CONTENTS

Assignment requirements o Background to online teaching and learning o Theoretical underpinnings of the use of media and technologies in online teaching and learning o Characteristics of various media and technologies in online teaching and learning o Fostering interaction through media and technologies in online teaching and learning o Rationale for your opinions drawing on the understandings you have developed from the learning modules and related readings Conclusion References

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Background to online teaching and learning
Electronic learning or e-Learning is a general term used to refer to computer-enhanced learning. It is used interchangeably in so many contexts that I found it critical to be clear of the true meaning of 'e-Learning'. In many respects, it is commonly associated with the field of advanced learning technology (ALT), which deals with both the technologies and associated methodologies in learning using networked and/or multimedia technologies. (Wikipedia 2008, retrieved 8/3/08) Online teaching in itself is not new to the current environment in which we operate through using the World Wide Web. Online teaching as such was initially used via radio and television, again using the then technology in order to facilitate distant and remote learners. But this is not what we know as online learning today. The standard definition (Wikipedia 2008) In computer technology and telecommunication, online and off-line are defined by US Federal Standard 1037C. They are states or conditions of a "device or equipment" or of "a functional unit". To be considered on-line, a device must be at least one of:
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Under the direct control of another device Under the direct control of the system with which it is associated Available for immediate use on demand by the system without human intervention Connected to a system, and is in operation Functional and ready for service

According to Wikipedia 2008, (retrieved 28/4/08) A virtual learning environment (VLE) is a system that creates an environment designed to facilitate teachers in the management of educational courses for their students, especially a system using computer hardware and software, especially involving distance learning. This is further endorsed in a workshop report by P. Dillenbourg, (2000) similarly, a set of Web pages does not constitute a virtual learning environment unless there is social interaction about or around the information. Further, the same website highlights the history and background of online learning from its infancy in 1728 with a distance education course in shorthand and instructions sent weekly to the modern day technology currently available internationally. It also states that in 1962, Douglas Engelbart publishes his seminal work, ‘Augmenting Human Intellect: a conceptual framework.’ In this paper, he proposes using computers to augment training. With his colleagues at the Stanford Research Institute, Engelbart started to develop a computer system to augment human abilities, including learning. The system was simply called the oNLine System (NLS), and it debuted in 1968.

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The initial concept of a global information network should be given to J.C.R. Licklider in his series of memos entitled "On-Line Man Computer Communication”, written in August 1962. And with this the term online teaching was born. Later in 1965 IBM introduced COURSEWRITER, an online interactive system that included course management features and roles for the users such as instructor, manager, and student, and allowed intercommunication among them, which identifies one of the very first instances of online ‘interactivity’ between educationist and student. And it wasn’t until ’76 that that the Open University in the UK developed and delivered three ‘online’ courses (Cooper, Aldwyn (1980). Prior to this a number of radio, telelink, gaming consoles and other forms of technology were virtually engineers in time to connect to a different type of learning environment. It wasn’t until the 1989 that Tim Brenners-Lee working at CERN in Switzerland circulated a proposal for an in-house online document sharing system which he described as a ‘web of notes with links’, once accepted by his superiors he called the new system the World Wide Web. With the advent of this new technology of communication, industrialists and education institutions sought to embrace this new technology by exploring differing avenues of offering their services and resources on a much broader scale. And so began a new era in the pedagogy of teachers having to model their past knowledge of teaching ‘chalk-and-talk’ and learning methods by understanding the new technology to meet new needs of the learners by providing their knowledge online.

