Thursday, October 25, 2007

Assignment 8, Literature Review

This review examines literature relating to adult learning and andragogy, new media in online education, and social presence and learning with new media. Discussed here, these topics are closely intertwined with and possibly center on andragogy. While it is true some elementary and secondary school students use online learning because circumstances necessitate its use, it might be assumed the current majority of online students are adults and this review addresses their andragogical needs. As the availability of new technology increases, educators are resolute to determine the most effective ways to integrate these new systems into our delivery of content. Adults are not compelled to fit into a factory model of education and have the freedom to pursue information in whatever way best fits their individual needs, while simultaneously following a course that provides deep understanding and mastery of the subject.

Adult Learning and Andragogy
Most components of online learning have an ancestor that can be traced back to a traditional classroom setting. In the case of instant messaging (Sparks, 2006), the faculty compare it to “passing notes in the back row” as the professors were caught completely unaware that students who were supposed to be fully engaged in an online discussion were multi tasking socially. In traditional classes students form social support groups and are able to check for understanding with each other before they ask the teacher. Students who establish virtual social networks can accomplish the same thing with even less class disruption by the use of instant messages. These tactics are employed because they fill the adult need of not wanting to call attention to yourself if you are off task but trying to get back on task, or if you have a question you believe to be unworthy of class time. Faculty was initially uncomfortable with this idea because as Burge (1988) notes, “Teachers and tutors of those adults also will show wide variations in maturational stages and needs for power and control. Many educators for example are conditioned to work in transmittal authoritative modes; others know no other styles for working with learners, or are psychologically unprepared to give up leadership and control.” This issue would rear its ugly head for any online course that utilized technology that puts more control in the hands of the student created a learner centered environment.

In the case of a teacher who is vested in creating a learner centered environment and becoming more of a facilitator of learning then “the facilitator’s guidelines are grouped into four R’s Responsibility, Relevance, Relatedness and Rewards” (Burge 1988). This acknowledges that responsibility for learning is shared by student and faculty. It has been acknowledged for years that individuals have their own learning styles, and there are several ways to categorize them, but most include some provision for auditory, visual, kinetic, and reading preferences. At least one essay (Bonk, 2006), acknowledges “Learners in online environments, especially those born after the mid-1970s, want learning that is responsive to their preferred styles of learning.” And that learning increasingly makes use of hands on activities or problem based learning, another important component of andragogy. Online learning takes advantage of the variety of electronic tools available and uses the array to accommodate students’ preferences.

New Media in Online Education
What exactly are those online tools and how can they be used? Research has examined a few common tools being utilized in education. First the blog or weblog, is a journal in which the writer posts comments, graphics, and links to other web based information. These journals are interactive when the owner allows other people to post comments and reflections on the writing. In online education blogs are often used to post assignments and comment on other students’ writing. They are used as assessment tools to ascertain if a student understands the material or task at hand. In a study that compared student attitudes toward educational blogs to the tools audio conferencing, the Rotisserie system, and instant messaging, blogs consistently came in least popular tied with Rotisserie although “students admitted that they had been ‘won over’ to the benefits of blogging through the exercise of having to use it and reading the blogs of their peers”. (Weller, 2005). The other advantage to blogs is their flexibility in how and when they can be accessed by students to “provide opportunities for instructor–student as well as student–student real-time and/or time-delayed collaboration.” (Beldarrain 2006) an important consideration for many students in choosing on-line classes. The other component is the degree to which a student feels they are controlling the direction of their learning, another component of andragogy. In an Australian study of the use of blogs in an MBA course they found “The inherent creativity of blogging and the distinctly open environment for topic advancement allowed students to direct their own learning in a manner that transcended the existing curriculum.” (Williams, 2004)

Podcasting is also being explored as new media. Podcasts are audio or video recordings that can be played using a computer, or downloaded to a portable media device. They appeal because of their flexibility and address the needs of auditory learners. “The versatility of podcasting may impact the way distance educators deliver instruction as well as the manner in which students are engaged in learning. New models of teaching may take advantage of RSS technology to deliver up-to-the-minute expert commentaries, for example, or to have students broadcast their analysis of topics studied.” (Beldarrain, 2006) Learners have more choice in the way they can communicate their understanding of the topic. Educators have some misgivings about them and studies have been conducted to verify or contest some of the negative attitudes. In a study that examined several of these ‘myths’ namely, that podcasting promotes social isolation, negatively affects attendance, wastes time through repetition, increases anxiety and information overload, and finally that it requires special platforms the conclusion was that these ideas were inaccurate and podcasting was an engaging and popular tool. The authors concluded that “If educators are looking at the key pedagogical goal, which is to provide learners with the tools they need to succeed, inspire them in the process, and foster a trust-based relationship, the authors will claim that, in this case, podcasting is not a gizmo, but definitely an instrument worthy of utilization to its full potential as an edifying mentor inside and outside of the classroom.” (Luanne and Martin, 2007) The podcast can also be seen as an instrument of choice as students take control over their learning. “The potential applications for podcasting as an instructional strategy embrace the necessary flexibility and challenge that the adult learner seeks. Podcast courses minimize technical support demands and empower students to self-manage many elements of the process.” (Hollandsworth, 2007)

