Online Texts, Wikipedia, Gaming, Adult Learners, Virtual Worlds, Podcasting, College Navigator in Spanish, Three Documetaries

Here are some articles and resources that you might find interesting. Chris.

Online Texts for Community College Students
by Elia Powers
April 29, 2008, Inside Higher Ed

“This week, dozens of professors from colleges across the country are meeting with representatives from nonprofit groups and for-profit companies that are in the digital textbook market to talk about ways of developing and promoting online content. The first phase of the “Community College Open Textbook Project” is being funded by a one-year, $500,000-plus grant to the Foothill-De Anza Community College District from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.”

“As part of the project, community college professors will receive training on how to find and customize material. One objective is for participants to create online textbooks, largely culled from existing resources, in high-demand courses such as statistics. Baker, director of the project, is also bringing together professors to review the academic quality of the material, with the idea of coming away with peer-reviewed textbooks. These are faculty members who are part of the Community College Consortium for Open Educational Resources, a group that has met since last summer and operates a Web site for faculty looking to get information about open access textbooks.” . . .

Making Wikis Work for Scholars
by Andy Guess
April 28, 2008, Inside Higher Ed

“Even if they won’t admit it, students are using Wikipedia to kick off their research and fill the gaps in their class notes … right now. It might not show up in the bibliography, but the free, open source online resource has long since become the starting point for settling factual disputes, brainstorming paper ideas and even offering suggestions for further reading.” . . .

Gaming Helps Students Hone 21st-Century Skills: Environments Such as Second Life Can Both Stimulate and Educate, Experts Say
by Laura Devaney
Apr 22, 2008, eSchool News

“Virtual worlds and games can help students develop necessary skills. Online gaming can help students develop many of the skills they’ll be required to use upon leaving school, such as critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity, agreed educators who spoke during an April 16 webinar on gaming in education.” . .

Characteristics of Adult Learners With Implications for Online Learning Design
by Kathleen Cercone
April 2008, Association for the Advancement of Computing In Education Journal

Abstract: The online educational environment is increasingly being used by adults and should be designed based on the needs of adult learners. This article discusses andragogy, an important adult learning theory, and reviews three other adult learning theories: self-directed learning, experiential learning, and transformational learning. During this discussion, the theories are examined for the ways in which they may be applied to the design of online learning environments. In addition, the characteristics of adult learners are examined, and an analysis of how these characteristics influence the design of an online learning environment is presented. Recommendations follow regarding how to design an online classroom environment while considering the application of adult learning theories.

Envisioning the Educational Possibilities of User-Created Virtual Worlds
by David M. Antonacci, Nellie Modaress, University of Kansas Medical Center
April 2008, Association for the Advancement of Computing In Education Journal

Abstract: Educational games and simulations can engage students in higher-level cognitive thinking, such as interpreting, analyzing, discovering, evaluating, acting, and problem solving. Recent technical advances in multiplayer, usercreated virtual worlds have significantly expanded the capabilities of user interaction and development within these simulated worlds. This ability to develop and interact with your own simulated world offers many new and exciting educational possibilities. This article explores the technical capabilities and educational potential of these new worlds. Additionally, it presents and illustrates a model, which uses interaction combinations, to identify course content and topics having educational applications in virtual worlds.

Formation of a Virtual Professional Learning Community in a Combined Local and Distance Doctoral Cohort
by Lance Ford, Howe Public Schools; Gracie Branch, Norman Public Schools; George Moore, Sam Houston State University
April 2008, Association for the Advancement of Computing In Education Journal

Abstract: A phenomenological study was conducted with a group of doctoral students preparing to be technology leaders. Students and faculty participated in weekend-intensive course work in which the faculty and some students attended classes on campus, and another group of students attended classes through distance technologies. Using some of these very same technologies, students and faculty members were interviewed in either distance or face-to-face sessions. Students and faculty indicated that because of the various technologies they were able to communicate, to build relationships, and to feel a sense of community. However, those at a distance also indicated they missed out on the informal conversations held among students who attended classes on campus. The various technologies helped form the beginnings of a virtual professional learning community.

A Proposal for Ozone Science Podcasting in a Middle Science Classroom
by Debra Piecka, Elaine Studnicki, Duquesne University ; Michelle Zuckerman-Parker, Allegheny Singer Research Institute, Center for Genomic Studies
April 2008, Association for the Advancement of Computing In Education Journal

Abstract: The use of podcasting has grown exponentially. Research projects are racing to keep up with this growth to understand implications for learning and instruction. This project specifically attempts to understand if the use and development of podcasts by students for students influence learning in a 7th grade science classroom. Using a technology integration model, both science and computer teachers will collaboratively teach technical and content knowledge in using podcasting to understand the implications of the ozone layer on the environment. Assessment practices include qualitative practices through interviews and discussions with participants. Quantitative data will include a pre and postsurvey, curriculum content assessments, and podcast quality rubric assessment. Forecasted expectations are that podcasts will increase student motivation, technical skills sets, and content knowledge based on the opportunity for students to create authentic products of their understanding using podcasting in a collaborative learning environment. The implications of the study will demonstrate how podcasts can be successfully used in education for learning and instruction.

