Computers – The End of an Era

kimura80By Bert Kimura
Editor, Ed Tech in Japan

[Note: Bert Kimura posted the following as a comment on 19 June 2009, in response to “‘The College of 2020: Students’ – A Chronicle Report.” We’ve decided to publish Kimura’s comment as an article to facilitate further discussion. The original comment has been expanded to include a note from his email message to me on 6.20.09. -JS]

Jim, thanks for posting the summary. From my own experiences teaching online classes at UH-Manoa in Educational Technology and also having tried such classes with Japanese students, the items summarized certainly make a lot of sense.

There are three items that I believe will become important by then, if not, perhaps passé by then:

1. The 2020 students may not have had any familiarity at all with desktop computers and traditional operating systems. Instead, all of the communications, creation, and retrieval of info will be done with mobile devices. I also believe that, as may of us have two or mobile notebook computers today, 2020 students will have multiple devices to accomplish their online tasks. The proverbial “toaster” could still be one of them. :-)

The idea of the end of the desktops should also be attributed to Alan Levine, CTO of the New Media Consortium. He also does a very informative (with a unique perspective) blog: http://cogdogblog.com/. Alan was formerly the instructional technologist for the Maricopa CC system and was tremendously influential in getting faculty in the system to adopt technology in teaching and learning.

2. Texting such as this comment will be replaced by or, at least, on par with verbal, visual or multimedia communication modes. Consequently, faculty need to be able to reach visual learners in an effective pedagogical manner as well.

3. Internationalization will enable many more distance learners to participate in online courses, and thus the online student community will be more multicultural than the current group. I believe that this will result in a much richer student experience.

Creating the Need to Know

Judith_McDaniel2_80By Judith McDaniel
Editor, Web-based Course Design

What motivates someone to learn?

On another website, I wrote about how online learning can function to break down some serious fear-based barriers to learning. So let me say up front, I believe there are at least two steps to creating motivation to learn. The first is to address these fear barriers; and online learning, if done well, has the ability to help with this. Some of the most common fears and a happy response from an online student:

Fear 1. I’m not quick off the mark when a teacher asks a question.
Online student: No one can watch me try to think!

Fear 2. I don’t always manage to say what I mean.
Online student: I can try my words out in private before I post them.

Fear 3. My ideas are complicated and I’m afraid of being misunderstood.
Online student: I can try out new ideas in a safe place.

Fear 4. When I respond in class I sometimes end up feeling like I needed a dress rehearsal!
Online student: I can practice alone in front of my mirror.

Fear 5. I hate how people seem to expect me to respond in a certain way because of how I look or how they see “people like me.”
Online student: I get to choose how much I let people know about me, so I don’t feel “prejudged.”

The second factor, given that learners have overcome the first hurdle, is whether the learner feels a strong need to know something. Educators have argued for years about student “motivation” and I would broaden that to actually talk about the human motivation to learn. We are all students, all the time. We put young people and adults who want professional skills in the category of students and we send them to something called a school. Whether they are studying the alphabet or electrical wiring or legal procedure, they are in school. Progressive educators would argue that older studentsfreire175 who have chosen to acquire professional skills have an edge over younger students because they are motivated to learn information and they have sought an appropriate environment in which to learn it.

Paolo Freiere, the Brazilian educator, said that there exist two primary forms of education: the banking model and the problem-posing model. The banking model is the traditional school process. Students are “given” information by an instructor, which they then memorize or “bank” in their brains for future use. Maybe. John Dewey’s addition to this model was that students then also needed an “experience” that would allow them to use what they had banked, incorporate it into their experiential worlds. Dewey knew (in the words of a professor of mine during the sixties as he observedjohn_dewey2we-students-who-would-try-anything) “There are some experiences that are not worth having.” Dewey said it differently: in order for an experience to be educational, it had to be carefully planned with that goal in mind.

The problem-posing model relies on the student’s motivation. I must (or I want to) do something and I don’t know how, so I will find resources and learn how to solve this problem. In this model the student is the initiator, the instructor, the learner, and the evaluator. Is there room for a guide or instructor in this model of education? Surely, but it is not the role of a traditional teacher. In this model, students are the creators of knowledge as well as the consumers of knowledge and their satisfaction with what they have learned is the outcome measurement. The teacher can help frame the problem, suggest areas for research, suggest resources, and ask questions.

My suggestion that online learning has an edge in creating problem-posing models of education for learners is not new or original. On the issue of technology as a tool learners can use themselves, there is an impressive literature that has already developed and a number of websites. One blog this week (May 19) asked, “Are your e-learning courses pushed or pulled?” In other words, are the courses you design pushing information out to “learners” or are you offering an interactive design that will encourage learners to pull the content they need out of the resources you have provided. Another e-learning site offers the image of technology as a toolbox, a set of tools with which people can build and manage their own learning.

push01

But how does this help create motivation? How can technology create a “need to know” in learners?

