Analyzing Scope Creep

by Amanda Sutliff

 

 

Scope Creep is inevitable. All projects experience delays in one way or another. It’s up to the project manager to manage the risks involved in a project in order to minimize the effects of Scope Creep (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer 2008).

 

In my professional career as a classroom teacher I have been involved in many projects in my classroom as well as in my school or district, and each project has experienced some form of Scope Creep. Whether it’s the book project that takes an extra day for my students to complete, or the scope and sequence for a unit of study, which always takes longer than anticipated to create and even longer to follow through on, a teacher’s life is full of Scope Creep.

 

In a previous blog post, I wrote about the Professional Learning Community (PLC) project that my school has implemented. Last year my district started an initiative to create common formative assessments within our schools. This was a huge project that lasted all year long. Throughout the year we selected common core standards and unpacked them, then developed the common formative assessments.

 

In this project, our project manager often asked us to do too much work for a two and half hour session. Perhaps the project manager didn’t fully understand the tasks so the estimated required work effort was inaccurate. It’s also possible that the project manager designed the schedule by doing what Portny et al. (2008) call backing in, looking at what we had to accomplish by the end of year and working back toward the beginning and simply filling in activities to fill the calendar. This often caused us to rush into our work, especially when unpacking the new common core standards. It’s also possible that because PLC is completely new to our district, no one had historical records of how long tasks would take (Portny et al., 2008). The process very new to us, and when tasks are new, there should be extra time to allow for a learning curve (Portny et al., 2008). In this case, a fudge factor, or an allotment of extra time, might have helped us stay on the schedule.

 

Our project manager dealt with the Scope Creep by pushing back activities every now and then, but mostly we were asked to move on to new activities when we hadn’t completed last week’s agenda. Oftentimes, it was hard for us teachers to tell if we were supposed to be finishing activities on our own time, even though we were told to only use work time on PLC days to do the work. This resulted in a lot of what would be considered overtime (if teachers weren’t on salaries) and this would have increased our budgetary needs and caused problems.

 

If I had been the project manager at our school last year, I would have made sure that the teachers spent more time on each standard after unpacking. I would have extended the timeline instead of ignoring the Scope Creep, allowing for teachers to reteach and differentiate instruction for students who didn’t meet objectives and struggled with assessments. I also would have started scheduling less for us to do in a single session, which is something that Portny et al. (2008) suggest project managers do, to adjust the schedule and keep people updated on changes. In the end, we unpacked four standards and went through the common formative assessment process four times last year. If we had cut back the number of common formative assessments to three, we would have ended the year with three quality common formative assessments that we would want to use again next year. Instead, we are starting the process all over again this year, going at a slower pace that will allow us to create work worth keeping and using again in subsequent years.

 

References

 

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E.

(2008).Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken,

NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc

Communicating Effectively (WK3AssgnSutliffA)

Effective communication among all project team members is essential for a project’s success. A message can be interpreted in many different ways, based on how you communicate, as well as what you say.

 

For this blog post, I viewed the following media presentation which presents the same information in three different modalities: email, voicemail, and face-to-face: http://mym.cdn.laureate-media.com/2dett4d/Walden/EDUC/6145/03/mm/aoc/index.html

 

How my interpretation of the message changed from one modality to the next:

 

Email:

 

After reading the email, I understand that Jane needs information from Mark about a missing report. The data in the report is needed in order for her to finish her report. I am inferring that the missing report was discussed in person at some other time, or Jane would have described the report she needed with more details or with better clarity. Written reports don’t allow the audience to ask questions to clarify the content of the message (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, & Kramer, 2008). Jane did not really communicate which report she was looking for very well. Because of the way the email is written, Beth sounds really annoyed that the report is missing, and she seems really frustrated that she might miss her own deadline because of someone else’s mistake. She ends the email with a friendly thank you, but this can be easily overlooked after how upset she seemed in the email.

 

Voicemail:

 

The voicemail is the same information in verbal form, but with one exception. You can’t tell who sent the message, because the speaker doesn’t clarify who she is. This could be a problem if Mark doesn’t work with Jane very often, because he won’t know who is calling him. In the voicemail, Jane sounds more understanding and less snippy or criticizing about the missing report. This is good, because she really sounded annoyed in the email and didn’t sound all that understanding about the missing report. She still doesn’t clarify which report she needs, so Mark is going to have to call her back if he doesn’t know what she’s talking about. In this case, Jane seems to be more understanding about the all day meeting that Mark was in, and because of this, her request seems more understandable.

