Distance Education

Posted: January 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

Distance Education-Previous Assumptions

Prior to the start of the Distance Education course and prior to reading the courses week 1 resources, I saw distance education as an online educational option that was generally used for adult learners.  I saw distance education as an opportunity for adults to get degrees, while still meeting work and family obligations.  An alternative option from the traditional classroom setting.  Not only did I feel it needed to be online but I also felt that it was for connecting students and teachers from across the country.  I did not look at distance education as an alternative for students and educators form the same geographical region.  The word “distance” made me feel that the traditional classroom setting was not possible because the location of the students and educators were spread throughout the country.

Distance Education Defined

There are many definitions for distance education, but I feel the definition by Schlosser and Simonson (2009) hits all the major components:

Distance education is “institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors” (Simonson et al, 2012, p.7). 

In examining this definition and comparing it to my previous assumptions, there are several components that I did not think about or discuss.  The definition identifies institutional affiliation as the first component.  Not just anybody can start distance education courses.  Institution examples include schools, universities, businesses, and corporations.  I did identify the second component of separation.  The teacher and students are located in different locations, but it does not have to be across the country.  Distance education courses can be offered with a school district.  There can also be asynchronous distance learning courses, which implies learning at different times that are convenient for the teacher and student.

The last two components of the distance education definition are connecting learners, resources, and instructors by using interactive telecommunication systems.  Internet, telephone, and possible television provide current examples of electronic media uses.  These media option can be used to communicate with the teacher and other students.  They well also give the teacher and student the ability to post and view assignments without physically turning any paper work in.  Everything can be viewed electronically.

There are many other definitions of distance education.  Although I agree with this definition, I also believe there are other forms of distance education.  Looking back at the four previously mentioned components to distance education it seems as though the first component is broad, and does not need to be included.  Examples include universities, schools, businesses, and corporations.  Who else is there to use distance education?  That list seems to sum up all the possible uses for distance education.  The only other possibility would be online classes setup by another person who does not belong to any institution.  But why should these class not be included?  My definition would only include the last three components and I would exclude the first one.  Anybody that meets the other three components should be included.  It is up to the learner to decide the appropriate distance education opportunities

Vision of the Future

I see the field of distance education as an important learning opportunity that is still in the infant stages.  Currently distance education is taking tools previously developed and using them to create opportunities for students to learn in places and times that are most convenient.  The future of distance education will be developed using Web 2.0 tools and other technologies that may be created primarily for distance education.    Every generation of students will come into this world with a more developed technology skill set, and they will be demanding to learn by the best and most recent technology tools.  I have already seen this happen with my self and the generations before and after me.  The generation before me did not use computers until they were adults and out of high school, but my generation came through school knowing how to use them.  My generation did not use cell phones until we were in our last years of high school, but the generations after me are coming to school (4th grade or earlier) with their own smartphones.  The future possibilities are endless, and only time will tell how far distance education will advance.

Resource

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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Learning Theories Reflection

Posted: April 25, 2011 in Uncategorized

Constructivism

            As I furthered my knowledge on the way people learn, I found the Constructivist theory to be surprisingly different then what I originally remember it to be.  In college I can remember studying Constructivism, but I do not recall going into this much depth.  I knew it involved independent learning and development through experiences.  I did not realize that the fact that “learners create their own learning” (Gredler, Ormrod, & Schunk, 2008).  I thought the teacher was still an important part of their learning.  I believed the teacher taught learners and then the learners developed a better understand of the context they learned through their experiences.  In the reading I learned that the teachers are to facilitate learning and use instructional scaffolding to provide support and challenge learners Gredler, Ormrod, & Schunk, 2008).  The teacher needs to give the learners a task that they can accomplish with only a little support.  If no support is needed, then the task was too easy.  If support is given and learners still cannot accomplish the task, then it is too difficult.  The teacher needs to find the place where the task is challenging and can be solved with some support.  The involvement of the teacher is lower than I remember learning.  My view of Constructivist theory has much more depth and understanding.

A Deeper Understanding of My Learning Process

            Taking the time to think about they way we learn and discussing that with the classmates’ varying learning processes was beneficial to see and think about.  We all know how to learn, and we know what works best, but do we ever sit down and think about how we learn?  In the week one discussion we had to write about our learning process, and it was difficult to get started.  When I first thought about the way I learned, I assumed most people learned this way, and that is was the most effective way to learn.  Once I got to read other classmates responses and see how they learned similarly or differently, it really opened my mind to the different capabilities learning has.  I was able to look at how other people learned effectively and try to incorporate parts of their response I felt would help me learn.