Re-Conceptualizing the Linked Courses Model
by Mary Baxter, Graduated Doctoral Student University of Houston
April 2008, Association for the Advancement of Computing In Education Journal

Abstract: To help students meet the demands of society, the University of Houston is using the framework of learning communities and constructivism to create a cross-disciplinary approach to teaching to provide media-rich thematically linked courses to engage a diverse student population. A case study investigated three semesters of thematically linked courses, Places in Time and Multicultural America, that used a thematic cross-disciplinary approach to curriculum involving the History and English departments, the Instructional Technology Program, the University Writing Center, and the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. During this study, the need for a new linked courses model evolved that supports the inclusion of university and community resources.

U.S. Department of Education Announces the Release of a New Spanish Language Version of its College Search Tool, College Navigator

College Navigator is a free consumer information tool designed to help students, parents, high school counselors, and others get information about nearly 7,000 postsecondary institutions in the United States . It provides a wide range of information — such as programs offered, retention and graduation rates, prices, aid available, degrees awarded, campus safety, athletics, and accreditation — in a user-friendly tool.

Three New Documentaries from American Media Works

“King’s Last March,” by Kate Ellis and Stephen Smith. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968. Four decades later, King remains one of the most vivid symbols of hope for racial unity in America . But that’s not the way he was viewed in the last year of his life. Listen to King’s speeches, see slideshows, read King’s FBI file, and find out more at the King’s Last March Web site.

“Gangster Confidential,” by Michael Montgomery. Rene Enriquez was a leader in one of America ‘s most violent gangs, the Mexican Mafia. He’s serving two life sentences in California for murders he committed for the gang. While in prison, Enriquez rose to a powerful position in the gang. But then he had a change of heart. Read Enriquez’s first-hand experience and see a video of him debriefing law enforcement officials on the structure and methods of the Mexican Mafia at the Gangster Confidential Web site.

“Business of the Bomb: Modern Nuclear Marketplace,” by Mark Schapiro and Michael Montgomery. The global expansion of nuclear know-how is challenging efforts to contain the spread of atomic weapons. Learn more about nuclear smuggling, the Atoms for Peace program, and more at the Business of the Bomb Web site.

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Online Texts, Wikipedia, Gaming, Adult Learners, Virtual Worlds, Podcasting, College Navigator in Spanish, Three Documetaries

Online Learning Article, Employer Acceptability, E-Reserves, GSA and NASA Solicitation, Course Design Resources

Here are some articles, two solicitations from GSA and NASA, and some resources Jennifer Sparrow from Florida Gulf Coast University referenced during her audioconference presentation yesterday, “Course Design Boot Camp.” Chris.

Online Learning is Higher Education’s Growth Track: Studies find Employers, However, Favor Traditional Degrees, but Tide may be Turning
by Charlotte Hsu
Apr 19, 2008, Las Vegas Sun

“Students say Web classes square with busy schedules and allow scholars to avoid the nightmare of campus parking lots. Eliminating the school commute is good for the Earth and the pocketbook. But online classes also require a lot of independent study, and they lack face-to-face interaction with classmates and teachers. Dropout rates for online courses are often higher than for traditional ones.”

“And, though recruiters say employers are warming to degrees earned with online classes, research suggests credentials from classrooms still carry more weight. In studies published since 2004, researchers Jonathan Adams and Margaret DeFleur found employers prefer applicants with traditional degrees.” . . .

See “Degrees of Acceptance,” by Alex Wellen in the July 30, 2006 issue of the New York Times.

The January 2006 article by Jonathan Adams and Margaret DeFleur, “The Acceptability of Online Degrees Earned as a Credential for Obtaining Employment” costs $28.

A Press Revolt Against E-Packet Practices
by Andy Guess
April 16, 2008, Inside HigherEd

“Professors looking to save their students money on textbooks have often relied on packets or e-reserves since it’s usually cheaper to pay individual publishers for the right to use the content than to purchase entire textbooks, not all of whose content is relevant in a particular course to begin with. Copy shops and professors were sometimes willing to look the other way when it came to obtaining copyright clearance for printed packets, a practice that ended in litigation resulting in many of the fair-use standards colleges use in the classroom today. Now, with electronic collections taking their place, a similar change in practices around digital permissions may be on its way.”

