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Online Flexible Distance Education or Internet Based E-Learning – The Evolutionary Development of the NKI Internet College


Keynote lecture to European Vocational Training Association Conference: Quality in Distance education and E-Learning. Rome 6-7- December 2005

Keynote lecture to European Vocational Training Association Conference: Quality in Distance education and E-Learning. Rome 6-7- December 2005

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  • 1. Online Flexible Distance Education or Internet Based E-Learning – The Evolutionary Development of the NKI Internet College eLearning Project Exemplo - Elex Conference: Rome, December 15th-16th 2005 Torstein Rekkedal Director Research & Development NKI Distance Education Norway
  • 2. The NKI Case: Overview
    • NKI Distance Education, E-Learning and Online Education
    • 4 “generations” of development
    • Basic philosophies when developing the system for m-learning
    • Some focal pedagogical challenges
    • Flexibility and cooperative learning
    • Student support
    • Universal accessibility
    • Mobile learning
    • Converting a distance teaching institution into a cost-efficient e-learning provider
  • 3. NKI and Online Education
    • NKI Distance Education/NKI Internet College
      • Online distance teaching since 1987
      • In continuous operation
      • Integrated research/educational development/technological development
      • ’ Mainstream’ technology
      • 6,6 00 students in 40 countries
      • 430 courses/70 study programmes  
  • 4. 4 phases of development
    • The Development of NKI Internet College – 4 ’Generations’ of Systems
      • 1987 -1994:
        • 1. Generation – based on the ’EKKO’ conferencing system
      • 1994 -1995:
        • 2. Generation – ’The Open Electronic College’: Philosophy: Constructing a system as ’open’ as possible in relation to external networks and services, based on the Internet, e-mail and Listserve conferencing system
      • 1996-2000:
        • 3. Generation – ’from small scale to large scale’ and permanent operation based on the WWW
      • 2001- :
        • 4. Generation – Introduction of a fully integrated system for development and administration of teaching/learning, logistics, invoices and salaries to handle ten thousands of students in flexible learning on hundreds of courses, programmes and tutors
  • 5. NKI - Integrated IT Systems
  • 6. NKI Internet College: Enrolment figures Number of enrollments in online courses per year at NKI
  • 7. Demands on a ‘virtual school’
    • The Electronic College:
      • It should emulate all the main tasks of a school: teaching, administrative and social.
      • It should be generally available concerning geography, technology, economy and student competence.
      • It should be independent of time, i.e. continuously available and accept asynchronous communication.
      • It should emulate the different needs of human communication, one-to-one, one-to-many and many-to-many.
  • 8. Aspects increasing quality
    • Efficient distribution of updated information
    • Two-way communication between tutor/counsellor/administration and student
    • A substitute for face-to-face teaching, introduction of group discussions and project work and cooperative learning
    • The public tutorial
    • Peer counselling and support
    • Free-flow discussion, academic and social meeting places
    • The electronic library
    • Registration, administration, teacher conferences etc.
    • Team development of teaching materials
    • User directory with lists of class members and fellow students
  • 9. Elements of Internet based learning
    • The elements of the distribution and communication system of Internet based learning
  • 10. Flexibility in distance education
    • Models of teaching and learning
    • Distance Education:
      • Individualised Flexible Teaching
    • or
      • Teaching in ’The Extended Classroom’
  • 11. Flexibility in distance education
    • Much flexibility:
    • E-mail
    • Forum
    Asynchronous communication offers much individual flexibility in time Synchronous communication makes students dependent on each other
    • Little flexibility:
    • Chat
    • Video conferences
    • Telephone conferences
    • Face-to-face classes
  • 12. NKI basic philosophies concerning online learning
    • Student autonomy and flexibility
      • Flexible and individual distance teaching with the student group as social and academic support for learning
    • Overall didactical solution:
      • Individual studies, exercises and emphasis on tutor support
      • Support from the learner group through Forum interaction
      • Social constructivist learning theory?
