A Productive Online Learning Experience

10407204_10205657617213708_4110966384434618876_nI remember the ongoing debates of whether one should enroll in an online university or university that offers courses online or enroll in a traditional college setting. The timeframe was around 2005. I had just completed my MBA and enrolled in my first course online at the University of Phoenix Online University DBA program. I took one course and enjoyed the technology involved and the setup. However, the challenges in my life at that time led me to an alternative certification in teaching math, and after an opportunity for teaching many grades from elementary to high school and some college, I finally concluded my career as a public-school educator and went on to complete my doctorates in business.

Educators use technology has allowed the gap between online courses and traditional and blended courses get smaller because of faculty and student’s ability to work together in real time (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016). Walden University offered a wonderful doctoral program in business, and through experience, I knew that it was going to take my full time and attention to complete the program as planned. My online learning experience in the Walden DBA program required discipline, self-motivation, commitment, and sacrifice. Walden university outlined the DBA program in a flowing and comprehensible manner with estimated dates of completion of the program. The university offered a tremendous amount of support and resources, and the residencies were a great place to network and gain a greater familiarity with the program and receive live assistance. It was at the Walden DBA residencies where I met the many members of my corporate board today for IASC-International Alliance for Strategic Change. The hardest part of the program was that it led no room for a lucrative life outside the program. It was intense, and I lost many old friends because of my inability to remain in contact with them.

As a lifetime, adult learner, the principles of andragogy most applied to my experiences in the Walden DBA program. Malcolm Knowles (1968) proposed a new way of adult learning to distinguish from pre-adult schooling. The educators of the DBA program were focused on adult learning and adult learners of all ages. Andragogy, self-directed learning, transformational learning, experimental learning, situation cognition, and reflective practice are aspects of constructivists learning (Merriam, Caffarella, Baumgartner, 2007). I experienced various aspects of constructivists learning in the program and remained a lifelong learner.

References

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2016). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Knowles, M. S. (1968). Andragogy, not pedagogy. Adult Leadership, 16(10), 350–352, 386. Retrieved from http://alx.sagepub.com/

Merriam, S. B., Caffarella, R. S., & Baumgartner, L. M. (2007). Learning in adulthood: A comprehensive guide (3rd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.First blog post

 

 

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Emerging Educational Technologies

Research and development in emerging educational technologies is a growing trend. One emerging technology in education that I favor in research is educational gaming apps. There was exponential growth in the past 10 years in educational technology with the use of learning games and apps. (Nelson, Fein, Doabler, Clarke, 2016). One particular gaming app that I proposed in online education was, What’s The Big Idea? (http://www.whatsthebigideagame.com/) – a company that built an educational and gaming application that was innovative, fun, creative, and a new strategy for expanding business corporate strategy.

Another emerging technology in education that I researched was online social learning. Social learning is an element generally lacking in online classrooms.  Online teachers who build social interactions into the digital classroom create multiple opportunities to enhance engagement and improve learning outcomes (Walsh, 2015). It is important that online educators incorporate social interactions into their lesson plans, assignments (Walsh, 2016), and online course designs. In addition to social learning, I was interested in the use of interactive tools used for interactive collaboration. Collaborators of the 2014 Gates Foundation report indicated that teachers want tools that support student collaboration and provide interactive experiences (Walsh, 2014). These types of tools are fun, engaging, and support 21st-century skills like collaboration, communication, and creativity (Walsh, 2014). Online social learning with interactive collaboration tools were two technologies that I recommend combining to enhance adult learning in online communities.

References

Nelson, N.J., Fien, H., Doabler, T., & Clarke, B. (2016). Considerations for realizing the promise of educational gaming technology. Teaching Exceptional Children, 48, 293-300. doi: 10.1177/ 0040059916650639.

