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Getting Online: The GO Project Distance Education Promising Practices in the Canadian Literacy Field.

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Presentation on theme: "Getting Online: The GO Project Distance Education Promising Practices in the Canadian Literacy Field."— Presentation transcript:

1 Getting Online: The GO Project Distance Education Promising Practices in the Canadian Literacy Field

2 Getting Online A national project designed to research trends, technologies and promising practices in online and distance learning in Canada “Being online is different – you can’t see facial expressions, body language, get the feel of the class, but it is one of the most efficient ways to learn.” (Survey respondent)

3 Where the idea came from Target group: Target group: Canadian literacy practitioners – specific demographicsCanadian literacy practitioners – specific demographics Experience with Writing Out Loud training Experience with Writing Out Loud training Desire to learn what other online training was being offered in literacy field Desire to learn what other online training was being offered in literacy field

4 Need for the project Growing interest in using computer technology Growing interest in using computer technology Readiness to use technology Readiness to use technology Desire to establish a consistency of practice Desire to establish a consistency of practice Based upon an increasing need within the literacy field for professional development

5 The Proposal National Literacy Secretariat was the matchmaker National Literacy Secretariat was the matchmaker Joined up with CLO – Nov Joined up with CLO – Nov Initial three year proposal submitted May 2006 Initial three year proposal submitted May 2006 Final approval and two year project started May 2007 Final approval and two year project started May 2007

6 Partners The GO Project is hosted by the Research Centre at Athabasca University Project partners: Writing Out Loud (Alberta)Writing Out Loud (Alberta) Capilano College and Literacy BC (British Columbia)Capilano College and Literacy BC (British Columbia) Community Literacy of Ontario (Ontario)Community Literacy of Ontario (Ontario) GO is funded by the Office of Literacy and Essential Skills (HRSDC)

7 Research Team Pan Canadian Team Communicate and work using online and distance methods: Elluminate, First Class, , teleconference Communicate and work using online and distance methods: Elluminate, First Class, , teleconference Have had two face to face research team meetings Have had two face to face research team meetings “I love the cross-Canadian team of literacy based researchers/writers/ facilitators we have put together for the GO project.”

8 Goals of the project To strengthen and enhance the capacity of the Canadian literacy community by informing literacy practitioners of the use and value of distance education as a personal and professional development tool.

9 Project deliverables Research Report Research Report Interactive online training courses Interactive online training courses Website including self–directed learning modules Website including self–directed learning modules Promising Practices manual for literacy practitioners Promising Practices manual for literacy practitioners Conference presentations, newsletters and publications Conference presentations, newsletters and publications

10 10 The GO Project Research “The sky is the limit and an open mind goes a long way! We don’t get stuck in old technologies, just because they are comfortable. We try to look to the future: like the youth we serve.” (GO research participant)

11 11 GO Research Goals To research how the Canadian literacy community is using online learning technologies in their practice To research how the Canadian literacy community is using online learning technologies in their practice To research how organizations external to the literacy community are using online learning technologies To research how organizations external to the literacy community are using online learning technologies To research what forms of online learning technology are being used To research what forms of online learning technology are being used “Online training can be used by anyone, regardless of their political beliefs, their location, their income or their physical ability.” (GO research participant)

12 Research Methods First Research Team meeting -- May 2007 First Research Team meeting -- May 2007 Created six key research questions Created six key research questions AU’s Research Ethics Board approved AU’s Research Ethics Board approved Data gathering: July to November 2007 Data gathering: July to November 2007 Second Research team meeting – Nov 2007 Second Research team meeting – Nov 2007 Data analysis and writing – first draft complete May 2008 Data analysis and writing – first draft complete May 2008

13 Research Questions Asked about: Demographics Demographics Training tools and methods Training tools and methods Training objectives Training objectives Results/evaluation Results/evaluation Differences noted Differences noted How the training was introduced How the training was introduced Future trends Future trends

14 14 Surveys Surveys sent out from July to October 2007 via personalized s Surveys sent out from July to October 2007 via personalized s Active follow-up Active follow-up 127 relevant responses 127 relevant responses Pan Canadian Pan Canadian Diverse organizations Diverse organizations Diverse levels of practitioner experience Diverse levels of practitioner experience Diverse technologies Diverse technologies

15 15 Key Informant Interviews 46 interviews 46 interviews Identified through website research, surveys and knowledge of field Identified through website research, surveys and knowledge of field Structured interviews Structured interviews Survey questions explored in more depth Survey questions explored in more depth Telephone /in person Telephone /in person Two focus groups (20 people in total) Two focus groups (20 people in total)

