Friday, November 30, 2012

Week 5-Application

This week in my EDUC 6135 course we are looking at the planning and designing of distance learning (DL). In planning the design system, one has several components to consider such as “the learners, the content, the method and materials, and the environment, including the technology” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 152). Also, the interaction of these components must be done well to produce effective learning experiences. We have also taken a look at some of the Open CourseWare courses.

Open courseware “is a free and open digital publication of high quality educational materials for colleges and universities” (Open CourseWare Consortium, n.d.). The one that I chose to examine was at  titled Frontiers and Controversies in Astrophysics. At first glance, it seems a fairly simply-designed course. But, upon further exploration, there is a syllabus stating the name and title of the professor, description, text required, requirements, and grading. The class is divided into sessions which include an overview, resources such as class notes and websites, and the video presentation. The lectures are broken down into chapters which include the timings on the video. You can also choose to view/print the transcript or listen to or download the mp3. It also has options for low or high bandwidth viewing depending on your internet connection. It even includes the two midterm exams and the solutions. There is an option to view the catalog and buy books, and to also submit an evaluation survey. All of these options and methods are good planning for online learning.

The course is organized fairly well for distance learners as it is simple to navigate and has some variety between text, audio, or video giving the learner options. The videos also allow for the learner to go at their own pace, stop and repeat sessions. The lessons are designed to be completed in a linear method (Simonson et al, 2012), but that is up to the learner and what they want from the course. The video lectures, notes, and resources are all very well done. However, since there is no registration, credit, degree, or certificate, it is strictly an instructor-led course with the learner obtaining their learning on their own. There is no interaction. The learner is actually auditing the course. They must do the learning on their own since there is no feedback. Essentially, I believe the course is mostly a traditional classroom learning experience without actually being in the classroom which is not one of our text’s fundamentals of teaching online (Simonson et al, 2012).

As for the active learning, I did not feel this course provided much of that. The only active learning would be starting, pausing, rewinding, and stopping the videos, and taking the exams and checking the answers. I feel this course is good for those that truly want to learn and can do so with no interaction. But, to create a better learning experience, there needs to be more interaction such as discussions. But, since this course is open to anyone at any time and there is no registration or monitoring, it is nice just to provide the information from a classroom such as Yale which many would not normally have the opportunity.

Open CourseWare ConsOpen CourseWare Consortium (n.d.). About Us. Retrieved November 29, 2012, from 201211292148141780654192

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.


Sunday, November 18, 2012

There are many types of technology tools that the instructional designer can use to enhance the learning experiences of distance learners. My assignment this week is to identify two distance learning technology tools to provide a solution to the following scenario.

 Asynchronous Training
In an effort to improve its poor safety record, a biodiesel manufacturing plant needs a series of safety training modules. These stand-alone modules must illustrate best practices on how to safely operate the many pieces of heavy machinery on the plant floor. The modules should involve step-by-step processes and the method of delivery needs to be available to all shifts at the plant. As well, the shift supervisors want to be sure the employees are engaged and can demonstrate their learning from the modules.

 Instructional Needs and Learning Outcomes

In choosing appropriate technology tools for asynchronous online instruction, one needs to assess the instructional needs and learning outcomes, which are the “observable, measurable behaviors that are a consequence of online instruction” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). For the above scenario, these were identified:

·         Stand-alone asynchronous modules illustrating best practice and step-by-step processes

·         Interactive competencies to verify learning

·         Supervising tracking records

Developing an interactive video that staff can make selections in choosing the correct step in the process engages the student and increases learning. One site that creates interactive videos is (Scientific Animations, 2012). The videos are created with step-by-step processes, and then the user must decide what step is next. This makes the learner pay attention and think through the process instead of just viewing it.

 Another technology is a video that shows the steps as well as showing possible errors. Once such video example is located at (Rossiter & Co., 2012). This learning would be very realistic, effective, and authentic (Simonson et al., 2012).

 These technologies could be utilized within a course management system (CMS) so that there could be competencies developed and record tracking completed for the supervisors. The CMS could also provide communication between staff and supervisors (Simonson et al., 2012).
Scientific Animations 2012 Scientific AnimationsScientific Animations (2012). Retrieved November 18, 2012, from

Rossiter & Co. (2012). Retrieved November 18, 2012, from 20121118145944157820940


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Defining Distance Learning

 I am posting this blog as part of my EDUC 6135 application requirements. I will give my personal definition and observations of distance learning prior to this class, my revised definition after reading and viewing the resources for this week, and my vision of the future for distance learning. I will also incorporate a mind map for my new definition and my vision for the future.

My definition of distance learning was one of utilizing the internet to connect to the classroom instead of actually being face-to-face in a physical room. The instructor and students would communicate with each other and utilize different forms of class work such as essays, discussions, quizzes, presentations, and team projects. The learning is asynchronous.

Although, I had heard of correspondence courses, my first contact with distance learning was at my local community college in getting my Associate in Applied Science degree in computer programming. I took a course using WebCT. I had to post to the discussion board, answer short answers, write a short paper, and take quizzes. Although I utilized a real book, I also had resources to read online. All of my other courses in the program were in the classroom and were very difficult for me to attend while working full time 12-hour night shifts. My next encounter with distance learning was through Indiana Wesleyan as I obtained my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree through their online program. That program was very similar to this degree program. I utilized a book and online readings, discussion boards, quizzes, presentations and essays, and team projects. My BSN degree took a lot more work, but I could do it on my time around my other responsibilities. In the federal health care field, distance learning is not necessarily a separation geographically, but more so in time. We have a lot of our mandatory annual training online through a Talent Management System (TMS). Although many of the modules are very simplistic with text and graphics, a few of them are more interactive or have videos. Many of the modules are converted from PowerPoint at our facility, but some are created at other facilities. We connect to the TMS modules online and most have some sort of quiz at the end. They are viewable asynchronously from any of our computers. They are all self-paced with no instructor. However, with some of the computer training, Camtasia software is utilized to show staff the steps involved and is sometimes interactive.

Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek (2012, p.31) define distance education as “institution-based, formal education where the learning group is separated, and where interactive telecommunications systems are used to connect learners, resources, and instructors.” Since I obtained my BSN online, I feel like my definition was very similar to that. I think technology has really changed the way learning occurs and has opened the door for many people to obtain higher education. There are so many different kinds of software that can be utilized in distance learning. Distance learning brings education closer to everyone.

As for the future of distance learning, my vision sees many more opportunities available to more people. Technology will continue to advance to bring the classroom to people in their homes and on the go with iPads. What appears to be missing with the interaction is now being fulfilled with social sites such as wikis, blogs, and facebook, or even webcams and videoconferencing.  I do think there will always be a need for a physical classroom as there are always learners who learn better in a more structured, physical environment.