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Impact of Technology and Multimedia

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Do you remember the time before there was a typewriter when people actually used handwritten letters to say what they wanted to say?  When the computer was first introduced I am sure a lot of people had some bad things to say about it, but look at what it can help us do now.  Computers run nuclear power plants, the government’s defense system, hospitals and other major places of importance.  With all of the strides in technology it has also had a major influence on education.  So much so, that we can be educated 24 hours a day all over the world with different types of training, certificate and degree programs in major disciplines with people from various countries, backgrounds and cultures.  According to Boettcher & Conrad (2010) due to the technology and multimedia utilized in the online course, learning can be easily transferred from the traditional environment to face-to-face environment (p. 58).

Multimedia collage

What impact does technology and multimedia have on online learning environments?

In online classes we learn not only logging into the course management system and reading the syllabus or checking assignments but also by using numerous Web 2.0 tools.  In fact, we have online discussions where we chat back and forth with each other about topics and get a chance to share our own feelings and experiences.  We also watch videos or PowerPoint presentations, listen to audio or use other features such as blogs, wikis and social network sites.   Everything that we do is inspired by technology to help us learn and to communicate better with each other.  In general, using technology helps us to become more familiar with it and we can learn in exciting ways.  Research has proven that technology has definitely enhanced literacy development by providing students access to word pronunciation, word meaning, contextual information, and comprehension scaffolds to guide an individual’s reading (O’Hara & Pritchard, 2010).  Technology can help learners to retain information, provides easy access to information from an abundance of sources, encourages students to learn, and boosts their confidence to learn own their own or with others (O’Hara & Pritchard, 2010).

What are the most important considerations an online instructor should make before implementing technology?

The first thing that the instructor should do is to design instruction to fit the needs of the learners, decide what content needs to be delivered and figure out any goals that he or she wants the students to achieve.   Next, the instructor should decide what kinds of technology to use.  There are many types of Web 2.0 tools such as audio, videos, blogs, wikis, animation, course management systems, podcasts, etc. The use of Web 2.0 tools will give students a chance to learn how to use different types of technology, teach them to work together and be able to use what they learn to help themselves.  In addition, our textbook states that when instructors create an online class we should keep it simple by focusing on the basics such as uploading text documents, setting up and creating discussion forums and setting up and using the grade book, and becoming familiar with the course management system (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).   We do not want to overpower the students with technology, but as time progresses the instructor can implement more tools in future classes.

What implications do usability and accessibility of technology tools have for online teaching?

If we decide to use different types of technology then we must make sure that it is easy to use, provide tutorials and other aids when available and the tools should meet the needs of the learners.   Also, we should keep in mind that students learn differently, come from different backgrounds and cultures and may have disabilities.  Instructors should design classes to support the needs of all the learners, be supportive to the students, encourage motivations and continue to help the students feel confident all while having a sense of belonging in the online learning community.

What technology tools are most appealing to you for online teaching as you move forward in your career in instructional design?

I think that one of the best technology tools that I have used was a wiki in a previous course to participate in a group project.  As a matter of fact, Dr. Rena Palloff and Dr. Keith Pratt explain in the Enhancing the Online Experience video that wikis are a great tool where users can create a collaborative webpage to share their work, edit information and leave comments (Laureate Education, Inc., 2013).  Another technology tool that I would be interested in using for my future class would be to use a podcast.  A podcast is “a digital audio or video file or recording, usually part of a themed series that can be downloaded from a Web site to a media player or computer” (Dictionary.com, 2013).  Most of the classes use a blog to get students to post information about specific topics that we learned about in class.  Yet, a podcast would be like taking the written information from a blog to a new level.  Students could see each other, it provides an intimate setting, and they could give each other feedback and offer suggestions.  Likewise, I would always incorporate the discussion forum, email and announcements which are vital to the success of the class.  These tools help students to find their way around the course management system, establishes a social presence, engages learning, and builds a strong learning community.

