I’ve been blogging since 2011. I noticed I had 61 blogs listed in the category for e-Learning. Here’s a collection of my best effort to help others understand how to improve online learning and your professional online image as an eLeader.
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What does your syllabus say about your online course? I just completed a research project developing a rubric to identify the potential for a community of inquiry in online college courses. Then I used the rubric to review 23 online course syllabi from my university’s College of Education. I found a high amount of cognitive presence in the instructional activities and extensive and varied learner support. Overall, the syllabi met, or exceeded, a moderate level of planned activities to engender a community of inquiry in their online courses. As you may surmise, the online course syllabi were very detailed. I did not review the actual courses, only the syllabi.
Here are the examples of cognitive online activities used in the undergraduate and graduate level courses: developing questionnaires, peer review of papers, pre- and post-assessments, analysis of case studies, critically review an article, development of a personal instructional design model, student-created multiple-choice questions, hyper inquiry team project, academic controversy assignment, instructional design project, peer evaluations of project, simulation project, develop a creativity workshop, developing an online course, developing course evaluations, creating a welcome video, creating an academic contract, creating a course checklist, writing a literature review, completing CITI module, evaluating a program, completing a meta-evaluation of a program evaluation, develop an autobiography, conduct child observations, weekly self-evaluation of own learning, create a professional development plan, essay exams, develop a book trailer, develop a podcast, develop lesson plans, develop a how-to video, write a blog, develop a personal learning network, develop a digital story, develop a wiki, curate digital books and other electronic resources, and participate in monitored teacher education field experience.
I plan to submit my paper to an upcoming conference and try to publish the findings. My report is 34 pages long, so I’ll share the highlights in a few more blog posts.
Are your online courses too stuffy? Clark and Mayer’s (2011) personalization principle refers to the practice of making e-learning more personable to increase learner outcomes. The authors recommended the following research-based personalization practices: informal written language (e.g., active language, use of contractions), human voice, polite language structure, and the use of agents (intelligent tutors built-in to the system). Most of the research findings made sense to me; I’ve always thought that instruction should be more personable. However, I was amazed to learn about the significant impact on the use of personal pronouns. Mayer, Fennell, Farmer, and Campbell (2004) found that simply changing the word “the” to “your” in a lesson script aided transfer. Clark and Mayer propose research be conducted as to the long-term effects of personalization practices on students within a course.
Will these positive outcomes diminish over the length of the course? I don’t think so. As long as all content is kept in the same conversational style the effect should remain. I base this on my understanding of human nature and the literature cited below. We appreciate polite language that is simple (active) and concise. We also prefer to hear the human voice to that of an android. The authors identified a few research studies on gender preferences for agents, but these were single studies and not generalizable to all content in all learning situations. Personally, I was disappointed to read the findings that both men and women prefer to learn from male voices on the topic of technology. However, it wasn’t surprising, as our family, schools, and society shape our understanding of the world. At the workplace, I’ve encountered the stereotype that assumes that only men can explain/know technology.
I think it’s also important to add an image of yourself to the syllabus or About Me section of your e-course. I haven’t found any research basis in this yet, but I think it helps the learner connect with the human side of the instructor. As an instructional designer, I recommend faculty add a photo to their course and the email account. From my own e-learning experiences, I actually recognized an instructor at a conference from my memory of their thumbnail photo in their emails. What about you? How do you make distance education personal for your students?
Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2011). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (3rd. ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.
Mayer, R. E., Fennell, S., Farmer, L., & Campbell, J. (2004). A personalization effect in multimedia learning: Students learn better when words are in conversational style rather than formal style. Journal of Educational Psychology, 96, 389-395.
Note: The following blog post is an excerpt from my qualitative case study with 11 Saudi college-aged students conducted in 2014. Contact me if you’re interested in reading the entire paper.
I conducted a single instrumental case study to understand the digital game usage of the dominant culture of English language learners (ELLs) at my university, as well as their personal attitudes and cultural views toward gaming. The main purpose was to obtain qualitative data on the bounded system of Saudi college students attending an English language center (ELC) in regards to their gaming habits in order to add to the literature on educational and extracurricular gaming activity. Secondly, is digital gaming a good fit for aiding students with second language acquisition? My study focused on the intermediate, advance, and university (bridge) level Saudi ELLs’ usage of digital gaming during and after school in the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Saudis are the dominant language group not only at this ELC, but nationwide. In fact, the number of Saudi enrollments for English language in the U.S. has grown from 11,116 to 71,026 in the past eight years (Marklein, 2013). Therefore, research on their learning habits and cultural norms are critical for U.S. colleges.
