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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Shift Happens (Module 2, Irish)

The Shift Happens folks have been producing thought provoking videos since 2007, they currently have produced five versions on the same theme.  The theme is the globalization and shifts in society.  The question I always come back to when watching these is how do we as educators answer to these shifts?  Below is the fourth version of their video, published in fall of 2009.

One of the key points that Shift Happens continues to hit upon is that "individuals have more control, more capacity to create and to connect than in any era in history" (Siemens, 2006, p. 72).  With the vast amount of information available to humans at their fingertips, learning at this point in history is radically changing.  Siemens outlined in the video Future of Distance Education that one of the hallmark characteristics of the identity of distance education is collaborative interactions.  With the increased possibilities to connect with other people the potential for collaborative works are at an all time high.

The Internet is the main engine that has expanded the possibilities to collaborate.  Prior to the Internet connecting with others was limited by the network of people that you worked with, or knew.  Today, collaboration is limitless.  So the potential for collaboration has evolved from the network of people you knew within your own physical space, to the never ending reaches of the Internet.  There are social networks where a person can connect with people who share their same interestes.  There are countless blogs, forums, and websites dedicated to the most obscure topics.  From these blogs, forums, websites, and social networking sites come the potential for collaboration.

Once the connections have been made via the Internet to collaborate, the people do not ever actually need to meet in person to accomplish their work.  Through the use of video conferencing tools such as Skype, or online chat programs such as AOL Instant Messanger, and online collaborative word processing software such as Google Docs a collaborative project can be completed without ever having to meet in person.  Prior to the advances of the Internet these collaborative projects would either have to be emailed back and forth through attached documents, or mailed through the postal system.  With the advances of the Internet collaboration is literally at a persons fingertips and only limited by the imaginations of the people working together.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

You Say You Want An Revolution? (Irish Module 1)

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right

The lyrics to the Beatles song Revolution seem fitting when discussing the need to evolve distance education for the next generation.  I highlighted the phrase change the world and evolution in the song lyrics because in the situation of distance education there is going to beed to be change in the world in order for distance education to evolve for the next generation.

Simonson outlined in the video Distance Education: The Next Generation that the concept of distance education is not new.  The first form of distance education happend through correspondent courses, and then over time these courses migrated to the internet.  Sir Ken Robinson, a renowned thinker in education, inovation, and creativity stated during a TED Talk interview in response to the quality of distance education:

There’s been a tendency in universities to try and cash in on the interest in web-based learning. A lot of them have been dumping programs online: lecture notes, videos of talks, and so on. They’re of variable quality. Some of them are great, and some aren’t. In a way, TED is a great example of how distance learning can work well. TED doesn’t have a formal curriculum. But it has new ideas about getting ideas across in a powerful, condensed way, with high-quality visuals, and then syndicating that. TED has shown us a dramatic appetite for new ideas presented in an interesting way.  

Moller, Huett, Foshay, and Coleman outlined five impacts for instructional design: 1) quality, 2) needs assessment and measuring outcomes, 3) connecting training, performance support, and the management of knowledge, 4) improved instructional systems methods, and 5) looking again at learning models.  These five impact areas that Moller, Huett, Foshat, and Coleman outline are universal to a variety of distance education settings, they are applicable to the business, K-12 education, and college environments.  

In order for distance education to meet the five goals that Simonson outlined in the video Equivalency Theory.  these five goals are: 1) to provide equivalent education as face-to-face environments, 2) potential increased return on investment, 3) increased convenience for students, 4) increased motivation to learn, and 5) increased access.  

I agree with all of the suggestions of Robinson, Simonson, and Moller, Huett, Foshay, and Colman. Without improvements distance education will not be able to live up to its potential.  With all of the advances with technology within the last 10 years it is now possible for distance education to provide an equal or improved learning experience to face-to-face learning.  But, without the changes outlined then distance education will continue to be for most situations glorified correspondence studies existing in isolation.  

We clearly have all of the necessary technology tools, as well as the knowledge about how distance education needs to be improves it is time to stop singing about an evolution and actually start the evolution!

Enjoy ~SJ