 

Face-to-Face:

 

The first thing I notice about the face-to-face interaction is that Jane is smiling apologetically when she interrupts Mark from his work. She is at his cubicle, which means that Mark will definitely know who she is and who to email the report to. There is no confusion about the message. The gestures that Jane uses really stress that she needs the report to finish her own work and she looks stressed about it, but her posture makes me think that she is much more calm and friendly about asking Mark for the missing report, compared to the email where she simply sounds annoyed and snippy. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the email was not the best form of communication. Jane’s tone of voice is not portrayed in the written text, which means that her email could be interpreted to mean that she is angry that Mark lost the report she needs. Finally, because the meeting is face-to-face, Mark can ask a clarifying question to figure out which report Jane needs, in case he is confused, and the work will get done faster, because he won’t have to play phone tag with Jane, or wait for her to check her email, to find out which report she needs. He will also be able to get Jane’s email address in person if he needs it, whereas he would be unable to reply to the voicemail because there is no return phone number, and he might not recognize Jane’s voice.

 

 

The best form of communication to convey the meaning and intent of the message:

 

I believe that meeting face-to-face to ask Mark for the missing report is the best form of communication. It allows for Mark to see that Jane is apologetic and understanding about the meeting he was in all day. It also means that Jane will probably get her report faster, because Mark will be able to ask her which report she is asking for, and get her email address if he needs it. The face-to-face meeting allows Jane to use gestures and facial expressions that help soften the request she is making. In the end, Mark could end up feeling really annoyed with Jane for pestering him with that email. The voicemail would make me feel bad, if I were Mark, and I wouldn’t know who to send the report to or how to contact the person, which would make it worse.

 

Implications for Communicating Effectively:

 

While email is incredibly convenient, I am starting to realize how careful team members need to be when using email to communicate. In our media resources for this week, we learned that emails can often be ignored by stakeholders (Laureate Education, n.d.). Face-to-face meetings are often more effective and can save time in the long run, because talking to someone in person quite frankly can’t be ignored as easily as an email or voicemail. Tone of voice and gestures are lost when communicating through email, and voicemail communications require team members to share information—such as email addresses or phone numbers or even names—which can complicate the message and lead to ineffective communication.

 

Let’s face it; it’s easy to forget to include common sense information like your return phone number or even your name, when you leave a voicemail for someone that you work with every day. Plus there is always the chance that you will end up playing phone tag with the person you are trying to communicate with. In the end, I think the best form of communication is face-to-face. As long as I can find the time to meet in person with someone, I will always try to communicate face-to-face. To ensure that the conversation we shared isn’t forgotten, I would send Mark a follow-up email to confirm the request for the report, because Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, Sutton, and Kramer (2008) state that important information delivered in informal discussions should always be confirmed in writing.

 

References:

 

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d). “Communicating with Stakeholders” [Video Podcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3468161_1%26url%3D

 

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d). “Practitioner Voices: Strategies for Working with Stakeholders” [Video Podcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3468161_1%26url%3D

 

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (n.d). “Project Management Concerns: Communication Strategies and Organizational Culture” [Video Podcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3468161_1%26url%3D

 

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008).Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc

 

 

Learning from a Project “Post-Mortem”

Last year, I was on a project to create common formative assessments with a group of teachers. We created two assessments that I was proud of, because the assessments worked and gave me valuable information about my students. We created two other common formative assessments that were much less successful.

 

What processes, project artifacts, or activities did you not include in the project that might have made the project more successful?

 

The process we went through to create common formative assessments changed throughout the year. When we first started, we didn’t determine the standards we would be assessing until it was too late for us to teach our students the standards we would be assessing. The formative assessment, or project artifact, we created needed to be given one week after we created it, so we could analyze the results. This turned the formative assessment into a pre-assessment, since we hadn’t had enough time to teach the skills before administering the assessment.

 

The formative assessments we created were a group effort, but we only had a few hours once a week to work. Because of our schedule, we were constantly forced to postpone parts of our project until next week, or work on them on our own time to avoid pushing the timeline back. This process needs to be changed in order to make similar future projects more successful. One way to make improvements would be to increase the amount of work time by cutting back the amount of time we spend in meetings. Another solution would be to extend the timeline for each assessment, so that we have a few more meetings to plan before starting the implementation process.

