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hybrid learning

Two Big Issues with Online Learning

Here at Learning Tech, we’ve blogged a lot in the past few years about potential optimistic outcomes of online learning: how it could be beneficial to student learning, the cost saving aspects, etc. Although there is no doubt that online learning is changing the face of education, it is important to also address the challenges and issues that appear in an online learning environment. A recent article in the New York Times titled The Trouble with Online Learning brought attention to two major issues of online learning that cannot be ignored: student dropout levels and inability to accommodate to struggling students.

_MG_2195Student attrition rates in online courses are nothing to brag about. Research conducted by Columbia University’s Community College Research Center has shown that students who enroll in online courses are more likely to withdraw or fail from the course than students in traditional face-to-face courses. Considering that the idea behind online courses is setting up students for success, these results are frustrating. Larger courses offered on global or national scales have a 90 percent attrition rate. Additionally, students who struggle with online courses will likely
fall behind in their traditional courses (if they are taking them at the same time) as a result.

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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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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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Smart Classroom Strategies: Getting Faculty Involved

UWB ClassroomA recent article published by Campus Technology describes how higher ed institutions nationwide are upgrading to provide faculty with the latest technologies to use for teaching and learning. These technologies include hardware such as clickers, tablets, and video recording equipment along with software and web tools such as Google Apps. However, while many of these initiatives to bring the latest technology in to the classroom are ambitious and designed to enhance learning, what can occur instead is that the technology ends up sitting in a storage closet as faculty who are often willing to try new hardware and software are frustrated with not knowing how to use these tools effectively.

The article outlines five strategies to help faculty use technology tools effectively so that they don’t end up gathering dust:

  1. Create Peer Training Groups – “Instead of equipping classrooms with technology and expecting faculty members to use it, Shackelford said, the university trained a small group of “ambassadors” who help other professors get onboard with the new equipment, software, and applications. Facebook, for example, was introduced not only as a social networking platform for students but also as a communication tool for professors to use with one another and with their students. “
  2. Carve out time for Professional Development – New technology initiatives can be fast and furious as IT departments collaborate with campus academic divisions, network groups, and other entities to meet deployment deadlines. Faculty members can get swept up in the excitement and wind up with classrooms full of technology that they don’t know how to use.
  3. Align IT with academic instructional departments – “We can’t do what we want to do on the development side if we don’t have the IT support,” said Spataro, who often bounces ideas off the IT team.
  4. Create a link between technological innovation and pedagogical effectiveness. If professors know that the time they’re putting into professional development will ultimately help them teach better, then the odds that they will participate and be engaged will be that much higher.
  5. Finally, involve faculty members in the planning process. Getting professors to integrate smart classroom technologies into their lessons, lectures, assignments, and projects can be as simple as opening up the lines of communication early between those instructors and their IT and instructional technology departments.

Read more at Campus Technology: Tactics for the Smart Classroom: Getting Smarter About Faculty Involvement