Blog Post 4 (LTEC 6512)

In this field, it is always in our best interest to foster good learning and teaching practices. The more research that is made in the favor of the education industry, the better the chancing of improving learning. I would gladly embrace any opportunity to conduct studies that have the chance to develop an educational technology.

Educational researchers should be willing to collaborate with others, regardless of their theoretical ties. According to Ravitch and Carl (2016), collaboration is important in creating scenarios that challenge your ideologies and incorporate different viewpoints into your research.

I agree with Ravitch and Carl’s thoughts on collaboration because of a related personal experience. I am interested in researching the application of virtual reality in education and sports training. My friend is interested in teaching language with technology. We happened to be in the same discussion group a semester ago and I talked with her about researching the use of virtual reality to learn a language. The immersive feature of VR will support assimilation into that particular language culture.

In my opinion, I find it unethical to refuse to make research for the benefit of learning because it doesn’t fit a particular ideology.

If the research is to benefit learning, I would not hesitate. Learning is more important than my feelings about a theory.

 

 

Reference

Ravitch, S. M., & Carl, N. M. (2016). Qualitative research: bridging the conceptual, theoretical, and methodological. Los Angeles: SAGE.

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Personal Theory Blog

I plan to study students’ attitude towards virtual reality to see if it would be an effective supplementary tool in online education. There are several qualities associated with virtual reality that could help distance education. The immersive feature can add a touch of actuality in online learning. Interaction is very important in online education. According to Lynette Nagel and Theuns G. Kotze’s article, a lot of online courses either have inadequate or nonexistent interaction. Implementing VR in distance learning could help relieve this issue.

Students have to be comfortable with this technology to be able to use it as a learning tool. Hence, I have plans to research students’ attitude towards virtual reality, attitude towards learning and attitude towards learning with virtual reality.

In my Personal Theory of Online Learning/Teaching, I will postulate that learning process is more effective when the students are in a conducive learning environment. I believe learning occurs most effectively when lectures are being delivered in their comfort zone, an experienced instructor in the particular field is present and attention is paid to the cognitive load. I believe tacit theories are largely responsible for the details of the proposed theory.

As a teaching assistant in a traditional classroom, I found out that my journalism students are more receptive to lectures when the instructor makes them feel comfortable. One of my students shared his experience on how his marketing teaching assistant would yell at the class occasionally. He ended his story with the words, there’s a reason I’m not a marketing student anymore. With that story in mind, I thought to myself that comfortability is pivotal in a student’s education.

Based on what I know right now, my theory is only supported by tacit theories. I feel it is obvious that a student would rather learn in a comfortable setting than in a hostile environment. However, I will make more research to see what other theories or literature support my claim. Like I mentioned earlier, I will research the attitude of students towards virtual reality in relation to learning. The primary method for this study will be an interview protocol. At this moment, I’m looking at Creating a Culture Conducive to Integrative Learning (Newman, Carpenter, Grawe, & Jaret-McKinstry; 2015) as a supportive article.

Update: I also looked through some articles on sociocultural theories by Lev Vygotsky. I plan to incorporate some of the material in building my personal learning theory.

 

 

References

 Nagel, L., & Kotzé, T. G. (2010). Supersizing e-learning: What a CoI survey reveals about teaching presence in a large online class. The Internet and Higher Education, 13(1-2), 45-51. doi:10.1016/j.iheduc.2009.12.001

Newman, L. E., Carpenter, S., Grawe, N., & Jaret-McKinstry, S. (2015). Creating a culture conducive to integrative learning. Peer Review, 16/17(4), 14-15. Retrieved from https://libproxy.library.unt.edu/login?url=https://libproxy.library.unt.edu:2165/docview/1698102737?accountid=7113

 

Blog Reflection – Week 2

I wish I could say that an online learning environment is as effective as a traditional classroom but there are many factors that give face-to-face learning the upper hand. Whether we like it or not, the mode of delivery plays a vital role in teaching and learning. Online classes should not be taught the same way regular lectures.

My journalism background has taught me a lot about how the various forms of media have different influences. As Marshall McLuhan would say, the medium is the message. McLuhan believes that “the forms that communications technology takes influences the meanings that people take away from their mediated social interactions as much as more than the message content does” (Lull, 2013, pg. 37). The way you give a speech via radio should not be the same way you communicate while on television. When past presidential candidates and politicians were campaigning for office, their use of the trending media affected the public’s perception of them. John F. Kennedy knew how to present himself well on television; Barack Obama took advantage of the internet and the current president used social media the best way he could.

The point of this brief political diversion is to show that each form of communication should be treated differently. Having several years of teaching in a classroom doesn’t qualify you to teach in an online setting whenever you feel like it. As Dana Gutman argues, instructors must be experienced in online learning before being allowed to teach online classes. If not, they would represent traditional teaching practices in an online setting.

Based on my understanding as an online student, I have learned more from synchronous meetings with via platforms like GoToMeeting and Zoom than from discussion forums. A lot of students just participate in these mandatory discussions in order to get the promised points.