 

What processes, project artifacts, or activities did you include in the project that contributed to its success?

 

Later on in the year, we used the math curriculum to help us create a common formative assessment. This process worked much better because we created assessments based on lessons we knew we would be teaching. We were able to create true formative assessments that would show us how our students were progressing with lessons we were teaching them. We looked at assessments from the curriculum to design questions that would be similar to the sort of questions our students were used to seeing. This helped ensure that we would assess what our students know and can do after receiving instruction.

 

We also created a literacy assessment that worked well. I was able to make this assessment more successful as a formative assessment, because as soon as we identified the standard we would assess, I started designing lessons to teach. Once we started planning the way the assessment would work, I taught lessons in my room which resembled the assessment, so that students would be familiar with the structure of the assessment. When students took this assessment, they performed much better, and I received more valuable information on how to help my students as well.

 

When teachers work together in teams to create common assessments, there are many factors that effect the success of the project. As a member of the team, I was able to make my group’s common formative assessments more successful for my students by matching up my instruction with the assessments we were planning. When we selected standards based on what we were planning to teach our students, our project were more successful. This meant that our project manager needed to give the members of the team more autonomy in order to create assessments that would be effective and valuable.

 

This blog post was created using The Project Management Minimalist: Just Enough PM to Rock Your Projects (Greer, 2010).

 

References:

 

Greer, M. (2010).  The project minimalist:  Just enough PM to rock your projects! (Laureate custom ed.).  Baltimore, MD:  Laureate Education, Inc.

 

 

Reflecting on the Perceptions of Distance Education

Distance learning is growing in acceptance (Laureate Education, n.d.; Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012; Dede, 2005).. Emotional distance isn’t as significant a factor as previously perceived because of the increase in social communication tools online (Laureate Education, n.d.). Because technology has become more common place, many people have more practical experiences with online tools, making the online environment a comfortable place for a wider variety of people. This impacts distance education as more people grow comfortable with online discourse.

Business, government, and education have come together under distance education. Distance learning spans the globe and effects groups across the world to communicate, increasing diversity in the work force and educational environments, and facilitating corporate communication around the world (Laureate Education, n.d.).

Where is distance education going? There are many factors that contribute to the growth of distance education. New communication technologies allow for distance education to become a practical option for a wider array of individuals in education. Because of the technology that is associated with distance learning, it has become a global phenomenon, incorporating contributions from all around the world. This can make distance learning programs more desirable as these programs will have access to the leaders and experts in a variety of fields.

The increase in multimedia, games, and simulations have created an interactive learning environment online. In the near future, we might very well see distance learning experiences that more closely resemble the virtual worlds of massively multiplayer online games. This kind of environment, which Dede (2005) refers to as Alice-in-Wonderland immersion, will immerse students in significant ways that will increase engagement and learning. “In the long run, the mission and structure of higher education might change due to the influence of these new interactive media” (Dede, 2005, p. 11).

I strongly believe that the technology used for distance learning is becoming completely integrated into human life. In order to continue improving the perceptions of distance learning education, instructional designers must integrate interactive technology into all learning, and continue to adopt new technology in order to create virtual learning experiences as soon as possible. As learning becomes more engaging and fun with the implementation of this new technology, distance education will receive more and more hype and positive reputation. It is up to instructional designers like you and me to make distance education a part of every household, business, and school.

 

References

 

Dede, C. (2005). Planning for neomillennial learning styles. Educause Quarterly, 28(1), 7–12.       Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eqm0511.pdf

 

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). The future of distance education. [Video Podcast].     Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?       tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute     %2Flauncher   %3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_3396926_1%26url%3D

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a          distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

 

Converting to a Distance Learning Format

Introduction Video: A Scenario

Converting to a Distance Learning Format

 

Teaching in an online environment can present many challenges (Durrington, Berryhill, & Swafford, 2006). Trainers and instructional designers cannot simply convert courses into online formats by uploading documents to online servers (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). Because distance education must be equivalent to face-to-face education, but is not necessarily identical (Simonson et al. 2012), there are many steps that must be taken to create an effective hybrid training course.

 

In a hybrid course, also known as a blended course, students and teachers continue to meet part time in conventional classroom settings face-to-face while course content is made available online to provide students with a learner-centered experience that encourages cooperation and collaboration between students (Simonson et al. 2012). A hybrid course offers a variety of ways for instructors to support students outside of the classroom while still maintaining face-to-face interactions that support traditional learning methods (Simonson et al. 2012).

