“Distance education and training result from the technological separation of teacher and learner which frees the student from the necessity of traveling to “a fixed place, at a fixed time, to meet a fixed person, in order to be trained” (Valentine, 2002). The advantages of distance learning are plentiful including: flexibility, saving time and money for both student and administration, studying at your own pace, convenience and access to fellow students and administration (Abraham, 2012). While the advantages are plentiful, there is one aspect of distance education that is a concern for distance learners which is the lack of interaction between students and instructors. Research shows one of the leading reasons for why students fail to complete online courses is “isolation-a feeling or belief that they are working alone without the help of their instructor or classmates” (Freeman, 2001). This is the area where I see improvement in distance education in the future. Image

The beginning of this Distance Learning course taught students how distance education has evolved from its earliest days up to the present where it was noted in 2010 that “77% of universities already offer online courses” (LaMartina, 2012). I’m sure that number is even greater today and will continue to grow in the future. Dr. George Siemens noted one reason for growing acceptance of distance education is the “growing acceptance of technology and practical experience with new tools” (Laureate Education, 2009). Technology such as course management systems offering online discussions, blogs, chats and web conferencing give students more opportunity to interact with fellow classmates and their instructor to develop a greater sense of understanding and community. Some of the first distance education concepts were that of correspondence courses where students were allowed to complete coursework from anywhere, anytime, however the student was solely responsible for their progress and often it would take weeks to receive feedback of their work. Today, students can receive much quicker feedback of their views through discussion forums and their grades through an online gradebook. Instructors can hold online lectures through the use of web conferencing and can be available for one-on-one and group meetings through Skype. These technological tools will continue to develop and new ones will be created to make the world a smaller place. This advance in technology will grow in the corporate environment as well allowing businesses to interact globally. The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center conducted a study in which experts and stakeholders were asked how they see instruction in 2020. 60% of the respondents agreed that “There will be mass adoption of teleconferencing and distance learning to leverage expert resources” (Anderson, Boyles, & Rainie, 2012). Charlie Firestone, executive director of the Communications and Society program at the Aspen Institute stated his views on changing technology that “will allow for more individualized, passion-based learning by the student, greater access to master teaching, and more opportunities for students to connect to others—mentors, peers, sources—for enhanced learning experiences” (Anderson, Boyles, & Rainie, 2012). As technology advances so will the need for more future online courses. The difference between today’s courses and those in 10-20 years will be the tools that will be provided to improve interactivity amongst students and professionals increasing the global community.

As I reflect on what I have learned through this Distance Education course, I think of the title of the degree program Instructional Design and Technology. Our goals are to learn and apply the concepts of good Instructional Design along with learning current technology to display these concepts. “The swift, unforeseen, unexpected and unbelievable achievements of information and communication technologies will require the design of new formats of learning and teaching and [will cause] powerful and far-reaching structural changes of the learning-teaching process” (Peters, 2002, p. 20). It is the responsibility of the instructional designer to incorporate both design concepts and technology in order to meet job requirements such as “The Specialist will apply and modify various instructional design models and components to develop high quality teaching and learning environments” (Walden University, 2013). When we learn and are able to display these concepts in a “quality teaching and learning environment”, we will then be able to change social perceptions that may still see online education as inadequate to face-to-face training. My ambition is to work diligently to improve distance education so that it will fit into the equivalency theory providing the same learning outcomes from distance education as of the brick and mortar classroom.

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Some of us are K-12 educators, some work in the corporate aspect; some of us are teachers and trainers active in the classroom or training department, while others may focus more on development. Whatever our primary role, I can assure you that we all wear many hats. We are responsible for knowing our audience, designing materials to engage the audience, and developing and delivering training to meet desired objectives In order to accomplish my own goals, I strive to learn current trends in order to make myself appealing to the job market. However, my desire to work in the instructional design field goes much deeper than a job itself. My desire is to do something that I thoroughly enjoy and share my work with others to make a positive change. This is how I will be a positive force for continuous improvement in the field of distance education

References:

Abraham, N. (2012, June 26). Advantages & disadvantages of distance learning. Retrieved April 1, 2013, from htcampus.com: http://www.htcampus.com/article/advantages-disadvantages-distance-learning-612/

Anderson, J. Q., Boyles, J. L., & Rainie, L. (2012, July 27). The future impact of the Internet on higher education:. Elon University School of Communication, Pew Research Center.

