Web 2.0 Tools

Week 10: open platforms for online courses

I found some very good recommendations related to weekly blogs responses, which should answer at least 3 questions:

  • What did you learn this week?
  • How do you connect what you learned with your experienced or with what you already know?
  • How could you apply your new knowledge?

One particularly interesting in this chapter is related to the evaluation of online activities using rubrics. One good tip from Jim Julius in Facebook: BlogsProfHacker article “A Rubric for Evaluating Student Blogs” by Mark Sample-

Engrade was a positive surprise for me. Engrade creates own grading scale, post student grades, send private messages to students and parents, show tasks, events, reminders, and lessons online, create online tests, organize debates, build wikis, create flash cards, all for free. I have experimented with social media to build a flexible learning environment without the need for an LMS. But LMS still maintain an advantage: tasks delivery and distribution of grades. I think Engrade can fill that gap.

Related with the creation of web sites, I had experimented with Google sites and I agree with that can be a good tool to build the start site of a course, but is also a valuable aid for each student to build their own site.

Online Pedagogy

W9: trying to catching up…

Back to class and trying to catching up with my assignments. Ko and Rossen, Chapter 7: Student Activities in the Online Environment, aims to group activities, activities that have a greater difficulty to drive, considering the isolated nature of online students.

As the book states, “collaboration doesn’t just happen“. It’s very important to deliver a clear and detailed description of the activity and the final product, (the what), the connection of the activity and the course subject (the why), the individuals and group responsibility (the who), and the proceeding (the how).

Some of the relevant recommendations, I consider valuable for my courses are:

  • A group of 4 to 5 is probably the optimum size.
  • Maintain the group composition for the duration of the course.
  • Assign and rotate roles within the group. The frequency should be between 2-3 weeks.

Another important aspect is the assessment of pro-activity. I liked the proposed rubrics for peer evaluation of group work.

I’m using the online activity about summarizing course readings, asking to provide their conclusions writing half sheet of paper. There are three reasons to limit the extension of these findings:

  • to reduce the web copy and paste
  • encourage summarizing
  • lighten the teacher’s work

I Bookmarked and highlighted, using Diigo, Terry Anderson and Jon Dron’s Three Generations of Distance Education Pedagogy (2011). An interesting reflexion about the reciprocal influence between the pedagogy, the technologies and the context.

Online Pedagogy Web 2.0 Tools

W8: LMS – “to be or not to be” (the continuous discussion …)

So far, my perception that the LMS were showing their limitations as innovative Web tool, was intuitive. In my experiences in online and blended courses, the LMS did not cover my expectations or those of my students. The effort to manage and master the functions of the LMS did not translate into clear benefits. I summarize some of the factors that have led me this dissatisfaction:

  • The LMS assumed in the online environment the classroom teacher’s witness.
  • Although some platforms are more flexible than others (Moodle, for example), all reinforced the unidirectional teacher-student relationship. The student interaction is limited to participate in forums, answering questionnaires and fulfil the delivery of tasks on time. The responsibilities did not differ radically from those in a traditional class time.
  • Participation in a space of reflection (mainly forums), is formal and becomes one more task to fulfil.
  • The effort to master the functions of the platforms is aimed at managing and providing technical support to students. This effort leaves no room for educational innovations. So the LMS plays the traditional face-to-face class in an online environment. What is the advantage then?

But there is an unresolved problem in which the LMS have an important advantage: they provide a secure environment for the protection of personal data and the management of task and assessments.

This is an open problem to overcome for alternatives to the LMS. I have not found a secure and stable way to connect social networking and communications tools, task management and collaboration while protecting the privacy of personal information.

This is one of the main reasons he did participate in initiatives such as Pedagogy First!

As part of this reflection, I received important contributions from reading the documents proposed for further research:

  • Jonathan Mott, Envisioning the post-LMS Era: The Open Learning Network (2010) y
  • Lisa M. Lane, “Insidious Pedagogy: How Course Management Systems Impact Pedagogy,” First Monday, vol. 14, no. 10 (October 5, 2009)

These documents have provided the theoretical framework needed. I summarize the most important topics mentioned in these documents:

  • Instructors use LMS as an administrative tool and for content distribution, storage facilities for lecture notes and PowerPoint presentations.
  • The use of interactive learning tools, quiz and gradebook tools within LMS are reduced.
  • The LMS is not a tool anchored in pedagogy or cognitive science models.
  • While the LMS has become central to the business of colleges and universities, it has also become a symbol of the higher learning status quo.
  • The LMS serves as an affirming technology of traditional teaching. The instructor doesn’t challenge the LMS very much, and, in turn, the LMS doesn’t challenge the instructor. The student gets the convenience benefit from electronic distribution of documents (and grades) but little more.
  • The LMS has also become a symbol of the status quo that supports administrative functions more effectively than teaching and learning activities.
  • Personal learning environments offer an alternative, but with their own limitations.
  • An open learning network helps bridge the gap between the PLE and the LMS, combining the best elements of each approach (but we need a practical model with existing Web 2.0 tools).
  • How to bring together — or mash up — the best of both the LMS and the PLE paradigms to create a learning platform more ideally suited to teaching and learning in higher education — an “open learning network” (OLN) that is:
  1. Secure and open
  2. Integrated and modular
  3. Private and public
  4. Reliable and flexible

The discussion is open


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