Friday, April 22, 2011

Week 15-Outsourced

Week 15
“Hello, India? I Need Help With My Math” Lohr, Steve
This article focuses on the outsourcing of education along with the outsourcing of corporate America.  There are a few companies in India that are working on an online tutoring program that allows screen sharing and VOiP progams to assist students with homework and projects here in the states while the tutor is based in India.  This program is a monthly fee, rather than a by hour fee.   There are also other personal service industries popping up that schedule mundane tasks such as take out, hair appointments, doctor appointments, birthday reminders and the such to personal assistants that are oceans away.
Technology doesn’t isolate people: US Study, ChinaDaily
This short article focuses on the needs of adults in their social lives and if they were feeling more isolated and cut off from their networks than they did previous to things like cell phones and Facebook.  The study has found that adults have actually increased their networks and contacts rather than shrinking them.  They have been redefined, of course, to be handled in new ways, but the networks are still there and flourishing.
The first article is quite intriguing, but I am one of those people that hates calling any company that routes me to India because I have such a hard time understanding the accent along with the cultural nuances and other problems that come with dealing with a foreigner.  My life is usually so crazy hectic that even having to concentrate that extra little bit on a task that I already don’t want to do, like straighten out a billing issue with my cell phone annoys me to no end. 
In the second article, I would love to have a personal assistant, or a flat fee for a tutor for my kids.  However, the personal assistant thing would never work for me because of privacy issues.  I don’t want to hand over my life story of dates, password, credit cards, and addresses to someone in a different country that may or may not use it for nefarious purposes and I can’t even go after them because their sets of laws are different from my own.

Quote of the Week is also the title of the article, because it says it all!
"Hello, India? I need help with my math."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Week fourteen-the ins and outs

Podcasting in Instruction: Moving Beyond the Obvious, Ruth Reynard
IN this article, Ruth Reynard takes blogging for education one step further.  She claims that while blogging is powerful because of the way it can reach so many, it is a station based activity.  This means it is not very easy to be mobile while blogging.  However, she claims podcasting allows for the same amount of information to be passed on while being able to do it from anywhere.  It allows the author to get out their thoughts in voice form, rather than needing a computer with a keyboard, and then allows the recipient to garner the knowledge without the use of a computer with a screen, simply using an iPod or similar device.  It helps with collaboration because that many more people will have access to the material and be able to respond rather than only those with a keyboard and screen at their fingertips.  She claims that once you get the hand of podcasting, the user would need to go beyond the norm of simply recreating the in class experience and allow the students to move forward into new areas that allow them to do more than just listen to the static lecture. 

Teaching with Technology White Paper: Podcasting
This article, by Carnegie Mellon, allowed the reader to learn the ins and outs of podcasting step by step, broken down like an outline on how to create a podcast, when to create it, why to create it, and what to do once it is created.  It uses studies published previously to lend credibility to the reasons why an instructor needs to podcast certain areas and where to move forward from those podcasts.
Love the idea behind Ruth Reynards article on podcasting in the classroom, but I felt a little disappointed at the end because I didn’t receive much guidance on where to go from simply broadcasting a lecture, other than I needed to move forward in new and innovative ways—nothing that tells me what others are doing that is new and innovative, just to do it.  It left me feeling empty about where to go from here since I haven’t podcasted before and wasn’t really sure what I could do with it on a normal basis, much less new things.
The White Paper on Podcasting gave me everything that the Reynards article left out in the beginning—the ins and outs of getting the first podcast up and going.  It laid out the 3 main steps for me, what makes a podcast different from just a regular audio file, and when a regular file is more worthwhile than a podcast (and vice versa).  The graphics are fantastic when trying to show me the steps of podcasting, allowing me to simply follow the flow chart. 

Quote of the Week: “Most students perceive lecture podcasts as a tool for review, rather than as a replacement for attending lectures.”

week thirteen-Pick Me, Pick Me!!