At the most basic level, we have technologies that engage learners, that draw them into a dialogue, a relationship, a community (or a tribe, as Seth Godin would put it). But those technologies don’t function by themselves. They are part of a package. Course design is the key. What questions will matter to the people who are coming into your course?

One of my students in an online college program was trying to create a literature study for herself. She lives in Texas and has two small children. At some point in our early interaction, she mentioned how fascinated she had been by the story of the Texas woman who had killed her five children. And how appalled she was at her own fascination. That was her question—why would a woman kill her children? Couldn’t she study that issue in a traditional classroom? Sure, and I would assign Euripides’ Medea and Toni Morrison’s Beloved and George Eliot’s Adam Bede, all great literature in which a woman kills at least one of her own children. What does the web offer that the classroom does not?

Look back at my first paragraph in this article. Not sure how to say it? Not sure how it will be received? Maybe a classroom in a small town in Texas would not be the place to explore this topic in front of friends and neighbors?

So there is the protection of a certain amount of anonymity in looking for answers to this difficult kind of question. But there is more. I have not searched this topic, but I am sure there are websites, chat rooms, historical archives, legal briefs from the cases themselves. Do we want to know more about Margaret Garner who was the historical figure Toni Morrison drew on? The Ohio historical society has an entry that will be useful. The Kentucky Archaeological Society has devoted part of a website to the farm in Kentucky that Garner escaped from with her children as a slave seeking freedom. Photographs of her slave hut, interior and exterior, are available. For the student, there is the allure of the search for accurate details, for motivation. The question belongs to my student. I am not her teacher. I am her guide, pointing her in the right direction occasionally, suggesting ways in which she can determine whether a website is credible and sound or biased and not useful.

And then she returns to her study cohort, all of whom have been asking their own questions, and she needs to describe her journey. She does, creating timelines and a history that starts with the Greeks of Euripides’ time and comes forward to a Texas murder trial in the twenty-first century. She has worked with these other students for several months now, and they are important community to her—she is motivated by the relationship that has grown among them.

What I am struck by over and over as I teach students online is the level of possibility. Would Paolo Freire have found the internet a companion or a burden?  I can only wonder. But for many, it has opened worlds beyond the ones they were born into.

Interview with Bert Kimura: TCC 2009 April 14-16

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

The following ETC interview with Bert Kimura, coordinator of the annual TCC (Technology, Colleges and Community) Worldwide Online Conference, the longest running virtual conference, was conducted via email on April 7-8, 2009. Dr. Kimura, a professor at Osaka Gakuin University, orchestrates the completely online event from Japan. The theme of the 14th annual conference is “The New Internet: Collaborative Learning, Social Networking, Technology Tools, and Best Practices.” It will be held on April 14-16, 2009. TCC is a conference designed for university and college practitioners including faculty, academic support staff, counselors, student services personnel, students, and administrators.

Question: What’s the theme of this year’s conference and, more specifically, why did you choose it?

The Internet world is abuzz with social networking and Web 2.0 technologies and, recently, its impact on teaching and learning. We thought that this focus would be appropriate for faculty along with what their colleagues have been doing with these technologies in their (i.e., the early adopters’) classrooms.

TCC coordinators pay attention to the Horizon Report published annually by the New Media Consortium and EduCause. Two years ago, the report cited social media as a technology to have short term impact on teaching and learning.

bert_kimura2Question: What are the primary advantages of online vs. F2F conferences?

1. Ability to “attend” all conference sessions, including the ability to review sessions and content material.
2. No travel expenses or time lost from the workplace.
3. No need to obtain travel approval and submit complex documents to meet administration and/or business office requirements.

Question: What are some innovative or new features that you’ve added to TCC?

1. Live sessions have made the conference alive, i.e., people seem to like knowing that others are doing the same thing at the same time. Through these sessions they can interact with each other through the “back door,” a background chat that is going on simultaneously; this is the same as speaking to your neighbor when sitting in a large plenary session at a conference. Additionally all sessions are recorded and made exclusively available for review to registered participants for six months.
2. Collaboration with LearningTimes. The LearningTimes CEO and president are very savvy technically and hands-on, and they understand how educators work, how tech support should be provided, and they provide an excellent online help desk to conference participants, especially presenters. Their staff support responds quickly and accurately to participant queries. They also respond graciously and encouragingly to those with much less technical savvy.
3. Paper proceedings (peer reviewed papers). We believe that this is one way to raise the credibility of this event and make it accessible to a broader higher education audience. Research institutions still require traditional (and peer reviewed) publications for tenure and promotion. However, by publishing entirely online, we also promote a newer genre. Proceedings can be found at: http://etec.hawaii.edu/proceedings/
4. Inclusion of graduate student presentations. We feel that we need to invest in the future and that TCC can also become a learning laboratory for graduate students. Grad students, especially if they are at the University of Hawai`i, may have much greater difficulty in getting to F2F conferences than faculty.

