Showing posts with label virtual education. Show all posts
Showing posts with label virtual education. Show all posts

Friday, April 10, 2015

Online Education Encourages Stronger Scholarship Cultures

One of the greatest advantages of traditional education is its ability to create knowledge based cultures through face-to-face communication.  It is believed that on-campus social interaction creates norms, values, and expectations that lead people to higher forms of scholarship.  This is not always the case when negative cultural influences restrict the ability of students to be successful.  New research shows that online courses help to enhance the scholastic nature of colleges by countering some of the destructive norms in society that limit intellectual growth.

When people interact and socialize with each other they create social expectations that can either lead to more scholastic behavior or lessen that behavior. For example, cultural norms can encourage greater research and knowledge sharing or it can socially restrict the transference of knowledge. When negative cultures are developed in face-to-face environments they can be extremely difficult to reverse. Online education offers the opportunity to create egalitarian learning networks not based in preconceived notions.

A paper in the International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning discusses how online education with Saudi Arabia female college students not only enhanced their learning but also encouraged positive pro-learning environments (Hamdan, 2014). Online education offers an opportunity for socially restricted individuals to own their education and contribute to their respective bodies of knowledge in a meaningful way.

This issue is not restricted to Saudi Arabia alone and can impact American students as well. Consider how cultural norms may subtly restrict minority students from speaking up in class, become highly educated, or contribute to scientific discovery in a meaningful way. The process of exclusion can occur between genders, in/out groups, people who are different, those who have higher intelligence, minorities and social class.

Online education creates an environment where people can speak freely without all of the subtle cues that leave some with the impression their opinion isn’t worth as much as others. Because of the nature of posting to other students, a natural activity among the younger generation, negative social norms don’t hold as much sway. Professors and students may be completely unaware of the race, religion, gender, or status of the other people in the class unless they self-reveal.

Where people may be naturally dissuaded from engaging in class activities in one setting may actually find themselves thriving in an online environment where they start on equal footing with others. Classmates know students by what they think and post versus their social status. The process of bringing forward various opinions into collaborative learning environments raises the transference of knowledge and the potential for scholarship.

Hamdan, A. (2014). The reciprocal and correlative relationship between learning culture and online education: a case from Saudi Arabia. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 15 (1).

Friday, January 2, 2015

How Does Chinese Culture Influence Online Education?

Online education is growing and spanning the earth as Internet access becomes more entrenched in people’s lives. The study of culture and its impact on online education hasn’t been studied with any real vigor. According to a study by Zhang (2014) Confucius cultures maintain many of the same attributes when engaging in school online. School administrators should consider the impact of culture on the online education modality and how that impacts learning. 

It is first beneficial to understand what culture is. It can be seen as, “the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another” (Hofstede, 2010). Culture is that which we carry with us from our shared social upbringing uniquely tied to our place of origin. 

When students move online the way in which they perceive the information and how they interact with authority figures isn’t likely to change. Those who were raised in cultures that have a high respect for professors are likely to have wider power-distance relationships. This is certainly different than lower power-distance relationships where students challenge the professor. 

In this case, the professor takes a more profound role with higher levels of societal respect. Students are less likely to challenge the professor or question the professor’s knowledge. This will naturally have an impact on the level of interactivity within the classroom as well as the need for quality instruction. 

It is beneficial for online instructors in those countries to focus on trying to engage such students with their classmates more and allow for specific interventions to help students keep their moving forward. Having a higher perception of status is not necessarily a bad thing if that power is used to step in and move the class forward. 

Likewise, it is also beneficial for professors to provide quality feedback that tries to explain in greater detail ways in which the student can improve their learning, writing, or test taking. Because such students are less likely to ask questions it is beneficial to give them as much upfront information as possible. Asking questions and receiving information on improvement are two different things. 

Moving overseas into Asian countries is an important step for American universities that seek to broaden their reach, encourage sustainable higher education budgets, and use the power of the Internet to enhance learning. The process is not impossible but does require additional research into culture and online learning. Culture will have a natural impact on how information is received ad the level of interaction among students.

Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations (2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA:SAGE Publications.

Zhang, Y. (2013). Power distance in online learning: experience of Chinese learners in U.S. higher education. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 14 (4).

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How to Encourage Student Engagement in Online Classrooms

Online classrooms are an increasingly popular modality in higher education. Because online informational channels are completed in a virtual world it can be difficult to connect with students in a way that is meaningful. Despite its difficulty this connection is a vitally important aspect of encouraging student success in terms of retention, satisfaction, and learning.

Engaging students is about trying to connect with them on a personal level and this can be difficult if you are not standing face-to-face with them and have enough interaction to learn about their interests. Even though it may require new skills the online modality does provide a sufficient platform to engage students on a personal level.

Read Student Profiles:

Students love to talk about themselves, what is going on in their lives, their pets, and their experiences. Reading through their profile will provide an elevator snap shot of the student and how they want to be seen by others in class. Refer back to these profiles and try and find ways to bring in their experience or interests when corresponding.

