Creating a Shared Goal

This week in EIDT 6511 I was tasked with creating a discussion board prompt from a required resources this week. The resource i choose is: Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. (Palloff, R., & Pratt, K., Promoting Collaborative Learning, Building Online Communities). Copyright 2007 John Wiley & Sons Inc. Used with permission from John Wiley & Sons Inc. via the Copyright Clearance Center.

My discussion prompt is as follows: Creating a Shared Goal In this week’s required reading Palloff & Pratt (2007) indicated that “an important element of community, whether it is face-to-face or online, is the development of shared goals” (p. 159). The creation of a shared goal can help students recognize that they are all in it together and help begin to form an online community. By Friday: Post your thoughts on how an instructor can build shared goals in an online course. What are some techniques you would recommend for building these goals. Also are there any drawbacks to these techniques. Be sure to support your ideas by citing resources from this week’s learning resources. Discussion Rubric: msidt-discussion-board-rubric

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Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

This week we discussed plagiarism and cheating in the online classroom and how we could detect and prevent it. I was asked to answer the following questions and below you will find a synthesis of my thoughts on what I learned to help me implement effective strategies to prevent this in the future.

  • What plagiarism detection software is available to online instructors?

There are many ways to detect plagiarism and cheating in an online course, Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006) state “two recent studies discussed above used commercially available technology to quantify rates of plagiarism. Braumoeller and Gaines (2001) made use of EVE (Essay Verification Engine) software, while Soto, Anand, and McGee (2004) used Turnitin.com, an online detection service.”(p.5). Of these two software choices I have used Turnitin personally before both as a student and as an instructor. Turnitin is a great tool because it will view the student’s material and look for similarities in other students assignments as well as previously turned in assignments. The result is a percentage of similarity of the assignment turned in compared to other assignments. I usually do not look at any assignment with a 30% or lower rating. The one downfall with Turnitin is that it is mainly for writing assignments or tests with essays, if you use any form of simple answer question in the assignment with an essay the percentages will be skewed, however you will still have a read out of which statements were similar to others.

 

  • How can the design of assessments help prevent academic dishonesty?

One strategy proposed by Dr. Pratt is “the way I design every assignment, every project, and every exam, to where I do not care if they cheat or not” (Laureate). Dr. Paloff goes on to explain that he creates his assessments as collaborative items where the students area allowed to talk to one another or to use the book. This mimics real life because in a work environment you are expected to talk with others and research material to help solve that problem. Making an assessment open book does not mean it will be a walk in the park for the students; the test should present students with application style questions. This means that the students will not just regurgitate the book meaning for a word but instead they will be asked a question on how to use that idea in a work setting. This also allows for little cheating to take place because the way the question is designed makes the student use his or her knowledge of the subject in a specialized way.

  • What facilitation strategies do you propose to use as a current or future online instructor?

One strategy is to state your expectations of what is considered plagiarism and cheating. This will allow students to understand what you expect from them when referencing sources and citing materials. Also it is suggested to use a quiz or some form of assessment to help the students understand what plagiarism is, as Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006) states “we do believe that the expectation management strategy combined with detection and enforcement using Turnitin.com emphasizes to students the importance of academic integrity” (p. 11).

 

  • What additional considerations for online teaching should be made to help detect or prevent cheating and plagiarism?

To help prevent cheating or plagiarism an instructor must remember that students may not understand that they are cheating, As Dr. Paloff states “part of my role as the instructor is to teach them fair use, copyright, plagiarism, all of that is” (Laureate). One way to do this is to talk to your schools librarian who generally is happy to help and have a wealth of knowledge. I know at the college I teach at I have the librarian come in during the first week of class and give a presentation over how to cite sources and material. This accomplishes two goals for the course, the first being that students learn or re-learn how to properly cite references and what it is to plagiarize. The second goal is that it allows me to have the understanding that the students are aware of plagiarism and if they do plagiarize in the future I know full well that they had a full understanding of what they were doing. While this is similar to the above mentioned quiz, I tend to use both the quiz and the presentation by the librarian in my course. I do this because the quiz helps the students understand what plagiarism is but the presentation allows them to ask questions and gain a deeper knowledge of when they are and are not plagiarizing. The two items seem to build upon each other.