Converting a traditional training program into a hybrid model involves many steps:

(1) Pre-planning

(2) Enhancing original program with online tools

(3) Utilizing student-centered learning

(4) Facilitating discussion and online communication.

In this guide, you will find more information about these steps.  Access the guide by downloading this PDF: WK7AssgnSutliffA

You can access my guide through the following Prezis as well:

Pre-Planning

Enhancing

Student Centered Learning

Communication

 

Resources:

 

Durrington, V., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment. College Teaching, 54(1), 190–193. Retrieved from http://www.redorbit.com/news/technology/433631/strategies_for_enhancing_student_interactivity_in_an_online_environment/

 

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a          distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

The Impact of Open Source

After watching an episode of the Colbert report in which Anant Agarwal appears as a guest speaker, I decided to sign up for edX, a new kind of online learning where the most prestigious colleges in America are giving away an online education. For free. And it’s easy to register.

 

Open Course websites have been changing the face of distance learning. Open Courses allow students anywhere in the world to take quality courses entirely for free (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). The incentive for taking these courses is not college credit, but rather to simply acquire knowledge or engage in a unique learning experience.

 

“Learner support systems are an integral part of any successful distance learning program” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 174). EdX has some exceptional support features for students that put this MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) on a level above the others I have visited, such as Open Yale Courses and Harvard Open Courses. After taking courses at a distance through Walden University, I know that online learners need to be oriented to their unique learning environment and may need considerable support when beginning a distance learning program. EdX has an orientation course that is designed to specifically teach students how to learn online with edX.

 

When designing distance learning programs, faculty should avoid directly converting traditional courses into a distance learning format (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012).  Since the courses at edX are so much more than the recorded lectures you can get at other MOOCs like Yale and Harvard, the students actually need the orientation to familiarize themselves with the class layout, which is set up within a learning management system. There is a navigation bar with links to the Courseware, Course Info, Syllabus, Discussion, Wiki, Open Ended Panel, and Progress. While you can download some of these materials for other MOOCs, the environment at edX allows learners to really learn online within an online learning management system, and it is very similar to the quality online experience I have had with accredited distance courses such as Walden University.

 

There are videos recorded by professors in the field, which are sometimes accompanied by active transcripts that follow the dialogue in the video and highlight the phrases along with the speaker. This might make learning more accessible to students from all over the world. Some videos are more than just clips of the instructors talking. Lectures often are accompanied by visual notes and explanations on the screen which help the instructor to explain the topic. “They are based on a variety of teaching and learning strategies and methods that are activity based” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 173).

 

“Successful distance learning programs are interactive and allow frequent opportunities for participants to engage in a dialogue with subject-matter experts and other learners” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p. 174). The learning environment at edX includes arrow keys that take the learner through the environment in an organized fashion. In addition to the built in Discussion page in the navigation bar, students can also post comments in a discussion right below the videos. This can allow students to ask questions they have about the videos and get answers from fellow classmates. The learning environment also includes built in interactive questions which help make sure learners have mastered important content before moving on.  When courses have required readings, they are uploaded directly to the course to make reading and online access easy. These readings usually have some built in interactive questions. Sometimes lessons include extremely interactive features that are embedded directly into the online learning environment. Students can click to zoom in on diagrams and access detailed interactive databases of information.

 

Assessment components should be fully integrated into a distance learning program (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). After finishing a lesson, students can complete the homework assignment, which is linked directly below the week’s lesson, where it is easy to find. These homework assignments are often interactive. Students can click on pictures, drag and drop words to match pictures, and complete a variety of multiple choice and short answer questions. Students also complete labs, demonstrations, essays, and take exams all online. Courses at edX include interactions between students, as well as student to teacher interactions and teacher to student interactions. Besides getting graded by an instructor, students will also have opportunities to complete peer assessments.

 

Courses on edX are live, which means that they are conducted within a time frame. Once students pass an edX course, they receive a Certificate of Mastery. This is not a degree, but some MOOCs offer official certifications and degrees for a fee. The goal of free distance courses like the ones found at edX is to create an educated world that is better for everybody (Colbert Report, 2013). In this day and age when neomillennial learners are so much more comfortable doing everything online, open courses have become a popular way to acquire a free education (Colbert Report, 2013; Dede, 2005).