‘New media’ can be considered a relative term. What might be considered new media in a developing country might be considered obsolete or an undesirable means of communication in this one. Wikis, audio conferencing, and instant messaging might be considered readily available here, but in technically developing countries like India, they are just acquiring common use of technology. There, the ubiquitous cell phone is the only form of technology in wide enough use to be utilized in distance learning. The availability of text messaging allows for the delivery of short content, keeping students informed of class progress and assignment. Full online learning is limited to only a privileged few. Fortunately, students can also take advantage of phones that have mp3 capability. This provides flexibility and choice and “for example, that people can learn more effectively if ‘information’ is broken down into smaller, more easy-to-comprehend units. It is suggested here, therefore, that mobile learning is an ideal medium simply because it supports this ‘new way’ of learning by via the use of SMS, pre-recorded MP3 files, and so forth.” (Fozdar, 2007)

Social Presence and Learning with New Media
The greatest perceive disadvantage to online learning is the lack of socialization. Interaction with peers and instructors is important, and distance learning can decrease the amount of social contact, and it is far easier to misinterpret writing because it doesn’t have the visual cues face to face communication does. Also, students can begin to feel isolated and cut-off from the learning processes. Interactive tools like blogging can help alleviate that experience of being inaccessible to others or of them to you. Steven Glogoff’s research indicates that blogging can add a dimension of interaction beyond what is usually experience in the traditional classroom setting. He states, “Finally, the opportunities for each student to post substantive comments to other students' blog entries add an additional tier of interactivity and social interaction. In online courses where communication remains largely text-based, such opportunities to enhance community can make significant contributions to student learning.” (Glogoff, 2005) There is some thought that blogs might create actual virtual communities even after the course has ended, but this remains a topic for further research. In an actual classroom, some students form social bonds that exist and continue outside the confines of the class, and many continue on with their own direction, occasionally meeting again in another required course. One can imagine the obstacles involved with maintaining friendships through a chance meeting would be exacerbated by the limited contact of a virtual course, but maybe not. Maybe the availability of a virtual relationship unconstrained by physical location would promote the ability to continue.

Social interaction might help retention, especially in places where attrition rates are high, but for a motivated student the most important goal is the learning. Socialization can help the learning process and provide a welcoming atmosphere. For some students, the structure of a face to face environment becomes overwhelming. An advantage to online learning is the freedom for the student to take a break and re-energize at will. The question becomes, does face to face instruction and high level of socialization affect the attrition rate? In a Madonna University, School of Business study a class was taught by the same instructor using the same content with similar populations as both an online class and a traditional classroom setting. “The results revealed no significant difference in test scores assignments, participation grades, and final grades, although the online group’s averages were slightly higher. Ninety-six percent of the online students found the course to be either as effective or more effective to their learning than their typical face-to-face course. There were no significant differences between learning preferences and styles and grades in either group. The study showed that equivalent learning activities can be equally effective for online and face-to face learners.” (Neuhauser, 2002) and the attrition rate for both groups equaled 86%. This shows that the effectiveness of the delivery is equal as long as you have a teacher who is comfortable with both methods of teaching. Student attitudes must play a significant role in the success or popularity of online classes and the social factor plays a minor role in the reasons why students stay in school.

Beldarrain, Y. (2006). Distance Education Trends: Integrating new technologies to foster student interaction and collaboration. Distance Education. 27 (2), 139-153.

Bonk, C & Zhang, K. (2006). Introducing the R2D2 Model: Online learning for the diverse learners of this world. Distance Learning, 27 (2), 249-264.

Burge, L. (1988). Beyond andragogy: some explorations for distance learning design. Journal of Distance Education, 3(1), 5-23.

Fozdar, B.I., Kumar, L.S. (2007) Mobile learning and student retention. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 8, http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/345/916 Retrieved October 25, 2007.

Glogoff, S. (2005) Instructional blogging: Promoting interactivity, student-centered learning, and peer input. Innovate 1, 1-6

Hollandsworth, R.J. (2007) Managing the podcast lecture: A hybrid approach for online lectures in the business classroom. TechTrends: Linking Research and Practice to Improve Learning, 5 39-44

Luanne, F., Martin, M., (2007). Plugging into students’ digital DNA: Five myths prohibiting proper podcasting pedagogy in the new classroom domain. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3, 277-287

Neuhauswer, C., (2002) Learning style and effectiveness of online and face to face instruction. American Journal of Distance Education, 16 99-113

Sparks, P., Mentz, L. (2006). Electronic note passing: Enriching online learning with new communications tools. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 2(4), 1-6.

