Week 11 Interactive and Collaborative Learning

Friday, March 23rd, 2012

 March 26th, 2012   Interactive and Collaborative Learning

Articles I Read:

  1. Chen, P., R. Gonyea, and G. Kuh (2008). Learning at a distance: Engaged or not?. Innovate 4 (3). Retrieved on June 25, 2010, from http://www.innovateonline.info/pdf/vol4_issue3/Learning_at_a_Distance-__Engaged_or_Not_.pdf
  2. Lee, S. H., Magjuka, R. J., Liu, X., Bonk, C. J. (2006, June). Interactive technologies for effective collaborative learning. International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning. See http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Jun_06/article02.htm
  3. Su, B., Bonk, C. J., Magjuka, R., Liu, X., Lee, S. H. (2005, summer). The importance of interaction in web-based education: A program-level case study of online MBA courses. Journal of Interactive Online Learning, 4(1). http://www.ncolr.org/jiol/issues/pdf/4.1.1.pdf and http://www.ncolr.org/jiol/issues/viewarticle.cfm?volID=4&IssueID=14&ArticleID=2
  4. Lee, M. & Hutton, D. (2007, August). Using interactive videoconferencing technology for global awareness: The case of ISIS.  International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning, 4(8). Available: http://www.itdl.org/Journal/Aug_07/article01.htm

source:  http://www.semanticmetadata.net/category/comic/

I read four articles this week that all relate to some form of interaction with others online or through video conferencing.  The topic of interacting with others virtually is interesting to me because I have read studies and I have experienced online interaction myself.    After  reading the studies I have concluded that the level of satisfaction and learning outcome depends on the learner’s willingness and motivation to learn and engage and the learner’s academic ability coupled with the instructor’s design of the course.  The studies I have read  have shown that the younger generation is more likely to actively participate in online interactions; however, the older generation is more likely to benefit from deep learning.  It seems to me that perhaps the older generation benefits from distance learning because they are persistent in making meaning of the content which can then be transferred to practice.  The younger generation seems to enjoy being social and discussing online, yet is not inspired to work independently to learn the content more deeply .

The article, Learning at a distance, begins with questioning the quality of online learning.  Though I have not researched this extensively, my current view of online learning is that it cannot be a one-size-fits-all solution nor can it replace F2F instruction.  I think it can be beneficial for learners who cannot otherwise attend a F2F class, learners who prefer to learn online, learners who have the ability to to be in control of their own learning and learners who do not require the physical presence of the instructor in order to be motivated to stay on task and persist.  I am afraid that learners who do not meet these requirements might have a poor experience and blame the instructor for their own inadequacies.

Just as it is the responsibility of the learner to ensure he or she meets the above requirements, it is also the responsibility of the instructor to offer opportunities of engagement and interaction for the learners.  In my own experience, I have noticed that some strategies are more effective than others, depending on the topic.  The instructor should survey the learners to get honest feedback on whether the learners are benefiting from the strategies used.  There are many different collaborative strategies available, thus, the instructor should not rely on the same one for everything.  Variety is always appreciated.  Moreover, the instructor needs to consistently give feedback so that the learner knows that he or she is on the right track.

I am curious about the learners of online degree programs.  What is their experience?  Are their characteristics similar or different to the characteristics mentioned above?  Is it accurate to say that if learners have opportunities to interact with colleagues  F2F in their working environment , then that need is satisfied and therefore, abundant collaborative opportunities in online courses are not as important as they would be in say, an undergraduate program where the students do not have work experience?

The article ends with lingering questions.  This article has highlighted the importance of considering the diversity of learners and the need to use multiple collaborative strategies to ensure learner engagement.

The next article I read, Interactive technologies for effective collaborative learning, discussed the advantages and disadvantages of team collaboration online.  My experience has led me to believe that a blended approach is best.  Everyone has busy lives and strives to use their time efficiently.  There have been times that a F2F team collaboration wasted time because so much discussion would not reach a consensus and nothing was ever accomplished.  Thus, working collaboratively online was a better option.  Each team member could work on the project when it was convenient for them and decisions were made quickly through email.  An example of failed online collaboration is when the team members have difficulty communicating what they mean to say.  In addition, at times it is better to communicate with someone synchronously, such as on the phone, Skype, or in person, because it is easier to quickly summarize what you are trying to say to the other person as opposed to typing a lengthy explanation in an email.  Another barrier of miscommunication online is differing languages and cultures.

The only experiences I have had with communicating with online learners that were not a part of a F2F class were asynchronous, meaning that we did not communicate in real time.  We simply read each other’s commentary, then left our own commentary.  I think this approach is effective to learn from others; however, it does not offer  the ability to have deep discussions.  In a real time conversation a person can ask questions and follow-up questions which shapes the discussion.  An asynchronous discussion makes it difficult to shape the direction or flow of the conversation.

Other limiting factors I have discovered in both situations are:

synchronous:  You don’t have enough time to think about what you are going to say.  You are unable to access other resources to support your dialogue.

asynchronous:  It is often boring and seems like a chore.  Responses are not well thought-out and  completed hastily in order to fulfill the requirement.