Educational Blogging, Stephen Downes

In this article, Stephen Downes lists the many merits and a few pitfalls of using a blog in a classroom, and in general.  He goes into detail on five reasons that blogs are an essential part of the learning process, being careful to emphasize that blogs, first and foremost, are a reading tool, second to being a writing tool.  They are more usable than a journal article or other formal communication simply because they are a flowing of ideas without having to worry about where the idea came from rather than trying to prove a point and back up where it came from. 
How People Are Using Twitter during Conferences, Wolfgang Reinhardt
This article begins with an explanation of blogging, then moves forward into microblogging, or the use of less than 140 characters.  It differentiates the goal behind regular blogging as sharing whole ideas and microblogging as sharing fast thoughts, ideas, and information.  While a blog may be read by people the writer doesn’t know, a tweet can be focused to certain people, like a facebook account almost, and just share the ideas with those people alone.  The innovation that Twitter has come along with is during massive conferences when there is little time for feedback or questions simply due to the size and scope of the setting, the audience could be sending a tweet to the presenter to allow interaction without losing control of the audience. 
I enjoyed the Downes because it allows many different scenarios that a teacher could be using a blog in the classroom over many different ability levels.  It begins with an example of fourth and fifth grade students and moves all the way through college level courses.  It gives examples of the many different opportunities that a blogger could have on a variety of topics available, and the many different sites that it could take place on.  In short, it opens the world of blogging to those unfamiliar with it and begs to be used.
Twitter during conferences sends many ideas swirling through my head.  If the person watching and listening could become an active part of the presentation during rather than at the end or not at all, then the audience would become more engaged and learn a vast amount more knowledge than before.  Couldn’t that work the same in a classroom? If I am giving a lecture to students, couldn’t they be sending me tweets or emails asking questions on the topic as we go, then I could choose whether or not to answer them as I move forward without wasting precious class time?
Quote of the week from Downes:
“Blogging not only allowed us access to the event; it made us part of the event.”

Monday, March 28, 2011

Learning on the Go

m-Learning: Positioning educators for a mobile, connected future, Kristine Peters
This article, from June 2007, outlines where education has started and where it is headed in relation to learning on the go.  It looks at interviews from cell phone manufacturers, business, and schools to determine what we would like to see in mobile technology moving forward.
One of the 1st positive points made about m-learning is the fact that the learner can be garnering new information anywhere, whether commuting, traveling, or at home.  This is a boon to both educational and business worlds as there can still be things done on a sick day, or a travel day.
It also describes the three things that will either drive or crash the m-learning market--the consumer, the professionals, and the specialists.  Those three make up the largest piece of market share on the success or failure of the m-learning market.

Mobile Learning and Student Retention, Fozdar and Kumar
Going against the idea of student e-learning, but for m-learning, this article states that "Student retention in open and distance learning (ODL) is comparatively poor to traditional education" The article then jumps to the topic of developing countries and the cost behind owning a personal computer, plus the access speeds of the internet in the country, so uses India as an example.  Since India is still technically a 3rd world country, they don't have options like the US does for broadband internet access for all.  However, the do have cell phones for most.  This article wants to bring m-learning to places like India because the cell phone can handle what the infrastructure cannot.  the article also outline 7 advantages for m-learning, but 6 of those 7 are inherent in e-learning as well.  This is in direct contrast to the idea on the first page of this article when the authors stated that e-learning is not as good as other types.
Instant Messaging for Creating Interactive and Collaborative m-Learning Environments-Kadirire
This article gives stats on why instant messaging is an indispensable tool in m-learning both in education and in the business world.  Using the emergence of new cell technologies as the reason, it states you can pass along imperative information to co-workers/classmates with minimal characters, thereby minimizing extraneous information simply because there isn't room for it.