“On Tuesday, three major academic presses backed by the Association of American Publishers sued Georgia State University , alleging that it systematically facilitated access to a significant volume of copyrighted works online without paying the proper licensing fees or even seeking to do so.” . . .

Professors Gone Paperless
by Elia Powers
April 16, 2008, Inside HigherEd

“Continuing their campaign to draw attention to the cost of textbooks, the Student Public Interest Research Groups celebrated Tuesday what they’re calling a major milestone – reaching 1,000 professors who’ve signed a statement supporting the use of free, online and open source textbooks. Colleges and individual faculty members continue to experiment with putting course information and material online, and “open textbooks” typically are licensed to allow users to download, share and alter the content as they see fit, so long as their purposes aren’t commercial and they credit the author for the original material. This allows instructors to customize e-textbooks and offer them to students for free online or as low-cost printed versions.” . . .

The Visual Dictionary

A site with labeled diagrams for all sorts of objects divided into the categories: biology vegetal, biology animal, human body, music, transport, and clothing. Includes some animations. Could be useful to biology, anatomy, music instructors.

Solicitation from the General Services Administration:
Training Aids and Devices, Instructor Led Training, Test Administration
April 21, 2008, FedBizOpps

“The purpose of this solicitation is to provide a vehicle for government agencies to obtain quality professional training and training aids and devices” … Items include: teaching Machines/devices including medical models and simulators, hands-on training devices, computer training devices, etc.; prepared printed instructional material including general education, computer, vocational/trade, health/safety and business; prepared audio and visual instruction material, multimedia program kits including general education, computer, vocational/trade, health/safety and business; Instructor-led and web based training including general education, computer, vocational /trade, health/safety, business (excluding procurement training courses developed by FAI (Federal Acquisition Institute) and DAU (Defense Acquisition University) for GS-1102 job series); course development and test administration, provides professional services in support of planning and creation of customized courses and workshops and/or training materials delivered through classroom or alternative other instructional means.” Offers may be submitted at anytime; this solicitation is continuously open with no closing date. Response Date: Saturday, May 31, 2008

NASA Seeks Partner to Develop Massively MultiplayerOnline (MMO) Game to support STEM Learning
April 21, 2008, FedBizOpps

NASA seeks proposals for collaboration with an organization to enhance NASA’s ability to achieve its educational goals by creating and managing a Massively Multiplayer Online (MMO) game. The game would be fun and would enhance science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning. It is intended that this request will result in the establishment of a non-reimbursable Space Act Agreement (defined as one with no exchange of funds) that will define the full roles and responsibilities of NASA and the proposing organization. NASA’s Learning Technologies (LT) is the requesting office. Response Date: June 18, 2008

Course Design Resources

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants
by Marc Prensky
December 2001, On the Horizon, Part I

“Today’s students – K through college – represent the first generations to grow up with this new technology. They have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age. Today’s average college grads have spent less than 5,000 hours of their lives reading, but over 10,000 hours playing video games (not to mention 20,000 hours watching TV). Computer games, email, the Internet, cell phones and instant messaging are integral parts of their lives.”

Do They Really Think Differently?
by Marc Prensky
December 2001, On the Horizon, Part II of Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

“In Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants: Part I, I discussed how the differences between our Digital Native students and their Digital Immigrant teachers lie at the root of a great many of today’s educational problems. I suggested that Digital Natives’ brains are likely physically different as a result of the digital input they received growing up. And I submitted that learning via digital games is one good way to reach Digital Natives in their native language. Here I present evidence for why I think this is so. It comes from neurobiology, social psychology, and from studies done on children using games for learning.”

Quality On the Line: Benchmarks for Success in Internet-Based Distance Education
By: Ronald Phipps, Jamie Merisotis

With the rapid growth worldwide of teaching and learning on the Internet, more and more attention is being paid to the nature and quality of online higher education. This report, commissioned by the National Education Association, the nation’s largest professional association of higher education faculty, and Blackboard Inc., a leading Internet education company, examines case studies of six colleges and universities that provide Internet-based degree programs.

Principles of Online Design
2008, Edited by Erping Zhu, Roberta McKnight, and Nancy Edwards, Florida Gulf Coast University

A resource to faculty who are designing online instructional materials. Objectives: 1. Review and analyze distance learning data from FGCU faculty and students. 2. Complete a working draft of principles for the design based upon a rigorous review of literature. 3. Develop a design checklist to assist faculty in the utilization of the principles of online design. 4. Disseminate the design principles institutionally and through professional networks. 5. Field test the design checklist to assess the quality and usability (ease of use) of the instrument. 6. Consult with curriculum councils and the faculty senate to solicit feedback regarding use of the principles of online design and the design checklist as benchmark of quality in online instruction.