After reading and watching the materials presented to me this week the one thing I think I learned the most was the fact that you can make assessments collaborative and therefore almost cheat proof. Dr. Pratt’s idea of have an open book collaboratively designed assessment was eye opening for me. I have seen these types of test in the past and always thought they were a waste of time. As I reevaluate these tests and hearing how Dr. Pratt states that in the real world you will not be given a task where you cannot actively search for help and understanding online or from your peers it helps me to realize the effectiveness of having an open book collaborative test. I think in the future I will consider using this form of assessment in my courses.

References:

Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by Adult Learners Online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review Of Research In Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Plagiarism and cheating [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Impact of Technology and Multimedia

This week in class we took a look at technology available to instructors of an online environment. We were asked to then answer questions over the use of this technology in a classroom and how to best implement it. My responses are as follows, after the responses you will find a synthesis of my thoughts on the significance of using technology in an online experience and what I learned to allow me to implement this technology better in the course I will create in the future.

  • What impact does technology and multimedia have on online learning environments?

An online learning environment is created by an instructor with the notion of helping students learn in an online format. The technology and multimedia an instructor uses effects how the students interact with the learning environment and its content. The technology tools used in the creation of content and activities allows an instructor to produce activities similar to a face to face course, “”tools make it possible to design almost any learning experience that you have designed for your face-to-face environment” (Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R., 2010, p. 58) The technology we use can enhance the learners experience online and engage them in activities that allow them a deeper grasp of the content. The use of communication technology such as Skype or Blackboard collaborate can allow synchronous video chat with instructors or fellow students, this can help the student feel a part of a community and help stop the feeling of loneliness in the online environment. The technology and multimedia used in a course has a great impact on how the students learn and feel in an online environment.

  • What are the most important considerations an online instructor should make before implementing technology?

One of the first considerations an instructor should have when implementing technology is to only use the tools they feel comfortable with at the beginning and learning new tools as they go, implanting these tools in later courses. There are many tools available to instructors and it is easy to get overwhelmed with trying to understand these tools. In the beginning it is best to create a well-developed course with a set of simple and standard tools that the instructor understands. The instructor should not try to use technology or a tool he or she does not understand because this can lead to problems with the technology the instructor does not know how to fix. Using unknown tools and technology can lead to additional stress and problems for both the instructor and the students. I feel that Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010) state it the best when they say “You may not be feeling quite ready to tackle all the tools that are available for your online course. This is actually wise.” (p.57).

The second consideration an instructor should make is if the technology they are implementing serves a purpose in the course. There are many technologies and tools at the disposal of any instructor; however a tool or technology should only be used if it serves a purpose or if it makes an activity authentic. In the “Enhancing the Online Experience” video that we watched this week Dr. Pratt states “mandating that or incorporating it (technology) just because it’s available is not a good way to go. It needs to meet the objectives of your course” (Laureate). While many technologies are really interesting and cool to use, if it does not serve a purpose in the course then students will not see the value in the activity and this could harm the student’s view of the course and the instructor.

  • What implications do usability and accessibility of technology tools have for online teaching?

Having technology tools that are accessible and usable opens the online learning course to students with disabilities as well as allows all students options in how they learn. Students learn in different ways and having content and activities that match these different needs help all students do better in courses, accessibility or “the ability of the e-learning environment to adjust to the needs of all learners… improved accessibility for disabled users promotes usability for all” (Cooper, M., Colwell, C., & Jelfs, A., 2007, p. 232). The more accessible your course is helps all students and not just the students with disabilities succeed.

  • What technology tools are most appealing to you for online teaching as you move forward in your career in instructional design?