What did you learn that would help you implement effective online instructional strategies in the future?

The most important thing that I learned is that the tools used in the course should be simple, the instructor should be knowledgeable and available for help, and many resources should be easily accessible for the students. Similarly, I would have to remember that teaching an online class involves working with a diverse group of students and the instructional strategies should be tailored to fit the learner’s needs.  Online classes are learner-centered, and most students who attend these classes have busy careers, families, and could possibly have health issues.  As a future instructor or instructional designer, I should be flexible to design skill building activities, be understanding, able to create a presence, and capable of creating discussion forums that prompt students to share their life experiences and apply them to learning.  Furthermore, “the key to creating a positive experience is to identify the students’ needs and then incorporate activities that address their various learning styles, life experiences and expectations” (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011, p. 20).

References

(2013). Retrieved from Dictionary.com: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/podcast

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Franciso: Jossey-Bass.

Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction. San Franciso: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2013). Enhancing the online experience. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3466249_1%26url%3D

O’Hara, S., & Pritchard, R. (2010, July 20). What is the impact of technology on learning? Retrieved from Education.com: http://www.education.com/reference/article/what-impact-technology-learning/

 

Setting Up an Online Learning Experience

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An online class is sometimes a new experience not only for the students but also the instructors.  That is why it is very important for each instructor to do his or her research before setting up an online course.  “Entering into the world of online teaching and learning can create uncertainty and trepidation, and even a feeling of being overwhelmed as you venture into a world of unfamiliar tools and students at a distance.  However, if you have been an effective instructor in the face-to-face environment, you will soon adapt to the new environment with a little time and practice” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 56).

What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?

One of the first steps in setting up an online course involves figuring out what type of technology tools are available, and what type of course management system is used by the school.  Each instructor should be able to use a course management system.   Some examples of what they should be accustomed to include how to create and set up discussion forums, grade books, teams and groups, how to upload and edit documents and pictures, how to send emails and announcements, and how to use the Internet, and audio and video tools (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).  In fact, if instructors need help schools may also offer templates, workshops, or tutorial sessions to teach them how to use the course management system.   Lessons are also available for free through the course management websites.  Moreover, instructors need to use technology that they are familiar with, that is readily available to the students and easy to use.  They can go a step further by continuing to learn new tools and gradually add new items to their courses when they are ready.

Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?

The instructor should set the tone before the class starts.  Course requirements are usually on the syllabus which states what is expected from each student, when the assignments are due and how students should communicate with each other and the instructor.  The main goal is to set the mood for the learning community.  Online classes should be built based on themes like presence, community, patience and clear expectations.   This helps to establish trust, set goals and build relationships through learning.  If students feel a sense of belonging and support, then they will eventually share experiences and use the content to actively engage in learning.  Teachers should remember to be patient because online learning skills take time to develop.  In addition, “clear and unambiguous guidelines about what is expected of learners and what they should expect from an instructor make a significant contribution to ensuring understanding and satisfaction in an online course” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 55).

What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?

According to our class video, Launching the Online Learning Experience, Dr. Rena Palloff and Dr. Keith Pratt stated that the first two weeks of an online program is critical (2013).  Instructors should design an icebreaker to help students to introduce themselves and ask students to participate.  It helps students to create social presence, helps instructors find out what students know, and how they know it lays the foundation for the learning experiences that follow (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).  Other ideas to consider before setting up the course are ordering textbooks, figuring out the course plan, setting up assessment, scheduling activities and assignments, creating engaging discussions, and allowing feedback (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).  Hopefully, by the end of the course the students will be better acquainted with each other, able to say what is on their minds, and to use what they have learned from each other to produce positive learning outcomes.

