*** GUIDE *** STARTING E-LEARNINGFor Colleges of Education in Zambia Exploring the world of e-learning                    ...
TABLE OF CONTENTSI. STARTING e-learning .....................................................................................
I. STARTING E-LEARNINGI.1 WHAT IS E-LEARNING?E-learning is ‘learning supported by (internet) technology’. E-learning is a ...
   Technology: Moodle uses open source software (which means it is free to download,       and the source code can be use...
I.2 HISTORY OF E-LEARNINGRubens (2007) discusses the history of e-learning and where e-learning is now in the context ofEu...
More social; interaction and communication between other students, lecturers and experts isessential. ICT can play a role ...
   Organisational readiness: Are there standardized procedures for quality assurance of       the materials, for monitori...
Please discuss how this model could be adapted to be suitable as organizational modelfor CLCE.I.6 DESIGN OF E-LEARNING‘It ...
(Figure taken from: Dam, van N., (2007)).‘As you move along the continuum from e-reading to e-learning it is important to ...
(Figure taken from: Dam, van N., (2007)).In Open and Distance Learning, a great part of the actual learning takes place th...
   Which of these lessons learnt from the experiences of other countries are relevant to the        Zambian culture and s...
II. PRACTICAL EXAMPLES OF HOW TO DEVELOP E-LEARNINGFor the e-learning pilot team that will consist of CLCE staff that is m...
It is preferable to start with a small group of students.Limit the emails between you and your students. Make agreements w...
1. Establish the objective of the discussionThe chance for students to assimilate skills in reasoning and forming opinions...
organizational point of view (i.e.: intervene to moderate the process), and how often you aregoing to do that (daily, week...
Content    which relevant (qualitative) criteria should the contributions satisfy?    what should the maximum length of ...
   Moderate the discussion.       Close the discussion once the last deadline has been reached.Conditions and specificat...
Tips   1. A survey of software for web surveys can be found on      http://directory.google.com/Top/Computers/Software/Mar...
the bottlenecks may be solved. This discussion can take place on the discussion       platform.    9. Ask each group to su...
Web log         WikiMessages        pagesChronological NetworkKnown authors Everybody is an authorKnown owners Owner is .....
2. social skills like discussion, peer review, self-reflection, dealing with criticism, showing       respect for others, ...
Quite often a specific topic is chosen. Messages are usually sequenced chronologically and canalso be placed in your own c...
4. Some instructors are using blogs to organize class seminars and to provide summaries of   readings.5. Students may be a...
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Reader starting e learning at College of Education Zambia

  1. 1. *** GUIDE *** STARTING E-LEARNINGFor Colleges of Education in Zambia Exploring the world of e-learning January 2009 Compiled by Leonie Meijerink Programme Adviser Distance Learning VVOB Zambia -0-
  2. 2. TABLE OF CONTENTSI. STARTING e-learning .............................................................................................................................................. - 2 - I.1 What is e-learning? .......................................................................................................................................... - 2 - I.2 History of e-learning ........................................................................................................................................ - 4 - I.3 Reasons for starting e-learning ........................................................................................................................ - 5 - I.4 E-readiness....................................................................................................................................................... - 5 - I.5 Proposed model for Introducing ICT and e-learning in education .................................................................. - 6 - I.6 Design of e-learning ......................................................................................................................................... - 7 - I.7 Conclusions ...................................................................................................................................................... - 9 - References chapter I ........................................................................................................................................... - 10 -II. Practical examples of how to develop e-learning ............................................................................................... - 11 - II.1 Using a digital learning environment for the first time: where do you start? .............................................. - 11 - II.2 How to organize on-line discussions with a small group of students? ......................................................... - 12 - II.3 How to monitor students co-operation processes in a distance learning environment? ........................... - 16 - II.4 How to use Wikis and weblogs in education ................................................................................................ - 18 - -1-
  3. 3. I. STARTING E-LEARNINGI.1 WHAT IS E-LEARNING?E-learning is ‘learning supported by (internet) technology’. E-learning is a combination ofPedagogy, Technology and Community Building. See the model below: MoodleFigure 1 Model of e-learning(from Delft University of Technology, presentation by Sjoer, E.and Meijerink, L, EduTec, 2003)The model implies e-learning is not just putting a document online. There should be carefulconsideration about the pedagogy used to ensure real learning takes place. Since studentshave to study independently through e-learning it is important to consider how you are enablingstudents to construct their own knowledge. Also it is important to have tools available that makeit possible to have social interactions between lecturers and learners, between learners andlearners and possibly between learners and experts/coaches. Finally it is important to useappropriate technology that supports the pedagogy and community building aspects of e-learning.In the middle of the model, overlapping all three aspects, a ‘digital learning environment’ can beplaced. As the name suggests, digital refers to the technology, learning to the pedagogy andenvironment is related to community building. In the case of Charles Lwanga we place thedigital learning environment ‘Moodle’ in the middle.How does Moodle support e-learning using this model?  Pedagogy: a constructivist methodology is the foundation for the Moodle learning environment (see explanation below).  Community: Moodle has social tools embedded, such as discussion forums and wikis -2-