      • Learning is a socially supported individual process
      • Colleagues, friends, family and other resource persons as
      • support for learning
      • Great need for support and continuous concern for students
  • 13. Flexibility - Cooperative learning - Collaborative learning Challenge: How to provide individual flexibility and a community for learning? The hexagon of cooperative freedom (Paulsen 1993, 2003) Six Dimensions of Flexibility
  • 14. NKI basic philosophies concerning online learning
    • Learning could be Individual, Cooperative or Collaborative
    Individual learning provides much individual flexibility, but little learning community Cooperative learning provides much individual flexibility and access to a learning community Collaborative learning requires participation in a learning community, but limits individual flexibility
  • 15. NKI basic philosophies concerning online learning NKI Distance Education facilitates individual freedom within a learning community in which online students serve as mutual resources without being dependent on each other. We build on adult education principles and seek to foster benefits from both individual freedom and cooperation in online learning communities. Cooperative learning is based on voluntary participation in a learning community
  • 16. Flexibility and cooperation Different learning environments based on the dimensions of participation in a learning community and individual flexibility (Paulsen 2005)
  • 17. Learning in cooperative freedom The three pillars of cooperative learning at NKI (Paulsen 2005)
  • 18. Learning in cooperative freedom
    • Main means to facilitate cooperative learning are:
    • Cooperative Forums
    • Student catalogues
    • Cooperative assignments
    • Cooperative assessment/peer assessment
    • Cooperative gating (COG)
    • Cooperative Learner Information Profile (CLIP)
  • 19. Individual Progressions Schedules
    • NKI’s LMS supports individual progression plans
  • 20. Individual Progressions Schedules
    • NKI’s LMS supports individual progression plans
  • 21. Information to tutors
    • Information from teacher’s start page:
  • 22. Information to tutors
    • Information from teacher’s start page:
  • 23. Information on fellow students Student catalogue with cooperative information about next submission number and planned submission date
  • 24. Student interface for submission of assignments Submitted in cooperation with: Ann Andersson, Knut Evensen
  • 25. NKI’s forum structure for cooperative learning
  • 26. CLIP - Cooperative Learner Information Profile
  • 27. Student support
    • John Bååth:
    • ” We have four categories of students; there are
      • students who need student support services but don’t want them
      • students who need student support services and want them
      • students who don’t need student support services but want them
      • students who neither need nor want student support services.”
  • 28. Student Support in the NKI Online Distance Education System Prospective phase – information/guidance
  • 29. Student Support in the NKI Online Distance Education System Start-up phase
  • 30. Student Support in the NKI Online Distance Education System Learning phase
  • 31. Student Support in the NKI Online Distance Education System Graduation and after graduation
  • 32. Survey
      • Needs for and satisfaction with support services
    • Research methodology:
    • Qualitative and quantitative survey
    • Data collection
    • Selection of interviewees
    • Data processing and interpreting answers
  • 33. Survey
      • Needs for and satisfaction with support services
    • Results:
    • Prospective phase
    • Direct personal contact with advisors important
    • Registration/start-up phase
    • Technical support services important, but little used, introduction to study
    • techniques important and should be improved
    • Learning phase
    • Most important quality of feedback/quick turn-around time
  • 34. Survey - Statistics
  • 35. Survey - Statistics Relationship between “Usefulness/Importance” of the support elements and “ Satisfaction” with the support elements.
  • 36. Conclusions
      • The students find all support services provided to be important, and they are generally satisfied
      • Recommendations:
        • Priory should be given to:
        •         Close follow up and support during the start-up phase concerning how to get started and how to make personal progression plans.
        •            Introduction to efficient techniques for online learning, specifically for students with little experience from independent learning.
        •            Follow-up and guidance of tutors who do not satisfy requirements concerning turn- around time and quality of comments/feedback to students.
        •            Developing course forums to function better for students who want more interaction with fellow students, without requiring too much participation for students who prefer more individual studies.
