Development, Media Choices and Considerations

social-media

Goal: Examine media choices related to the development of online learning resources.

There are so many different media choices available to eLearning developers today. Each media, each technology has its own characteristics that need to be understood so that the designer of the eLearning environment, and the users of the eLearning environment can make the best media choices, and use the power of the available media to its best effect. – Brian Newberry


1. Why is media selection important in eLearning?

When selecting media it’s important to consider how the media under consideration supports the three types of interaction (Student-Content, Student-Instructor, Student-Student) that we have been discussing in this class as well as how well it allows the instructor to create meaningful Absorb-Do-Connect activities for the learners. Not all media is created equal in these terms. An instructional designer must take into consideration which media and applications will create the best learning objects and transmit the desired information most effectively. For instance, media that supports games is different from media that supports hands-on activities, or media that simply conveys information, or media that supports collaboration and sharing, or media that supports creations. Horton (2012, p. 399) notes that one must take into account the ability of the media to promote social learning situations as well as deal with issues and situations that may be faced by learners such as limitations of their devices and the environment where their learning will occur (p. 538). In addition, in his Session Seven lecture, Professor Newberry (2015) notes many other important factors to consider, from both the instructor and the learner perspective. These include software needs and expense, hardware needs and expense, file size, portability, accessibility, ease of use, synchronicity, flexibility, etc. Most importantly, the instructor and the learners must be able to understand and use the media effectively or learning objectives will never be met. In eLearning, media is a means to this end.

In ETEC 674 (Newberry, 2015, Session 3) we learned about Media Richness, which is a very important consideration when selecting media for eLearning. Media Richness Theory was developed by R.L. Daft and R.H. Lengle and states that every media used to transmit information can be rated objectively according to four criteria. This enables communicators in a non F2F environment to determine which communication medium will best reproduce the information sent in any given situation without loss or distortion of the content and meaning. This is crucial in an eLearning environment. Media richness is determined by examining the mediums ability to:

  1. Provide immediate feedback
  2. Send multiple cues such as voice intonation, body language, facial expression
  3. Support natural language and language variety
  4. Allow personal nature to be communicated.

Note: For more information on Media Richness in eLearning see this article by Jill Schiefelbein entitled Media Richness and Communication in Online Education.

Another theory we learned about in ETEC 674 (Newberry, 2015, Session 3) is Social Presence, which is the ability of students to identify with others in their learning environment. This theory, which was developed by John Short, Ederyn William, and Bruce Christie, and looks at the degree with which different media and types of interactions create an awareness among individuals in a communication interaction. It is an attempt to determine the ability of a particular media to transmit “realness” in an online situation. Social Presence can also be viewed as how an individual represents him or herself online. This representation often indicates how willing the individual is to engage with others. By selecting the appropriate media the instructional designer can insure that this important type of engagement takes place.

Note: For more information on Social Presence in eLearning see this article by Susan Copley Cobb entitled Social Presence and Online Learning: A Current View from a Research Perspective.

2. Define “new media”?

This is a term that I was first introduced to in ETEC 674. The important difference between traditional media and new media is the digitization and nesting, or hyperlinking, of images, words, and sounds. (Socha & Eber-Schmid, n.d.)

“New media is a concept that incorporates all the technological devices and programs that have made the change to digital information and distribution. It includes Twitter and Facebook and YouTube, but it is also about e-books and downloading movies and paying your concert ticket on-line and using Bluetooth to swap photos and having your own website, things that may not necessarily social at the outset. “ (Pridmore, Falk, & Sprenkels, 2013)

Today, new media is often defined as an umbrella term for digitized information that can be produced, shared, reused, commented on, and linked to electronically in real time. The Internet, Web 2.0, online games, streaming videos, informational web pages, podcasts, screencasts, blogs, wikis, cloud-based applications, email, eBooks, Facebook, Twitter, Smartphones, and Smartphone apps, are all new media. However, some of these new media applications are more interactive than others. This interactivity is the key in “social media”, which today is a very important and vital subset of new media. Social media focuses on the sharing of user-created content. An important aspect of social media is the interactive group of users who communicate and share digital information regularly. Social media allows users to share information, thoughts, knowledge, and ideas. Daniel Nations aptly describes social media as a two-way street. (Nations, n.d.)

