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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Extraneous Processing Overload in Instructional Design

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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.

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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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The impact of Internet and web in ‘K-12 education, Higher Education and Adult Education’

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Selected as one of the ‘Best Blog Posts of the Week; May 30, 2010 – June 05, 2010‘  by elearningPlanet.com

The technological innovations of Internet and the web demonstrates a major impact in –

  • K-12 Education (public, private, home school)
  • Higher Education (community colleges, colleges/universities)
  • Adult Education (business, health care)

K-12 Education

Internet and web already have a major impact in K-12 education. It has been around for some time now. Nearly a decade back I worked on a few websites for a private school that would teach math, grammar, spellings for k-8 kids in a fun and interactive way. Online educational games are getting more and more popular in this arena.

Many web-based instruction are also available for home school children; California Virtual Academies use personalized curriculum for K-12. Their curriculum are designed based on their research work of ‘how young minds work’. Children are encouraged to do research work on the web for their assignments.

Many schools in the process of going green are encouraging their students to send their homework online and also the student’s performance is assessed through online exams. The mission of ‘One Laptop per Child’ foundation is to create educational possibilities for the world’s poorest children by giving each child a low-cost laptop with content and software loaded for collaborative learning. Children love technology and when they are given this tool, they are ready to educate themselves, get connected to the world and look forward to a brighter future.

In the current K-12 education world, the involvement of web is reflected as one of the essentials of school.

Higher Education

The impact of internet in higher education is fairly huge, and it is anticipated much more in the coming years. Internet education is a big blessing for the students who are not able to attend in-person classrooms due to many reasons.

Gone are the days when online universities were a big mystery, since they did not show themselves to the world. Today, almost all the brick and mortar universities around the globe have adapted to online education. Their courses are divided into three categories; face to face or traditional classrooms, blended or hybrid and online courses. When I receive a brochure of my local community college, a separate section is devoted to online courses, as well as to hybrid courses. Education has no boundaries after the online education has been recognized.

Given below are just a few features that are available for online students –

  • Face to face interaction is replaced by Video conferencing with professors and classmates using many online collaborative tools but at the same time maintaining similar interaction and educational values as in any classrooms.
  • Classmates share wiki for working on collaborative projects.
  • Apart from the above examples, not to forget; saving commuting time, an opportunity for stay at home mom, upgrading your profile while working, etc.

Yes, there are certain disadvantages to this kind of education. More than traditional classrooms, the online education is a bit intensive and rigorous; however, a little planning and organizing would solve the problem. One might have to give up the socializing part of traditional classrooms. These disadvantages mean nothing over the benefits we gain at this level of education.

Adult Education

The corporate world is immensely progressing to give training through online to their new employees. It’s no more just; give them a bunch of manuals and ask them to study before they join their work. From time to time, the company encourages their employees to take up online courses that would be useful for their organization. Varieties of multimedia training programs are created for the employees to get acquainted about the company. Here are a few examples –

Expedia.com training – http://bit.ly/9C3605

Comcast – http://bit.ly/ddEesk

Employee Security – http://bit.ly/9f3Nbz

Even health care is making a massive leap towards the Web. A couple of years back, in India, a major surgery saved a life. This surgery was special; the reason, the surgery was performed in India with the help of a surgeon in USA. I believe in both the sides web-cams were connected and the surgeon was giving instructions to the Indian doctors looking at the patient in monitor screen. Amazing isn’t it?

A diversity of interactive websites are devoted to health care that can teach upcoming health specialists to task on certain body parts. Wondering how is that possible? Here are a few examples –

Virtual Knee Surgery – http://bit.ly/aL0xnz

Interactive tour on Human Brain – http://www.alz.org/brain/01.asp

This is Web 2.0 era, and already we are enjoying such huge possibilities. With Web 3.0 fast approaching, how do you think K-12, Higher Education and Adult Education would be more benefited?

Thanks to http://www.elearningplanet.com for providing the eLearning demo links. You can find other E-Learning Demos at http://bit.ly/cW1QYs

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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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