 

 

References

 

Colbert Report [Video pocast] (2013, July 26). ‘Colbert Report’ Explains MOOCs. Retrieved from http://www.insidehighered.com/quicktakes/2013/07/26/colbert-report-explains-moocs

 

Dede, C. (2005). Planning for neomillennial learning styles. Educause Quarterly, 28(1), 7–12.       Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/eqm0511.pdf

 

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

 

Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

With the emergence of Web 2.0 we now have a plethora of choices for distance learning technology tools (Smith Nash, 2005). With so many choices, Instructional Designers should carefully consider each tool and select technology not because it is familiar or preferred for personal reasons, but because it fits the requirements of a learning context.

For this blog post, I have matched two distance learning technologies to this real life scenario:

 Interactive Tours

A high school history teacher, located on the west coast of the United States, wants to showcase to her students new exhibits being held at two prominent New York City museums. The teacher wants her students to take a “tour” of the museums and be able to interact with the museum curators, as well as see the art work on display. Afterward, the teacher would like to choose two pieces of artwork from each exhibit and have the students participate in a group critique of the individual work of art. As a novice of distance learning and distance learning technologies, the teacher turned to the school district’s instructional designer for assistance. In the role of the instructional designer, what distance learning technologies would you suggest the teacher use to provide the best learning experience for her students?

Edmodo and Virtual Tours

 In order to make this learning experience successful, there should be some interaction between students (Beldarrain, 2006). Using technology is a great way to engage students and help them to interact (Beldarrain, 2006). The teacher can use a Web 2.0 tool like Edmodo to create student groups based on the chosen art pieces, and set up group discussion threads in order for students to complete the group critique (Trust, 2012). Edmodo can also be used to organize the museum tour unit and offer links to the tour as well as the specific art pieces that students will be critiquing (Trust, 2012). The instructor can invite the museum curator to her Edmodo classroom to allow students to interact directly with the curator (Trust, 2012). For these reasons, the history teacher should use Edmodo to facilitate the critiquing assignments.

In order to tour the museums in New York, students on the west coast will need access to a virtual tour. There are many websites with virtual tours, as well as programs to create virtual tours. If the museums in question don’t already have virtual tours, I would approach the museum curator and offer to create a virtual tour for the museum, using Adobe Flash Professional or a technology tool specifically designed to create virtual tours, such as Panoweaver. “The virtual tour concept … can serve as the framework for private tours by students who then provide the instructor with written summaries” (Pettijohn, 2000, p. 296). Leading students on virtual tools is an excellent way to increase engagement (Pettijohn, 2000). For these reasons, virtual tours are the best technology to connect the students on the west coast to the museums on the east coast.

 

 References

 

 

Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance education trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education, 27(2),139–153. Retrieved from

http://www.dastous.us/edtechadvocate/2.pdf

 

Pettijohn, J. B. (2000). Virtual Tours—A Tool for Enhancing and Enlivening the International

Business Class. Journal of Education for Business, 75 (5)  291–296 Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=8a71d0a2-bfff-40ca-a9a1-b08810fa673e%40sessionmgr114&vid=4&hid=122

 

Smith Nash, S. (2005). Learning objects, learning object repositories, and learning theory:

preliminary best practices for online courses. Interdisciplinary Journal of Knowledge and

Learning Objects, 1. Retrieved from http://www.ijello.org/Volume1/v1p217-228Nash.pdf

 

Trust, T. (2012). Professional Learning Networks Designed for Teacher Learning. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, v 28 n 4 p 133-138 Retrieved from http://web.ebscohost.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/ehost/pdfviewer/pdfviewer?sid=dbba4543-3a24-4fb0-ac5f-5e16677fe214%40sessionmgr111&vid=4&hid=122

 

Defining Distance Learning

Image

Distance Learning Mind MapAs the need for learning at a distance grows, the definition of distance learning has evolved, changed, and adapted along with the driving technology in the field (Moller, Foshay, & Huett, 2008; Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). The definition of distance learning can be subjective depending on one’s career and experience and varies depending on the technology available. For some people, distance learning is a correspondence class. For others, distance learning means classes online.  Dr. Simonson et. al. (2012) defines distance learning as formal distance teaching and learning in which the teacher, students, and resources are separated by geography, and sometimes by time. Google defines distance learning as “A method of studying in which lectures are broadcast or classes are conducted by correspondence or over the Internet, without the student’s needing to attend a school or college. Also called distance education.”

