History of Online Learning According to Hudak
The History of Online Learning According to Hudak
On a hot day in July I registered for this Online Teaching and Learning Certification class and dug in immediately. In my excitement I got myself too far ahead of the game and failed to “begin with the end in mind” as Stephen Covey has said. I had taken some online sessions and some hybrid sessions but nothing to the extent and quality of this! We started the first module by getting an overall history of online learning, understanding some common terminology, and seeing the good format Dr. Patterson had modeled for us. We then moved on in Module 2, The Online Community of Learners, to understanding our audience. For any presentation, speech, class, or written communication you must understand your audience – after all it’s all about them, not you, the facilitator. Without students we do not exist.
Taking the North Carolina State survey to understand my learning preferences (styles) is important to see where I might have strengths and weaknesses. Just because I am “Visual” does not mean that everyone is and, therefore, I be certain not to rely on this and to offer learning design options for all preferences. I need to keep building my strengths in this regard, but also need to grow my verbal learning and teaching skills. It’s too easy to become complacent and rely on what we know (or believe we know) and forget to meet the needs of others.
Knowing the student will help the learning designer and facilitator (of the same person in many organizations) will all us to tap into what they already know. The brain uses less power relying on what it can easily retrieve and relating old knowledge to new knowledge helps the student grasp new concepts sooner. Mixing new and previously learned information helps the learner. We’ve all probably tried to pull an “all-nighter” to cram for that Calculus or Physics exam. Not very effective (or fun), right? Imagine pedaling a bicycle uphill for miles with no stopping. A constant influx of new information without some sort of mental break is exactly like this.
In this same module we explored the concept of Constructivism, the theory that people (students) “construct” their own understanding and gain knowledge by experiencing things and reflecting on those experiences. Knowing generational differences and various learning preferences is important to designing learning to help students understand new information as they desire. In training the radio description of WII-FM (What’s In It For Me?) helps us remember to write clear learning objectives that work towards what the student needs and desires.
Learning about the latest technology in Module 3, Weaving Web 2.0, introduced us to what is available and hinted at what could be. My favorite description of Web 2.0 comes from the Bryan Alexander article: “Ultimately, the LABEL Web 2.0 is far less important than the CONCEPTS, PROJECTS, and PRACTICES, included in its scope”. This reminds me of William Faulkner replying to a reporter asking about the significance of the rose in his short story, “A Rose for Emily”, “…sometimes a rose is just a rose.” Web 2.0 is a thing, a word, the environment that is created under this label in:
1. interpersonal computing (connecting people in online settings with chat, social media, work teams, videos)
2. various web services (social media [Facebook, FaceTime, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, etc.)
3. using software as a service (online banking, PayPal, etc.)
Web 2.0 has made life easier in many aspects. It has allowed me to work out of my home for the past 20 years and remain in contact nearly as easily as if I kept a cubicle next to my boss. It has allowed me to begin and maintain contact with my students in ways I never could. When I began my training position I had a pager. When a student would page me I would have to pull off the road, find a pay phone, return the call, get information, plan follow up. Now I can receive an email, text, message, see the context of the request, and reply immediately or as needed.
Webinars have allowed me to reach my students before and after class. I’ve even had special speakers “webinar-in” to a class and have shown videos before, during, and after class.
As I age (and, hopefully, grow wiser as a trainer) my students become younger. Knowing and responding to their communication preferences has been easier with Web 2.0 applications. I’ve held Facebook discussions, learning minutes via video, live webinar sessions on-the-fly to help students, talked on the phone (less and less as time goes by) and, still, commune face-to-face (the BEST way I still feel).
Web 2.0 items such as “CoggleIt” ( http://www.coggleit.com) have provided collaborative opportunities for fast feedback and long-range planning. The asynchronous abilities of Web 2.0 have made the training world smaller while expanding the learning opportunities for all. Web 2.0 has made life easier in many aspects. It has allowed me to work out of my home for the past 20 years and remain in contact nearly as easily as if I kept a cubicle next to my boss. It has allowed me to begin and maintain contact with my students in ways I never could. When I began my training position I had a pager. When a student would page me I would have to pull off the road, find a pay phone, return the call, get information, plan follow up. Now I can receive an email, text, message, see the context of the request, and reply immediately or as needed. Sharing of such items has been an important aspect in my job via social media, email, text – anyway the student desires.