Question: What’s the secret to TCC’s success?

1. Great collaboration among faculty, worldwide, to bring this event together. We have over 50 individuals that assist in one way or another — advisory panel, proposal reviews (general presentations, e.g., poster sessions), paper proceedings editorial board, editors (writing faculty that review and edit descriptions), session facilitators, and a few others.
2. Quality of presentations — they are interesting, timely, and presented by peers, for and about peers.
3. Continuity and satisfaction among participants. Our surveys (see Additional Sources below) consistently show very high rates of satisfaction. We have managed to persist, and TCC is recognized as the longest running online (virtual) conference.
4. Group rates for participation — i.e., a single charge for an entire campus or system.
5. TCC provides a viable professional development venue for those that encounter difficulty with travel funding.

Question: What are the highlight keynotes, presentations, workshops, etc. for this year’s conference?

See tcc2009.wikispaces.com for the current conference program, presentation descriptions, etc. For keynote sessions, see http://tcc2009.wikispaces.com/Keynote+sessions

tsurukabuto_kobe
“Sakura in early morning. Taking out the trash was pleasant this morning.”
iPhone2 photo (8 April 2009) and caption by Bert Kimura. A view of cherry
blossoms from his apartment in Tsurukabuto, Nada-ku, Kobe, Japan.
See his Kimubert photo gallery.

Question: What’s the outlook for online conferences in general? Are they growing in popularity? Will they eventually surpass F2F conferences? If they’re not growing or are developing slowly, what are some of the obstacles?

At the moment, I’m not sure about the outlook — there are more virtual individual events or hybrid conferences, but not many more, if any, that are entirely online. One thing that is clear is many established F2F conferences are adding or considering streaming live sessions. Some openly indicate that a virtual presentation is an option.

The biggest challenge is the view that online events should be “free,” i.e., they should use funding models that do not charge participants directly. For an event that is associated with a public institution such as the University of Hawai`i (Kapi`olani Community College), it is impossible to use “micro revenue” funding models because institutional business procedures do not accommodate them easily.

Likewise, there is no rush among potential vendors to sponsor single online events. I have been talking with LearningTimes, our partners, to see if a sponsor “package” might be possible, where, for a single fee, a vendor might be able to sponsor multiple online conferences.

Even with 50+ volunteers, a revenue stream is vital to assure continuity. We operate on a budget that is one-twentieth or less of that for a traditional three-day F2F conference. Without volunteers, we could not do this.

Question: What are the prospects for presentations in different languages in future TCC conferences? If this is already a feature, has it been successful? Do you see it growing?

At the moment and with our current audience, there has not been an expressed need for this. However, if we were to target an event for a particular audience (e.g., Japan or China), then we would need to provide a support infrastructure, i.e., captioning and/or simultaneous interpretation.

On the other hand, the Elluminate Live interface that we use for live sessions does allow the user to view the interface and menus in his native language. Elluminate is gradually widening its support of other languages. Having experienced the use of another language interface, Japanese, I find that it makes a big difference to see menu items and dialogue boxes in your native language.

Question: Tell us about your international participants. Has language been a barrier for their participation?

– So far language has not been a challenge. It might be that those who suspect that it will be don’t register. Some, I think, see this as an opportunity to practice their English skills.
– International participants are much fewer in number (less than 10 percent). We’ve had presenters from Saudi Arabia, UK, Scandinavia, Brasil (this year’s keynoter), Australia, Japan, Sri Lanka, Canada, Israel, Abu Dabi,  Greece, India, as well as other countries.
– In some regions such as Asia (Japan is the example that I’m most knowledgeable about) personal relationships make the difference in terms of participation. On the other hand, it is difficulty for a foreigner, even if s/he lives in the target country, to establish personal networks. I have been able to do this gradually over the past seven years — but it is still, by far, not enough to draw a significant number (even with complimentary passes) to the event. In Japan, it also coincides with the start of the first semester (second week of classes) and, consequently, faculty are busy with regular duties. If we were to hold this event in the first week of September, the effect would be the same for the US. We would have difficulty attracting good quality presentations and papers that, in turn, will draw audiences to the event.

