You are on page 1of 14

Running Head: FINAL PAPER

Final Paper By Camille T. Stegman Texas Tech University

FINAL PAPER Introduction The final portion of the course was devoted to instructional design, course management, student perspectives, assessment, and copyright laws. Each of these aspects assists in understanding how distance education is structured and how it is different from face to face (F2F) instructional methods. Online learning is evolving rapidly; information and research is barely keeping up with changes to technology that can improve how distance learning is taught. It is likely that by the end of the decade the distance learning environment will require new methods, designs, and theories in order to respond to the advent of the newest technologies. Instructional Design The goals of instructional design are to solidify the content of the course and assist an instructor with the development and delivery of a class. As with any good instruction there must be a plan to execute and the instructor must implement that plan. Instructional design should consider all aspects of the instructional environment states (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012) An instructor needs to take a systems approach to course design when working with online education. In addition, a facilitator should consider the type of learner taking the class, teaching strategies to be employed, technology being used, best practices, and assessments. When one speaks of a system one refers to parts working together. For example, a circulatory system refers to the heart, veins, arteries, capillaries, and blood that continually move throughout the body; keeping it alive. If one of those parts is missing or forgotten the system does not function correctly. It is important to keep this in mind when viewing an instructional system. While it seems obvious that if the blood is missing the body will die, but for instructional design certain things are easily removed and little thought is given to what will

FINAL PAPER happen to the system. Therefore a systems approach to instructional design is imperative to ensure that all components are present in the model. One of the first steps put forth by Dick and Carey is to identify the instructional goal. (Dick, Carey, & Carey, 2004) This is followed by analysis of the goal, entry behaviors and learner characteristics, performance objectives, assessment instruments, instructional strategies, development of materials, formative evaluations, revision of instruction, and summative evaluations. (Simonson et al., 2012) In order for distance education to be successful, an instructor must adapt current design methods to the distance learning environment. Changes in instructional design are evitable with the advent of new technologies. It is difficult to say what models will exist in the next decade when one considers how quickly technologies are allowing for different forms of communication. The Dick and Carey Model, which uses cognition, behaviorism, and constructivism, is being modified because of several new influences on the instructional scene. (Dick, 1996) The instructional design models of the past are used in any instructional setting; however, when designing to teach online, an instructor needs to be well prepared prior to the start of the course. This preparation has been assisted by some new design models. Several new models have been designed based on the individualized instructional movement. (Simonson et al., 2012) These design models are not new; however, they work well for the World Wide Web. The linear, branched, hypercontent, and learner-directed design models all work on the idea of units, modules, and topics. Some designers use slightly different names, but the idea is the same. A course should be divided up into discreet bits of information. This allows the distance learning student to understand the course structure without the aid of a face to face discussion with the facilitator.

FINAL PAPER There are several important elements for an instructor when considering the learner in the course design. Some questions that a facilitator should ask prior to the course are designed by Willis. (1994) He suggests considering age, culture, interest and educational level of the students taking the course. In addition, student familiarity with technology and its delivery mechanisms must be measured. The students use of the acquired knowledge and the sequencing of the course must also be clarified. If a student is planning on using the information in the K-12 classroom they would require slightly different types of instruction than a student planning on teaching pre-service teachers. The instructor who takes the time to understand their students needs will gain the students admiration and trust. This is important when considering teaching other than required courses. A large part of course design is also selling the course to new prospective students. Distance Education Students Distance learning students tend to be self sufficient and motivated. This does not mean that all students come to the course with the same skills or expectations. An instructor must consider the class as a whole when designing their course work. The instructor should examine the probable engagement of those in the class. Distance learning students are self-reliant; this does not mean they are less social. Times are changing faster than instructors can alter their paradigm. Distance education students of five years ago are not the same type of student that exists today. It is known that learning is created within the context of social interaction. (Dewey, 1963; Vygotsky, 1978) With the increase in synchronous communications technologies, it can be speculated that more social types of students will take online courses. In fact, a study by (Oztok,

