Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Engaging Learners With New Strategies and Tools.

Based on the module's readings, there exists many different ways to encourage student participationa nd involvement in online education. Pallof and Pratt (2005), suggests that there are four tools that are important in encouraging online collaboration. Explanation of Teams, guidelines and expectations, agreements and buy-ins. For each tool suggested by the text there exists a technological tool that can help reinforce the skills that are taught through collaboration. For explanation of teams, the technological tools that can be used are email to set forth the purpose for teams and each team member. For guidelines and expectations: Use email, telephone, cellphone, skype, and class forum to communicate guidelines. For agreements: Use class discussion and emails to communicate and address issues that may arise or to work on projects. For buy-ins: Create charters or contract that gives specifics of the purpose of the team and the responsibility of each member. “A primary task of the educator is to assist learners in forming connections and creating learning networks. These learning networks should assist learners in developing competence to meet the objectives or outcomes of a particular course” (Siemens, 2008). In other words, it is the role of the instructor to ensure that there is a comfortable environment for learning and that all learners are communicating with each other and learning at a rate that is appropriate for their success. In an online or face to face environment, learners must be allowed to become familiar with the course setting and the skills being taught. It is also important to build a sense of community online and face to face so that learners will feel comfortable learning and interacting with one another. Because of ALN’s freedom from time and place constraints, its opportunities for reflective thinking and its reach and connectivity, online education engages faculty and students in new interactions with content, with action, with each other, and with the world outside the classroom (Mayadas, Bourne, & Moore, 2005). Some links offer tools that can help reach students at diverse levels and how to use the tools to reach all students. Technological Tools for Differentiated Instruction offers information for instructors on how to use technology to reach all learners. There are also web papers and research that give great information on how to enhance learner activity. Strategies for enhancing student activity is a great resource to pick up ideas for strengthening activity between online learners.


Mayadas, F., Bourne, J., & Moore C. (2005). Introduction. In Bourne, J., & Moore, J. C., (Eds.), Elements of quality online education: Vol. 6. Engaging communities (pp. 7–10). The Sloan Consortium.

Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating Online: Learning Together in Community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Siemens, G. (2008, January). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. ITForum.

Kilbane, C. (2005) Technological Tools for Differentiated Instruction. Retrieved from on November 11, 2009.

Durrington, V. A., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing studentinteractivity in an online environment. College Teaching, 54(1), 190-193.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Assessing Collaborative Efforts

Assessment can be done in four to help maintain a sense of strong community online by following these four steps, “ students assess their peers, students receiving feedback from online communities, educators assess based on student contributions (discussion questions and class participation), and educators assess based on metrics from learning management systems” (Siemens, 2009). One of the most important things in a learning environment is that educators create an environment that provides students with a comfortable environment for learning as well as interacting with the instructor and fellow classmates. According to Siemens (2009), when educators are designing their learning experiences, it is important to create a mix of individual and community-based environments. Variety is the key to success in a learning environment and instruction should be tailored to every student’s learning ability and achievement level. Online collaboration, in the form of peer work groups and learning communities, increases engagement in the learning process (Gay & Lentini, 1995; Moore & Kearsley, 1996). The most important and essential responsibilities of members in a learning community are to make sure that all members communicate their goals, roles, and expectations for work/projects in a group. It is important for members of a group to come up with rules and guidelines that communicate when they will meet, how they will meet, and contact information in order to reach all members. Some important guidelines that could be offered to make a learning community more productive are: to determine the purpose of an activity chosen, determine how to complete assignments given, and operate based on guidelines or schedule when completing a project or assignment (Palloff & Pratt, 2005).According to the text, a team charter is a good way to help team members outline responsibilities in a group (Palloff & Pratt, 2005). The team charter would act as a contract between members within a learning community and between learners and the instructor. If a learner chooses not to participate or uphold the charter, then the members have a right to inform the instructor and the instructor can remind the student of his/her agreement (Palloff & Pratt, 2005). In this way, the instructor acts as a mediator between group members. Through email or a phone conversation; problems can be made right again in order to get full participation out of members of a team. In order for instructors to assess student learning in collaborative groups successfully, the instructor must be comfortable with collaborative learning themselves. If they are not then the way they teach and assess will be determine more by their discomfort than the challenges their students face by trying to become adjusted to collaborative groups. Members within a learning community should also exercise patience as well; many things can happen within the busy lives of learners that knock them off track. With a little consideration and care, these individuals can get back on track to becoming productive members of their communities. Several blogs exists that give great tips on how to use collaborative groups to improve problem solving and critical thinking skills in the workplace and the classroom. How to Plan and Launch Learning Communities gives details on how to set up groups in the work place to ensure success in developing new products and creating business proposals. Collaborative Learning Environments is a study done that details the benefits the use of collaborative groups in a classroom setting.


Blanche, M.T. (2002) Collaborative Learning Environments. Retrieved on October 11, 2009 from
Shahidi, L. (2008). How to Plan and Launch Learning Communities. Retrieved on October 12, 2009 from
Gay, G., & Lentini, M. (1995). Communication resource use in a networked collaborative design environment. Ithaca, NY: Interactive Multimedia Group.Moore, M., & Kearsley, G. (1996). Distance education: A systems view. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
Palloff, R. M., & Pratt, K. (2005). Collaborating Online: Learning Together in Community. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Siemens, G. (n.d.) Learning communities. Retrieved October 7, 2009 from the EDUC-7102-2/EDUC-8842-2 Principles of Distance Education Web site:

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Storyboard for Video Presentation

Hello Constant Bloggers,
As part of my requirement for obtaining my Specialist degree in Educational Technology, I must create a storyboard on a selected topic to do a vieo presentation on. My topic was the development of critical thinking in online/distance learning. Enclosed is part of my storyboard regarding critical thinking. I hope you enjoy and please feel free to give me some feedback.
Thanks for reading and tuning in. Until next time.