Learning Outcomes and Assessment Criteria: An EIC Guide
(2003) by Ann Rumpus. Educational Initiative Centre, University of Westminster

“A learning outcome is a written statement of what one expects the student to achieve by the end of the module/course. Using these explicit statements can help in ensuring consistency of delivery across modules or programmes, and in particular can provide a common format for different forms of delivery, e.g. distance learning, work-based learning and experiential learning, which can thus be more easily compared.”

Online Learning Article, Employer Acceptability, E-Reserves, GSA and NASA Solicitation, Course Design Resources

April/May 2008 Issue of Innovate Available

The April/May 2008 issue of Innovate, is now available, an open access, refereed, e-journal, focusing on using information technology tools to enhance education. It is published by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University. Chris.

Designing ee-Learning Environments: Lessons from an Online Workshop
by Lindsey Godwin, Assistant Professor of Management, College of Business at Morehead State University, and Soren Kaplan, Co-Founder, iCohere, Inc.

Based on their work leading three experiential, online workshops with over 180 participants from around the world, Lindsey Godwin and Soren Kaplan share reflections on designing and conducting successful ee-learning courses. The workshops sought to translate a popular face-to-face seminar in appreciative inquiry, an increasingly popular organizational development approach, into a meaningful online experience for participants across the globe. Using specific examples from the workshop, Godwin and Kaplan illustrate how learning opportunities that support all aspects of the experiential learning process are the key to creating a vibrant ee-learning environment. Specifically, they discuss experiential learning theory and how technology features, online experiences, and offline applications can be leveraged to deliver a variety of learning opportunities for participants.

Moving from Theory to Real-World Experiences in an e-Learning Community
by Ana-Paula Correia, Assistant Professor, Center for Technology in Learning and Teaching, Iowa State University

Ana-Paula Correia offers a case study of an experiential e-learning pedagogy used in one of this program’s distance courses. This graduate course in instructional design brought experiential learning into an e-learning community by asking students to apply knowledge and skills to real-world instructional design projects. Correia explores how the connection of online learning activities with real-world instructional needs helped prepare students to face the challenges of the real workplace beyond the virtual classroom.

Preparing e-Learning Designers Using Kolb’s Model of Experiential Learning
by Joanna Dunlap, Associate Professor of Instructional Design and Technology, University of Colorado Denver; Jackie Dobrovolny, Consultant, Triple Play; and Dave Young, Senior Instructor, Information and Learning Technologies Program, University of Colorado Denver

In this article, Joanna Dunlap, Jackie Dobrovolny, and David Young describe their approach to the design of a real-world learning experience that prepares online graduate students to work as e-learning designers and specialists. Using Kolb’s model of experiential learning to support their instructional design decisions, Dunlap, Dobrovolny, and Young have created a series of online instructional-design courses in which students use a variety of e-learning technologies and tools to discuss instructional strategies and to provide support and feedback to each other on the e-learning products they design individually. This approach allows school and the real world to be integrated in an effective, albeit intense, instructional curriculum. Kolb’s model helps focus instructor attention on online student engagement and satisfaction concerns by ensuring that the online learning activities are relevant and motivating. While this approach may be considered nontraditional, it empowers students, even those without advanced technical skills, to develop high quality e-learning products in relatively short order.

Game-Based Learning: A Different Perspective
by Karl Royle, Principal Lecturer, Curriculum Innovation, University of Wolverhampton School of Education

Because the goals of games and the object of school-based learning are fundamentally mismatched, efforts to integrate games into the curriculum have largely fallen flat despite the best intentions of teachers and the gaming industry. Arguing that educational game designers should be investigating ways to get education into games rather than getting games into education, Karl Royle describes how this might be accomplished. The discussion is contextualized by a brief outline of the shortcomings of video game usage within education. Royle demonstrates a link between the kind of learning that typically occurs in game playing and project-based learning and illustrates how curriculum-related learning material can be integrated into commercial-quality video games.

Healthy Video Gaming: Oxymoron or Possibility?
by Stephen Yang, Assistant Professor of Physical Education, SUNY Cortland; Brian Smith, Associate Professor of Information Sciences and Technology and Education, Pennsylvania State University; and George Graham, Professor of Kinesiology, Pennsylvania State University

Stephen Yang, Brian Smith, and George Graham explore the potential of exergames as a tool to combat the growing problem of childhood and adolescent obesity. Exergames rely on sensing technology that allows on-screen activity to be controlled through physical activity, rather than through operation of a handheld controller. Researchers frequently correlate increasing childhood obesity with a drastic increase in the popularity and ubiquity of video game systems; however, Konami’s Dance Dance Revolution (DDR), a game that requires players to accumulate points by coordinating body movements with onscreen cues, has been credited with helping some teens lose weight and improve their health. Suggesting that games like DDR and game systems like Nintendo’s Wii may appeal to young people who resist more accepted forms of exercise, Yang, Smith, and Graham explore the potential power of these games to encourage children and youth to be physically active. After a survey of game controllers, consoles, and software available and in development, the authors conclude with a call for further research, including a cost-benefit analysis of the viability of including such games in school physical education programs.