Some of the tools I find most appealing for online teaching are those tools that allow the teacher to create their own learning activities and more importantly their own interactive learning games. I am especially interested in tools such as Adobe Captivate which allows instructors to make interactive videos and online games. This could make learning a lot more fun and exciting for the online student as well as keeping the student engaged in the content longer.

Another set of tools I especially enjoy using and look forward to advancements in are the collaborative tools especially synchronous collaborative tools. I really enjoy Skype, GoToMeeting, and Blackboard collaborate because it allows me to interact with students as if we are face to face and it allows me to show them content or help lead them in finding a solution which in the past could only be done by writing out an email. Google drive is an awesome tool for online learning especially when used with Google hangouts. Google drive allows users to create word files, slide shows, or even spreadsheets that are automatically saved on the Google cloud. This means that the student can access and update these documents from wherever they have internet access. The other cool thing about Google drive is that the creator can allow access to others who can then make changes to the document synchronously with others. If you had a group that needed to work together in writing a paper you would not have to rely on sending emails back and forth to each other with the changes you make or send all your research to the one designated “writer” of the group. These tools allow for you and your group to work on the assignment at the same time form different locations, very cool!

Using technology in an online learning environment, I feel, improves the learning experience for the students if the technology is implemented correctly. Technology allows us to craft and build activities and content that before were not possible. It allows us as instructors to create a social presence for ourselves with are students to show them that we are a living breathing person and not just a machine grading papers. This technology helps the students to interact with their instructor and the other students, which helps to fight the feeling of loneliness and isolation usually found in an online environment. Technology also allows us to make activities with tools to help student interact with their learning. It can provide students with a simulation that allows them to act as a different individual and use their learning in real life situations. This causes a deeper learning and better understanding of the concepts they are learning. All in all as long as technology is being implemented properly then it will always enhance the student’s interaction in the online learning environment.

I feel that the biggest thing that I learned from this assignment is by making technology accessible and usable it allows all students a better learning environment. I learned how to make activities more accessible and how these accommodations can help all. In my personal learning I find that captions in online videos help me learn the content better as well as allow me to cite the movie faster and easier than I could with no captions. I feel that this is the heart of the lesson, the easier it is for a student to learn the better they will learn and the less frustration the will find in a course. I will use the accessibility tools I have learned to help create better online instruction in the future.

References

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Cooper, M., Colwell, C., & Jelfs, A. (2007). Embedding accessibility and usability: Considerations for e-learning research and development projects. ALT-J: Research in Learning Technology, 15(3), 231-245.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Enhancing the online experience [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Creating an Online Learning Experince

This week we were asked to review the learning material and contemplate three questions over setting up an online learning experience. The answers to the questions and a short synopsis of my thoughts on successfully launching an online course can be found below.

  • What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?

The significance in knowing the technology available to you is that the better you know and understand the technology the better course you can create with it. Dr. Rena Palloff states that students “like to be able to see who that instructor is and to hear them speak” (Laureate). If an instructor knows the technology available to them than they can prepare a course using that technology to better meet student’s needs. In my class I have a small biography about myself; to help introduce myself to the students better I recently recorded myself reading my biography. This not only allows students to see me and hear my voice but it gives them a sense of who I am. Another good reason to know the technology available to you is that your students will also need to use that same technology in your course. If you understand how your course technology works you can better help your students use it. Also if student have problems with the technology you will be able to help them quicker than if they created a help ticket for the university technical support.

  • Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?

Communicating clear expectations to learners allows both you and the learner to have a more stress free learning experience. It is important that students understand not only what is expected of them in the course but also what they can expect from you. When students know that you grade their assignments every Tuesday they do not have to worry when they will receive a grade. Having clear expectations allows students to focus more on learning and having fun than worrying about rules, as Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010) state “Clear and unambiguous guidelines about what is expected learners and what they should expect from an instructor makes a significant contribution to ensuring understanding and satisfaction in an online course” (p. 55)

  • What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?