Freeman, J. (2001). Using Discussions in Online Courses: The Importance of Interactivity.

LaMartina, D. (2012, August 10). The Future of Distance Learning: Why 77% of Universities Already Offer Online Courses. Retrieved April 25, 2013, from http://www.edcetera.com: http://edcetera.rafter.com/the-future-of-distance-learning-why-77-of-universities-already-offer-online-courses/

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009). The Future of Distance Education. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD.

Peters, O. (2002). Distance education in transition: New trends and challenges. Bibliotheks and Information system der Universitat Oldenburg, 20.

Valentine, D. (2002). Distance learning: promises, problems and possibilities. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 5(3).

Walden University. (2013, April 23). Week 8 Reflection: Food for Thought.

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Open Courseware

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Open-source course management systems are free educational software that are maintained by users who implement, even modify, and ultimately support their system to meet local, specific needs” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, p. 162). I was unaware that open source courseware existed until this week, and found it to be a fascinating look into what is in store for education technologically. I chose to take a look at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s open courseware athttp://ocw.mit.edu/courses/media-arts-and-sciences/mas-714j-technologies-for-creative-learning-fall-2009/index.htm. “MIT OpenCourseWare™ (OCW) is a web-based publication of virtually all MIT course content. OCW is open and available to the world and is a permanent MIT activity” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012).

The first thing I did was take a look around the site and I got a feel for how it is used. Their About page has startling statistics including “materials from 2150 courses” and “125 million visitors” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012). Who knew that that many people around the world knew about the knowledge that was available with a simple online search? The History page notes that in 2002, the “pilot version goes online with 50 courses” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012). Where have I been? I had no idea. So what does the MIT Open CourseWare™ have to offer? Basically, anyone including students, educators, businesspeople, and self-learners around the world can access many of the MIT courses offered to students earning their degrees. There is no degree or certification attached to the use of the open courseware only the genuine desire to learn.

I chose the course entitled “Technologies for Creative Learning” in the Training and Education topic. I chose this course because it is somewhat relevant to my Instructional Design degree program. The course “includes activities with new educational technologies, reflections on learning experiences, and discussion of strategies and principles underlying the design of new tools and activities” (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2012). Tools on the courseware site include: course home, syllabus, readings, assignments, projects, related resources, and download course materials, and the CMS is designed similar to the Walden courses designed through BlackBoard ™. It is very easy to find topics and choose a course as well as navigate through the system; therefore I would determine that quite a bit of time was used in planning in order to design the course making it easily accessible to a wide range of learners.

This week’s resources offer suggestions for faculty to prepare for distance learning including:

  • Traditional classroom curriculum may need to be changed to meet the needs of students including “visual presentations, engaged learners, and careful timing of presentations of information
  • Plan activities that encourage interactivity at all sites
  • Plan activities that allow for student group work
  • Be prepared in the event technical problems occur” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012).

MIT OpenCourseWare™ meets many of these requirements. The syllabus clearly states expectations regarding participation, projects, assignments, and grading. Students are given the opportunity to work as facilitators; two or three students are selected each week and are encouraged to work closely with facilitators to ensure success. This allows students to share their views and experience and gives other students the opportunity to comment and ask questions. Students become a part of their learning. I also found very handy the Technology FAQ for those not quite so technologically savvy. These are a few of the ways designers have made the MIT OpenCourseWare™site attractive and easy to use.

