Week 3, Q4: Online Training

[This is my answer to W3Q4: Do you think that teachers who want to teach in online programs should be required to take some specialized training in the pedagogy of online learning and instructional design for online learning? If so, what should that look like? If not, why not?]

Good teachers who focus on learner’s success will be able to do well in classroom as well as online. They will not require a formal pedagogical training. They might require training on some technical tools. These teachers will always request the training themselves. In most cases, they will be happy with a self paced online course. They will prefer collaborative activities that help them discover their online teaching style.

The remaining teachers should be asked to attend formal training, on the pedagogy, andragogy, network learning, methodologies as well as the technology. The format of the training should have the following components:

  1. An online component.
  2. A face to face component.
  3. A component that addresses the the style shift they need to make.
  4. A compenent that help them master the online technologies, tools and methodologies.
  5. A component that exposes them to different activities and methods that applies to online learning.
  6. A self learning component.

The delivery style should have a mix between behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism. They6 need to be exposed to connectivism though this will be for the advanced earners.

Week 3, Q3: Collaborative Participation

[This is my answer to Week 3, Q3: As a teacher of online courses, how do you (or would you, if you do not as yet have online teaching experience) encourage interactions between yourself and your students, as well as between students, and network building with participants outside of the “formal” course? Expand on your answers by saying why you would or would not encourage these interactions, and identify practices that have been successful. Also reflect on the practices of your instructors related to interactions in the online courses you have taken, or are taking.]

I am a strong believer in online interaction. Whether with the learners of the course, between the learners and the outside world and with with the course facilitator. Using the f2f terminology, this interaction is like teamwork and brainstorming that yield synergy. Luckily, this approach started to penetrate our educational system.

There are many methods to encourage collaboration among online learners. All of them will require well designed activities. At the moment, I want to suggest two approaches:

  1. Use of a scoring rubric that encourages and assesses positive collaboration.
  2. Use of peer evaluation activities.

I hope you can enrich my knowledge by suggesting more.


The interaction fails when the assessment of the course is based on testing the acquired information rather than measuring incremental knowledge. I.e., courses that rely on route learning. The collaboration in these courses become cheating. Example: courses related to Project Management Professional certifications. Personally, I avoid designing online course for such courses.


Some successful Examples: besides the methodologies followed in this course, I can quote the following two successful examples:

(1) The Intercultural Dynamics in European Education through onLine Simulation: In this course, learners acted as members of a virtual government and each were given specific responsibility and collectively they were supposed to come up with one government plan. Each learner was from different countries with different background. The learning in the fields of politics, languages, cultural difference, teamwork and synergy was outstanding.

(2) Wikipedia Articles: A group of students were assigned the task of writing certain Wiki-articles on Wikipedia. The interaction with the virtual members of Wikipedia was rich and engaging.

Both of the above examples used suitable rubrics.

Week 3, Q2: Synchronous Events

[This is my answer to W3Q2: “How important are synchronous events (where course participants and instructor interact in real time) such as a webinar or an Elluminate session in fostering an effective online learning environment?”]

The importance depends on the learners and the material of the course. I have worked with teams where Synchronous communication was a burden. For example those who work on compiling Wikipedia and other Open Source projects. At the same time, I have worked with individuals who need the real time synchronous interaction.

Following Universal Design concepts, every online course should have a provision to have one or more synchronous, recorded, events to cater for those who prefer the real time learning.

What is more important is to ensure the technology works well, that the facilitator has a good control of the technology and the session and that the participants can use it effectively.

Reference: IEEE Research Findings.

Week 3, Q1: Ownership of Learning

[This is the answer to EDDL514 W3Q1 question: What do you find is the single most significant difference (that actually impacts learning in either a positive or negative way) between teaching and learning online as compared to in a face-to-face environment ?]

The most significant difference between the f2f and OL learning is “who owns the learning”. In a f2f, the learners’ expects the teacher/facilitator to be the source of their learning. In an online course, the learner should own the learning.

An online learner who does not switch to this attitude will fail a well designed online course. On the other hand, the instructor who designs a course without facilitating the shift of learning to the students will face major challenges (I can list them if requested!)

I drew this image to illustrate it:

Owners of Learning

For example, in a classroom setting, the “learners’ mode of thinking” expects:

  1. Full and clear directions from the instructor on what they learn.
  2. Constant feedback on whether the learning is going in the right direction.
  3. Immediate response on the learners queries
  4. (who can add more! about collaboration, assessment, note taking, etc..)

While in an online course, the successful learner knows that  she owns the learning and she:

  1. does not expect full and clear direction. She expects clear written instructions about the outcomes. But not direction.
  2. does not expect constant feedback. She knows the feedback will be given whenever possible. But not always. (In this course, for example, I have published 16 posts and got feedback on few only!).
  3. does not expect immediate response. She expects that the response will come when it comes. She continues learning while waiting. She does not say: oh I was waiting for your answer to continue!
  4. (Contribute for more!)

