Moving Toward Dynamic Technology
According to Moller (2008), “The dynamic end of the interactivity continuum includes tools that involve learners on a much deeper cognitive level … to engage learners in representing, manipulating, and reflecting on what they know…” (p.1). The idea is how does one use the available dynamic tools to showcase one’s own talents and creativity without just coping what others have done or doing. For me, there are two angle to considers, knowing about the available dynamic tools in terms of seeing what best for my future learners and to consider ways of making the teaching experience an evolving one for both learners and instructors. This can be finding the right set of tools for effective communication and collaboration for that learner or group of learner. For example, combining web conferencing with wiki, discussion board, OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, or Google Drive for an international video editing project or any project involving large files, cloud spaces such as those listed will be needed when dealing with large size files like videos/movie editing. The web conferencing will be use when face-to-face is needed and the discussion board for regular threaded conversion, where the group can easily follow what is going on, this is where the “guidance and leadership provided by a skilled instructor-moderator” as suggested by Anderson (2008) could come into play.
Anderson, T. (Ed.). (2008). The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed.). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.
Moller, L. (2008). Static and dynamic technological tools. [Unpublished Paper].
Engaging Learners with New Strategies and Tools
In both face-to-face format and online environments, student engagement is very important; however, in online environments it is more critical because most online courses are offered in an asynchronous format. How the instructor is perceived in terms of their roles is another story by itself. The instructor can take the form of a sage on the stage, which is not efficacious in online environments or a more online friendly approach of curatorial, atelier, concierge, and/or network roles of educators, (Siemens, 2008). Social Software in an asynchronous model is such like discussion boards, wikis, blogs, social bookmarking, and instant messaging. While web conferencing software works best in a synchronous settings, which can be tools like Skype, Ning, Google hangout, Bigbluebutton, Blackboard Collaborate and other such tools. Most learners expect the learning experience to be an “engaging and active environment” (Siemens, 2008, p.6).
According to Durringron et al., there is a “growth in courses offered using asynchronous internet-based courses …; 88 percent of institutions reported plans to begin offering or increase the number of such courses over the next three years (NCES 2003)” (2006, p190). Looking at that high percentage of online growth, it would be wise for all institutions of higher education to take steps to design courses using best practices for online design and optimal student engagement. At a minimum, online courses should be design with a collaborative mindset and a “supportive, open and respectful setting” (Durringron et al., 2006, 192). Next, there should be clear, detailed expectations, and rubrics for assessments, using such things as discussion boards, timely responses to students, making use of both synchronous and asynchronous technology. When using synchronous technology, instructors should take into consideration such things as time zones, technical issues, and be mindful/or use as foundation current available learning theories as a guide to how student best learns and participate in online settings.
Durrington, V. A., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment. College Teaching, 54(1), 190−193.
Siemens, G. (2008, January). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. ITForum.
Assessing Collaborative Efforts
Assessment is a teaching-based activity that provides an opportunity to give feedback and evaluate ourselves as educators”, Dr. Siemens.
Palloff, & Pratt, (2005), would have educators believing that the more they have learners engaged in working with one another in both collaborative activities and collaborative assessment, the more likely learners are to engage in learning community that will sustain them beyond the end of the course”, (p.53). This may be true for some students; however, what happens when educator run across learners who does not like to work in groups or collaborate with peers. A worse yet, said learner makes the unthinkable request to work on a project alone rather than in a cooperative group. Before we continue the discussions on these interesting learners, let us define assessing collaborative learning communities.
So, how should participation in a collaborative learning community be assessed? According to blogger Andrew Marcinek, in “Importance of Collaborative Assessment in a 21st Century Classroom”, there are five steps to consider regarding collaborative assessment, these are: 1) set clear objectives and tasks, 2) allow for open collaboration, 3) allow access to learning tools, 4) limit explicit direction, and 5) define clear expectations”. He claims that these steps makes collaborative assessments “simple, painless, and in the end, will yield a more attractive product to review and showcase”. Combining Marcinek’s steps and Dr. Siemens ideas of the four models for assessment in a collaborative environment, which are learners, assess their peers, learners receive feedback from online communities, educators assess based on learners’ contributions, educators assess based on metrics from learning management systems, Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). With these two ideas, working together an educator may just have a solid plan for assessing learners in an online learning environment.