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Theoretical underpinnings of the use of media and technologies in online teaching and learning
Of the required readings (Topic 1; Deakin University) firstly tries to identify and understand exactly what their interpretation is of ‘theoretical underpinnings’ but fails to clearly place a simple perspective of what it means and uses terms such as ‘flexible, online and distance education’. My growing confusion here stems from my own and others interpretation of online and distance learning, with the former being only accessible via computer and software technology. The latter, although used in the same context, could simply use books, without technology. However, developed together, this is more commonly known as blended learning. In this instance I disagree with (Terry Andersons, Pg 118) quote that the separation is geographic or temporal space among teachers and students engaged in formal education process. This definition implies that some type of technology mediation is necessary to span that distance. The same topic discussion paper has suggested that educationists need a theoretical framework before being able to understand the needs of both their students and available technology. It highlights the point that ‘the lack of an accepted theoretical framework has meant that practitioners have had to focus upon practical information rather than rely upon organising principles which connect them to what is known about theories of teaching and learning’. Not being an academic, but being in the commercial workplace for some thirty years has enabled me to fully understand the needs & expectations of my clients (students) whilst understanding the limitations of my organisations’ knowledge base (human resources/teachers) and available resources (technology). None of this is based on any theories or practices, just current knowledge, a degree of entrepreneurship, high creativity, business acumen, a high degree of business knowledge and sound common sense. Tim Riessen corroborates my thoughts on the Deakin Discussion portal (Tim Riessen, 2008) stating ‘In terms of e-learning, it means we must first consider the purpose of the teaching, and audience, and then select the best methods for presenting the material.’ Page 17 (Topic 1; Deakin University) again tries to show that a television set brings associations of entertainment for some teachers with a limited educational setting. As my background is in marketing & advertising my creative bent can always find an angle e.g. even Big Brother has merits of learning about the psychological aspects by dulling the minds of its contestants through isolation of any external input – students of psychology at UWA

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(University of Western Australia) love this program (Melissa McDonald, 2008, current student). In the same report, (Anderson T. 2002) Learning to Learn identifies an issue that forces students to become competent and skilful users of a variety of technological tools. Simply put, of course it does, but the use of the word ‘force’ is too strong as my current teachings demonstrate that if a student undertakes an online course as their preferred method of learning then they ‘have to’ embrace the technology, but as its online anyhow, isn’t it to be assumed that they want to undertake an online course because they ’already know’ how to use a computer. I also believe his ‘hidden curriculum’ hypothesis talks openly from a negative viewpoint that online learning might have a hidden agenda for the wrong reasons of cultural bias or political agenda. He offers a number of topics of discussion without ever deciding which one is more relevant than the other, a great deal of theoretical ideals, but nothing tangible that could be used in developing an online framework for new lecturers to even understand. Holmberg (cited in M. Simonson, S. Smaldino, m. Albright, S. Zvacek (2006) suggested that distance education has been characterised by trial-and-error approach with little consideration being given to a theoretical basis for decision making. He continued with ‘theoretical, to bring explanation, on the other hand practical, to provide for application or technology.’ Babson Survey Research Group (I. Elaine Allen and J. Seaman; 2006) highlighted the (pg 1) what is online learning? Has defined that more than 80+% of content must be delivered via the web to be truly defined as being delivered online. As I have already alluded to, and in simple terms, its extremely important to understand the needs of your students variables of engagement with technology prior to developing a subject for online learning, but, it must be based on the expectations of what is learned and then applied in the commercial workplace (assumption of a business unit). My view is that many of the readings firstly, have no real definitive divide between distance learning and online learning. Secondly, a number of the earlier readings seem to be based purely on hypothesis and conjecture without any real structure.

