Meaningful Meanderings

Chris Mark's Blogfolio

IT 644 Final Reflections on Another Great Dr. Yuen Course November 27, 2010

Well, I can’t believe another semester has come to an end.  This semester went very fast.  IT 644 proved for me to be a typical Dr. Yuen class.  By typical, I mean that it provided exposure to many things that I had never heard of and challenged my technical skills to figure things out.  As usual, my mind was working throughout the course thinking, “How can I use this in my classes?”  Many of the tools and ideas learned have a definite place in teaching and learning.  From my perspective the most valuable tool we learned was Prezi.  What a great alternative to the standard, usually boring, PowerPoint.  Prezi is a great tool for instructors who want to spice up their lectures.  It is also a great tool for students, allowing them to present information in a fun and creative way.  Just don’t flip too fast you will become dizzy!!!

With some of the tools I had to wonder how I would ever use them in my classes.  In particular I thought Fuzzwich and Video Toolbox were not so useful.  These were my least favorite tools although I could envision teachers with younger children possibly using these.   The problem with all the available Web 2.0 tools is that there are so many and each one may do something that would be of value in the classroom.  I think IT 644 did a great job of sorting through a large selection of these tools and pointing out the value of them and how they could be used in teaching and learning. 

I liked the design of the class.  The use of Mixxt, a social network, went a long way in bringing the class closer.  I liked how our projects were posted on the Mixxt network and then we could look at other class members’ projects.  This was a great way to get to know the other class members and to establish a relationship beyond merely seeing them in a classroom.  Also getting further ideas on how to use the various tools by seeing how each person integrated them into their various projects.

 

I am always looking for new things to integrate into my classes, especially my online classes.  IT 644 provided me with a lot of ideas and things I would like to try.  I think definitely Dropbox, Audacity, Prezi, Showbeyond and video editing would be great tools to make an online class more interesting and engaging to students.  I am looking forward to integrating these tools as well  continuing to look for new and innovative tools in the future.

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Second LIfe? I Don’t Even Have Time for a First Life!!! July 23, 2010

As part of IT 860 we learned about Second Life and how it can be used for education and learning.  I have been a resident of Second Life for about 2.5 years and I am so amazed by the potential impact on education.  Second Life is a 3-D virtual community imagined and created by its residents. It has a real economy, property ownership, and avatars (powered by people) that engage in many interactions and activities.  This is my avatar Crystal Zhangsun:

 

Our assignment for this part of the course was to participate in a symposium showcasing our research.  We were assigned an alcove area on the Golden Eagle1 Island where we put up 5 slides explaining and outlining our research.  Participants were then invited to come and walk around and ask questions.  Our alcove (see picture below) was set up with our photograph where participants could click and get a bio and they could click the title slide on our podium and get a handout.  We were not sure how the symposium would go or if anyone would come.  We were pleased that we had over 50 participants who attended, looked at the alcoves and asked questions.  It was fun to talk to the various people who came by.  They were all very encouraging and supportive of what we were doing.

 

I think the symposium provided one example of the uses of Second Life in education.  It is a great venue for sharing ideas and learning from each other.  I spoke to a teacher from France which is pretty amazing.  Classes and workshops can be designed that encourage collaboration and participation by students in a global context.  Students can meet and interact with students and teachers around the world without ever having to travel.   I can also see Second Life being used to as a way to conduct online classes.  It does create a sense of presence and community that one would not get from Blackboard.  I think SL teaching as opposed to the Blackboard environment has the following advantages:

  • Appeal to today’s visual students
  • Collaboration between campuses, disciplines, students/nonstudents
  • Distributed learning
  • Authenticity
  • Sense of Presence and connectedness
  • Social Networking w/ global reach

 

Needless to say, this was favorite assignment.  I think Dr. Mark did an outstanding job preparing the alcoves, uploading all the materials and training everyone (of course I may be a little biased…).

 

Voice Thread – a Great Community Tool July 21, 2010

Out of all the assignments and Web 2.0 tools studied so far in IT 860, I thought this one had the most potential. I had never used Voice Thread before and was not quite sure as to what to expect. Voice Thread is a digital story telling program an article I read referred to it as a “group audio blog”. Voice thread allows users to upload PowerPoint presentation, pictures and videos and narrate this content by adding audio comments or text comments. Others are then invited to the Voice Thread where they can see and hear the content and also add comments through voice, text or doodling on the image. The required assignment involved uploading at least 10 slides from a presentation and adding voice to them through the comment feature. It was quite easy to do. The only problem I had was that my PowerPoint slides lost some of their formatting in the conversion process. Some of my text became larger and some text moved on my slide. I had to keep going back and changing my slide so that it would look right after Voice Thread converted it. Other than this “glitch” it was fine. I did my presentation on a project I did my Organizational Behavior class this summer. I found the narration to go smoothly. It was fun to listen to and read the various comments left my classmates on my slides. It was also interesting to listen to their presentation and leave comments for them. We have a class with very diverse interests. The URL to my Voice Thread is:

