EDU 637.90 Online Assessment and Evaluation 2015
Chauhan, A. (2014). Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCS): Emerging Trends in Assessment and Accreditation. Digital Education Review, 257-19.
This was a very comprehensive run down of new trends in the MOOC movement. The report outlines new types of MOOCs and then goes on to discuss various assessment methods and provides a case study from a MOOC for each assessment method. Finally, the authors conclude what sorts of assessments maximize student learning- of course the objective of education, which should not be forgotten but often is! In the end, they found what most educators already know. “assessment techniques that permit customization of content catered to the individual learner can track learner behavior and predict learning outcomes. Such a technique will further assist in developing and refining assessment procedures for improving learning outcomes” (p.19).
Koc Vonderwal, S. & Boboc, M. (2013). Promoting Formative Assessment in Online Learning and Teaching. TechTrends, 57(4), 22-27.
This was a wonderful article about the benefit and necessity of formative assessment in an online learning environment. Because student and teacher roles are flipped on their head in online teaching vs. traditional, face-to-face teaching, formative assessment is critical. Students direct their own learning in an online environment in a lot of ways, and pedagogy does not place the teacher in the center of the “room” as the expert. In online learning, the instructor is a facilitator of learning. Formative assessment allows the teacher to guide the student as they learn, and to clear up misconceptions or confusion that crops up along the way. Without formative assessment, learning opportunities may be lost or forfeited. The article discusses several strategies for formative assessment including online journaling. I think discussion boards are also an example of this as they allow students to engage with each other and their instructor in a low-stakes environment.
Livingston, M. (2012). The Infamy of Grading Rubrics. English Journal, 102(2), 108-113.
This was all about the dreaded and beloved rubric. There are so many good arguments AGAINST using rubrics. They limit the kids; they cannot accurately assess learning; they standardize learning and learners. (I think Livingston (2012) had a particular disdain for Kohn (2006) and spent way too much time picking apart his argument). That said, there are a lot of benefits associated with rubrics, and this author argues that the good outweighs the bad. They create an objective way to assess students especially in subjective courses like English. I have found in my professional experience, they are great for parents- who always want to know how students are being assessed. In my experience, (younger) students spend little time even reading them unless you make them! As an adult student- I love using them. Although I feel like they do limit my creativity, they also help me to navigate my way through vast worlds of information.
Penny, L., & Murphy, E. (2009). Rubrics for Designing and Evaluating Online Asynchronous Discussions. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 40(5), 804-820.
This article was about a study aimed at evaluating the effectiveness of rubrics in online discussions. The aim was to figure out how rubrics could encourage students to begin “embarking on a more interactive and collaborative discussion that could promote higher levels of learning and critical thinking skills” (p. 804). They found that rubrics that delineated required length of responses led to more interaction and more comprehensive posts. This, naturally led to deeper engagement between students. The authors conclude that rubrics for discussion boards should incorporate language for learners that tells them how to interact with one another and how long their responses should be.
Tilghman, S.B. (2011). Designing and Developing Online Course Assessments. Review of Higher Education and Self-Learning, 4(9), 31-34.
Gone are the days of using computers solely for multiple choice assessments. Creating assessments for online education now involves creating performance tasks. Online assessments have moved beyond “objective” tasks like tests and quizzes; this author argues that in developing assessments beyond objective ones, the instructor must consider a lot. “Instructors and designers must establish the purpose of assessment, the criteria being measured, and the intended outcomes before meaningful assessment can be achieved (Gaytan 2002).” One thing that I really liked about this article is that it mentioned formative assessment. Objective and performance tasks are both summative assessments- they assess what the student has learned. Formative assessment deals with the student’s learning. It is a process. Discussion boards are great for this as they provide a “low-stakes” environment for the student to engage with course materials and resources, their peers, and their instructors to make sure the learning is happening correctly along the way.
University of Central Florida. (2005). Program Assessment Handbook: Guidelines for planning and implementing quality enhancing efforts of program and student learning outcomes.
Well this is a rather lengthy report on the value and purpose of performing proper course assessments. It was pretty convincing. The beginning of the report was witty, clear, and informative. I liked the list of misconceptions; they are bound to hear the protests, so the author addresses that right away. The chapter breakdown was valuable because it was so descriptive and concise at the same time. This way I could delve into the topics I was most interested in, like chapters 5 and 6 because they dealt more with how to apply assessment strategies instead of justifying why it is good and proper to do so.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2009). Assessing the Online Learner : Resources and Strategies for Faculty. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Part II chapter ii
Rubrics and Rubric Development (p. 68-72)
This chapter is really great for helping instructors to think through the process of creating rubrics that actually assess learning objectives in a measurable way. One must consider the expectations of the assignment and think about how to group them in a logical way, for example. The tips are interesting and incorporate universal design. When developing rubrics the instructor should always keep in mind the desired result of the assessment. Developing rubrics for use with assignments that you are also developing yourself, helps to also gauge the effectiveness and appropriateness of the assignment. I also liked that this chapter went on to discuss how to use the data you get from rubrics to drive future instruction. This is something we are expected to do on a daily basis in traditional K-12 settings.