In addition to students participating as facilitators in the online classroom, seven activities are given as practice in various areas of the curriculum. Scratch™ is the technology used throughout the course which was created by the MIT Media Lab. Scratch™ is defined as a “programming language learning environment enabling beginners to get results without having to learn syntactically correct writing first” (Lifelong Kindergarten Group). You can learn more about Scratch™ at http://scratch.mit.edu. There is also a final project that is to be completed throughout the course and it is encouraged for students to work in groups and use each other for testing.

Time™ Magazine listed MIT OpenCourseWare as one of the top 50 websites of 2010 stating that the site “offers many class materials for free, with lecture notes, class assignments, tests and even the audio and video of professors’ lectures” (TIME Staff, 2010).I find this site to be thoughtfully designed and easy to use. It is amazing what technology has done to make our world a smaller place, and I am sure that this educational opportunity will continue to grow and prosper.

References:

Blackboard, Inc. (2013). About Bb. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from Blackboard.com: http://www.blackboard.com/about-bb/overview.aspx

Johnson, D. B. (2012, March 2). Open CourseWare-Not a threat for online schools. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from OnlineCollegeCourses.com: http://www.onlinecollegecourses.com/2012/03/02/opencourseware-not-a-threat-for-online-schools/

Lifelong Kindergarten Group. (n.d.). Featured Projects. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from Scratch.mit.edu: http://scratch.mit.edu/

Massachusetts Institute of Technology. (2012). About OCW. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from ocw.mit.edu: http://ocw.mit.edu/about/

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

TIME Staff. (2010, August 25). 50 Best Websites 2010. Retrieved April 5, 2013, from Time.com: http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2012721_2012929_2012925,00.html

ImageHow does a company best present training modules to many different shifts at various plants and ensure that all employees are engaged in their learning?

 “Self-paced asynchronous applications include web-based and computer-based courses that learners use at their own pace” (Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta). In order for companies to reach out to a vast amount of employees in a timely manner, course management systems are being used for effective communication. CMSs are “commonly used for distributed learning purposes, enabling teachers of conventional face-to-face courses to provide learning resources and conduct course-related activities, such as discussions and testing, outside of normal class time” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). Course management systems such as BlackBoard and Moodle incorporate several of today’s technological tools in order to increase comprehension including Discussion Forums.

Discussion forums “allow learners to interact with each other and the instructor through threaded discussions by posting messages on specific subject areas, starting new threads and sub-threads, or posting replies to others” (Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta). The ECAR Research Study found that students “described classes where participating in online discussions helped them learn by facilitating greater engagement with their classmates. They had more time and a richer context within which to formulate their answers” (EDUCAUSE, 2004).

Companies are increasingly using online learning for their employees. One example is Home Depot who in 2003 began installing computer kiosks in their stores for employee training. “At the kiosks, employees can access asynchronous internet-based training on plumbing, gardening, painting, product knowledge, on-the-job safety”. (Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta). Home Depot has seen a decrease in the amount of time it takes to train an employee and an increase in content retention. They attribute this to “eLearning’s active learning facet” (Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta).

IBM is another company that has integrated online learning into their training program. “On the company intranet, learners can choose the information they need when they need it” (Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta). In addition, when an employee becomes a manager, they “begin Phase I asynchronous online learning sessions for two hours per week, during regular work hours, over the course of six months” (Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta). IBM worked to implement a system of learning that “continuously and effectively trains employees” (Koller, Harvey, & Magnotta).

As an Instructional Designer, I would design modules to be presented in a CMS. Employees would be able to access the modules from anywhere at any time. In addition to viewing the material, the employees would login to a specified Discussion Forum where they would engage in written communication with other employees, trainers, and perhaps supervisors in order to communicate how improvements would take place, when new processes would become effective, and how these changes would impact employees and departments of the various plants. Having a course management system so that employees were able to view training modules at a time convenient to them as well as still be able to communicate with others by allowing them to give feedback and ask questions would increase learning.

References:

EDUCAUSE. (2004). Course management systems. In Students and information technology.

