Reflection not Rejection

Reflection not Rejection

Online instruction and your personal theory of online learning.

This course was entitled the theory and practice of distributed learning.  I must say it lived up to both tenants of theory and practice.  I learned a lot in terms of theory, research and development models.  For me, the combination of finally internalizing the different learning theories and then transforming them in real working models was a big accomplishment.  There are a lot of learning models with many variations, but I can now tie them back to a fundamental theory of learning.  I have a very clear model for my personal theory.  I am a combination of constructivist and social constructivist.  I evaluate the online course that I have just experienced and I can identify some of the features of that were meaningful and those that were not.  I like collaborating with other team members and really dislike being isolated and on my own.  My experience is much better when I can outreach to my cohorts and to the instructor.  I feel better connected and motivated when I interact and get to ask questions and get opinions from others.  The best way for this to happen for me is by getting onto Skype with one more cohorts.  Scheduling is a problem.  All of us are very busy and having an ad hoc session just does not work out.  Planning on a regular pull-up session that is scheduled, even for just a five or ten minutes will be helpful.  As a social constructivist, I really like to see and hear others as much as possible.  Texting on Adobe Connect is my worst experience.  The text is small and scrolling by very quickly and from so many different sources that it become nothing but “noise”.  I like see the video online.  I feel more connected and related to the other participants.

The relationship between your personal theory of online learning and your professional/academic goals/research interests.

In terms of getting alignment for my research project and dissertation, this has been a good course.  Even though there was not a textbook for this course, I bought two very good resources.  One is the Psychology of Learning for Instruction by Marcy Driscoll and the other Writing Literature Reviews by Joes Galvin.  I am all about online learning whenever possible, providing of course that the material and access and engagement can produce an acceptable outcome.  My professional interest is in finding instructional design methods that are engaging and motivating.  Being online is very important for me because of the large audience, which is remotely located.  I want to make sure that technology does not get in the way of learning and that we can measure the effectiveness of the courses.  Using Kirkpatrick’s assessment model is something I would like to build into any online courses.  In the next section of this blog I will opine on the future of online learning.

Where you think online learning is headed in the future.

Online learning is becoming more robust, effective and used every day.  It is progressively improving for a number of reasons.  First off, technology is an enabler for better instructional design. If you look at all the so-called “bad” things that happen today with online Internet delivery, each of them is getting better.  Start with bandwidth on you communication device.  Over the last 10 years we have basically eliminated dial up modems.  Over 60% of Internet access today is wireless.  The Internet of Everything is connecting all kinds of devices into the learning environment, not just your tablet or smartphone.  I look forward to the day when I can say “Seri connect me to my next class” and it will automatically eliminate looking for links and passwords and schedules.  Smart media elements are going to redefine both synchronous and asynchronous activities.  Sharing information real time and collaborating with others will be easier in the future.  A lot of this will come from having a “smarter planet” as IBM advertises in their TV commercials.  Rich media will also play an important role in online learning.  Today’s technology is starting to redefine video with integrated web browsing and close captioning which starts to make a more interactive session with video instead of just watching it.  I believe that online learning is going to leave the classroom and become on demand, just in time and with the right amount of information to support your life-long learning.

Lessons learned to support your academic progress as an online learner.

 My lessons learned are many.  I will enumerate them.

  1. Take the time to get familiar with the LMS.  It has features and capabilities that you cannot learn with just casual interaction.
  2. Think deep about the instructional design.  Make sure that there is a good reason for what you are implementing.  If it does not makes sense, eliminate it from your design.  Do not include it because the status quo says you should.
  3. Do not try to use an online system if you know there are bandwidth limitations.  Do yourself and others a big favor and abstain, if you do not have adequate connectivity.
  4. Find ways to self-regulate and motivate yourself.  No one is going to do it for you.  Take the time to make a plan that has built in accountability with your cohorts.
  5. Make sure that you connect with the instructor.  They need to be connect and so you do you.  Try set aside an appropriate time to touch base.  This works well with out academic advisors and should be a best practice with the instructors and cohorts too.
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