  4. 4.  Technology: Moodle uses open source software (which means it is free to download, and the source code can be used by developers to program according to the needs of the users).One of the god fathers of constructivism is John Dewey, who believes that individuals andsociety cannot exist separately. To understand education is to understand the interplay betweenpersonal interest and experience and societal values, norms and knowledge. Learning is apersonal event that results from sustained and meaningful engagement with ones environment’(Bruner,1986). Duffy and Cunningham (1996: 171) refer to instructional design based onconstructivism by explaining:‘(1) learning is an active process of constructing rather than acquiring knowledge.(2) instruction is a process of supporting that construction rather than communicatingknowledge’ .When we want to answer the question what e-learning is, it is important to first consider what wethink ‘learning’ is:  Learning is an active mental process of the learner  Learning is reflection with the ‘inner’ self and through communication with others  Learning is transforming information to meaningful knowledgeThus….e-learning should have all of this!And when we know what learning is what does this mean for teaching?  Teaching is enabling students to be active, communicate, and thus construct knowledge.  Teaching is enabling students to experience, contribute, and reflect.Thus, in e-learning the tutor/lecturer should enable and encourage all of this!It is important to discuss the college’s vision on learning and teaching. The next stepthen is to transfer the same principles to e-learning and the role of the lecturer inenabling e-learning.Depending on the vision of the college, you can now start questioning what e-learning is for thecollege.  Is it about supporting face-to-face methods?  Is it about having accessibility to resources?  Is it about focusing on making independent, reflective and active learning of students possible?  Is it about providing better information through improved learning support services?  Is it about a combination of the above or something else not listed here yet? -3-
  5. 5. I.2 HISTORY OF E-LEARNINGRubens (2007) discusses the history of e-learning and where e-learning is now in the context ofEurope. The lessons learnt he describes can be used to identify the challenges of introducing e-learning into Zambian education. Rubens roughly divides e-learning into the following phases:  E-learning as ‘love baby’: In the beginning (1990s) there are high expectations of e- learning. Besides increasing efficiency in the sense that students do not have to travel so much, there are great opportunities for meeting students’ needs, for cost reduction and possibilities to offer stronger content (e.g. using video’s). A lot of money is invested in technology. John Chambers (CISCO) calls e-learning the ‘next big killer application of the Internet’.  Around the millennium the first criticism starts to arise: Costs of offering a quality ICT infrastructure are a lot higher and more complex than expected. The quality of modules produced is far from sufficient. Also students complain about the lack of social interaction.  E-learning 2.0 (Downes, 2005): As a respond to complaints about lack of social contacts, the demand for ‘blended learning’ increases. Blended learning is introduced to find the right balance in teaching: between the use of distance and face-to-face teaching, structured and unstructured teaching, individual and group learning, and teacher- and self-directed learning. (Verkroost, e.o., 2008). Also the term ‘digital didactics’ starts to arise. Digital didactics is about finding the right didactical methods that suit online and blended learning. Finally institutions are starting to look for ways of reducing costs through standardization of materials. This needs a high level of instructional design and effective management of resources.Through experiencing e-learning over the last decennia, Rubens concludes that e-learning hasbecome:More flexible; increased attention is given to students’ needs and learning styles and howlearning should be organized (so that there is flexibility on the time and pace of studying).More personal; learning routes are more adjusted to the demands of the individual. Thestudent is able to adapt the design and sequence based on what they already know and whatthey want to learn. Personalisation does not mean that learning is an individual process, it is stillvery social. A personal learning environment implies that students use whatever resources,tools and techniques that they find suitable to develop their competencies. An example of this isthe use of the online portfolio, in which students are encouraged to reflect on their learning anddevelop their own personal development plans. Through the portfolio they can provide evidenceabout their competency. -4-
  6. 6. More social; interaction and communication between other students, lecturers and experts isessential. ICT can play a role in this, for example by asking students to work together online, orto be part of online discussions about emerging and challenging topics.So…how flexible, personal and social does the college aspire to be?I.3 REASONS FOR STARTING E-LEARNINGThere are quite a number of reasons you may have for deciding to start e-learning. It isimportant that when you develop e-learning you keep your initial reasons in mind.Find out which reasons are most important for the college:  Because it will reduce costs of face to face courses and will bring in more income.  Because it allows us to enrol more students through which we help to meet the Millennium Development Goals and Education for All targets. Especially more women will be able to study.  Because it responds to the demands of the upcoming online generation of students.  Because it follows the guidelines that were given by the Ministry of Education.  Because it allows learners to study independently which fits to our vision on learning.  Because it will make it easier to update and review our materials.  Because it gives access to a greater range of resources.I.4 E-READINESSWhen your vision on e-learning and your reasons for starting e-learning are clear, the nextmajor question to ask is: Is CLCE e-ready?  