This chapter offered a very short, but informative rundown of rubric types and their use. Rubrics are great because they help to give timely feedback which is crucial to ensuring effectiveness of assessments in traditional settings but more urgently so in online settings. Rubrics can be lengthy for writing assignments, or they can be as simple as a checklist. Checklists are great for self-assessment.
This is a rather thorough report, but one great aspect is that it gives a great breakdown of the current (2014) state of online education in public K-12 schools. There is a wonderful chart which breaks down what sort of online education is offered and to whom by state. I found this to be particularly interesting as I am a public K-12 school teacher. I was not aware there were so many online teaching opportunities at the lower levels; typically I think of online education as a post-secondary endeavor.
Rusk, M. (2002). Sloan Consortium (Sloan-C) working toward quality standards for online courses. Community and Junior College Libraries, 11(1), 65-68. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1300/J107v11n01_07
The most interesting take-away from this short article, for me, was something that reminded me a report I did a few mods ago about Roger Schank He said that one of the huge problems with online instruction, is that people try too hard to make sure that it looks just like traditional, face-to-face instruction. He complained that we use the same standards to assess online instructors and traditional instructors. He obviously had a problem with that because he thought that the two worlds are totally different. And in some ways they are, and in some ways, the objectives are still the same- students learning. In this article, the first criteria outlined for an online course was “An online course is at least equivalent in quality to face-to-face course at the same institution.” Now, of course, this does not necessarily mean that the instruction should be the same, but certainly the quality. This is a hard indicator to even understand. What is the quality of a traditional class? Arent they all completely different, depending on a number of variables including the instructor, the students, the institution, etc? I think that classes are always different. In fact, classes taught by me in the same school vary from A period to J period because of the difference in students. I just wish that, in all of the assessing of courses and instructors, we could all remember that people are unpredictable variables and that teaching and learning involves PEOPLE.
Wang, C., Shannon, D.M. & Ross, M.E. (2013). Students’ characteristics, self-regulated learning, technology self-efficacy and course outcomes in online learning. Distance Education, 34(3), 302-323. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01587919.2013.835779
How fascinating. After going on my tirade in my last post about people being the most important (and most unpredictable) variable in online learning (or any learning for that matter), I read this article. This was one for the people about the people. The researchers surveyed 259 online students to gauge their reactions to course outcomes in online learning. This satisfied me to no end: “Students in online courses are responsible for their own learning as they decide when, where, and how long to access the learning materials (McMahon & Oliver, 2001). Therefore, self-regulated learning behaviors are especially important when taking online courses (Wijekumar, Ferguson, & Wagoner, 2006).” Still, I suppose institutions should be responsible for assessing their courses and instructors for the sake of the students, to ensure quality stays high (although I would argue this is near impossible to know for sure). And, teachers have a responsibility to reflect on their own practice. I would say this is where the most valuable assessment comes in, and the most honest.
Barber, W. W., King, S. s., & Buchanan, S. S. (2015). Problem Based Learning and Authentic Assessment in Digital Pedagogy: Embracing the Role of Collaborative Communities. Electronic Journal Of E-Learning, 13(2), 59-67.
This paper was a really good literature review and study about three important components to online instruction and online learning including, problem-based learning, authentic assessments, and productive communities. All three of these topics are interesting, and certainly in keeping with current research in online learning. For the purpose of this PLE entry, I intended to focus on creating authentic assessments, as this is the focus of EDU 637. However, all three of these crucial components are really too intertwined to separate. All three areas of instruction should really include the same characteristics. The words that stick out to me are “authentic” and “Real world.” Students should be asked to solve real world problems, and should be offered opportunities to collaborate in solving these issues. So, what is a real world task? One of my favorite quotes was this one: “Reeves et al (2002) add that tasks must have real world relevance, be ill defined, comprise tasks to be investigated over time, examine the task from different perspectives, provide opportunity to collaborate, reflect, be integrated and applied beyond domain specific outcomes, are seamlessly integrated with assessment, create polished products and allow diversity of outcomes. (p. 564).” I also really enjoyed this article in that it concludes that students should compose narratives to describe what they have learned. I actually tweeted this quote, because I was just telling this to my 8th graders last week in attempting to justify why we teach language arts. “humans are storytelling organisms who, individually and socially, lead storied lives” (p.2). I certainly could have used that quote a few days ago! I am really glad I found this article, even though it is the last week of my online teaching concentration… It was a great culminating article that really captured a lot of the themes we discussed throughout these four mods. Thanks, Steve!!!!
EDU 633.90 Designing and Delivering Online Instruction 2015
This is a foreign blog all about LMSs! There are various links to infographics, to current articles following development of new LMSs and also, there is a heavy emphasis on Canvas- a particular LMS. I did actually sign up for a free Canvas account, and was called and emailed by a representative to see if I needed any help. I ended up choosing a different LMS for my unit 2 project, but I still thought that was pretty cool- unless the guy was calling just to upsell me- you never know.
Holzweiss, K. A. (2014). Using Tech Tools for Learning with Standards. School Library Monthly, 30(4), 13.
