Meaningful Meanderings

Chris Mark's Blogfolio

Second Life Presentation April 28, 2010

Filed under: Second Life,Teaching with Technology,Uncategorized,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 7:24 pm
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I gave a presentation in my IT 780 class at The University of Southern Mississippi about Second Life and the educational uses of this Web 2.0 tool.  At the beginning of the semester everyone choose a Web 2.0 tool that they wanted to present.  I choose Second Life because I think it is a fascinating concept.  I have been in Second Life now for about two years and I can see the educational uses and implications. 

This was actually a very challenging assignment as each presenter was allowed only 6 minutes to present with a one minute question and answer session.  I put together a presentation containing 28 slides, a bit ambitious, but many of my slides consisted of pictures of the Second Life environment.  I had fun putting the presentation together.  The presentation was then uploaded to Slideshare.  You may view my presentation below.

 

Web 2.o and Learning

Filed under: Teaching with Technology,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 6:46 pm
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I read an article about Web 2.0 learning, Designing Dynamic Learning Environment for Web 2.0 Application by Robert Z. Zheng.  The article discussed the nonlinear aspect of online learning with the integration of Web 2.0 technology.  The following is a summary and some points about the article.

Summary

This article describes the current challenge of designing and developing instruction where students are using Web 2.0 applications.  This is a problem because the current models for design involve a linear implementation process.  This linear process is not suited for the complex, ill-structured learning for an online course using Web 2.0 technologies.  Web 2.0 learning requires a non-linear approach that addresses the complexities of learning. 

The author describes Web 2.0 learning and cognitive demands.  He identifies the first one as the characteristics of the Web 2.0 applications consisting of shared ownership, simultaneous traversals of multiple knowledge spaces and social negotiation.  By shared ownership he means that knowledge is created collectively by a group of participants who have a common interest.  The simultaneous traversals of multiple knowledge spaces refers to the fact that the learner is able to simultaneously access information from many areas.   Social negotiation refers to the process whereby web users opinions are critiqued, corrected, transformed into concepts acknowledged and accepted by the online community.  The second Web 2.0 learning and cognitive demand is identified as cognitive demands in Web 2.0 learning.  The challenges here are indentified as cognitive load, selection/use of appropriate strategies and integration of information across multiple domains.  Cognitive load refers to the fact that certain materials are harder to learn than others and that a goal-free strategy works best in the Web 2.0 environment due to it being open-ended and ill-structured.  The author refers to selection/use of appropriate cognitive strategies as the demand associated with the selection and use of appropriate cognitive strategies, which in the Web 2.0 environment needs to be open and flexible.  Integration of information across multiple domains refers to learners being exposed to a vast array of information that imposes a high cognitive demand for information integration. 

Zheng goes on to discuss the existing models of instructional design including the early models, non-linear models and recently emerging e-learning models.  The early models which are based on the ADDIE approach have the problem that it considers learning to be very typical with little variation and change.  It does not allow for learning that requires nonlinear thinking like in Web 2.0 tools.  The Gagne model of design being a rigid model limits what the instructor can teach and what learners learn.  The nonlinear SID models of design are not confined to a specific sequence of events as in the linear model and give the designer more latitude in design.  The problem with this model is that it emphasizes prior goals and objectives as the primary component in the design.  Web 2.o learning does not lend itself to having prior goals and objectives.

The author discusses the emergent instructional design models which are learning-centered and focus on social learning in a Web based environment.  The author describes 3 emergent models, the WisCom Design Model, The “T5” Design Model and the Three-Phase Design (3PD) Model.  The author concludes that these models take on an object-oriented approach and are more flexible and they fit more with the online learning environment.  He states that these models lack a systematic approach to coordinate various components in the design process.

Zheng proposes a new model based upon the following theories:

  • Emergence theory
  • Functional contextualism
  • Individual differences
  • Metacognition
  • Self-Regulation

 

The theory proposed by Zheng has a learner-centered approach.  Learner’s cognitive and information processing abilities are taken into account.  Learners are able to access multiple learning areas without becoming overwhelmed.  He also takes into account interactive social communication in which learners access the learning system through open-ended discussion as well as a feedback system.  The model also considers dynamic learning.  As the learning evolves from lower level to higher level learning the learner adjusts their self-regulation and metacognitive thinking skills to the change.  

The author is careful to point out this theory is meant to serve as a guideline to the implementation of a framework rather that the actual steps that would be involved.  The author states that empirical research in needed to test this theory.

Additional Questions

I agree that traditional instructional design models will not work when learners are using Web 2.0 learning tools.  The nature of Web 2.0 tools is nonlinear.  Using a traditional method such as ADDIE would not take the dynamic nature of Web 2.0 into account.  I did not realize there are design theories that take into account the nature of online learning.  The author pointed out that his proposed model is not the only theory and that research has just scratched the surface of the emerging theories. 