FINAL PAPER Zingaro, Brett, & Hewitt) conclude that if synchronous communications were not available within the course management environment the students would seek other ways to gain the social perspective. (2013) Synchronous communications within a course actually increased the asynchronous level of communication. In addition, the cognitive levels of thought, during those communications, were higher. The multimedia available today and the social connections should encourage instructors to design experiential and social learning; however, too many instructors continue to be teacher-centered and fail to move towards the constructivist methodology. (Matijevi, 2012) Distance teaching offers instructors the opportunity to design a more studentcentered approach. Teaching at a Distance The use of printed and electronic technologies as the primary form of communication is the first and most obvious characteristic that distinguishes distance education from other forms of education (Moore & Kearsley, 2011) When planning for distance learning the instructor needs to consider the technologies that will be put to use, the students access to those technologies, and what to do in the event of a technological problem. These are all issues that should concern an instructor; however, with the assistance of an excellent informational technology department (IT) and current computer improvements, these could be downgraded to minimal concern and an instructor could focus on how to make courses more student-centered. Dewey, Vygotsky and other constructivists have encouraged educators to become student centered. Students must be engaged in the process of learning. Students must be interested in what is being taught. Engagement is the most important aspect of any educational setting. By its very nature, distance education demands that students become engaged in the learning process states (Simonson et al.) (2012) At the heart of the engagement is the threaded discussion.

FINAL PAPER The threaded discussion is a way for students and the instructor to interact in a manner similar to a classroom discussion, which is always the most engaging portion of any class. Recently, some guidelines are emerging for threaded discussions. The instructor should ensure that the thread accomplishes its mission by redirecting and clarifying information. The instructor can guide the discussion; however, if the instructor is continually correcting information within the discussion, it can be concluded that the students are not learning or the threaded discussion was flawed. An instructor should allow the students build on their though processes, especially in the doctoral process. The thread needs to belong to the students developing the knowledge, not a dialog between the instructor and individual students. The use of synchronous and asynchronous environments must be considered when teaching at a distance. With the exception of the most recent computer improvements, a large part of distance learning has been within an asynchronous environment. This is due to the nature of distance learning. Students are physically separated from each other and from their instructor. Recent advancements in computer technology have allowed for a more synchronous environment. Regardless of which form of environment or combination of environments is chosen by the instructor, it is essential that the instructor supply immediacy and social interaction for the students. There is some evidence, offered by Sung and Mayer, showing online

environments that offer the opportunity for students to feel socially connected could enhance learning. (2012) A study by Yamada found that videoconferencing had a significant effect on all aspects of performance and affective evaluation. (2009) Instructors need to select designs, environments, and methods that promote interaction, keep students on task, and support learning opportunities. (Simonson et al., 2012) If instructors and universities are to keep up with the changing needs of their students they must effectively manage their online classrooms.

FINAL PAPER Management Practices Effective management of distance education courses should include four subsystems so that all functions can be handled in an efficient manner. These subsystems include a regulatory, student, logistical, and course. (Simonson et al., 2012) The regulatory subsystem is responsible for planning, funding, and decision making. The student subsystem handles the management of the students, admissions, and student support. The logistical subsystem controls the logistics of running distance education, including purchasing of equipment and the training of personnel. The course subsystem is where management of the actual distance learning course becomes a reality. A well-run course subsystem handles licensing, maintenance, training, and technical support surrounding the use of the course management system. A course management system offers tools so that an instructor can present content in a variety of ways. Blackboard and Desire2Learn are the two primary course management systems available in todays market. This is likely to change if distance education matures in such a manner that potential students demand online learning from their universities. Many new technologies on the market today are being tested in environments to conclude if they are useful in enhancing learning. Blogs, wikis, podcasting, and other forms of virtual communications are beginning to emerge within distance education courses. Learning occurs wherever a learner is and is not tied to a space inside a brick and mortar building or even confined to a space inside an online course management system. (Gikas & Grant, 2013) The new generation of college students has never known a life without a cell phone. (Holotescu & Grosseck, 2011) It will be difficult for veteran instructors to keep up with the changes. However, these changes offer opportunities for distance learning to be more learner-centered and to include the social presence required by those that follow a social constructivist philosophy. For example, Second Life

