The Motivational Factor

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This is a fabulous video of a presentation by Dan Pink which I came across.  Pink defines what really motivates us,autonomy,mastery,purpose,challenges and making a contribution.   Now we just have to bring these ideals into the classroom. Cool

Students’ perceptions of a blended web-based learning environment

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A review of the Chandra,Darrell &Fisher (2009) paper

Research Findings:

In this study Science students from a secondary school in Australia were introduced to a blended learning environment known as Getsmart,a teacher-designed interactive website.   Students’ evaluations were observed over a 10 week period.  The ‘electronic cognitive apprenticeship teaching model’ IDEM Collins et al. 1989 (cited in Chandra,v.,Fisher,D.L.,2009) was the basis for developing the website.  Positive feedback from the study showed students liked being able to work at their own pace,they also enjoyed the interactivity of the web-based environment.  Students could email their teachers or use the ‘chat’ feature to communicate online although many students preferred to liaise with their teacher’s on a ‘face to face’.   This research project provided evidence in support of a blended learning environment from the students prospective

Implications for Practice:

Visual appeal,ease of access and clear instructions are essential elements to consider when developing an online learning environment.  In addition,for the course to be successful,the content needs to be scaffolded and sequenced in such a way that it maintains students’ interest whilst at the same allowing the student to work at their own pace.  Course content should be well organised and easy to follow while a consistent design that uses colour coded categories,tags and hyper links can help students navigate the online environment.   Embedding external websites into the blended learning platform,helps to keep students focused and on task by placing their learning in context.

Reference:

Vinesh Chandra Æ Darrell L. Fisher
Students’ perceptions of a blended web-based learning environment
Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009 Published online:10 January 2009
Learning Environ Res (2009) 12:31–44,DOI 10.1007/s10984-008-9051-6

Blended learning with everyday technologies to activate students’ collaborative learning

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A review of the Mikko,Teemu,Jari,Sari,Anu &Sirpa (2010) paper

Research Findings:

This study examines the use of Qaiku (similar to Twitter) and Wikispaces as social media constructs to explore the potential of mobile learning thus eliminating the need for a computer lab.  Participants of the study were undergraduate university students in a Teaching Programme.  The evidence is interpreted from a socio-constructivist and a socio-cultural viewpoint which highlights ‘conversational interaction’ where learners can become fully immersed in participation and collaboration.   In this way learning can be placed in context,flexible and available 24/7,additionally students can learn from one another and develop their own resources.    Two cases of blended learning form the foci for the study;the first examines students’ use of the micro blogging platform Qaiku to create shared lecture notes.  The second involves students creating a collaborative book through Wikispaces.   Students’ feedbacks regarding the use of ICT in both observations were positive.  The learning encouraged collaborative participation and reflective thinking resulting in deeper understanding.

Implications for Practice:

Utilising mobile technologies,whether it is mobile phones or wireless networks,poses a set of challenges for the design of lessons for teachers but the efforts develop another dimension to collaborative learning.    An orientation overview of the tool to be used helps remove any technical barriers to learning.  Similarly by dividing the class into small groups’ students can learn from one another.  One of the barriers to the micro blogging style of note taking was the difficulty around linking Qaiku notes with the appropriate PowerPoint slides.  A solution to this could simply be adding a numbering   system with a #hashtag to each slide or using Slideshare where comments to the slide can be made privately.   Creating a book in Wikispaces gives students the opportunity to develop their own resource collaboratively.

Reference:

Mikko,V.,  Teemu,V.,Jari,K.,Sari,H.,Anu,H.,Sirpa,K.2010
Blended learning with everyday technologies to activate students’ collaborative learning
Science Education International,Vol.21,No.4,December 2010,272-283

The first blended or hybrid online course in a New Zealand Secondary School:A case study

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A review of Parkes,Zaka &Davis (2011) paper

Research Findings:

The participants of this study were 8 Year 13 Home Economics students.  Due to timetabling limitations and other commitments held by the students the decision was made to move part of this course online into a Moodle platform to accommodate the required flexible learning needs.