This article was wonderful, as it aligns technology usage to specific Common Core standards- the standards that now guide my practice as an 8th grade teacher in Connecticut. In addition, there are specific sites suggested for use for teachers and advice for incorporating these sites and tools into instruction. The author is obviously passionate about creating worthwhile performance assessments, and using technology to do so; technology can also be used to engage students and assess their learning. She notes that “as educators, we can design opportunities for students to communicate, question, investigate, evaluate, collaborate, test, and create. They can develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills to apply in college and throughout their careers, no matter what technologies or tasks they encounter. We can begin using content and basic skills to address the untested CCSS so that our students can become lifelong learners, active participants, and contributors to the global community” (Holzweiss, 2014). I have used several of the sites she notes, including Google apps, glogster.edu, and Edmodo. I look forward to testing out some of the others mentioned.
Kelly, D., Baxter, J. S., & Anderson, A. (2010). Engaging First-Year Students through Online Collaborative Assessments. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(6), 535-548.
This article identifies online, adult learners as “self-regulated” learners which means they are “metacognitively, motivationally and behaviorally active participants in their own learning process (Zimmerman 1986, 1989). This is based on the premise that effective learners actively construct knowledge by setting goals, analyzing tasks, planning strategies and monitoring their understanding (Kelly, Baxter & Anderson, 2010, p. 535). The aim of this article is to outline approaches to assisting students with their self-regulation. Essentially, the writers believe that online instructors are facilitators who teach learning strategies (p. 536) and that online instructional design should be student-centered. These authors subscribe to the constructivist learning theory and advocate “moving learning from a paradigm of delivery to one of interactivity” (p. 536). The report moves through a research project wherein the authors found a collaborative online assessment tool helped students to perform better on a summative assessment at the end of the course, particularly for those students who were not taking the course for their major area of study. “The principal objective of the implementation of the COA methodology was to improve student engagement and learning through a mixture of meta-cognitive activities (formative assessment with rapid peer feedback) and through active goal-directed discourse. The positive outcomes of the COA methodology were very encouraging, indicating that teaching and learning in large classes with a need for expertise in discourse and writing skills can be successfully mediated though this approach of collaborative learning… It would appear that the primary mechanism for effectiveness of the approach is the introduction of regulated learning activities which have resulted in greater student engagement without the need to set and assess conventional individually written coursework. Future development of the approach will concentrate on the role of the interactive discourse and mechanisms for improving learning through peer discussion” (p. 546).
Lim, C. P. (2004). Engaging Learners in Online Learning Environments. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 48(4), 16-23.
This was a wonderful chapter about assumptions online instructors make about online learners, and how to deal with those assumptions. The chapter focused on the following assumptions: Learners have necessary learning strategies for learning online, they know how to learn online, and they have the right attitude about learning online. Ping quickly debunks these assumptions: “It is clear from the above discussion that instructors cannot assume that learners have the learning strategies, knowledge and attitudes to learn effectively in an online environment. Learners may get lost due to the navigation aspects of the interface, become de-motivated or fail to make connections in the knowledge they have constructed; as a result, they become disengaged from the learning process. Therefore, activities must be designed to support and guide learners as they are given control of their own learning online” (Ping, 2004, p. 17). The rest of the chapter outlines strategies for designing online courses that accommodate those students who lack the strategies, knowledge and/or attitude to effectively learn online.
Hall, M., Nix, I., & Baker, K. (2013). Student Experiences and Perceptions of Digital Literacy Skills Development: Engaging Learners by Design?. Electronic Journal Of E-Learning, 11(3), 207-225.
This article begins by discussion digital literacy and its growing importance for students of all disciplines. The authors then engage in research with the aim to:
“We are interested in the pedagogical and resourcing implications of using resources that are more generic, in particular how effective generic contexts may be in enabling wider use of shared activities, as opposed to subject- and context-specific activities, which may be more challenging to share and maintain. As part of the Evaluating Approaches to Developing Digital Literacy Skills (EADDLS) project, we are therefore looking at students’ perceptions of digital skills development, what motivates them to engage, the relevance of digital literacy to themselves and their employers, and whether demographic factors influence learner views and motivations” (p. 208).
One of the most interesting findings of the research was that most students saw value in digital literacy outside of the online course they were taking- indeed they found that digital skills are important in all areas of life. Finally, they found that all online learning designers should provide technological assistance and should be ready to help students whenever they reach out- instructors should be available.
Rao, K., & Tanners, A. (2011). Curb Cuts in Cyberspace: Universal Instructional Design for Online Courses. Journal Of Postsecondary Education And Disability, 24(3), 211-229.
This article was all about Universal Design (UD) which aims to create spaces or learning environments that are accessible to all, with or without disabilities, and should eliminate or reduce the need to make specific accommodations for students who are disabled. This is a case study about applying Universal Instructional Design (UID) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to online courses. “The two-fold purpose of the study was to: a) examine how UID and UDL guidelines can be considered during the instructional design process and applied in an online course environment, and b) determine which elements of UD were most valued by and useful to students enrolled in the online course. In this case study, we describe the process in three phases – course design and development, implementation, and evaluation” (p. 213). The findings are the best, and most usable, part of this study. The study found that students like choice. “Students appreciated the choices and options provided by several course elements. These included the multiple formats for materials (such as the provision of text and MP3 versions of articles) and the use of Voicethread to present and discuss information… As expected, students selected formats to use based on their personal preferences and habits” (p. 224). The study also found that students prefer collaborative work with their peers and also value frequent interaction with their instructors- a common theme among my readings this Mod.