16 16 Analysis / Write-Up Data analysis – Atlas TI Data analysis – Atlas TI Research report written: February – May 2008 Research report written: February – May 2008 Final editing and production – Summer 2008 Final editing and production – Summer 2008 On GO website in fall 2008 On GO website in fall 2008 “We have had excellent results with online learning – this has made college programs accessible to students who cannot attend the campus in person every day. Most of our students have full time life responsibilities in addition to being students.” (GO research participant)

17 Demographics of respondents Number of years of work experience Number of years of work experience Educational credential Educational credential Province Province Number of learners enrolled Number of learners enrolled Number of tutors Number of tutors Organizational type and size Organizational type and size

18 Training Interests - ranked 1. Online course curriculum development 2. Using/choosing distance education technologies 3. Providing learning support in e-learning environment 4. Developing online facilitation skills 5. Creating an online community 6. Introduction to online learning

19 19 Question 1 What online or distance tools or methods do you presently use? Learning Management Systems Learning Management Systems Self-study web-based modules Self-study web-based modules Online meeting / conferencing Online meeting / conferencing Blended learning Blended learning Supplemental technologies Supplemental technologies

20 Question 2: Practitioners What are the objectives or purposes of the online or distance practices you use? Establishing and maintaining connections Establishing and maintaining connections Doing work Doing work Saving time and money Saving time and money Getting and keeping up to date Getting and keeping up to date Gaining access to formal and informal training opportunities Gaining access to formal and informal training opportunities Honing computer skills Honing computer skills Innovation and technology Innovation and technology

21 21 Question 2: Organizations What are the objectives or purposes of the online or distance practices you presently use? Content specific Content specific Reduce barriers Reduce barriers Innovation and technology Innovation and technology Broader access Broader access Delivery of accredited educational courses Delivery of accredited educational courses Members only Members only

22 22 Question 3 - Evaluation What results, good or bad, have you obtained with your online or distance learning or support practices, and how did you determine this? Formal evaluation SurveysSurveys Success, retention and failure ratesSuccess, retention and failure rates External evaluatorExternal evaluator Research studyResearch study Measuring outcomesMeasuring outcomes User-testingUser-testing

23 23 Question 3 – (continued) Informal evaluation Informal participant feedbackInformal participant feedback Increasing demandIncreasing demand Real world successReal world success Advisory group / volunteersAdvisory group / volunteers No evaluation

24 24 Evaluation Results Positive results Geographically accessible, any time / anywhere training, reduced cost; reduced time pressures; access to new client groups, great outcomes, meeting student needsGeographically accessible, any time / anywhere training, reduced cost; reduced time pressures; access to new client groups, great outcomes, meeting student needs Mixed results Ability to adapt, interactivity, technologyAbility to adapt, interactivity, technology

25 Evaluation Results (continued) Negative Results: Challenge getting people online and used to the technology Challenge getting people online and used to the technology Technical glitches Technical glitches Insufficient hardware/software needed to do the task Insufficient hardware/software needed to do the task Learning mode: Learning mode: Learning styles not addressedLearning styles not addressed Social and group dynamic aspect of learning not being metSocial and group dynamic aspect of learning not being met

26 26 Question 4 Do you find online or distance training or support methods produce different results from face-to-face methods or strategies? If so, what are the differences? Positive results with online: Reduction in geographic barriers Reduction in geographic barriers Convenient and flexible learning Convenient and flexible learning Reduced costs Reduced costs More in-depth training experience More in-depth training experience Personal preference Personal preference Access to specialized knowledge /experts Access to specialized knowledge /experts Increased instructor time and access Increased instructor time and access Easier to update and keep content current Easier to update and keep content current

27 27 Question 4 (continued) Negative results with online learning: Less interactivity Less interactivity Lack of depth Lack of depth Personal preference Personal preference Less networking / information sharing Less networking / information sharing More difficult to instruct More difficult to instruct More difficult to create content More difficult to create content Misunderstandings occur online Misunderstandings occur online Visual/emotional learners struggle with online Visual/emotional learners struggle with online Don’t get immediate feedback (asynchronous) Don’t get immediate feedback (asynchronous)

28 28 Question 5 How were online or distance training or support methods or tools introduced? Participant support Participant support Marketing Marketing Training for online instructors Training for online instructors Providing user-friendly technology Providing user-friendly technology Effective content development Effective content development Continuous improvement Continuous improvement Piloting Piloting Adequate funding and organizational capacity Adequate funding and organizational capacity Having high level organizational support Having high level organizational support

29 29 Question 6 What future do you see for the use of online or distance training or instruction, support or professional development methods? Exploring new technologies Exploring new technologies Expanding current opportunities Expanding current opportunities Increasing the quality online learning Increasing the quality online learning Need for adequate resources Need for adequate resources Increased access to training Increased access to training Offering “just in time” training Offering “just in time” training Challenges to future growth Challenges to future growth Offering more blended learning Offering more blended learning

30 Question 6 (continued) Combination of excitement and resignation about the use of technology Combination of excitement and resignation about the use of technology “If we can arrive at a way for people to have equal access to practitioner training, then we can get somewhere. The use of technology could assist in achieving this goal.” (Interview respondent.)