Cultural readiness: Is there a culture of wanting to change and innovate education, supported by enough staff members? Is there a willingness to invest time and energy? And is it clear how e-learning would fit the culture of your specific college, so it can be aligned with your mission statement? Also the pedagogical readiness is related to the cultural readiness: how ready are students and lecturers to teach students how to learn independently with limited control? Does this fit the culture at school?  Technical readiness: Depending on for how many people you will start to develop e- learning, is there accessibility to computers and to the Internet? Have the people that will be using e-learning been trained into touch typing and browsing the Internet?  Pedagogical readiness: E-learning is about being able to let go of wanting to control students. Is the college ready to teach students how to learn as independent and self responsible learners. Have you thought of how to train students to do this?  Logistical readiness: Is admin staff trained in how to organize e-learning? Which procedures will be used to collect fees and who will be responsible? Is there clear leadership and is there a clear plan of action? Will the extra work be embedded in the job descriptions and work planning of staff? -5-
  7. 7.  Organisational readiness: Are there standardized procedures for quality assurance of the materials, for monitoring of students, for assessment of assignments and for student support services?I.5 PROPOSED MODEL FOR INTRODUCING ICT AND E-LEARNING IN EDUCATIONAt CLCE some first discussions between de distance education committee, Africonnect andVVOB on how to implement e-learning gradually have started. Please find a model below thatexplains the thinking so far.Figure based on meeting Distance Education Committee, Africonnect and VVOB December 2008The foundation of the figure is based on experimental learning; the idea is that all staff startgaining IT skills in a ‘fun’ way and a smaller e-learning pilot team of motivated staff startexperimenting with some e-learning methods in their teaching.On a more strategic level CLCE will need to start thinking of an organizational model to helpidentify responsibilities to introduce ICT and e-learning in education. See below an example of amodel used at Delft University of Technology when they first introduced a digital learningenvironment in their education (except that they used Blackboard as platform). -6-
  8. 8. Please discuss how this model could be adapted to be suitable as organizational modelfor CLCE.I.6 DESIGN OF E-LEARNING‘It is a real page-turner…usually describes an exciting, dynamic, ‘who-done-it’ novel that keepsyou engaged from the first moment right up to the last page. However much of e-learning pageturning has been exactly the opposite…The key questions in the minds of these learners and inthe minds of their learning leaders are: Is this learning? And: Is all content delivered online, e-learning? In finding answers to these questions, understanding the learner’s motivation is a key.‘(from: Dam, van N., (2007), p.41)According to van Dam (p.43) ‘e-learning design excellence requires a deliberate, explicit choiceof the right method for the level of learning desired’.The online learning continuum below indicates some possible applications of e-learningmethods that can best support each level of skill mastery. It is based upon the retention rate oflearners, for example if you only read people remember less than when you ask learners to DO. -7-
  9. 9. (Figure taken from: Dam, van N., (2007)).‘As you move along the continuum from e-reading to e-learning it is important to note that thedegree of investment in instructional design increases the further out you move.’ So it is alwaysworth considering the blend: online simulations of teaching in a classroom would be costly andunnecessary. The best way to retain knowledge is still by teaching practice. So when you arestarting to use online methods they should always be linked to face-to-face methods. It isimportant when designing e-learning activities that the activities are related to these higher levelmethods to help people ‘remember what they have learned’. Just putting written text online isnot enough; it needs to be accompanied with other methods.How will you blend the online and face-to-face methods at CLCE?If students are at a distance most of the time, it is not always possible to use face-to-facemethods, so there is need to learn to be creative: which other methods could you use that helpwith the retention of what is learned by students? Online learning is one of these extra options.In Zambia the number of computers available to students and level of computer literacy is notyet sufficient for huge e-learning programmes. However, it is important to start experimentingwith these methods, to start gaining computer skills, so that we are ready when computers andinternet connections will be spread more widely.When starting to think of experimenting e-learning there are two streams that you canexperiment with: formal learning and/or informal learning. The learning capability frameworkhelps to understand the difference. -8-
  10. 10. (Figure taken from: Dam, van N., (2007)).In Open and Distance Learning, a great part of the actual learning takes place through on thejob learning. Besides the teaching practice there is a variety of methods to choose from, whichcan either be formal or informal learning. In the case of formal learning, you will expect studentsto deliver, and you have identified criteria to assess their performances. For formal learning youneed to have specific learning objectives and it will include instructional design approaches.Informal learning does not require specific instructional learning design. It is also referred to asself-directed learning. It is usually more intrinsic to the students, they use these methodsbecause they feel they need to learn more about a specific topic, and they decide themselveswhen and how they will learn this.The college will need to decide if and how you wish to start experimenting with formal and/orinformal e-learning. Formal learning has the advantage of being structured and clear, whereasinformal learning usually attracts mostly the motivated participants that have a keen interest andcan be the ‘early adopters’. When starting e-learning it is recommended not to force it uponpeople, it is better to start building some good practices that can motivate the more hesitantamongst us. As we all know…real learning only takes place when you are motivated to learn.I.7 CONCLUSIONSThe question posed in this chapter is if Colleges of Education in Zambia are ready to learn fromthe lessons as described in this chapter. But a more important question is, whether it is possibleto translate the lessons learnt into the Zambian context. There is a need to discuss at yourCollege of Education:  What is ‘learning’ at CLCE and what does that mean for what e-learning is about? -9-
