Dec 30th, 2005
Agriculture students in rural Canada will now have the opportunity to take their classes online.
It may seem odd for such a ' hands-on' and ' outside-based' course to be offered through a computer, but you can find just abOUT any class online these days, even nursing. Surely, this speaks well for the future of distance learning.
From the Fort Frances Times:
The first agriculture-based web classroom courses ever offered in Canada will be starting up in January and those in the farming community are invited to sign up, said Ian Barrett, executive director of the Ontario Agriculture Training Institute (OATI) in Guelph.
The web classroom is designed to be " a new, exciting, and different online learning experience&lrquo; in which " you participate in live audio and video, have direct communication with the instructor, and interact with your classmates,&lrquo; the press release stated.
" With e-learning, people were just sending questions back and forth, but now everyone will be able to communicate at the same time,&lrquo; Barrett noted.
He said it's important step for the agricultural community because most are located in rural areas and can't easily get to seminars or to see guest speakers.
" And it is cost-effective,&lrquo; he stressed, indicating transportation for trainers to rural areas is expensive.
He also said they wanted to include everyone-even the far north-where there isn't enough people to hold in-person training sessions.
" The web classroom makes it so everyone can be connected, which is what we have tried to do,&lrquo; he remarked.
Barrett said it took longer to set up the program than they hoped because they wanted to make sure it would be able to work over dial-up.
" Many people in rural Canada still depend on dial-up [Internet access] so we designed it for that,&lrquo; he explained.
Barrett admitted he's not sure yet what kind of response he'll get.
" It's brand new and a lot of people don't like change,&lrquo; he noted. " Some haven't embraced the Internet yet, so we'll have to see.&lrquo;
Dec 30th, 2005
The group most resistant to online education-private colleges-are now accepting and helping to revolutionize the growing trend.
From Inside Higher Ed:
While there are already numerous alliances offering distance education and universities offering entire degrees online, the new consortium is designed for smaller private colleges – a sector of higher education that has been relatively slow (in many cases intentionally) to embrace distance education. The group aims to let colleges that have little or no distance presence begin to offer courses, while maintaining curricular control and holding on to current students who desire to have some of their education online.
Kennedy said that he expected the program to start small this semester, with only abOUT 150 students participating, and 350-450 next year. Within five years, organizers anticipate 2,500-3,000 participants a year.
The College of Notre Dame of Maryland is among those with minimal experience in distance education that are joining the consortium. Suzanne Shipley, vice president for academic affairs, said that following extensive faculty discussions, the college has decided not to offer distance education as part of its undergraduate program for women, but to explore possible limited use of distance education in the college's weekend programs for adult students in business and computer science.
Students who have decided to enroll at a place like the College of Notre Dame " don't want an online degree. They came to us because they want the sense of community,&lrquo; Shipley said. But they also have times that their family and professional obligations make it difficult for them to get to campus, and they want specialized training that the college can't always speedily deliver.It seems the last of the walls against ' technical' education are breaking down. Just how different will the college experience be in twenty years?
Dec 28th, 2005
There seems to be no shortage of technological innovation on college campuses these days.
According to an article from U.S. News & World Report, students can now-or soon-enjoy a myriad of technological advancements and conveniences.
Games like The Sims and civilization have recently entered some teachers' repertoire as they've attempted to get Xbox-obsessed students to see that games can teach them something, too. Muzzy Lane Software has released the first game specifically meant to get course material across …This is only the beginning. It's definitely not your mother's university experience …unless your mother is in college now, of course!
Dec 28th, 2005
Inside Higher Education provides a thought-provoking article examining the ways online technology may be harming free speech and debate on college campuses.
Though the Internet is often viewed as a place where anyone gets the chance to be heard, one professor thinks this isn't enough, and may in fact be harmful.
As a professor myself, I'm always intrigued when the issue of exchanging views and knowledge is brought up, as I consider this to be the ' true' value of a higher education.
I'll be the first to admit that the Internet has proven to be an incredibly democratizing tool in higher education. Typewriters, mimeograph machines, floppy disks (the real ones) – to me they're the stuff of legend. Yet I've gotten to wondering if a few recent campus incidents haven't revealed a disturbing problem in the way technology has changed the way we communicate in academe.
At the same time, it's hard not to notice that for many students and faculty members, the Web also provides an open environment to bash, belittle and bemoan. Trivial? Not so much when students utilize these tools to bypass their college communities and create a wholly unproductive debate on some hot-button social topics. The fact that the discussion on these issues has been essentially outsourced to the Internet is, frankly, somewhat troublesome.
Now, there's nothing wrong with expressing your opinion online. But something gets lost when students decide to drum up support against a campus organization out in cyberspace.
The American college campus has been, at its very core, a site for the exchange of views and knowledge – a utopia for the promotion free expression. Thus, it's all the more reason, first and foremost, to keep the debate on campus and in person instead of relegating it to the relative ambiguity of the Internet.
By using the Web as the primary vehicle to drive their arguments, [students] created combative situations that never stood a chance of being heard fairly, equally, and productively from all parties involved. Sure, they expressed their opinions, but this is less abOUT freedom of expression and more about how we communicate with one another responsibly.
Dec 27th, 2005
" Growing by Degrees: A Report on Online Education in the United States, 2005,'' a recent study of online learning technology and trends at more than 1,000 universities and colleges, has revealed its results.
