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.”

Thursday, February 24, 2011

week eight--The who, what, where, why, and how of Wikis

How Today’s College Students Use Wikipedia for Course Related Research
There are many teachers, both pre- and post- secondary that refuse to allow their students to use Wikipedia, citing erroneous information input by unqualified posters as the reason.  However, even with the professor refusing to allow it, many students still use the site.  This study tries to find out how and why the students are most likely to use Wikipedia despite their instructions otherwise.  The study focuses on college students.  With all the studies, 91% of the students surveyed admitted to using Wikipedia at least part of the time, while a whopping 30% use it always.  Many students just seem to use it as a brief overview, however, to get a general idea on a topic rather than as an actual research tool.
My first year of grad school I had to write a paper on why I though Wikipedia was a good resource to use when researching any issue.  Since that time, I have always allowed my students to use it with a few stipulations.  The first, the students had to be sure the copyright date was more than 3 days prior to their access date.  That is Wikipedia’s cutoff date for information to be reviewed and deemed accurate.  I also require the students to have at least 3 other cites besides Wikipedia in their information.  Since installing these requirements, the students complain less about not using the popular site and gather more information. 

A Window on Wikibookians: Surveying their Statuses, Successes, Satisfactions, and Sociocultural Experiences
This article is a plethora of information on how a wiki started, the different paths a wiki can take, and how it can be contributed to.  It seems to be that many wikibookians (no matter the medium) are males (97%), in the lower range of age (18-35).  It also goes into detail on the educational level of those contributing, which is at the highest percentage for the high school range.  That statistic is frightening a bit.  So many are using Wikipedia as a reliable source, but it is written by high school students?  Hopefully, the post secondary students are the editors in this scenario. 

Becoming Wikipedian: Transformation of Participation in a Collaborative Online Encyclopedia
Legitimate Peripheral Participation (LLP) is a coined phrase to explain why people get involved in the communities they do, such as Wikipedia.  While there are many reasons why a person may choose to get involved, it started out as an easy place to get work published and shared with the world.  It allowed all involved to share information and edit for each other strictly online, cutting out much of the cost associated with normal publishing efforts. 
This article was extremely long winded on many of the facts that I’ve already read in the above articles.  Perhaps I would have had better reception with it had I read it first.  However, I found myself skimming the article with less and less interest as the pages went on.  I did pick up some new acronyms, though!

Quote of the week from How Today’s College Students Use Wikipedia for Course Related Research
“Students in the sessions explained that Wikipedia entries have value in the beginning because they provide a ‘simple narrative that gives you a grasp,’ ’can point you in the right direction,’ and ‘help when I have no idea what to do for a research paper.’”

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

week 7-social smocial

Future Learning Landscapes: Transforming Pedagogy through Social Software
We all know about the Web 2.0, and this article brings in Pedagogy 2.0, or teaching using technology and peer based media to enhance the learning and understanding of all.  Pedagogy 2.0 relies on the constructivist learner/teacher point of view to show those that question this type of learning how it can and should be accomplished in the future.  They claim Pedagogy 2.0 is built on the ideas on content, curriculum, communication, process, resources, scaffolding, and learning tasks.  Each plays a vital role in ensuring the success of the learner.

Minds on Fire: Open Education, the Long Tail, and Learning 2.0
Open education is the answer to many of the educational issues facing us today because of a popular boom, according to this article.  There are many different ways that Open Education becomes that way, such as the OCW initiative at MIT, or the SecondLife lectures that take place at Harvard.  The article claims that most commerce comes from the fat part of a tail and most cost comes from the long part of the tail.  Companies such as Netflix and Amazon have managed to reverse that trend and are thereby doing much more profit than regular companies.
The first article I have read that uses cartoons and pictures to get their point across, it was rather refreshing compared to the many others I have read that just try to shove their point across.  It was both informative and entertaining at times.  I have a little trouble understanding the whole tail idea, but I agreed with almost all the other information.  In addition, as an avid Amazon and Netflix user, I wasn’t at all surprised that Amazon sells more abstract content than best sellers—I have a couple hundred abtracts titles on my Kindle and only one or two best sellers.

Is Google Making Us Stupid?
As an avid user of the internet, the author of this article has started to realize that it is changing the way he thinks about information.  Instead of having the patience and desire to sit and read a lengthy article strictly for the information it would garner him, he has a hard time concentrating after just a few pages.  It has forced him and many of his companions and coworkers to become skimmers—not reading to rad, but just glancing for key words if the article/book/story is more than a paragraph or two long.
I definitely agree with Mr. Nicholas Carr on this article.  I have noticed this phenomenon both in my self and my students.  Instead of looking up information, we now just type it into a google search, gaining instant gratification when our answer (and hundreds of other irrelevant answers) suddenly pop up in front of us.  Is it a good thing that we are pushing technology to new heights both in the classroom and in our personal lives?  I have to question it at times because I am an advocate for technology in the classroom, but I have seen what it has done to some of my students.  When a student would rather use an iPod than a paper periodic table just because it’s an iPod, that isn’t a good thing-it actually hinders the user many times because they can’t see the layout the way they have been taught in class.
Quote of the Week from Future Learning Landscapes:
“What distinguishes these exemplars from activities in which students might participate in more traditional classroom settings is that in these instructors’ courses, learners use social software tools to engage deeply with peers, instructors, subject matter experts, and the community.”

