Week 6 post

Adventure learning. It just sounds more fun than any other name I’ve come across for learning types so far.  

I think it’s great that Aaron Doering in his article, “Adventure Learning: Transformative hybrid online education” underlines the importance of having specific learning goals when designing adventure learning. I also like that adventure learning aims to remove some of the internet isolation that can happen with online learning environments. And yes, let’s bring in experts from the field. Not just teachers facilitating and sharing. I can see how students get work-force ready with experts aiding their learning process. And, it’s definitely a pressure reliever for teachers. My one concern, though, is prepping up for AL can be time consuming. And, even though the benefits are huge, the work required to set up an AL experience may deter teachers from attempting it. I see this happen in my line of work a lot. When putting together training content for the company’s products, many a times, we go with the time-saving manual rather than doing an online video or simulation. We know the latter is better, but the time and cost factor do come into play sometimes.

Another aspect of AL that I like is its focus on problem-solving. When students get to work toward formulating a solution, their question “why are we learning this again” is answered, and keeps them motivated to learn more.

I think immersionlearning.com has done a fantastic job of this type of learning. I dabbled in the “Make your Own Titanic movie” task. Not going to win any Oscars, but it was such a fun experience, and I did walk feeling I want to do more research on the Titanic.

 My google search on Aaron Doering, the pioneer in AL led me to this article: http://www.mndaily.com/2012/02/16/u-researchers-study-sustainability-all-7-continents

 I love how people from across the continents are involved in this project. Of course, it’s time consuming (study ends in 2014), but it just might be worth the effort.

My next stop for week 6 was “No Such Thing as Failure, Only Feedback: Designing Innovative Opportunities for E-assessment and Technology-mediated Feedback.” I find formative feedback approach to be encouraging and uplifting. And—being an instructional designer wannabe—this article served as an important reminder to not blindly ape existing practices. I had never even wondered why assessments in online learning environments are placed at the end of the module/lesson, just like in a traditional setting. My key takeaway from this read was to align feedback with the task, and to ask the “what, why, and when” of feedback. And, I find the idea of self-assessment appealing. This truly puts the learner even more in control of his/her learning—to determine whether mastery over the content has occurred or not. I know it’s not practical for all types of learning. But, for the ASL learning discussed here, I think it’s a great idea for students to record themselves when practicing it, and then compare their signs to those of experts. Of course, this means you should be keenly aware of your own body language. I am reminded of my experience with my PT, who kept correcting my posture when doing an exercise, which I thought I was doing perfectly. Then, he had me stand next to the mirror to show me the “before” and “after,” and I got it instantly.

 An AL experience is definitely a tall order to construct and deliver. Affordances in educational, social, and technological aspects have to be considered. And, since it is rare to find people possessing expertise in all three, it really would take a village to educate this child.



Week 5 post

I know. It’s been a long time since I posted anything on my blog. Although I’ve been MIA, believe it or not, I have been reflecting a lot about learning in the meantime. Only thing, it was not 685-induced. I took up a new job a couple of weeks ago, and I have had to ramp up on my knowledge of e-commerce, software as a serve (SaaS), the company’s products. My mind was exhausted.

Throughout this process, I made it a point to be consciously aware of all the different types of resources I was using to learn. I used a few books, tons of web sites, and fellow co-workers as my top 3 “sources of knowledge.”  Out of these, nearly 60% of my learning took place online. Goes to show you the impact of online learning has.

I found the article, “Trends in Instructional Tool Usage in Online Education Programs” informative and engaging. Despite the increase in use of computer technology and the web, its usage is still mostly basic in nature. We are still working out how best to integrate Web 2.0 for educational purposes.

I love the idea of using simulations in learning. Isn’t it cool how students at University of Kansas Medical Center get to use this technology effectively? I think simulations give students the opportunity to practice in a stress-free environment. After all, an error would not cost as much in the real world. Plus, the idea of unlimited practice sessions with valuable feedback sounds promising. Having said that, would a medical student be able to transition seamlessly from a simulated operation room to a real one?

When I was in high school, I passed notes to fellow students using the old-fashioned pencil and scrap paper. Fast forward to 2012, it’s tweets on your mobile phones. With a professor making it all legit! But, you do have to wonder, how much of that texting and tweeting is actually about the content being taught in class. If not, then I believe it hinders learning, and not helping students.

From the use of one technology to an integrated mix of technologies—that’s where we are headed. In my learning experience at work last month, I was on skype with my co-worker who used Gotomeeting as the screen-sharing software to show me what she was doing. While the intent was good, these two tools did not necessarily play well with each other. And, I ended up getting pretty frustrated trying to figure out how things work in tandem. Definitely made my learning harder than easier. Some day, hopefully, tool makers will find a way to make their products more compatible with each other.

I was intrigued by some of the findings in the article “Learning in the 21st century: 2011 Trends Update.” I am encouraged that online learning is increasing because teachers and administrators are absorbing it more than before. But, teachers also still seem to be less interested in teaching an online class. After talking to a friend who serves as a mentor for Apex learning, an elearning solution provider, I think I understand more about the reasons for hesitation. As a mentor online, my friend feels that her workday is no longer confinable to a 9-5 shift. That’s the price she pays for learners having more personalized learning. And, as much as she likes the new, cooler technologies, keeping up with it takes more of her time. Perhaps, the next generation of teachers will not have this problem because they are already growing up with so much web 2.0 stuff.

For the past four years, being a student of the 100% online IST program was a great experience for me. But, I must admit that in hindsight, I would have preferred blended learning even more. Meeting my professors and fellow classmates (especially while working with them on projects collaboratively).

Coming to the report “Keeping pace with K-12 online learning, let me begin with a full disclosure here. I did not read the entire report. But, skimmed through those parts that I found appealing. I was very surprised that 27 states have at least one full-time online school. I’m curious why parents would enroll their children in a 100% virtual school. What are they doing different to ensure that their children’s social development as well? And if they have cracked that code, does that mean their children have to spend additional time for it?

I liked that the authors of this article emphasize the importance of not making technology the main player in online schools. It’s still about the learners (with the help of the instructors and parents, of course.) So glad we are not losing the human touch…yet.

I found myself re-reading the section on whether online and face-to-face instructions require significantly different instructional practices and strategies. I like that online allows students more opportunity to gain mastery.

Ah, coming to mobile learning. This is one technology advancement that I’m not sure about. Learning using that itty-bitty screen, to me, seems uncomfortable. Now, tablets I’m perfectly ok with. Unless I’m learning to a lecture using my mobile device, I find my learning experience unsatisfactory usually. Everything else about online and blended learning, melikey.