3. Choose a “new media” and explain its strengths and weaknesses for supporting eLearning.

Facebook is one of the most popular online social networking sites. I use it personally and have often wondered if it would be beneficial in an eLearning situation.

Strengths:

  • Most students already have accounts and are comfortable using Facebook.
  • It’s easy to learn how to use it.
  • It offers the ability to create groups or pages. A group or page can be created for a specific course.
  • It’s free.
  • Instructors can quickly push information to students such as links to news, class related announcements, documents, videos, pictures, etc.
  • Students can comment and share information/ideas in an informal manner.
  • Increases student communication and collaboration.
  • Promotes Student-Student and Student-Instructor interaction.
  • Students will be connected to/engaged in the class FB page more often than the class LMS page.

Weaknesses:

  • Students must have a FB account in order to participate.
  • Some individuals refuse to use it.
  • Course FB posts can become buried in students’ personal posts.
  • Students can be distracted by non-course FB posts.
  • No way to organize content.
  • Can’t archive content.
  • Advertising appears on pages, even in private groups and pages.
  • Cyberbullying potential.
  • Privacy issues.

Note: Here are two useful articles on using Facebook in the classroom from OnlineCollege.org:
100 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom (2009)
99 Ways You Should Be Using Facebook in Your Classroom [Updated] (2012)

4. Explain the term “Mobile Learning” and discuss the importance of “Mobile Learning in the current eLearning environment and in future eLearning environments.

According to Horton (2012, p. 501), mobile learning has two meanings:

1) Participation in conventional learning by mobile individuals using mobile learning techniques and technologies.

2) Learning from the world in which we move. Not just using mobile devices to learn, but learning from objects, experts and fellow learners that are encountered on the move.

UNESCO (n.d.) states that “Mobile learning involves the use of mobile technology, either alone or in combination with other information and communication technology, to enable learning anytime and anywhere.” They go on to note that today over 6 billion people have access to a connected mobile device and for every one person who accesses the internet from a computer two do so from a mobile device. Mobile technology is changing the way we live and it is changing the way we learn.

To me, this is the most exciting aspect of mobile learning. It can not only free people to learn at the place and time they choose and to learn from a world of teachers, as noted by Horton (2012, p. 501), but it can bring educational opportunities to a much wider population. Mobile learning can supplement and enrich formal schooling and in general make learning more accessible, equitable and flexible for students everywhere (UNESCO, n.d.).

5. Explain the term “Virtual Classroom”. Describe how a “Virtual Classroom” can be used in eLearning.

The virtual classroom is an online version of a physical classroom. Interestingly, not all online learning experiences as considered virtual classrooms. According to Horton (2012, p. 539) virtual classrooms use collaboration tools to re-create the orderly structure, rich interaction, and learning experiences of the traditional classroom while eliminating the need for everyone to be in the same place. An important aspect of the virtual classroom is that it uses technology to provide a social learning experience, aka learning by interacting with other people and in groups. Technology can be in the form of the LMS, discussion forums, chat, audio/video conferencing, polling, etc. But it seems to me that the most important aspect of a true virtual classroom is real time interactivity. As Horton (2012, p. 540) notes, virtual classrooms require a teacher who can lead learners and learners who can attend online meetings. While there are both asynchronous and synchronous aspects to a virtual classroom, the synchronous sessions are crucial. The students and teacher are logged in at the same time and can exchange knowledge and ideas in real time. The virtual classroom provides an online Community of Inquiry where students and teacher “collaboratively engage in purposeful critical discourse and reflection to construct personal meaning and confirm mutual understanding.” (CoI, n.d.)

A webinar is a form of virtual classroom that is used in eLearning quite successfully. In a Library Skills class, a webinar can be used to give a live presentation on the use of a database. Live chat and online polls can be used to get learner feedback and opinions.