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

week 6--Open resources

OOPS, Turning MIT Opencourseware into Chinese: An analysis of a community of practice of global translators.
OOPS is a volunteer organization in Taiwan with the original goal of translating MIT OCW into chinese so that all could benefit.  Since then, however, with the astronomical amount of information available through OER, OOPS has become a clearinghouse where information is translated no matter what the topic is.  It is no longer just about MIT, but any information, such as the Lord of the Rings books.  This paper, however, doesn’t focus on what they translate, by rather why and how.  Since OOPS is a volunteer organization, they struggle with things like participation, struggles with translations being accurate, and asynchronous formatting for problem solving. 
OOPS seems to be doing a fantastic job, tackling this monumental undertaking to translate something as large as 1000 courses into a language that doesn’t even use the same letters that we do.  Looking at Figure 2 on page 6 of the article, I find it fascinating that the translations fit into the same space but look nothing alike.  I also like the idea that the OOPS translations must go through a translator and editor after completion, before they are posted online.  Much different from the Wikipedia page, where the information could be erroneous for up to 3 days before the editor can fix it. 

Models for Sustainable Open Educational Resources
Sustainability in this article focuses on costs of open source education.  Even if it is free to the public, it tries to describe where the costs actually come from and who foots the bill if the consumers/users aren’t paying for it.  It goes through many different possible models and scenarios.  Then it also brings up the case that it may not be free to the user, but it is sustainable in terms of technology—that it will continue to be usable in the future.  Or, it could be sustainable in that many people use it when it is not possible to use a different form of teaching that lesson.
There are so many different definitions of the word sustainable that it can make your head spin! There are ways to keep information sustainable, money sustainable, time sustainable, person sustainable, etc.  Once you get into the definitions of the sustainable education you want, the different models used to find the right way are bound to match each organization, because again, there are so many different options available.  There has to be a way for each organization to find one or two that can be tailored to fit their needs.

Quote for the Week from Models for Sustainable Open Educational Resources: “The use of a learning resource, through adaptation and repurposing, becomes the production of another resource.”

Monday, February 7, 2011

Open Source and Free Source

Harnessing Open Technologies to Promote Open Educational Knowledge Sharing
Developing web based portfolios to show how teaching practice and student learning can be documented with multimedia and share it for others to learn from.  The article goes on to explain all the reasons that it is prudent to keep an online, web based portfolio, how it would help not only the creator of the portfolio grow, but all those that read/get involved with it in some way. 
Honestly, I felt like I was reading an infomercial the entire article.  I understand that sometimes a company needs to promote their topic, but the extent to which this article seemed to be pushing a particular portfolio program rather than portfolios as a whole was very distracting and had me second guessing the entire article since I felt they were trying to talk me into buying something rather than a concept.

Open Source/Open  Course Learning: Lessons for Educators from Free and Open Source Software
Much like a tidbit that I read for this week, the beginning of the article focuses on how “free” mean free speech, not free beer.  It lays out the four types of free it refers to, which are freedoms that open and free source software embraces, which are freedom to run the program, free to adapt the program, free to give copies to others, and free to improve and release your new program modifications.  It doesn’t mean that it won’t cost any money to get initial access to the software.  “Zero price does not mean zero adoption costs”. 
Like my parents told me and I told my children many times, anything that is completely free is probably something you don’t want.  If it comes down to something I may not have had to pay for, that doesn’t mean it was free to everyone involved.  Someone, somewhere, paid for that software to be developed and distributed.  To get technical, I paid for access to it because I pay for internet access, I paid to learn to use it, and maybe I will buy something from one of the ads on the page.

Quote of the week from Open Source/Open  Course Learning: Lessons for Educators from Free and Open Source Software
“Eventually [open source communities] will transform education, no matter how modest their beginnings.”

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

week 4-Online, Blending, both, or neither?