Question: What’s in the works in terms of new features for future conferences?

– Greater involvement with graduate students as presenters and conference staff. It provides TCC with manpower and, at the same time, TCC serves as a valuable learning laboratory for students.
– Events, either regional or global, on occasion, to keep the community interacting with one another throughout the year.
– Some sort of ongoing social communications medium to keep the community informed or to share expertise among members on a regular basis (e.g., a blog, twitter, etc.)

[End of interview.]
_________________________
The official registration period for TCC 2009 is closed, but you can still register online at https://skellig.kcc.hawaii.edu/tccreg
The homepage for the event can be found at http://tcc.kcc.hawaii.edu

Additional Sources: For additional information about the annual TCC conference, see the following papers presented at the 2006 and 2008 Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Distance Learning and the Internet (DLI) conferences at Toudai and Waseda: Online Conferences and Workshops: Affordable & Ubiquitous Learning Opportunities for Faculty Development, by Bert Y. Kimura and Curtis P. Ho; Evolution of a Virtual Worldwide Conference on Online Teaching, by Curtis P. Ho, Bert Kimura, and Shigeru Narita.

How Is the Recession Affecting Online Higher Education?

John SenerBy John Sener

It’s been a long time since I’ve watched the 11 o’clock news on television. My recollection is that it consists of an endless series of deaths, accidents, and other disasters, relieved only by the commercials and an occasional human interest story. Ray Schroeder’s blog “New Realities in Higher Education” is the 11 o’clock news for higher education — except without the heartwarming human interest stories or commercials. The stories are pretty much one hair-raising signal of impending doom after another — make sure you’re in a reasonably good mood before tackling this one.

Once the train wreck/auto crash voyeuristic feeling wears off, inevitably when reading New Realities I find myself wondering: Is the recession helping speed the adoption of online higher education, or slowing it down, or some of both? On the one hand, many community colleges are reporting the increases in enrollment demand that economic downturns typically bring, North Carolina being one example. On the other hand, many (often the same) community colleges are also reporting budget cuts which force them to cancel classes and otherwise reduce offerings, North Carolina also being one example.

One school of thought is that the recession will drive adoption of online learning as a cost-saving measure or as a way to provide access to education for cost-conscious students. A counter-argument is that initial implementation of online education requires investment in infrastructure, faculty development, culture change, etc. and that such funds are not available, hence online education adoption is being slowed down.

So far, I haven’t been able to find anything other than speculation about this topic. By contrast, one of Ray Schroeder’s previous blog efforts, Fueling Online Learning, showed pretty clearly that last year’s astronomical gasoline prices had a strong correlation with increased enrollments in online higher education. (The causal connection is less clear, but a case can be made that there was one.)

Anyone have any concrete evidence on the recession’s effect on online education?

Hybrid vs. Completely Online

It isn’t a matter of online or F2F, but, rather, completely online or hybrid. On one side is Eskow, who argues for completely online instruction, and on the other are Zimmerman and Heeter, who argue for a hybrid approach that includes both online and F2F strategies. Heeter’s version of F2F, though, combines F2F and online participants in synchronous sessions so it’s technically a hybrid variation. Please join this discussion by posting your comments at the end of any of the articles listed below. If you’d like to publish a longer piece on this topic, email a copy to Jim Shimabukuro at jamess@hawaii.edu

esk_zim_hee2a
The 375-Billion Dollar Question. And the New Agora by Steve Eskow
Access: The New Imperialism? by Lynn Zimmerman
The Campus: The Old Imperialism? by Steve Eskow
Steve Eskow: An Open E-University
Adventures in Hybrid Teaching: The First Day Is the Hardest by Carrie Heeter
Online Hybrid as Asynchronous, Co-present, and Remote by Carrie Heeter
Hybrid, Online, or F2F – It Depends by Lynn Zimmerman
It Depends ­– On the Economics of Education by Steve Eskow

It Depends ­– On the Economics of Education

By Steve Eskow
Editor, Hybrid vs. Virtual Issues

Lynn (“Hybrid, Online, or F2F – It Depends“), as you and Carrie (“Online Hybrid as Asynchronous, Co-present, and Remote“) and all of us agree: it depends. And perhaps it depends on some matters you haven’t mentioned.

For example, it depends on whether your students can get to campus, have the auto or the bus fare, have the baby sitter or husband who will babysit. Those who can’t may take their graduate study in an all online program.