Mackness, J., Waite, M., Roberts, G., & Lovegrove, E. (2013). Learning in a Small, Task-Oriented, Connectivist MOOC: Pedagogical Issues and Implications for Higher Education. International Review Of Research In Open And Distance Learning, 14(4), 140-159.
This was a case study of one particular MOOC which drew several conclusions about online teaching pedagogy. It was a very long report, but some of the implications they found were interesting. One major focus of the MOOC was that it was open; this intimidated many users. On the other hand, a lot of “veteran” MOOCers were enrolled in the course and organically took on the role of “facilitator” for those students newer to MOOCs and confused about usability or the purpose of various assignments. The take-away of the research was that: “small task-oriented MOOCs can effectively support professional development of open academic practice” (p. 140).
Knight, J., & Rochon, R. (2012). Starting Online: Exploring the Use of a Social Networking Site to Facilitate Transition into Higher Education. Electronic Journal Of E-Learning, 10(3), 257-261.
This article was less about online learning, and more about helping students of HE to engage with their campuses through social networking sites (SNSs). The interesting find here was that, although the purpose of this site was not learning, it was more about developing a social connection for students so that they could feel comfortable at their new schools, a lot of learning did happen. Students actively reached out directly to faculty and staff to get help with their courses. In addition, students used the site to make study groups and to engage with their course materials. The implications this has for an online course is great. Students learn online. That bodes well for online education.
Angelino, L. M., & Natvig, D. (2009). A Conceptual Model for Engagement of the Online Learner. Journal Of Educators Online,6(1),
Foster, M. J., Shurtz, S., & Pepper, C. (2014). Evaluation of best practices in the design of online evidence-based practice instructional modules. Journal Of The Medical Library Association, (1), 31.
Mao, J., & Peck, K. (2013). Assessment strategies, self-regulated learning skills, and perceptions of assessment in online learning.Quarterly Review Of Distance Education, (2), 75.
EDU 630.90 Online Teaching and Learning 2015
Latchem, C. (2014). Musing on the memes of open and distance education. Distance Education, 35(3), 400. doi:10.1080/01587919.2015.955266
This is a fascinating article in which Latchem (2014) identifies some ideas and behaviors associated with open and distance education, and traces the evolution of these ideas. He really traces current attitudes toward distance education all the way back through history and across multiple geographic regions. He also explores the philosophy associated with the term “meme” which is a word whose own definition evolves based on its use in modern social networking contexts.
VlǎDoiu, M. (2011). State-of-the-Art in Open Courseware Initiatives Worldwide. Informatics In Education, 10(2), 271.
This article is a great resource. It not only gives a pretty thorough recap of MIT’s OpenCourseWare project from its inception in 2001 to 2011, it also incorporates a good deal of history about online education and its use up until MIT launched this project in order to provide some context for its conception. Also, this article has an extensive list of other open education resources and repositories that were launched following the success of OCW.
Gaytan, Jorge. (2007). Visions shaping the future of online educaiton: Understanding its historical evolution, implications and assumptions.Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 10(2). Retrieved from http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer102/gaytan102.htm
This article was interesting to me as it pointed out that online instructional value is usually determined by comparing the outcomes to those of traditional f2f learning environments. I honestly have to say that it had not occured to me before, and it made me think about how maybe that is unfair. Online education is not the same as traditional face-to-face instruction and they should be treated differently. The article did also suggest some better practices for online instruction, as it does differ from traditional education. Instructional strategies used should include “learning contracts, discussions, lectures, self-directed learning, mentorships, small group work, projects, collaborative learning, case studies, and forums.” Moreover, online instructors should be focussed on getting students actively involved in their learning by “designing activities that promote student interactions and build a sense of community among students and faculty” (Gayton, 2007). I do think much of this applies to traditional face-to-face instruction, but online instruction does seem to offer more time to realistically get these things done while encouraging a deeper engagement with course materials. The “brick and mortar” schools do not offer the flexibility to have the time to fit in the depth of content that online instruction offers in my experience.
Watson, J., & North American Council for Online, L. (2008). Blended Learning: The Convergence of Online and Face-to-Face Education. Promising Practices in Online Learning. North American Council For Online Learning,
While the previous article attempted to delineate between online and face-to-face instruction, this article touted the benefits of merging the two learning environments. This article is about blended or hybrid lerning and the best practices for that environment. It emphasized the shift from teacher-centered instruction to student-centered instruction, a trend I am seeing in traditional “brick and mortar” schools. According to Watson (2008), “blended learning represents a shift in instructional strategy. Just as online learning represents a fundamental shift in the delivery and instructional model of distance learning, blended learning offers the possibility to significantly change how teachers and administrators view online learning in the face-to-face setting…A shift from lecture- to student-centered instruction in which students become active and interactive learners (this shift should apply to the entire course, including face-to-face contact sessions); Increases in interaction between student-instructor, student-student, student-content, and student-outside resources; Integrated formative and summative assessment mechanisms for students and instructor.”
DuBrowa, M. (2014). Th Flip or Not to Flip… Is that REALLY the question?. Research & Teaching In Developmental Education, 30(2), 96-98.