For example, a student who worked as a clerk might learn better when the professor gives appropriate examples. Another student may have a few dogs and corresponding or providing related material that discuss pet stores, breeding, dog supplies, etc… will certainly spark the student’s interest more than a boring worn out story problem.

Read Between the Lines:

The only real way to assess student learning is to investigate what they currently understand. This requires paying close attention to discussion conversation  and reading between lines to form a model of their understanding. Offering information and discussion that furthers their model that bridges gaps in knowledge is beneficial.

Because students are still learning how to communicate fully in written form it may take additional effort to put together the pieces to grasp their true understanding. Try and take where they left off and push their understanding with appropriate questions. Students will notice the extra effort and signalling that their education is important and they should spend additional effort on it.

Address Students as Individuals:

Students like to be treated as individuals. Sometimes it is beneficial to address the entire class while at other times you will do better using the student's first name. The more often you can personalize your feedback, questions, and greetings the more it tells the student they matter. Personalization in turn helps the student feel as though they are getting one-on-one consideration.

Provide Substantive Feedback:

Feedback offers an opportunity to connect with students that are seeking to improve upon their skills. The professor becomes the authority and guide which has an impact on student perceptions of guidance. Feedback is another method of helping students find importance with their coursework and put additional effort into it.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Online Education: How To Collect Data To Assess Needs and Student Outcomes

Tuesday, June 3, 3:00-4:30 (Eastern)
Type: Online Webinar

As the cost of education continues to increase and the availability of new and innovative technology tools expands online teaching and learning opportunities, keeping up with and increasing faculty skill sets proves challenging. Moreover, institutions are experiencing tighter budgets, making opportunities for professional development more difficult to fund.

This webinar will focus on how to collect, correlate, and use data to expand faculty capacity and assess outcomes. During this webinar, participants will learn how the University of the District of Columbia initiated an effort to provide professional development opportunities to faculty across three levels: track participation and outcomes, target specific training to faculty based upon skills, and move faculty along a continuum toward being certified to teach online. The presentation will also disclose how a simple correlation was used to map trained faculty and their online offerings to student outcomes and increased success.

- Attain skills in designing, collecting data, and assessing professional development initiatives
- Learn how to correlate and map data to determine the needs of faculty
- Learn how to design and explore LMS use via a content analysis
- Learn how to use data to expand faculty capacity on an individual basis
- Discover how to begin to use these tools immediately and not need statistical expertise

Additional Information:

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Benefits of Reverse E-Teaching in Military Education

The concept of reverse teaching has been around for nearly 200 years. In practice it has led to both strong and poor performance of students. This is often dependent on the motivation of the student and whether or not they are actively reviewing materials and making connections between that information. A paper by Maria Constantinescu (2013) discussed how reverse teaching works with e-platforms in the military. 

Reverse teaching is a process whereby the teacher provides the necessary materials and tools for students to understand theoretical concepts. Students study on their own time and then come back to class to show what they know. It is based off of a model implemented by the 1817 Colonel Sylvanus Thayer at West Point who is known as “Father of the Military Academy”. 

The same process also occurs in an online environment whereby the instructor provides the right materials and students use these materials to study the concepts. The class is used as a place where they can display the material, gain new connections of concepts, and share understandings. Both individual and group activities occur to help foster this learning. 

The author discusses the importance of e-learning platforms in developing the right learning environment. As the classroom environment is the place in which students come back to show their mastery it must be designed well to allow students to engage in these single and group practices to the fullest extent possible. Without a strong classroom design the student may not engage the learning process or show what they have learned.

Likewise, the author did well bringing up a problem with assessment. It appears that the platform she used was lacking a formal assessment process. Each conceptual module requires some form of assessment which ensures the students have learned what they need before moving onto the next module. Without this assessment the student would have difficulty constructing even more difficult concepts later in the class. 

The use of papers that incorporates critical thinking analysis and formalizes a greater picture is important. This is where students show the teacher what they have learned, how they understand the material, and how they use it to solve a particular problem. Teachers act as guides and find holes in their understanding and fill them with appropriate materials and information to create greater bridges. 

The advantage of such programs in the military is that it affords greater flexibility and creativity with learning. Each person constructs meanings through the offered material and their past experiences to come up with a bigger understanding. This affords them the opportunity to own the information and creates greater motivation for practical implementation. The biggest detractor is the willingness of the student to expend effort and time in the learning process. Student motivation is a difficult problem that many military academies and colleges have suffered for decades. 

Comment: The use of reverse teaching is related to reverse learning.  When focused on a particular problem unwanted mental connections are lessened while useful connections are strengthened. This is the core of learning and unlearning. As students construct concepts in their own way each of the neural connections should lead to proper conclusions offered within the class. This is a formalization of a larger concept based within the many smaller understandings offered through materials. To implement strong reverse teaching means that greater care over the types of materials offered are necessary to ensure they lead to a greater conclusion.  If the materials are not aligned well it could create confusion among students. 

Constantinescu, M. (2013). Considerations on reversed teaching in the military education system. eLearning & Software for Education, 2.