I feel that when an instructor is first starting out online he or she should make sure that they have a solid introduction and biography about themselves for the students. This information about yourself helps the students see you as a person and builds your social presences as not only the instructor but also as a peer, “If you give some personal information… it helps to humanize you” (Laureate). This information you share about yourself is very important and instructors should not overlook the creation of a very well created “getting acquainted” posting. Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010) state “Many faculty forget how important it is for them to post a rich and substantive getting-acquainted posting about themselves” (p. 76). This information connects you with your students and encourages your students respond and become more engaged in the course. Another important consideration for all instructors is to make sure that you and your students have fun in this course. The technology and resources available for a course makes it easy for any instructor to find not only great learning material but also design and create activities that not only teach but are also fun and engaging for the students. As Dr. Rena Palloff explains “engaging with one another and engaging with the content and engaging in this class should be fun.” (Laureate). My personal thoughts on successfully launching an online learning experience is that the more time you put into the creation of the course at the start the less work you will have throughout the semester. Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010) suggest that it will take “twenty to thirty hours” (p. 55) to create a course that is if you are familiar with the course and the technology. While this may seem like a lot of time I feel it is well worth it because if done correctly the course will flow easily from this. However an instructor should not fret or worry about creating the perfect course the first time. As you teach the course you may notice problems with the content or even newer content will become available. The best part about an online course is that it can be exported and imported into a new course the next semester; this will then give you more time to update old material or fix any bugs you found in the first use of your course. The more time you put into creating the course at the start the more time you will have later in the course to teach and interact with your students. Finally, many of the ideas and tips I learned about this week were not necessarily new to me. I have been teaching online for a year now and I have also been helping faculty create and update their online courses for three years. While I have seen many of these tips being used and in play it is nice to read about them now and understand why they were being used. I think one of the biggest things I learned this week was how important the discussion board is to an online course. I have always used the discussion board in my courses but I never really understood just how important it was to an online course. The discussion board is listed for three of the ten course beginning tips in my book. A discussion board in an online classroom “give students a way to describe how they are integrating incoming knowledge with their existing knowledge structures” (Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R., 2010, p. 85). In an online classroom the discussion board is where a large percent of the learning of material takes place. It is in this area where students connect what they learn to what they know and express it to others. Also when students read others responses they get see a different perspective and this helps solidify the knowledge they learned. When creating an online course I need to make sure I take sufficient time to create not only a well-designed discussion board but also discussion questions and the rules for students to reply to those questions. References: Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Evaluating distance learning theory [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Online Learning Communities

  • How do online learning communities significantly impact both student learning and satisfaction within online courses?

Learning communities impact student learning and satisfaction within an online course because of the different peer-to-peer interaction within the community. An online community of peers can make a course more satisfactory because it can make the student more involved in the course because their peers can help draw ideas from them when they are stuck. In the video Online Learning Communities Dr. Pratt states that peers “challenging each other rather than just supporting each other … they can challenge and bring things out” (Laureate Education). This challenging of peers helps to not only motivate their fellow students but also can help the student in a time of need when that might be having a hard time understand a lesson or not able to find an answer. I know that many times in my courses I have learned a new perspective from reading my classmates responses to discussion prompts.

The students also leave an online course with more reflective because “part of the work of the online learning community is to reflect” (Laureate Education). The students also have a deeper understanding for the content taught to them because they not only learn the material but, also have to explain and discuss the material with their peers.

  • What are the essential elements of online community building?

The essential elements of an online community are people, purpose, and process. I will explain each of these elements individually below:

People: “without people there is no community” (Laureate Education). This element does not mean just the individual in a course but also how they interact with each other. The way the community is set up for students to interact is known as the “method” (Laureate Education). When the student use this method to interact with each other they are sharing their own “social presences” or “a sense of who the other is in that communication process” (Laureate Education). In a good online community students will be able to interact with one another and establish their social presence.