DuBrowa (2014) summarizes Schank’s complex script theory by citing his 1995 report “What We Learn When We Learn By Doing.” “We learn how to do things and then learn how what we have learned is wrong or right. We learn when our rules apply and when they must be modified….[W]e leam all this by constantly having new experiences and attempting to integrate those experiences, or more accurately the memory of those experiences into our existing memory stmctures” (p.96). She uses this theory as a basis for flipping her classroom and choosing materials for students to engage with at home. She justifies the use of newspaper articles in her practice by explaining how they help students to make connections that are engaging for them. She makes sure to ask students to connect what they learn from these articles to their own personal, academic or professional lives and sees great results in students who are enthusiastic about learning.
Fischer, F. f., Kollar, I., Stegmann, K., & Wecker, C. (2013). Toward a Script Theory of Guidance in Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning. Educational Psychologist, 48(1), 56-66. doi:10.1080/00461520.2012.748005
Fischer, Kollar, Stegmann & Wecker (2013) argue that computer-supported collaborative learning (CSCL) is a wonderful tool for learning; in CSCL students engage in joint creation (writing and editing) of online materials such as wikis, blogs and discussions. Although the use of technology here provides a great forum for this sort of authentic collaborative learning experience, for students who are newer to the activity, it can prove to be challenging. These students need support offered in the medium of scripts. “The more a CSCL practice differs from traditional teaching and learning
experiences, the more difficult it may be for students to collaborate efficiently. Students with little prior experience regarding these collaborative practices may not have developed adequate knowledge that guides them in collaborating in these settings…One way to compensate for lacking or nonfunctional internalcollaboration scripts is to provide collaborators with external collaboration scripts… that guide individuals in a collaborative situation” (Fischer, Kollar, Stegmann & Wecker, 2013, p. 56).
This article built on Schank’s script theory and aimed to create a script specifically designed for computer-supported collaborative learning and offered a lot of information about why this is necessary and why it could be successful.
Stoica, I. (2014). Script Theory. Script Theory — Research Starters Education, 1-8.
This article is pretty all-encompassing. It defines script theory as “a model of human knowledge and cognition that has been successful in explaining memory organization and human behavior… According to script theory, knowledge is represented in memory as a series of actions centered on a particular goal; this sequence is called a script. Humans learn scripts through repetitive social interaction and use them to interpret new experiences” (p.1). In addition to defining the theory, the article defines different scripts and explains the history of arriving at the theory and cites other theories (and theorists including Piaget and Bartlett) upon which this theory is based. It also outlines the various applications for script theory in the field of education, and several of them apply to my practice including teaching through doing and repetition, teaching through stories, and teaching reading. The most fascinating part of the article delves into, specifically, Schank and Abelson’s (1977) work with artificial intelligence. They found that people do not categorize what they learn with words or language- rather concepts exist abstractly in the mind. “Schank and Abelson further noted that even though people remember the general ideas and structures of stories, they tend not to use the same words in their retelling as those used in the initial telling. They postulated that the mind represents languageas abstract concepts that are then stored in memory independent of language” (Stoica, 2014, p. 3). This is a wildly entertaining notion for me, and I cannot wait to learn more!
Fielding, R. (1999). The Death of the Classroom, Learning Cycles and Roger Schank.http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED429434.pdf
This article begins with a great synopsis of Roger Schank’s work and career so far and establishes him as a part of the educational “establishment” even though he says things like “Classrooms are out! No more classrooms! Don’t build them!” This article also takes Schank’s theory and puts it into practice by asserting that students should spend 1/3 of their time at the computer (not surprising as he is a computer/AI programmer- this is where much of his understanding of how the human mind works comes from), 1/3 of their time talking with others and 1/3 of their time doing something. Schank believes very little learning happens in the classroom in traditional schools today. “According to Roger, the only way we learn is through “doing,” and failure. Failure gets our attention, it fosters an emotional response, which is essential for learning. “Doing,” and emotional experiences rarely take place in a classroom. This article was a great resource for APPLYING Schank’s theory to practice and also connecting it to Downe’s Connectivist theory: “Talking or social learning lends itself to small, coffee shop-like spaces, where learners can gather informally.”
Rao, S. S. (1995). Putting fun back into learning. Training, (8). p44.
This was a very fun, easy to read article that delves into the quirky but effective methods of Roger Schank. “Roger Schank would like to throw out the curricula at most schools and let boys study trucks instead.” Although his methods seem crazy to those who favor traditional teacher-centered pedagogy, they seem like a no-brainer to me. He argues that people learn when they are interested in what they are learning about and need that learning to accomplish certain goals that they set for themselves. In addition to emphasizing “learning by doing” this article talks about how beneficial story telling is to learning- which plays into the script theory of memory being tied to concepts instead of words. Stories resonate with people. This article also notes that billions of dollars are being used by corporations to utilize Schank and his ideas in their training programs for employees. “Some of the largest and most savvy companies on earth have given Schank millions of dollars to experiment with his views. They have tried his methods and swear by them.”
Schank, Roger C. (1995) What to Know, How to Learn It. In: John Brockman and Katinka Matson (eds) How Things Are. New York: Morrow: 183-190.
