Innovation in learning and development processes


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With the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, writes Steve Hodlin in this whitepaper, the potential for reaching learners around the world increased greatly, and today’s online learning offers rich educational resources in multiple media and the capability to support both real-time and asynchronous communication between instructors and learners as well as among different learners.

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Innovation in learning and development processes

  1. 1. Innovation in Learning and Development Processes By Steve Hodlin
  2. 2. Innovation in Learning and Development Processes Steve Hodlin The most significant innovation in the learning process, which is beginning to accelerate in its acceptance, is the online learning format. In fact, it is one of the fastest growing trends in educational uses of technology. In its infancy, this approach to learning was met with skepticism, and the programs that were offering degree programs through online learning were viewed as degree mills. That perception has changed as a result of rigorous curriculums taught by professionals with doctoral degrees, and accreditations from the same agencies that accredit the brick and mortar colleges and universities. A recent study by the U.S. Department of Education by Bakia, Jones, Means, Murphy, and Toyama (2009) and the Center for Technology for Learning indicates that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instruction. The four research questions asked were: 1. How does the effectiveness of online learning compare with that of face-to-face instruction? 2. Does supplementing face-to-face instruction with online instruction enhance learning? 3. What practices are associated with more effective online learning? 4. What conditions influence the effectiveness of online learning? The difference between student outcomes for online and face-to-face classes—measured as the difference between treatment and control means, divided by the pooled standard deviation—was larger in those studies contrasting conditions that blended elements of online and face-to-face instruction with conditions taught entirely face-to-face. Analysts noted that these blended conditions often included additional learning time and instructional elements not received by students in control conditions. If online instruction is no worse than traditional instruction in terms of student outcomes, then online education initiatives could be justified on the basis of cost efficiency or need to provide access to learners in settings where face-to-face instruction is not feasible. The question of the relative efficacy of online and face-to-face instruction needs to be revisited, however, in light of today’s online learning applications, which can take advantage of a wide range of Web resources, including not only multimedia but also Web-based applications and new collaboration technologies. These forms of online learning are a far cry from the televised broadcasts and videoconferencing that characterized earlier generations of distance education (US Department of Education, 2009). So, what does this mean regarding this innovative approach? The world of online learning is changing the paradigm of higher education. For one thing, online learning increases the opportunities for working adults, balancing a life style of family and work, to have the opportunity to attend higher education. It opens up the opportunities for people who are not close to a college or university offering the program of study of interest. The commute time to get to the school is not an issue with online. So online learning is much more conducive to the expansion of learning time than is face-to-face instruction. In many cases, due to the online discussions that are a part of every online curriculum, a greater sense of community is developed. Students in the courses engage each other regularly and, in some case, more that they
  3. 3. would in a normal face-to-face classroom “Online learning can compete because the method of delivery is seldom the predominant factor in learning efficacy. The most significant influences toward true learning are the design of the course, teaching style, academic rigor, a strong sense of community, and the individual motivation and drive a student brings to the course” (Green, 2008, p. 7). Green goes on to point out that everyone in class needs to participate, and cannot hide in the back of the classroom. Critical thinking, writing skills, and substance in discussions are important grading variables. According to Dr. John Crossley (2010) there are 10 reasons for the rapid growth in online learning: 1. Collaborative learning is in vogue -- Sharing ideas, personal insights and goals; this is the way we work professionally, and often in teams today. In an online environment, students learn to work together as a team for an end goal, and engage in discussions. 2. The stigma and mystery of distance education has faded -- In the past, people were wary of distance learning. Today, established online universities face stringent accreditation standards. With controlled systems in place, students can be assured that courses are official, valued and of a high standard. 3. Learning trends are shifting online -- Looking at courses offered by mainstream ground colleges and universities, one can see instantly that online education is becoming a vital component of overall learning. Harvard University Extension program, for example, offers over 100 online courses. In Canada both McGill and Queens Universities also offer students fully online or integrated online courses. The difference between face-to-face and online education is fading rapidly. Most schools now have a blended model that's becoming standard. Furthermore ground colleges are offering online access to libraries, exam results, documents and other resources. Lecturers are posting their notes online for students. Online learning is becoming central to the efficiency of higher education today. 