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Static versus Dynamic Technologies
Advances in technology used for communication and education are allowing educators to deepen the online learning experience through dynamic communication, content, and collaboration. Static technologies are used to present information. Books, static web pages, and recordings. Dynamic technologies allow students to experiment and build knowledge (Moller, 2008).
An understanding of the available technologies and characteristics of each are important when designing courses for distance education. Some of the possible technologies include streaming video, chat, and podcasts (Fahy, 2008). Appendix A, Figure 1 displays a concept map of the static and dynamic technologies used for content, communication, and collaboration. Several of the technologies may be used for more than one component. For example, video conferencing may be used to deliver content in lecture form and also used for collaboration among students. Moving beyond static information delivery to dynamic tools in distance education will create opportunities for higher levels of learning.
Fahy, P. J. (2008). Characteristics of interactive online learning media. In T. Anderson (Ed.), The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed., pp. 167-199). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.
Moller, L. (2008). Static and dynamic technological tools. [Unpublished Paper].
Figure 1 Concept Map of Static and Dynamic Technologies
An online learning environment must be a place where students are able to discuss and share ideas without fear. An atmosphere of respect and professional behavior will support the exchange of information. Asynchronous discussions may be led by faculty or students in groups with instructor moderation. Group projects for collaboration may include problem based activities in which students work together or in the community to solve problems. Clear guidelines are needed in the classroom to ensure success (Durrington, Berryhill, & Swafford, 2006).
Knowledge of the tools available to support the classroom with prove valuable to the instructor. Video conferencing tools are an excellent way to meet with students in a synchronous manner. Discussion forums provide an asynchronous platform for interaction. Students may work in groups or individually through Wikis, discussion forums, or blogs. Using the correct tool to support the components shown in Figure 1 will improve the online learning experience.
Durrington, V. A., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment. College Teaching, 54(1), 190−193. Use the Academic Search Premier database, and search using the article’s Accession Number: 19754742
Edited Storyboard for Topic: Collaboration in Distance Education
|Collaboration in distance education||Video of collaboration among individuals to illustration group learning|
|Challenges to course design in distance education||Video of collaboration using mobile device|
|Research of David Porcaro regarding designing for distance education||Image if available?|
|Explain recent work in international education||Clips of students learning|
|Porcaro’s tips for designing classroom||Clips of students learning remotely|
First Draft, Will be edited after reviewing the post from Dr. Moller
|Introduction of collaboration in distance education with a knowledge base and overview. The introduction will be narrated while a video of collaborative activities plays in the background.|
|Literature review presented with a focus on studies related to collaboration in distance education. Presented through narration over video content of collaborative activities.|
|Analyze and assess the impact of one social trend on educational technology, and the influence of educational technology on one social trend based on solid research support and summarize.|
Group projects are used in online courses to add a collaborative component to the classroom. There are difficulties when assessing the work of teams in online courses. Several methods are mentioned by Siemens (2008) including: Peer assessment, the use of communities such as list serves, assessment of the contributions in the learning platform, and an evaluation of the time spent working on the project. Difficulties arise when seeking an equitable, fair evaluation. The use of clear metrics and guidelines is a necessity (Siemens, 2008).
A body of research exists related to group assignments in distance education. A study designed to compare four evaluation methods of group assignments in online courses was conducted in an attempt to identify the most effective practice. The first method was shared team grading in which all member received the same score based on the final product. A faculty review of the student interactions in the online course, peer assessment, and the use of a group portfolio were the remaining methods. The faculty review method was found to be the most positive and also the most cost effective (Alden, 2011).
Having been a student member of online group projects and a faculty member grading the projects, I have found them to be an ineffective and stress causing practice. As a faculty member, I have used the peer assessment method and the faculty review method and agree with the research published by Alden (2011). The faculty review is the fairest method. My experience with the peer review method has shown there are several problems with using peer assessment. Students may have personal biases against or for fellow members from past interactions, cultural differences are sometimes misunderstood, and some students have no teaching experiences and do not follow provided metrics. For these reasons, if group projects must be used, the assessment should be conducted by faculty members who have clear guidelines for the assignment criteria.
Alden, J. (2011). Assessment of individual student performance in online team projects. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 15(3), 5-20.
Siemens, G. (2008). Laureate Education, Inc. Principles of distance education: Assessment of collaborative learning. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Improved tools for communication removes geographic barriers through the use of new tools for interaction. The technology has gained acceptance and more people are comfortable with electronic interactions and collaboration. Corporations have adopted technologies used for distance education to collaborate remotely (Siemens, 2008). As the comfort level increases for the use of collaborative technologies, the use and evolution has grown.
Collaboration in distance education is improving through these technologies. An example of such a tool is Mindmeister. Students are able to collaborate and share ideas and design joint projects. Another example is Canvasdropr which allows for file sharing and annotating files. Presentations may be created and shared through mobile devices (“Creative Blog”, 2014).
Collaboration in the distance education environment has global implications. Students are able to collaborate with students in remote locations without the need to travel. Teachers and students are able to work together easily through technology (Vermeille, 2013).Sheehy (2007) cautions teachers to plan carefully when designing collaborative experiences in distance education. If delivered and planned well, the students will experience a rich learning environment.
There are a large number of technologies available to assist with collaboration. Using a technology without testing and planning is counterproductive. In order for students to benefit from the possibilities offered through collaboration in distance programs, teachers and designers must work together to select the best platforms to achieve desired outcomes.
Creative Blog. (2014). The 20 best tools for online collaboration. Retrieved from http://www.creativebloq.com/design/online-collaboration-tools-912855
Sheehy. (2007). A teacher writes. Collaboration at a Distance: A case for collaborative learning in distance education. Retrieved from http://ateacherswrites.wordpress.com/2007/04/02/collaboration-at-a-distance-a-case-for-collaborative-learning-in-distance-education/
Siemens, G. (2008). Laureate Education, Inc. Principles of distance education: The future of distance education. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Vermeille, J. (2013). Joseph K. Vermeille’s Blog on Educational Technology. Global Diversity, Communication, and Collaboration: Key elements to Distance Education. http://josephvermeille.wordpress.com/2013/03/28/global-diversity-communication-and-collaboration-key-elements-to-distance-education/