In this essay, Schank explains how his programming of artificial intelligence led him to question what intelligence is. Knowing a bunch of facts is not necessarily intelligence, and this, he argues, is what modern curriculum aims to accomplish. It should, instead, focus on helping people to learn from making mistakes. Content delivery should not be the goal of education: “The idea here is that being educated means knowing stuff. Implicit in all this is that we have, as a society, agreed on what stuff everyone should know, and decided that information delivery is the role of education. Do not believe it. There is no set of stuff that everyone should know. What? No George Washington? No Gettysburg Address? It doesn’t hurt to know these things, of course. But it does hurt to adopt the position that since one should know these things, teaching them to students is what learning is all about. This makes school a fairly boring, stressful, and irrelevant place, as you may have already discovered.” I could not agree more. I shared this exact quote with a co-worker of mine today, and she, held her head low and said, “I am teaching the Gettysburg Address” tomorrow…” Of course, content is important, but it should not be the PURPOSE of education, and certainly it is not as important as HOW content is delivered. As Schank says, “the way that stuff is imparted is far more important than the stuff itself.” I agree more and more with him as my research continues.
Savery, J. (2005). BE VOCAL: Characteristics of Successful Online Instructors. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 4(2), 141-152. Retrieved February 18, 2015, from http://www.ncolr.org/jiol/issues/pdf/4.2.6.pdf
This is a great article about 5 qualities an instructor of online courses should have. This article uses the acronym VOCAL to outline how instructors should be visible, organized, compassionate, analytical, and learners by example. This article gives a research-based overview about why these qualities are so important to effective online instruction and also suggests various real-life strategies one can use to ensure they have each of these qualities. I found it to be very helpful in its organization and tips!
Young, S. (2006). Student Views Of Effective Online Teaching In Higher Education. American Journal of Distance Education, 20(2), 65-77.
This journal article was interesting in that it determined through research what the most important components are to higher education online courses according to students. The emphasis is on effective teaching- or qualities of an instructor that are crucial to student success in an OL environment. This study determined the utmost importance of the role of the instructor in OL environments and found that these instructors need to be flexible, effective communicators. “Students in this study provided a definition of effective online teaching. Seven items, in combination, contributed to the definition. These items were the following: adapting to student needs, providing meaningful examples, motivating students to do their best, facilitating the course effectively, delivering a valuable course, communicating effectively, and showing concern for student learning. In an online classroom, these characteristics may enhance connections between the instructor, the students, and the course content” (Young, 2006, p. 73).
Steele, B. (2015, February 5). Twitter reveals the language of persuasion. Retrieved February 19, 2015, from http://www.news.cornell.edu/stories/2015/02/twitter-reveals-language-persuasion
As many of you know, I have been researching Schank’s script theory (a computer programmer turned linguist with the goal of creating artificial intelligence that is, well intelligent), and thereby, thinking about words and their power. My students just started an argumentative writing unit- this, after a unit about genocide during which we discussed propaganda and oratory persuasion (i.e Hitler). Today, I am driving to work and hear about this new website- it is supposed to use some algorithm for determining the “retweetability” of tweets. This is a fascinating read that ties up all sorts of random corners of my life right now. Gotta love when that happens- And I had to share.
Most interesting to me was the fact that these researchers are trying to find a way for the algorithm to test humor- crazy. Also, the actual suggestions for successful tweets has some implications, I am sure.
Yacovelli, S. (2012). How to effectively evaluate e-learning: being able to ascertain the quality of a learning module helps to ensure the highest return-on-investment and perpetuates a positive perception of the value of online learning. T+D, (7). 52.
This was a wildly useful article for everyone in the class! It is all about the importance of evaluating online courses as this process helps keep quality up as well as perceptions of online learning positive. This also gives criteria for evaluating an online course that was pretty comprehensive, and organized in a easy-to-understand way. Some of the criteria include: instructional design, level of interactivity (student-instructor-peer, etc.), language, visual impact, technical functions, time, and cost.
Gazi, Z. A. (2011). A Step for Evaluating Constructivist Approach Integrated Online Courses. Turkish Online Journal Of Educational Technology – TOJET, 10(3), 13-20.
This was an interesting article that summarized constructivist theory of learning and applied it to the online learning environment. It had a good literature review about best practices for online instruction and for designing a course. The purpose of this article, however, was to create a tool for assessing online courses for value based on a constructivist theory. “The scale for constructivist approach integrated online education applications had been examined over 86 items.” What this article was sorely missing is the actual scale they developed, or a worthwhile description of those 86 items. I kept reading, looking for an explanation of the tool they developed, and although there was a great rationale for creating such a tool, no explanation exists. The article felt unfinished, but still had some useful information.
EDU 639.90 Trends in Online Learning 2014
Opening Teaching Landscapes: The Importance of Quality Assurance in the Delivery of Open Educational Resources
Atenas, J., Havemann, L., & Priego, E. (2014). Opening teaching landscapes: The importance of quality assurance in the delivery of open educational resources.Open Praxis, 6(1), 29-43. doi:10.5944/openpraxis.6.1.81
The purposes of this study were to develop guidelines for those creating repositories for open education resources (ROER) to support user needs (ie how can ROER ensure high quality of materials available to share?), and to encourage the academic community to actively share and embrace openness of education resources.