Distance Learning Mind Map 2

Before I was born, people were already using computers, satellites, TV, video, radio, correspondence, and Guglielmo’s Black Box to teach at a distance (Distance Learning Timeline Continuum). As each new technology emerged, it must have changed distance learning and the way it worked. As technology advanced and distance learning methods became more sophisticated, the definition needed to adapt to match up. Now, we currently have different definitions based on the different technologies that are available, but also I think, based on individual preference and how people see distance learning.

Distance Learning Mind Map 3

Before I started taking the Distance Learning course through Walden, I had already taken five distance classes with Walden, and my experiences in these classes greatly impacted my own personal definition. To me, distance learning was simply an online class that meets asynchronously. After starting this class, I see now that a broader definition is helpful in the fact that it allows us to study distance learning’s past and therefore try to guide its future. The word “online” automatically indicates that the technology tool being utilized for the distance learning is a computer. The computer was not always involved in distance learning (Distance Learning Timeline Continuum). This definition then, is too narrow to encompass all that distance learning has been and what it can be in the future. My new personal definition of distance learning must be flexible in order to withstand the technology changes that are always looming on the horizon.

 

My definition of distance learning: A nontraditional classroom where students and teachers are learning and teaching while using technology to bridge the gap of space and time.

Distance Learning Mind Map 4

In the past, distance learning has changed along with the invention of new technology. The internet has radically changed the way students and teachers connect to teach and learn together when they are miles apart (Distance Learning Timeline Continuum). I believe that the connectivity of the internet will ensure that in the future, most distance learning will require an internet connection. In the future, I see distance learning branching out to utilize different technology beyond computers. Tablets, cell phones, and other new contraptions that have yet to be invented — all this technology is going to be used for learning in some way. It is up to the individuals involved in distance learning to shape what it can become. For now, I see distance learning growing and changing every day as new Web 2.0 tools are created and especially as Web 3.0 emerges. The technology will inevitably shape distance learning as we discover new ways to improve our teaching and learning with technology.

Distance Learning Mind Map 5

References

“Distance Learning Timeline Continuum” Media program Retrieved from Waldenu.edu.

 

Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the web (Part 2: Higher education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.

 

Simonson, M., (n.d.). Media Program: “Distance Education: The Next Generation” Retrieved from Waldenu.edu.

 

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.

 

*Images in this mind map were created using “Distance Learning Timeline Continuum” and the description of web 1.0, 2.0 and 3.0 retrieved from http://www.labnol.org/internet/web-3-concepts-explained/8908/

Distance Learning Mind Map 6

Reflecting on Learning Theories and Instruction

What did you find surprising or striking as you furthered your knowledge about how people learn?

 

In general, it’s always good to be reminded that learning theories get updated as time goes on, and every learning theory has something useful to add to the field of education. Throughout this course, I read many resources that helped me realize how important it is to never discount a learning theory. This is important for me, because I used to think that constructivism was the only important learning theory out there, and theories like behaviorism and cognitivism were outdated. Now, since there are so many choices for learning theories and instructional strategies including behaviorism, constructivism, cognitivism, connectivism, social learning, and adult learning (Conlan, Grabowski, & Smith, 2003; Ertmer, & Newby, 1993; Kim, 2001; Orey, 2001; Ormrod, Schunk, & Gredler, 2009; Standridge, 2001), an instructional designer needs to carefully choose from all the options in order to find the right combination of learning theories and strategies for each unique situation.

 

How has this course deepened your understanding of your personal learning process?

 

Now that I know about Adult Learning theory and Connectivism (Conlan, Grabowski, & Smith, 2003; Davis, Edmunds, & Kelly-Bateman, 2008), I have a better understanding of how I learn. Learners should interact with each other and quickly apply new knowledge and know when methods have become outdated and no longer helpful (Davis, Edmunds & Kelly-Bateman, 2008). When I studied my learning connections, I found that I naturally use the internet and other technology tools to help me learn. This solidifies in my mind that I should be concentrating on instructional design and technology, while it also serves as a reminder that I should rely more on learning connections at my workplace.

 

What have you learned regarding the connection between learning theories, learning styles, educational technology, and motivation?

 

Above all else, I have learned that educational technology is a great way to increase motivation and incorporate many learning theories in order to teach a variety of students with different learning needs. Using the four areas of ARCS (Keller, 1999), an instructional designer can increase motivation to learn through technology and consider many different learning styles by offering choices in assignments.

