Monday, May 17, 2010

Online Learning Technologies

This week we expanded our use of Ning, Facebook, and PBWorks for educational use. I found the sites easy to navigate both in creating my own and looking at other classmates sites. The use of the read/write web has expand since I first took online courses in the late 90's.

In the late 90's I took online courses to gain my BA in Human Development. It was a new program offered through WSU. I graduated in May of 2001 just when the Open Educational Resource movement was starting. The classes were modeled after a traditional class with video lectures, test taken through proxy sites, and homework turned in through email. We had a online cafe where we communicated with other students but since this was a new program there we not many students to communicate with and there was no requirements for posting and discussions. We were most on our own with little or no feedback from teachers. The only deadline was completing all course work within the quarter which followed the same dates as on campus students. When I graduated in 2001 there were 4 of us that had completed the program and we were the first 4 to do so. I am wondering where they are at now with developing course work and the number of online students.

I have seen how far online education has come and how it is a more tailored education than just adapting classroom courses to distance learning programs. I now see how much education has advanced just in the last 10 years. In the next 10 years I see more advancement in online learning and more students choosing this form of learning. There will also be more traditional classes using the online forums such as blogs and wikis. I am enjoying this educational experience more than my previous online experience.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Social Networking and Privacy

This week focus was on social networking and how private it is. The nature of the read/write web is such that what is posted on a social networking sight is not really private. When using a social networking sight there are settings that one can use but that does not always mean privacy. There are ways to hack into accounts and view anything that is published on the web.

I use facebook on a daily basis to communicate with friends and relatives. It is a fun sight to use for entertainment but could also be used for education. Applications on facebook is one way to harness the education potential but it would be important to separate professional and private persona's. Educators and students need to use facebook and similar social networking sights responsibly. It is important that if educators decide to use social networking sights in their classrooms they need to teach how to navigate these sights safely.

There are basic questions to ask when using a social networking sight.
1. Who can view what is written? The answer to this question is anyone.
2. Would I say this to a persons face? If the answer is no don't publish.
3. Is this something that could harm someone? If the answer is yes don't publish.
4. How long will this be viewable to people? The answer is forever.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Types of Wikis

This week we studied the use of Wikis for group projects. West (West, 2009) laid out how to design a good wiki projects. Some of their suggestions would also be transferable to group projects in the classroom. These include having process checks, individual assessment strategies, recognizing and resolving conflicts, reassess group goals and roles, controversy vs. conflict, and conflict intervention.
It seems like the biggest complaint when working in groups is individuals not contributing evenly. According to West (West, 2009) it is important to integrate an individual midpoint assessment. It should be a short answer quiz that each member completes individually. West suggests questions like what the objective is, what your role is, the tasks you are responsible for, and a time line for completing. By adding in this assessment it helps combat the possibility of uneven contribution.

There are three main types of wikis. The first is a free based wiki. These are easy to set up and monitor. They do have their limitations. These limitations are minimal management capabilities, least amount of security, and limitations on the number of members or pages (West, 2009). If these limitations will cause some concern it may be better to consider a fee-based wiki.

The second type is a fee-based wiki. This type of wiki also requires minimal technical experience but over comes the problems one may encounter with free wikis. There is added security, advanced management capabilities, large or unlimited number of members or pages and easy to add and link groups (West, 2009). Just remember that there are limitations including the cost involved.

Finally there is the self-hosted wiki. This is a wiki where software is loaded directly onto a personal or campus server. “Self-hosting a wiki allows for allows for maximum control over access and security, and typically provides much more storage space than is available through free or fee-based wiki” (West, 2009). It is important to remember that you have more technical experience and requires more set up time.

West, J. A. (2009). Using Wikis for Online Collaboration. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.