The future of online learning


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A presentation for WebJunction, the collaborative training resource for public libraries. Presented 2.27.2013 This presentation represents half of the Webinar and is in DRAFT form.

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  • Here’s what I want to accomplish today… Is this what you want to do? There are lots of really smart and experienced people online today, so don’t put all your focus on the presentation – let’s share and interact. To get started on that sharing thing – write a couple words about some aspect of teaching, learning, or technology this is of interest to you. Me, I’m fascinated with the physical processes of how a stimulus enters our nervous system and transforms into an experience that results in behavioral change… you know…learning.
  • What do you think? Was this photo taken at the beginning of the course or the end? These graduates of the MT Library Leadership Institute are feeling very happy - it was the end of a hard week… can you remember what it feels like to complete a learning experience – especially something particularly challenging?
  • Think about those times that you headed out for a learning experience with anticipation, but it didn’t happen…you didn’t find what you are looking for…Adult learners have expectations for their learning experiences – as trainers, we can’t take their time for granted.
  • Here’s what we know about how people learn…and this short list reflects a lot of what I know many of you already know, so consider this a very brief review. Learners like information presented in nuggets; especially when they can see relationships, patterns and they can assimilate the new information with what they already know. Learners need to have a stake in learning something – they need to feel that the learning is important and that they are important! When the presenter isn’t prepared – well, that can make a learner feel unimportant – like they weren’t worth the time or the presenter didn’t care enough to be prepped. That’s what I mean by ego…Learning has be relevant. We know that those ole’ Dick & Jane primers were not very relevant to some kids, and may have even made some kids feel alienated or bad about themselves. Relevance is a cultural thing, for sure – but it is also based on what the learner already knows and what they want and need to know. For many of us, that means the learning needs to relate to our jobs, or to a personal interest. As trainers, we MUST make our instruction relevant. Most learners benefit from interacting with their peers. In structured learning environments, when we design group activities, we’ll improve the learning environment. We need feedback as learners – not just whether we have it right or wrong…but coaching-style feedback.And,..then there is learner control. How do you give your learners control over their own learning? I’ll bet this group has a lot of good ideas on how to do that…here are three of mine:
  • …invite your learners to decide on where the instruction takes place, give them options: online and face2face when you can. Ask them how long they want the sessions to be. If you are training for more than an hour, review the plan and invite them to decide if you’ll take a break, when the break will be and how long it will be. Simple? Yeah…but it will disrupt that face-forward model for learning which can impede sharing or make your learners passive. …use the expertise in the whole classroom, not just your own expertise. As smart as many of us are, we are never as smart alone as everyone together in a room. Get your learners sharing. …accommodate different learning styles – include group stuff – adjust your plan if you have a group that really prefers working in pairs or alone. If you’re doing extended training, check in after the first few hours and ask how things are going and look for suggestions you can incorporate into your plan. Use the BIG THREE questions evaluation: What’s working? What’s not working? What follow-up is needed? By the way…how are we doing? Feel free to share a tip on how to give learners control in the chat box. Even in as large as a group as this, we can still all learn from each other.This learning online is great, huh? …educational technology…here’s what one incredibly smart person has to say about the potential of technology to transform learning:
  • Any ideas on who said this and what technology this person was speaking about?
  • The quote is from Thomas Alva Edison - he was very impressed by the potential of motion pictures. He even thought that the motion picture, because it was such an efficient means of presenting information, would likely replace textbooks altogether. He was a brilliant man, but his prediction hasn’t yet come to pass. New learning technologies don’t eliminate the need for older technologies anymore than the electric light bulb completely eliminated candles and lanterns. But, new technologies can transform our world, certainly. And, it may be an unrelated observation, but I’ve noticed that there is often more shelf space in a store devoted to candles than to light bulbs. Some people refer to Edison when they want to point out that technology never quite achieves the potential its advocates proclaim. We still have textbooks, after all. But, I like to think it’s more that we, as educators, might need a little humility when it comes to promoting innovative technologies, that’s all. A contemporary of Edison’s: a fellow named John Dewey, advocated for a scientific approach to learning and instruction. His mantra was “Learn by Doing.” So, let’s take a very brief look at the history of educational technology and learning theory.
  • Let’s jump ahead a half-century - here’s news reporter Walter Cronkite with the UNIVAC computerduring the 1952 Stevenson-Eisenhower election which the computer correctly projected. By mid-century, much of learning science was centered around the theories of BF Skinner called behaviorism. Behaviorism posits the idea that animal behaviors – including human behaviors - are taught through specific stimuli followed by positive and negative reinforcement. Now, just we were just entering the age of computing, that idea of chunked information was gaining steam with programmed instruction – self-guided learning and correspondence courses that were supported by Behaviorism theories of people like Skinner. The US military developed instructional programs in independent nuggets of information so that the nuggets could be assembled in various modules of learning and reused in different instructional ways.
