Posts Tagged ‘Reflection’

EDTECH 522 – Course Reflection

Online learning is such a fantastic resource for education, and more particularly for adult education.  Of course, adult education can mean a variety of different things, but in the context of this post I am referring to continuing education and professional development.  By the time one reaches “adulthood” there are so many demands and constraints on your time, usually from the to be expected sources like family, work, and everything that fills in the spaces between.  The ability of an adult with a family and a full-time job to take time out of their day to sit in a classroom for an extended period hasn’t been realistic for quite some time, the difference is that now there is an extremely viable, interactive, flexible means available to accomplish those educational tasks without having to drive across town or take time off from work.  Online education and adult learners are a match made in heaven!

With my focus on professional training and continuing education for business professionals, the aspect of this course that I found the most engaging was the 5th module on Planning, Designing, and Facilitating Online Instruction.  While I had created  online training materials previous to this course, it was enlightening to have an opportunity to develop a course from within a system like Moodle.  Previously, training material I had created were built within web content or distributed straight to video screencast or YouTube.  While I had extensive experience using Blackboard and Moodle as a student, this was my first foray into the administration or instructor component and I was intrigued!  I was extremely impressed with the ability to sequester information and break modules and lesson specific information up into “bite sized” components that could then be made available as needed to students.  This was far superior to managing content on a simple website or forum script.  The downside with these LMS systems, as I see it, are that they have terrible collaboration and communication modules built into them.  Most notably their forum scripts.  After a decade of online community management there honestly a half dozen forum scripts (both free and paid) that offer a far superior user experience.

Navigating the course materials in EDTECH 522 has inspired me to spend time moving forward to both enhance my web design skills and to spend quite a bit of time exploring both Moodle and Blackboard for future use in online course development.  I would like to develop a sandbox course that fully utilizes the feature set of a LMS to further explore it’s capabilities for a professional development course.  As someone who enjoys exploration, tinkering, and trial & error, this would afford me the opportunity to continue to refine my understanding of these two LMS systems and at the end of the process I would be left with a course that could be made available for further evaluation of both the course content as well as the organization and flow of the modules that would make up the course.

Online Instruction for Adult Learners has been an extremely rewarding course and I expect that I will find many opportunities in the months and years to come to put the tools and skills gained through the work of this past semester to good use!

EDTECH 543 – Course Reflection

When compared to older, more established educational tools, social media is still in its infancy.  Despite this fact, the scope and power of social media and how it can enhance student interaction and engagement of new material simply can not be ignored.  As more of our interaction with others shifts into an online space, the rate (if not the quality) of communication increases a thousand fold.  While sitting in a lecture ten years ago, a student would have been limited to the course text and perhaps their immediate neighbors for additional information or insight on a given topic.  Now through the advance of technology (both hardware and software) and the likes of Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Wiki’s, etc. students can access information and individuals on a global scale with a few strategic swipes on their phone or tablet device… all while sitting in class.

Of course, what is more social than sharing?  Collaborating with others on projects and assignments in many ways is so much easier than it ever has been.  Gone are the days when groups would be condemned to extended hours huddled in a library, coffee shop, or similar establishment during a mutually agreed upon day and time that the majority of the group had time to occupy the same space together.  Video and online streaming chat services available free of charge through Google Drive, Skype, Google Hangout’s, when combined with elaborate content sharing enable individuals to work together with more flexibility by removing the long standing requirement of occupying the same physical space in order to collaborate on work in progress.  Now two, three, five, ten people can all have the same document open and be discussing, editing, contributing, and flushing out details in tandem from half a dozen different geographic locations around the globe.  All someone needs to access these wonderful tools is an Internet connection (preferably broadband) and a web browser!  It really is amazing to me how far and how fast the digital space has expanded the reach of teaching and learning.

