Report can be found at: http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/survey/going_distance_2011
The link above leads to a list of suggestions to help online students feel like they are part of an online community when taking an online course. Many students report feeling isolated when learning online. I especially like the idea of using group work to help minimize feelings of being isolated. Students can develop relationships with team members which may carry over to other work in the course. A good group project will force students to collaborate and consider other ideas. Of course, social loafers, who refuse to help with the group work will probably still experience a strong sense of being isolated.
Here’s a report that provides information about state distance learning policies. It’s clear that states are taking different paths towards the same goal of providing learners with options for their education. Here are the top three issues I see in K-12 online learning:
How much teacher-student interaction is happening on a weekly basis? Are students working in self-paced modules that rely on rote assessment techniques for efficiency because of limited access to a teacher? What is the teacher-student ratio? Are states setting a limit to class size?
How much collaborative work is being done? Are students considering the ideas of other novices as they construct knowledge or do they only consider the ideas of the instructor/text? We definitely need more collaborative learning in face-to-face education but online learners are likely to study in isolation unless teachers are aware of computer-supported collaborative learning techniques.
How much online pedagogy training are instructors receiving before they teach their first online course? Have they ever taken an online course? How much autonomy do they have over the content and activities being used in their courses?
I would love to hear what others consider to be the top issues.
This newspaper article discusses the use of iTunes U in the UK from a former student’s perspective. The columnist makes a good point about how learning through listening can be done at times when students are ready to learn rather than when a lecture is scheduled. She also points out that students who skip class will probably not be the ones listening to these lectures, thus agreeing with the findings of Dr. Cara Lane from the University of Washington. Lane surveyed students and found that only 16% felt that the availability of a podcast for a lecture would make them less likely to attend class. My guess is that these same students are looking for a reason to skip.
Alabama seems to be following the old model for deploying new technology if I understand this announcement correctly. They are using $85,000 to fund a distance learning classroom at each high school in the state. While they may be the first to do this at every high school they aren’t the first to use the strategy of dedicating a classrom for distance learning. Schools all over the country, and world for that matter, have been doing this for years. It’s a nice start but the technology needs to be mobile so that teachers can use this technology in their own classroom or from home rather than travelinig to the distance learning room for class.
image credit: http://flickr.com/photos/dystopos/29166424
Alabama plans to be the first in the nation to have distance learning (synchronous and asynchronous) at all of its high schools. This should give students access to courses their school may not offer. Will this allow students to take online courses from other schools rather than face the tough teacher at their school?
Here is the website for the Alabama distance learning program. It looks like they have a list of courses and are recruiting teachers. Other than being the first, I wonder what the advantages are of rolling out a program like this. It seems like a centralized approach is working for other states.
Is iTunes U good for education? How can universities afford to give it away? I believe that iTunes U is a great tool for the open content movement in education. Free content is different than free courses, certification, or degrees.
Malasian schools participating in a 1:1 computer initiative with Intel Classmate computers. They are happy with initial results and will be expanding the pilot to include more schools.