Perspective on Open-Access Publishing: An Interview with Peter Suber
by Reid Cornwell, Director of Research, The Center For Internet Research, Director, Focus on Education Foundation; and Peter Suber, Research Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College

In this edition of Perspectives, Reid Cornwell discusses open-access publishing with Peter Suber, senior researcher at the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, senior research professor of philosophy at Earlham College , and currently visiting fellow at Yale Law School . Open access means that scholarly work is freely and openly available online with no unnecessary licensing, copyright, or subscription restrictions. Cornwell and Suber discuss the development of the open-access movement over the past decade and the implications of the growing acceptance of open access for scholars and for publishers.

Places to Go: PISA
by Stephen Downes, Senior Researcher, National Research Council Canada

Sponsored by the by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a set of tests administered every three years to 15-year-olds around the world. These tests measure students’ practical ability in basic skills such as reading, mathematics, and science, but reporting on the 2006 results, released in December 2007, has focused on students’ understanding of science. Stephen Downes discusses reactions to the results and suggests that the PISA tests raise two sets of questions: First, what is being measured by tests of this sort? And second, what can the results of these tests tell us about the design of our educational system? The answers, Downes suggests, are critical to understanding a nation’s PISA results and to formulating an effective response.

April/May 2008 Issue of Innovate Available

Spring Issue of the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

The spring issue of the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching (JOLT) is available online. JOLT is a quarterly, peer-reviewed, online publication that addresses the scholarly use of multimedia resources in education.

An Investigation of Faculty and Student Experiences and the Move to Online Learning Following Hurricane Katrina
by Sandra J. Hartman, University of New Orleans; Mary Jo DeMatteis, Bethesda MD

In this paper, we provide a discussion of the experiences of faculty and students from the University of New Orleans during and following hurricanes Katrina and Rita to consider the implications for online teaching and learning. In addition to anecdotal discussion of faculty experiences, we examine representative postings from approximately 300 business students at the graduate and undergraduate levels. We consider what lessons can be learned about the role of the university in a disaster situation, the Katrina disaster, in this case. Our emphasis is on the role of online instruction in such situations. We provide a number of general findings about the student experiences and illustrate what occurred with excerpts from their online postings.

Powerful E-Learning: A Preliminary Study of Learner Experiences
by Barbara Rivera and Gordon Rowland, Ithaca College

This study continues a program of research into the nature of powerful learning experiences, with a focus this time on e-learning contexts. It was conducted using structured phone interviews with adult learners pursuing undergraduate degrees through e-learning coursework. Among other things, data suggest that meaningful social interaction and emotions may be important components in powerful learning experiences. In addition, the data suggest that powerful learning can indeed occur in e-learning environments. Results of this study combine with those from three previous studies to point toward practices of instructional designers and educators that may contribute to powerful learning in e-learning environments. Further examination of powerful learning in such environments holds promise.

Computer Literacy in a Traditional Nursing Program: A 7-Year Study to Identify Computer-Based Skills Needed for Success
by Mona P. Ternus, Associate Professor, and George F. Shuster, Associate Professor, University of New Mexico, College of Nursing

Computer literacy is critical to student success in higher education today. Assessment of student knowledge related to computers is generally for either hardware capabilities or overall ability, without an assessment of specific computer competencies. The focus of this study was to identify the literacy level of nursing students over a 7-year period to assess which computer competencies need the most support and development and to determine how literacy levels varied in successive years. A convenience sample (N = 401) of undergraduate nursing students admitted from 1999 to 2005 were given an assessment of computer literacy at the beginning of the upper-division nursing program. Results indicated that the literacy of students increased with each successive group of students. Literacy varied across technological functions, with students having the lowest literacy levels in the data inquiry skill set, and students who owned computers were more computer literate than those who did not. An assessment of general computer literacy can provide an overall appraisal of computer competency, but it is important to examine the separate dimensions of specific skills within general knowledge, as these are the points on which faculty will need to focus.