Another question educators need to consider is how do the varying levels of skill and knowledge students bring to a course affect the instructor’s “fair and equitable assessment” of learning? According to Dr. Siemens, educators should be “fair and direct, assessed based on stated outcomes, and be equitable”, Laureate Education, Inc. (2008), meaning to consider how well a learner have improved from their initial level of learning and how much they have gained or improve at the end of the course. Other tools an educator may draw on to aid them is using the tracking elements in the learning managements system in question by checking the number of times the leaner logs on, number of hours spend online, hours spend in group-related activities, and number of post contributed in, Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). This leads to another important question to consider here, what about the number of hours the system cannot track. For example, what if the learner logs on, get the assignment, do their work related to the assignment offline, then logs on to post their work. In addition, what if working in a group, they use other synchronous/or asynchronous tools to communicate and collaborate, what then? Clearly, this is not an easy solution.
Here is another question for educators and learners alike, if a learner does not want to network or collaborate in a learning community for an online course, what should the other members of the learning community do? What role should the instructor play? What impact would this have on his or her assessment plan? Clearly these are more challenging issues for educators and learners; however, according to Palloff, & Pratt. (2005), first, the “instructor must set the stage by explaining why the activity is occurring and how it contribute to learning objectives for the course”, (p.24) and “students must decide on a decision-making strategy at the start so as to minimize the possibility of conflict”, (p.35). So setting a team charter which should outline clears guiltiness for completing task, having the rubrics and the goals of the team, there should be some form of peer assessment to make sure all team members are acting in a manner that is consistent with the team charter and set outcomes. There should be continuous communication between the team members and the instructors who should be acting in a facilitator capacity. Once these pieces are in place, according to Palloff, & Pratt (2005), the instructors should be guiding the process and being a facilitator throughout the learning and collaborative process. If the instructor took the time to set the stage and place guidelines in place for collaborative work to be successful, assuming that they have been operating from a facilitators standpoint, when issues arise, such listed above, the educator can skillfully intervene and remind the team of how they will be assess can help ensure success for all. However, should the educator falter on their responsibility, then any member of the team can and should always refer back to the guidelines, team charter, and rubric so all members stay on point.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: Assessment of collaborative learning. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: Learning communities. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating online: Learning together in community. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Below is a PDF document of my Storyboard so far:
In this discussion, we will be talking about George Siemens views of the “growing acceptance of distance education in today’s corporate and educational spheres”, (Laureate Education, 2008). He highlighted three possible elements of distance education that are creating more effective learning experiences and giving distance education an identity of its own distinct from face-to-face courses; which are, “global diversity, communication, and collaborative interaction”. In particular, he is associating governments, businesses, and universities working together to providing and equipping learners for the online learning environment and that there is a gap that needs to be overcome by learners; that gap is the “need to be comfortable in online environments”. When diffusion is mentioned, it is usually in reference to some form of innovation.
The innovation here is distance education and the three elements leading to its diffusion: global diversity, communication, and collaborative interaction. Assuming we are defining diffusion as presented by Rogers (2003); diffusion is the process by which an innovation propagates through particular networks and adopted over time among members in certain community or social system. Diffusion is both the planning and spreading of new ideas and innovation concurrently. While there are, many factors that may contribute to the diffusion of a particular innovation, according to Rogers (2003), the four factors are as follows: how information about the innovation is communicated, time, the innovation itself, and the nature of that certain community or social system. Let us focus on the element of collaborative interaction (in theory communication and collaborative interaction can be viewed as one in the same).
What makes Collaborative interactions evolving the way it is going currently? A few factors, better compression algorithms, mp3 compression levels for audio and mp4 for videos, faster internet speed in terms of access, competitive pricing, wider coverage by the different internet service providers, which is all due to governments, businesses and universities working together forming a more connected globalized world. This is a direct link to the widespread usage of smartphone, which are the most well used device around. According to Kate Pullinger in her blog, entitled “The way we tell stories is evolving along with our smartphones” (http://theconversation.com/the-way-we-tell-stories-is-evolving-along-with-our-smartphones-42707), she says “for a growing number of people, in particular those aged 18-29, the smartphone provides their primary access to the internet”, and often times will be the primary ways learning is achieved. One can even turn their phone into hotspot (depending their plans) to give access to their computers internet connections.
I think it is reasonable to say, distance education may never completely replace the standard face-to-face established module for education and instructions; however, it certainly will be use in supplementing and/or in some cases, it will be the only avenue by which education is sort by some individuals. As such, it makes sense to evaluate the best ways/means to level the playing field afforded by the face-to-face module, which is, collaborative interaction as its finest. The first question one would ask is what technologies are available to give and deliver a superb distance education experience? A follow-up question might be, how well designed are these collaborative tools, considering that a poorly designed collaborative system can negatively influence the distance education learning experience.