Koller, V., Harvey, S., & Magnotta, M. (n.d.). Technology-based learning strategies. Oakland, CDA.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Distance Learning

I started my journey as an Instructional Designer when I was employed as a new hire sales trainer in a call center environment. My knowledge of design and development was based solely on my experience as a salesperson combined with the software programs I taught myself to use including Microsoft Office. I remained in the position for ten years and learned very little about the ID principles that should be incorporated into a training program. I then had the opportunity to work as an admissions advisor for a university that offered online degree programs. It was my responsibility to interview potential students and present the benefits of earning a degree through distance learning. The convenience, flexibility, and ease of studying at one’s own pace while still obtaining a quality education were given as benefits and over time I realized this was the only way I would ever complete a higher education degree program. I moved out of state shortly after beginning my degree program and still continued to pursue my education while being a stay-at-home mom. I had the time to be supportive of my children while being able to complete my required studies and interact with other students who had the same goals. My definition of distance learning includes being able to use various modes of media for sources of knowledge, the ability to interact through discussions of the material with students and professors, submit tests, applications, and projects through online communication, and the ability to do all of these things at my own pace within set deadlines.

During the pursuit of my Bachelor’s in Business Administration, I realized that my goal was to incorporate my business knowledge into training and development. That is when I decided to continue my journey by pursuing my Master’s degree in Instructional Design. While working in the corporate environment, I noticed many ways that training could improve so that new hire employees were more knowledgeable of the company and their position but also that they were more motivated and determined to meet their goals. I have often thought of how distance learning could be designed so that employees could learn at his/her own pace. If an employee had access to training programs at home or in a designated area of the workplace, they would be able to review and test their knowledge and skills to make them further prepared for their work responsibilities. Simonson (2003) stated that “the purest form of distance education occurs at different times and in different places. In other words, learners choose when and where to learn and when and where to access instructional materials.” This concept of asynchronous distance learning allows learners to access web-based instruction at their flexibility and convenience.

“Distance education is defined as institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructions” (Simonson et al., 2012, p. 10).  Through my educational and professional experience, I have learned much about the concept of distance learning so this definition is not entirely new to me. There are four characteristics that distinguish distance education including: involving institutions, geographic separation, interactive telecommunications, and established learning community (Simonson et al., 2012). While there are many definitions and perspectives of what constitutes distance learning, if any of the mentioned characteristics are not involved, then the program cannot be considered distance learning.

In the corporate environment, I would like to see a program developed to engage learners in their home or work location of their choice. However, I am uncertain of how this would fit into the definition of distance learning. Geographic separation would allow learners to access the program anywhere and at any time, at some point it would be amazing to see employees engaging with employees at other locations around the country or potentially around the world. Interactive telecommunications would allow for use of email, discussion groups, and media as communication and sources of learning. A learning community could be composed of employees from a new hire training group or a particular department within the company, an instructor, and a training manual could be provided to act similar to a textbook. The question would be how to provide this program through an institution? I am not familiar with how corporations are proceeding with this part of the program, and I look forward to learning more about if this type of program fits into the definition of distance learning which has been provided and if so, then how?

The future of distance learning seems to be astounding. The world is becoming smaller by the day with the amount of technology, modes of communication, and potential to reach others around the world. I began taking correspondence classes via the postal service when in high school twenty years ago, and I learned this week that this type of course ultimately evolved into today’s distance learning. Trends in communication are changing daily and with this means the definition of distance learning will continue to change as we progress into the future. I look forward to seeing how this type of learning will be used in K-12 education for my young children as they begin their education, in higher education and how it will evolve from now when I am a student to when my children are pursuing their degrees, and in the corporate environment where the need for new hire training and follow-up training is in constant need.

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References

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance (5th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Welcome

Hello and welcome to my page. My past work experience has been as a corporate trainer in a call center environment. I am currently a student at Walden University studying Instructional Design, and I look forward to using my degree to continue my journey in the corporate world. I hope everyone enjoys my posts and I look forward to your comments and feedback.