  11. 11.  Which of these lessons learnt from the experiences of other countries are relevant to the Zambian culture and style of teaching and which are not? How flexible, social and personal will e-learning be at your college? Which implications does your view have on the way in which you decide to design e-learning?  Why is the College planning to implement e-learning?  Is the College e-ready?  Which organizational model do you intend to use for introducing ICT and e-learning in education at CLCE?  How will you combine online and face-to-face methods?  Are you starting to experiment e-learning within formal learning or informal learning?In other words, there is a need for the Colleges of Education who are exploring the world of e-learning to start by developing a vision on and model for introducing open and distance learning,with special attention to the reasons why the college is starting e-learning.In the next chapters you will find some very practical articles in which the use of different toolsand methods for e-learning are explained. The articles are written for lecturers and in mostcases explain: - Objectives of the tool, method - When to use it - How to make it work - Suggestions for usage - Conditions and specifications of technology - ReferencesThe following topics are addressed: use a digital learning environment for the first time, how touse discussion fora, how to monitor students’ cooperation processes, how to use wikis andweblogs, and how to design an `online course. Of course there is a lot more to be said andlearned about these topics, but hopefully it will give you a bit of a taster to the possibilities andscope of e-learning.REFERENCES CHAPTER IDam, van N., (2007), 25 best practices in Learning and Talent Development, Lulu publishers, p.41Rubens W. ,E-learning 2.0, taken from: presentation at e-learning conference, Apeldoorn, 2007Rubens, W. (2004) Weblogs in het hoger onderwijs (http://elearning.surf.nl/e-learning/artikelen/2326) (inDutch).Downes, S. (2004) Educational Blogging (http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0450.pdf).Verkroost,. MJ, Meijerink, L., Lintsen, H. and Veen, W. (2008), Finding a balance in dimensions of e-learning, published in the International Journal on E-Learning, vol.7, no.3. - 10 -
  12. 12. II. PRACTICAL EXAMPLES OF HOW TO DEVELOP E-LEARNINGFor the e-learning pilot team that will consist of CLCE staff that is motivated to experiment withe-learning, please find below some very practical applications of developing e-learning. Theymay give you some ideas for setting up some experiments.II.1 USING A DIGITAL LEARNING ENVIRONMENT FOR THE FIRST TIME: WHERE DO YOUSTART?ObjectiveHelp is offered to lecturers who want to use a digital learning environment as a support for theireducation for the first time.When to use?When lecturers want to use a digital learning environment to shape their education for the firsttime.How do you make this work?1. Decide in advance how much time you want to spend on the design. Experience shows that designing a digital learning environment takes more time than planned. Some institutions offer more time or other means of support for IT-adjustments to courses.2. Look at several courses in other digital learning environments to get an idea of the possibilities.3. Choose the aim you want to reach by the use of a digital learning environment. Do not choose too many options at the same time (also check step 1). Examples are: -Quickly inform students about organizational things (announcements/news reports, sending emails to students, etcetera). -Improve logistics processes (such as certain dates for students to hand in their products, administration of what has already been handed in and what has not). -Have students communicate with each other, for example, about a weekly statement. -Have students give feedback on each other’s products. For example, through a discussion forum. -Have students work together on products (for example, by using file exchange). -Create links to relevant websites in the digital learning environment. -Use the digital learning environment to receives students’ products and give feedback on them. -Make PowerPoint presentations available to students.4. Check whether there are any useful ideas and tips on http://epedagogy.risbo.org5. Have a look at how colleagues have realised these aims. Ask a colleague how much time adesign and execution of it takes, and how many students there are. Also find out how much timestudents need to spend on using the digital learning environment.Tips: - 11 -
  13. 13. It is preferable to start with a small group of students.Limit the emails between you and your students. Make agreements with the students on askingquestions about the course, for example via the discussion forum, not by email. In this way,every student has access to your answer.Usage: - Make agreements with the students on the use of the digital learning environment during the first class. Put those agreements also in the digital learning environment. - Visit the digital learning environment regularly (for example, 15 minutes every day) and check whether students need more information or whether the discussion needs a boost.Tips: - Have students notice that you pay visits to the site regularly, for example, by announcements, reactions to questions in the discussion list, etcetera. - A FAQ (list of Frequently Asked Questions) is a very useful first tool in a digital learning environment.Conditions and specifications - You need to have some knowledge about and skills of the use of a digital learning environment (for example, by taking a base course) - It is obviously necessary to have a course environment in the digital learning environment. Students need to have access to the course and the lecturer needs to be able to adjust the digital course.Developed by: Verheij,G.J, Deinum, J.F., (2004) taken from http://epedagogy.risbo.orgII.2 HOW TO ORGANIZE ON-LINE DISCUSSIONS WITH A SMALL GROUP OF STUDENTS?This instrument gives the lecturer ideas and tips in setting up and formulating on-linediscussions for subjects that have only a few students.A practical exampleAbout 30 students take the subject ‘The City’ at the Faculty of History and Arts, ErasmusUniversity, Rotterdam. This subject requires students to discuss electronically topics such asUrban Socialism, Immigration and Integration, and Urbanisation of the Netherlands. Thediscussions work well: many students not only give their own opinion on the topic in question,but they respond to their fellow students’ opinions, too. In this way, students think actively aboutthe required reading; they also learn how to articulate and substantiate their standpoint.ObjectiveTo give the lecturer ideas and tips in setting up and formulating an on-line discussionassignment.When to use?  When you want to increase the degree of inter-activity for a specific subject.  When you want to encourage students into actively processing the required reading.  When you want students to assimilate skills in forming opinions and reasoning.How do you make this work? - 12 -