Collaborative interactions can be achieve in such means as via wikis, emails (no practical), e-portfolios, discussion boards, blogs, electronic mailing lists, podcasting, and via tools such as Skype by Microsoft and Hangout by Google. In his blog, “Social Media and the Connected School District” (http://blog.discoveryeducation.com/blog/2015/06/17/social-media-and-the-connected-school-district/ ) Superintendent Mike Lubelfield, highlights some of the ways collaborating is taking place, that “today’s superintendent is connected 24/7 and is able to communicate with blogs, audio, video, text messaging, e-mail, and any number of social media applications like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Remind, Snapchat, etc.” Just think about what that can/will mean for tomorrow’s learners on the K-12 level and future when they are in colleges. Two thoughts of his I would like to focus on are “cross-country collaboration” and “lifting of blocked services” for educational professional to enable collaborating and how that will influence learners as the benefactors.
From an integrated course point of view, two well-known collaborative tools for conferencing are Black Board Collaborate (http://www.blackboard.com/online-collaborative-learning/index.aspx is license by Blackboard) and BigblueButton (http://bigbluebutton.org/ is free/open source). They both allow the presenter to show/share web camera, microphone, desktop sharing, and record the entire session for later playback by learners. There is also a chat availability between the class and individual for private session. Further, the instructor can upload their presentation files from images, PDF files, or Word Docs, which is converted by the system for the instructor to select and show their files at, will. Also integrated is document collaboration like Google Docs or Microsoft OneDrive, which are great places to collaborate on group projects.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: The future of distance education. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York, NY: Free Press.
The Next Generation of Distance Education
“…a smorgasbord of Learning experiences for distant and local learners should be available to students…”,(Simonson 1999)
Enrollment in online classes or courses is a hot topic with institutions of higher education, K-12 environments, and students all over the world. Some of the reasons for this are things like flexibility access to learning and class participation, not burdensome in terms of travel, convenience, and of course cost. A matter of facts, according to New Media Consortium, (2014), “the task for higher education leaders for the next two years will revolve around how courses can be better designed, from conception to execution”, (p.16). Distance Education, online learning, e-learning, virtual learning, and blended learning these are just some of the names that comes to mind when one hear the phrase “distance education”. For each of these phrases/terms, it is almost certain that if you were to ask ten (10) or so individuals, you will get ten (10) varying degrees of answers.
Let us settle on a definition for distance education, for this we will turn to Dr. Simonson, where he defines distance education “as formal education in which the learning group (teachers, students, and resources) are separated by geography and sometimes by time”, Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). I happen to agree with this definition for its mere practicality. Further, it sets the stage for the Equivalence theory also by Dr. Simonson. Which states that online/distance learning experiences is different from fact-to-face learning but equivalent learning experience is to be presented for each learner, that is to say, provide a variety of technologies to help students achieve their learning outcomes, (Simonson 2000). Further he stated, that achieving equivalency involves four steps which are assess available instructional technologies, determine the learning outcomes, identify learning experiences and match them to appropriate available technology, and prepare the learning experiences for online delivery, when all these steps fare accounted for, equivalency can be effective.
Assuming from Dr. Simonson argument that equivalence is achieved, the next side of the coin, is quality content and the implications for technology professionals like instructional designers. According Moller et al. (2008), there are challenges in terms of training and development for instructional designers that may negatively impact both higher education and K-12 institutions. Among the issues with training and development are quality content, standardization in terms of better models for instructions and what constitutes instructions, how needs assessment and ROI is utilized if at all, issues of support, types of technology used, collaborative environments, site-based distance education vs virtual schools, issues of limited research available for K-12 schools, and lack of trained instructional designer professionals are just some of the ideas addressed by Moller and colleagues (2008).
Finding ways to formulate good design principles in distance education is a great start towards helping learners have access to stimulating social activities, fostering critical thinking, supporting different learning preferences and styles, and engaging the learners in multiple ways is some of the ways instructional designers can help evolves field of instructional design and also distance education. While I agree with the ideas for equivalency theory, which is in essence leveling the playing field for distance learners by, make sure they appropriate technologies, resources available, and the requisite skills and know how to best utilize these technologies, I feel too much emphasis is being levied on instructional designers. In my opinion, the institutions of higher and K-12 should each have committees at the federal, state and district levels that set the stage for what and instructional designer role should be, the type of training they should poses, and the composition of the team that each school district should have in place to make distance education be as efficacious as it should be. Further, instructional designers should not be the persons setting research agendas, as suggested by Moller and others (2008), “…ID professionals should begin to direct a research agenda involving comparisons within distance education environments”, (p.65). Instead, this should be included in the committee’s role; however, trained and certified ID professionals should be members of said committee.