I also have a deeper understanding in for the reasons why I struggle with motivation.  I am usually extrinsically motivated to do well in classes.  As I grew up I was always motivated to do well so I could show my mother my grades, and get some kind of reward.  When I was little in might have been a toy, and baseball cards, but even in High School I used to get money for good grades.  Once I got to college I began taking some classes that were interesting to me, and I found it much easier to learn and do well in those classes.  The majority of the time though, I did well to see the reward of a good grade at the end of the semester.  Extrinsic motivation can promote learning, but I would learn more effectively and be more engaged when I am intrinsically motivated (Gredler, Ormrod, & Schunk, 2008).

Learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation

Looking back at the different learning theories and strategies, it is important to notice that each learning style is works efficiently with a different learning style.  Auditory learners would perform better with a Behaviorist perspective.  Auditory learners do well listening to instruction and relating the experience to a prior learning experience.  Visual learners would perform well in a Cognitivist perspective.  Visual learners are more selective and they pay attention to the important things (Ormrod, 2006).  Kinesthetic learners would relate best with more of a Constructivist perspective.  They are more hands-on learners, and they learn best by doing and learning from experiences on their own.  All of these styles would also work with the other learning theories, but these are the most effective connections.  In order for any of these to work effectively, the learners need to be motivated.  It would not matter what learning style or learning theory would work best together if students were unmotivated.  Technology brings all of the different learning styles together and develops the learner’s weaker styles.   “There’s an easy way to address that in any computer-based learning environment—actually, in any in-class learning environment—is that you have both the verbal and the visual simultaneously, and everybody’s happy” (Ormrod, n.d.).

My Career in the Instructional Design Field

In this course I learned about the importance of the different learning theories, styles, and strategies.  Not everyone thinks the same, and the way you learn may not be the most effective way.  It is important to remember to not favor your own learning theory, style, or strategy.  As a teacher, I need to keep all of the different perspectives that a student could possible have, and try to teach in as many different perspectives as possible.  Some of the learning strategies I use should be taught to the students, but some may not be beneficial at all.  As I further my career as a teacher I would like to meet the learning needs of all of my students and give them the best learning experience I can give.

References

Ormrod, J. (2006). Educational Psychology: Developing Learners. Supper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education INC.

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

Ormrod, J. (n.d.). Learning Styles and Strategies. (Video Program). Laureate Education, Inc.

Fitting The Pieces Together

Posted: April 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Now that I have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and styles my view on the way I learn has increased.  In the week one discussion I identified my learning style with behaviorism because I am motivated by reinforcement.  I still feel that behaviorism best describes the way I learn, but now I would also relate with connectivism.  “Learning is a process of connecting specialized nodes or information sources” (Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008).  My network connections are important in the way I learn.  My social connections include email, Skype, and my mobile phone.  Through these connections I learn a lot of information about events, problems, and successes.  My education connections and work connections are equally important in gaining knowledge and skill.

Over the past seven weeks I learned that the environment plays a huge role in my learning style.  During this course at times I had to alter my learning environment because of the demands of my job, and my personal life.  When I do school work I like to be on my computer at my desk.  When I am reading I have to be at my desk or somewhere quiet in my house (except my bed).  I will immediately fall asleep if I read in bed.  I found myself reading and submitting assignments at work, in a hotel, and in a car.  I found it extremely difficult to learn in these new environments.  I found it difficult to even get started, and sometimes I could not do it.  At work I am used to grading assignments, and creating lessons, not reading books, and typing discussions.  It was nearly impossible for me to be motivated outside my usual learning environment.

Technology has always played an important role in my learning, and now with online schooling technology has became even more important.  All of my education is done on the computer, along with most of my work assignments.  In the next week or so I will be getting an interactive whiteboard in my classroom, and technology will play an even bigger role.  Just about everything I do today is done with some form of technology, from calculators to computers, and email to mobile phones.  There are still times while I am teaching that I will use chalk and an overhead, but that is happening less and less often.