6. Thinking about the class you have been designing, what are some ways you could potentially use some new media?

In Step 11 of my Course Analysis Process (Session Five blog post) I listed several ways that I can incorporate new media into the Library Research Skills class I’m designing.

  • New media technologies such as content management systems and cloud-based productivity programs can be incorporated into this class quite effectively. As I mentioned before, Cerritos College uses Sakai as the LMS and the Library uses LibGuides, so those two content management systems would form the basis of my course. I’d also use screencasts, created with Jing or Screencast-O-Matic, to show students how to use the various online catalog and databases and to have the students capture their own search sessions. Slideshows can be enhanced by using Prezi, a cloud-based presentation software that make slideshows come alive by zooming, flipping, and otherwise animating the slides. Prezi presentations are much more interesting to watch, thus making them more memorable and motivating. I would use Google docs have the students create shared documents. These are all production applications that can be used to create and manage content and learning objects for any course. In e-learning situations such as a Library Research course they can be used to provide demonstration videos and interactive lessons that engage students in a way that simple text files or straight audio files can’t. These tools enable instructors to be creative in their approach to teaching without having to be a web master or have media production skills. They not only allow instructors to think outside the box, but they also give them tools to empower their students to be creative and technologically adept. Students can use these tools to create or collaborate on a project, share them with their classmates, and provide comments and feedback. All these tools except LibGuides offer free versions. All provide cloud storage once you set up an account. All provide linking, sharing, and embedding capabilities.
  • Social media applications such as blogs, wikis, YouTube, Facebook, etc. can also be incorporated into the class as well. These types of media are especially important in the CoI framework because they focus on and enhance what Friedman and Friedman refer to as the 5 C’s communication, collaboration, community, creativity, and convergence by allowing students to work together to create their own new knowledge. (Friedman and Friedman, 2013) Students can be asked to create screencasts and upload them to YouTube so others may comment. Students can collaborate on a works cited list or annotated bibliography by sharing a Google document. Students can create avatars using Voki and give a “lecture” on a resource of their choice. Students can create a wiki for book or article reviews. Students can be asked to create a blog to submit all assignments and thus make them shareable and permanent.

References

Cobb, S.C. (2009). Social presence and online learning: A current view from a research perspective. Journal of Interactive Online Learning. 8:3, Retrieved from http://www.ncolr.org/jiol/issues/pdf/8.3.4.pdf

CoI model. (n.d.). The Community of Inquiry Website. Retrieved from https://coi.athabascau.ca/coi-model/

Friedman, L.W. & Friedman, H.H. (2013). Using social media technologies to enhance online learning. Retrieved from http://184.168.109.199:8080/xmlui/bitstream/handle/123456789/2163/EJ1004891.pdf?sequence=1

Horton, W. (2012). E-learning by design. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley and Sons.

Nations, D.(n.d.) What is social media? About Tech. Retrieved from: http://webtrends.about.com/od/web20/a/social-media.htm

Newberry, B. (2015). ETEC 541 Session Seven Lecture. [Word document]. Retrieved from CSUSB Blackboard ETEC 541.

Newberry, B. (2015). ETEC 674 Session Three Lecture. [Word document]. Retrieved from CSUSB Blackboard ETEC 674.

Pridmore, J. Falk, A. & Sprenkels, I. (2013). New media & social media: what’s the difference? Academia.edu. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/1122278/New_media_and_social_media_-_whats_the_difference_v_2.0

Schiefelbein, J. (2012). Media richness and communication in online education. Faculty Focus. April 10. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/online-education/media-richness-and-communication-in-online-education/

Socha, B. & Eber-Schmid, B. (n.d.). What is new media? New Media Institute. Retrieved from http://www.newmedia.org/what-is-new-media.html

UNESCO. (n.d.). Mobile learning. ICT in Education. Retrieved from http://www.unesco.org/new/en/unesco/themes/icts/m4ed/

 

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