Walsh, K. (May 4, 2014). 20 fun free tools for interactive classroom collaboration. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2014/05/20-excellent-free-tools-for-interactive-collaboration-experiences-in-the-classroom/

Walsh, K. (September 14, 2015). 12 Emerging Educational Uses of Technology That are the Most Exciting Right Now. [Blog post]. Retrieved from http://www.emergingedtech.com/2015/09/emerging-educational-uses-of-technology-most-exciting-now/

Assessments and Well-Defined Rubrics

A rubric is an assessment tool that allows educators to present detailed feedback to learners. A best practice for teaching online is to generate feedback and assessments for learners throughout the course (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016). An educator can use a rubric to outline objectives from the learning and assess and provide feedback in an outlined manner based on a scoring system whereby a learner can achieve a point-generated grade. A well-defined rubric allows the educator to assess the critical thinking skills of the learner (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016). It is important to determine the level of thinking of the student in terms of the objectives so that educators can predict and foster the intended outcomes from the course learnings. Educators who use ongoing assessments and rubrics as a tool for online learning get to know their students as individuals and thus minimize various forms of plagiarism (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016). Getting to know students as individuals is especially important in online environments where technology is the only source to bring facilitator and student together. With the use of well-defined tools for teaching and ongoing assessments and feedback for learners, educators contribute to the overall level of thinking and learning in online communities.

Below is an example of a rubric for a major assessment and feedback. The assessment was a research paper. Students had to write a 3-4-page research paper based on the course learning objectives. The research paper was used as a tool to allow students to demonstrate what they learned throughout the course. The rubric was designed to reflect undergraduate critical level thinking based on learning outcomes. The educator was able to provide individual feedback based on a scoring system that allowed a student to determine if they were exceeding, meeting, or not meeting the undergraduate level course expectations.

References

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2016). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips (2nd ed.) San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

University of IASC

Formative Evaluation Criteria for Application Assignments and Major Assessments

Research Paper: Comparing Learning Environments

Quality of Work Submitted

 

 

 

 

 

Work reflects undergraduate critical level thinking based on learning objectives

Work reflects undergraduate critical level thinking based on learning outcomes

 

A+

110 points =

 

Exemplary work above and beyond expectations

Work reflects undergraduate critical level thinking based on learning outcomes

 

A, A-, B

80 -109 points=

 

Great work that meets expectations of undergraduate level work

Work reflects undergraduate critical level thinking based on learning outcomes

 

C

70-80 points =

 

Minimal work

Work does not reflect undergraduate critical level thinking based on learning outcomes

F

69 points or less

 

Work submitted but unacceptable

Compare/Contrast ideas in assignment based on learning objectives

 

Compare/Contrast similarities that exist among face-to-face, online, and blended learning environments

20 points

 

Compare similarities that exist among face-to-face, online, and blended learning environments

20 points

Presented ideas regarding face-to-face, online, and blended learning environments

< 20 points

point value =___

 

Presented ideas that were not relevant to the assignment OR no response

< 20 points

point value =___

 

Compare/Contrast

differences that can be seen as a benefit of one environment over the other environment

20 points

 

Compare

differences that can be seen as a benefit of one environment over the other environment

20 points

 

Presented ideas that pertained to one environment or another

< 20 points

point value =___

 

Presented ideas that did not pertain to one environment or another OR no response

< 20 points

point value =___

 

Compare/Contrast

Differences that might be seen as a drawback of one environment over the other environments

20 points

 

Compare

Differences that might be seen as a drawback of one environment over the other environments

20 points

 

Presented ideas that might be seen as a drawback of one environment or another

< 20 points

point value =___

 

Presented ideas that might not be seen as a drawback of one environment or another OR no response

< 20 points

point value =___

 

Analyze/Synthesize information gathered from the reading and/or external sources Analyze/Synthesize how roles and responsibilities of the instructor and the learners change for each learning environment

20 points

 

Analyze how roles and responsibilities of the instructor and the learners change for each learning environment

20 points

Presented roles and responsibilities of the instructor and the learners for one learning environment or another

< 20 points

point value =___

 

Presented roles and responsibilities of the instructor and the learners that were not for one learning environment or another OR no response

