inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #26 of 62: carol adair (rubicon) Mon 27 Mar 00 22:17
    
Right now I don't have any specific question. I'm kind of wondering what
your general view of on line classes is. I've been teaching that way for a
couple of years now, and I think it's pretty exciting what I can do
online, like the closeness my students develop with each other.  I can
shape much more of a community on line.
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #27 of 62: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 28 Mar 00 09:07
    
>  what is your specific question about courseware on line?  I
>  could say a lot about how to design content, activities, assessments,
>  interactions, and use of a teacher in a web teaching/learning
>  environment.

I'd love to hear you expand on this, Valorie. Since it is common to have a
large number of people reading this topic who might not be posting
questions, it'd be great if you'd talk about these issues in general. It
woudl enlighten me and quite likely a lot of other folks who are wondering
but too shy to speak up.
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #28 of 62: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 28 Mar 00 13:50
    
And I would love to hear more about how <rubicon> uses her online
classes to teach and develop community!
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #29 of 62: Valorie Beer (valoriebeer) Tue 28 Mar 00 19:34
    
In response to Cynthia's question:
CONTENT:  One of the major problems in using the web for learning is
that very little of the web's overload of information is organized in a
manner that you can really learn from.  I don't know about you, but I
find myself glazing over by the shear amount of data on websites.  One
of my mentors, Dr. M. David Merrill who teacher instructional design at
Utah State Univ, loves to say that "Information is not instruction,"
and (particularly apropos for the web!) "You can't 'discover' your way
to competence."  In order to have a web learning experience that really
works, you need to select an instructional design model (which tells
you how to organize the content so that someone can learn from it).
ACTIVITIES:  A major problem with the web is that, in most cases, it
cannot provide a real practice environment, and practice with the
content is essential to learning.  There are beginning to be some good
simulation tools out there (see www.stagecast.com) that don't take a
Ph.D. in computer programming to use.  I think that a good strategy to
consider is to have the web present content and be used as a place to
chat about it, but then refer the learner to a non-web resource where
they can actually practice (like using a lab to practice fixing a
machine). 
ASSESSMENT:  Some organizations (such as Sylvan Testing Centers) are
beginning to use the web to present what used to be paper-and-pencil
tests.  This is fine, but in this case the web doesn't add any unique
value.  Web learning assessment is a very new area, but I think a very
exciting one in which we can explore collaborative assessment -- for
example, a group of marketing students in different locations
collaborate using web technology to produce a marketing plan, which a
group of senior marketing executives then use web technology to
critique.
TEACHERS:  rubicon has mentioned what it takes to be a successful web
teacher -- I can't say it any better than she did! As with classroom
teaching, web learning requires strategies to engage the learners, keep
them coming back, and helping them work together. The latter is a
particular challenge, I think, for traditional teachers who want
students to do their own work and who see collaboration as cheating.
That is so '50's!  (1850's!)  The web gives educators a fabulous
technical gateway to distance collaboration.  The technology isn't the
problem; our antiquated notion of solitary learning as the only
legitimate learning is.

Lest I beat that poor horse again, though -- the way to get good web
learning is to think about the LEARNING first before you ever put
fingers to keyboard.
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #30 of 62: Libbi Lepow (paris) Wed 29 Mar 00 08:48
    
Just a note:  Valorie is travelling (a last-minute business trip) and
may not be able to log in again until she returns on Friday.  She has
promised to check in then, so please, if you have further questions,
have 'em ready for her!
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #31 of 62: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 29 Mar 00 09:20
    
Meanwhile, no reason to stop talking about uses of the Web for education.

Has anyone here taken any online courses?  Anybody doing a good job with the
'mass market' learners, either for business training or plain old thrill of
learing applications?

Is there anything analagous to forumone.com for people who are running or
setting up education services?

Anybody know about that side of things?
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #32 of 62: carol adair (rubicon) Wed 29 Mar 00 09:59
    
Thanks for your overview, Valorie. It pretty much covered my next question.
I'm going to post my question anyway because, I am curious about the
success of the programs at there.

In today's Chronicle, in the Business section, there is an interesting
profile of Ninth House Network.  I read "...corporate training is now a
$66 billion industry and the Internet training component is "poised to
explode" This, of course, goes along with your numbers. 