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Characteristics of various media and technologies in online teaching and learning
At Central TAFE we use WebCT CE6 (Blackboard) for online courses of which I have developed the Diploma of Project Management. I believe this has many limitations and have recently found that there is a move within my college to use Moodle, similar operations but open-source software that is very flexible in its approach to teaching. However, this is not supported in the college, so any issues arising, i.e. software, back-up, student enrolment, confidentiality, etc cannot be dealt with from an IT perspective. Also being open-source allows many ‘backdoor’ issues of viruses, Trojans, etc that can also cause an even growing number of problems. WebCT CE6, currently being used for this Deakin University course E-learning Technologies & Media, is an online learning system software that, in recent times merged with Blackboard under a collaborative agreement, that offers educational centres a portal of commonality that can be used internationally. An educationist still has to develop the material and use the template offered by Blackboard as a means of transporting learned material and placing this online (World Wide Web). Although, there are now a number of Toolboxes that have been developed for use within WebCT linked to national awards and developed by educators for the purpose of online learning. Topic 2 reading highlights the need to ensure that whatever medium is used that the educationists understands the psychology of a student in that whatever content is developed it must be user friendly in order for the reader (student) to participate in the learning process. This was perhaps evident in the use of a number of symbols and sign languages that evolved when research was undertaken (Salomon 1989) later defining the use of computers as an overall ‘map’ with at least four dimensions. One of these was their symbol systems: word, picture, number, space, tone. There is evidence over many years within web design in understanding all these elements in the production of websites that tries to engage the reader, i.e. the level of language of words, colour, clarity, typestyle, leading, paragraph control and many other variables in order to engage the reader. The trend of using Flash technology when this was first introduced, showed websites used this in their introduction pages, with flashing images and stars tracing the mouse cursor to draw in and capture the attention of the reader. This is also complemented by understanding the other human senses of auditory and visual traits. When combined, they can add a wealth of experiences to captivate their audience. Again proving Salomon’s (1979) thesis that the effects of Sesame Street on television-naive children in Israel, he concluded that the results supported his general thesis, showing that
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the children’s mastery of specific mental skills was affected by the coding elements in the series, not its content. The current social networking program Facebook highlights the number of different aspects of symbolic use within this media through cognitive recognition of certain graphical displays that aid in interaction. I suppose my hypothesis here is if Facebook was a visually boring site, with minimal or limited interaction, lack of use in space, colours and other stimulating places to visit, would the site still be as popular! There is a dedicated chapter Handouts, Study Guides, and Visuals (M. Simonson, S. Smaldino, m. Albright, S. Zvacek (2006) that highlights the various design skills that have to be taken into consideration when developing new online material. For instance in graphic design letter size is related to legibility. Typestyle with the use of serifs and san serifs in lettering; balance is the sense of equilibrium in a visual. The article from Topic 2 (Pg 3) runs true in that there is no simple answer to questions about how to select the most appropriate media. To me, when discussing the most appropriate media to use, it is based on the research and knowledge of all different types of media resources currently available and accessible, understanding both the advantages and limitations of that media, marrying this to the subject material to be developed, understanding the needs of the target audience (student), but not to the detriment of the development. This also includes being creative to capture reader attention through the use of different media, ensuring interactive behaviours and sound facilitation practices are employed. A good example is the use of audio as part of this course, with the three CD’s provided and because I travel to work by train, I ripped the auditory interviews to MP3 and listened to these whilst travelling to work. I knew of the ability to transfer one mediums audio to another for use when and where I needed to hear it, simple, yet effective. The flexibility and limitations again in the use of collaborative software, Blackboard, emails, mobile phones, pod casts, PDA’s and other mediums have to be used sparingly in order to get the message across, be flexible in the educations approach otherwise I believe a student would lose track of the many different mediums used in the learning process. Consider this, I sit at a computer, with five library books, CD’s, MP3 player, eight PDF files printed, so many online resources available and now bookmarked, four journals, three reports from other lecturers and Deakin’s notes and readings all whilst trying to find common threads of knowledge in my learning. At Central TAFE I believe we have not yet fully embraced online delivery or its potentials of online learning as there are no college policies procedures or systems in place to manage lecturing staff in their development or facilitation.
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I think online learning has many advantages, but I am not sure if there is a higher attrition rate of students failing to complete a course due to the many variables of time, work, family, technology accessibility etc that will affect their learning. This also includes time management and self-discipline skills. Obviously, ongoing further research and study is required.

