Friday, September 21, 2007

Week 5 Part 2

I read "Electronic Portfolios Need Standards to Thrive." I found the notion of an Electronic Portfolio (EP) an interesting one. The actual gist of the article was just to say that standards are needed so that EPs could continue to capture a picture of lifelong learning. Without the standards the EP would be difficult to transfer from institution to institution.

The description of the EP was very interesting in that anyone could create an EP and after a number of files were included, separate views could be set up so that a folder could be customized for a particular purpose and permission could be given by the owner for an individual or a group to view it. For example, the owner could create a folder that would demonstrate their skills and abilities when applying for a job or applying to a school.

The article outlined the system used by the University of Minnesota (UM) which has been given to the Open Source Portfolio Initiative (OSPI) in hopes that others will follow, so standards can be adopted for the EP. The article has a definite higher education bent to it however, I was thinking it would be very interesting to begin an EP in high school. Many high schools are now requiring some type of portfolio of work for a graduation requirement. Why not make it an electronic portfolio to follow the students throughout their lifelong learning adventure.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Week 5

Today, I read "Connecting the Digital Dots: Literacy of the 21st Century." The entire gist of the article was to say that literacy today is very different from what we perceived literacy to be 20 years ago. Today's students are much more savvy using computers and technologies that their instructors are not as well-versed in or don't understand at all. Jones-Kavalier and Flannigan, the authors, are pushing academic institutions to use professional development to bring instructors into 21st century literacy.

I don't believe that all schools these days are behind in trying to teach students digital and visual literacy. I worked on research for writing a grant for the Lawrence Township Schools who received a grant to promote digital and visual literacy. I think we have to also go back to an earlier discussion. No one person can be an expert because there is just too much information in any one subject. Being digitally literate in this day and age is extremely important.

The article also defines both digital and visual literacy. There seem to be a variety of definitions. The quote I liked was very simply put: "Literacy, in any form, advances a person's ability to effectively and creatively use and communicate information."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Week 4

This week a read several articles. The first was "Classroom Teaching Changes in Web-Enhanced Courses: A Multi-Institutional Study." This was a study of faculty from seven Learning Technology Consortium Institutions. Indiana University is part of the consortium but did not take part in the study. Rather than give a synopsis of the article I'd like to pinpoint a couple of quotes that I found interesting.

"... It is not the technology that has an effect; it is the way it is used." Since this article was about enhancing F2F course with Web enhancements, I found it interesting that the technology was not necessarily in the forefront. I think you could add many technological aspects to a course (i.e. online discussions, simulations, syllabus, etc.) and it may not enhance the course at all. The teaching methods have to fit the content for the technology to make a difference in student engagement. I firmly believe that students learn more if they are engaged but don't necessarily see technology as always being the the best way to engage students.

"Using PowerPoint in class also encouraged eye contact between faculty and students, increasing student engagement." I do not agree with this statement. Using PowerPoint may increase eye contact between faculty and students but I can't see how that increases student engagement. For a visual learner it might help focus their attention. However for many learners this could very well put them asleep. It depends on the skill of the faculty to engage learners, not the use of PowerPoint.

I also read "Motivation and Incentives for Distance Faculty." This was a literature review that was looking for two things: a profile of a distance educator and motivators that entice faculty to teach distance learning. The majority of the article dealt with the second objective. While they briefly discussed the first objective I felt that the literature probably didn't give a very good profile of a distance educator.

The study identified several intrinsic and extrinsic motivating factors. Intrinsic motivators included self-satisfaction, flexible scheduling, and wider audience. Extrinsic factors included stipends, decreased workload, release time and new technology. The author found that the extrinsic factors while present in some universities were not prevalent within the high education community.

I also read "Teach in Your Pajamas: Becoming a Synchronous e-Trainer." This was an interesting article. It described some of the methods that could be used for online training and then linked each method to a F2F equivalent. She also gave tips and tricks of how to use each one. Since this would probably be how I will use the information from this course, I found this article very helpful.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

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