Right now, I'm thinking in terms of your book's frequent admonitions
against jumping into Web based training before thinking of how it will
enhance an organization's current training program. Do you think that much
of this explosion will, as you say, "end up repeating the history we had
with television and computer"?  Do you think the Web has a better chance
to provide good education than these?  Or are we just spinning our boredom
once more?  How successful are the Web based programs out there?
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #33 of 62: carol adair (rubicon) Wed 29 Mar 00 11:09
    
Thanks castle for asking about my experiences with Web-based education. Of
course, Valorie's book is mostly directed toward setting up workplace
training programs, and my whole experience is in  regular education, so
this is pretty much a topic drift.  I couldn't find the restroom in most
corporations! (Of course, the book has lots of references and pointers for
education Web resources too. I recommend it, especially for the wealth of
links.)

Still while Valorie is away, it wouldn't hurt to chat a little off
the subject.
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #34 of 62: carol adair (rubicon) Wed 29 Mar 00 11:13
    
Here's one side.

I started using a packaged web course (WCB) because I love diddling with
anything on-line. I procured a beta edition of WCB and put up an adjunct
class. I never meant it to be stand-alone. (I wish I had read Valorie's
book first!)  At first I posted assignments, words of wisdom, trial
grammar tests, schedules, etc.  It really was no more than a reference for
my students who didn't take good notes or save handouts.  It was kind of
fun for those students who were already computer literate and happened to
be around on-line anyway. Then I started thinking.  For me, usually,
thinking means the start of a lot of work.

It's a big problem to get both fluency and structure into students'
writings. It's almost as if you have to have two complete different
classes taught by two completely different teachers. You need the
everything's-wonderful-and-let's-all-get-inspired teacher. And you need
the there-are-structures-and-rules-and-strategies teacher.  I wanted to be
both. So I separated the tasks. I left the stuffy parts in WBC (which is
now owned and licenced by the college) , but I added a link to a
conference that I set up on the River, using Motet conferencing software.
It's a lot like this system we are on - Engaged - but  prettier, I think,
and easier to handle. Anyway a River conference only costs me something
like $60 a year, so it's a good bargain. 

In class, I deal with the structures explaining logic, grammar, classical
essay structure. (boring and strict). On line, I become a different
person. I encourage my students to post weak, first drafts. I tease and
play. I ask them for help with each other's papers. We collaborate. I get
students to discuss other things than their assignments. I have, for
example, one topic right now, where the students are teaching me about the
problems in Taiwan, another where they are planning a hike to Cataract
Falls. There's a topic where they tell each other what they ate for dinner
that day! There's another where they whine about the class.

It's really amazing how the two threads come together throughout the
semester. At first their in class writing is stiff and cowardly. At first,
their on line posts are sloppy, ungrammatical, and pointless. But little
by little, over the semester, their posts (and then their essays) improve.
Students start to see themselves as public people, as people who really
want to be noticed when they write, as people who want to be respected for
what they write. And voila! they become writers!  Well, baby writers.
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #35 of 62: among fiends (frako) Wed 29 Mar 00 11:29
    
I'm in an ESL chat room 4 hours a day--right now, in fact--and would
love to discuss it when I'm more free.
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #36 of 62: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 29 Mar 00 13:12
    
I'm particularly interested in what you have to say, carol, because it
sounds like you've done an excellent job of using tools that you are
familiar with - like Motet - to apply to learning, rather than
conversing, the purpose that we are familiar with.  I'm not clear about
what function the WCB servers, though.  Could you elaborate on that?

I have taken an online course about developing Web pages through
Virtual University.  I took it back in late 94, early 95.  I found it
very difficult to learn that way.  What happened was that there was
some minimum information on the Web, assignments and so forth, and they
had chat rooms and a virtual cafe for the students.

Classes were conducted in IRC, set up so that the two instructors were
the moderators and controlled what participants saw.  The only people
who could post in addition to the moderators were the leaders of each
study group, who each had an additional IRC window open where the rest
of the study group could talk; they filtered our conversation up to the
instructors.

Ultimately though, it failed for me because of a number of silly
reasons, like, I was essentially teaching myself so if I had problems,
I could check in with the study group's weekly IRC meeting, but they
were students, too, they didn't have the answers, and ultimately I
simply forgot to "go" to class.  More than once I'd look at the clock
to see it was 9PM and I should have been online at 7PM.

