Jumping the hurdles of E-learning By Philip Bowler
“the acquisition of knowledge and skill using electronic technologies such as computer and Internet-based courseware and local and wide area networks” (http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_701705852/e-learning.html) Definition of E-Learning
There are many issues involved in the implementation of E-learning strategies As with all forms of education, there are advantages and limitations 47 barriers of online flexible learning have been identified during a student survey (http://www.emoderators.com/barriers/stbarr_final_may05.pdf) Is E-learning straightforward?
Identify some of the major barriers of E-learning and... Provide you with a few strategies to overcome these barriers in your teaching The examples will relate to the VET (Vocational Education and Training) sector I will...
E-learning can be hindered by slow and unreliable internet connections (http://www.about-elearning.com/e-learning-advantages-and-disadvantages.html) Students may not have access to the required compatible software making it difficult to access the learning (http://www.e-learningguru.com/articles/art1_3.htm) “Equipment and hardware malfunctions can be a great detriment to the effectiveness of distance learning” (http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall53/valentine53.html) This could mean microphones, software, webcams, computer hard drives etc. What the community is saying...
Provide a balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning and allow students to choose their preferred method. Allow ample time (and opportunities) for learning to take place in case some sessions are disrupted by failing technology. Ensure the teaching and learning software used can be accessed free of charge by the students and it’s compatible with most operating systems(e.g. Blogs, delicious, slideshare, jing etc.) What is the solution?
Record any synchronous sessions and make them available to the student in their own time. Have regular short sessions to enable a student to catch up in case they have missed a class due to a technology issue. Perhaps the institute could set up a deal with a fast internet provider that could give students who enrol in an online course a cheap internet broadband connection. Continued...
An instructor’s attitude towards distance learning is a major potential roadblock They need proper training in the use of technology and ways of delivering material electronically Some teachers feel if they upload material to the internet, it will become public property and be ‘lost’ Too much time will be spent setting up and preparing online courses and will take teachers away from other more important duties (http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall53/valentine53.html) What the community is saying...
Provide professional development opportunities in E-learning for teachers (e.g. Twitter, Elluminate, podcasting etc.) Ensure where possible that all the course material is only made available in a password protected environment. Explain to teachers that once an online course is set up, it will only need tweaking as new technologies emerge. Promote the notion of change in the workplace as being a positive thing and motivate staff by pointing out the benefits and challenges of experimenting with different methods of teaching. What is the solution?
A lack of social interaction between students can have a negative impact on a range of things including the effectiveness of online learning (http://www.emoderators.com/barriers/stbarr_final_may05.pdf) Limited opportunities to hear questions and discussions from other students (http://www.articlealley.com/article_3464_22.html) The communication and learning conducted between students involving body language and peer-to-peer contact is reduced(http://www.leopard-learning.com/benefitsofonlinelearning.html) What the community is saying...
Use synchronous sessions wherever possible (i.e. Chatrooms, skype, elluminate etc.) Incorporate video conferencing so students can be face-to-face Set up a class facebook page (or similar) so students can post photos, video clips, comments etc. Encourage group assessments which may even enable students to physically meet up and share ideas What is the solution?
Incorporate different methods of knowledge sharing to encourage social interaction. For example: shared learning spaces like a wiki that students can edit and co-author, collaborative problem solving and online peer review. (http://designing.flexiblelearning.net.au/gallery/activities/social_networking.htm) Continued...
“A lack of motivation is often the downfall of those who seek out online education” (http://www.articlealley.com/article_3464_22.html) It appears that some students need to be constantly reminded to complete their work and would not do so if it required self-motivation. Compared to most face-to-face learning environments, distance learning requires students to be more focused, better time managers, and to be able to work independently and with group members” Many distance learners are different from traditional undergraduates in that they are already in professions. They have well defined goals and are more motivated.(http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/fall53/valentine53.html) What the community is saying...
Design your teaching and assessments around technologies the students enjoy and use on a daily basis. An example could be facebook and twitter. Set up a podclass on facebook or incorporate it into some area of your teaching. TAFE students often have little motivation and come from different social and educational backgrounds and it can be a challenge to keep them interested. It’s important to allow this demographic of students to present their assessments in a variety of ways. Some may prefer to write while others may podcast or record a video clip. Variety and options is the key in this case. What is the solution?
Students can hack into the institute online system and obtain exam questions or answers from the teacher’s account using hacking software. Unfair retaking of assessments by purposely making the system crash just before the end of the exam, claiming it was a ‘loss of power’. This would enable the student to obtain more time to consult before retaking the exam. It is difficult to know if the person enrolled in the online course is the same person submitting the assessment. Or perhaps there has been some unauthorised collaboration. (http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer72/rowe72.html) What the community is saying...
Ensure the institute online teaching and learning platform has appropriate security measures (i.e. Password with a combination of letters and numbers, security questions etc.) Prepare different tests for re-testing in the event that a student’s system ‘crashes’. Use webcams to supervise a student sitting an exam. Use continuous and multiple assessments to minimise cheating. (http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.83.7863&rep=rep1&type=pdf) What is the solution?
Have a human proctor present to supervise the students conducting their assessment. (http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer72/rowe72.html) Kerka & Wonacott (2000) claim that changes to pedagogy reduce the risks of cheating, through focusing on deep learning approaches calling for analysis and application (essays, case studies, etc.), while de-emphasising objective tests and other surface learning approaches. (Kerka, S., Wonacott, M., Grossman, G., & Wagner, J. (2000). Assessing Learners in Higher Education. ERIC.) http://ericacve.org/docs/pfile03.htm#principles Continued…
Open book exams can require deeper understanding on the part of students and are more authentic (Nelson, 1998). Exam question design can, therefore, significantly reduce the likelihood of cheating by requiring examinees to respond critically or creatively, rather than reproductively. (Nelson, G. E. (1998). On-line Evaluation: Multiple Choice, Discussion Questions, Essay, and AuthenticProjects. Paper presented at the Teaching in the Community Colleges Online Conference, ‘Online Instruction: Trends and Issues II’, Kapiolani Community College. [Online] Available at http://leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu/org/tcon98/paper/nelson.html.) Continued…
Strong pedagogical principles using a variety of techniques to engage students help solve the problems of student motivation, isolation and authenticity. As technology advances at a rapid rate, connection, line drop-out problems etc. will quickly disappear. Change management sessions for staff to embrace E-learning will enable a shift in attitude and perception of online distance education. Institutes that continue to offer professional development to teachers on different E-learning strategies will no doubt encourage a more positive attitude through trial and experimentation of new online technologies. Conclusion
http://designing.flexiblelearning.net.au/gallery/activities/social_networking.htm http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/summer72/rowe72.html http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.83.7863&rep=rep1&type=pdf Kerka, S., Wonacott, M., Grossman, G., & Wagner, J. (2000). Assessing Learners in Higher Education. ERIC.) http://ericacve.org/docs/pfile03.htm#principles Nelson, G. E. (1998). On-line Evaluation: Multiple Choice, Discussion Questions, Essay, and AuthenticProjects. Paper presented at the Teaching in the Community Colleges Online Conference, ‘Online Instruction: Trends and Issues II’, Kapiolani Community College. [Online] Available at http://leahi.kcc.hawaii.edu/org/tcon98/paper/nelson.html. Continued…