Online Learning Myths & Truths

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Keynote at the 2013 FITSI Conference (University of New Hampshire).

Summary: We live in opportune times. We live at a time when education features prominently in the national press and discussions focusing on improving the ways we design education are a daily occurrence. Stanford President John Hennessy notes that “a tsunami” is coming – and Pearson executives are calling the impending change an “avalanche.” We are told that “education is broken” and that technology provides appropriate solutions for the perils facing education. But, what do these solutions look like? Will these be the times that capture Dewey’s and Freire’s visions of education? Will these be times of empowered students, democratic educational systems, learning webs, and affordable access to education? Or, will these be the times where efficiency, venture capital, and market values dictate what education will look like? Is technology transforming education? If so, how? During this keynote presentation, I will highlight how learning and education are (and are not) changing with the emergence of certain technologies, social behaviors, and cultural expectations. Using empirical research and evidence I will discuss myths and truths pertaining to online education and present ways that faculty members and educators can make meaningful contributions to the future educational systems that we are creating today.

Published in: Education, Technology

Online Learning Myths & Truths

  1. 1. Dr. George VeletsianosAssistant Professor of Learning TechnologiesCurriculum & Instruction – College of EducationUniversity of Texas at AustinKeynote at the 2013 FITSI Conference – University of New HampshireOnline Learning Myths & Truths
  2. 2. #unhfitsi
  3. 3. What do you want your students’ learningexperiences to be like?
  4. 4. Our challenge/imperativeTo design [online] learning experiencesand opportunities that are effective,fulfilling, inspiring, meaningful, caring,empowering, and democratic.
  5. 5. Sense of urgency. And tension.
  6. 6. “Online learning is a fad.”Myth
  7. 7. “For-profits and diploma mills are the institutions doingonline learning.”Myth
  8. 8. Yet, at times, it feels like déjà vu with adose of more of the same…
  9. 9. “Motion picture is destined to revolutionize our educationsystem …in a few years it will supplant largely, if not entirely,the use of textbooks”“Education over the Internet is going to be so big it is goingto make e-mail usage look like a rounding error”
  10. 10. “Strong pressures to produce mediocreinstructional products based on templatesand preexisting content.”Wilson, Parrish, & Veletsianos, 2008
  11. 11. Courseware=“Shovelware” ?Morrison, G., & Anglin, G. J. (2006). An instructional design approach foreffective shovelware: Modifying materials for distance education. QuarterlyReview of Distance Education, 7(1), 63–74.To:collect information and shovel it into an application such as…a learning management system to create a ‘course’(Morrison & Anglin, 2006)
  12. 12. “Examples ofoutstanding [online] instructionare hard to find.”Wilson, Parrish, & Veletsianos, 2008
  13. 13. Do learning outcomes differ betweenonline and face-to-face education?(media comparison study)
  14. 14. NoThe research saysThe mode of delivery does notcorrelate with learning outcomesMedia comparison studies  “Nosignificant difference” phenomenon
  15. 15. In other wordsOnline education can be as goodas face-to-face education
  16. 16. OROnline education can be as badas face-to-face education
  17. 17. ImplicationKeeping everything elseconstant, the mode of delivery isnot a significant factor as far aslearning outcomes areconcerned.
  18. 18. ImplicationHow we design (online)education is what matters.Pedagogy.
  19. 19. “Tennessee will run twokinds of courses –traditional and online –side-by-side, and theresults will becompared.”“Tennessee will run twokinds of courses –traditional and online –side-by-side, and theresults will becompared.”
  20. 20. … but conversations surrounding pedagogyand alternative ways to “do education” areongoing** most of the time
  21. 21. Experiential learningInquiry-driven learningPBLOpen CoursesThe web as a platform for learningParticipatory learningOutdoor learning experiences
  22. 22. YoTeach! is designed to introduce first-year sociology students tothe practices of sociologists. Promotes student inquiry, discussionsand analysis of real-world data, and the creation of multimodalprojects that demonstrate student findings.
  23. 23. YoTeach! is designed to introduce first-year sociology students tothe practices of sociologists. Promotes student inquiry, discussionsand analysis of real-world data, and the creation of multimodalprojects that demonstrate student findings.
  24. 24. Technology molds pedagogy. Pedagogy moldshow we use the technology.Doering & Veletsianos (2008); Veletsianos (2010, 2011)
  25. 25. Technology molds pedagogy. Pedagogy moldshow we use the technology.Doering & Veletsianos (2008); Veletsianos (2010, 2011)
  26. 26. http://youtu.be/RO0-7YAxxDY
  27. 27. Competency-based models
  28. 28. Disaggregation & Unbundling
  29. 29. “Whether the practice is calledoutsourcing, contracting out, orprivatizing, the impact is thesame. Food services, healthcare, the bookstore…endlessarray of activities thatuniversities used to manage…”Kirp, .L (2003). Shakespeare, Einstein, and the Bottom Line: The Marketing of Higher Education.Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press
  30. 30. “Online program management services”
  31. 31. But where does it stop? Are there institutional corefunctions that should be safeguarded?
  32. 32. But where does it stop? Are there institutional corefunctions that should be safeguarded?
  33. 33. The role of the faculty member
  34. 34. What roles do faculty members take on in theonline classroom?
  35. 35. “Online learning will render traditional colleges andinstructors obsolete”MythThat’s not to say that theprofession isn’t under attack…
  36. 36. Efficiency. Automation. And robots.
  37. 37. Competition