What types of non-educational digital games do Saudi students play after school in Saudi Arabia? Participants played adventure (e.g., Grand Theft Auto, Pepsiman, and Trivian), beauty (e.g., Sally’s Salon), community (e.g. The Sims), historical (e.g., Assassin’s Creed), sports (FIFA soccer, Forza Motorsport, and Driver), war (e.g., Battlefield and Call of Duty), and westerns (e.g., Red Dead). These games can be played as MMORGs or offline individually. This may be due to the fact that the other high grossing game, Grand Theft Auto (GTA), is prohibited in Saudi Arabia because the sexual, criminal, and violent nature of the game goes against the religious rules of the Koran, the sacred book of Muslims.
What type of non-educational digital games do Saudi students play after school in the United States? Some participants reported not having any time to play games after school due to their course load, while others either brought their Xbox or PlayStation consoles with them or purchased them here. A serious student stated, “I came to study, not to play. Perhaps during break.” Female students were more likely to play games on Facebook like The Farm or Candy Crush, or apps on their phones like Sally’s Spa. One male student reported playing Luminosity. Overall, those that played digital games in the U.S. reverted to the aforementioned ones, and COD remained the game of choice.
Do Saudi students believe that they can learn English from playing digital games? Participants strongly believed that they could learn English from playing digital games. One student claimed, “I got my language from PlayStation characters, to be honest. I don’t care about level. I care about history. I get two things: language and history.” Some were specific and stated that they learned new vocabulary but not grammar or pronunciation. Another participant reported learning English idioms from gaming, “Yes, sometimes, you talk with players from U.S. by using headset, and learn vocabulary from game they don’t teach in ESL class, example, ‘Free for all’.” A participant alluded to digital gaming teaching him “to speak with English speakers to know what to do or something.” They also felt that gaming would be a nice way to learn in class. Many students referenced playing COD with headsets “to talk to lots of friends.” A female student reported learning English from The Sims even though the characters don’t speak English; they speak Simlish. She stated, “I learned a lot of words from this game. Message and icon are in English. I learned a lot from this game because I love it. I played it for three years. I have big family, and they became rich.” Both males and females reported learning English from commercial digital gaming.
Rogers, S. (2014). Saudi English language learning college students’ digital gameplay: A case study. [Unpublished work].
(This is a repost of the EVO2015 Call for Participation from Nina Liakos.)
Dear EFL/ESL Educator,
Since 2001, the Electronic Village Online, a project of TESOL’s CALL Interest Section, has been offering free online professional development sessions to language teachers world-wide. It is my pleasure to announce the Call for Participation for the Electronic Village Online (EVO) 2015. This year, we are offering 13 fabulous five-week sessions on a variety of topics, including teaching pronunciation, using Moodle, creating electronic textbooks, flipped learning, making Machinima in Second Life, using Minecraft to teach English, and more.
For a complete listing and abstracts, visit the Call for Participation at http://evosessions.pbworks.com. To enroll in a session, follow the instructions on the session page. Please note that registration for the sessions will take place from January 5 – January 11, 2015. The sessions begin on January 12 and continue until February 15. To register for a session, follow the instructions on that session’s page (Session pages are linked to the CfP.).
EVO sessions are free (you usually need only a computer with Internet access and a desire to learn) and open to all, whether or not you are a TESOL member. They carry no academic credit, and participants may choose the level of involvement that works for them. Mark your calendars now for EVO registration, January 5 – 11. And get ready for an unforgettable experience!
Please share this invitation with your colleagues and e-lists, and thank you for helping us to spread the word!
Nina Liakos, EVO Lead Coordinator
On behalf of the EVO Coordination Team
Note: Read more about EVO from my previous blog posts.
TESOL CALL-IS Keynote, Dawn Bikowski
Thanks to Vance Stevens and Dawn Bikowski for putting together this learning event.
Originally posted on Learning2gether:
On Sun Aug 31 Learning2gether was honored to meet with Dawn Bikowski discussing gaming and language learning
Dawn discussed projects she’s working on for teacher training by putting digital gaming into her MA teacher training courses, including pedagogical grammar and teaching reading & writing. She also talked about her experiences as lead author of the teacher’s manual for the digital game Trace Effects, which she did for the U.S. Department of State.
Dawn mentioned using Aurasma with teacher trainees in her discussion with us. On YouTube you can see many examples of what Aurasma does; e.g., http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GBKy-hSedg8 and she explained in greater detail in her talk at the CALL-IS and IATEFL LTSIG webinar on Gaming and Gamification on Jun 14 this year, where she spent 10 minutes talking about Aurasma and how she uses it to help teachers experience games.