Weller, M., Pegler, C., Mason, R. (2005). Use of innovative technologies on an e-learning course. The Internet and Higher Education, 8(1), 61-71.

Williams, J., Jacobs, J., (2004). Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 20, 232-247

11 comments:

Rebecca said...

Hi Darlene,
GREAT JOB on getting your lit review done so early. I am not going to read it yet because I want to be sure to be un-influenced by others' ideas when I do mine... I'm on here looking for everyone's 3 references from assignment 5.. but when I saw you've done yours already I thought WOW. Now that is really great. I have a meeting all afternoon tomorrow and was in class all day today and work full time and am taking 17 credits so I'm kind of at the point of going "aaaaaargh". However, I will think positive and change that to an "OM". If you have any process comments (not content, but thoughts about what you've learned from the PROCESS of doing the literature review, that you would like to bestow upon me, have at it, I would be most obliged. I'll come back and read your review tomorrow after I've completed mine.
OM.
Rebecca

JOE OCHOA said...

You did super job of writing an efficient and informative literature review. I especially agree when you stated that "it is far easier to misinterpret writing because it doesn’t have the visual cues face to face communication does".

James said...

Darlene,

Great job on the literature review. Your style of writing is very clear and easy to follow. Very smooth narrative tying one topic to the next. That is what I had the most difficulty with when I was working on my literature review; tying the three areas together.

Do you know if we are supposed to list the page numbers in the APA format for the citations with direct quotes? I was looking at the example that was given to us and there were page numbers listed for the direct quotes, so I tried my best to list those as well, but I am not 100% sure. Just thought I would ask what you thought or if you noticed the same thing.

James

Ms Griffin said...

Hi Darlene,

Wonderful Job! I found your literature review comprehensive and enlightening. I also admire the fact that you are always one of the first to complete our class assignments. That is definitely a great quality. Unfortunately, due to my schedule I cannot complete my assignments until the weekend, and then, I am unable to get in touch with the professor.

I hope you have a wonderful week!

Debbie

Rebecca said...

Hi Darlene,
I'm thrilled to report I got my review done and had a chance to read yours. GREAT JOB! I echo Debbie's admiration of you for getting your work done early. This sets a great example. Your detailed annotation of the situation in India where cell phones are the "new" media, was also fascinating. This process is certainly opening my eyes to a much broader vision of what instructional technology encompasses.
What do you plan to do your Masters Project on?
Has this process given you any ideas for how to conduct your own research?
I think the most important thing I've gotten out of this week's assignment is that now I won't feel so intimidated about doing a literature review sinc I've had a taste of what the process entails.
Ok now I have to do the assignment for ETEC 500!
Rebecca

Scott Usher said...

Hello,
I think we all can relate to how social presence affects our sense of belonging in an online class, but I really liked how you compared and contrasted how exclusive online classes lack aspects that trigger communication and comprehension with face to face classes.

Scott

MsKathyK said...

I am not certain if I am correct, but I put the page number in the citation by the quote. I had to go back to the library and find the original article to find the page number of the exact quote.

I now see how these classes work. I took 644 before I took 543 because that is what was available when I was taking the classes. This class is actually teaching us in a step by step process what we need to do in our final project. This class is helping me make sense of what I need to do to fine tune my other Literature Review. It is nice for those of you who still need to take 643, or 644. You should keep this process in a file to look back to when you have to write your final literature review.

I think we learn more from our mistakes sometimes than we learn when we first do something.
Kathy

Michele said...

Great job on yor lit review. Its always nice to read someone else's post for more examples. You have great ideas and I always enjoy reaidng your posts.

mathman233 said...

Hi Darlene,

I was impressed with the analogies you used in your literature review as well as the quotes you cited. I wish I had read it before doing mine. I did want to let you know though that when quoting an author, there are two things you need to do: first, you need to include the citation after the quote; second, you need to cite the pate that the quote originates from in your reference. I forget if it goes before or after the year, but the page needs to be in there. Otherwise, a great paper. If you have the opportunity to read mine, your honest feedback would be appreciated. Thanks!

JOE OCHOA said...

Hello Darlene,
I definitely agree that the term new media can be relative and can be archaic. Also, full online learning is also a new to the United States. There are still several universities that have not added this structure of learning to their curriculum. Good job with your review

Rebecca said...

Hi Darlene,
I really liked your observation that you made in a post to another student's blog (I think it was Jason's) that when you were in college you liked face to face classes for the social aspect, but now that you are a busy and focused adult you prefer online learning because it allows for more direct focus on the content. I somewhat share this point of view. As adults we get so busy we really don't have to time for the social aspect that much anyway.
Rebecca