This article also outlines advantages of online collaborative learning that I have not considered here.    Mentoring, scaffolded learning, and cognitive apprenticeship can all be successfully initiated through online collaboration.  Online collaboration gives the apprentice time to reflect on what he or she wishes to gain from the mentor.  Likewise, the mentor can offer advice on their own time and even collect and send relevant material digitally.  Communicating online might even allow both parties to ask and answer questions more effectively as opposed to face-to-face communication.

As I read these articles, it always crossed my mind that a particular technology could not be used exclusively.  It is extremely important to make decisions about when a technology is and is not appropriate for a given context.  There are limitations to both synchronous and asynchronous learning.  Thus, at this time blended learning seems to be the best approach.  There are times when synchronous collaborative communications are necessary while at other times asynchronous technology is more beneficial, efficient, and appreciated.

The last article I am going to refer to is Using interactive videoconferencing technology for global awareness.  I think this project offers a good opportunity for students to interact with other cultures.  Sometimes reading the textbook or watching television programs gives  only one impression of the culture as a whole.  Communicating with people can make a significant impact on individual’s perceptions and views of others.Another advantage to video-conferencing is presence.  When everyone in the room is able to hear the speaker at the same time, it is almost as good as having them in the room.

It will be exciting to see the research on online collaborative learning in the future.  Can global virtual teams be innovative?  Can they communicate and work more efficiently than F2F teams?

Adobe Premiere Elements Cool Trick #11:

Picture-in-Picture

German Words:

das Wetter  weather

das Grad degree

das Sonnenlicht  sunlight

der Regen rain

die Wolke cloud

der Schnee  snow

der Wind wind

schon  fine

der Sturm storm

tropisch  tropical

der Regenbogen rainbow

bewolkt  overcast

die Wettervorhersage  weather forecast

der Donner  thunder

der Blitz  lightning

der Frost  frost

der Schneesturm  blizzard

der Hagel  hail

der Nieselregen  drizzle

Tschuss!  bye!

source:  Babbel app

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One comment on “Week 11 Interactive and Collaborative Learning

  1. Curt Bonk says:

    Many interesting ideas in your post Kim. First of all, quality. Well, quality is one of those rare animals. Someone in a learning sciences seminar on Friday suggested that my Extreme Learning team is helping with quality by analyzing 300+ Websites. There are 4 people reviewing each one and they are discussing disagreements. They are done in fact. The top 25 sites we are calling Coolest Websites. We also have honorable mentions or ELF awards for Extreme Learning Featured site. Smile.

    Second, you vast array of elements that make for success online remind me that this is all systemic. As you astutely point out, there are many factors that combine for success including the design, depth of discussion, determination or commitment of the learner, different collaboration strategies, and other D words.

    I saw among your list of key factors things like feedback, curiosity, variety, and collaboration. Those are, as you know, 4 of the 10 motivational principles of my TEC-VARIETY model.

    You also note the diifference between synchronous and asynchronous learning. Edmund Hansen and I studied this in 1993-1994 and published a chapter in my 1998 Electronic Collaborators book on such differences. Like others, we found that sync is immediately and students tend to post more. But they are shorter posts and they tend to only read their own posts and not those of their peers. Async posts tend to be longer but not as numerous. They also can foster more depth, critical thinking, and elongated reflection (over weeks as opposed to seconds).

    I have studied sync and async in many studies over the past 20 years. Just send me a note and I will share. You might want the chapter that Edmund and I did way back there in the Stone Age.

    Finally, you discuss global awarenss and collaboration from videoconferencing mentioned by Mimi Lee and Deb Hutton in their article. I almost brought in Mimi Lee as a guest speaker (and then I got Subude). She is a former student at the University of Houston. Another person in this field is Merry Merryfield from Ohio State U. Merry is an IU graduate (before I arrived).

    She copied me on an email today in replying to someone. She noted that there is much research in teaching teaching multicultural and global ed classes online. There is also research on e-learning and cross-cultural interaction. Merry noted to this person that some things occur online regarding equity and other common issues that do not happen as well the land of face-to-face instruction. She has written about such issues back in the 1990s and early part of this century. Now, however, she has turned her research to things like cultural competence and global understanding regarding e-learning. Currently, she is focused on global citizenship education. I may have shared a paper with the class on that. Not sure.

    Merry further noted that in her vast experiences in global education and the use of technology, there are some prejudices and fears that can come out. When there is no video, it “allows for people to focus on making meaning from text and centers the discussion on what people are actually saying without interpretation/meaning and response being filtered through visual or auditory perceptions and sub-text” regarding color or race or one’s dress (e.g., wearing a hijab). You might be less inclined to trust someone who is different (when you see him or her) than when you only see text. Or if you have limited English, you may be less likely to speak when on camera than to type.

    Much to ponder. I think these types of issues and articles could be the entire R685 class. We could go into depth in any of these areas…especially that related to global education and cultural awareness with technology.

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