You’re a researcher, Lynn, so I can ask this: Is it possible that the agreement you report – your students and you having similar opinions in favor of hybridity – is a result of their clear awareness of what you’d like them to think? Would they give me the same opinions you get if you weren’t in the room? If I were your student and clearly aware of your views, I don’t think I’d want to risk offending you by suggesting that I’d just as soon have all the sessions online.

eskow_feb09I’m a bit troubled by your frequent references to students who are better at expressing themselves orally than in writing. I’m not sure the best pedagogic response to that common feeling among students is to go with it. Perhaps those students weak in writing are those most in need of more practice.

Increasingly we hear of students resisting buying the required textbooks and, crucially, resisting reading them. And I hear of teachers in this age of student evaluations who react to this resistance by respecting it: less reading and writing, in an age where the new technologies put a premium on the reader (of blogs, if nothing else) and the writer (of blogs, if of nothing else). Might we as a profession need to take a stand on more writing in academic instruction?

As I’ve indicated, my own work is in the poor countries and is influenced by the economics of building-based education as well such other social impacts as the disruption of communities. I’d be willing to bet with you, Lynn, that as the economic situation in the US worsens we’ll experience lots less resistance to technology-mediated education by taxpayers, teachers, and students. Those buildings your students come to are a technology that costs millions to construct and maintain.

It does indeed depend.

Hybrid, Online, or F2F – It Depends

lynnz80By Lynn Zimmerman
Editor, Teacher Education

In her articles, “Adventures in Hybrid Teaching: The First Day Is the Hardest” and “Online Hybrid as Asynchronous, Co-present, and Remote,” Carrie Heeter addressed the issues that face teachers and students in a hybrid classroom, including technical, personal, and pedagogical. How the classroom environment is shaped by these issues is summed up in Carrie’s response to a comment by Steve Eskow, which appeared in “The Campus: The Old Imperialism?” Carrie said, “It depends.”

Her account of the issues and reader responses to her articles highlights the complexity of online versus face-to-face teaching and combinations thereof. In any classroom environment the technical, personal, and pedagogical issues are interconnected, making “it depends” a legitimate answer. For example, questions of whether live instruction is less demanding than online depend on the goals and objectives of the course; what kind of technology the teacher and students have access to; and the personal circumstances, personalities, attitudes, and motivations of the students and the teacher.

lynn2009febA graduate course that I teach, Multicultural Education, provides an illustration of this interconnectedness. The students are full-time teachers, and the course is offered in the evening at a regional campus. The course has evolved from a face-to-face class using one online discussion a semester to a hybrid using asynchronous discussion boards for student interaction online as well as face-to-face meetings. The students and I both agree that the hybrid class allows for options and opportunities to engage and interact in different ways.

The online part of the course, as others have mentioned, gives my very busy students an opportunity to engage actively in class without having to drive anywhere. Because it is asynchronous, they can also do it at their convenience, within parameters that they as a group agree upon. Because the forums are written and not oral, it gives those students who are comfortable with and good at writing a chance to engage the material in a different way and at a different level than face-to-face offers. Some of these students even try to engage their classmates more actively in the discussion. However, some of the students write enough to fulfill the assignment requirements and do not go beyond that.

The face-to-face format offers advantages as well. First of all, there are some students who are better at expressing themselves orally than in writing. Face-to-face discussions give them the chance to engage effectively with the materials and with each other. Face-to-face also seems more open to spontaneity. Perhaps I feel this way because I am a fairly good discussion facilitator. I watch faces and listen to tone of voice. I listen to what is being said and what is not being said, and I guide the discussion accordingly, creating more flow than I often find in my students’ written online discussions. As with the online assignments, some students participate more fully than others, despite my attempts at engaging all the students.

(I can hear someone out there saying, “You take care of the issue of oral discussions by giving your students the opportunity to have them online. Let’s save that discussion for later.”)

educating_net_genIn their essay “Preparing the Academy of Today for the Learner of Tomorrow” in Educating the Net Generation (an e-book), Hartman, Moskal, and Dziuban (2005) conclude that what constitutes good teaching practice is universal. “Students believe that excellent instructors:

  • Facilitate student learning
  • Communicate ideas and information effectively
  • Demonstrate genuine interest in student learning
  • Organize their courses effectively
  • Show respect and concern for their students
  • Assess student progress fairly and effectively” (section 7).

I think that hybrid classes serve as one example of good teaching practice because, in order to meet the needs of all of our students, we need to offer them as broad a learning environment as possible.

References

Hartman, J., Moskal, P., and Dziuban, C. (2005). Preparing the academy of today for the learner of tomorrow. Educating the Net Generation. Retrieved February 3, 2009 from http://www.educause.edu/Resources/EducatingtheNetGeneration/PreparingtheAcademyofTodayfort/6062