Persistence in Online Classes: A Study of Perceptions among Stakeholders
by Denise E. Stanford-Bowers, English Faculty, Wallace Community College

Because online learning presents unique challenges for not only learners but faculty and administrators as well, those involved in these cyber-environments must think beyond the boundaries of the traditional classroom. This study examined the perceptions of online persistence factors, those characteristics which influence student retention, as seen by the three major stakeholders in community college distance education programs: administrators, faculty, and students. The purpose of the study was to determine which factors are most important among the three groups and where those perceptions converge since lack of convergence could be a factor resulting in high attrition rates of some online courses. While the results of this study indicated that the perceptions of administrators and faculty are more closely aligned than either is with the students’ perceptions, they also show a recognition among all groups of stakeholders of online learning as an evolving phenomenon which requires attention to even the most minute details which are sometimes overlooked, not emphasized, or taken for granted. This recognition indicates a necessary paradigm shift, which will lead to improvements in online learning policy, design, and pedagogy, is in the making.

Development of an Advanced Classroom Technology Laboratory: An “Incubator” for Next Generation Learning
by Jacqueline Gilbert, Middle Tennessee State University, Jennings A. Jones College of Business, Department of Management & Marketing

This article explains the history of an Advanced Computer Technology (ACT) laboratory at Middle Tennessee State University Honors College. The ACT laboratory serves as an incubator classroom, and as a testing and experimental learning environment for faculty and students. Interviews with four administrators involved with the planning and procurement of the room (along with five faculty who had actual experience in teaching with the new equipment) are provided. This article details the history of the room’s inception, along with a list of advantages and suggestions for improvement from faculty who have taught classes in this space. An actual schematic of the current room is provided to help readers envision its capabilities.

Achievement and Satisfaction in an Online versus a Traditional Health and Wellness Course
by Anna Block, Laboratory Technician, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Brian Udermann, Associate Professor and Director of Online Education, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, Manny Felix, Assistant Professor, Department of Exercise and Sport Science, David Reineke, Associate Professor, Department of Mathematics, University of Wisconsin – La Crosse; and Steven R. Murray, Full Professor, Department of Kinesiology, Mesa State College

Online education has become a rapidly developing educational alternative. Many universities deliver online courses across a variety of disciplines. However, few studies have evaluated the efficiency of online health and wellness courses. The purpose of this study was to examine achievement and satisfaction in students who participated in an online or a traditional lecture based health and wellness class. Eighteen subjects in an online health and wellness class and nineteen subjects in a traditional lecture-based class participated in this study. Outcomes included performance on a 50-point written exam (pre- and posttest) and three regular course exams. All participants completed a satisfaction survey. The online participants completed a perception survey. No significant differences were found between online and traditional courses in the 50-point written exam or in the three regular course exams. Significant differences were found in age, employment status, year in school, and the degree to which participants felt that they were encouraged to participate in class discussions. Overall, perceptions of the online course were positive. Data suggests that an online health and wellness class was an acceptable alternative to a traditional lecture-based class, when achievement on exams was the primary outcome measure.

Introducing Social Software to K-12 Teachers in a Research Setting
by Jacqueline Waggoner and James B. Carroll, School of Education, University of Portland

Twelve K-12 teachers who were enrolled in a graduate qualitative research course were introduced to collaborative software to use as part of work on group research projects. Data were gathered from one-on-one interviews, technology use surveys, and instructor reflections. Three themes appeared: a) the importance of developing learning communities when using these tools; b) overcoming inertia needed to gets students to learn new software; and c) the conflict of technology use with instructional approaches.

An Investigation into the Perceptions of First Time Online Undergraduate Learners on Orientation Events
by Melanie Wilson, Doctoral Researcher, McGill University, Department of Integrated Studies in Education

Orientation programs have been used for years in face-to-face universities and colleges to help prepare new students adjust to their new college community by providing key information about school resources and providing an opportunity socially interact with other students. These orientation efforts have been a vital component in increasing a students’ likelihood of persisting in their program of study (i.e. not dropping out). Distance Education institutions (often with online course offerings) tend to have significantly higher drop out rates than their face-to-face counterparts, and thus orienting new online students to their new online learning environment is a logical progression. However, orientation events need to be customized to the population if they are to have a significant impact on persistence. This study explores the perceptions that a group of online undergraduate students had of three different types of orientation events. These events included a traditional face-to-face orientation session, a pre-recorded course orientation video, and a live webinar. These perceptions were revealed in responses to an online survey and comments within and after the webinar. The study concludes with suggestions for further research and presents possible alternatives to the traditional methods of student orientation.

