are equipment safety procedures.

Next the course needs to be engaging. A reason for ineffective e-learning is that courses are rushed to be made and the learning is not reinforced by some type of application (Hamtinin, 2008). This will be accomplished in two ways. First, a simulation will be added to each of the equipment modules where the employees can practice what they saw in the videos by doing the safety procedures on each machinery in a simulated computer based environment. These simulations can be created using NGRAIN simulation software or if on a tight budget for this project, Adobe Captivate will work also. The difference between NGRAIN and Captivate is that NGRAIN can provide high quality interactive 3D images that can be rotated and taken apart. After they complete the online course they will start the second phase of their training and the second application. This is when they would be turned over to their shift supervisor and would demonstrate what they learned on the actual equipment. This will ensure that they can perform what they learned on the online course and the performance can be certified by the shift supervisor. This dual channel training should help the company improve their safety record.

Adobe Captivate 7. (2013). Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://www.adobe.com/products/captivate.html

Hamtini, T.M. (2008). Evaluating E-learning Programs: An adaptation of Kirkpatrick’s Model to accommodate e-learning environments. Journal of Computer Science, 4(4), 693-698. Retrieved from Education Research Complete Database

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia Learning (2nd ed.) New York/NY: Cambridge University Press

NGRAIN. (2013). Retrieved July 19, 2013, from http://www.ngrain.com/

 
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Posted by on July 20, 2013 in EDUC 6135 Distance Learning

 

Defining Distance Learning

What is distance education? What does the future hold for distance learning? In this blog I explore the meaning of distance education as well as what the future holds for it. The definition of distance learning has different meaning to different people and even articles on distance learning vary in their definition. The different delivery medium is probably the main reason for different definition and views of distance learning.

When I initially think of distance learning, I see it as e-learning or internet based training. Asynchronous and synchronous type internet training is what I picture when I hear the term distance learning. I probably thought that this was all that defined distance learning because that is the type of training I work developing and is probably the most popular type of distance learning that is currently used today. It wasn’t till I read the history of distance learning in our textbook that I realized that there was more to distance learning then just internet based training. I had forgotten that before computers were popular that there was a type of distance learning that was done through the mail known as correspondence courses. Correspondence type training can be delivered through mail by letters, by audio through tapes or CD’s, and by video through VHS tapes or DVD’s. This type of distance learning still exists today. In the Air Force they still used mail type correspondence training. Airmen in the Air Force need to take and pass what is called Career Development Courses (CDC’s) to advance from apprentice to journeyman. The CDC’s are paper based and are delivered through the mailing system. There are also still colleges and other institutes that offer courses by using and provide instructional material through the mail or video media. Other forms of distance learning that are rarely considered is a programmed television course on a public access channel or a university channel. One thing for sure is that there is more to distance learning then just the type that is found on the internet.

Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek (2012)  define distance learning as an institution based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors. Looking at this definition makes distance learning into something very complicated but I look at distance learning as something that’s simpler.  The definition of distance learning that I came up with is learning that takes place by instruction that is delivered at a distance through various medium. I like this definition because it covers a lot of delivery methods of distance learning. I also think the most important thing is that learning is taking place. A lot of people don’t consider YouTube being distance learning but I think it is because lots of people use it to learn how to do various things. YouTube is not different from having a video showing teaching you how to do something.

Distance learning has evolved through time and advancements in technology have helped to change it. We have seen distance learning go from letter type, video through VHS or DVD, audio such tapes, CD’s, all the way to what we have now which is computer internet based training. Today distance learning is expanding into our cell phones into what is called mobile learning or m-learning. The rise of smart phones has made it a great tool to deliver distance learning. Virtual worlds such as Second Life have also provided another great medium to deliver distance learning. Many colleges and universities have set up campuses in Second Life. It is as close to a traditional classroom as you can get using a computer. Holograms are an up and coming technology which I believe will have an effect on distance learning. Japanese Scientist has already created touchable holograms (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3seTlvQtIgc). Once this technology is fully developed I believe it will change distance learning and take it to a new level. Just imagine distance learning courses where you can manipulate the image you see in a 3D environment.

As you can see the delivery medium of distance learning is what complicates and gives it different meaning to different folks. With the upcoming advancements in technology the definition and the way distance learning is delivered will continue to change. Regardless of these changes the most important thing is that another avenue is available to educate and teach.

NTDTV (2009).Japanese Scientists Create Touchable Holograms. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3seTlvQtIgc

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance – Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

DistanceLearningMindMap