Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Promoting Collaborative Learning



Collaborative learning amongst learners can be a fulfilling experience in an online environment.  The concept of collaborative learning is to bring a group of individual learners together to achieve a common learning objective. In this setting, each individual is responsible for a specific role or function in moving the group to a common goal. The advantage of collaborative learning is the shared experiences that the group shares and the critical thinking that takes place as a result. In addition, learners are challenged in ways that are present in individual activities.

In collaborative learning environments, learners engage with peers, present and defend ideas, and exchange diverse perspectives that promote a new knowledge framework. However, collaborative learning can present several challenges that can compromise the team’s success. Conflicts can arise which will stunt the team’s progress. Furthermore, learners who have limited experience in a collaborative setting may struggle in this social setting.


Assignment:  In this week’s assignment, perform an Internet search on collaborative learning techniques in an online environment. As you search various articles and resources, make note of the advantages and disadvantages of collaborative learning. Once complete, use cited sources from your Internet search and your own personal experiences to answer the following questions:

1.  What benefits and challenges do you foresee with collaborative learning in an online environment?   List at least 2 benefits and 2 challenges.

2.  Why are effective communication techniques important in this type of setting?

3.  In what ways should collaborative learning be used?

4.  What determines a group’s success in collaborative learning environments?



Sunday, February 15, 2015

Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

Plagiarism and cheating has been an issue in the educational field for decades. As a child growing up, I can remember countless times where students cheated on tests and quizzes to get the best grade. This popular form of academic dishonesty was the best way for students, who did not put forth time and effort to study, to achieve high scores and recognition. If we fast-forward to today, the problem is that plagiarism and cheating has morphed thanks to the Internet. For this week’s discussion, I have been asked to provide my thoughts on the following four questions regarding plagiarism and cheating:

What plagiarism detection software is available to online instructors?

There are several online tools that detect plagiarism and provide accurate results. “Free online search engines such as Google allow instructors to track down copied phrases, while commercially available plagiarism detection software and online services (e.g., EVE, Turnitin.com) compare individual student papers to Web documents and/or essay databases to find and report instances of matching text” (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006, p. 5). I am most familiar with Turnitin as I have used this tool with Walden University and the University of Phoenix. From a student’s perspective, Turnitin is user-friendly and appears to provide accurate data.

How can the design of assessments help prevent academic dishonesty?

In the video, Plagiarism and cheating, Dr. Pratt states that he designs assessments that mirror real-life situations and encourage collaboration. I think this is a great way to prevent academic dishonesty in students because it removes the pressure and anxiety to single-handedly succeed. It is extremely difficult to succeed alone. Every success story I’ve heard started with the successor acknowledging another individual for their contributions. We live in a collaborative environment and many businesses are designing their offices to have collaborative workspace, so why not design assessments that mirror the real world. In doing so, you design assessments that allow learners to leverage other individuals and tools.


What facilitation strategies do you propose to use as a current or future online instructor?

 As an online instructor, I feel that it is important to be clear and specific about expectations. This includes providing learners with a detailed explanation of what constitutes plagiarism and cheating, as well as communicating the consequences of both. A few examples would also be helpful. I’ve also found that giving learners different assignments or using case studies can prevent plagiarism. In doing this, the learner relies on their words and thoughts to complete the assignment.

What additional considerations for online teaching should be made to help detect or prevent cheating and plagiarism?

In the video, Plagiarism and cheating, Dr. Palloff states that many learners do not consider copying and pasting material from websites to paper as plagiarism or cheating. With this in mind, it is safe to say that most learners do not know they are being academically dishonest with their actions. The instructor will need to establish how they will deal with plagiarism and cheating and be consistent. For example, if a student is a first-time offender, a warning will suffice. However, if the student is a repeat offender, severe actions will have to be taken.

