Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Engaging Learners with New Srategies and Tools

Equipped with digital tools today's learning environments can enhance learning.  A learning environment must be supportive, open, and respectful (Durrington, Berryhill, & Swafford, 2006). Therefore, it is important to use everyday technologies to engage learners. The three areas of focus that could help facilitate this integration are content, communication, and collaboration. Appropriate content allow learners to share ideas. In order to generate content knowledge learners can use a) file sharing, b) webinars, c) e-books, d) websites, and e) DVDs. These tools allow learners to develop their content knowledge, in order to have a knowledge base for communicating with peers.

When learners exchange ideas, interest, and goals they are experiencing the openness needed for an active and engaging learning environment. When a learner feels supported and they are open to sharing communication is effective. According to Durrington, Beryhill, and Swafford (2006) discussion boards are effective for learner-to-learner interactions. Discussion boards provide a space for learners to communicate while developing critical thinking and other cognitive skills. Embedded in our everyday lives cell phones provide convenient access for communicating. Learners can use cell phones to email, text, instant message, and check Facebook. Vesisenaho et al. (2010) advances the notion that mobile technologies and social software enhances the design of teaching and learning. By using cell phones to engage learners, educators are building pathways for live long learners.

Collaboration is sharing and creating with others. On of the most effective ways, to engage learners in collaboration is problem-based learning. Problem-based learning focuses on student-centered activities that relate to real world problems (Durrington, Berryhill, & Swafford, 2006). This approach allows learners to identify common interest, develop common goals, and share knowledge. Some everyday technologies that foster collaboration include wikis, chat rooms, blogs, shared whiteboards, and videoconferencing. These tools give learners a verity of mediums for interaction; however, the driving force behind their effectiveness is the learners ability and willingness to employ them in learning environments. 

Durrington, V., Berryhill, A., A& Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment. College Teaching, 54(1), pp. 190-193.

Vesisenaho, M., Valtonen, T., Kukkonen, J., Havu-Nuutinen, S., Hartikainen, A., & Katkkainen, S. (2010). Blended learning with everyday echnologies to activate students' collaborative learning. Science Education International, 21(4), pp. 272-283. Retrieved from

Friday, February 24, 2012

Final Project- Collaboration

(Re-produced & re-published with recommendations from peers.)


Auyeung, L. (2004). Building a collaborative online learning community: A case study in Hong Kong. Journal of Educational Computing Research. 31(2), pp. 119-136. Retrieved from

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications fro instructional design on the potential of the web. TechTrends, 52(5), pp. 63-67. Retrieved from

Larsson, S., Boud, D., Dahlgren, M., Walters, S., & Sork, T. (2005). Confronting globalization: Learning from intercontinental collaboration. Innovations in Education and Teaching International, 42(1), pp. 61-71. Retrieved from

Liu, Y. (2010). Social media tools as a leaning resource. Journal of Educational Technology Development and Exchange, 3(1), pp.101-114. Retrieved from

Palloff, R. & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating Online: Learning together in community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Scott, S., Mandryk, R. & Inkpen, K. (2003). Understanding children’s collaborative interactions in shared environments. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 19, pp. 220-228. Retrieved from

Vesisenaho, M., Valtonen, T., Kukkonen, J., Havu-Nuutinen, S., Hartikainen, A., & Karkkainen, S. (2010). Blended learning with everyday technologies to activate students’ collaborative learning. Science Education International, 21(4), pp.272-283. Retrieved from

Yoon, J. & Brice, L. (2011). Water project: Computer-supported collaborative e-learning model for integrating science and social studies. Contemporary Educational Technology, 2(3), pp. 250-263. Retrieved from

I commented on:

Candice Jones

Lisa Durff

Olufemi Gordon

Brandi Renfro

Laura Wojciechowicz

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Static vs. Dynamic Technologies

The static to dynamic continuum provides a platform to assess technologies and their appropriate use in various learning environments. The static side of the continuum is good for introducing knowledge. For instance, a difficult concept can be introduced using a Podcast. This will allow the learner to gain basic knowledge about the concept. Static technologies can be used to scaffold knowledge about the concept. On the dynamic side of the continuum, we find technologies such as virtual worlds, gaming, and social media. According to McGreal and Elliott (2008) these types of technology prolong the interest of the learner and promote collaboration. Technologies that support learning outcomes typically enhance the learning environment.