I think this is not a fad as can be seen by the popularity of blogs, wikis, podcasting, social networks, etc.  Educators are incorporating them into their classes more every year and it seems they will continue to do so for several years.   In addition more and more universities are going to online teaching and this trend seems to growing as well.  Educators will need the tools to effectively design and deliver instruction in an online, interactive environment. 

I especially like the “T5” design method for online instruction.  This model uses an object oriented approach involving tasks, tools, tutorials, topics and teamwork.  The author states that this method can be used to effectively integrate learning management systems.  I found this especially interesting because I am currently creating an online course for one of my face-to-face courses and we have to use Blackboard as our learning management system.  The author points out there is a major flaw in this system in that it fails to consider how users use the Web as a conversation field for knowledge creation and construction.  However, I think I would be interested in learning more about this method as I move forward with my course design.

 

Views on Social Networking April 18, 2010

I read 2 articles for my IT 780 class about social networking.  The articles were Using Social Networking to Enhance Sense of Community in e-Learning Courses by Steve Chi-Yen Yuen and Harrison Hao Yang and Conceptualizing Codes of Conduct in Social Networking Communities by Ann Dutton Ewbank, Adam G. Kay, Teresa S. Foulger and Heather L. Carter.  I found these articles to be very interesting and thought provoking.  I am using a social network to aid in teaching one of my classes currently so these articles were relevant and timely. 

I thought these two articles were very helpful to my understanding of the nature of and issues involved in social networking.  The first article did a very good job explaining what social networks are and how they can be used in education to gain benefits such as sense of community and enhanced learning.  I thought the comments from the students involved in the study were interesting and insightful.  I have taken online classes and usually feel isolated and alone and oftentimes confused as to what the direction should be.  I can see where having a place to communicate and share ideas would make the experience so much better.  I think it would have been interesting for the authors to combine the two classes and have the students collaborate and communicate on a global level.  I am not sure if there were language, time or other barriers but I think this would be a great social experiment. 

The second article brought up some very though provoking issues about social networks.  Social networks have grown so much and so fast that I think the legal and social systems have yet to catch up.  I am not sure society is prepared to face the issues and answer the questions brought up by the cyber world and Web 2.0 tools in general.  For instance, Second Life, the popular 3-D virtual world environment social network had some recent court cases emerge which questioned the rights to intellectual property and copyright for things created in the Second Life environment.  Courts are at a loss as to how to address these issues because the creations in Second Life don’t actually exist and Second Life is a global platform.  Society is not ready to deal with such issues but as Web 2.0 expands and evolves these types of issues are going to become more and more common. 

Social networks definitely have a place in education and learning despite the social and moral issues.  I started using a social network, Ning, in a new class I am teaching.  The class is face-to-face and I am using the social network mainly as a means to have discussions, make announcements and post materials.  I was surprised when the students starting going to the network and began posting pictures and comments and friending each other.  Some students even voluntarily adopted the social network as a means to communicate about their group project.  I think they are used to Facebook and like to interact on a social network and it comes naturally to them.  I would like to conduct a survey much like the authors of the first article to gather their feelings about how the social network enhanced their learning and experience in the course.  It would be an interesting comparison to the authors’ study.

 

Social Bookmarking for Research

Filed under: online teaching,Teaching with Technology — Christine Mark @ 7:22 am
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I read the article From Information Literacy to Scholarly Identity:  Effective Pedagogical Strategies for Social Bookmarking by Deborah Everhart and Kaye Shelton.  The article was interesting and contained many practical examples one could use in various levels of college classes.

Before I read this article I did not know very much at all about social bookmarking.  I had an idea as to what it was basically used for but I did not realize that bookmarks could be shared.  This is a powerful tool for researchers and a powerful tool for building a collective base of knowledge about various topics.  I think the authors point about using this Web 2.0 tool to help students develop the vocabulary they will need in a discipline was excellent.  This is a great way to learn and begin to think about research topics and areas of interest.  Allowing students to collaborate and build upon each other’s findings is also a valuable activity.  There is definitely synergy in a group activity of this type. 

I think the authors could have given examples of the different bookmarking sites and what they are primarily used for as well as a more basic definition of how social bookmarking actually works.  They suggested many projects instructors could use in their teaching but it would have been nice if they would have given an example of what a group of students actually produced.

This article along with the discussion in class definitely increased my awareness of social bookmarking.  I can see the value in creating an account and to begin start to collect bookmarks.  I intend on doing this after this class is over and look forward to learning and collaborating with others who share my interests.

 

All About Wikis… April 17, 2010

Filed under: Teaching with Technology,Wiki — Christine Mark @ 8:25 pm
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I read and reviewed two articles concerning the use of wikis.  They were; Use of Wikis to Support Collaboration among Online Students by Jay Alden and Wikibook Transformations and Disruptions:  Looking Back Twenty Years to Today by Curtis Bonk, Mimi Miyoung Lee and Meng-Fen Grace Lin.  I thought these two articles very thought provoking.  The following is a summary of the articles:

I think that any instructor considering using a wiki as part of their course could benefit from these two articles.  I thought the first one was especially useful.  The author gave a great example of students collaborating on coming up with five goals for a company.  I have been using a wiki to supplement my face-to-face classes and while the author was speaking about online students I could see where I could do something similar as far as a group project.  I also got some great ides in the section “To What Kinds of Student Collaboration Might a Wiki be Applied?”  I also really liked the idea of having the students come up with their own rules for how to settle disputes.  This in and of itself would be a great wiki activity. 