Simonson, M. (2000). Making decisions: The use of electronic technology in online classrooms. New Directions for Teaching and Learning, 84, 29–34.
Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008, May/June). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 1: Training and Development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70–75.
Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008, July/August). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 2: Higher Education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.
Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W. & Coleman, C. (2008, September/October). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67.
Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of distance education: Equivalency theory. Baltimore, MD: Author.
New Media Consortium. (2014). Horizon Report: 2014 Higher Education Edition (p. 10). Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/publications/2014-horizon-report-higher-ed
As we continue our discussions on the different forces that may influence technologies, we now come to the point of Increasing Returns and the Red Queen effects on emerged technologies. Increasing Returns is defined as “the tendency for that which is ahead to get further ahead, for that which loses advantage to lose further advantage” (Arthur, 1996, p. 100). The Red Queen according to Dr. Thornburg (2013d) is when “you have a couple of innovations that hit the market around the same time, it’s possible that one of them will just by chance capture people’s imagination more than the other.”
Moving further in our talks, we will focus our attention on DVD and video-on-demand, in particular, how they applies to Increasing Returns. I am careful not to use the term “compete” here as in my view, currently, I cannot consider this a competition. This is so for several reasons; increase in internet speed, widespread access, the increase usage of smart devices like smart phones and tablets –(there is little need to carry around a full-size computer or laptop computer with may or may not have DVD included), and the issue of the storage space DVDs tends to occupied – (as is commonly known, space is a premium these days). Further, lets apply McLuhan’s tetrad to “DVD and video-on-demand” in terms of the location on the four criteria of the tetrad. As you may recalled, McLuha’s Law of medium “the tetrad” is a four-sided graphic/or diagram, which is a pedagogical tool and can be, phrased as questions as follows for any medium:
- What does the medium enhance?
- What does the medium make obsolete?
- What does the medium retrieve that had been obsolesced earlier?
- What does the medium flip into or set the stage for when pushed to extremes? (Laureate Education (Producer). (2014F).
Streaming movies over the Internet has become commonplace and very popular in our time, which is a superior experience to having DVDs mail to us and having to wait for it to arrive, the issues of damages or theft in the mail, and the issue of having to send it back before you can get the next DVD for viewing. Video-on-demand is instant access, which enhances the video viewing experience and makes it more widely available on multiple devices and location. It also makes obsoletes the DVD devices, expenses and subscription base. With a service like Netflix (nexflix.com), Amazon Prime (amazon.com) and others like them, there is really no need for DVD services. According to Netflix.com subscribers can, “watch TV shows and movies anytime, anywhere with plans from just $7.99 a month”, (2014). Video-on-demand makes group viewing new again. As the group can now extend to homes, in other towns, countries, or wherever the other viewers may resides. Further, you can have shared screen viewing and online discussions while enjoying your movie from each locations.
I can see no reasons why a person would want to go back to the days of be restricted to where you have the DVD player or waiting for your movie experience to arrive in the mail. Therefore, it is clear that Video-on-demand is moving further and further ahead and is only posed to get further ahead of DVD services and experience.
- Amazon Prime, http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DBYBNEE/ref=nav_prime_try_btn
- Netflix, https://www.netflix.com/?locale=en-US
Arthur, W. B. (1996). Increasing returns and the new world of business. Harvard Business Review, 74(4), 100−109. Retrieved from the Walden Library databases.
Thornburg, D. (2013d). Red queens, butterflies, and strange attractors: Imperfect lenses into emergent technologies. Lake Barrington, IL: Thornburg Center for Space Exploration.
Thornburg, D. (2013c). Emerging technologies and McLuhan’s laws of media. Lake Barrington, IL:Thornburg Center for Space Exploration.
The Disruptive Power of the MIT SixthSense Project
As we continue our talks about emerging and emerged technologies, we talked about the forces that enable evolutionary, innovative trends, and progression in different technologies. In this next round of talks, we are looking at the force and power from a disruptive point of view as it applies to the MIT SixthSense Project. We will be focusing on SixthSense as a disruptive technology in an educational setting. Dr. Thornburg (2014a) describes “disruptive or wild cards technology as technology that is brand-new that meets the same functionality of current or previous technology”. I don’t see SixthSense as such a technology; rather, it’s more of the glues that brings all these current technologies together to work the way we humans normally operates.
