Oct 31st, 2008
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Viorika Prikhodko
A recent study published in the Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration studied the reasons behind professors' decisions to teach online.
What makes a teacher choose online learning? Researchers explain:
"The decision to teach online was investigated and analyzed based on a detailed discrete decision model. According to the mean effects, the statistical differences in faculty members' online-teaching decisions were strongly based on the key variables of faculty general philosophical views and faculty-belief of efficacy. Faculty who have strong beliefs about self-efficacy using online tools were more likely to invest time and apply knowledge to post course materials online, design course web-pages, or create online tests. If faculty members believe that teaching online is a useful option and the students could learn as well or better than in a face-to-face situation, they will most likely overcome time constraints and be motivated to use OCMA effectively compared to faculty who disbelieve the effectiveness of online teaching."
Basically, most teachers realize that creating online learning material will be a significant investment of their time. Those who believe that online learning is a useful model are generally willing to put in the effort needed to be successful.
Oct 31st, 2008
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Rich Legg
The Sloan Consortium recently recognized UMass Lowell Online's autism program as a "Most Outstanding Online Teaching and Learning Program."
The school explains:
"In designating the UMass Lowell Online Graduate Behavioral Intervention in Autism Program for this tribute, making it one of only twelve online excellence and effectiveness award recipients this year, Sloan-C wrote that the distinction was being awarded "For creating a rigorous, high-quality online graduate program that meets the growing need for individuals with expertise in dealing with the challenges of autism." As confirmed by the Autism Society of America, in February 2007, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDME autism prevalence report. The report, which looked at a sample of 8 year olds in 2000 and 2002, concluded that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 150 American children, and almost 1 in 94 boys."
The graduate-level program was created in 2005 to help professionals respond to the needs of young people with autism. Check out the full article to learn more about the UMass Lowell's Online Graduate Behavioral Intervention in Autism Program.
Oct 31st, 2008
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Image# 6365439
Brightstorm, a new learning network, just launched a series of online classes to help teens do better in school and prepare for college.
"Brightstorm's network offers teens access to 5-hour interactive video courses, broken down into 10-20 minute lessons, in a variety of subjects, including math, writing, history and AP and SAT test prep – with more subjects and teachers coming soon. The courses are personalized to match high school students' interests and digital consumption habits. On Brightstorm, teens are able to work at their own pace, choose the right teacher for their learning style, participate in interactive discussion groups, and benefit from bonus materials such as interactive quizzes, 'challenges' and study guides"
This supplemental online learning can be a smart choice for students who prefer the in-person teaching and social atmosphere of traditional schools, but desire additional material to improve their studies.
Oct 30th, 2008
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Lucas White
If you're outside the age range of typical college students, don't rule out finishing your degree. Online degree programs may offer you the flexibility you need – whether you desire an unstructured schedule to put in hours at the office or play with your grandchildren.
My About.com article How to Finish Your College Degree By Enrolling in an Online School walks you step-by-step through the process of choosing a legitimate virtual program, applying your credits, and earning that diploma. Here's a blurb:
"If you're an adult learner with past college experience but no degree, you may be able to complete your studies by enrolling in an online school. Many online colleges cater to professional adult students wanting to transfer previous credits and earn a degree in less time than the traditional 4-year program."
Check out the full article to learn more about the six steps you'll need to follow as a returning online student.
Oct 30th, 2008
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Image# 6649093
A new study shows that technology can be used to create personalized student assessments that improve teaching instruction. The Journal reports:
"Can technology improve the effectiveness of assessments? According to a new report issued Monday by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA), it can when it's used in a less formal setting and applied for the purpose of improving instruction and outcomes for students rather than merely taking a snapshot of students' knowledge at a given point in time.
The report does not advocate increased use of testing; rather, it advocates "using technology to assess students in a less formalized, yet more personalized, manner can glean benefits for teachers and students alike." It highlights innovative uses of technology in delivering formative assessments and also looks at the barriers schools face in implementing effective assessment strategies."
It makes sense to consider assessments as more than a student evaluation tool. When done correctly, they can provide valuable information for the professor. This is especially important in online classrooms, where teaching methodology is still being developed.
