Three reflections

10 best practices for elearning

1) Be present at the course site. Have a welcome video and post including an outline of the course. Be available throughout the course and ‘seen’ on the site – announcements, posts etc.

2) Create a supportive online course community. Have an icebreaker e.g. Lineup (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011, p. 56). Provide opportunities for students to collaborate e.g discussion forums, group projects.

3) Develop a set of explicit expectations for your learners. Make objectives of course and expectations clear e.g. guidelines for assignment submission, time expected to be spent learning on the course.

4) Use a variety of large group, small group, and individual work activities. E.g. case studies on handling difficult patients- the first few can be team activities.

5) Use a mix of synchronous/real time and asynchronous/any time activities. E.g. for bookkeeping can have a synchronous activity like a virtual live classroom, for job preparation can do an interview practice via Skype, or can have a guest speaker live.

6) Ask for informal feedback early in the course. What is going well? What is not?

7) Prepare discussion posts that invite responses, questions, discussions, and reflections. Example a forum on good customer services in medical offices – can ask students to think about their best and worst experiences in a medical office.

8) Search out and use content resources that are available in digital format. Videos, web links, articles, images, these can all be made available to students. Students can be asked to add to a resource section.

9) Combine core concept learning with customized and personalized learning. Making thinking visible shows what students know. Can use discussion forums, blogging, journals, wikis, podcasts etc. E.g. a group or paired wiki on four medical tests.

10) Plan a good closing and wrap activity e.g. students can do presentations summarising the course and post to a forum. Boettcher & Conrad states that end of course is a good time for synchronous activity so can use a live classroom.

(Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 37)

References

Boettcher, J. V. and Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Conrad, R. and Donaldson, J. (2011). Engaging the Online Learner. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

ePortfolios

We talk to people online ‘face to face’, we send emails, we apply for jobs online, so why do people still walk around with folders of their work? Why do we still have students’ assignments ‘printed out’ and kept in a folder?

“An e-portfolio is a digitized collection of artefacts including demonstrations, resources, and accomplishments that represent and individual, group, or institution” (Lorenzo & Ittelson, 2005, p.1). Text, graphics, video, audio, images, and/or animations can be archived on a website or electronic media e.g. CD, DVD, or USB.

Lorenzo and Ittelson outline six functions of e-portfolios: to plan educational programs, document knowledge skills, and learning, track development; find a job; evaluate a course, monitor and evaluate performance (Lorenzo & Ittelson, 2005, p.2).

Student’s e-portfolios document examples of work, show what they have learnt, encourage reflection. They can be used to show prospective employers. Teaching e-portfolios document skills, accomplishments and critical reflection. It can be used for career advancement. Institutional e-portfolios include both student and teacher e-portfolios as well as the institutions portfolios from a range of programs (Lorenzo & Ittelson, 2005, p.3-5).

A number of issues and challenges surround e-portfolios such as hardware and software issues: development and maintenance; security and privacy; ownership and intellectual property: who owns it? What can be included? These issues as well as others must be considered (Lorenzo & Ittelson, 2005, p.8).

There are many ways to create e-portfolios. Many institutions have their own integrated system. Google Apps can be used to create e-portfolios. There are different ways to use it, for example as an instructor there is a Google Apps for Education domain which can be used to enrol students and control access (https://sites.google.com/site/eportfolioapps/). Brightspace is another way to create an e-portfolio, so is wordpress. Helen Barrett outlines how to use word press for e-portfolios on this site. Dana Watts shows how to use it in this video. There are many other options.

ePortfolios should definitely be used.  Students should develop e-portfolios which they can build over time. According to the University of Waterloo, benefits of e-portfolios for students include: it can help students develop new or deeper learning, which results in higher grades; develop a better sense of themselves as students and as individuals; can be shared with friends and family members; can showcase their achievements when they are applying for a job (https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/educational-technologies/all/eportfolios). Crichton and Kopp (2008) from the University of Calgary, says that eJournals e.g. in the form of blogs or wikis, make ePortfolios more authentic (http://electronicportfolios.org/balance/). Be aware that regardless of how much you expose benefits, some learners may not want their life out in the digital world. Donald Clark in his blog expresses some concern with e-portfolios. One concern is that they might become redundant quickly due to changes in technology; another is that realistically recruiters do not have the time to wade through portfolios (http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.ca/2011/03/e-portfolios-7-reasons-why-i-dont-want.html).

I would definitely consider using ePortfolios with the students that I teach, I would tailor it for students to highlight skills needed as a medical office assistant.