  • Jump ahead a quarter century…By the 1970’s we had broad consumer use of videotape and the VideoCassetteRecorder – it took 20 years for that technology to be widely adopted – the first Personal Computer, ALTO was introduced in 1973 (it had a GUI andused a mouse) and the first video games from Atari came out for home use. Atari was a lot more common in homes than PCs were.
  • BF Skinner’s Behaviorist theories were still impacting instruction in the 70’s…now, though, researchers who were studying Behaviorism, and learning in general, had noticed that the role of memory was very important to the process of learning. And, the role of memory had really not been adequately addressed by behavioral theories and the process of reinforcement it espoused. Cognitivismemerged advocating learning activities that stressed that new information be related to old information or existing knowledge so that the synaptic function of the brain could be optimized to improve retention. It’s not like Skinner’s theory of behaviorism was wrong, or that it was replaced by cognitivism. Both theories viewed the process of learning as the result of ongoing sensory experiences we encounter through our environment and record in our brains.
  • If you don’t remember, it might be because there wasn’t adequatecontext for that information. I may not have emphasized it or given you enough help in making a useful link to that bit of information. In other words, we didn’t construct that bit of knowledge. You did not “learn by doing,” which is what Dewey advocated.If you do remember, than perhaps I presented this information in a way that was relevant to you, or you employed some learning practice or device to assimilate that information. Maybe you took notes or, maybe you already knew. I can bet that if I had asked you to spend 2 minutes in a small group discussing what you think Dewey meant when he advocated “learning by doing” you would surely remember him and that quote! Constructivists point out that learning is an inherently social activity. So, collaboration and project-based learning are all constructivist ideals. And, they work.Constructivists hold that learning is not just a result of external stimuli, but that learners actively create their own understanding internally. Life experience and worldview are integral to learning. Our state of knowing, our reality and truth is our very own creation.
  • So, let me provide some context for how learning technologies and instructional theory come together today. Herein Montana, we have huge distances – we are about the same size state as California – we also have rough weather, limited transportation options, and relatively few people: about a million residents, served by a little over 100 public libraries marked on the map here. A good number of those libraries have one librarian only. A lot of our librarians are employed part-time; they may have another job, ranch or business responsibilities. Say we want to train those librarians ….well, a session planned in the geographic center of our state, Lewistown, MT – marked here by the yellow star - is still a 7 hr drive one way for some of our librarians – and that’s when the winds are calm, cows aren’t calving – so you can be away a few days, and it isn’t snowing! MT is the perfect spot to take advantage of online learning – since we added broadband to over 40 of our libraries with BTOP, we’ve gone from 1-2 Webinars a month to 2 or more every week. And, yet demand for online learning continues to climb. While we eventually expect to find attendance at webinars leveling off, so far, it seems the more we offer, the more people attend. And, it hasn’t impacted attendance at conferences or site-based training a bit. People love to learn –giving them more opportunities seems to encourage them to attend more.
  • We archive our recorded webinars on Vimeo – and we’re finding that viewership of the recordings far exceeds the attendance at the events live. So, that’s a challenge as highly interactive sessions may be of diminished value instructionally when they are viewed as a recording. We’ve tactically decided to not record some sessions that are styled with a lot of interactivity and simply plan additional session times for that instruction instead. We chose Vimeo so that our recordings would play back on any device and also be available to view at K-12 schools and state or county office buildings where YouTube is often blocked. Here’s our Vimeo channel.We focus our training on Montana-centric information and augment the many good programs already out there online for free. We don’t duplicate. And, we try to share some of our expertise with our colleagues when the topic doesn’t need to be Montana-centric. Those Webinars are planned further in advance so they can be shared across state lines.
  • And…now we’re building a WordPress Learning Portal to help our learners find resources for their learning quickly, anytime, anyplace, with plans to support peer2peer learning on the site. All of the training staff contribute to the portal – they can create content on the fly for it without going through the webmaster or clearing things through the IT staff. For example, our early childhood librarians want to be able to share resources and ideas, so a password-protected section on the learning portal will allow them to post amongst themselves. The training staff meet once a week for a half-hour working session, as available – and our meeting is online. The portal has helped us create a professional learning community within our training team – sharing ideas and supporting each other. The portal supports the content we have from WebJunction.