On the static-dynamic continuum, I find myself in the middle. I try to use the technology that best supports my purpose for incorporating technology. In addition, I like to have a good handle on the technology resource. In terms of moving to the dynamic end, I try out new applications and tools and once I can fit it into a project I use it.

McGreal, R.M.,&Elliott, M.(2008). Technologies of online learning (e-learning). In T. Anderson (Ed.), The theory and practice of online learning (pp.143-165).Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.

I commented on:

Sue Beer

Lisa Durff

Monday, February 20, 2012


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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

The Next Generation of Distance Education

Distance education has helped to revolutionize the field of education. Advancements in technology have granted distance education a new platform for delivery, thereby, increasing opportunities for learning. Moller, Foshay, and Huett (2008) proclaimed online learning to be explosive in many sectors, including developed and developing nations. The increased opportunities and explosiveness found in distance education are not without challenges. Distance learning challenges span across three primary situations corporate training, higher education, and K-12 education. At each of these levels, a common issue is the need to evolve.

In this entry, I will examine the K-12 level. Many K-12 schools offer online programs, often referred to as “virtual schools.” These virtual schools appear in two forms: site-based and non-site based. Huett, Moller, Foshay, and Coleman (2008), suggest four major implications of these formats; learner populations, research-based approaches, lack of trained professionals, and organizational change. It is important to note K-12 distance education is still in the early stages of diffusion.

K-12 distance education offers learners many opportunities for learning. Without the limits of time and space, K-12 distance education attracts a very diverse learner population. Further, a diverse learner population brings with it a host of issues (Huett et al., 2008). Some of the concerns are social development, characteristics of a successful online learner, and isolation. Compared to corporate and higher education learners, K-12 distance learners require more oversight. Therefore, the design of a K-12 distance education program requires technologies that can accommodate diverse learners with varying maturity levels (Huett et al., 2008). In order to address diverse learner populations with varying maturity levels, educational technologist must employ research-based approaches when designing K-12 distance education programs.

According to Huett et al. (2008), there is little research to inform decisions about K-12 distance education. Under those circumstances, ID professionals and educational technologist must protect student interest. If not, K-12 distance education programs will become inadequate. Huett et al. (2008), advances the notion that ID professionals must direct research concerning best practices and models in K-12 distance education. This action will ensure the right alignment of research-based theory and application.

Another main concern in K-12 distance education is the lack of trained professionals. The day-to-day duties of a traditional classroom teacher can be overwhelming; therefore, to require additional responsibilities of designer and technology expert may be a lot. However, it does present new opportunities for collaboration. Huett et al. (2008), suggests instructional designers who are skilled and can handle the challenges of distance education. Collaboration among teachers and instructional designers, allow teachers to be content experts, so that ID professionals can design and be technology experts. Further, promoting learning through engaging and relevant distance education.

The final major concern in K-12 distance education is the organizational structure. This concern involves factors that create a common strand in the three levels of distance learning: corporate training, higher education, and K-12. The factor of interest is economics. In the corporate world and higher education, the key underpinning is economics. Moller, Foshay, and Huett (2008), advanced economic motives, drive corporate e-learning, while a modest distance education program could impact the budget of higher education institutions. On the other hand, K-12 distance education will require a shift in the way schools conduct business. Moller et al. (2008), advocate local districts hiring distance education instructional designers to work with teachers. This shift in business practices will, also, have to help push economies of scales for K-12 distance education.


Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Coleman, C. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 52(5), 63-67. Retrieved from

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 52(3), 70-75. Retrieved from

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 52(4), 66-70. Retrieved from     

Education is a Human Right

"We must also help each other in our endeavors to expand education, to raise the standard of living of our respective peoples." ---Haile Selassie I, 1966