TESOL CALL-IS Keynote, Dawn Bikowski
Training Teachers to Think in Games
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In my opinion, the blended format offers the best learning situation. It’s like a web-enhanced course on steroids. You’ll get to meet with the students in person, share all types of great resources online, and continue discussions online instead of having the conversation end when the face-to-face class ends. The 3 most important things I’d tell faculty transitioning from regular face-to-face classes (F2F) to that of a blended format are as follows:
- Establish a clear schedule that explicitly outlines the activities to be conducted according to your blended format.
- Revisit each of your F2F lessons and assignments to decide which ones are compatible for the online format and adapt them accordingly.
- Apply many of the same basic principles for engendering a community of inquiry in your F2F to that of the blended format.
Blended format schedule. It’s imperative to state which activities will happen in the F2f class and asynchronously online; otherwise, students will become confused and miss F2F class meetings other activities. Educators should provide students a paper schedule and also add the important dates to the online course calendar. Additionally, special reminders can be shared via the online course announcements tool. This schedule should also be appended to the course syllabus. I suggest placing the dates of the F2F class meetings in the heading of the syllabus instead of buried within the other information.
Adaptation of lessons. Review all of your lessons with a new lens for the blended format. Make a t-chart of which lessons are suitable for the F2F and online learning environments. From the t-chart, build a new schedule like the one above. It serves as a nice outline for the course. You may have to modify, add, or remove existing activities and lessons to adequately fit the blended format. For example, I like to conduct a mock and formal debate. In the past, I taught the reading course in a Web-enhanced format. In designing for the blended format, I realized that I could conduct the mock debate via the Meetings tool and keep the formal debate F2F. Lastly, make sure you edit all your existing assignments tied to lessons to reflect the updates.
Community of inquiry. A community of inquiry (COI) exists when you have social presence, cognitive presence, and teacher presence. Some educators believe that the COI can only occur in F2F formats. Actually, when teachers encourage students to share ideas and their work, this provides for social presence online and F2F. Try to bring the same great F2F conversations to the online forums for discussion. This requires a lot of forethought before you post your question and related articles. This can engender cognitive presence if it provides challenging questions and promotes student-student interactions. Lastly, teachers need to be actively engaged in the discussions online in the same way that they lead, moderated, or guided the F2F ones. This provides teacher presence. Just as you would give timely feedback on assignments as a F2F best practice, this should be your mode of operation for the blended format.
In summary, the three main things to keep in mind for transitioning content from a F2F course to a blended format are to be hyper-vigilant of the lesson scheduling, adaptation, and maintenance of the COI.
I hope you find this helpful!
This summer, I read Plato’s The Allegory of the Cave for a course assignment. If you’re not familiar with it, see this YouTube video of a professor’s lecture and animation:
Plato’s allegory reminded me of the chains we place on ourselves as adult learners. Ever since I graduated from college, I’ve encountered adults who profess the age-old idiom: “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” As an educator, I confronted this in the Peace Corps when working with artisans, in college when teaching languages, and even within my own family dealing with challenging tasks.
I exclude my mother and myself from this. She never allowed anything to keep her from learning something new. She instilled in me the gumption to apply myself to any task, no matter how difficult it may appear to be. From experience, I can assert that I’ve been successful at learning various difficult things as an adult. For example, I learned to speak Portuguese at age 30, Latin dance at age 40, and statistics at age 50. Of course, this list is only cursory. I share my successes with my students to let them know that learning can occur at any time in your life.
The fable is related to learning theory and technology in many ways. First, as instructional designers, we must keep ourselves informed of the latest research on multimedia practices. Otherwise, we’ll become slaves to our own (or others) beliefs. I have a growth mindset. I want to know what the research indicates as an effective practice and then immediately start to apply it. Of course, I have my hunches or intuition about how things should be presented. However, I’m open to learning new ways to bring about improved learning outcomes.
Second, we will face opposition and disbelief in our practices and informed knowledge when we enter the workforce as novice instructional designers with our advanced degrees. Naysayers of scientific findings will state that a certain empirically based practice will not work at their institution. They may even state that they’ve tried it before with no improvement. We’ll need to build a good reputation and gain buy-in from others in regards to introducing new ideas. Otherwise, we may fall prey to Groupthink.
Here’s a PDF of the play: http://classicalastrologer.files.wordpress.com/2012/12/plato-allegory-of-the-cave.pdf