There were too many participants, too many voices, and no
"instruction" at all.
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #37 of 62: Libbi Lepow (paris) Wed 29 Mar 00 15:27
    

Rubi, can you talk about the process of teaching online a little, please?
What works?  What doesn't?
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #38 of 62: carol adair (rubicon) Wed 29 Mar 00 16:06
    
Linda. I really know what you mean. One of the things Valorie says again
and again in her book is to ask yourself before you create a class: "Do
you learn this way?  Do you know anyone who does?" And in one place, she
answers the question "It's unlikely that the answer will be "By sitting in
front of a computer screen for hours and hours."  I think that's what your
(what shall we call it - education provider?) was making you do.

Actually, when I think of my own learning style, I'd have to say that I
really don't ever learn at all. I sort of ooze inward by dabbling. I
guess I try to create learning environments that allow my students to
dabble with material.

But I can't, right now, imagine, putting the whole thing completely
on-line. What a lot of work!
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #39 of 62: carol adair (rubicon) Wed 29 Mar 00 16:09
    
frako. I've heard that you have such a chat room. Will you please describe
it?  Is it a place that my students could use?  May I put its URL on my
resource page?
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #40 of 62: carol adair (rubicon) Wed 29 Mar 00 16:17
    
Lib. You asked me what worked and didn't work. I don't know about "didn't
work" but one problem or challenge that comes to mind immediately is
getting my students to look at each other's work, to break them from
reading only my responses to their posted questions and ignoring the
questions and answers of their peers. I really feel impatient with them
for a while and have to watch my tone and remember that they are new at
real collaboration and independent thinking. What I don't want is a
glorified, public e-mail or what I think of as a ping-pong game. You know
student-teacher-student-teacher student-teacher.

I feel that on-line delivery. is especially ripe for collaboration.
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #41 of 62: Libbi Lepow (paris) Wed 29 Mar 00 17:02
    

That's a phenomenon I've noticed when facilitating f2f discussions, Carol -
that need to speak through the facilitator rather than participant to
participant.  How do you handle it online without shutting down the
conversation?
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #42 of 62: Earl Crabb (esoft) Wed 29 Mar 00 18:06
    
Is it possible that the environment is such that they don't
think of looking at other students' posts because they 
don't need to?

Is there a way of making a simple tweak such that they are
minimally rewarded (simple feedback, probably) for incorporating
someone else's idea into their post?
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #43 of 62: carol adair (rubicon) Wed 29 Mar 00 18:15
    
Well. Before I can get people to talk to each other, I have to get them
into the conference and talking at all. To accomplish that, I am
shameless. I give bribes. Not big ones, but bribes never-the-less. For
example, this semester I bought a gross of three-inch, neon-colored,
plastic bugs - beetles, ants, wasps and flies. I also bought a dozen large
6 inch plastic bugs - dragonflies and walking sticks and praying mantis.
Every two weeks I awarded the "computer bug" prizes.  I gave little bugs
to whoever had posted anything good (I'm the judge, and I'm a really easy
judge in the beginning) I quote people and ask questions and thank
individuals for particular contributions. I gave a big bug to the computer
bug king or queen of the week. It sounds pretty silly, but, believe it or
not, the bugs became sought after. At first, some people posted just to
get bugs.

Then when I have a critical mass of people all soften with the silliness
of bugs (or whatever bribe I've put together that semester), I start to
put real information in the conference, things the students really need
for their projects. I start giving them assignments that they can do on
line in groups. This is where the ping-pong game starts. I keep my mantra
in mind, "Tiny steps. Tiny steps."
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #44 of 62: carol adair (rubicon) Wed 29 Mar 00 18:17
    
Great idea Earl. That works. And simply not answering for a while works.
And asking students if they will help me answer a problem that a
particular student is having. Sometimes I just say, "What do you guys
think about Peter's question."  It takes some time, maybe four weeks, to
get them to forget me and simply use each other.
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #45 of 62: Libbi Lepow (paris) Wed 29 Mar 00 19:05
    

Carol, are there any other facult members who are using this method of
instruction?
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #46 of 62: carol adair (rubicon) Wed 29 Mar 00 19:25
    
First, I want to say that Valorie's book discusses the levels of possible
learners. When you are setting up a web based course of study, you have to
think about a lot of things including (unfortunately) the
students/learners. (Wouldn't it be more fun, if we could just play school
without them!) According to the book, your learners may be new to the web,
or they may understand computer based learning but not how to learn
collaboratively. (There are other levels, but I don't get to meet them.)