I think that a successful online learning experience will come from both the instructor and the students’ willingness to learn.  We all face challenges when it comes to learning something new, but if an abundance of resources are available and there is someone to turn to for help, then we just might be able to achieve our goals.  No one can be prepared for what they might face while the class is going on, but good preparation by the instructor before the class, actively keeping the students engaged and feedback can help the students attain success in the class.  In addition, if the learning community is trustworthy and the students feel a sense of belonging, then they may be encouraged to ask for help, to offer help and to make suggestions throughout the course.  “The key to creating a positive experience is to identify the students’ needs and then incorporate activities that address their various learning styles, life experiences, and expectations” (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011, p. 21).

All in all, in order to implement effective online instruction in the future instructors have to be knowledgeable with the tools available and ones that relate to the class.   Our textbook also states that an instructor working with tools should just keep it simple, remember that tools constantly change and to pick one to three that are suited for their learning goals (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).  Time is another factor that is needed to help prepare for classes, to get ourselves acquainted with the students, to make any revisions and to provide feedback.  We must also keep in mind that all of the activities should be designed around the students.  The instructor should know when to shift roles and move from a faculty-to-learner, learner-to-learner, or learner-to-resource mode. “Increasingly faculty are shifting to the role of a coach and a mentor and a director of learning to help learners build, reshape, and extend their knowledge structures.  When you [instructors] are talking, learners assume the role of listening, which is a less active role than for them to write and discuss; more learning occurs when learners are processing, writing, analyzing, and questioning (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 98).

References

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Franciso: Jossey-Bass.

Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction. San Franciso: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2013). Launching the online learning experience. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3466249_1%26url%3D

 

Online Learning Communities

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This week’s assignment is to discuss online learning communities.  But first we should define it.  An online learning community is an online environment where students interact with each other while they learn.  Dr. Rena Palloff and Dr. Keith Pratt say that students explore subject matter, face challenges, construct meaning and knowledge about content and give feedback to each other (Laureate Education, Inc., 2013). 

How do online learning communities significantly impact both student learning and satisfaction within online courses?

Online learning communities provide a way for students to communicate with others.  It is an environment where students can bond with fellow classmates, get familiar with the atmosphere and become comfortable learning online.  Also, they can discuss class information, work on group projects, ask each other questions and solve problems together.  Participation is the key to a successful online education.  As a matter of fact, “before a learner can effectively demonstrate the skills of an engaged learner, he or she must understand engaged learning and be amenable to adopting the strategy.  Only then can a learner be expected to form a community with others in the online learning environment” (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011).

What are the essential elements of online community building?

In order to build an online community, first the instructor should set up the online community before the class begins.  Boettcher and Conrad (2010) suggest that the instructor of a new course should determine the course content, find and research textbooks or other resources that emphasize learning outcomes, order the materials, and plan class meetings and assessments around the content resources.   In addition, the facilitator should be skillful with using various software and Web 2.0 technology tools, and be familiar with the Internet email.  Likewise, the online community should have a personal touch from the instructor; the course should be easy to use, appealing to the eye and offer plenty of resources.  Instructors should communicate regularly with the participants and be concerned about each student’s well-being,

How can online learning communities be sustained?

According to John Seely Brown’s cognitive apprenticeship model, in communities of online learning information can produce, distribute and deploy highly esoteric knowledge (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).  In other words, people learn by performing hands-on learning activities and observing each other.  Students should work together with facilitators, follow prompts to do their assignments needed for discussions and assessments, and keep an open line of communication.  Likewise, instructors need to take time to get to know the students, offer different ways to learn material, and continue to mentor students. Jerome Bruner’s theory of constructivism states that, “the first act of learning, over and beyond the pleasure it may give is that it should serve us in the future.  Learning should not only take us somewhere; it should allow us later to go further more easily” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).   

What is the relationship between community building and effective online instruction?

As long as there is a safe learning environment, students continue to interact with each other, and the rules are in place, I think that students will learn more, be able to give feedback, and have a sense of belonging they will have a road to success. 

What did you learn that will help you become a more effective instructor in the future?

