Annual Membership Meeting and Voting Completed

WAOE President, Steve McCarty, opened the Annual Member Meeting on June 27th at 1000 GMT. Immediately, participants from around the world began answering the rollcall and discussing the issues that will determine the goals and objectives WAOE will pursue during the next year. The virtual meeting continued until July 11th with 89 participants answering the rollcall and many more participating in the online education issues via the VIEWS discussion list. Archives of the meeting can be viewed at the VIEWS discussion list. You may also read the annual meeting reports by officers and committees at the AMM2003 link . These reports summarize the accomlishments of WAOE during the past year.

Members voted for renewed terms for the President, Steve McCarty, and the Treasurer, Mike Holmwood, through 2005. In addition members passed a change in the bylaws to create a sixth WAOE director who is appointed by the Board as a Chief Technical Officer (CTO). During the Board meeting following the AMM, the Board appointed Dr. Maggie McVay Lynch as the CTO and sixth Board member.

During the AMM two new O-CREWs were formed around the issues of online teacher certification and worldwide mentoring of WAOE members. The work of these O-CREWS can be viewed in the member WebBoard. If you wish to join either of these O-CREWS and assist them with these important issues, contact Nick Bowskill for Mentoring and Kathy Skinner for Certification. In addition, a discussion about WAOE building a code of ethics for online education was also initiated. Anyone interested in carrying that forward should contact Steve McCarty. All of these discussions and the work associated with them are strategic issues where WAOE members can take a stand and make a difference in helping to improve the nature of online education worldwide.

Ongoing efforts that were discussed during the AMM were the development of WAOE online teacher education courses, multilingual/multicultural WAOE Websites, expanding member-to-member networking, linguistic/cultural chapters of WAOE, and starting a special interest group for foreign language teaching online. Other discussion items are also open whenever members initiate them. If you have a particular interest, you can form an O-CREW to investigate it and pursue it. Contact President Steve McCarty if you have an idea. He will make sure you are connected to the right resources to get started working with other members.


Multicultural and Multilingual Projects

Last month this newsletter reported on officers in Turkey, Russia and Italy who were working on adding WAOE sites in the language of each of their countries. The Turkish and Italian sites are already linked to the main page. The Russian site is still being developed.

In addition, Luigi Macri will be moderating an Italian discussion board which should be available shortly. When the discussion board is set up, it will be announced on the VIEWS discussion list.

WAOE welcomes additional site development by members. If your language does not use Romanized characters it can still be displayed or uploaded to

WAOE's site, such as the Japanese site developed by Keiko Schneider. If you have an interest in developing a country site or being a country leader please contact Steve McCarty. Also, if you want to use any of the templates used by the main WAOE site to translate into your language, contact Maggie McVay Lynch and she will provide you with the webpage templates. If you do not feel comfortable developing a complete website, you may also forward translated files to Maggie McVay Lynch with a note as to where they would go and she will generate the pages and post them for you on the WAOE server. There are many opportunities for you to help make WAOE a worldwide language and culture conscious organization.

 

Online Educator Development Committee (OEDC ) Continues Course Work

The OEDC, chaired by Sholom Gold, has been continuing its efforts on building a teacher training course. Already committee members have divided up the topics to be covered in multiple lessons and are ready to upload the content and exercises to a course site. The location and type of course site is still under discussion, but the group hopes to have at least initial work completed by early Fall of this year. The plan remains to offer the course over an 8 week timeframe with an emphasis on practical implementation. A final project will allow participants to effectively demonstrate their knowledge of online teaching and learning.


Member Profiles -- Focus on Africa

Dr. John Afele

John Afele has been with WAOE since its inception in 1998. He is a Ghanaian resident in Canada. John obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Guelph, Canada, in 1990; M.Sc. (Agriculture) from the Katholiek Universiteit Leuven (KUL), Belgium, and B.Sc. (Hons) from the University of Ghana, Legon.

A Man of Research, Publication, and Practical Imlementation

Dr. Afele's most recent book was briefly profiled in the June issue of this newsletter. Digital Bridges: Developing Countries in the Knowledge Economy. Hershey, PA: Idea Group Publishing. (2003) ISBN#1-59140-039-2 In this bok, John explores the ideas of globalization and the information age and discusses how global equity is built on the premise of peace.

John is currently Program Director of the Indigenous African Perspectives on Sustainable Livelihoods where he is concentrating on developing knowledge networks towards the Intellectualization of Indigenous African Knowledge for Sustainable Rurality. He was a panelist on the World Bank's TechNet Think Tank on "Identifying Critical Technologies for Developing Countries" and was a member of "ICT for Rural Development," a working group of Arbeitsgemeinschaft fuer Tropische und Subtropische Agrarforschung-Council for Tropical and Subtropical Agricultural Research (ATSAF e.V.) within the 2nd Conference of the European Federation for Information Technology in Agriculture, Forestry and the Environment.

John was also chair of the Grants and Research Committee of the Ghana Computer Literacy and Distance Education Project (GhaCLAD) and has co-edited a book NOW AND IN THE NEXT MILLENNIUM, 1990S-3000 CE: Assessing Africa's Scholarly Publishing Needs and Industry. 1999 Edition. Journal of African Religion and Philosophy (JARP). Contact: L. Njinya-Mujinya, C/o, Box 1604, S - 751 46 Uppsala, Sweden.

A Man of PassionWorking to Help Africa Become Self-Sustaining and a Significant Partner in the World

In a phone interview, John was obviously passionate about his work in Africa. He explained how it is important to work at a regional level, rather than a continental level, because then one can see what modular programs are in place and can be replicated. Though he does do some work in his home country of Ghana, John also works in many other countries as well.