  14. 14. 1. Establish the objective of the discussionThe chance for students to assimilate skills in reasoning and forming opinions is one example ofa discussion’s objective. Another objective could be for students to gain understanding of acertain subject by reflecting on the interpretation provided by their fellow students, and thengiving their own interpretation.2. Formulate a statement for discussionA good statement:  fits in with the students’ interest and/or current subjects;  is in keeping with the language level of the students;  is about a topic that is well demarcated;  tries to convince students, change their opinion or urge them into action;  addresses a problem which has no simple solution, or puts forward a question to which there is no absolute answer;  presents a sweeping opinion that students can strongly disagree with.3. Think about measures which will stimulate active participation in the discussionConsider which approach is necessary. Rewards can be given for satisfying pre-determinedqualitative and/or quantitative criteria; penalties can be given for failure to meet the criteria. Bearin mind that this approach will cost you a lot of time, so reflect on whether the benefits outweighthe costs.Examples of rewards for active participation: exemption from certain topics; bonus points forexam and modular/final marks.Examples of penalties for non-participation: extra assignment (e.g.: summarize the discussion);a low mark (for that particular module).4. Decide how much the students have to contribute to the discussionIt is beneficial to the students if they are required not only to respond to the statement, but alsoto each other. In this way, you can prevent the discussion from petering out in the first week.You also force them to think more deeply about the opinions and reasoning of their fellowstudents, which brings them to a higher level of understanding. As the lecturer, you can let thestudents decide who they respond to, or you can formally organize the responses (e.g.: student1 responds to student 2, or supporters of the statement respond to the opponents, and vice-versa, etc.).5. Establish deadlines for posting contributions to the discussion platformBecause students can only respond to contributions from their fellow students when theyactually appear on the discussion platform, it is important to give tight deadlines for postingcontributions. Giving a deadline also ensures that students remain involved in the topic, and thatthe discussion stays active during the period set by the lecturer. An example for deadlines,using periods of one week, follows:  At the beginning of the week the lecturer posts a statement onto the discussion platform;  Every student has to respond to the statement within five days;  Then, within the next five days, every student responds to the contribution of two other students;  Finally, every student responds within three days to the two replies that he has received to his first contribution.6. Decide how and to which extent you intervene in the discussionBefore the start of the discussion it is advisable to think about whether you are also going tocontribute to the discussion (relevant / content-related intervention), and/or intervene from an - 13 -
  15. 15. organizational point of view (i.e.: intervene to moderate the process), and how often you aregoing to do that (daily, weekly, monthly...). It is important that students are informed about yourdecision. If you do not participate in the discussion without letting the students know from thebeginning, then the students will think that the discussion is not important, and this candemotivate them from actively participating in the discussion.7. Formulate criteria for rewards/penaltiesExamples of qualitative assessment criteria:  contributions must focus on the initial statement;  contributions must be clear and unambiguous;  contributions must be underpinned by at least 2 pieces of evidence;  contributions should provoke a response;  contributions should reveal that relevant literature has been read by referring, for example, to an article.Examples of quantitative assessment criteria:  the group must post a minimum of 3 contributions each academic week;  the group must respond to the contributions of 2 other groups each week;  during the trimester students must post at least 10 contributions to the discussion forum.8. Decide how you are going to award rewards/penaltiesAssessing on the basis of qualitative criteria:  Screen the discussion contributions to the extent that the assessment criteria are being satisfied.  Give each contribution that, broadly speaking, satisfies the criteria a plus point; give those that do not a minus point.  Add together the number of plus points which each student has earned for the various contributions posted.  Determine how many points students may receive as a reward.  Students with fewer points have delivered low-quality contributions to the discussion. Therefore, they either do not deserve a reward or they should receive a penalty. Make sure that all students have been able to access computers and have learned about the basics of using a discussion forum and touch typing, because it would not be fair to give penalties if they have not had these opportunities.  Tip: instead of assessing each contribution individually, screen and assess all contributions at the same time, and then award a plus or a minus point.Assessing on the basis of quantitative criteria:  Add together the individual contributions which the students have posted.  Reward students who have posted satisfactory contributions, and give a penalty to those who have not.9. Formulate the description of the assignmentWhen you formulate the description of the assignment bear in mind the following questions:Relevance  what is the objective of the discussion assignment?  what are the rewards/penalties for active participation/non-participation in the discussion?  are you also going to participate in the discussion and if so, in what way and how often? - 14 -