The main thing that I learned about online learning communities is that they depend on the interaction among the students.  All learners must actively give their opinions, ask questions, and use their own experiences in order to gain their own knowledge and for the whole community to achieve overall knowledge.  To become a better instructor I would find ways to keep the students motivated, encourage them to participate in learning activities and group assignments, listen to suggestions and offer them different technological avenues to learn.  If we work together, then everybody will be able to attain their goals.

References

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Franciso: Jossey-Bass.

Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction. San Franciso: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2013). Online learning communities. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3466249_1%26url%3D

Online Instructional Strategies Class

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Hello everyone.  Fall classes have started and it is time to learn something new.  Like many of you, I am near the end of the IDT program.  I was shocked to see that we had to construct another blog.  I thought that phase was over, but oh well.  It has been a while since I used this blog and I see so many changes with the blog site’s technology.  So far it is all good so I will be updating as I go along to test the waters.

Analyzing Scope Creep

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At home my husband and I decided to replace the children’s bathtub because it had a crack at the bottom of the tub.  We went online and priced the amount of a new tub, but we had no idea how to install the tub, who could install it or how much it would cost.  A family member claimed to have a friend that was a handyman that could do anything.  Needless to say, we hired him without checking references and signed a contract to replace the kids tub.  We amended the contract to include fixing the subfloor because the floor creaked, replacing the vinyl floor with tile, and installing a new vanity and toilet.  I guess we thought it would be a good idea to make cosmetic changes to go with the new tub.  After a while, we entered into two other contracts to replace the kitchen floor, add a backsplash and refinish the cabinets and to install a new floor in the downstairs bathroom.

Scope creep deals with any additions, reductions, or modifications to the deliverables or activities stated in the original project plan (Greer, 2010).  The project evolved from one project into three which was a major change not only in our budget but also with our time and resources.  I was frustrated at times because the handyman and his crew worked on three projects at once and it became an inconvenience.  I would have preferred that each project was completed before starting the next one.  As a matter of fact, we never had the chance to see each project completed because we had to fire him for taking too long and messing up stuff worse than what is was.  The sad part is that he did not have a license or any insurance.

I wish we would have known what to do about scope changes or followed our instincts and been smarter with our money.  Some steps to deal with scope changes include:  1) staying calm, 2) stating what the changes are, 3) finding out what affects the changes would have on the schedule, quality or costs, etc., 4) discuss the changes with the team involved, 5) make sure stakeholders were involved and aware of the impact from the changes, 6) update the scope and the whole plan, and 7) make changes in writing and sign documents (Greer, 2010).  Consequently, if we would have taken the time to think things through and to investigate the handyman’s background we would have never hired him and his crew.  We lost money, time away from work, and the use our kitchen and bathrooms for a long time.  We ended up spending more money to hire someone else to redo the jobs and he wasn’t much better than the first guy even with him being licensed and insured.

Every single bit of information should have been in writing from the start and any changes should have been documented to include the costs, a timeframe, who would complete each project and how problems would be resolved.  If we would have had only one project and checked the quality of the work throughout the process, we could have made a better decision whether to add a new project or to sever all ties.  Project managers are responsible for the project from beginning to end (Portny, et al., 2008).  My husband and I were the project managers and we did not do a good job communicating or giving feedback, dealing with conflicts or issues efficiently, or documenting any scope changes (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012).

Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! Baltimore.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2012). Monitoring projects. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_1373694_1%26url%3D

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Communicating Effectively

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In the video program, “The Art of Effective Communication,” Jane uses email, voicemail and a face-to­­­-face conversation as a form of communication.  She needs to let Mark know that she needs the information from his missing report in order to complete her own report by another deadline.  If she could get a date that she will receive the information from him or the information by itself it would help her to be on time with her report.  What impact does email, voicemail or face-to-face communication have on her receiving the information?   It is clearly a form of informal communication because it was not planned, and she communicated as soon as she thought of the information and shared it (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer, 2008).