Integrated, Multidisciplinary and Technology-Enhanced Science Education: The Next Frontier
by Ivo Dinov, The SOCR Resource, University of California, Los Angeles, Department of Statistics

Contemporary science education at all levels presents several critical pedagogical and social challenges to educators and learners alike. Among these challenges are the widening Intergenerational Information Technology (IIT) divide and the need for a comprehensive and balanced multidisciplinary training. In the past few years, it has become clear that one significant hurdle impedes the efforts to integrate information technology in the classroom – the Intergenerational IT divide. The IIT gap reflects a different growing misalignment between providers and recipients of the science and technology educational content in terms of the expected vs. supplied, needed vs. perceived and contextual vs. abstract specialized learning. The common K-12 teacher or college instructor is much less familiar with, and slower to adapt to, the new ether of communication and novel IT resources. The transfer and blending of data, research challenges and methodologies between diverse areas of science is also critical in motivating wider spectra of students, demonstrating cross-disciplinary methodological concepts and synergies, as well as for engaging students in research projects. This article discusses the problems faced by modern science educators and suggests some methods and vision for coping with the increasing IIT divide and the social need to train “complete” and broadly educated citizens.

Culturally Targeted Online Course Redesigns for English Composition and Research Writing: A Case Study
by Shalin Hai-Jew, Office of Mediated Education, Kansas State University

The Enduring Legacies Reservation-Based Project, now in its third year, supports Native American college students of a number of Pacific Northwest tribes. This paper addresses the pedagogical and e-learning strategies applied to the culturally sensitive curricular redesigns for English Composition 1 and 2 (which involve essay writing and research respectively). These are foundational and required courses for a number of degree programs and certificates. The curricular redesigns for both courses address issues of cultural sensitivity, learner focus, and strategy, and apply concepts of universal design for more effective learning for a wide range of learners. With the redesigns now in place for a year for the EC1 course and one quarter for EC2, some early findings have emerged as well.

Collaborative Online Learning: A Constructivist Example
by Donna Ashcraft, Professor of Psychology, Clarion University of Pennsylvania; Thomas Treadwell, Professor of Psychology, and V. Krishna Kumar, Professor of Psychology, West Chester University of Pennsylvania

While many other disciplines have implemented constructivist pedagogical changes, psychology has been slower to implement similar educational reform. In this article we describe a constructivist method to teach group processes. Pretest/Posttest data indicate this type of learning experience results in significant increases in students’ content knowledge in four targeted areas (American Psychological Association writing style, group processes, social psychology, and research methodology) from the beginning to the end of the semester. Student perception data indicate students learned “content” as well as “process” information in the online collaborative course.

Pedagogical Strategies for Building Community in Distance Education Courses
by Eileen McElrath, Assistant Professor, School of Library and Information Studies, Texas Woman’s University, Kate McDowell, Assistant Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Community building in online distance education is important to a successful learning experience because it alleviates feelings of isolation for both students and faculty members. Ruth E. Brown describes the process by which students become part of an online distance education community, identifying three stages: “making friends,” “community conferment,” and the development of “camaraderie” (Brown, 2001). The purpose of this article is to present concrete, specific, and practical pedagogical strategies to implement Ruth E. Brown’ 3-stage theory of community building in online distance learning courses. These strategies are based on the authors’ combined 14 years of teaching distance courses in graduate level Library and Information Science (LIS) programs.

BIO 151: Applied Biology – Developing Creative Learning Partnerships with Blackboard VISTA™
by Michael Shelmet, Office of Information Resources and Technology, Drexel University, Christopher Shields, Office of Information Resources and Technology, Drexel University, Jane Huggins, Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Drexel University

Teaching large, undergraduate, non-major biology courses represents an enormous hurdle for any instructor. Effectiveness in this endeavor requires innovative techniques addressing multiple activities including active student engagement, automated quiz and exam mechanisms, and accurate record keeping. In this particular case study, students were asked to “partner” with the instructor and produce multimedia presentations of important course concepts. Learning management software (Blackboard VISTA™) was utilized to automate delivery, grading, and recording of quizzes and exams. A class of 167 students majoring in business was divided into groups of 5-6 individuals per group. Over the course of the ten-week term, 34 multimedia presentations were given by these groups. Two major exams and multiple lab activities including quizzes were delivered, graded, and recorded using Blackboard VISTA™. Overall, this large course was effectively taught by encouraging student engagement through active participation in the development of multimedia presentations. Effective management of the course was realized through reliable technological support of administrative functions using Blackboard VISTA™ learning management software.

Spring Issue of the MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching

RIT Invents Online Game, Online Orientations, DE Growth, Computers as Poetry, Justice for All, Chest Imaging, PowerPoint Presentation, Neurons

Here are some articles and resources that you might find useful. Chris.