First article I read was about Class Differences.  The things that seem to stick out at me in this article had to do with who and why.  For example, this article says that public education has the hardest time accepting that online learning or blended learning is where education is headed.  Then, it states that many campus leaders (around 66%) realize that online learning is strategic to the success of their school, but they don't see it as valuable or seem to want to work harder to integrate it into the school programs.  On the page after that, the statistics claim that there have been over 1 million student growth in attendance of online learning--anywhere else that would have made major news, but not in education for some reason.
One of the charts was used to show how debt to earnings ratios measure school training.  Many of those surveyed said they were neutral on that subject.  I can't help but wonder, were they neutral because they didn't care, or just didn't understand what was the meaning behind the questions and choices.
The last piece of the article that seemed to shock me was that the For-Profit institutes seem to think that the not-for-profits were just as good at education as they, if that were the case, why are we paying more for an Ivy League education than a public state school?

The second article I read was Learning on Demand.  I had to force my way through this because in many places is said the same things, even going so far as showing the same graphics in many places, as the Class Differences report. I gleaned no new information from this article than I had from the first.

The third article was Growing by Degrees.  Once again, it has the same chart that hte first two articles have on what online learning is.  Another Sloan Report, it tends to focus on numbers, which makes life easier for me.  I find it encouraging that over 50% of the higher education schools in the US, including IU of course, off online graduate coursework.  Many of the core faculties at these schools are also teaching at least one online course.  It serves to make the connection, then, that a school that is able to hire a professor that is able to teach an online course, but not be in the physical area of the school, will get better professors involved because they will be able to get a large pool of candidates.  However, many of the CAO's (chief academic officer) think that it takes more effort to teach an online course than a face to face, as well as it takes more effort and discipline to succeed in that type of course. 
Sloan makes some generalizations that I feel are common sense, such as the fact that the larger the school, the more likely they are to offer online courses.  Setting up the infrastructure needed to offer those courses is quite expensive, but worth it.  Once the system is set up, they can attract even more students because of the diversity of the courses offered.

I have tried to take advantage of any classes available to take online throughout my undergrad and grad work.  Since I have held a full time job throughout my higher education, plus having 1-3 kids during that time, it always worked better for my schedule because I could do my work after the kids went to bed or during naptime.  In addition, I found the more online classes I took, the less patience I had for face to face classes because I couldn't stop thinking about all the other things I could be doing while I was sitting in class listening to things that were off topic.  I enjoyed having self paced learning because I could go so much faster.  I still feel that way with blended learning as well.  However, I think that blended learning is more popular because there are some things that need face to face to be able to understand it and ask questions in real time to understand.  For example, I took a calculus class fully online and it was the worst grade I ever received because I had never done that before and I didn't understand it, there was no one to answer my questions.  It was horrible!  I predict that blended learning will be the wave of the future because there are very few people that would be completely happy with 100% online learning 100% of the time.

Quote of the week: "One area that has generated considerable attention, especially in light of the consistent finding the not all faculty accept the legitimacy of online education, is how to best motivate faculty to teach online." Staying the Course, Online Education in the United States, 2008, Sloan Consortium.

Monday, January 17, 2011

week 3 e-books

The only reading for this week is on the uses of e-books at higher learning institutes, mostly in India.  The author of the study claims that the use of e-books is very low at this point, much lower than e-magazines or e-newspapers.  Out of the students that the study included, many used the e-books mostly as a research aid, or some other academic pursuit.  The author claims that e-readers break down geographic barriers for those that use them, enabling the user to “borrow” books no matter their physical location.  However, much of the article is not about e-books being used, but about why they are not.  Many different reasons are given, but it mostly boils down to the incompatibility of one reader to another, one program to another or user refusing to adjust to new technology.
The main problem I have with this study is that it is very narrow.  They tried to have a wide study, but due to lack of response from the respondents, they ended up with a 1%-5% answer, less than 100 people all together.  In addition, this study seems to have concentrated on one university in a country far away from here.  I can only tell by looking at what my students bring to class everyday, but e-readers are very popular here.  I actually just bought my first kindle and it is supposed to be delivered tomorrow.  We are also adopting new textbooks at school this year and are thinking of using digital books rather than paper books for that reason-put technology in the hands of students and they may be more likely to use it.

Quote of the week “In total 101 questionnaires were completed, of which 16 were from staff (15.84%) and 85 from students (84.15%). The overall response rate was 2.94% (or 16/544) of faculty/staff and 5.07% (or 85/1676) of students.”

Friday, January 14, 2011

week 2-social media

First article today was Teens and Social Media from Pew Research.  This document tries to give percentages to tell use who is using social media, when they are using it, and how they are using it.  It breaks it down to age groups and sex of the participant, along with a more broad overview of how many use all the types.  Interestingly, it also tracks how private they are with their online lives.