Email – Written Communication

I perceived this message to be impersonal, yet important enough to write down so that Mark will have something to reference.   Jane really needs the report from Mark so she can complete her own report.  Sharing information in writing helps to present factual information in a way that should be easy to understand and help to provide a record of the information shared (Portny, et al., 2008).  Jane’s email was short and to the point, however, I think that she could have given Mark a few more details.  Maybe she could have included which report she needs and a personal deadline which gives her time to look over his information to include with her report.  Also, her email is not clear about what information she needs, she has no idea if Mark understands it unless he replies, and there is no proof that Mark received the email and read it.

Voicemail – Audio or Verbal Communication

As I listened to this voicemail, I thought that this was worse than the email.  Jane has no idea if the message was recorded clearly and completely or if Mark checked his messages.  In addition, we do not know if there is a possible language barrier between her and Mark.  It is hard to rewind and keep listening to a telephone message just to write down all of the details.  On the other hand, if communication issues are very serious, then people should consider video or audio recording for later analysis (Greer, 2010).

Face-to-Face Communication

I find the face-to-face communication to be the best form of communication.  Usually, if someone comes to see you in person it has to be very important because they could have called or emailed.  But for whatever reason, they want to get their point across.  Since Jane was talking to Mark in person, I felt that she made it more personable.   With her being in person, Mark can ask any questions and write down the details since he was at his desk.

The best form of communication to use for this example is face-to-face communication because of the sense of urgency.  In my opinion, each of these three forms of communication are equal, but presenting them in different manners makes one seem better than the other.  Deciding which form of communication to use can also depend on the situation.  As a matter of fact, using a combination of two forms of communication is probably the most effective way to communicate.  For example, if I really needed to talk to someone about something important, then I would speak to that person face-to-face and give him or her a written document to reinforce what we talked about.  No form of communication is concrete if all of the details are not present and the information is not presented clearly.

Communication is vital on any project team.  The communication plan should be presented in the first instructional design meeting by the project manager.  It should contain information about what information will be shared, who will share the information, how often, what form it will take and when it will be distributed (Greer, 2010).  In order to avoid conflict, team members need to meet regularly and come up with ideas to help each other communicate effectively.

(2012). Retrieved from The art of effective communication: http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/EDUC/6145/03/mm/aoc/index.html

Greer, M. (2010). The project management minimalist: Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom). Baltimore: Laureate Education, Inc. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/bbcswebdav/institution/USW1/201260_02/MS_INDT/EDUC_6145/Week%202/Resources/Week%202%20Resources/embedded/Murphy_W2_6145.pdf

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Week 2 – Learning from a Project Post-Mortem

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At work, I was part of a group that tested a new electronic receiving system for the Accounts Payable department in conjunction with the Department of Procurement.  Whenever goods and services are ordered from businesses on credit with a purchase order, someone has to acknowledge that the goods or services were received.   Once the Accounts Payable office received notification that the goods and services were received, they would start the payment process and generate a check to be paid after 30 days.  In the past, we used a paper system where you had to fill out paperwork within three days after you received any goods or services.  The plan was to establish the new electronic system so that invoices could be scanned and sent electronically to the Accounts Payable department to process for payment.

The group that created the project did not take the time to see what factors would directly influence the results.  It seemed like a good plan, but they did not identify the risks, assumptions or possible responses (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008).  During the mandatory training class, some of the employees asked questions but no one could agree on an answer.  The team members also seemed like they did not have much respect for each other.   It was clear that the instructional design group did not listen to the test group’s ideas or feedback, and they were not very knowledgeable about the procedures.  The project should have been clearly defined and the project manager should have encouraged employees to share their thoughts and feelings in order to identify their needs (Portny, et al., 2008).

Another problem is that some employees were not familiar with the technology used to run the program for the new electronic receiving system.  I am sad to say that the new system went online shortly after training and by the initial start date.  All in all, I thought that the people in charge should have taken our thoughts seriously because we are the ones who have to use the new system.  I felt like the project was neither a success nor a failure.  It is an improvement from the paper based system, but we still deal with the headache of the process not being completely electronic.

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.