31 Findings Computer literacy, like other literacy skills are a continuum of skills Computer literacy, like other literacy skills are a continuum of skills There is significant capacity currently being developed in the Canadian literacy community There is significant capacity currently being developed in the Canadian literacy community However, there are many pockets where practitioners have a lack of experience with and therefore confidence in online learning However, there are many pockets where practitioners have a lack of experience with and therefore confidence in online learning Regional variance in use and experience Regional variance in use and experience It is more a workplace learning challenge than an adaptation to technology one It is more a workplace learning challenge than an adaptation to technology one

32 32 In Conclusion... “Online has much wider access and can go to areas we could never dream of going with face-to- face”. (GO research participant)

33 Getting Online: Pilot Purpose: Introduce online learning as an optional tool for professional development for literacy practitioners Introduce online learning as an optional tool for professional development for literacy practitionersAudience: Group of 10 literacy practitioners from across Canada Group of 10 literacy practitioners from across Canada

34 Course Supports Moodle (Athabasca and GO staff) Moodle (Athabasca and GO staff) Teleconferencing Teleconferencing Elluminate Sessions Elluminate Sessions Mail Mail Resource Material Resource Material

35 Curriculum Unit 1: Getting Started Unit 2:Welcome to Online Learning Unit 3: Online Learning Communities Unit 4: Online Learning and Literacy

36 Unit 1: Getting Started To gain personal and technical readiness for the course Activities Teleconference Teleconference Post a picture and bio Post a picture and bio Research GO on the NALD website Research GO on the NALD website Post on Hopes and Fears Post on Hopes and Fears

37 Unit 2: Welcome to Online Learning To identify and discuss common characteristics, requirements, roles, and attitudes in online learning Activities Elluminate meeting Elluminate meeting Discussion of group guidelines Discussion of group guidelines Reading and Responding to Questions Reading and Responding to Questions

38 Unit 3: Online Learning Communities To summarize the key components, attributes, and behaviours of a well functioning online community Activities Online Learning Styles Inventories Online Learning Styles Inventories Partnering activity related to readings and discussion on “community” Partnering activity related to readings and discussion on “community”

39 Unit 4: Online Learning and Literacy To consider how online distance learning might benefit literacy practitioners and the broader literacy field Activities Internet research on literacy and online learning Internet research on literacy and online learning Elluminate meeting Elluminate meeting

40 Course Findings Relaxed approach works Relaxed approach works Interaction between participants did not happen until mid-point Interaction between participants did not happen until mid-point Expectation for interaction needs to be clear at the onset of the course Expectation for interaction needs to be clear at the onset of the course Early engagement necessary for success Early engagement necessary for success People did not catch up when they missed the first sessions People did not catch up when they missed the first sessions Facilitators energy was affected by lack of group participation Facilitators energy was affected by lack of group participation

41 Course Findings (continued) Participants have a need to know who is around them Participants have a need to know who is around them Isolation disappears when the community emerges Isolation disappears when the community emerges Participants enjoyed the technology Participants enjoyed the technology Participants are eager for more learning Participants are eager for more learning Collaborative learning creates enriched learning Collaborative learning creates enriched learning

42 Course Findings (continued) Moodle features all functioning Moodle features all functioning Elluminate meetings, , and Moodle working together Elluminate meetings, , and Moodle working together Don’t assume anything about participants’ technical knowledge skills Don’t assume anything about participants’ technical knowledge skills The only way to learn about online learning is to be an online learner The only way to learn about online learning is to be an online learner Participants and facilitators learned together Participants and facilitators learned together

43 Recommendations Pre-course orientation and partnering Pre-course orientation and partnering Extend course from 6 weeks to 8 weeks Extend course from 6 weeks to 8 weeks Keep curriculum and materials Keep curriculum and materials Establish expectations for interaction immediately Establish expectations for interaction immediately Clarify expectations for online interaction Clarify expectations for online interaction Involve pilot course participants as mentors for new course participants Involve pilot course participants as mentors for new course participants

44 Summary “I really appreciated being able to get my toes wet with all this technology. I had read about online learning, but I really didn’t get it. This course has been a really helpful experience.” (Pilot course participant)

45 Sharing Knowledge Papers and publications Papers and publications Conferences Conferences Contact information


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