Online Teaching and Learning Framework

Online Teaching and Learning Framework

Online Teaching and Learning (OTL) Framework

by Mark Sivy, Ed.D.

The current global academic arena is being shaped and led by innovation and online courses, MOOCS, certifications and degrees. Learners, whether young adults who are full-time learners or working adults fitting courses into their busy schedules, are demanding and benefiting from on-demand access to online education. Developing a robust OTL program enables higher education institutions to be competitive, to meet learner demands for online content and collaborative learning, and to address SME and industry needs for employees to have a working knowledge of online learning and operations.

Program stakeholders need to realize that a new OTL initiative will take a few years to gain momentum, but once that occurs, rapid growth and development will follow. The following is a summary of the necessary considerations for strategically planning and developing a successful OTL program. Not all items must be implemented in association with the faculty development, but they will be to occur early in the deployment of OTL.

online teaching and learningElements That Facilitate Effective OTL Practices:

  1. Infrastructure
  2. Support
  3. Learner Fulfillment
  4. Faculty Approval
  5. Learning Outcomes
  6. Cost Effectiveness

Infrastructure

To ensure success, the technical, administrative and instructional foundations for an OTL program should be strategically planned to be sustainable and scalable. Common technical aspects include servers and database capacities, load analyses, student information systems, a learning management system, end-user devices, and bandwidth. Administrative backing in areas such as providing financial resources and staff, policy, advising, online library access, and learning object repositories.

Support

Multiple areas of support will be needed. This will involve help desk support for students, professional development and training for faculty, and technical support and maintenance for systems. Very often with a start-up program, support is provided by faculty, teaching assistants and user communities, but this should be supplemented and eventually replaced by institutional support facilities.

Learner Fulfillment

Online learners prefer and need responsive and individualized services. This includes not only the learning management system and faculty, but also areas such as advising, registration and tutoring. Effective and frequent communication is a premium in OTL, and thus the learning environment should sustain high levels of communication, social interaction, and collaboration. Student surveys and needs assessments should be performed on a regular basis.

Faculty Approval

At the core of a successful OTL program are the faculty. They should be involved in the program building process from the very beginning. Input surveys identifying faculty needs, learning needs, and technological needs should be implemented. Marketing of the OTL program should begin early, showing the benefits and advantage of how OTL can enhance instruction and the academy. It is also vital to host faculty forums, create faculty focus groups, form communities of practice, and identify faculty champions. A grassroots faculty advancement of OTL is likely to have a much higher degree of buy-in and success than a program that is a top-down initiative. With that said, administrators should acknowledge that OTL can be more time consuming for the faculty than in-person courses.

online teaching and learningLearning Outcomes

It’s essential that both students and faculty feel that the quality of OTL is on par with face-to-face learning. If done well, OTL can exceed traditional classroom outcomes. This can lead to better enrollment, retention and graduation rates.

Cost Effectiveness

A well-planned and supported OTL program can increase financial, infrastructure and human resource effectiveness, thus reducing overall costs.

Reflection Point – “The challenge is not simply to incorporate learning technologies into current institutional approaches, but rather to change our fundamental views about effective teaching and learning and to use technology to do so.” ~Donald Hanna

E-Learning is Alive and Well

E-Learning is Very Much Alive and Doing Very Well

By Mark Sivy, Ed.D.

According to the GSV Advisors 2012 Education Sector Factbook, e-learning is expected to grow at an average rate of 23% during the years of 2013-2017, with the global market size being anticipated to go from $90.9 B to $255.5 B. Based upon Watson, Murin, Vashaw, Gemin, and Rapp’s annual high school e-learning course enrollments, the 2012-2013 numbers represented an over 131% increase in enrollments when compared to the 2008-2009 school year. In 2010, Mincberg projected that it is possible by 2020 for 50% of all high school classes to be delivered online. Additionally given current trends, it can be estimated that by 2019, half of all college classes will be e-Learning based.

Educational TechnologyBy using e-learning, corporations are realizing that they can save over 50% on the cost of creating and delivering a traditional course, not to mention that they can make it readily available to a large number of employees when and where they need it. In the Docebo E-Learning Market Trends & Forecast 2014-2016 Report, it was found that the both small and large companies were accepting e-learning as an efficient and cost effective means to quickly educate a geographically distributed workforce. WorldWideLearn points out several other factors that are leading the continuing growth of corporate e-learning, with some of the most notable being the development and delivery of consistent high quality content, the rapid development of employee skills, and modular learning.