With a background and general love for most things related to technology, I frequently had at least a passing knowledge of most of the tools that we put to use in EDTECH 543 Social Networking.  What this course introduced me to, through course work and interaction with my fellow classmates, was a much deeper understanding of how to put these tools to work in an educational setting.  How to collaborate on Diigo to share project resources found across the vastness of the Interwebs, combining project submission and distribution through Twitter #hashtags that link back to a blog or Facebook post.  As with most things in life, we truly seem to be limited mostly by our imagination and drive to accomplish that which we set out to.  While it seems terribly cliche to say so, frequently all that is required to take a commonly used, pedestrian tool and convert that into a powerful educational tools is a touch of creative thinking… generally outside the box!

EDTECH 522 Final Project Reflection

This module was a perfect culminating activity for this course. While I have had several opportunities to create modules and course components, this was the first opportunity that I had to delve into a Moodle sandbox and work to put the framework in place to support the module that I was creating. This, being new, introduced a number of issues that either I wasn’t expecting, or wasn’t quite prepared for the amount of hunting and sidetracking that would be involved to resolve them.

I found the gathering, organization, and preparation of course material came together, almost as if it were second nature. This was extremely comforting! Sitting down to nurture an idea that soon became an outline that in short order became the material for a complete lesson without having to ponder the “how” of it made me feel like an Education Technologist / Online Instructor! Having chosen a topic that pertains to educating agents in their business development lent itself nicely and offered a jump start on material that could actually be deployed in a real world training session in my office… with a little more development.

Diving into Moodle’s “back end” was by far the biggest challenge!  Having never explored the administrator or instructor controls there was a fair amount of trial and error involved as I fumbled my way through the first operations of building the presentation components. With a basic understanding of at least the simple functions, I began playing with the visual themes in search of something that was more fitting for my course. Thankfully, I have a fairly extensive background with technology and more than a decade of online community forum management. While online forums have little to do with Moodle or Blackboard, they do feature a user accessed “front end” that handles the user interaction and a separate administration “back end” used to create, organize, and customize the site and user experience. Having this experience to draw upon did help navigate some of the features within Moodle.

One aspect of LMS that I have always been extremely disapointed with has been the community or forum components bundled within Blackboard and Moodle. These are a far cry from the forum scripts that I have been using for many years and are areas that I have always seen as a major drawback to online interaction with online courses.

543 Personal Learning Environment Reflection

Creating the Personal Learning Environment was an interesting task to undertake. Firstly, it provided an excellent opportunity to utilize a recently discovered tool (Spicynodes) to map out the various into some semblance of order. As I was working on this project, I discovered that every time I opened the map to make an adjustment I thought of another node that should be added. There really is no shortage of learning environments to satisfy all possible interests thanks to the Internet. One of the limitations that I discovered within Spicynodes that I found particularly frustrating was an inability to control the nodes and their behavior directly. If I were to undertake this assignment again I might select another platform in order to exercise a little more control over the layout and formatting.

As this is the second part of a two part assignment, I found that I diverged fairly dramatically from my classmates in how we approached this task. One of my frequent work environment/networks is LinkedIn due to its extensive user base and smaller, targeted sub-groups in which you can discuss, interact, and learn from professionals from around the world in similar industries. Because I found such an extensive list of sub-networks within the LinkeIn platform covering a variety of business, personal, and education interests it seemed logical to focus and explore that avenue more fully. Based on what I have seen so far, none of my classmates took this approach; instead focusing on a variety of individual, external networks.

In an effort to more fully flush out my PLE I did expand to include other resources and networks that I use on an almost daily basis. It was not surprising that there was a fairly extensive list of sites and services that I found across many of my classmates projects as well as my own. Many of the major sites including Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Flickr were common themes throughout. These networks offer so much information that it’s not surprising that they are popular places to turn for information.  After spending a considerable amount of time lurking, reading posts and content from others without engaging, this assignment provided an outstanding jumping off point to get significantly more active and engaged in one fell swoop.

522 Module 1 Reflection

A definition of online teaching and learning:
The basic definition of online teaching and learning is as simple as the conveyance of knowledge and or information to students through the medium that is the Internet. In reality, online teaching and learning opportunities are almost limitless due to the nature of the medium. Courses can be video tutorials that are archived for review as needed; courses can be conducted in real-time using video conferencing, chat, or VOIP software; or course materials can be delivered using a combination of methods from discussion boards, recorded presentations and slide decks. Students benefit from the removal (usually) of a geographic requirement to participate in the course activities due to the nature of the materials being online. The definition of online learning opportunities for organizations that facilitate these courses is profit! Online courses eliminate restrictions of geography as well as brick and mortar facilities to house students during the course.