So, in my opinion, the attitude of the learner to own their learning is the single crucial element between the success or failure of the learning experience.

P.S.: I truly believe that the ownership of learning should be delegated to the learner even in the classroom setting… but I believe most teaching styles still does not know how to apply it! Even the constructivist approach finds major challenges.

Week 3 – Question 1:

[This is the answer to EDDL514 W3Q1 question: What do you find is the single most significant difference (that actually impacts learning in either a positive or negative way) between teaching and learning online as compared to in a face-to-face environment ?]

The most significant difference between the f2f and OL learning is “who owns the learning”. In a f2f, the learners’ expects the teacher/facilitator to be the source of their learning. In an online course, the learner should own the learning.

An online learner who does not switch to this attitude will fail a well designed online course. On the other hand, the instructor who designs a course without facilitating the shift of learning to the students will face major challenges (I can list them if requested!)

I drew this image to illustrate it:

Owners of Learning

For example, in a classroom the “learners’ mode of thinking” expects:

  1. Full and clear directions from the instructor on what they learn.
  2. Constant feedback on whether the learning is going in the right direction.
  3. Immediate response on the learners queries
  4. (who can add more! about collaboration, assessment, note taking, etc..)

While in an online course, the successful learner knows that  she owns the learning and she:

  1. does not expect full and clear direction. They expect clear written instructions about the outcomes. But not direction.
  2. does not expect constant feedback. They know the feedback will be given whenever possible. But not always. (In this course, for example, I have published 16 posts and got fedback on few only!).
  3. does not expect immediate response. She expects that the response will come when it comes. She continues learning while waiting. She does not say: oh I was waiting for your answer to continue!)
  4. (any addition you can contribute to?)

So, in my opinion, the attitude of the learner to own their learning is the single crucial element between the success or failure of the learning experience.

P.S.: I truly believe that the ownership of learning should be delegated to the learner even in the classroom setting… but I believe most teaching styles still does not know how to apply it! Even the constructivist approach finds major challenges.

Notes from Educause Webinar

These are the notes I captured from the Educause webinar about:

6 emerging technologies through 5 questions.

The trends are towards

– More into the Cluod and Decentralization

– More Collaboration

MetaTrends from 2007-2010:

  • More Collective/Collaborative/Team
  • More mobility and cloud technology
  • More gaming, virtual worlds

Challenges 2007-2010

  • Supporting Learn whenever and wherever they want
  • Engaging information from anywhere
  • Move from Print to Digital t0 Networked education

Mobile Learning

  • The trend to move into bigger than mobile phone to smaller than laptop (like Skyped laptop, iPad)
  • Used for short duration information (FaceBook, news, Twitting, Texting). Still, long duration information depends on laptop/PC.
  • Challenges: cost, ownership, spread (some students do not have it).

EBooks

  • Example: Kindle, iPdas
  • eBooks will become the new trend to read.
  • Allows rich contents to students
  • Reduce carrying heavy books.

Read the Horizon Report

Use CampFire discussion approach.

TAP: Revised Rationale

[Based on what I have learned from you in the last few days, I revamped my rationale about the concept map]!

While developing the philosophy utilizing the concept map, I reflected on myself in different scenarios:

  • A classroom learner
  • An online learner
  • A classroom teacher and
  • An online teacher

I discovered that I react to the teaching and learning in different ways in each case. I use different set of skills, attitudes, values and methodologies in different settings. Thank God. I preserve my personality, identity, knowledge, experience and reality in all, otherwise I would have been a schizophrenic! Maybe I am. So I noted on my map that my philosophy should have the flexibility to treat the online course different than the f2f. At the same time, my teaching should be adaptable to change based on the facilitation medium.

When I went through your contributions I recognized that each one of us react in a different way in each of the above situations. Some of us have the split. Others treat online and classroom experiences as the same. I noted in my map that my classes will have the same diversity of individualities. Being a believer in the Universal Design approach, I made sure that my mind map recognizes this diversity in preparation to have a philospohy that caters for all types. Additionally, my philosophy should recognize the differences between K-12 education, adult education and lifelong learning requirements.

To understand the different types, I embarked on a research about the  traditional learning theories then moved to new emerging ideas and concepts especially the ones that the Internet has recently uncovered. I noted my findings on the map. Then, following the course requirements, I researched the different traditional learning philosophies where I discovered an additional emerging philosophy called Connectivism which I found intriguing. My research led me to believe that none of these philosophies is better than the other. Each one has its own merit when applied in the right environment. I noted that on my map. I noted as well that a new parallel educational society exist where learning happens without teaching. Mind boggling, but it is reality. This is for another post, maybe for another course.