I was not familiar with wikibooks until I read the article in Chapter 8 of the textbook.  It seems to me that wikibooks are an expanded Wikipedia.  Rather than have one topic it contains several topics and subtopics.  I can see the value to this just as there is great value to Wikipedia.  Anything put together by means of diverse collaboration will be better that work done by an individual.  I think it would difficult to have a wikibooks assignment in a traditional course.  Semesters are fifteen weeks long and this does not seem like enough time to get students get acclimated to how the wiki works and  the rules for the wiki group and then be able to write, revise and edit a book.  The authors alluded to this when they said that there was still work to be done on the two wikibooks and they would welcome the public becoming involved.  By nature a wiki is not a static document but a rather dynamic one with the need for continuous revision and continuous improvement. 

As far as the future I think wikis are here to stay.  They are being used for collaboration in business, education and for personal ventures.  The cost is minimal and the benefits are many.

 

Creating a Mobile Web Site

Filed under: Mobile Web Site,Teaching with Technology — Christine Mark @ 8:13 pm
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I created a mobile web Site as an assignment for my class IT 780 at The University of Southern Mississippi.  According to Wikipedia a mobile web site refers to using a mobile phone handset device incorporating a web browser to access the World Wide Web.   As one can tell by looking around the number of mobile device users has increased tremendously during the last few years.  As a result more and more users are demanding that content be able to viewed and listened to on their mobile devices as well as being able to use their mobile devices to perform many of the tasks they can perform on their desktop or laptop computer.  

I created my mobile web site using Mobi Site Galore.  This is a free Web 2.0 tool for mobile web site design.  A user of this service does not need to know how to use HTML code, Dreamweaver or any other web authoring software.  It is quite easy and intuitive.  I designed my mobile web site to complement my main website for a class I am teaching, Introduction to Management.  I created the areas of content and included text and links back to my main website.  Once I had entered all the content, I published the website.  An option is given as to where the user would like the site to be hosted.  I choose to have Mobi Site Galore host my mobile web site as it is easy and free.    Here is the link to my mobile web site:

 http://www.mgt300rev.param.mobi/ 

I think this is very helpful especially if podcasts are used as part of a class.  This would allow students to access the podcasts and listen to them anytime and anywhere on their mobile devices.  However, there are some constraints when it comes to delivering content on a mobile device.  According to Wikipedia some of the constraints are; small screen size, lack of windows, navigation, lack of JavaScript and cookies, types of pages, speed, cost and broken pages. Another disadvantage as I see it is that while a large percentage of users have mobile devices, not all students have internet-enabled devices with enough bandwidth and battery power to download and view content.

Due to these constraints I do not think mobile web sites will ever replace the full-scale web site versions or the regular content users receive and view on their desktop or laptop computer.

 

Ning – Another Social Networking Site (for Now)

Filed under: Ning,online teaching,Social Network,Teaching with Technology — Christine Mark @ 7:07 pm
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For my class, IT 780 at the University of Southern Mississippi I was required to create a social network using Ning as the platform. I had some experience in being a Ning user before I created my own Ning network. My IT 780 class is using a Ning network. I also belong to a professional organization, NBEA (National Business Education Association) which has a Ning network.

For my assignment I decided to create a Ning network I could use in my class that started on March 22nd, Introduction to Business. It is a face-to-face class and I need a place for out-of-class discussion and communication. The social network is very easy to create. There are many templates to choose from and I think I tried them all before choosing the one I am using. It was quite easy to arrange the layout by clicking and dragging content place holders from one side to the other. Ning allows for as many text and descriptive boxes as needed which was nice because I could put the information about the class as well as an area where students could link to my website where they could get course materials such as PowerPoint presentations. I set up several items on the Forum including a request for each student to write a bio and forum for discussion questions. I then invited the class to participate and the results were surprising. I had students posting their bios, albums of photos and friending each other even before the class started. Since they are mostly Freshmen I was surprised how eagerly they adapted to the Ning. The NIng network has been extremely easy to maintain and add more content as the need arises. It has definitely been an asset to my teaching this class.

The bad news is yesterday the new President of Ning announced there will no longer be any free accounts on Ning. Their new strategy is to concentrate on their premium customers so all free accounts will be asked to pay or to transition from Ning. I think Ning is such a great tool for educators and I would hope he would allow free education accounts but that is not clear as of today. Meanwhile I know I will continue using NIng as the students like it and it is a great way to communicate. Follow the link below for an update on Ning.

http://creators.ning.com/forum/topics/ning-update