  • 37. Universal Accessibility
      • Standards for accessibility
          • W3C's Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) ( )
          • Introduction to Web Accessibility ( http://www. webaim .org/intro/intro2 )
      • Navigation solutions for people with disabilities
      • Electronic versions of textbooks
      • Speech synthesis
      • All solutions ought to benefit all users
  • 38. Speech synthesis
  • 39. Designing the Environment for Mobile Learners - mLearning 1 & 2
    • NKI is now starting its 3rd EU project on mobile learning
    • mLearning 1:
      • Technology: Content and communication:
      • Pocket PC/PDA Learning content to be downloaded
      • Mobile phone Online access to forums for reading/writing
      • Portable keyboard E-mail communication with attachments
  • 40. mLearning 1: Students’ and tutor’s use of technology when mobile
    • When mobile the students must be able to:
    • Study the course materials
    • Make notes
    • Write assignments
    • Access Forum to read
    • Access Forum to submit contributions
    • Send e-mail to fellow students
    • Receive e-mail from fellow students
    • Submit assignments by e-mail including attachments
    • Receive assignments corrected and commented on by the tutor
  • 41. mLearning 1: Conclusions
      • Mobile technology may increase the flexibility of distance teaching
      • The technology functioned according to expectations
      • Participants’ views varied – from enthusiastic to quite reserved
      • The students expressed very different views concerning reading from a small screen
      • Institutional challenges for systems development to cater for mobile and not mobile learners
      • Technical problems exist, but are continuously reduced through software and hardware developments
      • Portable keyboard is necessary for efficient use of the PDA as a teaching and learning tool
      • We need better solutions for browsing web pages
      • Mobile communication is still expensive – especially from abroad
      • We are uncertain whether a future solution for mobile learning is solved by
        • Mobile phone and pda
        • Hybrid (pocket phone/computer)
        • Laptop with mobile connection
        • Other solutions (?)
  • 42. mLearning 2: Basic assumptions
      • Continue research on m-learning with PDA
      • Develop generic solutions independent on user-end devices
      • Cost-effectiveness - Same course for mobile and not-mobile students
      • Online access to course materials - “Always online environment”
      • Interactive multi media materials and assignments
      • Graphical materials and multi-media should be included
      • Trying out the environment for future mobile learners who are always online via wireless networks at affordable and acceptable costs
  • 43. Second year: Developing the mLMS
      • Aspects of an always-online solution that would possibly increase the quality of the services for mobile learners:
      • High bandwidth gives fast downloading of course content and use of audio, video and advanced graphics
      • Independence of synchronization with desktop PC
      • Access to resources on the Internet at all times
      • Easy access to e-mail at all times
      • Possibilities for online assessment and assignments
      • Options for easier co-operation with fellow students
      • Possibilities for synchronous communication, chat and IP telephony
      • ADSL or free access to WLAN give control over costs
  • 44. mLearning2: Conclusions
      • The NKI developments and research on mobile learning in connection with the two EU Leonardo projects have resulted in better solutions for serving distance online learners in general
      • Cost efficiency considerations do not allow for developing parallel versions of courses
      • Courses must be developed, presented and distributed in ways that allow both mobile and not mobile learners to participate in the same course
      • Course materials can be accessed both by standard and mobile technology with acceptable quality of all content elements
      • Interaction with course content and multi-media materials and communication with tutors and fellow students must also function adequately both through standard and mobile technology
      • It is still a question of what the “ideal” device and solution for mobile learning really is. Probably is the answer a result of the learner’s individual preferences
  • 45. Research, evaluation and quality assurance
    • NKI Research Department established 1970
      • Media and technology research and development
      • Survey research
      • Course and programme evaluation
    • NADE Quality Standards
      • Quality Standards for Norwegian Distance Education since 1992
  • 46. Why have we succeeded?
      • High Level of Competence in Distance Education and IT
      • Enthusiasts Believing in the Idea
      • Applying Standard Available Technology
      • Flexibility Based on Students’ Needs and Priorities
      • Individualised Start and Progression Schedules
      • Cost-Efficient Teaching and Administration
      • Research/Development – National/International Projects with External Funding
      • Flexible and Adaptive Organisation
      • Broad and Comprehensive Catalogue of Courses and Study Programmes
      • Collaboration
      • Credibility and Trust by The Educational Market and Legal Authorities
      • Internet Development and Teaching Fully Integrated in an Operative Distance Teaching Organisation
      • Evolutionary Development of Personnel, Organisation and Administrative Systems
  • 47. Thank you!
    • NKI Internet College:
    • Torstein Rekkedal home page:
    • Presentation:
    • Slides:
    • Document: