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Instructional design in online environments: Challenges and possibilities Pantelis Vassilakis PhD DePaul University ITD – Libraries – School of Music © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Basic Premises The possibility for Online Distance Learning (ODL) represents the most exciting educational development in decades. To date, the most positive aspect of the ongoing ODL explosive growth has been the application of the related technology to online supplements, which currently accompany the vast majority of face-to-face courses. © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Q. What is wrong with Online Distance Learning? A. Its explosion is arguably led by the wrong group (administrators vs. educators) and is driven by the wrong motivations. 1. Main ODL advocates are administrators, who often do not fully understand the new technology and the issues facing instructors and students, and are not aware of the impact they can have on creating positive changes in ODL. [Dillon & Cintron, 1997; Wenzel, 1999; Dooley & Murphrey, 2000; (in Levy, 2003); Rahm, 1998; Bower, 2001; Kambutu, 2002; Levy, 2003; University of Minnesota - Extension service; Kansas State University )University of Minnesota - Extension service Kansas State University © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Q. What is wrong with Online Distance Learning? A. Its explosion is arguably led by the wrong group (administrators vs. educators) and is driven by the wrong motivations 2. Planning for ODL usually focuses on a) budget and personnel, rather than critical pedagogic issues b) creating an attractive product for a target population (degree seekers) at a minimal cost, rather than an improved educational experience. (Bates, 2000; Berge & Smith, 2000; Bothel, 2001; Levy, 2003; AFT May 2001 Report) AFT May 2001 Report © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Q. What is wrong with Online Distance Learning? 3. ODL is approached as means to compensate for the fact that constant growth in college-age population will soon result in more students than University facilities can accommodate (Olinger et al., 2001). A. Its explosion is arguably led by the wrong group (administrators vs. educators) and is driven by the wrong motivations 4. ODL is often seen as a possibly profitable auxiliary university business (Lapiner, 2001), occasionally outsourced to for-profit organizations (Cox, 2001). © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Q. What is wrong with Online Distance Learning? A. Its explosion is arguably led by the wrong group (administrators vs. educators) and is driven by the wrong motivations 5. University Strategic Plans and other resources cite market pressure, the need to remain competitive, increased enrollment / revenue, and decreased cost as some of the reasons for aggressively promoting ODL, expecting a 20-25% annual increase in DE enrollment, often without prior planning for appropriate academic and technical support. This reflects a concern with corporate survival/growth issues rather than instructional design improvement. (USC Academic Senate, 1991 & 2001 white papers; Texas Technical University current Strategic Plan; New Mexico State University current Strategic Plan) current Strategic Plan © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Q. What is wrong with Online Distance Learning? 6. Private organizations/corporations advocate implementation of ODL to meet standards compliance, citing cost decrease as the main advantage and its use in Higher Education as the main justification. A. Its explosion is arguably driven by the wrong group (administrators vs. educators) and is driven by the wrong motivations 7. Higher education institutions are also basing their overall ODL development on cost rather educational considerations. In their majority, ODL courses are assigned to ‘cost effective’ adjunct faculty, (Carnevale, 2004) who also face inflated enrollments. Course quality is not monitored closely, especially in established institutions that often let their ODL offerings ride on their ‘brand name’ reputation, without supporting them by the resources that earned them this reputation. © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Online Distance Learning is a Reality An average of ~ 6% of US University degree programs are offered exclusively online. Over 50% of institutions offer exclusive or alternative online versions of courses. © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Online Distance Learning is a Reality © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Online Distance Learning is a Reality © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Online Distance Learning is a Reality © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Online Distance Learning is a Reality © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Demand for Online Distance Learning The explosive growth of online learning over the last 10 years has occurred in response to continuously increasing demand. The demand reflects a partly artificial need, driven by the Universities themselves. The number of degrees conferred by Universities is constantly increasing, ‘flooding’ the workforce and making the possession of degree a must for almost any type of employment. Lifelong Learning and graduate education were supposed to be the core areas of distance learning, resulting in a clientele largely made out of so-called adult students (Bleek, 2004; Young et al., 2004). The National Center for Education Statistics confirms that such students are more likely than their counterparts to participate in distance education. However…National Center for Education Statistics © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Demand for Online Distance Learning © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Demand for Online Distance Learning Universities are targeting the population that will generate most revenue and will embrace the ‘product’ for non-educational reasons, rather than the population (small and quality-driven) that initiated the need. Many on-campus students are participating in distance learning as a way to solve course scheduling problems and/or speed up the degree completion progress (Oregon University System; Golden et al., 2004), resulting in an even more dramatic increase in the number of distance learning enrollments and course offerings.Oregon University System The growth rate of ODL offerings will continue to rise (Carnevale, 2004), fueled by degree hunters who increase demand and by Universities who recognize the immense cost cutting potential of (bad quality) DL, in spite of the widely recognized failure to yet produce good quality DL (e.g. Zemsky & Massy, 2004) and alarming reports of Accreditation officials having obtained PhD degrees from DL degree mills (Bartlett, 2004).degree hunters © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Online Distance Learning & Faculty Faculty members often resist the move towards online distance learning. Possible reasons: a)Alleged dislike, fear, and/or ignorance of the relevant technology; a “…confusion and nonsense disseminated by those who would protect status quo…”. (Poley, 2003) c)ODL seems, at least on the surface, to go against the very essence of a learning event: communication. b)Faculty are often thrown into a ODL situation by University programs eager to compete in the ODL market, without being offered the necessary tools to do the job. © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Online Distance Learning & Faculty Communication involves facial expressions, gestures, tone of voice, and (almost) instantaneous feedback. It is the immediacy in dialogue that can a) prevent instances of misunderstanding from escalating, b) support the continuous adjustment in the way a learning event progresses, necessary to accommodate changes in the learning environment at hand. Social presence and interaction affect course outcomes as well as course satisfaction (Moore et al., 1996; Richardson & Swan, 2003; Pelz, 2004). Learning is a fundamentally social activity (review in Wang, 2004). ODL advocates see the ePortofolio explosion as a recognition of this fact. ODL advocates Learning relies heavily on communication among participants; on dialogue, exchange of ideas, argumentation, feedback, and the readjustment of our position, whatever this may have been prior to entering the learning event. Drop-out rates are consistently higher in ODL vs. traditional courses (IHEP) ODL students may experience social isolation. The students who need the most help in DL courses do not ask for it (Levy, 2003).IHEP © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Can ODL support this kind of learning event? Over 100 books in print published in the last two years Over 100 online books Over 10 scholarly journals dealing exclusively with the topic Amazon has over 200 entries Over 30 consortia publish their own journals, books, and conference proceedings30 consortia I.Communication, interactivity, feedback, identified as the major challenges (e.g. Poley, 2001, 2002; Deubel, 2003; USC Academic Senate, Whitepaper, Newsletter).WhitepaperNewsletter II.Often, there is no explicit reference to advances within education research in general. Common themes: © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Interaction not Interactivity (Phipps & Merisotis, 1999; Wang, 2004) Learners link powerful learning experiences to events that involve interaction, whether with the instructor or other students. What is most memorable is the actual event of understanding that takes place in dialogue, changing those who participate. Common Themes of Powerful Learning Experiences Thinking outside the box. Relevance – Working towards shared goals. Engagement (physical or mental) Encouragement Challenge / Confidence Making failure a learning experience Digital Multimedia Encourage the development of powerful new learning and teaching environments - in the longer term (Levin et al., 1999), that significantly enhance learning (Goldenberg et al., 2004). Empowerment It is questioned whether deep understanding of difficult material—beyond amassing facts—can occur in the absence of same-time same-place interaction. Distance education should utilize every available opportunity to bring students and faculty together. American Federation of Teachers (May 2000 Report – May 2001 Report):American Federation of Teachers May 2000 ReportMay 2001 Report Virtual Classroom Scheduled virtual class meetings and office hours (IVC technology not ready – Kesley & D’Souza, 2004) Pelz (2004) & several SLATE 2004 papers [e.g. Gersten, 2004; Scheidenhelm, 2004] Interaction & Presence The dynamics of a classroom may not be replicable in a distance education setting (Kelsey & D’Souza, 2004). © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
The Power and Challenge of Multimedia Information delivery (images, audio, video, animations) Example 1Example 1 Example 2 Example 3 Example 4Example 2Example 3Example 4 Interactivity (applets, simulations) Example 1Example 1 Example 2 Example 3 Example 4Example 2Example 3Example 4 Task completion (applets, simulations, applications) Example 1Example 1 Example 2Example 2 Time-consuming – Require specialized skills Many have already been created – Locate (edit) and implement © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
Develop rigorous evaluation and control processes to assure that distance education programs comply with high academic standards. Apply quality control to academic content as well as delivery method and student support services. Provide faculty with comprehensive educational technology support and (user) training prior to assigning them to ODL courses. © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004 In the meantime…
Conclusions The current state of the Universities’ infrastructure and administration, the faculty and student technical skills, and to some extend the related technology does not yet support the creation of distance learning environments that can adequately replace face to face instruction. Benchmarks for successful ODL put forward by the IHEP need to be taken very seriously.Benchmarks IHEP Online supplements to face to face courses can significantly enhance the educational experience of students, especially through the use of sophisticated, multimedia digital learning objects, many of which have already been created. One of our tasks should be to locate, collect, and make available such learning objects to instructional designers, ideally through a centralized searchable process, followed by a continuous development and financial backing of an expert and reliable support system that will help faculty identify relevant resources and efficiently and creatively incorporate them to their instruction. © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
References Bartlett, T. (2004). Member of Accrediting Group Has Ph.D. From 'Notorious Diploma Mill‘. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 50(30): A.29.Bartlett, T. (2004). Carnevale, D. (2004). Distance education: Keeping up with exploding demand. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 50(21): B.8.Carnevale, D. (2004). Carnevale, D. (2004). For online adjuncts: A seller’s market. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 50(34): A.31.Carnevale, D. (2004). Cox, G. M. (2001). Strategic Planning and Implementation: The Challenge of Adapting Organizations and Creating Partnerships to Target New Markets. University Teaching as e-Business research project. Center for Studies in Higher Education. UC Berkeley.Cox, G. M. (2001). Bleek, J. (2004). Internet Academy. [Washington.] No Child Left Behind Leadership Summit: Increasing Options Through e-Learning. US Department of Education.Bleek, J. (2004). Bower, B. L. (2001). Distance Education: Facing the Faculty Challenge. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 4(2).Bower, B. L. (2001). Deubel, P. (2003). Learning from reflections - Issues in building quality online courses. Online Journal Distance Learning Administration, 6(3).Deubel, P. (2003). Golden, M., Wicks, M., and Williams, L. (2004). Why virtual schools are gaining popularity. No Child Left Behind Leadership Summit: Increasing Options Through e- Learning. US Department of Education.Golden, M., Wicks, M., and Williams, L. (2004). © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
References (cont.) Goldenberg, L., Heinze, J., and Ba, H. (2004). What Students Say about Learning Science with Multiple Media. 25th NECC.Goldenberg, L., Heinze, J., and Ba, H. (2004). Kelsey, D. K. and D’Souza, A. (2004). Student motivation for learning at a distance: Does interaction matter? OJDLA, 7(2).Kelsey, D. K. and D’Souza, A. (2004). Lapiner, R. (2001). Strategic Planning and Implementation: The Challenge of Adapting Organizations and Creating Partnerships to Target New Markets. University Teaching as e-Business research project. Center for Studies in Higher Education. UC Berkeley.Lapiner, R. (2001). Levin, J., Levin, S. R., and Waddoups, G. (1999). Multiplicity in learning and teaching: A framework for developing innovative online education. Journal of Research on Computing in Education, 32(2): Levy, S. (2003). Six Factors to Consider when Planning Online Distance Learning Programs in Higher Education. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, 6(1).Levy, S. (2003). Moore, A., Masterson, J. T., Christophel, D. M., and Shea, K. A. (1996). College teacher immediacy and student ratings of instruction. Communication Education, 45: Oblinger, D. G., Barone, C. A., and Hawkins, B. L. (2001). Distributed education and its challenges: An overview. Washington, D.C.: American Council on Education and EDUCAUSE.Oblinger, D. G., Barone, C. A., and Hawkins, B. L. (2001). © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
References (cont.) Pelz, B. (2004). (My) Three principles of effective online pedagogy. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 8(3).Pelz, B. (2004). Phipps, R. and Merisotis, J. (1999). What’s the difference? A review of contemporary research on the effectiveness of distance learning in higher education. The Institute for Higher Education Policy. Washington, DC.Phipps, R. and Merisotis, J. (1999). Poley, J. (2001). Digital learning and libraries: Toward consortia and collaboratories Presentation at NIT. Beijing,China.Poley, J. (2001). Poley, J. (2002). Distance education themes and trends. Ohio State Megaconference. Columbus, Ohio.Poley, J. (2002). Poley, J. (2003). Distance Education Everywhere (not “online” learning): Myths, Realities and Possibilities. 5th Annual International Symposium on Advanced Radio Technologies (ISART).Poley, J. (2003). Rahm, D. (1998). Tangled Webs In Public Administration: Organizational Issues In Distance Learning. Public Administration & Management Interactive Journal, 3(1).Rahm, D. (1998). Richardson J. C. and Swan, K. (2003). Examining social presence in online courses in relation to student’s perceived learning and satisfaction. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 7(1).Richardson J. C. and Swan, K. (2003). Wang, H. (2004). Investigating, exploring, and promoting interaction in web-based learning. 25th NECC.Wang, H. (2004). © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
References (cont.) Young, K., Anderson, A., Eller, Am., Eller, An., Pounds, J., and Rashad, V. (2004). What is possible in virtual education? Experiences empowering a quality education for each learner. [Florida learning alliance.] No Child Left Behind Leadership Summit: Increasing Options Through e-Learning. US Department of Education.Young, K., Anderson, A., Eller, Am., Eller, An., Pounds, J., and Rashad, V. (2004). Zemsky, R, Massy, W. F. (2004). Why the e-learning boom went bust. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 50(44): B.6.Zemsky, R, Massy, W. F. (2004). © Pantelis Vassilakis, 2004
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