Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part II

In continuation with my previous post, some of the major features to ponder while deciding to get your course work on-line are –

Synchronous learning – This kind of pedagogy is highly appreciated in the platform of on-line education. Incorporate synchronous teaching as much as possible, through webinar, video conferencing, live chat etc. As I recall, one of my professors arranges for one or two webinar, per semester. Synchronous learning makes a student feel at a classroom, of course virtually.  It enables students and teachers to collaborate and learn in real-time.

Motivation – The author of  http://blog.thewritersgateway.com, Rupa Rajagopalan is a well-known blogger in the arena of Instructional Design, In her blog she raised a questionWhat are the challenges with Online Training? 
For which I had commented,

“As an online student, I would like to point out that one of the foremost challenges in any online training program is “Motivation”.

The concept of motivation is a good one abstractly, but extensively it fails in the online training program. Nevertheless, there are some enormous ways to motivate students. The presentation of training program through ‘Multimedia’ itself will lead to reinforcement and positive motivation. The practice of Multimedia designing according to the 12 principles of Mayer will be of huge help during the program.

Walter Deal (2004) (p. 3) suggests, “Students who come to class and are well motivated generally will maintain or improve their level of motivation. However, students who are poorly motivated can benefit through additional attention to build their interest and motivation through teacher intervention”

Ruth Clark in her book (p 209) suggests that “Leverage personal interest to boost motivation”. She says, “Contextualize learning material in ways that relate to learner goals.”

Rupa says – “With online training, the trainer has to make an effort to keep the communication going. If there is a lack of communication, then the online training program is sure to fail.”

My opinion – I have seen myself lose motivation and interest if my professor does not take an interest in the students personally. I have one professor who interacts via mail with every student in the beginning of the semester and gives feedback to every comment we make in the discussion board throughout the semester. This certainly benefits us as we don’t feel isolated.

Rupa says – “The trainer needs to make the learners comfortable because most people are apprehensive about online training. I work hard on my attitude, tone and language to interact well with my learners and I am sure with time I will get better and better at it”

My opinion – Your students will be motivated with this perspective. For a distant student, this definitely helps to further continue with their program. I understand that it is difficult to maintain it but constructive criticism leads to improvement.

Deal, Walter F., III. “Using flash technology for motivation and assessment.” The Technology Teacher May-June 2004

Mayer, R. E. (2009), Multi-media learning (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Ruth Clark. (2003). Building Expertise (Second ed.). Silver Spring, MD: International Society for Performance Improvement. ”

I’ll conclude this series in my next blog with another important feature – “Building Virtual Community”

You might also like :

Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part I

‘Seven Principles of Good Practice’ to follow in designing Online Education

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© Priya Gopalakrishnan and eLearningbuzz.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

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Strategies to be a successful online facilitator/instructor/professor – Part I

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The fast growth of technology has for sure affected the way education is experienced or shall we say delivered. Online education is the growing need for professionals in today’s economy.

Distance Education can be said as  ‘easy accessibility to learning’. Globally, all the universities have incorporated online learning in their curriculum. With many universities adapting online learning, it certainly takes high-quality coursework to keep their students motivated.

Thanks to the technology that’s helping me get my Masters in Instructional Design and Technology through online. During my coursework, I have received rich and proficient learning experiences. The praise goes to the instructor/facilitator of every course who has contributed diverse methodologies to offer competent knowledge and skill with an effective use of instructional technology.

With the experiences, I have gained; I would like to share the strategies that my instructors used, to build a virtual community that eliminates isolation and keeps the students motivated at the same time.

Eliminate Isolation – Judith L. Johnson, the author of the book, ‘Distance education, the complete guide to design, delivery and improvement’, recommends 5 points for facilitator (Pg 21). In her 2nd recommendation, her thoughts go towards isolated learning. Her suggestion is “to come up with a solid support system to assist students who for the most part are faced with independent and isolated learning.”

Isolation is when a student is left unaccompanied. Faculty has to make an effort to develop communications with the students often throughout the coursework. Technology plays a vital role in this situation. Faculty can connect with students by various methodologies. As I recall, during one of my courses, the instructor made the discussion board very active. She used to connect with every student by giving regular feedback to them. We also had a University messenger where we could chat with our instructor/facilitator, peers, etc.

We were asked to do collaborative assignments and project works. This was a little tough part as I had my peers in different time zones and with various life styles, however, once we figured out a way to communicate it became much fun and a sigh of satisfaction.

Personal connection with students – A one on one interaction is recommended with students. In one of my course works, when we students introduced ourselves with a picture or a small introductory video in the discussion board; the facilitator/professor of the course sent personal mail to us. Possibly, a phone call or a chat conversation with the students at the start of every course will make students comfortable. These approaches would certainly make a course rich in quality and will be highly motivating.

Include Video lectures – A high quality courseware would be where I can see and hear the faculty. For every chapter, I would like to see video of a faculty giving lecture on the lesson. This would be like having a one on one with the faculty for every learner. Duane Champion, Director of Computer Technology, Penn State Public Broadcasting, researched and developed ‘Web Presenter’, multimedia package in which faculty would be able to include live video, audio and many other features in the web-based course. More can be seen here http://qualityspotlight.psu.edu/web_presenter/index.html.

(Distance Education, The complete guide to design, delivery and improvement; pg 120) Author, Judith L. Johnson states about live video services in varying universities such as Coastline Community college in Fountain Valley, California and University of Maine System University College.

I would like to add Stanford University, who offers recorded video lectures. My husband graduated in Stanford’s Project Management Professional certification course. Throughout his course work, he heard saved video lectures. It was an innovative way of reaching students and putting them in ease with difficult chapters. I was highly impressed to see a real faculty in a traditional classroom. Video lectures is a great boon for Distance Education students.

In my next blog, I will continue with synchronous learning, virtual community etc.

Have you acquired any online courses? Could you please share your experiences on the delivery mode and how your instructor/facilitator connected with you?

You might also like :

‘Seven Principles of Good Practice’ to follow in designing Online Education

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© Priya Gopalakrishnan and eLearningbuzz.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

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User Experience in Education based Multimedia

Technology plays a prominent role in the delivery of education. An interactive multimedia-based educational module motivates children to embrace reading and writing habits. These modules assist children to gain knowledge of many complicated subjects in a fun and easy manner.

Always, the educational multimedia products facilitate to deliver an outstanding training module. However, a few of the training modules fail to meet their goal.

Let’s ponder 3 major reasons for the failure.

  1. Lack Challenge – I have come across many children based multimedia modules, and most of them are developed by teachers with little or no instructional design background. The content is mere reading from a textbook with a simple quiz thrown here and there. This does not encourage kids to proceed further as it does not challenge the kid. By creating the multimedia module more interactive might motivate the children to further explore the module. Children love hands on activity/exercise instead of just listening or reading.
  2. Information OverloadThe training modules fail to address higher thinking skills, the readings they require to integrate are scattered all over the web, which makes it hard for the audience to keep track from one reading to another. The multiple readings spread all over the web are not only very difficult to gather but also makes learning very distracting for the children.
  3. No Feedback – Feedback and more feedback constantly assist to create a better product that would enhance the learning of the children. Feedback from parents or teachers is highly recommended.

While designing high-quality interactive multimedia learning modules, the approach of the designer should be to motivate children and introduce them to a variety of learning styles that make the learning process more intriguing.

4 points for instructional designers to consider while designing education based multimedia module for children.

  1. The training module should display a strong base on which the children can build proficiency.
  2. It should demonstrate different learning styles.
  3. The training material should stimulate many parts of the kid’s brain.
  4. Above all make it fun for the children to learn.

Do you have any points to add to the above list?

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© Priya Gopalakrishnan and eLearningbuzz.wordpress.com, 2011. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

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Personalization & Voice Principle

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Richard E. Mayer is a professor of psychology who has experimented and written the 12 key principles of Multimedia Learning.

In this post, I would like to ponder about his 10th and 11th principle which is ‘Personalization Principle’ and ‘Voice Principle’ in Multimedia Learning.

Personalization Principle –

According to Personalization principle; people learn more deeply when words are presented in conversational style than formal style. Nevertheless, in the book “E-learning and the science of instruction: proven guidelines for consumers” Clark and Mayer gives guidance for conversational style, ‘The challenge for instructional professionals is to avoid over-using conversational style to the point that it becomes distracting to the learner.’

It makes sense to write informally as learners would feel that they are having interaction with their instructor or a friend but at the same time keeping in mind that not so informal that the learner gets distracted by too casual tone and script. When I say distracted it means that a casual conversational style might even divert the learners from the main message of the training material.

Voice Principle –

Speaking of casual tone, when we look at the voice principle, Mayer has a say that, ‘In voice principle, people learn more deeply when the words in a multimedia message are spoken by a friendly human voice than by a machine voice.’ According to the research of Reeves and Nass (1996), it shows that, under the right circumstances, people “treat computers like real people.” Part of treating computers like real people is to try harder to understand their communications.”

I certainly agree to it, as I have worked with machine voices in the software Adobe Captivate, the voice does not relate anything near to the script on the screen. The script given by me was meant for a casual tone but the way the machine reads without any personalization seems to be very formal. One more cons for machine voice is, while working with global audience, it may get hard for the machine voice to speak with accent. However, working with a local human voice narration might work better in this scenario. (Mayer) Voice cues may affect the degree to which a learner feels a social response to the instructional message.

Have you worked on delivering voice narrations before for your multimedia presentation? Which one did you choose between human voice, machine voice and talking avatars like Sitepal.com? Why?

Which style did you choose, formal or conversational? Why?

Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). New York, New York: Cambridge University Press.

Clark, Ruth. C., Mayer, Richard. E. (2003). E-learning and the Science of instruction proven guidelines for consumers and designers for multimedia learning. San Francisco: Pfeiffer.

Photo Courtesy – Sitepal.com

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© Priya Gopalakrishnan and eLearningbuzz.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.

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How to Engage Learners efficiently with Rich Media

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Rich media have always been used efficiently as entertainment in the form of films and interactive games. Different forms of edutainment have included features of electronic games in the service of achieving educational goals.

Even though rich media are being used enormously to achieve the educational purpose, yet, learners are not motivated to continue an instructional goal. Why?

Here are a few tips that will help you to design your instructional module with rich media, that will engage learners efficiently –

Minimize unnecessary visuals and text

In the year 1997, Harp and Mayer assessed the learning effects of adding both ‘seductive’ text and visuals to multimedia lessons. Seductive details are normally related to the general topic but are unrelated to the primary instructional goal. Though, these details would certainly spice-up the lessons, but it doesn’t do much judgment to the learning. In 1998, they further concluded that seductive details could distract the learners, by confusing the building of a mental model or by activating inappropriate preceding knowledge.

Utilize right design principles for inexperienced learners

The learner’s level of prior knowledge will help you design appropriate learning using rich media.  Low-knowledge people might benefit immensely by well-designed multimedia than high-knowledge learners. High-knowledge learners will be able to compensate for poorly designed learning compared to low-knowledge learners. According to Mayer (2001), integrating text and diagrams is always considered a good instructional design that helps low-knowledge learners but made little or no difference for high-knowledge learners. Mayer also concludes that, while working with low-knowledge learners, be particularly careful to use relevant principles of multimedia design.

Use simulations effectively with rich media

Simulations not only hold the potential to improve learning but also add value to an instructional program. Simulations are fun and motivating to use, for both children as well as adult learners. During the process of simulation learners acquire a broad discipline-specific knowledge that they are able to later transfer into a professional setting. In a study done by, Moreno, Mayer, Spires and Lester (2001) have noticed that, students learned better from a computer-based simulation game designed to teach environmental science than when the same material was presented as a tutorial with onscreen text and illustrations.

Rich media can enhance learning, provided, if they are used in ways that promote an effective cognitive process in learners;

  • Visuals such as illustrations and animation can improve learning, but animation is not necessarily more productive than illustrations.
  • Audio can enhance learning such as, when the narration supports animation, but background music might divert learners.
  • Including attractive but unrelated words and graphics does not motivate deeper learning but detracts from learning.

Rich media do not create learning, but rich media can enable effective instructional methods that promote learning.
So, use them wisely.

Reference – Robert a Reiser and John V Dempsey. Trends and Issues in Instructional Design and Technology (Second ed.).

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© Priya Gopalakrishnan and eLearningbuzz.wordpress.com, 2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and owner is strictly prohibited.
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