Why is e-learning so very alive and doing well? Many factors have been found that are contributing to its popularity and reach. Some of these are:

– Mobility created by the expansion of wireless access and the growth in mobile device (e.g., tablets and smartphones) sales.
Personalized learning and adaptive learning that address the diversity of learner backgrounds and needs.
Gamification, which motivates learners and improves the level of interaction with the content.
Pervasive learning occurring through a variety of informal, social, and formal modalities, which better match learner needs and interests.
– Popularity of cloud-based technologies and software-as-a-service (SaaS)

There may be some misconceptions or opinions out there due to “bad” experiences that may lead some people to believe that e-learning is on the decline or is ineffective. Some common reasons for this are:

– E-learning adoption being driven by the desire to have a technology rather than by having actual learning needs that are addressed with technology after thorough analysis and planning. A classic case is the rush by many schools to implement one-on-one (1:1) laptop or tablet initiatives before the learning needs, benefits, and support requirements have been identified, explored, and vetted.
– Failure to create an ongoing budget for scalability, maintenance, and upgrading of both software and hardware. Often, money is only allotted for the initial costs and setup or too little recurring funding is set aside.
– Inadequate stakeholder notification or buy-in.
– Lack of instructional design that is appropriate to the e-learning method that is being used. An example of this is uploading presentations and other content from a traditional course into on that is online.
– Absence of or insufficient training, professional development, and user support.

In most of these cases where there negative thoughts have resulted about e-learning, these could have been avoided by clearly identifying learning needs, thoroughly researching project requirements and options, involving stakeholders in the process, applying strategic vision and planning, and ensuring sufficient funds. e-learning simulation

Reflection Point 1 – “E-Learning doesn’t just happen! It requires careful planning and implementation.” – Anonymous

Reflection Point 2 – “Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event.” – Heidi-Hayes Jacobs

 

References

Mincberg, C. (2010). Is online learning a solution in search of a problem? Retrieved from the Litmos website: http://www.litmos.com/mobile-learning/what-will-disrupt-literacy-learninginstruction-as-we-know-it/.

Watson, J., Murin, A., Vashaw, L., Gemin, B., & Rapp, C. (2013). Keeping pace with K-12 online & blended learning: An annual review of policy and practice. Retrieved from Evergreen Education Group’s Keeping Pace website: http://kpk12.com/cms/wp-content/uploads/EEG_KP2013-lr.pdf.

Educational Technology

Educational Technology – Some Thoughts

By Mark Sivy, Ed.D.

Let’s first take a look at the AECT (2008) definition for educational technology:

“Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources.”

What should be realized about this definition is that it deviates from a commonplace and superficial notion that educational technology refers to the hardware, software, and devices that can be used for learning. Instead, it is a much deeper and thought-provoking reference that is focused on the theory, process, instructional systems, instructional design, and practice that are behind properly using technology to facilitate learning. But alas, all too often it’s the case that educational technology is selected and implemented along the lines of the initial rather than the latter perspective. This common approach frequently comes with much frustration and expense, and results in mediocre outcomes at best. But this is an entirely different conversation that I’ll get to in a future blog post…

Serious GamingIdeally, learning would occur without the recipient experiencing boring or mundane teaching practices that so often plague a classroom or learning environment, whether in a physical space or online. As Plato (The Republic, Book VII) once said:

“No compulsory learning can remain in the soul…In teaching children, train them by a kind of game, and you will be able to see more clearly the natural bent of each.”

This statement by Plato brings into consideration the early recognition of participatory experiences for learning. This approach has been persistent through time, although in practice it is taken on many forms. A modern example of interactive learning that uses educational technology is serious gaming. Wideman, Owston, Brown, Kushniruk, Ho, and Pitts (2007) assert that:

“The personally meaningful and valued social and material worlds in which game learning takes place may be ‘virtual’ from an outsider’s perspective; however, they have a psychological reality for the player that directly mediates the player’s level of immersion, persistence in the face of challenges, and intrinsic desire to learn.” (p. 11)

Educational Technology

There is no question that the application of technology has played an important role in education for centuries. The study and implementation of educational technology began rapidly evolving during the latter part of the twentieth century when the microcomputer became a common device. In 1979, Barette envisioned that “teachers as well as students would be accessing huge machine readable files from their school library media centers and from home.” In the 35 years since, the use of computers for educational purposes went from being a novelty to now being a necessity that has been embraced by the academic community.

