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

[tweetmeme]

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

_________________________________________________________

© 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.

_________________________________________________________

Extraneous Processing Overload in Instructional Design

[tweetmeme]

Cognitive image

Cognitive strength is a construct that plays a vital role in instructional design and also a very interesting ongoing research topic in this field.

In the book Multimedia Learning (pg. 79), Mayer discusses about ‘Three kinds of cognitive load processing during learning; extraneous cognitive, essential cognitive and generative cognitive. Though all three of the cognitive processing are necessary for instructional design, but according to my opinion the bigger role is played by extraneous cognitive processing.

What is Extraneous Processing overload?

In an instructional lesson, when the cognitive processing of extraneous material is so demanding that there is little or no remaining cognitive capacity to engage learners in essential or productive processing. Extraneous processing overload is likely to happen when the lesson contains attention grasping extraneous material or when the lesson is presented in a confusing way. The extraneous processing is a cognitive processing in the instructional material that does not offer the instructional goal and it does not involve any learning process.

When we say extraneous material, it simply means, the extra material that is included in the lesson is not relevant to meet the instructional goal. E.g. if the instructional goal is to understand ‘how lighting works’, then extraneous material though interesting but irrelevant would be video of lightning strikes.

Five ways to reduce Extraneous Processing

To reduce the extraneous processing, Mayer ponders 5 principles, they are –

1. Coherence: Delete extraneous words, sounds or graphics.

2. Signaling: Highlight essential words or graphics.

3. Redundancy: Delete redundant captions from narrated animation.

4. Spatial contiguity: Place essential words next to corresponding graphics on the screen or page.

5. Temporal contiguity: Present corresponding words and pictures simultaneously.

These principles are considered to decrease extraneous processing so that learners can use their cognitive capacity for necessary and productive processing.

Ref – Mayer, R. E. (2009). Multimedia Learning (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

_________________________________________________________________________________________

© 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.
_________________________________________________________________________________________

How to Engage Learners efficiently with Rich Media

[tweetmeme]

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.).

_________________________________________________________________________________________

© 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.
_________________________________________________________________________________________