Students noted that their confidence with using digital tools grew and they enjoyed being able to communicate their ideas creatively in a variety of ways.  The teacher observed students’ engagement and motivation had increased along with developing better written communication.  Students had a number of ways available to them to communicate with their teacher and peers,through Moodle forums,face to face,email and texting.  The teacher commented that the diversity of communication tools encouraged participation.  Students also developed better written material as a result of having to convey their ideas without body language visual clues.    This situational aspect also generated a friendly learning atmosphere which extended beyond school hours and was a catalyst to better teacher-student relations.   The study showed the potential Web 2.0 tools and hyper linking to specific sites offer

Implications for Practice:

Ongoing support is imperative if students’ uptake for online learning is to be successful.   Teacher’s can aid their students’ technical ability by providing plenty of ‘hands on’ assistance in the initial stages.  Allow time to sit alongside students’ whilst they participate in the online environment so as to guide and direct when required.  Students’ may bring with them preconceived barriers to communicating online with some members of the class particularly if they are not communicating with those peers in their face to face environment.  Consideration and time must be given by the teacher to develop a positive ‘community of learning’ and to germinate the covert benefits to students about learning in a collaborative online environment.

Reference:

Parkes,S.,Zaka,P.,Davis,N.,
The first blended or hybrid online course in a New Zealand Secondary School:A case study
Computers in New Zealand Schools Vol 23 No 1 (2011)

Engaging Secondary School Students in Extended and Open Learning Supported by Online Technologies

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A Review of the Nicholas &Wan (2008) paper 

Research Findings:

This study observes the participation and development of a group of 16 ‘gifted students’ aged 13 – 15 in an online environment after attending a four-day Science camp in Australia.  Students were encouraged to continue with their learning for up to 6 months beyond the camp.  Their key focus was to choose any topic related to science and to discuss the ‘societal and ethical’ issues of that topic,via email,Moodle and web-based resources.  Researchers were interested to know how motivated the students were to continue with their (non-compulsory) learning through the virtual environment.  The researchers sought to support students to become independent learners. 

Research findings would suggest a strong level of external support is required to maintain the learning dialogue and for the learning to translate into a ‘tangible product’.  Students felt overwhelmed at times with the independence of their own learning in a non-traditional environment and would have welcomed follow up face to face classes with the facilitators.  Additionally a narrowing of topics and a set timeline would help provide a framework to follow.

Implications for Practice:

The study showed that two thirds of the online conversations between students were none topic related,indicating a need to provide the ability to allow ‘social’ conversations to be a part of the learning process.  This shows that spending time developing relationships online is just as important as it is in the face to face classroom.   Students also tended to use informal English similar to text language;by allowing this type of exchange during the ‘ideas development stage’ students can feel more at ease sharing their opinions.   Providing students with an easy way to find their logins and passwords can help alleviate frustration.  Technical problems can be a hindrance to this type of learning so it is essential that students are not obstructed by procedural issues.  

Reference:

Nicholas,H.,Wan,Ng. 2008,Engaging Secondary School Students in Extended and Open Learning Supported by Online Technologies,
Journal of Research on Technology in Education;Spring 2009;41,3;ProQuest pg305

Provocative Pedagogies in e-Learning:Making the Invisible Visible

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A review of the Sinclair (2009) paper

Research findings:

The purpose of this research was to promote critical,reflective thinking for teachers involved in an online course to feed into their practice.  Participants were made up of primary,secondary and early childhood teachers and the focus for the study was whether or not a collaborative online community would encourage ‘deeper conceptual understandings’ for the learner than a traditional classroom.

It was evident that role-plays in the online environment work well and are a useful way of encouraging the examination of ‘others’ viewpoints in a non-threatening way,thus promoting self-reflection.    A positive outcome of the asynchronous interaction encouraged individuals to put forward considered substantiated arguments whereas in ‘face to face’ discussions ideas were largely put forward by the individual’s own experiences.

Implications for Practice:

Online learning whether to compliment the ‘face to face’ class as in blended learning or as the sole means of delivery has the potential to develop critical convergent and divergent thinking skills.  Key benefits that came as a result of the online discourse showed learners became more independent,they learned from each other,they developed deeper understanding and relied less on the lecturer. 