Today’s educational technologies enable participatory learning that benefits from interactive teamwork and social construction of information via online programs and systems. Combining the benefits of technology with online social interaction, McLoughlin and Lee (2007) state that not only do social software tools support social interaction, but they also support collaborative learning through the sharing of concepts, ideas, and services. These new educational technology capabilities have issued in a new and evolving realm of online education that involves community-based learning Tim Berners-Leeand the co-creation and coalescence of knowledge. In 2001, this hypothetical concept was referred to by Tim Berners-Lee, James Hendler, and Ora Lassila as the semantic web, whereas today it’s sometimes better known as Web 3.0, which continues to unfold.

Reflection Point: “The Semantic Web is not a separate Web but an extension of the current one, in which information is given well-defined meaning, better enabling computers and people to work in cooperation.” ~Tim Berners-Lee

 

References

Association for Educational Communications and Technology (2008). Definition. In A. Januszewski and M. Molenda (Eds.), Educational Technology: A definition with commentary. New York: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Barrette, P.P. (1979). Microcomputers in education. Compute! 1(1), p. 33.

McLoughlin, C. and Lee, M. J. W. (2007). Social software and participatory learning: pedagogical choices with technology affordances in the web 2.0 era. Proceedings Ascilite, Singapore 2007, pp. 664-675.

Wideman, H. H., Owston, R. D., Brown, C., Kushniruk, A., Ho, F., and Pitts, K. C. (2007). Unpacking the potential of educational gaming: a new tool for gaming research. Simulation Gaming 2007, 38(10), 10-30.

ICT and Quality Education

Extending the Reach of High Quality P-12 Education through ICT

by Mark Sivy, Ed.D.

Realizing that a well-educated populace is essential for boosting national prosperity and competitiveness in an international economy, top-level education departments and ministries around the world are now focused on ensuring that their P-12 curricula and instruction are adjusted to modern standards. In Oman and around the GCC, this task involves ensuring that students have the specific skills, literacies, knowledge, and expertise that will ensure their success locally, regionally and in the global marketplace. A crucial piece in accomplishing this, both in terms of learning outcomes and instructional delivery, is ICT (Information, Communications and Technology).

 ICT

As a driver of learning outcomes, ICT can play an important role in the development of new Omani curriculum and instruction strategies. The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has been at the forefront of providing a basis for the remodeling and modernization of teaching, learning and curriculum, with ICT being a significant consideration. Even though established as a US K-12 education initiative, the organization’s recommendations have relevance and implications for GCC educational systems. One of the major categories found within the Partnership’s renowned publication, P21 Framework Definitions, was created in response to the fact that we live in a global environment that is infused with and dependent upon technology and media. The ICT portion of the document offers the following highlights about the knowledge, skills, and expertise that student should possess as a result of the learning process:

Information Literacy – 1) accessing and evaluating information and 2) using and managing information

Media Literacy – 1) analyzing media and 2) creating media products

ICT Literacy – 1) applying technology effectively, ethically, and legally

 

Mobile LearningAs a medium for instructional delivery, ICT can play a significant role in the modernization of Oman’s educational system. One of the challenges in many countries has been the provision of a quality and equal education to all children regardless of their circumstances. Around the world, ICT infrastructures are being updated and expanded to provide Internet access to both urban and rural destinations and recipients. In Oman, the development of this infrastructure is underway and when finished it will be able to facilitate learning through the Internet-based transfer of instructional content.

Additionally, Omani schools and learners will need to be provided with devices to receive and make use of educational web content. This e-content should be specifically designed and developed by subject matter experts, master teachers, and instructional designers who are highly specialized in e-learning and the variety of learning devices. Of particular interest and development are mobile learning, One Laptop per Child (OLPC), and other one-to-one initiatives. The implementation of educational ICT is an intricate and complex process that should only be attempted through the direction of a project management team that has curriculum, instruction, and education technology expertise.

Reflection Point – When faced with a steam-rolling technology, you either become part of the technology or part of the road! ~Nigel Willetts