  38. 38. But also, increased collaboration
  39. 39. Material Re-use and sharingCollaboration at the classroom level
  40. 40. Openness (OER)“Open Educational Resources (OERs) areany type of educational materials that arein the public domain or introduced with anopen license. The nature of these openmaterials means that anyone can legallyand freely copy, use, adapt and re-sharethem.”UNESCO
  41. 41. Source: GAO U.U Government Accountability Office, June 6 2013http://gao.gov/products/GAO-13-368
  42. 42. Provider CostNetflix – 20,000 Movies and TV $7.99 / monthHulu Plus – 45,000 Movies and TV $7.99 / monthSpotify – 15 million Songs $9.99 / monthCourseSmart – 1 Biology Textbook $20.25 / monthSource: David Wiley (2012).http://www.slideshare.net/opencontent/wiley-15432979
  43. 43. Do learning outcomes differ betweentraditional and open textbooks?
  44. 44. NoThe research available says:“substitution of open textbooks for traditionaltextbooks does not appear to correlate with asignificant change in student outcomes”Wiley, D., Hilton III, J., Ellington, S., & Hall, T. (2012). A preliminary examination ofthe cost savings and learning impacts of using open textbooks in middle andhigh school science classes. The International Review Of Research In Open AndDistance Learning, 13(3), 262-276.
  45. 45. Openness (Open Scholarship)
  46. 46. Veletsianos (in press); Veletsianos & Kimmons 2012, 2013
  47. 47. Veletsianos (in press); Veletsianos & Kimmons 2012, 2013AnnouncementsDraft papersOpen textbooksSyllabi + ActivitiesLive streamingLive-BloggingCollaborative authoringDebates + commentaryOpen teachingPublic P&T materialsThe doctoral journey (e.g.,#PhDChat)Crowdsourcing
  48. 48. AnnouncementsDraft papersOpen textbooksSyllabi + ActivitiesLive streamingLive-BloggingCollaborative authoringDebates + commentaryOpen teachingPublic P&T materialsCrowdsourcing
  49. 49. “The online space is anonymous and odd. It lacksopportunities for meaningful interaction &collaboration”Myth
  50. 50. “The open web is a scary place.Why should I put myself out there?”NetworksSerendipityDiverse audiencesWhat will I find if I search for you? Your latestresearch? An out-of-date university webpage?
  51. 51. “The open web is a scary place.Why should I put myself out there?”
  52. 52. “The open web is a scary place.Why should I put myself out there?”
  53. 53. Scholarly Identity & Participation“I made it [Facebook] this hybrid space ... and sometimes itsreally annoying. … I keep thinking I should be writing orlooking at data, and Im doing this! … I created theconundrum that I live in now.”“My position [as a professor] is building a community ofteachers that I talk to ... where you can share, and so[participation in these spaces] makes total sense.”“All the [expletive] is not really worth it. … I think that its okayfor students to not know everything about their professor. …[These practices] add to the complexity of those whostruggle with the home-work balance and the ... technologypull. … I dont have time for you. “Veletsianos & Kimmons, 2013
  54. 54. What are our values?
  55. 55. Back to our challenge/imperativeTo design [online] learning experiencesand opportunities that are effective,fulfilling, inspiring, meaningful, caring,empowering, and democratic.
  56. 56. What are some activities/practices that haveworked for you?
  57. 57. Some practical advice
  58. 58. Online Teaching Advice• Ongoing video updates
  59. 59. Online Teaching Advice• Empower (and listen to) your students
  60. 60. Online Teaching Advice• Keeping up-to-date and connectingall the pieces
  61. 61. Online Teaching Advice• Keeping up-to-date and connectingall the pieces
  62. 62. Online Teaching Advice• Keeping up-to-date and connectingall the pieces
  63. 63. Online Teaching Advice• Keep it interesting by using a diversearray of activities– Discussions– Video narratives (e.g., elevator speeches)– Debates– Digital stories (e.g., comic strips)
  64. 64. Online Teaching AdviceStudent artifact (digital story example):
  65. 65. Online Teaching Advice• Introduce learners to professionalcommunities– Twitter groups e.g., #phdchat– Professional listservs e.g., Tomorrow’s Professor– Blogging communities– Social Networking Sites (e.g., LinkedIndiscussion groups, Facebook groups)– Ask students to attend a virtual conferenceand do X (reflect/summarize/etc)
  66. 66. Online Teaching Advice• Draw connections to recent news, towhat’s happening outside of thecourse– Email link to a newspaper article anddraw connections to class or ask studentsto reflect upon it– Share a story from NPR relevant to theclass
  67. 67. Online Teaching Advice• Create digital artifacts as a class (andmake available to others for free)– E.g., E-books and online textbooks
  68. 68. Online Teaching Advice• Be involved and organized– Deadline calendar– Check-ins (e.g., 1-1 phone/skype chat)– Discussion flow (post by? Respond by?)– Ongoing participation– Clear expectations
  69. 69. Online Teaching Advice
  70. 70. Online Teaching Advice
  71. 71. Online Teaching Advice• Use music, share music, create class playlists…– For social presence– For learning & assessmentDunlap, J. C., & Lowenthal, P. R. (2010). Hot for teacher: Using digital
  72. 72. Thank you!www.veletsianos.com@veletsianos on Twitterveletsianos@gmail.comThis presentation:www.slideshare.com/veletsianos
  73. 73. Image attribution• Open http://www.flickr.com/photos/matthileo/4826783509/• Ben Stein in “Ferris Buellers Day Off:” http://blog.teacherparlor.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/bueller_stein.jpg• Crowd http://www.flickr.com/photos/18378655@N00/613445810• Before NOW thenhttp://www.flickr.com/photos/muffin9101985/3563796585/• Unicornhttp://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Invisible_Pink_Unicorn_black.svg• Teacher writing onblackboardhttp://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0f/Teacher-writing-on-blackboard564.jpgUnless otherwise noted by the original images, content is provided under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/).

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