Facilitation by the lecturer was crucial however in terms of providing quality and timely feedback along with steering of discussions to an intended outcome.    Obstacles to learning within an online community were lack of broadband access and the unfamiliar learning environment.    Some younger students (5 – 18) may experience hinders to the learning process due to a lack of literacy in which case audio alternatives could be a substitute.

  • Heuristic – helping to learn,guiding investigation,allowing pupils to learn for themselves,
  • Dialectic – debate intended to resolve differences,logical argument

Reference:

Sinclair Anne,Provocative Pedagogies in e-Learning:Making the Invisible Visible
International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 2009,Volume 21,Number 2,197-209
http://www.isetl.org/ijtlhe/

 

 

Capturing teachers’ experience of learning design through case studies

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A review of the Masterman,Jameson and Walker 2009 paper

Research findings:

This article reports’ on the findings from an inquiry research project into the experiences of higher education teachers’ who are new to the ‘learning by design’ methodology.

In the UK in 2006 – 2007,thirteen teachers of higher education with varying degrees of technological ability were chosen as mentors,to assist teachers new to ‘learning by design’.    The ‘emergent’ teachers were tasked with designing and implementing a digital tool into the classroom aided by the support of a mentor.  Their expectations,processes,outcomes and reflections were recorded in the hope that it would inform an artefact for planning future ‘learning by design’ pedagogy planning.  Researchers were interested to evaluate whether teachers preferred a prescribed set of ‘how to’ instructions or a ‘community of practice’ approach.  A mix of face to face,blended learning and distant learning classes were 

Teachers’ reported favourable results in terms of increased motivation by their students,especially when the digital tools were integral to the learning.  Teachers also reported more flexibility in terms of how to address varying levels of ability with students by providing structured and organised online activities and scaffolded exercises which could be repeated and referred to again and again by the students.     Overall the teachers’ experiences of applying ‘Learning by Design’ principles were largely positive.  They found they were more engaged with the learning from the students’ viewpoint and spontaneous opportunities arose which led to a reflection of their teaching practice,in terms of what was working and what could be improved.    Limitations to online learning as highlighted by the teachers were the need for students to be competent navigating the digital medium.

Implications for Practice:

The needs for teachers new to ‘learning by design’ in receiving ongoing support,on an individually assessed basis,were found to be a crucial ingredient in maintaining confidence and continuity.    By providing digital resources and direction surrounding which tools to use,teachers can save time as well as constructing their lessons with more confidence.    A ‘community of practice’ for teachers has merit enabling the sharing of ideas,successes and pitfalls to watch out for when integrating ‘learning by design’.

It is essential that when designing online activities,tasks are explained in written format to the student along with any expectations.  Clearly communicated guidelines help to pre-empt any obstacles to the learning and ensure a fluid learning environment   for the student when working independently.

References:

Masterman .E,Jameson J.,Walker S.,2009 Capturing teachers’ experience of learning design through case studies
Distance Education,Aug 2009;30,2 Routledge Open &Distance Learning Association of Australia

The use of video to enable deep learning,Research in Post-Compulsory Education

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A review of the Mitra, Lewin‐‐Jones,Barrett &Williamson (2010) paper

Research Findings:

The basis for this research was to examine students’ responses to the use of video as a teaching tool,namely from sites like YouTube and Teacher Tube.  Research was gathered from 134 undergraduate students over a period of one year.   The findings from this research were that incorporating video into a blended learning environment can have positive results,by aiding deeper learning and critical thinking skills. However,the relevancy to the lesson must be evident for students to value its inclusion.   Videos can help provoke thought and enhance discussion but teachers should ‘set the scene’ by giving students clues on “what to look for” and by briefly introducing the video’s objectives.   Students liked the variety videos brought to the lesson,commenting that it helped to keep up their interest and helped them create links with old and new knowledge.