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Fostering interaction through media and technologies in online teaching and learning
I have found one of the hardest teaching methodologies is the online environment. Laurillard (1993) writes that interaction requires an action by the learner, followed by feedback and then response by the learner. Action alone is not interaction and is not characterised by the same thoughtfulness as interaction. Some fundamental issues arose out of a paper published by (A. Bunker Edith & Iris Vardi; 2001) that clearly identified three primary problems of different methods of teaching and student engagement; a need to improve the access to essential unit information; to increase the amount and quality of student interaction; and to increase student autonomy. One strategy that was not deemed successful for student interaction focused on the mediation of student-to-student as (A. Bunker Edith & Iris Vardi; 2001) suggests that it appears that interactivity is dependant on the nature of the learning activity undertaken and lecturers’ competencies in facilitating online learning, independent of the medium in which the task is set. I think there are a vast number of variables with one primary area missing that of allowing the student to manage their own learning, time management, and focus on final outcomes of an award. On my six month course I offer twenty PowerPoint slide sessions each with approximately 25 to 30 slides holding key information on project management. The students also have to purchase a book - Effective Project Management – which has more information coupled with case studies and questions. The slides have a number of interactive questions they must answer as part or their assessment by accessing readings (some supplied) and in other cases having to be sourced elsewhere i.e. online, library, workplace knowledge, etc. I have developed asynchronous discussions, according to (Pallof and Pratt, 1999) they suggest, that use of asynchronous discussion may increase the reflection and thoughtfulness in student discussion. This has been positively reflected in this e-learning unit through interaction with both the unit chair and other students alike. I have now adopted this idea and found that my students are now collaborating and working in a study group. I tried a synchronous chat sessions, but was unsuccessful given different time constraints, technology availability, internet access (one student in Paraburdoo, north-Western Australia) is not always available, work issues & general time management with one current student studying from Scotland. However, I do believe synchronous chat would work based on local students proximity.

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In an interview with Ron Oliver by Alison Cutler; Pedagogy and Online Learning; (12/4/04) Ron suggests learners learn when they are actively engaged with some task. Yes, you need information but as a means to an end and not an end itself. The best principle is one where the student is driven by tasks, problems and engages with the content and this is how the learning happens. And a good portion of this is in the creative development of the material used for learning, leading to the fostering interaction. I have created and placed online a six month Gantt Chart identifying each activity (15 in total) and when final workplace assessments are due. I have stressed this is only a Suggested Schedule knowing that most students work at their own pace. In one instance I have had a student just finish three months into the course and yet, two students I’ve spoken with haven’t yet started. I place Notes of a motivational description every three weeks on WebCT and I also call each student personally every four weeks to give the student a more personal perspective. This approach has proved successful as they feel that they are not alone in their learning process Students email me if they are having any issues, a previous web-link was changed due to students’ inability to access a website, contacted me directly, and was duly changed. I mark with written feedback within 48 hours of receipt of any activities/assessments. As much as I can offer advice, establish & schedule interactive student-lecturer sessions, the issue of communication is usually defined by three major dimensions; content, form & destination. As can be seen from the following diagram, the essence of student interaction starts at decoding the message (material information/discussion board, etc.) acknowledgement of information and feedback (interaction). There is nothing new in the (teaching) communication process, albeit using technology & consideration over how the material is prepared and delivered.

Source (Lecturer)

Encoding (material & information)

Message Channel (Computer & online)

Decoding (requirements)

Receiver (student)

Feedback (Interactivity) Noise (variables of delay)

As the process on teaching and learning online is developing, I believe that it is still in its infancy and that both teachers and students alike need to ‘learn’ how to communicate with each other through different media channels. Not too dissimilar to the first person using the

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telephone – speak, pause, listen, think and then respond – sounds like interaction, which must be embraced by both teacher and student. A key area for me is that students, according to (A. Bunker Edith & Iris Vardi; 2001) need to be more responsible for their own learning. Other disciplines of fostering interaction online include: instructional design (reference.com) is the process that consists broadly of determining the current state of learner understanding, defining the end goal of instruction, and creating some media-based "intervention" to assist in the transition. Social-constructivist is better known for its use in blogs, Wikis, discussion groups and other Web 2.0 community based social sites. Whilst Gilly Salmons (Salmon, G. 2000) five-stage model is a pedagogical approach to the use of discussion boards. All this is only as good as the educationist developing creative tasks for better learning and interactivity that stimulates further study and ongoing learning.