Davis, C, Edmunds, E, & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved April, 17th 2011, from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/

The development of social networks has drastically changed the way people learn.  Throughout my life in education I have seen different types of social networks develop.  In grade school I would learn through lecture, and by reading the selected pages in the course textbook.  When I was in 3rd grade I had my first computer class, with the big Apple monitors.  It wasn’t until 7th or 8th grade that I started using computers daily.  Using the Internet to understand content from my classes, and searching for different topics of interest changed the way I learned.  Instead of asking my parents for help on homework, I could just go on the computer and find it myself.  Network connections like e-mail, cell phones and instant messaging changed the way I learned.  The development of these network made me into an independent learner, and I began to rely on others less.

 

Computers are the network connection that facilitates learning the best for me.  Everyday I go onto my laptop and read the headlines in the news, check sports scores, do school work, develop lessons for teaching, read and write e-mails, and much more.  When I was in 7th grade I got my first home desktop computer, and ever since then I have had a computer.  I got my own personal laptop when I started my undergraduate degree.  I used to bring it to class to take notes, and work on assignments throughout the day.  The majority of what I do for work and school is done on a computer.  In my school district I use Progress Book, which I go on from my work computer to do attendance, setup assignments, get contact information, and enter grades.  The students and their parents can sign into Progress Book to look at future assignments and grades.  I will also use my work computer to develop lessons and print them out.  Every school assignment is generated on a computer and either emailed, posted, printed, or submitted electronically.

 

Working independently and gaining knowledge is an effective way to use network connections to answer your questions.  When a question comes up and I do not know the answer, I immediately got to the Internet and find the answer.  You Tube is one of the most effective ways to gain knowledge and learn how to do something you do not know how to do.  Working on my house is a perfect example of how I get questions answered.  The first 6 months of living in the house I had a slow water leak in the shower faucet, and it started to annoy my wife and I after awhile.  I decided I would fix it myself, so I went on to You Tube and typed in “how to fix a dripping shower faucet”.  I had to look through about 20 different videos until I found the right faucet, but once I found it I followed the steps, bought the part, and fixed it in about 10 minutes.  I would rather learn how to do things myself, and save a little money, than have to pay someone to fix something.

 

My personal learning network supports the central tenants of Connectivism in the sense that I have the capability to learn more than what I already know, and the process making decisions is a learning opportunity itself (Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V, 2008).  I would also refute the tenants of Connectivism in the fact that most of my learning comes from computers.  According to Siemens (2005), “new information is continually being acquired and the ability to draw distinctions between important and unimportant information is vital”.  I do not use Facebook or Twitter, and I mostly stick to the capabilities of the Internet, and cell phones.

 

References

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism

Siemens, G. (2005). Connectivism: A learning theory for the digital age. International Journal of Instructional Technology & Distance Learning, Retrieved November 03, 2008, from http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jan_05/article01.htm

Connectivism Mind Map

Posted: April 1, 2011 in Uncategorized

The Human Memory (James McLean Bowie)

In this article James McLean Bowie discusses the human memory.  Human memory is a conservation of knowledge gained through encoding, retrieval, and storage (Bowie, 2007).  He explains how our memory can be frustrating and confusing at times, especially during stressful situations.  The human memory was once compared to how computers process information, but memory is much more complex.  He describes encoding as the initial stage of memory.  During the process to encode information Bowie (2007) describes selective attention versus divided attention.  Selective attention is when we pay attention to one specific event, while ignoring the others.  When we give divided attention, we are trying paying attention to multiple situations at the same time, and not focusing on any details.  He describes three different levels that encoding is processed.  A shallow level, the sensory characteristics of a stimulus; an intermediate level, when the stimulus is give a label; and a deep level, when the stimulus is processed semantically.  Once we get to the deepest level, the stimulus goes into Long-term memory and is retrieved easier.  In the deepest level, elaboration helps you find the deeper concept of a word.

This article is valuable in education because it breaks down encoding, and explains the different forms it can take.  Understand the concept of selective and divide attention is important because everyone learns different.  Being a sixth grade teacher I need to be aware of the different types of attention, and how I can teach to them.  If a student has selective attention, it would be important for me to slow things down and try to hit one thing at a time.  When a student has a divided attention, it would be important to get the student concentrating on a specific task.  I could do this by having them write a list of steps.  I need to find ways to get the students information processing through the shallow and intermediate stages, and into the deepest stage.  One way to get information into the deepest stage would be to have the students come up with their own examples on a specific term, and then do a fun hands-on activity.