 

How will your learning in this course help you as you further your career in the field of instructional design?

 

I will strive to apply what I have learned about motivation (Keller, 1999), learning styles and strategies (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008), and learning theories in order to create learning activities that offer choices, and use technology to increase motivation. In addition, since students can make their own modifications in order to increase their own success once they know their dominant learning styles (Gilbert & Swanier, 2008), I want to create a quiz to help my students identify their own strengths as a learner. Hopefully, very soon I will learn how to create a quiz using online technology. I also want to create assignments that require students to apply their new knowledge in ways that are also applicable to the students’ careers so the assignments will be taken more seriously. For a class like Instructional Design, that would involve creating videos, blogs, and other multi-media and eventually designing learning activities like the assignments I completed for this class. That means I want to start learning how to synthesize my own learning process and recreate that process by compiling resources, designing guiding questions, and choosing mediums for assignments.

 

 

 

References:

 

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

 

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism

 

Ertmer, P. A., & Newby, T. J. (1993). Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism: Comparing critical features from an instructional design perspectivePerformance Improvement Quarterly, 6(4),50-71.

 

Ferriter, B. (2009). Learning with blogs and wikis. Educational Leadership, 66(5), 34–38.

 

Gilbert, J., & Swanier, C. (2008). Learning styles: How do they fluctuate? Institute for Learning Styles Journal [Vol. l]. Retrieved from http://www.auburn.edu/~witteje/ilsrj/Journal%20Volumes/Fall%202008%20Volume%201%20PDFs/Learning%20Styles%20How%20do%20They%20Fluctuate.pdf

 

Keller, J. M. (1999). Using the ARCS motivational process in computer-based instruction and distance education. New Directions for Teaching and Learning (78).

 

Kim, B. (2001). Social constructivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Social_Constructivism

 

Orey, M. (2001). Information processing. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Information_processing

 

Ormrod, J., Schunk, D., & Gredler, M. (2009). Learning theories and instruction (Laureate custom edition). New York: Pearson.

 

Standridge, M. (2001). Behaviorism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Behaviorism

 

Fitting the Pieces Together

Now that I have a deeper understanding of the different learning theories and learning styles, my view on how I learn and teach has changed.

I used to think that a combination of methods (such as behaviorist, cognitivists and constructivist) was the best approach to teaching. Now I see the downside of trying to mesh theories together into something that is best because it covers everything. How could that kind of hybrid approach to learning be effective? After studying Adult Learning Theory, I have come to the conclusion that teachers should not mix and match and combine learning theories. They should instead match a learning theory to a situation and to the group of learners and choose the best methods for those learners. Whether your group of learners is a kindergarten class, seventh grade math class, or adult learners who are self-motivated and working online independently, there is a theory for you. The best teachers will always know which learning theory to apply in any situation.

I have learned about the various learning theories and learning styles in order to explain my own personal learning preferences.

Because I am an adult in an online classroom environment, my preferences naturally match up with Adult Learning Theory. There are a few primary reasons why I prefer Adult Learning Theory at this point in time. Adult learners have an independent self-concept that allows them to direct their own learning (Conlan et. al., 2003). An online learning environment also allows for students to problem solve and immediately apply their new learning through such activities as creating blogs and mind mapping, which are important factors of adult learning (Conlan et. al., 2003). I prefer to be able to apply my new knowledge right away, and to be actively involved in my class, as opposed to taking on a passive role.

Technology plays an important role in my learning.

“New technology forces the 21st century learner to process and apply information in a very different way and at a very different pace from any other time in history” (Davis, Edmunds & Kelly-Bateman, 2008, paragraph 2). Without our current technology, I would not be able to simultaneously go to school while continue to teach. I use our technology to support my connections. In order to be as effective as possible, an adult learning class needs to be geared towards more advanced learning theories such as Connectivism or Constructivism that require learners to interact with each other and learn how to quickly learn and apply new knowledge and know when methods have become outdated and no longer helpful (Davis et. al., 2008).

 

 

References:

 

Conlan, J., Grabowski, S., & Smith, K. (2003). Adult learning. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Adult_Learning

 

Davis, C., Edmunds, E., & Kelly-Bateman, V. (2008). Connectivism. In M. Orey (Ed.), Emerging perspectives on learning, teaching, and technology. Retrieved from http://projects.coe.uga.edu/epltt/index.php?title=Connectivism