Implications for Practice:

When choosing to show a video in class ensure it is directly related to the learning.  A brief introduction to the video can help place the content in context.  Posing a question beforehand can give students a focus and help them identify what they should be looking for.  This type of activity can then be followed up by a class discussion helping to deepen the learning and critical thinking skills.    Having the videos available outside of class allows students to go over things again which is a helpful tool for reinforcing their learning.    Technical problems with getting a video to play can quickly turn students’ attention off,so to avoid this download and trial the video beforehand.

Reference:

Barbara Mitra,Jenny Lewin‐‐Jones,Heather Barrett &Stella Williamson (2010):
The use of video to enable deep learning,Research in Post-Compulsory Education,15:4,405-414

Perspectives on Blended Learning in Higher Education

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A Review on the Vaughan 2007 paper

Research Findings:

Thirty institutions of higher education in the United States were involved in this study which evaluated the benefits and problems associated with blended learning.  For the students being able to work from home and having more control over the pace of their learning was empowering.    Students liked the autonomy blended learning gave them however,many struggled with managing their time well and taking responsibility for their learning particularly those used to a more passive style of learning.    Another challenge to some was their lack of technical skills to navigate the online interface.

Teachers enjoyed being able to use a variety of digital tools and media to enhance their lessons although they admitted it involved more preparation and time.   Hindrances experienced by teachers were similar across the institutions.  They included a lack of professional development support in terms of technical ‘know how’ and in the construction and design of courses.    Some teachers also feared a loss of control with their students but in retrospect teachers reported richer teacher-student relationships.   Teachers reported students developed better cognitive writing skills along with an increased aptitude for participating in class discussions.   This was attributed to students being more engaged with their learning.

Implications for Practice:

Ideally a course management system would be employed to deliver blended learning.  The benefits being that resources can be shared across departments,online quizzes can be automatically graded,online tutorials can be housed in an online file directory (for access at any time) and costs associated with administration like photocopying can be drastically reduced.    Successful consolidation for blended learning in an institution requires a comprehensive infrastructure,one that has identified its needs,goals and objectives.    A policy framework and strategic plan should be initiated to establish some common ground and direction.  The need for ongoing professional development and IT technical support must also be addressed to ensure successful adoption.

Reference:

Vaughan,Norman 2007 Perspectives on Blended Learning in Higher Education
International Journal on ELearning; 2007;6,1;ProQuest pg. 81

A case study of e-learning initiatives in New Zealand’s Secondary schools

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A review on the Powell 2010 paper

Research Findings:

The purpose of this study was to examine e-learning within New Zealand Secondary Schools between the years 1998 to 2010.  Specifically,the study focused on;governmental and educational policies that support e-learning initiatives,student services that are currently available,academic assessment,marketing,public relations and the administration of E-Learning.    Participants of the study were made up of 18 members of the Ministry of Education’s E-Learning team,E-Principals,and online secondary teachers in New Zealand.  Domestically E-Learning has developed largely from an identified need,that is,to support rural schools and students,to enable access to a variety of curriculum subjects that are not ordinarily available at their school.  The result has been the creation of an individualised learning programme that is every bit as effective as face to face learning.  E-Learning is supported in New Zealand’s schools by the ICTPD programme,Virtual Learning Network (VLN),TELA Program,the Correspondence School and the Te Kete Ipurangi website.   Findings from this research could be used to inform other countries interested in adopting online learning.

Implications for Practice:

Whilst this report was a national ‘macro’ study,many of the principles can be interpreted for the ‘micro’ or classroom setting.  First and foremost,blended learning calls for a student-centred approach.  Therefore,when planning any blended learning programmes consider the following;what are you trying to achieve in terms of student engagement?

Encouraging collaborative work fosters a sense of student ownership and ‘buy in’,this is especially pertinent when a student sees the learning as ‘relative to themselves’ and filling a need.  Integrating digital technologies may require some students to ‘up-skill’ in their use of IT,which may present an opportunity for competent students to show inexperienced students ‘how to’,creating an environment of shared learning.  Creating and utilising shared resources,along with contributing to Communities of Practice,helps to deepen the understanding of blended learning for implementation.

Reference:

Powell,A. 2010 A case study of e-learning initiatives in New Zealand’s Secondary schools
ProQuest LLC,Pepperdine University,Education,2011. UMI Number:3445071