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Dr. Jeanne Ormrod states “To teach effectively, you’ve got to know how students learn” (Laureate Education, 2009). As an educator, trainer, or instructional designer, it is important that we understand not only what we are teaching but how the information is being processed by the student and how the information will be applied in a real situation. During the eight weeks of this course, we have discussed several learning theories including behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism, social learning, connectivism, and adult learning. I was aware of the use of some of the concepts associated with these theories, while others I did not realize that I used as a form of learning. Every student learns differently, therefore it is important to incorporate several types of learning theories into instruction in order to stimulate learning from various viewpoints.

As I began this course, I was a little apprehensive about the various types of learning theories and the scientific verbiage that seemed to be associated with each. The details of each theory were overwhelming at times, and as we learned of new theories each week, the information would seem to contradict with that of other theories. However, as the weeks continued and we started the Learning Theory Matrix, I was able to see the differences between the various learning styles. I began to notice concepts from each theory that I associated with either my personal style or that of one of my children. The more I would think about how the learning style affected me directly, the more I was interested in learning. I found myself thinking of techniques that could be used in the classroom, the work environment, or online in order to ensure mastery of a concept. For example, social learning is the theory that “Individuals can express their views through experience and knowledge and share with others” (Kim, 2001). Collaboration, games, discussions, and group projects are all methods of incorporating social learning into the classroom. This allows students the opportunity to discuss their views on a concept while also learning their classmates’ perspective and experience. The online classroom, as well as the school systems, is encouraging social learning by adding group participation in various areas to ensure students are learning objectives and at the same time building upon the concept of teamwork. I was surprised to see how much I really enjoyed learning about these learning theories and how I can incorporate various strategies into instruction.

I recognize that I am a visual, hands-on type of learner. I read the resources given to me, actively take notes, and listen to the lectures, but it is not until I am able to do something with the information given to me that I am truly able to learn. Cognitivism, social learning, connectivism, and adult learning are all theories associated with my personal style of learning. I use cognitive methods of memorization to remember facts, as well as the internet to expand my need for further clarification using the connectivism theory. I am affected by adult learning, because I am actively pursuing my degree at an older age because I see the need for promotion in my future. Social learning is used through the discussion forum, group projects, and blogs to ensure that students are communicating and learning from each other. “One of the things that’s important for any instructional designer to know is the nature of not only the learner in general but also the nature of specific learners and the fact that different people approach learning tasks in somewhat different ways” (Laureate Education, 2009).

Last week the course discussion focused on the effect of technology on the Instructional Design field. I stated in my blog that the Instructional Design field is one that is full of current trends in technology, and I am enjoying the opportunity to experience this technology in my knowledge search through my education and workplace. I have learned to use resources to seek information, keep records of information that is useful now and will be in the future, as well as I have learned to use technology in this course to create a blog, a mind map, and a subscription feed for classmates’ and other blogs of interest. Not only does technology influence the Instructional Design field with current trends and new opportunities but it should also motivate us as experts in our field to continue to provide insightful and creative modes of learning. After all, “To learn effectively, you not only have to have the cognitive processes that enable you to learn effectively and to remember it effectively; you also have to want to learn it” (Laureate Education, 2009).

The Learning Theories Instruction course has taught me how to engage my personal learning styles and also recognize that every individual has their own style of learning. This course was outlined in a manner to be both challenging and informative, and because of the way the content was outlined I was motivated to want to learn more about the objectives. Various modes of learning styles and strategies were used in this classroom to stimulate learning, and I have learned that I must guide my future material as an Instructional Designer in much the same manner. Two or three different ways of approaching a subject and giving students a choice of how they can learn helps keep them motivated and ensures a greater understanding of a concept (Laureate Education, 2009). Therefore I will incorporate my new knowledge of learning styles, learning strategies and technology resources to provide motivation for greater learning in whatever instructional situation I may encounter in the future.

 

References:

Kim, B. (2001). Social constructivism. Retrieved May 21, 2012, from Projects.coe.uga.edu: http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Social_Constructivism.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009). An introduction to learning. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009). Learning styles and strategies. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2009). Motivation in learning. [DVD]. Baltimore, MD.

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