  16. 16. Content  which relevant (qualitative) criteria should the contributions satisfy?  what should the maximum length of the contributions be? (text that is more than ¾ the length of a monitor’s screen is too long and unpleasant to read)  which literature can be referred to for providing evidence?Assessment  how many contributions should each student post to the discussion forum?  how are you going to decide who should receive rewards/penalties?Instructions for posting contributions to the discussion forum  when should the various contributions be posted? (deadlines)  in which discussion forum should the discussion take place?  how can students create a new message? A discussion forum remains orderly when the student creates a message by clicking on the reply button. In this way, the contribution comes immediately after the message that it refers to (tree structure).  which name should be given to the contribution (i.e.: the topic of the message)? Consistent use of a suitable name (e.g.: "agree", "disagree") makes the nature of the reply clear.Tips  To ensure that different points of view are covered in the discussion, you can give different roles to students. Such roles may, for example, include the role of the proponent and the role of the opponent respectively, the role of the critic, or the role of a certain stereotype (e.g. an idealist, a rationalist).  For discussions that have more than 10 students, is it advisable to divide the students into groups of 4. Arrange a consultation place for each group so that they can discuss whether they mainly agree or disagree with the statement/contribution of their fellow students, and why. Their subsequent opinion is then posted onto the discussion platform as a group opinion (as opposed to an individual opinion). This reduces the number of contributions in the forum, so that it remains well-organized. Another possibility is to divide students into groups of 10. These groups can then have their own discussion forum about the same or different statements.Usage  Choose a group of students that can touch type, or give them some three months to learn how to touch type. For example by making sure they are given time to work on the computer and allow them to do some touch-typing games by themselves. Before starting the discussion forum lessons, test if they have sufficient skills to at least read and post messages in a forum. Students can learn by themselves, but it may be useful to have a few skilled lecturers or other students available for helping them.  Open a forum in Moodle and create a message to put forward your statement.  Make sure the students know how they can read the contributions from their fellow students and how they can post their own contributions, by providing instructions or a demonstration before the start of the discussion in your lesson.  Post the description of the assignment in a logical place within the digital learning environment and let students know, via an announcement or e-mail, where they can find the assignment and when the (first) deadline is.  Ensure that feedback on the contributions remains relevant by, for example, coming back to the discussions during lectures. - 15 -
  17. 17.  Moderate the discussion.  Close the discussion once the last deadline has been reached.Conditions and specifications  An online discussion platform must be set up in advance o If you wish to do it within a space you have created for your ‘course’ that is structured through a ‘topics format’, you can use the ‘forum’ option under ‘add activities’ in Moodle under the relevant topic. o You can also set up a course based on the ‘social format’. You can check with the Moodle administrator of your Moodle environment how to do this.References  Draaijer, S. (2001), Activerend gebruik van discussielijsten in hoger onderwijs: Leestekst voor cursussen ICT in onderwijs van het ICT Onderwijscentrum van de Vrije Universiteit, Amsterdam: Vrije Universiteit (in Dutch)  The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Center for Instructional Technology, (2001), Guidelines for discussion forum assignments.  Elicit Modules, (2002), Using computer mediated conferencing (CMC): Readings [online: http://www.elicit.scotcit.ac.uk/modules/cmc1/readings.htm].  Berge, Z.L. (1995), Facilitating Computer Conferencing: Recommendations From the Field, Educational Technology, 35(1), 22-30. Also available online. URL: http://www.emoderators.com/moderators/teach_online.html.Developed by: Wieland, A., (2006) taken from: http://epedagogy.risbo.orgII.3 HOW TO MONITOR STUDENTS CO-OPERATION PROCESSES IN A DISTANCE LEARNINGENVIRONMENT?Description:This instrument describes how to monitor co-operation processes of students working as agroup or team in a distance learning environment and how students can be given insight intotheir these processes by having each group reflect on the group learning process.ObjectiveTo enable lecturers to develop and use assignments and instruments for group assignments insuch a way that they can monitor the cooperation processes within groups of students in adigital learning environment.When to use?For each subject where students work in groups in a digital learning environment and where, inaddition to producing an end product, reflection on the group processes are required as well.How do you make this work? 1. Draw up a questionnaire which students can use to assess the cooperation process in their team. 2. Make the questionnaire available online, for example by using the survey options of the digital learning environment. - 16 -
  18. 18. Tips 1. A survey of software for web surveys can be found on http://directory.google.com/Top/Computers/Software/Marketing/Surveys/. 2. Make sure that students fill in their names on the questionnaires. This will make it easier for team members to ask each other to clarify their opinions. If the survey option in the digital learning environment is used, check whether it is possible to monitor the results of each individual student. In Moodle, for example, the results of a survey can be made available when using the quiz tool. You will need to learn how to use it or ask an expert to do this for you.Usage 1. At the start of the course, have each team make agreements about the group work through email, discussion platform or chat. Examples of relevant issues include: o The results of the group assignment (what is the objective of assignment, what do you want to achieve collectively?). o Project agreements, for example:  Which activities should be carried out and when?  Who is responsible for which tasks?  The way in which communication will take place (email, chat, discussion platform), the frequency of communication (daily, weekly, etc.) and the exact times (if synchronous communication is used)  How will the agreements made and the decisions taken during the process be documented (e.g. by assigning this task to one or more members of the group)  Where will the work documents be filed (discussion platform, virtual work space)? o Planning o Group code of conduct, for example:  Decisions are not taken until each of the participants has given their opinion.  