< 20 points

point value =___

 

Evaluate the ideas and gathered information presented in the assignment Evaluate

information learned throughout this course stating what you believe are the most important factors that should be considered when selecting an environment in which you will deliver or design instruction and learning

20 points

 

Evaluate

information learned throughout this course stating what you believe are the most important factors that should be considered when selecting an environment in which you will deliver or design instruction and learning

20 points

 

Presented information learned throughout this course

< 20 points

point value =___

 

Presented information learned throughout this course OR no response

< 20 points

point value =___

 

Adhere to Assignment Expectations to the extent the work meets the assigned criteria Adhere to assignment per APA

1.       Cite specific examples from the course resources, your own research, and your own learning experiences to support your thinking and ideas

2.       Assignment length is 3-4 pages

10 points

 

Adhere to assignment per APA

3.       Cite specific examples from the course resources, your own research, and your own learning experiences to support your thinking and ideas

4.       Assignment length is 3-4 pages

10 points

 

Adhere to assignment per APA

5.       Cite specific examples from the course resources, your own research, and your own learning experiences to support your thinking and ideas

6.       Assignment length is 3-4 pages

10 points

< 10 points

point value =___

 

 

Adhere to assignment per APA

7.       Cite specific examples from the course resources, your own research, and your own learning experiences to support your thinking and ideas

8.       Assignment length is 3-4 pages

10 points

< 10 points

point value =___

 

 

History of Technology and Information Overload

One area of technology that adults lack experience in is gaming. My knowledge of gaming systems halted at the end of the Atari gaming system where I played Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. However, I have watched people solve some tremendous problems in their virtual gaming communities. A 10-year old can have an impact on the world in a virtual world (Barab, Gresalfi, & Arici, 2009). I wondered how this impact translated to adults. Maybe adults can learn how to implement gaming into learning like children without experiencing information overload

Learning and Gaming

What educators make of gaming and education outside the traditional education models of game playing in learning is yet to be included as viable evidence in research. Squire (2011) makes a case for studying games as an important site for learning. There are four responses to why researchers and educators should study video games (Squire, 2011). One response is that people are developing academic interest and learning academic content through games whether technologist design them for education or not (Squire, 2011). Many adult learners may become more receptive to learning through gaming once they are convinced that the current evidence from gaming research is a contribution to overall learning and growth.

Information Overload

Badke (2010) presented an article where he discussed the claims that the NetGeneration had learned to deal with information overload by simply picking what was easiest to access and letting the rest of the information go. Badke (2010) argued that by ignoring information, students were limiting themselves to finding the easiest information rather than finding the best. Again, I wondered how this translated to adults. My experience with information overload was while I was a member of Ryan Deiss’s membership group, DigitalMarketer. It seemed like every time I went to the company website to gain clarity on all the information that they solicited; there was something new and different to cipher through. The marketing team entitled members to a plethora of research information that they packaged for digital marketers; however, along with rapid emails every day, push notifications that would randomly pop-up on the screen, this plethora of information eventually became overwhelming. The DigitalMarketer corporate group appeared to be very knowledgeable and open to gathering new ideas, yet, as a member, I felt harassed by the frequent emails and pop-ups, and simply concluded that some people, like me, are just not ready to “have the book thrown at them,” so to speak.

References

Badke, W. (2010). Information overload? Maybe not. Online, 34(5), 52–54.
Retrieved from http://www.onlineinc.com/ONLINE/

Barab, S. A., Gresalfi, M., & Arici, A. (2009). Why Educators Should Care About Games. Educational Leadership, 67(1), 76-80. Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership.aspx

Squire, K. (2011). Video games and learning: Teaching and participatory culture in the digital age. New York, NY: Teachers College Press.