Both online learning and traditional classrooms have their strengths and should not be compared in all aspects. We need to pay more attention to the learning process instead of focusing a lot on technologies. You may have the most recent learning tool but the purpose of the technology would be wasted if learning doesn’t occur.

References:

Gutman, D. (n.d.). Six Barriers Causing Educators to Resist Teaching Online, and How Institutions Can Break Them. In Distance Learning (3rd ed., Vol. 9, pp. 51-56).

Lull, J. (2013). Media, communication, culture: A global approach. (2nd ed., p. 37). New York, NY: John Wiley and sons.

Blog Reflection – Ethics

There are a few things that are ethically concerning with learning technologies but these issues are sometimes overlooked.

For a few years, I have been wondering how instructors decide on the technologies they use to deliver or supplement lectures. Do they base their decision on previous research or do they use the technology to keep up with current trend?

In my opinion, it is unethical for an instructor to teach a course with a particular technology solely because of convenience, flexibility or ease. Learning is the most important part of learning technologies.

The delivery of education must be the primary focus when using technology to teach.  Effectiveness should precede convenience when it comes to learning technologies. If an instructor decides to primarily use an online platform to teach a biology or chemistry class because it is more convenient from the teacher’s perspective, we have an ethical issue. However, if another instructor teaches a social media course via the internet because it is very effective and it happens to be convenient for the learners, I can live with that.

I was listening to a very insightful podcast with Dr. Patsy Moskal (Research on Distributed Learning and Teaching Effectiveness). She urged listeners to be careful not to let the technology drive the research but focus on good instructions and what is best for the students. Learning is the most important goal in research and using technologies in our field. It should always be.

There a number of ways these ethical concerns can be addressed. Instructors and instructional designers must demonstrate that a particular technology will meet the learning needs of the student before they are allowed to implement it. They would have to show research that supports the use of the chosen technology with a course to be taught. Also, a pretest and posttest involving the technology with possible students would be vital.

Television, radio and newspaper deliver news differently. In the same way, a course in a traditional classroom should not be taught the exact same way as an online class.

Blog Reflection 2 (6512)

What do you think about qualitative research based on your experience gathering and doing initial analysis together?

From my university, work and personal experience, qualitative research is so important in finding out helpful information. We inadvertently conduct mini qualitative research every day. Your employers or supervisors used this method to study you before giving you a job. A lot of people research restaurants and bars on Yelp before visiting. I study the nutritional facts of anything I eat or drink.

On a more professional note, I think qualitative research can answer a lot more questions than anticipated. A classmate and I conducted a research on how various newspaper outlets reported a GQ interview that featured Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to conduct this study while using qualitative research as the main method. Our content analysis did not give us statistically significant results and we did not have much to discuss our results.

The case would have been different if we had used flexible research methods to study the bias associated with how various newspapers reported the GQ interview. The research would almost write itself with the kind of information we would have gotten from interviews, focus groups, ethnography and other qualitative methods of research.

From my experience, flexible methods tend to give you more than you expect. I learned a few years ago that just 15 minutes of observing people at a restaurant during happy hour told me a lot about the lifestyle in Downtown Dallas.  With qualitative research, you are not required to answer a certain question. You are afforded the opportunity to learn more about the research topic. More topics could stem from the process.

The quality and outcome of your research are highly dependent on the research method used. I made a promise to myself to always conduct a qualitative study whenever I have the opportunity. It may not be the main research method but it will be a great way to supplement the main research.

 

Blog post 1: Why Online?

I believe we have so many online courses because people continue to make the most of the technologies and tools available in this day and age. If new technologies make delivery on instruction more convenient than traditional methods, instructors and instructional designers would gladly implement the former. We abandoned smoke signals and town criers because the telegram and the telephone were invented.

A lot of students spend several hours of the day online. Hence, taking an online class would add productivity to how they spend time on the internet. In addition, a lot of learners in this generation feel comfortable learning online. For example, I wanted to learn how to make eggs Benedicts, it would be more convenient and quicker to look on YouTube than to enroll in a cooking class. I also believe instructors keep putting classes online because they receive positive feedback from it.

From my nine or so years’ experience in university, it is difficult to compare online courses to face-to-face classes because they both work differently. There are some courses that work better virtually while others need the traditional class setting.

However, there is a major difference between both forms of delivering instructions. I feel more immersed and attentive when I am physically present in the class than when I’m attending to the course remotely. A lot of face-to-face classes see more class participation than online courses because students don’t have the option to “hide” from the discussion. However, there are some cases where learners feel more comfortable making a contribution when they are not physically the center of attention. As a student, face-to-face classes keeps me from procrastinating. The advantages of online classes include convenience and flexibility.

I believe the instructors also find online classes a lot more convenient than face-to-face lectures. At the beginning of last semester, Texas experienced petrol scarcity as a result of Hurricane Harvey. Thankfully, we had the tools available to make the course virtual for a few weeks.