Among the findings: online education opportunities are growing immensely, ' traditional' institutions are finally opening up to the idea of distance learning, and perhaps most important, that students have a ' harder' time passing an online course than a ' classroom' course.
Though online education offers terrific opportunities, there are drawbacks that students need to be aware of. As a professor, this is the weakness I see most often in my online courses: students not realizing that more discipline and motivation will be needed to succeed in an online course, compared to the same course taught in a traditional classroom setting.
The Kalamazoo Gazette reports:
Taking an online course, educators say, usually requires a student to be more disciplined than an on-campus class might require.
“I warn the students at the very beginning they are going to do more,'' said Ashlyn Kuersten, associate professor of political science at Western, who teaches an online course to non-majors.
“They're going to have to be consistent and self-motivated. I'm not going to motivate them,'' she said.
“I would say 30 percent of a class will just stop participating. … That's why I think the best students are the nontraditional students,'' she said.
For this reason, some universities offer online tests to help students assess whether they are good candidates for learning online.
Dec 27th, 2005
Video games are providing more than fun …and, well, games. Their technology is the latest support in developing the frenzied trend of online education. The Daily Reflector has more:
When professor Moha Tabrizi tried on his new sensory suit in East Carolina University's technology innovation lab, he wasn't looking to create a movie or video game for Nintendo or Xbox, although the technology is similar.
Instead, the ECU professor of computer science was tracking his motions to create a virtual version of himself for an online class that will debut on a pilot basis for the spring 2006 semester.
"We are not using this technology for its original use – movies and video or computer games," Tabrizi said. "Rather, we are recreating the use of the technology for education."
The technology aids an emerging medium known as the agent and virtual reality-based online course delivery system. Tabrizi is using the technology to create a virtual classroom where students can view lectures online in an environment that mimics a face-to-face classroom setting.
Absolutely fascinating. The speed and variety of the developments in online education are staggering. Will this method eventually ' win out' over the traditional classroom setting?
Dec 22nd, 2005
Idaho State University celebrated the remarkable graduating class from its Associate Degree Registered Nurse Program. What made this class unusual? It was the first to complete the program online.
The Idaho State Journal reports:
The program director Linda Smith said many of her graduates wouldn't have been able do so without this innovative distance learning program.
Holding her 3-year-old daughter Emily in her hands, Mindy Allen said she's been working as an LPN for four years at Oneida County Hospital but wanted to become an RN, and this program was the only way she could.
' ' What attracted me to this program was the ability to get on the Internet to do the coursework and that I could do the clinicals locally,'' she said. ' ' I wasn't able to get into a traditional nursing program and this allowed me to do that.''With ' hands-on' disciplines like nursing now offered online, there seems to be no limitations for the future of higher education technology.
Dec 20th, 2005
Realizing the power of the Internet, many colleges and universities now appreciate that a huge number of students ' shop' for colleges online before making a decision. In response, there has been an enormous amount of redesigning school websites to better attract potential students.
The Chronicle of Higher Education provides an excellent article with examples and suggestions:High-school students are increasingly turning to the Internet to muddle through the dizzying process of choosing a college. Lately, they sift through dozens of Web sites and online services before ever setting foot on a campus. Many businesses and organizations help students find information on colleges, scholarships, and test preparation. And colleges are responding to the shift in consumer culture by developing compelling, interactive Web sites — complete with blogs, online chats, and podcasts.
But some students say all the bells and whistles are unnecessary when all prospective applicants need is basic information about an institution. What are students looking for when they enter a college's Web site? How can college admissions officers put their best foot forward online?
Dec 20th, 2005
The extremely popular Wikipedia has launched a new endeavor: Wikiversity. Wikiversity is an open-source, free ' university' geared towards students. Although Wikiversity cannot yet offer accreditation for courses, they are considering working towards it.
The subjects offered are already extensive, and a student can find anything from astronomy to music to beyond.
The fact that the site is a wiki (a website that allows users to edit the content themselves) adds a fascinating dimension.
Wiki Books offers more information:The main goal of Wikiversity is not just to impart knowledge but to facilitate learning. The collaborative model of the wiki will be applied to an e-learning framework. This differs significantly from a classic university model, although it does acknowledge the growing acceptance of a social theory of learning in pedagogical and academic practice.
Wikiversity will not prohibit research, though it need not necessarily be a part of every course. In the technical training aspects of its work, its goal is not to discover new things, but to teach things which are already known to new people. At a higher level of education, there will probably have to be some scope for students to do their own research, whether a survey of the literature or of primary research, though this will have to be monitored carefully, and will be dependent on the type of course offered.
Wikiversity does not yet certify student's mastery. We currently have no way of assuring who is doing the work for a course. We have no way ensuring that every course that would be required for a degree has enough teachers to even attempt it. We attempt to teach the same material many accredited schools do, and to teach the material as well (or better!).
What could this mean for the future of online education? I don't know, but I'm excited to find out.
Dec 19th, 2005
Are you interested in an online college education, but worry that your options may be limited in comparison to a traditional education? Worry no more!
Just check out U.S. News and World Report's hugely extensive list of online learning opportunities for undergraduate and graduate level courses, certificates, and degrees.
Whew. That's a lot of choices. View the complete list here.