The Future of Technology in Education: The New Social Media Integrated Online Classroom

I am not only predicting but hoping that technology will play a greater role in adult education through the merging of how we communicate in the online classroom with how we communicate with social media. I would like to see online adult learning forums match how we communicate in social media systems such as Facebook, Twitter, Google plus, Snapchat, YouTube, Vimeo, Messenger, and Whatsapp. I enjoy reading all the discussions in a class. However, I would sometimes like to respond using a mic button instead of typing out my response. I also want to use emojis and stickers. We have so many ways to communicate in social media than we use in online adult education. I love to use video to respond to my students. I use video in many groups on Facebook that I host. I am the “Facebook Live communicator” and to see the immediate engagement responses are fun. I mentor a group of about 95 doctoral candidates from Walden’s DBA program. I live stream in discussions to get everyone to engage. When students’ progress to the next phase in their doctoral study, I create posts with emojis and stickers congratulating them. On Facebook, I can instantly upload files, and pin files right in our immediate forum, and because we get notifications if anyone responds, we do not have to worry about going back to a previous module to make sure we have responded to our colleagues. Here is my rant, if we can do so much through social media, then why are things not moving rapidly to imitate social media in the classroom? I love Facebook live, and Twitter’s Periscope, and now YouTube’s live-action platform. Here is my question, how do we go from all the technology we can experience in social media to a classroom platform where we cannot see each other, hear each other’s voice, or have live interactions with each other in learning? I would be happy to use Blackboard as an app again. However, some Universities do not subscribe to it. The smartphone is like the leading form of technology. Mostly every software application that I have on my laptop, I have on my smartphone, however, to engage effectively in the online classroom environment, I must use the laptop. No live notifications where someone has responded to my discussion, no replies with an emoji or sticker, no live video chats for clarification on a topic, and no voice activated buttons so you can hear the silly tone in my voice as I respond to some discussions. Yes, I do incorporate adult learning on social media. I am that nerd who uses APA on my Facebook post and has the Grammarly extension download to all my social media, emails, and even this discussion post (smile).

I do not think that this would be hard to incorporate or readily unfold. It would just take creativity on the part of the online classroom platform designers and the educators and students. I understand that we want to display scholarly forms of writing, and therefore, emojis and stickers may be discouraged. However, there must be some free way to communicate in a classroom setting. There are many assignments where we can display our scholarly tone. I am sure through Digital Citizenship training and keeping the nine principles of digital citizenship in the forefronts of our minds we can maintain technology-based etiquette. Dr. Richard Van Eck discussed moving towards more collaborative efforts in learning and by using such technologies as Wikis (Laureate Education, 2012a). If we are going to collaborate, why not collaborate as we do on a normal basis and in social media?

References

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (2012a). The future of education. Baltimore, MD: Author.

Open Education

There are no excuses for not learning. Anyone can learn anything at any time and almost anywhere (Bonk, 2009). With the internet, learning opportunities are infinite. Open education, the sharing, and repurposing of knowledge and content allows educators to expand opportunities to learn (Walden University, 2016). Learning opportunities are extensive on the internet and reach learners in all parts of the world.

Open courseware (OCW) was a trend in education, and MIT researchers started that trend when they launched all their coursework online November 28, 2007 (Bonk, 2009). OCW offers free, searchable, and open access to university resources and course content such as lecture notes, course syllabi, sample tests, media files, course schedules, and other course-related material. (Bonk, 2009). Adult learners could take advantage of higher levels of education at no cost and at their own pace.

IASC-International Alliance for Strategic Change (IASC) researchers, educators, and consultants are proponents of open education. University of IASC educators market their online course products and services to consumers on a global context and with a focus on creating innovative opportunities for education to consumers in developing countries. IASC consultants promote inclusive learning and therefore also fashion their education products to members of the bottom of the pyramid (BOP), a population commonly forgotten by business owners (Prahalad, 2005, 2014). Like MIT, IASC educators work towards tailoring their corporate and community training programs for each developing country that they serve. Although University of IASC offers their courses for a small fee, IASC educators ensure through continued research and development that the University of IACS online corporate and community training program is as rewarding as those courses offered via OCW by such institutions as MIT.

