Saturday, October 27, 2007

Instant Messenger

I am not an Instant Messenger novice. I have been using IM on a daily basis in my work environment for over three years. I work for an online institution, so my co-workers are spread throughout the United States. We use IM to communicate quickly on student issues, quick questions we have concerning policies and procedures, or just to check in with each other. I am also one of the facilitators for new faculty training at my institution. During training, I always share my IM ID with those in the training session and invite them to IM me whenever they have any questions.

In the context of this course, I have used IM with Dr. Green and several classmates. At first, I have to be honest, I’d look for classmates online and IM them to satisfy the requirement. After that initial use, there were several occasions when I had questions on something concerning the course, like a particular reading or assignment, that I could quickly ask a classmate who was online at the same time that I was. I almost always found at least one classmate online when I had a question, no matter what time of day or night.

I definitely like the ability to utilize IM as a communication tool. It is always quick and easy to use. It not only provides me with answers I need almost immediately, but gives me the opportunity to connect with my classmates and co-workers from my somewhat solitary home office.

Synchronous Learning Environments

This was another fun topic this week. As a faculty member at an online institution, as well as a PhD candidate at an online institution, I feel very comfortable with most of the asynchronous learning environments and tools that are available. However, I have not had as much experience with synchronous tools. I have used web conferencing, which is the topic of my presentation; and instant messaging, which will be a separate blog post; and class chats, which definitely has both advantages and disadvantages.

Some of the advantages and disadvantages of synchronous learning are: it more closely matches traditional classroom model, allows for real-time communication and collaboration, dynamic and active, helps develop group cohesion and sense of being part of a learning community, real-time collaboration helps learners understand tone, nuance of other learners, learning facilitator responds to questions and concerns immediately, quick feedback available from instructor and other learners, learning facilitator can monitor comprehension and understanding, energy and motivation comes from group interactions, pacing encourages students to keep up with the course, and has the possibility of real-time demonstrations.

Some of the advantages and disadvantages of asynchronous learning are: it is accessible any time, consists of intermittent communication between learners and facilitator, allows time for reflection, learner can easily integrate ideas into working environment, cost-effective due to low bandwidth and low-end computers, more useful for collaboration and learning over time, easier to include learners from multiple locations (time zones), easier to capture history of communication and interactions of group, and has a greater capability to handle large numbers of learners.

It was great to explore some of the other synchronous technologies and hear about my classmates’ use of them. It’s always fun to see what others are using in their various areas of education, as well as what we all find when given the assignment to find examples.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Audio & Video Emerging Technologies

As I mentioned in one of my discussion board comments this week, talking with one of my students this week (she is pursuing her elementary education degree and certification), she made the comment, “…there will always be a need for elementary school teachers.” I paused to think about what exactly that meant, especially considering what we have been discussing in this course. As we discussed a few weeks ago, the time may come when most educators who are not willing to embrace new technologies may find themselves unable to keep up with their more “techie” peers.

It was interesting to read the different perspectives of my classmates this week regarding how new technologies will impact face-to-face delivery, distance delivery, and blended learning delivery. It seems that it depends on where we each are right now in our professions. Those who are in the classroom full time have a different perspective than those of us who are already primarily involved in distance education.

It was also fun to see the variety of articles that my classmates found and posted regarding Interactive TV. Again, we all seem to come to the course with different thoughts on how we could most fully utilize this technology in our individual situations. I enjoyed this activity because it gave me different perspectives on Interactive TV, both from the articles that were posted by my classmates, as well as their reactions and thoughts regarding the various articles.

Until next time…

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Open and Online Learning Environments

It was interesting to go through the readings this week, thinking of the relationship between various technologies and Constructivism. I found several references to the idea that many of the designers of OLEs create their tools with the Constructivist approach in mind. They realize that learners will use them to pursue their own goals and be responsible for their own learning.

There were many fun OLEs mentioned in the readings, but my classmates found many, many interesting, fun, useful, entertaining, and informational sites. It was a lot of fun to go through each of them and do the various activities.

I posted some example activities from the Discovery Channel website ( One of the week’s readings discussed OLEs as Constructivist because they are often used to simulate real-world problems, anchor instruction in realistic contexts, explore multiple perspectives on issues, learning from errors, and emphasizing cognitive processes. The two activities I shared from the Discovery Channel website were the Make-a-Quake Earthquake Simulator and Build Your Own Roller Coaster. To me, these two activities seemed to fit the definitions posed to us in the readings.

It is always great to share our findings with each other. It’s interesting to see the wide variety of examples that each classmate brings to the discussion.

Until next time…