Thursday, September 18, 2014

Online Learning: Are We Doing It Wrong?

Tomorrow, I will be making two presentations to two very different audiences. One is a free webinar I'm doing for the TLT Group (register here) -- the audience will be primarily college instructors and instructional designers. Another is for the California Community College Online Education Initiative -- the audience will be a diverse group of stakeholders collecting input about the important characteristics for a statewide LMS for California Community Colleges (for classes that are offered through OEI initative).

Both of these presentations will incorporate my experiences and my students' experiences with using VoiceThread as an asynchronous discussion tool since 2007. 

"Experiences" is the key word here. This is not about a tool. It's about how teaching with a tool not typically found within an LMS toolkit can create a learning environment that impacts the student learning experience differently.  It's about the importance of relationships and affective learning in an online environment.  It's about the power of the human voice when a person is trying to figure out a new idea or delivering feedback. It's about supporting and inspiring students to be vulnerable.  It's about what gets lost if online instructors rely only on the LMS toolkit.  It's about how LTI integration with web-based tools saves faculty time (and money) and lowers the barrier of adoption of emerging technologies by providing embeds with a click, secure activities, grading from the gradebook, and automatically generated student accounts (with a single sign on), and the ability for students to generate their own creations that can be shared with a public audience (or secure to just the class registrants).

Below is a presentation you may review that provides the current (through Spring 2014) results of four consecutive semesters of anonymous online student surveys about how using asynchronous voice/video conversations impacts their experiences.

As I reflect on these findings, I am left with one question: Are we doing it wrong?  What are your takeaways?



To be clear about my relationship with VoiceThread, I am a college instructor and instructional technologist who has taught online and face-to-face with VoiceThread since 2007.  I supports faculty with the effective pedagogical application of the tool. The community college at which I teach has a sitewide license with LTI integration of VoiceThread into Blackboard and so does the university where I work as an instructional technologist. In the past, I was a paid higher education consultant for VoiceThread (to develop a higher ed webinar series) from 2012-2013.  In 2013, I authored a self-published eBook with compensation from the last months of consultancy at VoiceThread.  This eBook is available at no cost to VoiceThread site license holders and it is available for sale or rent to the general public. I receive royalties from the sales of the eBook.  I am a doctoral student working with VoiceThread as my research site to explore how the use of an eBook as a faculty support resource for a web 2.0 tool impacts faculty perceptions about the tool. Currently, I receive no income from VoiceThread.
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