The m-learning article immediately brought to mind apps.  Everywhere you go, every commercial you hear, now says "theres an app for that"  I could download enough apps on my phone that I can control my social networking, email, bank account, bills, and many aspects of my work.  I could conduct my entire life from 30,000 feet on an airplane for days, including checking my personal health and all the others listed above.  Why not be able to control my education from there as well?
In the second article, I agree that, especially in the developing world, m-learning would be a better option, I don't believe that it will even replace e-learning or face to face until the technology of phones catches up.  For example, there are very few phones that can handle flash.  The iPad can't even handle it.  Many of the chemistry experiments I show my students use flash.  The m-learners wouldn't be able to see that material. 
In the third article, which is my favorite, it talks about minimizing extras--enough said for me since I am a minimalist.


"Emerging technologies, such as wireless networking, the Internet, and mobile communications go a long way to enhance connectivity amongst stakeholders." (Fozdar)

Friday, March 18, 2011

Week 11--Is it really there?

Learning Conversations in the World of Warcraft, Bonnie Nardi, 2007
This article uses an extremely popular online game to analyze how people learn to use these complex areas to discover how to move in the game world.  They go through three different kinds of learning, such as fact-finding, devising tactics, and acquisition.  They teach these strategies using Zone of Proximal Development.  Using each other in fact-finding missions helps teach others around you what the best and fastest way to move forward in the game is, such as how to sell items, how to fight, and who to pair with. Others are also eager to help their teammates because of the type of game—the stronger you team, the more your character is worth.  This falls into the devising tactics and acquisition categories. 
This article is used to show that teachers can show things such as team work and battle history in a game such as WoW.  They can use these types of games to move their students into thinking outside the box to learn to battle for their best interest and find information that will be best used in your situation—like researching a paper. 
Why Virtual Worlds Matter, Doug Thomas
Creating a 3-D space in which to create a culture all your own is an enticing idea to many teachers because it allows them to build what they want their students to see without ever leaving their actual classroom or computer lab.  It is a space that allows students to more freely express themselves without having to worry about what their peers particularly think, or maybe even join a world that is outside their own zone of comfort and realm of experience.
“To that end, we believe that these games are, at base, learning environments” (Thomas 2009).
“The visual component of virtual worlds has re-defined the landscape of online interaction away from text and toward a more complex visual medium which provides a sense of place, space, and physiological embodiment” (Thomas, 2009).
In both of these articles, the authors are trying to convince the reader that a good way to teach students is to place them into a virtual world that is less intimidating than real life.  While I have yet to experience any of these virtual worlds, it has been intriguing to read about.  It even inspired me to set up my own Second Life account to explore around and see what all the virtual life is about.  It is hard for me to explore without other knowledge, so combing the learning criteria in the first article with the experiences in the second would be the perfect scenario for me. 

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

week 10-The Social Network

A social network study of the growth of community among distance learners
Caroline Haythornthwaite
This study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign focuses on one specific class, the LEEP course, and it’s 15 students to determine the level of interaction between each member of the group via a distance course.  This focuses on the social network approach, which says “behaviour is affected more by the kinds of ties and networks in which people are involved than by the norms and attributes that individuals possess.”  The study had a fantastic return rate on the participants, with 93% responding to the questions.  This study included how the groups met, how often they met, how they felt about the class overall, and what could be done to improve it.  This class also had the advantage of meeting face to face twice during the semester.  Most groups felt that having a set place to meet was the most beneficial.
I find this study to be a reflection of how I myself feel during most online courses where group work is required.  While I do get frustrated at times by the lack of commitment and technical knowledge in my groups, I feel that the benefits of online education far outweigh the inherent issues that arise with it.

Learning at a Distance: Engaged or Not?
Pu-Shih Daniel Chen, Robert Gonyea, and George Kuh
“One important unresolved issue related to the quality of the learning experience is the degree to which online learners are engaged in their educational activities relative to campus based learners” .  This study focused not only on how the distance learners got involved with online courses, but why they chose to, how often, the demographics of the students, and the average grades at the end.  The study did show that the majority of those in distance education courses were those that are in the 25-24 age range and taking care of dependents.  It also only focused on those attending for a 4-year bachelors degree in the study, leaving out the large population of those in community colleges.
This article seems to focus, at least at first, in large part on who the study focuses on.  It isn’t until the last 1/3 of the article that it begins to show how to ensure the distance learners are interacting with their peers, like in this class by assigning a critical friend to ensure interaction between classmates.   Maybe its because I have focused most of my bachelors and all of my masters into online courses that I see the value in collaborative learning, but also have problems with the technical limitations and knowledge of those involved.  However, in the real world, outside academia, I still have these same limitations, so it is better to deal with it now, I guess.