  • Our libraries are using technology to bring new fangled training to senior centers and communities with limited connectivity – bridging the digital divide. In western Montana, where mountainous terrain and small populations make it really hard to get online for some folks, the Web on Wheels bus comes every week with broadband public computing a few steps away. Training on board assures that users can Skype with grandkids, or take that online college course, or update their etsy account. That’s what we’re doing out here in the Treasure State…I’m going to leave you with three ideas about learning and technology…
  • So, let me conclude my presentation with a few take-away ideas for training…Feel free to share your own inspiration for elearning in the chat box…here are three from me: Instructional Systems Design…to implement technology WISELY, you need a systematic plan for developing instruction. We need to be working harder on the initial assessment of our learners and clearly outlining our desired OUTCOMES. We need to take time on designing and developing learning activities. We must remember to do formative evaluation along the way toward implementation, and use the opportunity that technology presents us with to make adjustments along the way. And, we need to incorporate useful and rigorous summative evaluation. Not that evaluation has to be onerous to be useful and rigorous! I’m always looking ofr simple, but effective evaluation tools and methods.Next, a learning model by Prof. Merrill at Utah State University is worth your attention. His First Principles suggests a non-linear instructional model. Merrillidentifies essential elements (the first principles) that center around problem-based real-life learning, and challenges us to use flexibility and agility as we activate, demonstrate, apply and integrate learning activities (and NOT, necessarily, in that order!). The illustration here shows off that non-linear approach. My third idea to share comes from futuristWayne Hodgins. He has observed that learning is becoming very, very, personalized. Learners can access broad arrays of learning resources as needed. He calls this “meLearning.” Learner-initiated, learner activated, learner-constructed. It’s the “Snowflake Effect”
  • Hodginscoined the term illustrating how each learning experience is truly unique – like a snowflake … I love it. This is one of his slides – And…with that, I will turn over the presentation to Betha and I’ll be available in the chat to respond to comments and questions. Betha and I will both be around at the end of the session today for further chat and discussion.
  • The future of online learning

    1. 1. The Future of Online Learning Jo Flick, MS Ed. Continuing Education Coordinator & Trainer
    2. 2.  Consider how & why people learn Recount our storied past Share experiences & inspiration Map a way forward Image: Joann Flick original artOutcomes for this hour
    3. 3. Library Leadership Institute,, MT State Library 2012First day or last day?
    4. 4. Photo by Jo Flick, MT State Library 2012But, then there are those times….
    5. 5. Chunks of information Patterns and assimilation Ego Relevance Previous experience Group activity Feedback Learner controlHow People Learn Photos: PowerPoint clipart
    6. 6.  What they are learning Location & time, length of instruction How they are learningLearner Control Image: PowerPoint clipart
    7. 7. “(This technology is)…destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks.”Who said this? What technology?
    8. 8. “(The motion picture is)…destined to revolutionize our educational system and that in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely, the use of textbooks.” Photo: T. A. Edison from: commons/thumb/9/9d/Thomas_Edison 2.jpg/220px-Thomas_Edison2.jpg Icon images: Joann Flick original artThomas A. Edison
    9. 9.  UNIVAC  B.F. Skinner Behaviorism  Programmed Instruction Photo: Eckert, Sweeney & Cronkite – 1952 http://www.computerhistory .org/revolution/early- computer-companies/5/102Mid-century
    10. 10.  VHS & VCR  Alto  AtariAtari photo from: 1970s
    11. 11.  VHS & VCR  Alto  Atari  BFSkinner  Cognitivism B.F. Skinner : 1970s 1/Theory.htm
    12. 12.  www  Microsoft Windows  DVD  Constructivism NetscapeNavigator image: http://upload.wikimedia.o rg/wikipedia/en/c/c9/Navi gator_1-22.png Windows desktop image: Joann Flick MS Windows logo: ki/WindowsThe 1990’s
    13. 13.  Context Construction Collaboration - Jonassen David H. & Land, Susan (1999). Theoretical Foundations of MS PowerPoiint clipart Learning Environments. Lawrence Erlbaum AssociatesConstructivism
    14. 14. Map from: Libraries
    15. 15.
    16. 16.
    17. 17. Photos: http://www.missoulapubliclibrary.orgWOW – Web on Wheels
    18. 18. 1. Instructional Design 2. First Principles-Merrill 3. meLearning-Hodgins M. David Merrill (2002) First Principles of Instruction.Three ideas ect2002/firstprinciplesbymerrill.pdf
    19. 19. – H. Wayne Hodgins http://www.slideshare. net/WayneH/
    20. 20.  Hodgins, W. (2004). The next big thing is getting small (report on presentation at the October 2003 AECT Convention, Anaheim, CA). Tech Trends. Volume 48, Number 1. Hodgins, W. Jonassen David H. & Land, Susan (1999). Theoretical foundations of learning environments. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. M. David Merrill (2002) First principles of instruction. National Research Council (2000). How People Learn; Brain, mind, experience and school. Washington, D.C.: National Academies Press. Wiley, David A., Ed. (2002). The instructional use of learning objects. Bloomington, IN: Agency for Instructional Technology and Association for Education Communications and Technology.references