Sunday, March 29, 2009

Online Learning - The Student, Blog Post #7

Would I Make a Good Online Student?

To tell you the truth, I think it’s a little late for this…. After having successfully completed most of my online classes for my LIS major, I’m going to have to conclude that I’m a good fit for this type of distance education. The information we read in this lesson and the assessments we took did confirm this conclusion, however. Some of my observations about myself as an online student are:

· I am willing to accept the fact that online courses require more work (which they do)
· I am okay with the amount and type of feedback given by instructors (although I would prefer more)
· I have adequate reading skills to keep up with online coursework.
· I am very motivated to get my work in on time.
· I am fine with figuring out instructions on my own (but really appreciate it when instructors communicate them clearly)
· I enjoy online discussions with peers and instructors
· I’m okay with not having face-to-face contact with the instructor (but really like it when we do)
· I’m a visual learner (thank goodness for that)
· I’m highly motivated
· I have plenty of social ties in my life and don’t require more through classes
· I have adequate computer skills for the coursework (this wasn’t so true when I began my classes—I’ve had a lot to learn in the process)

Virtual Schools for K-12

I homeschooled my older children for eleven years and have some thoughts on this one. I think this can be successful if there is a parent (or substitute parent) close by to oversee the process. The educational part can be extremely strong through distance education. I even have a nephew who is an assistant district attorney in California who didn’t even go to a traditional law school. It was done totally virtually! He’s very bright and professional.

My Philosophy

Virtual schools are a way for technology to enlarge the educational opportunities of students in many different arenas. I’m a 53 year old working on a master’s degree, and I know many young and intermediate children working through their own online courses. Through technology we are all receiving the instruction we need for the appropriate coursework we’re involved with. It’s really amazing to think of the opportunity this provides, not only to middle class Americans, but also to people all over the world who may not otherwise have this chance.

Online Learning - Facilitating Interaction Online, Blog Post #6

My first online course was a shocking experience! It was a May-mini with Dr. Espinoza and was a definite crash-course in learning to interact in an online learning environment. (Did any of the rest of you have this as your first class?) Since that time, I have completed eight other online courses. Most of the instructors have done a good job at including each of the three types of interaction deemed necessary for a successful experience in distance education. I have never felt like a passive learner and have been totally engaged in discussion with the instructor and with fellow students.

Learner-Learner interaction has been a major part of all but one of my courses. I have enjoyed discussions with other students and have found it necessary to actually rely on them for direction at times. I have also made several friends and met several face-to-face at professional events.

Learner-Content interaction has also played a major part in my online education experience. Instructors have provided textbooks and online resources in the form articles, websites, and tutorials. Dr. McElhany made a very valid point when she mentioned the content that we can receive from our classmates. I have a plethora of great websites, ideas, and resources that I’ve gotten from my classmates.

Learner-Instructor interaction has probably been the area that I have been less satisfied with. Maybe I’m just comparing it too much to traditional education in a face-to-face environment, but I miss the interaction with an instructor. It’s been really refreshing to have two classes this semester that meet in the traditional sense. It has helped provide the “counsel, support, and encouragement” that Mr. Moore mentions in his article. Another complaint I have is that I have often worked really hard on an assignment and then the instructor just gave me a number grade with no comments and without the benefit of seeing my papers “marked up” in any way. This has seemed very flat and anticlimatical—not nearly as fulfilling as getting real feedback from a “real person.”

I believe that effective interaction between students, content, and instructor is key to successful online education programs. Without it instructors cannot pass on information to their students (what Mr. Moore calls a “defining characteristic of learning”) and cannot bridge the gap that the term “distance” implies.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Desktop Publishing & Movie Maker, Blog Post #5

I’d first like to discuss how Desktop Publishing can be used to make my job easier and more effective. When I need to communicate with students, teachers, administrators, and parents, this amazing software tool enables me to do so with speed and in professional quality. When publications look exciting and interesting, readers are more likely to be excited and interested in the subject matter. Some of the ways I can use Desktop Publishing are:

· Make creative bookmarks to pass out to my library patrons
· Advertize special programs with eye-catching signs and flyers
· Send enticing invitations to award parties
· Produce professional-quality awards for reading programs
· Create fun forms for my K-Kids organization
· Make my own business cards

Programs such as Movie Maker and Digital Photostory can be used to enhance lessons. Pictures, music and videos can be easily combined to make a film on any subject. I envision making a short video about our local Audie Murphy Museum. Better yet, students could work alongside me, and they could learn technology and local history in a constructivist setting. This past fall I hosted an Audie Murphy family night at our school and found out that many of the students had not been to visit the museum. I would like to work with the museum staff to put together a virtual tour to inspire the students to want to visit the museum and learn more about our local, and World War II, history. Along the same line, I would like to create a movie or Photostory highlighting other local historic sites. Both of these are products that wouldn’t be available for purchase or download, and could only be produced locally.

These web applications align well with my vision and definition for educational technology, in that I would be designing, developing and utilizing processes and resources for teaching and learning.

I believe that use of this sort of technology is become more and more popular in our visual society. This is probably due to the vast amount of visual media available to us through television, movies, video games, computers, etc. As educators we need to keep in step and even lead in the trend toward the use of images and sound in our methods and media.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Web 2.0 Technologies, Blog Post #4

From what I have learned so far, Web 2.0 technologies offer many interesting and innovative means to enrich the education of today’s students. I believe they have the ability to encourage and motivate our students, to provide them with needed information and resources, and to prepare them for the future which will surely include more and more of these types of applications.

My school offers almost none of this type of instruction. One teacher uses an occasional webquest and many students use Wikipedia in the course of research. That’s really all I’m aware of them using! Imagine the excitement of our population getting to see their work published through a wiki, a blog, or through digital storytelling. I believe they would try to produce a superior product and would be eager to show others their accomplishments.

I also think the teachers would be excited to learn about applications that could ease their workload. Using RSS feeds and social bookmarking are two applications I want to introduce to our teachers.

The future looks bright to me when I think about Web 2.0 technologies and schools. It will take time because of finances and faculty training for this to become a reality on my campus, but I believe we will get there.

The wiki I developed is a forum for students to add a page on which to tell others about their favorite book. Since I’m in a library, I thought it would be an interesting place for students to go when they need help finding a “good book.” I really plan to use it this year and am excited about it!