First, let us talk a little about what the MIT SixthSense project is, why it seems important, and/or could prove to be a disruptive technology to current technologies. According to Pranav Mistry, the SixthSense creator, “’SixthSense’ is a wearable gestural interface that augments the physical world around us with digital information and lets us use natural hand gestures to interact with that information”, (2010). Since we are in a period where everything is connected, resources, people, and devices: a project like SixthSense just seems like the next logical progression. We are at the stage where sensors, (for examples RFID chips or tags), are being integrated into everything conceivable: so, we can track everything and in turns track ourselves. The share amount of data that is generating and collecting on a daily basis; it makes sense to have a system in place that can fully utilized these data sets. So logically, what next should be a system to put all of this data together and make it useful to us humans? Technology such as SixthSense seems to be such a system.
When we look at the trends in technology over the past few years, one can make the assumptions that, we are in the next chapter of technology development, which is on wearable sensors connected technologies for data collection, analysis, and interaction. Just look at the list of smartphones, tablets, game consoles like the (Xbox or Wii), and even desktop computers; they are all about touch or some form of gesture. In particular, touch gesture and motion gesture, as well as gaze recognition and speech are areas to consider when talking about SixthSense technologies. They are part of the connected world, according Knowles (2012), who sees a similar idea, “the way in which objects around us will gather data and connect to control or other machines via the internet,” and Ashton (2009) who “describes a system where the internet is connected to the physical world via ubiquitous sensors.” It seems we are now focusing on letting the technology understand how we operates so it can present the information we need to make decisions, without we having to go and do the research for ourselves. Another way I like to look at wearable technologies is as our research assistant with update-to-date information at our ready.
Some of the social benefits of SixthSense are as following
These devices have the potential to offer assistances to individual with varying degrees of disabilities: auditory, physical, visual, and enabling more detailed life-blogging and providing a subjective point of view for digital storytelling. Further, they can aid in crime scene investigation for video recording of evidence with automatic tagging of items based on available sensors for later evaluation, easy access, and retrieval of the latest research for medical students, example video of how to connect the latest technology for a professionals or average person. Finally, let us not forget the issues of privacy, security, confidentiality, and the laws, (based on the field or industries in which we work).
In the next two to five years, I think the SixthSense project will be more of an evolutionary technology and it seems it is in line to merge with virtual technology. Again, I do not see the ideas surround the SixthSense project as being disruptive, but more of a natural progression of where humans and technologies are merging.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2014a). David Thornburg: Disruptive technologies [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Mistry, P. (2010). About ‘SixthSense’. Fluid Interfaces Group: MIT Media Lab Retrieved from http://www.pranavmistry.com/projects/sixthsense/
Knowles, J. (2012). Why 2013 will be the year of the Internet of Things: The Next Web. Retrieved from http://thenextweb.com/insider/2012/12/09/the-future-of-the-internet-of-things/
Ashton, K. (2009). That ‘Internet of Things’ thing. RFID Journal. Retrieved from www.rfidjournal.com/article/view/4986.
As we continue to talk about emerging, emerged, and future technologies in our blog discussions, we now turn our attention to the patterns or rhymes of history as far as technology is concerned. I recall a quote that says, “There is nothing new under the sun”; the idea that what we do is not new, things just gets down done differently by each generation. Therefore, communication is not new, we just have another what of communicating. Data processing is not new; it is done differently by this generation. What is unique is the tool we have access to today that was not available in previous generations because of technology advancement. We are going to explain the meaning of rhymes of history and talk about technology as it rhymes in history.
Let us now look at the meaning and give an example of the technology as it rhymes in history. To do this, lets draw on Mcluhan’s tetradic model, in particular, the third quadrant and the question it poses, “what does this new thing do that involves rekindling something from the distant past?” Next, according to Dr. Thornburg (2014h) who described a rhyme in history as forces that result as new technology emerges and rekindles something from the past. One such technology is Google Earth and mapping technology, more to the point, 3-D mapping technology. For generations, people have always develop some forms of maps as they travel and each generation build on the next. Google Earth, virtualize the world and makes it fits on any electronic devices, your desktop, the web, and mobile devices. With it, you get to see the place before you get there, seeing 3D views of the globe, (Google, 2014). This is scary, interesting, and evolutionary at the same time. Scary because anyone can see what your place of work or residency resembles without ever leaving his or her home or country. Interesting and educational because students can learn about places by actually seeing it from the angle of their choosing opposing to just looking on a plain old map. Alternatively, comparisons can be made using historical maps, (plain old maps); of years ago, comparing them to what the place is actually like today.
Clearly with or without technology, we have always been able to construct maps of one form or another; however, with this emerged technology, Google Earth, mapping technology is surely a rhyme in history and a present marvel.
Laureate Education (Producer). (2014h). David Thornburg: Rhymes of history [Video file]. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Google Earth, 2014. Google. Retrieved from https://www.google.com/earth/