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distance learning

What is a MOOC?

The recent announcement by a number of universities on offering online courses for free and open to anyone heralds what some call as the beginning of a wave of MOOCs, or massively open online courses. Just what exactly is a MOOC and how does it differ from a typical distance learning course? The video below gives a good summary of how MOOCs work and why they are different from other models of distance learning.

 

Preventing Plagiarism in Online Learning

Now more than ever, it is important to promote and enforce academic integrity. Online learning has opened doors for many and has changed the way people think about education. Although it has also raised the possibility of plagiarism and academic dishonesty, this should not be a deterrent from online teaching or learning. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges has put together a guide called Best Practice Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education, which contains tips for institutions, professors and students on how to promote academic integrity in an online learning environment. These tips are categorized under Institutional Context and Commitment, Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty Support, Student Support, and Assessment and Instruction.

Here are some especially helpful tips that we have highlighted from the document:

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UW, other universities, join Coursera to offer Free and Low-Cost Online Courses

courseraAn article in today’s Seattle Times announces that the University of Washington along with nine other universities will be partnering with Coursera, an online start-up that specializes in offering free online university courses to anyone that wants to take a class. We’ve blogged about Coursera recently when the start-up first launched with its new business model of providing low-cost and free online courses for credits. Its proponents have picked up momentum in terms of partnering with a number of top-tier universities and its increasing number of offerings seem promising. Currently, students who sign up for a course on Coursera will have to commit certain blocks of time to completing assignments as well as interacting with other students. Quizzes are embedded with the course material online and data is consistently analyzed by the course system to see how students approach each question to solve it.

Addressing concerns over whether online courses would be as rigorous as a traditional course, David Szatmary, the vice provost for online learning at the UW,  said that students “are being held to the same academic standards we require in our institutions” and that “Coursera is working only with top-tier institutions”. UW Computer Science professor Ed Lazowska also remarked that “Coursera courses from many universities will be woven into UW offerings one day, with students taking the classes online as homework and coming into a classroom for practice and discussions.”

It will be interesting to see how this project progresses especially with the UW now involved. We look forward to seeing future developments.

Annotated PowerPoint Presentations with a Wacom Tablet and Tegrity

Following up on a previous tutorial, here is another way to enhance PowerPoint Presentation with annotations in conjunction with Tegrity to create a more interactive online course recording for students to view. In this example we use a Wacom Bamboo drawing tablet which lets instructors easily annotate, hand write, and draw in applications such as Photoshop or PowerPoint using a stylus. This is useful for courses that are math-heavy with lots of equations or where natural hand motions present a superior figure to using the mouse such as in an art class.

The video below goes through the basics of using the Wacom Tablet as well as some possible uses for instructors. Before getting started, you will need a Wacom Tablet which is available for checkout in the Learning Tech Studio.

How Design and Implementation of Distance Ed Courses Impact Learning

Students with Laptops in Classroom

In a recently published paper by the University of Minnesota, researchers looked at how different designs and implementations of distance education courses affected student learning and satisfaction in these courses. The study involved identifying three different types of interaction in these courses: Student-Student, Student-Teacher, and Student Contact.

Student-Student (SS) interaction consists of individual students or groups of students working together in both dynamic technologies such as video conferencing or static technologies such as discussion boards.

Student-Teacher (ST) interaction also uses many of the same technologies involved in SS interaction in distance learning. Face-to-face interaction is also observed under both SS and ST.

Student-Content (SC) interaction is defined as “reading informational texts, using study guides,watching videos, interacting with computer-based multimedia, using simulations, or usingcognitive support software (e.g. statistical software), searching for information, completing assignments, and working on projects”.

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