Rochester Institute Technologist Invents Online Game to Build Social Connections
by Andrea L. Foster
April 9, 2008, Chronicle of Higher Education

“Games aren’t just for fun. They also can be used to motivate people in their workplaces and their homes, says Elizabeth Lane Lawley, director of the laboratory for social computing at the Rochester Institute of Technology. At a keynote address today at the annual Computers in Libraries conference in Arlington, Va., Ms. Lawley described a game she helped to create with Microsoft called Social Genius. The goal of the game is to encourage people in an organization to become familiar with each other and socialize more. They’re presented with online photographs of colleagues. The more faces they correctly identify the more points they accumulate. People also accumulate points for updating their online photos and biographical data.”

A Look at Online Orientations
by Andy Guess
April 8, 2008, Inside Higher Ed

“Community colleges are increasingly finding that many of the issues they deal with on a day-to-day basis – retention and remedial education, to name two – are just as present among the students they don’t see as the ones who show up for class on campus. That’s because distance learners tend to drop out more readily than students who have regular, face-to-face contact with their instructors. And that fact, seen in retention statistics comparing students in traditional and online courses, motivated the City Colleges of Chicago to start at the beginning: at orientation. The system’s Center for Distance Learning, which offers over 90 courses and has existed in some form for more than 50 years, started a project on student retention several years ago.”

Distance Ed Continues Rapid Growth at Community Colleges
by Scott Jaschik
April 7, 2008, Inside Higher Ed

“Community colleges reported an 18 percent increase in distance education enrollments in a 2007 survey released this weekend at the annual meeting of the American Association of Community Colleges, in Philadelphia. The survey on community colleges and distance education is an annual project of the Instructional Technology Council, an affiliate of the AACC. The survey is based on the responses of 154 community colleges, selected to provide a representational sample of all community colleges. Last year’s survey found community colleges reporting an increase in distance education enrollments of 15 percent.”

“This year’s survey suggests that distance education has probably not peaked at community colleges. First there is evidence that the colleges aren’t just offering a few courses online, but entire programs. Sixty-four percent of institutions reported offering at least one online degree — defined as one where at least 70 percent of the courses may be completed online. Second, colleges reported that they aren’t yet meeting demand. Seventy percent indicated that student demand exceeds their online offerings.”

Computers as Poetry
by Gardner Campbell, Professor of English at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia
April 3, 2008

Blackboard Vows to Press On: An interview with Blackboard Chief Legal Officer Matthew Small
By David Nagel
April 2, 2008, Campus Technology

“There have been some shockers in the electronic learning world in the last month or so. First, Blackboard won its patent infringement suit against rival Desire2Learn. Then, soon after, the patent itself was rejected by the United States Patent and Trademark Office on reexamination (though that action is not final). But despite the setback in the Patent Office, Blackboard is vowing not to go down without a fight even as Desire2Learn and the Software Freedom Law Center–the two groups that sought to have the patent revoked–celebrate victory.”

Justice for All Education Project
Human Rights Campaign

The Human Rights Campaign created Justice for All program to examine the relationship between the courts and gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender (GLBT) rights. The program includes a free curriculum/facilitator’s guide and DVD designed for students in middle school through college. “These materials are designed to ensure lively debate and collaborative learning.” Activities are tailored to specific age groups. The accompanying DVD provides additional information about the relationship between the courts and GLBT rights. Funded by the Open Society Institute.

Introduction to Chest Imaging

This Web site is intended as a self-tutorial for residents and medical students to learn to interpret chest radiographs with confidence. Technique, normal anatomy and common pathology are presented. Quizzes are provided for practice and self-assessment. Created by Spencer B. Gay, MD, Juan Olazagasti, MD, Jack W. Higginbotham, MD, Atul Gupta MD, and Alex Wurm MD at the University of Virginia Health Sciences Center Department of Radiology.

How to Create a Great PowerPoint without Breaking the Law
by Alvin Trusty
Presentation at eTech Ohio 2008 – Feb 4-6

“No participants will be harmed during this session. Learn how to create an engaging presentation using free resources and established techniques in visual design. How much does “fair use” protect a teacher from the copyright police? Explore the four factors of “fair use” and look at licensing strategies like Creative Commons. Find out if your next phone call should be to your lawyer.”

Neurons: Animated Cellular and Molecular Concepts

Chapters include: Anatomy of a Neuron, Axonal Transport, Ions and Ion Channels, Resting Membrane Potential, Action Potential, Neurotransmitter Release, Postsynaptic Mechanisms, and Removal of Neurotransmitter. Each section includes dynamic visualizations and textual explanations. Teachers and others can download selected animations from the site for use in non-commercial purposes. Created by researchers at the University of Toronto.

Poem a Day

Beginning April 1, Poets.org will send one new poem to your inbox each day to celebrate National Poetry Month. The poems have been selected from new books published this spring.

RIT Invents Online Game, Online Orientations, DE Growth, Computers as Poetry, Justice for All, Chest Imaging, PowerPoint Presentation, Neurons