Then I investigated the roles that IT plays in education… and checked ideas about emerging trendsline of thoughts and the future of Post Secondary Education: post secondary education. I noted them on my map. My previous experience drives me to include concepts of multiple intelligences, concepts of personal strengths, positive psychology and individualism in my philosophy. My map grew accordingly.

At this point, I discovered my map is so complicated that crashed my brain and needed a reboot. I thought of total reformat, but decided against it for I convinced myself I am a human and not a machine… yet! So, I took a couple of days to rest.

And my pursuit continues to simplify this complexity!

References:

Most of my references are noted in the body of the post. Below are links to “hardcopy” text I read:

Wordle

Today I discovered a site that summarizes the words used on a blog. it is wordle.com. I liked it. I took a snapshot of my blog and this is what I got:

The interesting find is that I use the word “needed” a lot… “last”, “games” and “live” are next… is there a shrink out there who can figure out my personality through this observation?

So, you use FaceBook

What’s with games? In the last few days, I was exposed so much to games concepts and how it is far better than education. And today, I saw the below video which blow my mind off! Very funny, very true but I do not know if I will live in the predicted future. I always hated the point system in the first place!

My Virtual World

I have been spending the last few days interacting with new virtual friends over the concept of online teaching and learning. This morning, I felt I need to live the real life. I needed a break. I needed to touch again with reality. So, I went to FaceBook and redecorated my CafeWorld and redesigned my mansion on FarmVille… Where is my reality? This is like an onion… you peel one layer to find more layers… and as I understand, most of the nutritions of the onion is in the cover, which we throw away…

I know this should make me think about my life… but what is wrong with doing what I enjoy even if the society say otherwise… I am reacting with real people except I do not experience their physicality… how different is this from talking with a real person? … more realities to be discovered from the virtual world…

The Whale and the Squid

I watched a 1997 movie called the Whale and the Squid. I found it slow, lacks action and unclear about the message it is trying to portray. I read the articles about it and found out it was highly acclaimed. It made me think: what point I am missing when I watch a movie that the critics find interesting while I do not?

The answer was in the movie.

Besides the obvious plot that tries to highlight the impact of divorce onkids, I noticed it portrays the complex relationships between two social types: the Philistines and the Bohemians! In a brilliant twist, the director makes you take a stand. If you are a philistine, you take the stand of the mother/Frank and you see them as the normal people. If you are Bohemian, you will take the stand of the father/Walt. In his brilliance, the Director create the script to allow you to make your own judgement. Then is a sudden Twist, mixes up things when Walt switch sides and you discover the mother is Bohemian herself…

I am still contemplating on the final scene where Walt goes back his nostalgic memory where the mom had prominence and I am trying to figure it out! Is he trying to say that the nostalgic memories we carry are far more important than values we believe in? Or is that the mother care for pragmatic details about life if the core the we should focus on? What does the Squid and the Whale represent? The fear from fighting between the parents? How the mother can ease the fear of kids? The fight between species (in this sense the Bohemians and the Philistines?)

So, this slow boring movie turned out to hide brilliant instigators for us to think about life and ourselves. Brilliant.

EDDL 514

TRU Logo
TRU Logo

I have just enrolled in the EDDL 514 course offered by tru.ca. It is an online course about online teaching and learning. From the introduction of the course, it seems that we will be using some sort of blogging. I am preparing my blog to be my working environment for the course. I have created a special category and I am wondering if I should put all the course material under the category or as a page. This will be determined later. So far, the course seems interesting. Although navigating to it is annoying where I have to go to 3 different portals to get to the Blackboard course. And believe or not, I am forced to use at least 2 different password which is making my life more complicated. The nice thing is that the system synchronize their password which is a nice feature.

Resurrected Blog

I haven’t been here in a while. My other blogs took the attention. I am reviving this blog again to be used as part of the EDDL514 course I am taking which requires the creation and use of a blog to create a learning community. The focus of the new posts will be on online teaching and learning, which I hope will enrich my knowledge and experience in the field. A quick briefing on what happened to me between the last blog and today:

  1. On Wikipedia front, I have more than 9000 articles on the English and Arabic Wikipedia. My contribution to it has diminished due to busy-ness of life although I am still involved with its community.
  2. I made many travels since my last trip to Hawaii and California that are:
    • an RV trip between San Francisco and San Diego and everything in between.
    • Another trip to LA (which I fell in love with) with my son and wife. Visited Universal Studios, Disney Land and had a glimpse of the Oscars.
    • Went with my son and wife to Florida where we spent time in Kissimme and the Atlantic coast of Florida.
    • My son took us to NY and showed it to use through his eyes… it was a magnificent trip.
    • Spend a week with my sister in Ontario visiting Niagara Falls.
    • Had my adventure trip for 4 weeks where I went to NY, Montreal, Cuba, Las Vegas, Phoenix and Minneapolis.
    • Spent New years ever with my wife in Mexico
  3. At the work front, I am enjoying my new role working with a tremendous team on introducing new educational reals.
  4. On personal front, my self discovery and living in the now has taken a steep turn… I still dizzy figuring out my orientation…
  5. Miraculously, I was offered my dream job at AUB which, miraculously as well, disappeared… I am still trying to understand that dream that came and gone.

