Sunday, January 30, 2011

Graphic Organizer for Module 4

Module 4 graphic organizer
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Engaging Learners with New Strategies and Tools: Module 4

Engaging Learners with New Strategies and Tools

The distance education classroom does propose certain restrictions in the minds of those that are not familiar with the distance approach to instruction and learning. Today, there are several tools outside of the classroom portal that allow for a remarkable peer collaborative environment on project, class assignments, and the general aura of the class itself. Some of the most fundamental stepping stones of the success of distance learners is knowing what to expect and understanding how to effectively communicate and collaborate with instructor and peers (Durrington, Berryhill, & Swafford, 2006). Within the classroom environment, one will find a discussion area for subject matter, an area for general collaboration, a chat area, and a place to share documents. Outside of the classroom environment, ®Skype can be used to communicate real time, wikis and blogs can be used to work on group assignments and provide feedback to peers about the assignment, ®Facebook is a place where students network ideas and share assignment reminders or even post meeting times, and ®Slideshare is available to share ©Powerpoint presentations and videos. These shared items can be linked through blogs and wikis.

Durrington, V. A., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment. College Teaching, 54(1), 190−193.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Assessing Collaborative Efforts

Assessing participation in a collaborative learning environment can be done by both the instructor and the participants. The instructor usually has a rubric or some type of scoring tool to measure the quality and quantity of work completed by the students. The students can, however, assess each other by responding to surveys generated by the instructor that addresses the individual and collaborative effort of each group member (Laureate Education Inc., 2008). The instructor must keep in mind the diverse skill background that students often bring to distance learning interfaces and provide some resources for training (online) and information about technologies that will be required to complete specific assignments (Palloff &Pratt, 2007).

Sometimes a student may be reluctant to participate in a online collaborative learning community due to unfamiliarity of the environment or task (Laureate Education Inc., 2008). The instructor must model the effort and establish a non-threatening atmosphere without compromising the expectations for the class (Palloff &Pratt, 2007). The members of the learning community can provide a positive community with support for the member that is reluctant or unwilling to participate. It is understood that everyone’s contribution is necessary for desired success. However, there may be times when a community may have to regroup and redistribute responsibilities so that the completion of the assignment stays intact (Palloff &Pratt, 2007). The reluctant student is still responsible for the outcomes of the effort and should still be assessed as the other students will be assessed (Laureate Education Inc., 2008).

Laureate Education, Inc. (2008). Principles of Distance Education. Baltimore: Author

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online learning communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass

Monday, January 3, 2011

Elements of Distance Education Diffusion

Collaborative Interaction

Collaborative interactions are a form of two way communication (Walden University, 2008).  In this era of electronic communication, collaboration has evolved from written letters to wired communication (telephone) to email and chatting to cell phone talk and text collaboration. We are also experiencing collaborative interactions in the digital classroom (online interface/blended learning environment).

Some of the online tools used for collaboration are electronic whiteboards, email, chat rooms, online discussion forums, and even social networking sites like ©Facebook and ©Twitter.  Skype is also another innovation that is catching on in the online learning arena.

Laureate Education, Inc. (2008).  Diffusion and Integration of Technology in Education.  Baltimore: Author.