Thursday, September 29, 2011

Video Presentation Brainstorming Session...

So, I've selected BUILDING COMMUNITY IN A DISTANCE LEARNING COURSE. Beyond the articles I find, I plan to interview students and teachers who have lived the life of a high school distance learning course. I have emailed the NH Virtual Learning Academy to see if someone there would be willing to talk to me. Our high school does have two teachers who have and do teach through that academy, so I should be able to arrange time with them.

I need to keep in mind that building community is a challenge for even a F2F course. I have always prided myself on establishing a strong sense of community in that setting. My challenge is to identify the key components of community that are essential in any setting and then go from there.

Story Boardish narrative...
1. Title with welcoming music
2. A series of images that show community flashed rather collectively for a several seconds
3. Brief discussion of best practices in establishing classroom communities in general (include research)
4. Transition into distance learning with a deliberate, guiding question and images of a distance learning setting
5. Student interview about courses and feeling a part of a community (in both environments?)
6. Perhaps back to research support based on the information gathered
7. Teacher interview about how they build community (in both environments?)
8. Research information
9. Distance Learning administrator interview that I hope guides administrative expectations and expresses the value community has from their perception.
10. Hope to end with the wishes for the future of online courses from administrator, teacher, and then student stakeholders
11. Images of what distance learning community building looks like and music
12. images fading to resources with music.
13. Bluppers often help us realize that community was developed simply in the making of the video, a product of a distance learning experience. (Up for negotiation)

Love, love, love to hear your thoughts.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Collaborative Interaction: Module 2

George Siemens identified three elements of distance education “that are creating more effective learning experiences and giving distance education an identity of its own distinct from F2F courses.” They are global diversity, communication, and collaborative interaction. I agree all are vital to the success of a distance learning class. I would also add the element of establishing a sense of community, something that challenges even the face-to-face educator. Collaborative interaction is at the heart of building a community in a course.

In the blog “How the Workplace Can Improve Collaboration,” Hughes Marino Inc. explores the variety of ways collaborative interaction can occur in the work place. The focus of the information presented is establishing those collaborative space as necessary for the future of collective work. “With cloud computing one of the established trends of the decade and the launch of technologies like Google Wave and Intel’s Dynamic Composable Computing, worker data is becoming more easily shared, enabling new levels of synchronous collaboration for even distributed teams.” The technologies available are helping foster more effective collaboration in the workplace.

Many of the technologies available are allowing collaborative interaction to flourish. Through the use of wikis products can be created through team efforts. Shared documents, like Google Docs, do much the same; however, wikis allow users to collect multiple varieties of information in a single web page. Collaboration isn’t just limited to common spaces. Blogs can also foster collaborative interaction. Users of blogs permit ideas to be shared and feedback to be given through discussions. Another key tool that has helped develop collaborative interactions is social networking. This platform for collaboration allows for the number of people collectively developing ideas to be of a greater number. English Companion is a strong example of how teachers collaborate and grow as a group.

The rise in collaboration in the workplace is a direct result of the innovative tools available on line. However, blogger Alan Lew questions the accuracy of presented statistics regarding the use of social media among educators in his May 1, 2011, post. I believe he is correct we should question the research presented especially if it is unable to be supported by our own research. Knowing the importance of providing resources, it is difficult to validate the YouTube videos or multimedia presentations that do not reference sources. As writers we need to be certain to provide those references to help build our own credibility. None the less, Lew believes that the use of the tools I have mentioned above are on the rise—so do I.

We are moving to a much more collaborative world and the educational tools we use are fostering that shift.


Hughes Marino Inc. (2011, September 21). Steelcase: How the workplace can improve collaboration. Retrieved September 28, 2011, from Hughes Marino:

Kanuka, H. (2010). Understanding e-Learning technologies-in-practice through philosophies-in-practice. In T. Anderson, The theory and practice of online learning (pp. 91-118). Edmonton: AU Press.

Lew, A. (2011, May 1). Really? That Many of My Colleagues are using Social Media in their Teaching? Retrieved September 28, 2011, from Web 2.0 Teaching Tools:

Oblinger, D. G., Barone, C. A., & Hawkins, B. L. (2001). Distributed education and its challenges: An overview. American Council on Education and Educause.

Parker, N. (2010). The quality dilemma in online education revisited. In T. Anderson, The theory and practice of online learning (pp. 305-332). Edmonton: AU Press.

Siemens, G. (2008). The future of distance education. Baltimore, MD: Laureate Education, Inc.

Simonson, M. (2008). Distance Education: Higher Education, K12, and the Corporate World. Baltimore, MD: Laureate Education, Inc.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Evolution of Distance Learning: Module 1

Blog Prompt: After reading the three articles by Moller, Huett, Foshay and Coleman, and listening to the Simonson video programs, compare and contrast the reasons these authors believe there is a need to evolve distance education to the next generation. Do you agree with their positions? Why or why not?

Everything must evolve. It is the natural order of things. Without an evolution, a change, or growth, stagnation settles in and all is lost or abandoned. Learning is no different. If an approach to learning is successful during a specific decade, the evolution of a culture will shift that success in the future and a new approach will need to emerge. It really makes sense. Our goal needs to be continual improvement.

Simonson, Moller, Huett, Foshay, and Coleman are accurate in their conclusion that distance education needs to evolve, as does education in the traditional sense of the word. A blending of the traditional and the distance education is one of Simonson’s conclusions. This argument best matches my own. The other authors seem to pigeonhole distance learning as a separate entity all together. In a way they are correct: distance learning should not be simply taking the traditional educational approaches and putting them online, and Simonson agrees with this argument.

In my mind the approaches of a distance learning experience should fuse into the traditional setting. It will truly shift the traditional approach of “professing knowledge” to the more innovative approach of “facilitating learning.” In the first trilogy of articles read, Moller and the co-writers argue that “while traditional instruction supports individual pursuit of objective and well-defined learning, it appears to be incompatible with the more social collaborative and dialogue-based learning models” (74). In fact, it shouldn’t be any different. Both the face-to-face and the distance learning environments should both do this well.

It's as if our focus needs to be on an evolution of education. And that evolution will result in pulling the best off the face-to-face settings (within and beyond the classroom) and the distance learning setting and infusing the best of each world within the setting that is specific to each. Now, that will be learning at its finest.

We are charting new territory, and our students will benefit!


Anderson, T. (Ed.). (2008). The theory and practice of online learning. (2nd ed.). Edmonton, AB: Athabasca University Press.

Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W. & Coleman, C. (2008, September/October). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer) (2008). Distance Education: The next Generation. Baltimore, MD: Author

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008, May/June). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 1: Training and Development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70–75.

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008, July/August). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 2: Higher Education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.