The article defined “open education resources” as free of cost, but not free of various restrictions which all depend on the authors offering OERs. The value of repositories, or storage spaces, of these OERs is that they facilitate the collection, preservation, and sharing of knowledge across all learning communities, including private schools, public, schools, higher education, and self-directed learning.
According the article, the best repositories are ones that allow users to easily search, retrieve, access, download and modify resources for one’s own pedagogical needs. Second, ROERs should offer featured resources to site users, and they should include some sort of peer review to assure high quality of the materials shared. Authorship of all resources should be clear, users should know the exact type of Creative Commons license the content is under, and users should have access to original source codes. ROERs should incorporate some sort of system to ensure interoperability, they should be available in different languages, and social media should be used to increase ease of access to educational materials. Of course, as all of this is new, there are still some kinks to work out. For example, “the question of exactly who can or should catalog resources remains open” (Atenas, 2014, p. 31).
In this article, the author discussed her attempt to discover how many educators used OERs and to gather feedback from OER experts. The author found a disconnect between those who use ROERs and those who create ROERs. The author found that those who make OERs available pay little attention to how accessible the resources are, while those who seek quality materials have trouble sifting through the large amounts of data and finding high quality, usable, repurposable resources. Those who use OERs would like to see an increase in user-friendly interfaces or training and professional development in finding proper resources through these avenues. Those who make these resources available claim that the educators using them should have the skills, that frankly, they require of their students- to use their own capacities to determine the quality of resources for themselves.
MOOCs and lifelong learners
Haber, J. (2014) MOOCs and Lifelong Learners. The blog. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jonathan-haber/moocs-and-lifelonglearners_b_4431373.html 10/25/2014
This blog takes a very critical stance toward critics of MOOCs, namely the “privileged” users of MOOCs. The author introduced various criticisms of MOOCs including the fact that some believe money should not be funneled into them because they mainly benefit “older, educated, professional (and by implication well-off, middle-class) lifelong learners who already have so much, vs. using those same resources to advance the education of the neediest.” He attempts to debunk this notion by mentioning that even though 75-80% of those who use MOOCs already have degrees (sometimes multiple degrees) the remainder of that percentage still accounts for thousands and thousands of people. He also points out that it is a bit myopic to assume that just because MOOCs are in use by this “rich white” demographic now, these are the only people MOOCs can serve in the future.
Lane, A., & McAndrew, P. (2010). Are Open Educational Resources Systematic or Systemic Change Agents for Teaching Practice?.British Journal Of Educational Technology, 41(6), 952-962.
This article spent a lot of time identifying the difference between LOs (learning objects) and OERs. From this analysis, the authors came away with three lessons about available resources that impact teaching practices. First, they were able to understand the importance of “openness.” The open access of OERs is a driving force in their evolution. The more casual “copyleft” idea, as opposed to the restrictions of copyright, helps to perpetuate the creation, use and modification of OERs. Second, the authors reiterated that OERs were developed independently of the purpose for developing their predecessor: the LO. While LOs were designed to improve teaching practices, OERs were designed to make information and education easily available and accessible to the masses. This may point again to the importance of openness as a driving force for the demand and supply, and frankly the success, of OERs. This said, however, because OERs are developed with the idea of how they will be used and by whom as a secondary concern, as the field matures, more emphasis will need to be placed on quality of OERs. I really enjoy the third point; the constant evolution of the internet and available technology makes it almost nearly impossible to predict the future of OERs and LOs. I like the authors’ assertion that we must not claim to “know it all” about the future of OERs- or of the internet and content management. The authors do argue that regardless of what happens in the future, it is important that the evolution is driven by individuals organically, rather than imposed top-down. “The most important step is to make those resources available and accept that open use will take place. The next evolutions are likely to be both at the systematic level as appropriate content structures emerge rather than are imposed, and at the systemic level as institutions and processes adjust to the blending of formal and informal learning. This more open process of evolution also means that less predictable changes may result” (Lane & McAndrew, 2010). I could not agree more that free and open access remains the priority.
Schmidt-Jones, C. A. (2012). An Open Educational Resource Supports a Diversity of Inquiry-Based Learning. International Review Of Research In Open And Distance Learning, 13(1), 1-16.
THis article attempted to tackle the issue of HOW OERs impact the quality of learning, a lofty goal. Lane & McAndrew (2010) mention that OERs developed with little regard to how the materials would be used, and by whom. The emphasis was on making resources freely available (Lane & McAndrew, 2010). Instead, what the study did find is WHO OERs are (typically) used by and for what. This author used survey results and computer log data “about a highly visited, modular, music-education resource” on Connextions and found that most of the resources were accessed for self-directed, independent use, rather than as whole courses, even though they are offered as such. “Even visitors who were formally teaching or studying the subject appeared to be using this OER as a resource for self-directed inquiry” (Schmidt-Jones, 2012). When comparing her own results to that of a similar study about OERs from a very different content area, she came away with the same result. OERs are mostly used by self-directed learners for informal use.
Xia, J. (2013). Let Us Take a Yale Open Course: A Chinese View of Open Educational Resources Provided by Institutions in the West. Journal Of Computer Assisted Learning, 29(2), 122-137.