Likewise teachers can use e-portfolios instead of carrying around big hardback folders.  It is an easy way to showcase work, illustrate professional development and achievements.  I never actually carry around my hardback folders so an e-portfolio would be much more accessible. Included would be examples of resources, letters, activities, feedback, resume.  Advantages of owning an e-portfolio: can show evidence of continuing professional development; keep track of work, share info with peers, showcase teaching activities, new ideas, and reflections on teaching (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B3tujXlbdk).

I could create a personal ePortfolio to document my knowledge and skills and use in job seeking. I could also use an ePortfolio for the course that I teach – to plan and evaluate the program.

References

Barrett, H., Dr. (2013). Balancing the two faces of ePortfolios. Retrieved from http://electronicportfolios.org/balance/

Barrett, H., Dr. (n.d.). ePortfolios with GoogleApps. Retrieved from https://sites.google.com/site/eportfolioapps/

Barrett, H., Dr. (2007). How to create and electronic portfolio with wordpress. Retrieved from https://hbarrett.wordpress.com/how-to/

Clark, D. (2011). E-portfolios – 7 reasons why I don’t want my life in a shoebox.Retrieved from http://donaldclarkplanb.blogspot.ca/2011/03/e-portfolios-7-reasons-why-i-dont-want.html

D2L Corporation. (2015). Brightspace by D2L. D2L ePortfolio. Retrieved from http://www.brightspace.com/products/eportfolio/

Davr055’s channel. (2008). E-portfolios for starters. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6B3tujXlbdk

Lorenzo, G. and Ittelson, J. Ed. Oblinger, D. (2005). An overview of E-Portfolios.Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eli3001.pdf

University of Waterloo. (n.d.). ePortfolios explained. Retrieved from https://uwaterloo.ca/centre-for-teaching-excellence/teaching-resources/teaching-tips/educational-technologies/all/eportfolios

Watts, D. (2011). Creating ePortfolios with wordpress. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ne5Obuwg7oM

eLearning: Principles and Processes summary

It is important to consider challenges and barriers to learning online. Challenges include time, not being able to see emotions, feeling of frustration, technical skills, and internet/network connection. Quality guidelines are important to reduce drop out, increase the reputation of elearning, and make success possible. Knowing the different generations of learners (Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generations X, Y, and Z) helps to understand how to meet their needs. Veterans, Baby Boomers and Generation X are also classified as ‘Digital immigrants’ – those that learned to use technology vs. Generation Y and Z, ‘Digital natives’ who grew up with technology (http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/80/understanding-todays-learner).

Digital immigrants might like printed information, and very clear instructions. Digital natives might like shorter chunks of information, visual content, and opportunities to construct their own learning. Web tools can be used for elearning, there are numerous available, many are free.  ePortfolios can be used by students, teachers, and institutions. Set clear outcomes, expectations, have valid assessment, and use a range of tools.

eLearning programs that I experienced which were good and made success possible all had clear objectives, activities, assignments, and assessment. Conversely, the courses which were negative learning experiences the following was not present: active learning, interaction and the development of learning communities, prompt constructive feedback, use of synchronous as well as asynchronous learning tools, and variety of assessment  (Examples from http://www.futured.com/).

It is crucial to take the time to plan a purposeful and meaningful course. It is not just a matter of loading existing course materials online. Like all courses there must be alignment between objectives, instruction/content, and assessment. Technology must support the learning. Be ‘intentional’ – ask why and what?  Paired and group work can be done. It is possible to build community and have interaction online, this is of great value to learners.

I would firstly draw up quality guidelines. Steps should be taken during the program to look for signs of potential drop outs and to contact learners at risk.  The attrition rate of each intake would be measured and evaluated. I would be present on the site, set clear objectives, use an icebreaker e.g. ‘Lineup’ (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011, p. 56), have a range of activities and types of assessment, use images and graphics as well as text, videos, and games. Have clear structure, provide lots of feedback, reflective journals, provide opportunities for collaboration and interaction e.g. small group discussions like a forum, team projects, active learning, group activities use of synchronous tools e.g.a live presentation, debate, or guest speaker, as well as asynchronous learning tools e.g. forums, videos. Boettcher’s and Conrad’s list of ten best practices for teaching online is an excellent guide which I will follow.

References

Barker, K. Dr.,  FuturEd.  (2002). Canadian Recommended E-learning Guidelines (CanREGs).  Retrieved from http://www.futured.com/

Boettcher, J. V., and  Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Conrad, R. and Donaldson, J. (2011). Engaging the Online Learner. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Learning Solutions Magazine. (2015). Understanding Today’s Learner. Retrieved from  http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/80/understanding-todays-learner

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