Reference:

Bowie, J.A. (2007).  The Human Memory. Educational Articles. Retrieved from http://www.edarticle.com/homework/the-human-memory.html

http://www.edarticle.com/homework/the-human-memory.html

 

Try, Try Again: Practice & the Brain (Pam Sciller)

“Practice makes perfect”.  This is a concept that is commonly used when we try to remember a certain skill or task.  The more we practice something the better we will remember it.  Schiller (2009) explains that practice may not make perfect if we do not know what we are practicing for.  Practice will strengthen recall if it is monitored and feedback is provided.  In the article she provides five activities and tips that can build brain power through practice.  The first tip is to provide a small amount of information at a time.  The students must learn to create patterns.  As the students learn the information can be increased and become more complex.  The second tip is to have the students teach the information they learned.  As students teach the new information, they are rehearsing it and becoming more confident with it.  Having the students understand the value of the information is the third tip.  The fourth tip is to get feedback from the students.  Have the students explain how they got their answers and what they could have done differently to get the correct answer.  Finally, the fifth tip is to reflect on the practice, and evaluate the progress the students have made.

Students hear that saying over and over again.  If they just practice, they will get things done perfectly.  It is important as a teacher to realize that students want to be successful and they want to practice, but they may not know what to practice.  When students go home they may practice the new information, but they may not be providing feedback or reflecting on the information.  They are taught to just practice, practice, and practice.  I hear a couple common phrases after assessments:  “That wasn’t on the study guide” or “Everything I studied wasn’t on the test”.  The majority of the time when students go to study they forget some of the important steps noted by Pam Schiller.  I can look at these five tips and help the students practice to become successful students.

Reference:

Schiller, P. (2009). Try, Try Again: Practice & the Brain. Retrieved from http://www.education.com/magazine/article/practice-boost-brain-power/

http://www.education.com/magazine/article/practice-boost-brain-power/

Instructional Design Blog

Posted: March 7, 2011 in Uncategorized

Can Community Exist Online?

In this blog Andrea Hildreth explains the importance of leaning communities for online learning.  She talks about the creation of online learning and how simple it seemed.  She states the problem with online learning, that there is no active participation, and students began dropping out of their online classes.  Learning communities are the answer to this problem because students talk to each other, and developing relationships.  Like the normal classroom, students are getting to know each other, and discuss topics with out instructor interaction.

It is important for online learners to understand learning communities and how effective they can be.  Online learners must use communities to get familiar with classmates, and to discuss relevant topics in a certain course.  Without learning communities every student would feel like they are on their own, and do not have anyone to ask for help.  The instructor would feel like they are teaching 30+ students individually.  There would be no classroom environment.

http://andreahildreth.wordpress.com/2011/03/03/community-online/

The Future of Distance Learning

Mark describes the perceptions of distance learning classrooms, and how they will develop.  Distance Learning has been a replacement to the face-to-face classroom.  He explaines technological advances, like mobile communication and how they will evolve.  Only a few years ago people communication was generally through the Internet, but now cell phones and Ipads are sources of face-to-face communication.  These advancements keep learning actively engaged with no breaks in communication.  This process will be looked at as commonplace, just like the Internet has been for us.

It is important to understand technology and how it advances.  People get stuck thinking the way they did things was best, and they never give new ideas a chance.  There were people who were against computer test versus paper and pencil test, or typing papers online versus hand writing them.  People need to be open to new ideas and technology, and give it a chance.  There are a great number of students today in distant learning environments that would not be able to get a college degree without it.  People work all day, and take care of families at night.  There may not be any time to drive to a college and sit in a classroom.  Distance learning gives them this opportunity.

http://6bells.wordpress.com/author/6bells/

Why I Hate Interactive Whiteboards Too

In this blog the author discusses interactive whiteboards, and why they cause unnecessary costs to schools.  She explains a conversation she had with an interactive whiteboard company.  The IWB company believes interactive whiteboards connect students to the world.  The author feels that she can do everything an interactive whiteboard does without one in her classroom.  The blog fails to express the importance of technology, and how it will be needed for students in the future.  Technology advances quickly, and most of the time it develops into commonplace.  Giving students exposure to interactive whiteboards will also get them familiar with the technology they will most likely use on a day-to-day basis in their future classes or careers.  With the proper training interactive whiteboards can be used effectively in the classroom.

http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/2010/07/why-i-hate-interactive-whiteboards-too.html