Quote of the week:
“behaviour is affected more by the kinds of ties and networks in which people are involved than by the norms and attributes that individuals possess.”

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

week 9--online videos

YouTube Anchors and Enders: The Use of Shared Online Video Content as a Macrocontext for Learning
This paper, written by our own Dr. Bonk, details how he came up with the idea of Cool Resource Provider, which I happen to be for this week.  I did not read the entire article, rather just skipped to the parts that specifically spoke about shared online videos since that is the topic for the week.  Originally, he and Dr. Lee created this to be a motivating factor for their students.  He has used research from this study to determine that the majority of the videos used were best if they remained between 1-4 minutes—minimizing distractions or the chance to lose interest. 
This paper tends to focus on the uses of shared online videos in higher education.  However, I spoke to many of my colleagues after reading this and have found that almost all of the teachers that are comfortable with technology use shared videos with at least half of all their lessons.  That number rises higher depending on the subject, like science, history, and computers, a little lower in things like English and literature.
Places to Go: YouTube
“YouTube has grown in only a few short years to become the most popular site on the web.” This article focuses on why YouTube has had the massive growth seen since its inception.  It mainly focuses ont eh technical aspects, such as Flash and how content is displayed, but still offers great insight into how it became, what has happened since it started, and where it is going. 
I downloaded this article onto my Kindle, so I’m not sure of the actual page numbers, but it comes out to 4 pages on my Kindle.  Out of those 4 pages, 2 are references, so there isn’t much actual content here.  It was interesting to see the timeline that has gone with YouTube, but by the title of the article I was expecting more of a hits list for the popular website instead of a history lesson.

The Audience for Online Video-Sharing Sites Shoots Up
This article focuses on the amount of people using online video sites on a daily or near daily basis, comparing it to how it used to be just a couple years ago.  This trend is way over 50% or all demographics below 35.  They have a graph in this study that shows there are actually more people watching shared video sites than using social networking, like Facebook. 
The findings that more people use shared video sites than Facebook was amazing to me.  I could name off the top of my head the select few people I know that don’t use some type of social network site.  However, I “see” those people on a daily basis.  Maybe the numbers wouldn’t surprise me so much if I had a status feed for YouTube as well to show me what my friends had been watching on YouTube as well. 
Video Use in Higher Education: Options for the Future
In a study completed by NYU and Intelligent Television, educational use of videos in classrooms has grow exponentially in all areas of study.  One downfall many have with it right now is that it is not online content—many times not even DVD content, but old VHS tapes, which many cannot play now.  There is a push in most schools to move to digitally delivered information so that it can be enjoyed by more people more easily.
This study didn’t tell anything that any normal library patron doesn’t already know.  Yes, we all want to see videos and such and we want to do it the easiest possible way. We would prefer to be able to take it with us when we go somewhere, and we would prefer to not have an actual piece of media we have to keep track of—most of us don’t even own a VCR anymore! It would be great to be able to access what we want when we want it.  It will happen sooner rather than later.  I saw a movie the other day and one of the previews was for Sony motion pictures and it was saying how all movies sold will now come with a digital copy of the movie—both in an effort to meet consumer demands and to cut down on piracy.  This is all the same concept—make it easier to get to so I can use it more often.

Quote of the week from YouTube Anchors and Enders: The Use of Shared Online Video Content as a Macrocontext for Learning:  “Finally, they can be created, watched, shared, or commented on; hence they link to the emerging culture of participatory learning.”