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.
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