You must visit my other blogs to know the detail of the above.

My newest adventure is enrolling in the EDDL514 course which promise to be full of new discoveries and interesting encounters. You will be posted on its impact and progress on the blog.

Los Angeles

I visited Los Angeles in December 2007. I loved it. I do not why it gave me energy. Maybe because it is a huge Lebanon. Maybe because its Ocean is blue and its sands is natural. Maybe the diversity of its people. I do not know. In Late Feb, we will be going there again. I hope I can discover why I love the place. I will tell you.

Wikipedia Reflections

I have decided to stop contributing to Wikipedia for a while to reflect on the experience. I have contributed to more than 700 articles (120 of them of my creation) through 4000 edit. When I started my vacation, I wanted to evaluate this experience. Here are my findings although I haven’t reached decisions about yet:

1- It kills time. Literally. Contributing to it makes time goes so quickly that you feel your life is passing by without noticing. I do not know if this is something good or bad.
2- Working with Wikipedia requires different type of mindset: unownership. You must contribute elegantly and professionally, however, you should not have a feeling that you own your work. You continuously defend the accuracy of your work. You do it, to ensure factual reality and not because it is your work. It is a new thinking that will require more understanding and research!
3- The Arab wikipedians are still in their infancy. They are not able to comprehend this new paradigm. Most articles contributed are useless. Still focuses on TV programs and football or nationalistic knowledge. While serious knowledge articles are ignored and many cases opposed. This is an interesting phenomena that is worth analyzing.
4- The Arab contributors to the Wikipedia feel proud by proofing others wrong. They just delete articles for the silliest reasons because they lack the maturity to investigate if there is validity and because, I believe, they feel proud with the number of cases they prove others are wrong! In my case, 20 articles were deleted and reinstated. THis shows that the decision of deleting them was wrong in the first place.
5- I have decided to limit my contribution to Wikipedia to 2-hours idle time (i.e. the collective minutes between actual work.) In addition, I want to make an effort to create a larger arab team to cotribute to the Arabic wikipedia.

more to come…

Vacation 2008 – Part 1

I have decided to take a VERY LONG vacation. 6 weeks. I haven’t had a chance to have a vacation in the last 4 years. At all. So, I wanted to have this long vacation to re-energize (I am writing this blog on the 4th week of the vacation, but for some reason, I am not energized. I don’t know why. Maybe it is age! Maybe it is lack of aligning my objectives with my dreams. maybe it is fate. I hope I will know one day!)

So, I decided to have a 7 day retreat in Hawaii in my dream setting (A bungalow in the middle of the forest with somesort of a bar where I can have a drink with an umbrella and a cherry). So, I booked for a stay in the Kahala resort and made tentive plans to rent an RV and cruise the west side of California.

But my wife had a sudden sickness due to doctor stupid decision. Nothing fatal, but forced her to stay in bed for… 6 weeks… the same duration as my vacation… fate is playing its games again… I spent the first 2 weeks of the vacation with my wife… although it drained my energy further, but it made me think more about life. I left her on her third week when she was energized and headed to Hawaii… we stayed on constant contact with the technology: MSN was on her face in the bed 24/7 and I was able to see, hear and feel everything, especially her snoring which I need to sleep.

Fate is still playing tricks… and I am still too umwise the learn a lesson… although I am trying to understand it.

Jobs… Fate and Condos!

This week, I got two jobs offers forr two position that came out of the blue… they contacted me and I did not apply!! First, I need to figure out how they hunted me while I am in the end of the world… second, why it came now… when I am really feeling low at my job and my status… synchronicity?? Fate ?? I hope I get the answers one day… but for now… I do not know why I am not enthusiastic about pursuing them seriously… Maybe I have reached a spiritual maturity that I really feel if I am destined to get any of them… it will happen even if I sit on my butt and do nothing… let’s see..

Both jobs will allow me to meet my dream: both will alloww me to live in a luxury condo in a sky scrapper… I want to do this, both will allow me to me alone… one of them will allow me to pursue my research dreams while the other will give me the freedom to let go and focus on the day…

I will see what God is hiding for me… and keep you informed…