The main things that stuck out at me in the Teens and Social Media article was the statistics on income and sex relating to what the teen was most likely to do when online. The largest percent of internet users are the kids who have family incomes of over $75K per year. This makes sense to me, because they are also the most likely group to have access to an assortment of different media that is able to access the web--the best internet enabled cell phone, iPod, laptop.  It also makes sense to me that girls are more likely to blog their thoughts, while boys would rather post videos.  In teens, girls tend to be more expressive, tend to find it easier to put their thoughts into words than actions.  they are constantly worried about how they look, how they are percieved by others.  The boys, however, want to show themselves and what they have accomplished, they want to prove to others that they could do the stunt on the skateboard, they can do something daring and get away with it, without minding if they look stupid and having it out on the internet on YouTube forever.  I did find it interesting that girls that are lower income, single parent homes are more likely to author those blogs than the rich kids of either sex.  My best guess on that one without more research is that they don't have someone at home to listen to their thoughts like some of the others would, and they don't want video because they don't want that visual record to reach their friends that may show the conditions in which they live.
Second was Connecting the Digital Dots.  The whole article talks about how we, and our students, need to learn new information and create new ways to do it, thus making our lives a complex web of a crazy dot to dot like we used to complete in elementary school, never quite knowing what the picture is going to end up being.
If we as teachers are supposed to connect the digital dots to ensure that our students get a full learning experience, but we are supposed to do it while still teaching the basic methods, how can we mesh those two schools of thought together?  We need to teach our students how to think instead of what to think, but ISTEP still wants to test them on the what.  We need to find a way to connect all the different digital dots, like facebook, wikis, email, text, etc. to see how well the students are able to put together the material they are being taught, how well they will be able to showcase their technological prowess, as they will need to do in their future employment.

Quote of the week from Digital Dots: "The challenge is in dealing with the complexity—the dots are
multidimensional, of varying sizes and colors, continuously changing, and linked to other, as yet unimagined dots. Nonetheless, to successfully connect the dots at any level in cyberspace means we must be literate, both digitally and visually."

Thursday, January 13, 2011

week 1-neomillenials

This week, I read Growing Up with Google, Neomillenial learning styles, and planning for Neomillenial learning styles.
First up, Growing up with Google.  This document throws around a lot of statistics that serve to prove the fact that many of today's students, up to age 27ish, base most of their relationships through technology, whether it be messaging, texting, facebook, second life, or email.  It pushes the reader to realize how much knowledge is available through people just like ourselves adding to it, and that our students know how to access it all. They move through their lives seamlessly jumping from virtual to reality and back, and look at us funny when we don't understand it.
Second, I read Neomillenial learning styles.  This backs up everything in the Google article.  It talks about the importance of handheld devices in the lives of our students.  Some of the facts and figures thrown out are how many handhelds are owned by each demographic of our students, and not for solely educational purposes, and would use it for education if it were more readily available.
Finally, I read Implementing Neomillenials.  This article focuses on ways that an instructor could embrace the technology focused on the the second article above.  It offers suggestions like wireless access everywhere, using alternate reality games, blogging tools, and many other ways to implement technology into your classroom. 

My opinion on Google is that the entire article is dead-on.  As a teacher, I see the effect the Google world has had on my students.  The demographic in the article is students born after 1982--I was born in 1982, so I am just on the cusp of the revolution.  I have that "give it to me now" mentality without the need to have all my personal relationships developed and existing on the web.  It claims that only 31% of searches are successful.  I'm surprised its that high. Plus, even if the students find what they are looking for, they can't tell if it is reliable or not, nor do they care much of the time.
 My opinion on Neomillenials is much the same.  It was good information to have and great ideas on how to put the plans into action to get students engaged, but I felt as if the article dragged on awhile. It got to the point where I just started skimming because it was making my eyes blur. 
Most of the implementing neomillienials paper breaks down what the first discusses and tells an isntructor how to implement learning while embracing the new challenge it presents.  However, this goes back to the issue of money.  Many schools, espcially here in Indiana, are having their budgets cut to the point that teachers are losing jobs, students are going without some materials that the school used to provide.  How is expensive technology going to fit in to that budget?  Yes, many students already have things like iPods or iPads, but what about those students that don't?  Can we, as teachers, ignore the fact that not all students can afford these things?  Can we honestly believe that we are doing our jobs by not using them to teach, denying many students the technological opportunities that exist, or move forward with using those things and leave others behind?

Quote of the week from Growing up with Google:
"An increasing number of students – and their parents – expect
academic success with little academic effort."
This makes for the quote of the week because I have to argue this with parents everytime I flunk their so called honor roll student because they did the bare minimum instead of their best work.  Welcome to the real world, mom and dad.


Trying to decide on the best format for my blog...think I will summarize my thoughts for the readings, then I will move forward to my thoughts on topic, finishing with a quote of the week from the reading--what will stay with me the most for the coming time, whether good, bad, or ugly.

new to this

So, I've never started my own blog before, so here goes nothing.  Setting this up for the critical friends thing.  Hope it works!