Oct 29th, 2008
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Grzegorz Lepiarz
Online elementary and high school students may benefit from the Wikipedia DVD Selection for Schools. It's a collection of hand-edited articles deemed appropriate for all audiences.
"This 2008/9 Wikipedia DVD Selection is a free, hand-checked, non-commercial selection from Wikipedia, targeted around the UK National Curriculum and useful for much of the English speaking world. It has about 5500 articles (as much as can be fitted on a DVD with good size images) and is about the size of a twenty volume encyclopaedia (34,000 images and 20 million words)."
The Wikipedia DVD can be downloaded free of charge and can be a great tool, especially for students who spend a lot of time without an internet connection.
Oct 29th, 2008
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Don Bayley
Your "brain orientation" affects how you process information and may have an impact on your online studies. Left brained people are more likely to focus on facts, details, and logic. Right brained people are more likely to focus on the "big picture," feelings, and possibilities.
This quick visual brain test from Courier Mail can help you determine your dominant brain side in just a few seconds.
Once you have a feel for your dominant side, keep this in mind with your online classes. Use your unique thinking patterns to your advantage and try to practice using the other site of your brain to make up for any weaknesses.
Oct 24th, 2008
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Melanie Kintz
Earlier this week, I blogged about thefree online French classes available to the public. Since that article has been so popular, I've researched the top free online Spanish, Italian, and Japanese classes.
Learning a language online can be a smart new hobby, especially during this time of economic turmoil. You can master the basics for free and list it as a skill on your resume.
Find the full lists here:
Free Online Spanish Classes
Free Online Italian Classes
Free Online Japanese Classes
If you're looking for another language, you may be able to find it in this shorter list of courses.
Oct 23rd, 2008
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Jim Jurica
If you're looking for a legitimate school that accepts college transcripts and gives experience credit, take a look at Western Governors University. Western Governors University is the product of a 19 U.S. governors, working together to create a new way to educate their constituents.
Their latest news release explains:
"Today, over 11,000 online students are enrolled in a WGU competency-based, online degree program in business, education, information technology, or health professions. For each program high standards of learning are clearly spelled out by expert councils, and students demonstrate their competency through rigorous assessments (exams, projects, assignments, etc.).
WGU students have greater flexibility, even compared to other online schools, and may be able to accelerate their time to completion based upon their prior education, existing competencies, and determination to proceed faster…
Keeping tuition affordable is also crucial. WGU has developed a new financial model that keeps tuition much lower by utilizing existing courses and independent learning resources, supporting student success through personalized mentoring, and controlling administrative overhead costs. Even though WGU is a private, not state-supported school, tuition is competitive with state schools and is much lower than typically found at other online schools."
Western Governors University certainly isn't for everyone. But, it can be a smart choice for students who already have a lot of credit and experience in their fields, who enjoy learning independently, and who are anxious to complete their online degrees quickly.
Oct 22nd, 2008
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, Demid Borodin
Online learning is known for offering students flexibility and independence. However, not all traditional students are pleased with the integration of online classes into their everyday schedules.
A recent article in the student newspaper of Perdue University Calumet explains:
"One of the biggest complaints students have about e-courses is how the professors seem ill-prepared to teach an online course. Kevin Horn, a senior majoring in history, recently dropped out of an online literature course due to such circumstances.
"This was the first online course I ever took and I really wasn't used to how e-courses work," Horn said. "The calendar in my class would be blank for days, and then suddenly a whole week's worth of work would pop up after the week was already half gone."
I can identify two major problems here: First, requiring traditional students to take too many online classes limits their options rather than expanding them. As is explained elsewhere in the article, a growing number of classes are only available online. I'm alright with asking traditional students to take a class or two through the internet, in order to help them master online research skills and training that they may encounter in their future professions. However, traditional students should be able to learn in the way that suits them best (often face-to-face).
Second, online teaching usually requires special training. If traditional teachers are pushed into virtual classrooms without any preparation, the results can be disastrous. Teachers new to online learning should always be given assistance and oversight.
Hopefully, a few bad experiences with distance learning will not sour these traditional students to the idea of studying online in the future.