References:

Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15. Retrieved from the Walden Library using the Education Research Complete database.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism and cheating [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Friday, February 6, 2015

Impact of Technology and Multimedia

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

Technology and multimedia allows learners to connect and collaborate virtually in a synchronous or asynchronous environment.  Web 2.0 tools like blogs and wikis allow users to share, edit, and comment on content. “The Internet has become a part of many people’s daily lives, which in turn has led to the development of educational materials for presentation on the ‘web’ and increasingly courses and universities are integrating online materials in their face-to-face teaching” (Crowther, Kelly & Waddoups, 2004). As a result, the online environment becomes a mobile vehicle that makes learning more efficient an, in most cases, effective. Technological tools have also played a key role in bridging the gap amongst multi-generational learners around the country. In most virtual environments, learners are connected with individuals who have varied degrees of experience, knowledge, and skills.

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

When using technology, instructors should be mindful of how and why technology is being used. In the video, Enhancing the Online Experience, Dr. Palloff explains the importance of using Web 2.0 tools in online environments only when they support learning objectives. Using technological tools only to showcase or highlight the “bells and whistles” could negatively impact the learner’s experience. Instructors must also consider the audience and their access capabilities. Certain technological tools require specific bandwidth and/or system software that prevent learners from using it. For example, learners in rural areas may not have the bandwidth needed to access video blogs and other collaborative tools.

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

At a time where “e-learning” has become increasingly popular, the demand for access to advanced technological tools has also increased. Usability and accessibility represent learner independence in that learners have the power to access virtual environments at their leisure. This concept also supports real-time learning where learners have a question or issue and can immediately access training solutions to answer their question, or remedy the issue.

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

As I move forward in my ID career, I will definitely continue to use blogging and wiki pages. Most sites to create blogs and wikis are free and you can set up an RSS “aggregator” feed to follow all of your favorite pages. I have used both tools personally and professionally, and enjoy the benefits of each. I have used blogs to gain input from family members on our annual family reunion and wikis are a great way to collaborate with colleagues on assigned tasks with stringent deadlines. Honestly, I love technology and the good thing is, the tools are only getting better with time.


References:

Crowther, M.S., Keller, C.C. and Waddoups G.L. (2004) Improving the quality and effectiveness of computer- mediated instruction through usability evaluations. British Journal of Educational Technology Vol 35: 3 pp 289–303

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Enhancing the online experience [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Friday, January 23, 2015

Setting Up An Online Learning Experience

The first step in having a successful online course is setting up the forum/experience for learners. This step can result in a successful or disastrous online experience, based on what the instructor focuses on. The following key components are essential for a smooth online course launch:

  • Syllabus
  • Weekly Teaching Guides
  • Discussions and Rubrics
  • Course Site

In reading the course text, there are other significant components that the Instructor should consider when setting up an online course. Managing an online community can be very overwhelming, but establishing a strong social presence up front can help the instructor adapt to the new environment. It is also important to consider the following questions:


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

Technology is the driving force behind online learning. Online learning is built from web and technological tools that allow learners to participate in an asynchronous environment. Being knowledgeable about the latest technology can make the online learning experience more efficient and engaging. It also helps you connect with multi-generational learners.

Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?

Communication is key in an online forum. When the instructor sets clear expectations, the learner knows the requirements and standards for which they are being held to. Clear communication leaves no room for error and ensures that the learner is ready to carry out the activities assigned to them.

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

When setting up the online forum, creating effective discussion boards is extremely important. Without them, you remove the learner’s ability to express ideas and build relationships with their peers. “Discussion activities give all learners a chance, and in fact they generally require learners to reflect on the ideas in the content resources or the ideas expressed by other students, and then to write about what they think, know, and reason from those ideas” (Boettcher & Conrad, p. 85). Also, discussion boards are a great way to reinforce learning concepts and ensure that the learner’s comprehension is where it should be.

In addition to discussion boards, a strong syllabus will set the tone, while minimizing frustration and confusion in the learner’s mind. The syllabus should clearly outline course expectations, assignments, deadlines, and resources so the learner can confidently move forward in the course.

Reference:

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

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Welcome!

Hello everyone!!

My name is Jenea Smith and I am pleased to have you visit my blog! For the next eight weeks, I will be posting material for my Online Instructional Strategies course at Walden University. Feel free to review and make comments on the material I post here. I look forward to learning with each of you!