Module 4, Online Teaching, Guiding, and Facilitating, brings together Web 2.0, constructivism, learning preferences – theory meets practice, in a safe, effective environment. The below graphics from The Hanover Research Council offers some great tips to encourage constructivism in the online environment and to help lead the student to the pool of knowledge, but allows them to drink in their preferred method.
In the online environment the student should be offered guided and independent learning opportunities. People learn, and think, in different ways. Being of the Baby Boomer generation we were too often asked to memorize historical dates, facts, and other stuff long gone. Today, children are taught how to think more about things, the give-and-take of group discussions, the questioning of a learned instructor.
Bloom’s Taxonomy helps the teacher (and independent learner) achieve thinking skills by prompting rather than telling for certain tasks. Bloom’s categorizes these critical thinking areas as Remember, Analyze, Understand, Evaluate, Apply, Create and offers prompts to stimulate as desired. To note examples:
Remember: Ask, “How would you describe…?”, “How could you explain…?”, etc.
Analyze: Ask, “Why do you think…?”, “What is the relationship…?”, etc.
Understand: Ask, “What is the main idea of…?”, “What might happen next…?”, etc.
Evaluate: Ask, “How would you feel if…?”, “Which is more important…?”, etc.
Apply: Ask, “How would you use…?”, “What would happen if…?”, etc.
Create: Ask, “What is your theory about…?”, “What is an alternative…?”, etc.
These questions from Bloom’s Taxonomy are a thousand times more useful to a student than asking “what year did Napoleon die?” The answer, by the way, is May 5, 1821 (I had to look it up).
My favorite module thus far, Module 5, Critical Thinking in eLearning, really shows us how to think about our learning design and helps us create modules aimed at supporting the student’s constructivist learning. Having been previously introduced to Simon Sinek’s The Five Whys?, I see where it was heavily drawn from the Socratic Method. Sinek asks the ready to keep asking “Why?”, usually about five times, to drill down to the root cause of an issue. Socrates assigns no number limit to the amount of questions, simply to keep redefining the question till you can no long prove your answer as false. Bloom’s Taxonomy provides some direct questioning methods and examples.
Presently we as in Module 6, eLearning Assessment, discussing Formative, Summative, Holistic, and Analytic methods. Shifting much of the responsibility for assessment to the students insures adherence to constructivism in the learner must think more critically to grade themselves and their peers. Formative assessments (with help from Bloom’s Taxonomy) might take place as follows:
• reflection on the proper use of framing or bracing or other products
• application of products in a building condition using our software
• sharing of knowledge on a team project
• reading and writing assignments
Summative assessments for the in-class training typically involve teams working on a building design project to provide the most cost-efficient building using our products under specific geometry and loading conditions. This summative method brings all the formative assessments (individual and team) together at the end in a low-stress, fun environment.
For my proposed eLearning sessions I will apply both methods, too. The students must think critically, reflect on what they learn, apply the material in relevant ways, and be able to summarize the topic in their own words. Methods of Assessment would consist of:
• Instructor feedback
• Eliciting evidence of learning
• Peer assessment
• Sharing learning expectations and experience
Will we be able to answer our original question “How do we know that learning has taken place? Behavior has changed” will be easy to check with formative and summative assessments. Until the student/learner gets to apply the new information back on the job, the continuous (formative) and final (summative) assessments will let the student and instructor know if the teaching/learning has been effective.
During this entire eLearning opportunity we have been developing our own module. Mine is on Varco Pruden’s Primary Framing, one of the key components of our buildings. Learning, doing, learning some more, doing even more while critically thinking along the way, will lead us to a successful module, but even more, make us more effective instructors.