Are learning outcomes in online courses/programs comparable to face-to-face courses/programs? Why or why not?
Learning outcomes in online courses are absolutely comparable to face to face course offerings. The courses themselves may vary greatly in the methods used to engage students and relay information in an online medium versus an in-person lecture. Despite these differences it is absolutely possible for students both "on the ground" and attending online leave a course having achieved the same learning outcomes. This is accomplished in several ways. 1: Instructors both online and in-person can base their courses off the same materials, while exercises and deliverables may differ, thoughtful and ongoing evaluation could confirm that the same learning outcomes are being achieved by utilizing the strengths of each medium to achieve understanding of the materials among the student body. One common misconception however is that an in-person course can be recorded and made available online and just like that, it’s now an online course. Nothing could be further from the truth in my opinion. While courses both in-person and online have strengths and weaknesses they do not directly translate and maintain full functionality and the highest benefit to the student without significant modification.

The strengths of in-person course materials are they are timely and in real time. Instructor(s) and students are together at the same time and place allowing for prompt q&a, discussions, and deliverables are all introduced in unison. Classes typically meet several times per week which can help keep student engagement high as the material is regularly refreshed throughout the week. Online courses benefit from a flexible schedule which allows students to tackle material on their own schedule when they have time, materials are typically archived for easy reference, and media resources that support the course material are never more than a link away.

EDTECH #505 Reflection 9 – Data Representation

It was very helpful to spend some time reviewing good practices for data representation in print.  While I have frequently made use of charts and imagery to highlight or break down data, I never gave much thought to how that information could be prepared to present the strongest statistics possible without misleading the reader.  My lack of thought in this regard may stem from my lack of use of pictures in charts, leaning more towards graphs or pie charts.  After processing the readings and reviewing samples however, it became clear how easily images can distort and mislead a reader.  The problem arises from the fact that scaling an image up or down changes more than one variable.  As an image scales up or down both width and height change which conveys information that is not necessarily relevant or true to the data collected.  The whole point of conveying data in the form of charts, tables, graphs, and images in a scientific or educational presentation is to support the relevancy of the material contained within the presentation.  Using supporting data that misleads the reader or audience completely defeats the purpose.

I think that moving forward it will still require a fair amount of practice and simple trial and error to determine which forms of data presentation are the most appropriate in any given situation.  Moving forward in evaluation and Education Technology, I do not expect that finding evaluations to practice on will be a problem, and for the most part, any presentation can make use of the accurate portrayal of supporting data!

505 Reflection #7 Rubric’s

The notion of rubrics, is a good one.  A rubric provides a road map of expectations from instructor to student outlining the path to the successful completion of an assignment.  While there are arguments against rubrics, they mostly seem to center around the degradation of student work (quality) because students are given the “bare minimum” requirements to succeed in the assigned task.  While this may be the case for some students, one can not discount that there will always be students in any given subject or class who are determined to put forth the least amount of effort possible while still completing the objective assigned.  Providing the crteria which will be used to assess these works ahead of time ensures that those completing the assignments have a road map to follow to ensure they complete the instructors list of objectives and don’t stray from the assignment’s paramaters.

While not an exclusive tool of acadameia, rubric’s seem to have less bearing in the private sector then they do in an academic setting.  Rubric’s, by their very nature, break down a task into various levels of correctness or point spread for grading purposes 70-80, 80-90, etc.  There are certianly situations in business education where grading occurs in which a rubric could be useful, but much of the time tasks, projects, or assignments are either right or wrong, complete or incomplete.  In these situations a rubric would not appear to be a relavent resource.  Case in point, business development courses or even licensing courses are, in my experience, pass fail.  You complete the work in a satisfactory manner and pass, or you do not and you fail.