She writes "... these learners may not have experience as active
participants in public 'discussions'; hence, they may not consider issues
such as quality, content, appropriateness, and intellectual property. " In
addition, it may not occur to them that they can contact a real person to
get help in a computer-based learning environment, which is possible with
Web-based chats, discussions, and e-mails."


These two beginning levels name my students exactly. You just have to
expect to teach them.
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #47 of 62: Libbi Lepow (paris) Wed 29 Mar 00 19:31
    

I was reminded today in a work conversation that people learn differently
(some by reading the words, some by hearing them, some by seeing them).  How
does one insure that the various learning styles are represented in web-
based learning?
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #48 of 62: carol adair (rubicon) Wed 29 Mar 00 19:32
    
Libbi. I think I'm the only faculty member who has included conferencing
software in his/her web course. Quite a few have on-line courses that they
create with course design tools. Our school is now  using Web Course in a
Box which helps a teacher put tests and notes and links and announcements
and such. It's fine and those members who are only used to the Web like it
a lot. I find it kind of stiff and clunky. The college is now looking at
another program, WEB CT.

WEB CT is used by most community colleges so we will probably end up with
it.

I don't sense that faculty members are opposed to web-based methods of
delivery, but they are afraid of the workload. There are all kinds of
worries about, as Valorie mentioned, cheating and such.
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #49 of 62: Phantom Engineer (jera) Thu 30 Mar 00 09:47
    
I've just read through this topic with considerable interest.

I'm a professor at the School of Information Studies at Florida
State University, where we've had a full Masters Degree program
online for the past 4 years, and have just last September begin
(make that "begun" ...) an undergraduate degree program aimed at
students who have received an A.A. from a Florida Junior College
& want to continue, but have reasons that they can't come to
a residential college for 2 years.

As far as we can tell, the Masters program has been very successful,
in terms of the outcomes we can measure ... learning, post-degree
employment, students' sense of being part of a distributed
learning community, etc.  Not all classes have been equally
successful, but we're dedicated to making it as good as we can.
From our point of view, that means several of the things that
have been discussed already:  good organization of information,
active participation, mechanisms for both synchronous &
asynchronous interactions, easily accessible technical support,
good pedagogy (which is not always the same thing in a web
environment that it is in the classroom).

Unfortunately, in Universities, it is all to often the case that
administration sees this as a way to draw huge numbers of students
(and thus tuition dollars) with little ongoing investment in the
things that can really make it work.  It's been an ongoing struggle
here, and one of the things it means is that our faculty is stretched
pretty thin.

I don't know if I have any questions to add right now, but wanted
to jump in & express my interest ...
  
inkwell.vue.68 : Valorie Beer - The Web Learning Fieldbook
permalink #50 of 62: carol adair (rubicon) Thu 30 Mar 00 12:25
    
You have it exactly Gary. Web courses take time and attention if you want
them to be successful. And administrators often don't want to support that
part.  What is your Masters program?  Is it in Information Science?  And
what classes does it support?


Libbi.  I thought about your question - about learning styles. I think
only about 30% of my class gets the full benefits of my on-line efforts.
Another 30% gets something, but mostly just bugs and points. A final
third, hardly uses it. Every student gains something from their work
on-line, but not as much as I would like. (This is, I find, about the
ratio of success and not-so-success that I get from any exercise I assign.
Always, somebody's in and somebody's not in.)

As to the third that really takes it and runs with it..... I suspect that
they are people much like me. I think they need a minute to think about
answers. I suspect that they need to be courted a bit, that instant
warmth and instant friendship confuses them. I think they like to read, go
away, think, come back and post. I think they are curious and intelligent
but not necessarily fast and charming. I thin they like a way to show their
playful, warm sides at their own pace.  They are people do well in school
but are not necessarily happy in school.  Frankly, I'm glad to add a
component that works for them too.
  

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