References

Bonk, C. J. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Walden University (2016). Open Education. [Discussion Post]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_16239476_1&content_id=_38194556_1

Course Closing Activities

Open courseware (OCW) was a trend in education, and MIT researchers started that trend when they launched all their coursework online November 28, 2007 (Bonk, 2009). OCW offers free, searchable, and open access to university resources and course content such as lecture notes, course syllabi, sample tests, media files, course schedules, and other course-related material. (Bonk, 2009). Adult learners could take advantage of higher levels of education at no cost and at their own pace.

I chose to explore the OCW of MIT and evaluate the closing activities included in the open course. I chose the graduate level MIT course number MAS.712, How to Learn (Almost) Anything. In this course students explore new opportunities for learning in the digital age and reflect on a variety of learning situations such as learning from a friend, teaching something to a friend, participating in a several-hour workshop, and learning on your own (Resnik & Mikhak, 2001). The closing activity for this course was a final project where students developed new workshops, iteratively run and refine the workshops, and analyze how and what the workshop participants learn (Resnik & Mikhak, 2001). I viewed the available web-based workshops of former students to see how the closing activity aligned with the course objective – exploring new opportunities for learning in the digital age – and determined if the course objective aligned with the course outcome – to develop new workshops, iteratively run and refine the workshops, and analyze how and what the workshop participants learn. I concluded that the closing activity for this course was reflective of the learning objectives and provided ample opportunity for closure and reflection.

Adequate reflection activities are key to education. Reflection can provide insight for instructors on their teaching and for students on their learning (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011). In addition, educators want their students to feel confident about the skills and knowledge they acquired, and therefore, desire to be fair and efficient in their assessment of the learning (Boetcher & Conrad, 2016). The closing activity for the MIT course was a collaborative effort. Although, I am a proponent of collaborative work – for this MIT course – I would want each student to feel confident about the skills and knowledge they acquired and therefore, assess the learning by having each student complete the closing activity project individually.

References

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2016). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips (2nd ed.) San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Bonk, C. J. (2009). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction (Updated ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Mitchel Resnick, and Bakhtiar Mikhak. MAS.712 How to Learn (Almost) Anything. Spring 2001. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu. License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

Plagiarism is becoming the norm in higher academics (Klein, 2011). No matter the reason students plagiarize, plagiarism is increasing in academia. The key issues relating to cheating and plagiarism in online environments are issues that stem from technology-based or web-based systems (Styron & Styron, 2010). Cheating using academic resources is commonly called eCheating (Styron & Styron, 2010). One of the key issues relating to cheating includes the ability of students to obtain prewritten papers (Styron & Styron, 2010). Plagiarism, on the other hand, is a form of cheating.  A key issue involving plagiarism is students cutting and pasting text from electronic documents without giving proper credit to the original author. There are many forms of cheating and several reasons why students practice plagiarism. However, it remains that is a continuous issue in higher education and especially in online environments.

Some strategies that I may use to prevent or minimize cheating and plagiarism in an online environment is by using online tools that track plagiarism. However, I would recommend that students first utilize plagiarism checking tools that are provided or that should be provided by the university. This way the student would have the opportunity to correct the behavior which may be unintended. However, once the student has turned in their final assignment, and I suspect cheating or actual plagiarism, along with following the university protocols, I would reach out to the student in an effort of concern. Some of the common plagiarism checking tools are Safe Assign and Grammarly. SafeAssign is a software accessed by students through their university. Grammarly software is available through many universities and also available for non-students.

References

Klein, D. (2011). Why learners choose plagiarism: A review of literature. Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning & Learning Objects7, 97–110.
Retrieved from https://www.informingscience.org/Journals/IJELL/Overview

Styron, J., & Styron Jr., R. A. (2010). Student cheating and alternative web-based assessment. Journal of College Teaching & Learning7(5), 37–42.
Retrieved from https://www.cluteinstitute.com/ojs/index.php/TLC/index