This was a very interesting article about why Chinese people access and use OERs from Western institutions. It took on OERs from a viewpoint that was completely new to me. Through the analysis of web comments from 68 OERs found on two websites (where OERs were translated to local language) the research was aimed at figuring out why foreign people (mostly college students, mostly Chinese) value Western OERs, which formats are more widely used and, frankly, most liked, and what suggestions can be made for improvement for translators, instructors and OER providers. These authors emphasized the social context of OERs and also explored the impact of cross-cultural communication in information and knowledge sharing.
There were some interesting findings in this report, but the most striking to me was that the content of a course is far more important to the consumer (in this context) than which university is offering the course. Finally, the most interesting part for me was the conclusion that OERs have already had a significant impact on Chinese learners- indeed many of the courses offered are more popular in China than they are in their own context.
Brent, I., Gibbs, G. R., & Gruszczynska, A. K. (2012). Defining Openness: Updating the Concept of “Open” for a Connected World.Journal Of Interactive Media In Education,
This article was all about the attitudes of academics toward the use and reuse of OERs. It is so interesting to me that so many people feel like information is not valuable unless it is restricted, or in some way made unavailable to the masses. I suppose, free market theory and “supply and demand” posit that value is inherent to limited resources, however I think education is different here. Research is no less valuable when shared with everyone and anyone freely. I think the prevalent attitudes toward copyright are going to have to change, and inevitable will due to the nature of the internet, over time.
Yakin, I. y., & Tinmaz, H. h. (2013). USING TWITTER AS AN INSTRUCTIONAL TOOL: A CASE STUDY IN HIGHER EDUCATION. Turkish Online Journal Of Educational Technology, 12(4), 209-218.
This peer-reviewed study takes a very positive view of the use of twitter in higher educational contexts. Students used twitter as a platform for a “Computer Applications for Social Sciences” course, and the results were wonderful. Students had more fun, were more engaged in not only the course, but also in the tools and features of Twitter, and students were able to overcome fears and actively participate in the “classroom environment.” This study provided some very convincing evidence in favor of using twitter in the higher educational context.
Bischke, J. (2014, June 28). The Rise Of The “Social Professional” Networks. Retrieved November 29, 2014, from http://techcrunch.com/2014/06/28/the-rise-of-the-social-professional-networks/
However not peer-reviewed, this is a very interesting article about the new social networking sites coming out that are tailored to various professionals. For example, the article discusses Doximity, a website where doctors and medical professionals network. They can share research, exchange resources and advice, etc. The article also discusses the massive amounts of money funneling into these sorts of websites. Also interesting is the amount of comments listing more and more profession-specific networking sites. This just goes to show how effective OERs and social networking trends in online learning can serve professional development.
Megele, C. (2014). Theorising Twitter Chat. Journal Of Perspectives In Applied Academic Practice, 2(2), 46-51.
This was a very interesting article about the impact of Twitter and social media on education. It raised far more questions than it answered, accomplishing its goal which was to spark a critical conversation about social media and their “uses, applications and implications for identity, self-production, learning and professional development” (p. 50). The paper addressed five trends that result in overlaps between formal, non-formal and informal education. This part was particularly interesting to me and my developing “casual spontaneous learning” idea. These five trends include: a blurring of the line between professional and personal; the advent of continuous or lifelong learning; student-centered pedagogy; technological and social impacts on learning; and the changing employment market and demands for technologically savvy employees. One of the biggest takeaways from this article is the notion that “In an increasingly connected society, education and learning go far beyond enhancement of an individual’s cognitive abilities; indeed, in this context cognition occurs in social relations, and knowledge is developed in internalisations though cognitive and experiential engagement, using social tools for thinking and learning as a ‘conjoint undertaking.'” How interesting that learning is less individual (in that it happens through social connections) and at the same time, more personalized!
Loertscher, D. V., & Koechlin, C. (2013). Online learning: possibilities for a participatory culture. Teacher Librarian, (1), 50.
This was a very negative article about online education. The author argued that online education has very little to do with learning (and is lacking sound pedagogy) and is really just a way to deliver content and make some money. Clearly, he was not talking about MOOCs, where certainly it is a challenge to develop a sustainable model. He worried that online courses create predictability because all of the students access the same information and that instructors are being phased out. The author then described various techniques to use in online learning that creates more authentic learning experiences. These incorporate collaboration and self-directed learning tasks. It seems to me that he has more of a problem with teacher-centered instructional practices than with online learning and disregards the discovery that happens when students are learning online that simply cannot be accounted for.
Picciano, A. G., Seaman, J., & Allen, I. E. (2010). Educational Transformation through Online Learning: To Be or Not to Be. Journal Of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 14(4), 17-35.
This was a very thorough article that was a nice end to the course. I will focus my summary on the research and implications the author found for online education in the K-12 setting, as that is the context in which I teach. This author found that online learning is still in the development phase for this age group, particularly because K-12 instruction is so highly driven and regulated by local, state and federal municipalities. He said that online education lacks some of the very important qualities of brick and mortar schools, namely, the human element. Particularly for younger students, the author argued that teachers, counselors and administrators provide very important supports for children’s emotional, physical, social and intellectual development. This is something that just cannot be recreated for young students in an online environment. One great thing the author did not that online education offers is a resource for rural students who lack physical access to quality educational materials.