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Rationale for your opinions drawing on the understandings you have developed from the learning modules and related readings.
From the many readings undertaken, I have to yet uncover a clear understanding of many academics definitions of online learning, distance education, e-learning and many other different forms of technology based learning. There seems to be no clear descriptive and differentiated terminology that defines what each represents and in what context each can be used. I found the experiences of many of the authors to be very good reading from their own personal situations, but always of a psychological and hypothetical nature, that is unless, in some cases, it was evident they had developed their own online material. Yet all the theories and conjectures of what might work or what could happen is just that, purely conjecture, as we have no real idea about the ‘personal’ scenario of the student sitting behind the screen at the other end of the computer. Part of my new project will include developing a process for evaluating a number of aspects of online learning from course content, facilitation, interactivity, individual and group needs and in training the educator. It is hoped this collective study, through the project, will be a catalyst for developing processes and systems that the college can utilise in their future development of online material. I still believe that the development of online learning is still in its infancy as this medium has only really been in use for the last twenty-years since the World Wide Web was first introduced. We have a amazing opportunity to be at the forefront of developing, for the good, a sound learning environment through the medium of computer and the internet that could be accessible to so many people. In stating this, and as educators, we have a high responsibility to ensure that we continually develop ourselves through further studies, research with both professional and personal development of technology based resources in order to provide the best service we can to our current and future students. In saying this I am currently undertaking further training in the Master Class of Instructional Intelligence and seeing where I can ‘translate’ this to my online students. In the end, online learning is simply about teaching to students using technology through the internet.

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References
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Anderson T. (2002) Distance Learning and Distributed Learning; Athabasca University, Information Age Publishing. Bunker, Edith Cowan University & Iris Vardi Curtin University 2001; Why use the online environment with face-to-face students? Insights from early adopters; webpage: www.centralnet/ck/Products/bunkera.pdf - retrieved 26/3/08) Cooper, Aldwyn (1980) Computer-based Learning at the Open University and the CICERO system. In Lewis, R. and Tagg, E. (Eds.) Computer Assisted Learning: scope, progress and the limits. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing. Dillenbourg P. (2000); Pg 5; EUN CONFERENCE 2000: Learning in the New Millennium: Building a New Education Strategies for Schools: Workshop on Virtual Learning Environments. Retrieved 29/4/08, http://tecfa.unige.ch/tecfa/publicat/dil-papers2/Dil.7.5.18.pdf Ealaine I. Allen and Jeff Seaman, (2006), Making the Grade, Online education in the United States, 2006; Babson Research Group. Sloan Consortium (Sloan – C) USA Homberg B. (1995) The sphere of distance-education theory revisited; (ERIC document reproduction service no. ED386578 Laurillard D. (1993) Rethinking University Teaching. London, Routledge. McDonald M., 2008, current psychology student; University of western Australia Oliver R., 2004 #2; http://community.flexiblelearning.net.au/TeachingTrainingLearners/content/article_5545.ht m Oliver R. interviewed by Alison Cutler; Pedagogy and Online Learning; (12/4/04) Pallof R. & Pratt K.; 1999; Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace: Effective Strategies for the Online Classroom. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass Salomon, G. 1979, Topic 2 Reading; Deakin University; Interaction of Media, Cognition and Learning, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco and www.garfield.library.upenn.edu/classics1988/A1988Q406200001.pdf; (retrieved 221/4/08) Salomon, G. 1989, ‘Computers in the curriculum’ in The International Encyclopedia of Educational Technology, Lawrence Erlbaum http://www.ifets.info/journals/8_1/13.pdf; (retrieved 21/4/08) and Interaction of Media, Cognition and Learning (The Jossey-Bass social and behavioural science series) by Gavriel Salomon (979) Salmon, G. 2000. E-Moderating: The key to teaching and learning online. London: Kogan Page. Simonson M., S. Smaldino, m. Albright, S. Zvacek (2006) Teaching and Learning at a Distance; Foundations of Distance Education; New Jersey, Ohio, Pearson Education. Riessen Tim, retrieved 29/4/08; http://vista.deakin.edu.au/webct/urw/lc669757845011.tp1234405516091/newMessageThr ead.dowebct?homePage=true&discussionaction=newMsgCompileView&areaid=1234405 603091&topicid=1234405604091 Wikipedia 2008 retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Online 1/4/08 Wikipedia 2008; retrieved 1/4/08; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ComputerAssisted_Instruction#Pedagogical_approaches_or_perspectives Wikipedica 2008; retrieved 27/4/08; ww.reference.com/browse/wiki/Instructional_design
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Wikipedia 2008; retrived 27/4/08; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_virtual_learning_environments

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