Only constructive feedback will be given (students criticize each others work instead of each other and provide, where possible, suggestions for improvement).  If participants do not observe their agreements, they will be called to account for this. 2. Require the team to submit the agreements in a fixed location of the digital learning environment (for example in a discussion platform). 3. If necessary, the lecturer will provide feedback with respect to the agreements and planning. This will include checking how realistic the planning is. 4. Require students to make minutes of meetings/consultations they have with their teams and require them to submit these minutes in a fixed location of the digital learning environment (for example the discussion platform). 5. Lecturers should stay informed about the progress of the cooperation process by reading the minutes. If necessary, feedback should be provided. 6. Ask students, at fixed intervals (for example halfway through the course), to reflect on the cooperation process by having each individual student fill out the questionnaire / survey. 7. Collect the responses that the members of each group have provided and make them available to the group (for example through the discussion platform). 8. On the basis of the answers to the questionnaire, ask each group to identify bottlenecks in the cooperation process and, subsequently, to make new agreements through which - 17 -
  19. 19. the bottlenecks may be solved. This discussion can take place on the discussion platform. 9. Ask each group to submit their adjusted agreement documents in the digital learning environment and provide feedback if necessary.Tips  Following step 6 (usage), ask each group to hand in a short summary of their cooperation process at a place in the digital learning environment that is accessible to all teams. In this summary they can describe the successful elements of the learning process and the factors that, according to them, have contributed to this success. In addition, groups may outline potential bottlenecks and solutions. Ask each team to provide feedback on the reports of another team by means of a peer review (see instrument How to let students give each other feedback by using a discussion platform), proposing alternative solutions to these bottlenecks.  After completion of the cooperation assignment students must write a group report in which they reflect on the entire collaborative learning process. Mark the cooperation process on the basis of this report and of further information (agreement forms, responses to the questionnaire, tips for future collaborative learning groups etc.).ContextFurther information on cooperation processes in digital learning environments and assessmentof group work and cooperation processes can be found on:http://www.cshe.unimelb.edu.au/assessinglearning/03/group.htmlDeveloped by: Wieland, A., (2006) taken from: http://epedagogy.risbo.orgII.4 HOW TO USE WIKIS AND WEBLOGS IN EDUCATIONWhat is social software?Wikis and weblogs are social software. Social concepts emphasize the social side of software.This kind of software has the power to make people willing to do something for each other andto achieve something together. (Poortman, Sloep 2005).What is a weblog?A weblog or blog is an online diary in the form of a website. Visitors have the possibility to reacton the messages. It is also easy to introduce messages from another weblog in your ownweblog. (Syndication). One or several authors update a weblog (Gorissen 2005). A webloginvites reaction, discussion and peer-review. Therefore it is a community-forming tool.What is a Wiki?Wiki is short for wikiwiki, which means fast in Hawaiian. A wiki is a collection of connected webpages, which are easy to change by all visitors. The pages form a network. Any visitor canchange a wiki. The page history shows all changes to the pages. It enables easy revision of oldversions. A wiki is a democratic environment and enables community forming.The following schedule shows the differences between weblogs and wiki’s. - 18 -
  20. 20. Web log WikiMessages pagesChronological NetworkKnown authors Everybody is an authorKnown owners Owner is ...Reactions Change pagesNew message Versions of pagesSyndication SyndicationApplications in educationA great advantage of weblogs and wikis is that they are relatively easy to manage. Most of themare also free of charge, obtaining your own weblog just takes filling in an online form. Thereforethey are well suited for student focused learning, as students can easily take charge of a weblogof wiki. Students often already have experience with managing a weblog. The collaborativecharacter of these applications and the way they can easily be connected to other weblogs orwiki’s creates other learning opportunities.Weblogs in educationIn the article ‘ Weblogs in education’ in Onderwijsinnovatie (March 2005) the possibilities forusing weblogs in education are discussed. It is important to use the strength of the weblog,which is bottom up creation of a community (as opposed to community created by the lecturer).Another element, which is important, is, that is has to make sense to use asynchronouscommunication.Possibilities for the use of weblogs are: 1. gathering information for a project or paper (content focused blog) 2. portfolio. The aspect of recording plays an important role. Because results will be visible chronologically, is the diary metaphor very suitable. 3. blogs can be used excellently to record the learning process. This can be both individual and a group’s process. 4. organizing feedback with a weblog (Kao, Langenberg 2006) 5. lecturers can also personally use blogs. For instance to prepare for a course. Others working in a similar context can react and add. 6. schools can also use weblogs for communication with students, for instance for changes in the schedule. This way of using weblogs is rare.Skills (Poortman, Sloep 2005)Weblogs can play an important role when learning skills. These skills can be divided into threecategories: 1. information skills. It just keeps getting easier to obtain information through the Internet. It does get more difficult however to find the right kind of information concerning reliability, relevance and actuality. Criteria of quality which apply to this information also apply to weblogs (actuality, referencing, etc.) If students use weblogs they will learn how to deal correctly with information. - 19 -