FINAL PAPER contains many functions for social communication in a virtual environment by allowing for active lecture sessions.(Baker, Bernard F. X., & Dumez-Feroc I., 2012) In addition, future mobile devices and integrated systems software will allow instructors to obtain more immediacy and social presence with their students. (Seyitoullar & Katrancolu, 2013) It is believed that a teachers social presence and immediacy can impact a students desire to learn and motivations. (Richardson & Swan, 2003) Course management tools usually allow the instructor great freedom in how information is presented to students. The tools include a place for student submissions, a project space, a discussion area, and other types of course communications. In addition, the management system often allows the instructor to use tracking devices to find out how much time was spent by the students on each task. These systems include some form of grade book, plagiarism software and the ability to do electronic testing. By including Web 2.0 tools and mobile computing devices, course management systems can create a demand for more online education. However, change can only occur if educational organizations are willing to view distance education as a separate entity. It cannot function correctly by simply taking traditional content, scanning it and putting it into a Blackboard platform. There is a basic cycle to adopting E-learning. The adoption cycle begins with instructors enhancing their traditional courses with some technological resources. The cycles can run concurrently or may operate at different levels within a university system. The next step usually involves employing course management systems; however in Cycle 2, these courses are often supplementary and teacher centered. Eventually a university department may start to embed audio and video files, simulations, and other such objects into the management system. Finally in Cycle 4 the power of technology transforms the courses into active learning and creates new program configurations. (Simonson

FINAL PAPER et al., 2012) It imperative that a university system reach Cycle 4 or it will never be as successful as F2F courses. Unfortunately, some universities rush to employ distance learning without proper training this can lead to mistakes and misuse of materials available on the web. Copyright Laws and Ethics In 2002, the president signed the TEACH act (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization Act of 2001, S. 487) One of the noteworthy changes that the categories of copyrighted works was greatly enlarged. Performance rights now allow for DVD or videotaped productions to be used in a reasonable and limited portion. This implies not in their whole form, but pieces of the production. The display rights seem to allow for an amount that would be comparable to what would be in a live classroom. These new copyright rules are just some of the changes invoked in the TEACH act. Other changes coincide with situations that involve distance education. For example, digital media and materials must only be used for students enrolled in the class and they must be used in a similar manner as in a F2F course. The materials must be acquired in a lawful manner and can only be available to students for a similar timeframe that they would be in a F2F class. (Lipinski, 2003) These changes have allowed for the use of performances, musical, and audiovisual works within online courses regardless of the setting for the student. It also allows for photographic, print, and multimedia to be used as long as certain guidelines are followed. There are many myths surrounding copyright and often teachers do not even know they are breaking copyright law. There are two basic things to remember about copyright situations. First, it pertains to original, creative works that express ideas and second, the work is displayed in an actual medium, meaning they are reproduced, communicated or otherwise recognized by

FINAL PAPER how it is used. (Simonson et al., 2012) Many teachers make up their own rules surrounding copyright law by exercising the idea of Fair Use. This idea suggests that if something is used to comment, report, teach, or research it is not an infringement. Unfortunately, teachers sometimes have the idea that this allows them full scale use of all materials for all eternity. This is not the case. Teachers are responsible for following current copyright laws. Penalties can be substantial. However, the moral and ethical responsibility is for the teacher to ask permission rather than claim ignorance. Discussion Teaching at a distance is destined to become more prominent within educational circles. The question becomes what form it will take and how successful it will be at helping students learn? During this course I identified current issues involving the administration of distance education, tried out different multimedia content that can be utilized in distance learning, and discovered an instructional framework for online schooling. All of these assist in understanding what distance education is, what it can become and what it is not. I am beginning to understand what makes for a good distance education course and what an inadequate attempt at online schooling looks like. Both are available in todays K-12 system and higher education. It is unfortunate that distance education is seen by universities, administrators, and teachers as a lower form of education. This view is so pronounced that even within Texas Tech University the mention of the n ations most noticeable online university, the University of Phoenix, brings sneers and derision. This is inopportune. It would be better for all distance learning centers to band together and improve online education and its practices rather than play the game of we are better than you. The overall view of distance learners and