Purpose: The purpose of a community is the reason or way you bring people together in that community, “students coming together to take an online class, that is the purpose that connects them” (Laureate Education). This element brings about the rules for the student on how they will interact in the course, how often they are expected to participate in the course and “institutional kinds of guidelines and policies” (Laureate Education) that will be in effect in the community.

Process: The process is how the course is taught or “the way in which the course is delivered” (Laureate Education). In an online community the process of how the course is taught is different from a face to face classroom. In an online community the student to student interaction and empowering students to take responsibility for their own education is in best process. Students should be encouraged to interact with one another and learning comes from collaborative learning where students help each other learn and understand content instead of the instructor simply explaining it to them.

  • How can online learning communities be sustained?

One of the most important ways an instructor can sustain a learning community is be personally reaching out and touching the lives of his or her students. The most important time to do this is in the first two weeks of class or “if something happens, the student seems to disappear you reach out”. (Laureate Education) Reaching out to students will help them understand that you are not just some robot behind their monitor but an actual living human being. Reaching out also shows the students that you care for them and their education. This makes students appreciate their instructors and gives them motivation to not only stay with the course but to do well for that instructor.

  • What is the relationship between community building and effective online instruction?

When community building and effective online instruction is done correctly it can provide many benefits of the students, “Student satisfaction increases. That perception of learning increases” (Laureate Education). Students also feel as if they are a part of something larger and will tend to try hard and stay with classes longer in a class with a strong online community. Learning outcomes are also stronger in an online community that focuses on students finding and expressing their social presences.

This video was quite interesting for me because I have been teaching online for almost a year now and I saw a lot of things that I currently do in my course as well as learned a few things that I need to do. I think one of the most important ideas I took away from this was contacting your students before class starts either by phone or with a personalized email. I like the idea of this because it shows the students early on that you are there to help them and also it will take away some of the anxiety of starting a new course. Also checking your course multiple times a day in the first two weeks is a wonderful suggestion, I know I always try to check my course at least once a day but I can understand and agree that in the first two weeks instructor participation is needed the most.

References:

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Online learning communities [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

Hello EIDT-6510

Hello all my fellow classmates,

I just wanted to stop and say hi to everyone and wish you the best of luck in the spring semester. I am sure we will all enjoy reading and discussing the different strategies to online learning and I cannot wait to hear from all of you fine folks!

Life is better when you make everyday just a bit different.

Life is better when you make everyday just a bit different.

Analyzing Scope Creep

This week I was asked to discuss a topic that brings fear into the hearts of the even the most harden veteran instructional designers, that topic is scope creep! Scope creep is as Lynch, M. M., & Roecker, J. (2007) explain “uncontrollable changes in the requirement of the course as defined in the scope definition of the project management plan” (p. 96). Scope creep can happen with any project no matter the size and it has happened to me in the past. The project that was affected I have talked about in earlier posts, it was the testing center rules project that I got to witness firsthand the devastating power of scope creep. The project I was tasked with was to clean up the many organizations my institution had on are Blackboard server. What I needed to do was to find and contact the leaders of the different organizations and then verify if they were still using the organization or if it could be deleted. I was given a workable schedule and I proceeded with the project. The problem that occurred was that I did not intended for the long delay in response to my email asking if the organization was still in use. I wanted to wait to receive verification from all the organizations before I proceeded into the next step of clearing the organizations and preparing them for deletion. So I waited to hear back from the leaders and that caused me precious time. Needless to say I did complete the project but it was only after I had seriously gone over my schedule. In the future if this were to happen again instead of waiting to hear from all the leaders I would begin preparing the organizations I had received verification from for deletion instead of waiting for all the organizations to verify before proceeding to the next step. I would also set milestones in which I would communicate with my boss what was happening and inform him of the delay in response. I think this would allow my boss to stay informed and possibly help the situation by providing ideas for other forms of contact with the leaders.

References

Lynch, M. M., & Roecker, J. (2007). Project managing e-learning: A handbook for successful design, delivery, and management. London: Routledge