It will take extensive research to know if the formats require different skills and to find out the skills that are required for both methods of delivery. Said research would have to be done regularly because of constant changes and development in learning technologies.

As more technologies that foster learning develop, there will be more online classes. The problems we have with delivering lectures via the internet will slowly be solved. More features will be added to accommodate the delivery of different type of courses.

 

 

Blog Reflection 1 – Qualitative Research

If a research project is a three-course meal, a qualitative method could sometimes act as the appetizer because it prepares you for the main course. In other projects, it could be the entrée. I believe qualitative research is very important in studying an issue. Even if the project requires a quantitative method, there are certain characteristics of a flexible method that can make the research stronger.

I have a mass communication and journalism background so I understand the importance of asking questions and making observation. You get a different form of information from qualitative research. Employers don’t rely on statistics or quantitative research to determine if a candidate would fit well in their company. They conduct interviews in order to find out how well potential employees would cope.  Also, researchers using this method usually get more information than they anticipated.

In a nutshell, I find this research method very interesting and helpful in my area of interest.

Blog Reflection 17

This course exposed me to research like I had never expected. The professor’s lecture and the assigned readings were pivotal this process. I learned about how to properly approach the different research methods.

One of my favorite class meetings was on November 30th, 2017. We had a guest in the class and she showed us her interview protocol. It was amazing when she also demonstrated her interview with the students.

Data collection is crucial to research and this course made me more comfortable with it. By practicing, I found out that questionnaires, surveys and interviews need to be carefully created.

This class also made me understand the advantages and uses of the different research methods. There are situations where a flexible method is ideal and there are instances where fixed design would work better. Both methods could also complement each other in a study.

Overall, I had an amazing learning experience in this class; my professor and classmates helped a lot. This course has been a great foundation for future research projects and classes.

Blog Reflection 16 (Project B)

I decided to create this course because I believe there are not enough classes that teach people how to manage social media for a business. There are articles and online lectures that show a few things but there are not a lot of comprehensive courses in this area. My professional and business experience in this field played a great role in putting together this instructional design.

I am happy with the outcome of this project. I had a great experience creating a course as opposed to editing one that already existed.  Project B was my favorite of the two because it taught me a few things about creating a course. I’ve learned that critical thinking and attention to detail helps when you are creating a proper instructional design. Of course, there are other skills that are useful when crafting a course from scratch.

While I was creating this social media management course for Project B, the three things that helped the most were analysis, research and experiment. I have been studying and testing different social media techniques for a few years. I know the strategies, tools and resources that helped my social media campaigns. Hence, I made sure to incorporate them into this instructional design. Since I have a social media presence, I tested out some these approaches to see how well they work.

Analyzing successful social media campaigns, trends and article exposed me to different angles of approaching this course. I was able to see what they did best and get an idea how.

Thanks to analyzing, researching and experimenting, I found the information I needed to create learning goals and objectives that are tailored to social media management.

The peer feedback was a great activity. Not only did I get to see what other classmates are working on but I also got constructive feedback for the benefit of my design. The evaluation from the learners that participated in the course offered vital information to help improve it. I didn’t get a detailed client feedback for this project.

Project B brought about a remarkable learning opportunity. I’m thankful for Project A for preparing me for this design activity. Still, there is a lot of work to be done before this social media class can be deemed ready. I intend to further develop this course and get assistance from professionals. An interview with learners and instructors may help to decide what else to add to this course. I also need to pay attention to cognitive load and other aspects of learning.

 

Blog Reflection 14

Designing instruction involves analyzing the different aspects of the subject matter in order to create clear and specific direction. It also means taking into consideration as many potential situations as possible and making sure they are covered in the design. Even something as basic as a petrol station pump or an exercise machine at a fitness gym comes with instructional design. While crafting the instructions, the designer had in mind that people would need help properly operating the exercise equipment in order to avoid injury and have a proper workout session. Another person designed the instructions for the petrol pump with the intention that every user would read it and fill their car safely.

To design instructions professionally, you need experience as well as several skills. Experience in the field is very helpful because it helps answer questions about issues that the designer has directly been involved in. For example, I am working on an instructional design for a social media course and my professional practice in the field has been helpful with the project. I worked as a digital media specialist at a software company for over a year. I was in charge of handling several social media accounts for the company as well as a few clients. I learned a lot about social media engagement, advertising, the peak time to make posts and many other related skills. With that in mind, I’m able to implement the useful social media practices in my instructional design.

In the same sense, a veteran journalist has an edge over a recent college graduate in the same field when it comes to instructional design for a writing and reporting class.

In addition to experience, there are other skills that would help make a person a professional instructional designer. Critical thinking, in my opinion, is at the top of the list.  Being able to analytically study the features of the course to be created is very important in instructional design.

Knowledge of instructional design practices is pivotal too. People just don’t wake up one day and decide to start designing courses. They would need specific training to be able to effectively design instructions. There are rules that need to be followed and theories that need to be understood to be successful in this field.

I am sure there are several skills that make someone a professional instructional designer but the aforementioned abilities would be very helpful in this field.