4. Round-the-clock access -- Online education allows for round-the-clock access which is essential for busy lives. Online education is particularly aimed at working adults. People that work full-time, have an active social life and still need time for family can access their coursework and participate in class any time of the day or night. There are specific goals per course and, yes, commitment, dedication and self-discipline are required from each student. However, the accessibility is what really distinguishes online education from the standard brick- and-mortar format. 5. Location, location, location -- Translated, "location" now means "anywhere there's Wi-Fi" or any place, anytime, anywhere you can find an Internet connection. The added benefit about online education is that it literally can be where the student is -- there is no need to spend time travelling to classes for a specific class time or location that may be inconvenient for some. Students can continue to work and live -- accessing their courses from home or work. 6. Small class sizes -- Traditional ground colleges and universities often have class sizes in the hundreds. With online education, most classes are kept between 10-20 people. This allows for
  4. 4. high quality interaction with fellow classmates and also valuable time from a lecturer. Strong connections are made in small classes, students form positive and constructive student relations. 7. Technology makes it happen -- The development of technology in the last 20 years has enabled online education to boom. With the Internet, its social networking sites and its email capability, communication can be constant, instant and direct. Also, people are using technology, particularly portable mobile devices, as part of their everyday life. Their interaction with lectures and classmates online through audio, video or text is not unfamiliar anymore. This mirrors the prevalence of technology and online communication expected in the workplace today. 8. Education for all -- While technology is an influential factor in the growth of online learning, the bare necessities are access to the internet and a computer. This means online education is available to almost everyone. 9. Improved performance -- A 12-year meta-analysis of research by the U.S. Department of Education found that higher education students in online learning generally performed better than those in face-to-face courses. Increasingly, many experts feel learning is not about remembering huge amounts of facts and information for an end exam. Rather, education is ongoing, focused on in-class learning, through team-based projects with set learning goals and targets. This emphasis on the student allows for personal development, a better learning experience and enhanced performance by the student. 10. The pay-as-you-go element of online learning can be beneficial -- At some institutions you can pay for one course at a time and therefore there is no lump sum requirement. Students can often start and stop an online course at any time. They can take 3 or 5 years, for example, to complete an online degree -- less if they have prior credits that enable them to waive course requirements. This flexibility allows for unseen changes or challenges that may arise. In summary, online learning has roots in the tradition of distance education, which goes back at least 100 years to the early correspondence courses. With the advent of the Internet and the World Wide Web, the potential for reaching learners around the world increased greatly, and today’s online learning offers rich educational resources in multiple media and the capability to support both real-time and asynchronous communication between instructors and learners as well as among different learners. Many traditional “brick and mortar” schools are now offering online courses and degree programs. References: Crossley, J. (2010). Top 10 Reasons Why Online Learning is the Fastest Growing Area in Higher Education Today. Miramichi Leader: CanWest Digital media. url: 9&VName=PQD Green, J. (2008). Graduate Saavy: Navigating the world of online higher education. Virginia: Glocal Press
  5. 5. U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, Washington, D.C., 2009. url: Means, B., Toyama, Y., Murphy, R., Bakia, M., Jones, K. (2009). Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies. US: Department of Education url: Steve Hodlin is principal of Steven Hodlin & Associates. Previously he was Vice President of Business Excellence at DST Output. DST Output has been a recipient of Industry Week’s Top Ten Best Plants in North America three times. Prior to DST, Steve was Vice President of Performance Excellence at Boston Financial Data Services, where he was responsible for leading their performance excellence journey. Steve has led quality, productivity, and process improvements in numerous industries including semiconductor equipment, data communications and internetworking, cutting tools, financial services, and defense. He has led three organizations to state quality awards, based upon the Baldrige performance excellence criteria and to the U.S. Senate Productivity Award. He has been active with assisting school systems, health care institutions, and government organizations apply the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award performance excellence criteria to their organizations. Steve is a member of the Board of Directors for MassExcellence. Steve is certified by the American Society for Quality (ASQ) as a Six Sigma Black Belt, Quality Manager, Quality Engineer, Reliability Engineer, Software Quality Engineer, and Quality Auditor. He has been an edit reviewer for the ASQ Quality Press Review Board since 2004. Steve holds a B.S. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from the University of Massachusetts, and an MBA from Babson College, and is a PsyD candidate in psychology from the University of the Rockies. He has testified in U.S. Congress as a quality expert, is a frequent speaker at conferences, and has had some of his work published. 978‐771‐1091