  21. 21. 2. social skills like discussion, peer review, self-reflection, dealing with criticism, showing respect for others, thinking independently. Working with and responding to weblogs can train these. Weblogs create equal opportunities for everybody, something not always true in the classroom environment. 3. writing and reading skills. Reading, interpreting and summarising are stimulatedPoints of attentionA weblog basically is a personal diary where someone can vent his opinion. Others can react tothis. A student is responsible for his own weblogs but it is easy to obtain feedback from theoutside world. If a web log will be assessed for a grade there is always the risk that it will lose itsoriginality and spontaneity. Students will no longer vent opinions but will write what they thinkthe lecturer wants to read. It can also kill the intrinsic motivation of a student.Wikis in educationThe open character of a wiki makes it unsuitable for learning processes in which confidentialityand authenticity plays an important role. It is however very well suited for collaboration andcontinuation of existing discussions. For instance: 1. as a tool for collaborative knowledge building 2. as a tool for collaboration. This can be a project environment for students. But also lecturers can work together on the classes they are teaching 3. wiki as an online dictionary like wikipedia 4. using experts using a wikiPoints of attentionAssessing wikis and weblogs both create their own dilemmas. Wikis will mainly be used forgroup processes and products. This makes assessing difficult. It is possible for people tochange the content of a wiki anonymously. It is therefore not always possible to judge who hasdone what. Using accounts can solve this problem.The democratic character of a wiki has both its advantages and disadvantages. It offerschances for student focused education. Students can get full control over their learningenvironment. They will learn quickly that is essential to make agreements about thecollaboration. Without these and a communal sense of responsibility anarchy will prevail.Using the history of a wiki needs some practice. Not that is very difficult to use the history but itis conceptually very different than for instance threads in a discussion forum. In a forum themessages are arranged chronologically and by thread. In a wiki only the last version is visible.Developed by: Linde, van der E., (2006) taken from: http://epedagogy.risbo.orgSome more information about Weblogs or ‘blogs’Suppose you as a lecturer would like to stimulate students to debate on paper and to give eachother feedback on argumentation skills. If you want to make students feel as the owners of theirsubmissions, a weblog may be useful.Weblogs are usually personal websites, where the author, student keeps his/her owndiary. - 20 -
  22. 22. Quite often a specific topic is chosen. Messages are usually sequenced chronologically and canalso be placed in your own categories. A weblog is mostly publically accessible, but can also beclosed for restricted visitors. It is recommended to enable visitors of the weblog to placecomments to the messages.Weblogs can be used by lecturers to communicate to students about a course. They can makeannouncements and give suggestions for resources. But weblogs are especially valuable whena student writes their own blog or writes a blog together with others (Rubens, 2004). Many ofthe seven pillars for digital didactics can be found in a weblog (Simons, 2003). 1. Making linkages and relations. Weblogs are especially good for linking different persons to each other. A weblog can be a good medium for social interaction. 2. Creating Weblogs can be used to stimulate critical thinking and to stimulate argumentation. There are examples of weblogs where students explicitly work on their writing skills. 3. Sharing A weblog is meant to share information, knowledge and experiences with others. 4. Transparency A weblog can be used to analyse by looking at all the messages and contributions. There are no functionalities embedded in weblogs to enable this. 5. Learning to learn Weblogs can be used for giving feedback and for reflecting on your own learning. Williams and Jacobs (2004) even call weblogs and the academic discourse ‘natural allies’. A lot of promovendi use weblogs for this purpose. Also there’s examples of weblogs being used as e-portfolios. 6. Competencies are central When a weblog is used as portfolio to reflect on competencies. 7. Flexibilisation . Weblogs can be written any time any place, whenever a student feels there is something interesting to report or reflect on.Williams en Jacobs (2002) conclude: "In short, blogs have the potential, at least, to be a trulytransformational technology in that they provide students with a high level of autonomy whilesimultaneously providing opportunity for greater interaction with peers."An example of a good practice using weblogs is at the University of Amsterdam. Inspired by aweblog that was used by their lecturer some students started their own weblog around their finaldissertation, each of them in their own way. The blogs are about what they read, how tostructure their research, the process of their work, and about the tutorials they have with theirlecturers or conversations with other students that made them think. They receive commentsfrom their lecturer and from each other. And maybe the best thing is that through their blog theyget in touch with students from other places who are interested or knowledgeable in the topic,and who motivate and encourage them.The most suitable educational applications for blogs are: own initiative, being in control,creativity in design, dialogue with other students, by writing about something you are passionateabout and getting in contact with people you would have normally never met.Crooked Timber’s Henry Farrell identifies five major uses for blogs in education.1. Lecturers use blogs to replace the standard class Web page. Instructors post class times and rules, assignment notifications, suggested readings, and exercises.2. Instructors begin to link to Internet items that relate to their course.3. Blogs are used to organize inclass discussions - 21 -
  23. 23. 4. Some instructors are using blogs to organize class seminars and to provide summaries of readings.5. Students may be asked to write their own blogs as part of their course grade.Taken from: Rubens (2004) and Downes (2004)ReferencesGorissen, P., (2004), WikiWiki: Anarchie in het hoger onderwijs (http://elearning.surf.nl/e-learning/artikelen/2374) (in Dutch).P. Gorissen, (2005), Presentatie introductie weblogs en Wiki’s(http://www.gorissen.info/Pierre/item/2005/1/1/icto-studiemiddag-onderwijs-en-ict-aan-de-uva) (in Dutch).Zomerdijk, M. Bloggend leren: weblogs in het hoger onderwijs(http://www.edusite.nl/edusite/specials/14099) (in Dutch).Rubens, W., (2004), Weblogs in het hoger onderwijs (http://elearning.surf.nl/e-learning/artikelen/2326) (inDutch).Downes, S., (2004), Educational Blogging (http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0450.pdf) - 22 -