FINAL PAPER their education will decline if there is a continued downplaying of online education from university sectors. One of the most important opportunities for improvement within distance education is in the understanding that the average distance learning student has changed, even within the last five years. In addition, technology has changed considerably and many of the ideas presented within the textbook are really no longer viable ways of transmitting information. For example, even in rural Nevada distance education students learn using the web or some form of course management system rather than a telecommunications classroom. I believe this particular form of online learning will soon be as pass as correspondence courses. So what will distance education become? Currently online learners attend programs because it fits into their schedule; the students will still go through the hoops (courses that the college deems approp riate) that are presented in a similar manner to attending F2F classes. Courses from University of Phoenix do this quite well. I have experience with this school as I obtained a TESL (Teachers of English as a Second Language) endorsement from the university. Every class was formulated. The teacher could offer little in the way of creativity. A certain number of papers, discussion board questions, and projects must be in each class. There is no thought to the students needs; what they would like to gain from the course. My guess would be that many university systems operate in this manner. This is because online learning is not really trusted. Again, it is not seen as a quality education. Distance learning must move forward and prove that it is not only a worthy education, but that it is more student-centered than a F2F education. This was the very argument I put forth

10

FINAL PAPER to some professor friends of mine at a conference. Why is it that I, as an educated and intelligent person, cannot direct my education as I see fit? Why can the local university not see the benefit of me gathering information from another school and then apply that information locally within a teacher education course at my local university? Why is that not acceptable? This is my education. I am in charge of it. The real power in distance learning is that I can choose what I want to study. It is the institution of higher education that needs to move beyond their finite views of the club. As was stated to me by one of the professors it is a terminal degree and you will forever be attached to whoever bestows that on you. This is wrong. This is what is wrong with the university system. This is old school. I am in charge of my education; I decide what I want to learn and what I want to do with that information. Universities need to change or they will be left behind by universities, such as Texas Tech, that do decide to open their doors to the world. It is my plan to create situations that force universities to ask the question who are we serving, ourselves or the community?

11

FINAL PAPER References Baker, M., Bernard F. X., & Dumez-Feroc I. (2012). Integrating computer-supported collaborative learning into the classroom: the anatomy of a failure. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 28(2), 161-176. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2729.2011.00435.x Dewey, J. (1963). Experience and Education. New York: MacMilliam. Dick, W. (1996). The Dick and Carey Model: Will it survive the decade? Educational Technology Research, and Development, 44(3), 55-63. Dick, W., Carey, L., & Carey, J. O. (2004). The systematic design of instruction. Gikas, J., & Grant, M. M. (2013). Mobile computing devices in higher education: Student perspectives on learning with cellphones, smartphones & social media. The Internet and Higher Education, 19(0), 18-26. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2013.06.002 Holotescu, C., & Grosseck, G. (2011). Mobile learning through microblogging. Procedia Social and Behavioral Sciences, 15(0), 4-8. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2011.03.039 Lipinski, T. A. (2003). The climate of distance education in the 21st century: understanding and surviving the changes brought by the TEACH (Technology, Education, and Copyright Harmonization) Act of 2002. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, 29(6), 362-374. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jal.2003.08.003 Matijevi, M. (2012). The New Learning Environment and Learner Needs this Century. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 46(0), 3290-3295. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2012.06.053 Moore, M. G., & Kearsley, G. (2011). Distance education: A system's view of online learning.

12

FINAL PAPER Oztok, M., Zingaro, D., Brett, C., & Hewitt, J. (2013). Exploring asynchronous and synchronous tool use in online courses. Computers & Education, 60(1), 87-94. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.08.007 Richardson, J. C., & Swan, K. (2003). Examining social presence in online courses in relation to students perceived learning and satisfaction. Journal for Asynchronous Learning Networks, 7(1), 68-88. Seyitoullar, K., & Katrancolu, S. (2013). Mobile Learning Management System as a Course Supplementary. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 83(0), 443-447. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.087 Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education. Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Sung, E., & Mayer, R. E. (2012). Five facets of social presence in online distance education. Computers in Human Behavior, 28(5), 1738-1747. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2012.04.014 Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological process . Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Willis, B. (1994). Distance education: Strategies and tools. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.

13