 http://voicethread.com/share/1240739

I think there is a lot of potential for educators using this Web 2.0 tool. The Voice Thread site itself has a Library section with many examples of things teachers can do with this technology. Most of the examples were geared toward the K-12 group, but there were a few examples of use in higher education. I am designing my Introduction to Human Resource class to be online in spring of 2011 and could see where I can use Voice Thread. I am trying to come up with ways to make the online class more personal rather than the strict use of a course management system such as Blackboard. Since I won’t be seeing my students face-to-face I want to give them a sense of who I am and share some of the experience I have had in the Human Resource field. This would be a great means to do this. I can narrate a PowerPoint and ask questions and have them comment. I could show a short video and get their reactions to the content. As I design the course I think I can come up with several unique ways to integrate into my class to gain a sense of presence and community. Overall I think this is one the best tools and look forward to using it soon.

 

The “Social” Implications of Social Bookmarking July 17, 2010

Filed under: PhD,social bookmarking,Teaching with Technology,Web 2.0 — Christine Mark @ 2:42 pm
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As part of my class, IT 860, Emerging Technology, I learned about Diigo bookmarking.  Diigo which stands for the “Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff,” has been around since 2006.  Diigo is a Social bookmarking website which allows users to bookmark, highlight and tag web-pages.

I did not know much about social bookmarking before this assignment.  I read many articles and viewed some videos.  The Common Craft video was especially helpful.  Here it is:

I signed up for an account with Diigo and joined the group for my class.  I then audited my toolbar to include an icon for Diigo so that when I found something I wanted to keep I could easily bookmark it.  I found Diigo to be extremely easy to use and understand.   I bookmarked several articles which may help with my research for my paper in this class.  Here is the URL for my Diigo library: 

http://www.diigo.com/user/christinemark

The reason this is called “Social” Bookmarking is that people can share their bookmarks.  We all spend inordinate amounts of time sifting through the billions of web pages available and to be able to get a complete list of bookmarks that are of interest is valuable.  There are many uses in education.  I for one can see using it when doing research.  For instance, I am researching the use of social networks in the corporate recruiting process.  I know a colleague is doing research on organizations using social networks as a means of checking applicant’s backgrounds.  Even though our exact niche area is different, many of the same resources would apply to each area.  So if we share our bookmarks we may find pertinent resources we would not have otherwise found. 

I believe social bookmarking could also be used by students for group projects or anything requiring collaboration.  This is a great way for students to share information and learn from each other.  Diigo allows users to highlight and leave sticky notes on pages.  This allows other students to read the comments and add comments of their own to the web pages. 

I think, above all, the main advantage of social bookmarking is that the bookmarks are kept on the Web so they can be accessed from any computer or Smartphone.  This allows users to tag, highlight and annotate pages from any location.

 

Final Thought on IT 780 May 1, 2010

I can’t believe the semester is over.  So much has happened in the last few months.  IT 780 was a very good experience for me both personally and professionally.  Personally it was a valuable experience that I will not forget.  The opportunity to meet so many other people with a similar interest in technology and teaching was wonderful.  I had the opportunity to socialize with some of the other students in my class.  We went out to dinner which proved to be a great opportunity to get to know each other and our interests in education.  I also had the opportunity to attend and present at two conferences during the semester where some of my fellow students were also attending.  This was a great opportunity to further get to know them and we supported each other in what we were doing. 

This class also helped me professionally by introducing me to so many great Web 2.0 tools.  By learning the advantages of this technology and its uses for education and learning I was able to integrate these tools into my classes immediately.  I am using a Wiki in my Human Resource Management class.  We have discussion of cases, communication, etc.  I also incorporated the social network Ning into a new class I am teaching, Introduction to Business.  The Ning is a wonderful tool that has allowed my class to have discussions, work together in groups and stay connected.  The class also helped me professionally as far as developing new ways to communicate and stay connected.  For instance, this blog contains a great variety of information that I can share with my colleagues and students.  I intend to continue adding things to my blog for a long time to come.  The class also allowed me to see many different tools and techniques that I never knew existed.  The only problem is there is not enough time in the day to check out all that is available. 

I am sure this will end up being one of the classes that I look back at and say I learned a lot and am actually using and applying what I learned to be a better teacher!!!

 

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.