Dr. Afele is most excited about a number of groups in Africa or are really making a positive impact. Specifically he named the African Renaissance Committee, started in Zambia and in Nairobi, Kenya. These renaissance committees are designed to effectively use the International Co-operation Fund for the purpose of enhancing international co-operation with and on the African Continent. The African Renaissance vision is an all-embracing concept that draws its inspiration from the rich and diverse history and cultures of Africa. It acknowledges Africa as the cradle of humanity, whilst providing a framework for the modern Africa to re-emerge as a significant partner in the world. This framework touches on all areas of human endeavour; political, economic, social, technological, environmental and cultural. At its core, African Renaissance is an economic and social development agenda for Africa. It is a comprehensive and far-reaching global plan of action to tackle poverty and the developmental needs of Africa. This package of measures is also designed to address the intricate challenges posed by globalization.

Africa's Investment in Computer Communication

Like many parts of the world, African countries have invested heavily in computer infrastrcture. Dr. Afele sees access to the Internet and computer communication as one of the important forces for education, freedom, and peace in Africa. He discussed how he has seen school children go into Internet Cafes and spending their lunch money because the communication is so important and helps to salve their extreme curiosity. With wireless systems the ability of the goverment to control knowledge will become less effective and thus the people will gain more control. Though some governments may hope to limit communication, the trade off is impossible. At least now it is more in the government's interest to make use of the technology than to control it.

The key is to work toward internalization of the information culture within individuals, departments, colleges. Dr. Afele said "This cannot come as from some other place. It must be internalized. We must have it as a part of our desk, we must feel that our output is important to national productivity and that our individual actions are important to the aggregate of the system. One person alone doing a great job is not enough." When individuals feel that their effort makes a difference, then Africa will begin to change. Rather than always bringing people and aid from outside of Africa, it is important to invest in the groups that already have in mind the issues of how to use individual talents, how to elevate economies, and how to provide sustainable implementation.

What Can WAOE do to Help with Online Education in Africa?

"One role some of us might be able to play in the grounding of distributed learning in/about the developing world might be to characterize what is being done in/for these regions, because we are privileged to know a bit more about what is happening in the Internet home(s) of origin. Perhaps, WAOE can develop some relationship with the African Virtual University or similar regional networks, at least to test how responsive AVU-affiliates are. For example, to organize a
similar exercise (as the AMM2003) or choose a topic that these elements can discuss in order to determine the various attributes of the contributions. That way, WAOE might be discovering some of the areas of interest to regional blocs,
and the limitations/opportunities, etc. Here, I am not talking about AVU office staff but the elements of the institutions in which AVU is hosted - prof., students, others. Then we would have an idea about the extent to which 'leapfrogging' is being approached."

For those who are in Africa now, you may look forward to a visit from Dr. Afele. In the next few months he is planning trips to Nigeria and South Africa. If you have an interest in participating with Dr. Afele in building relationships in Africa, contact him directly.

No articles, books, or new projects were submitted by members for this months newsletter.

 


Have you read a good book regarding online education recently? Send a one or two paragraph review to the newsletter editor and share the information with others. Do you have experience with particular tools that help to enhance the online learning experience? Send a couple of paragraphs for those as well. In this section we will publish those reviews.


BOOKS

Lessons from the Cyberspace Classroom: The Realities of Online Teaching. Rena M. Palloff and Keith Pratt. San Francisco:Jossey-Bass (2001). ISBN 0-7879-5519-1.
I use this book as a text for my course "Online Instructional Strategies." My students find it invaluable as an introduction to the nuances of online instruction. I frequently recommend it to both new and experienced online instructors and it consistently garners rave reviews. The authors have written a comprehensive reference for faculty to use to hone their skills as online instructors. Filled with numerous examples from actual online courses and insights from teachers and students, this book covers the online teaching process with authority and humor. Some of the essential issues covered in the book include evaluating effective courseware, working with online classroom dynamics, addressing the needs of the online student, making the transition to online teaching, and promoting the develoment of the learning community. -- Reviewed by Maggie McVay Lynch.

The Online Educator: A Guide to Creating the Virtual Classroom. Marguerita McVay Lynch. London:Routledge (2002). ISBN 0-415-24422-6
This book provides detailed, yet easy-to-understand guidance on all aspects of preparing a web-based curriculum, from administrative planning to hardware and software selection to individual course development. Incorporating the latest research in the field of distance learning, this noteworthy book offers a comprehensive, state-of-the-art manual to help educational institutions compete in today's Internet-savvy world. Key features of this book include detailed explanations of common terms and concepts, a practical, step-by-step format with useful checklists, a guide to the issues facing students and teaching staff, and links to useful websites and other resources. (back cover description)

 

TOOLS

In this section we highlight tools that are free or very inexpensive that online educators might find helpful when developing their course materials and interactions.

Interact Learning Management System reviwed by Mike Warner, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University

After review of several large commercial, as well as open source Learning Management Systems (LMS) for functionality, look and feel, and cost the design team at Christchurch College of Education two years ago decided to venture into this expanding realm under their own flag. Although still functioning as a work in progress, they have developed an open source architecture that is both workable and effective, within the framework designed to date, as judged by the students and instructional staff that have used it. WebManager for Interact is Glen Davies who is currently working on additional components to add journal, gradebook, and survey/quiz modules to the platform along with language translations (he's looking for translators if you are interested). Initially intended as an in-house platform, local student inquiries for access at their own schools prompted the set up of a hosting server for individually negotiated access. So far this has been seen as a small scale use, but the potential is still open as the functionality expands and the outside interest grows.

To determine just how easy it would be to set up a course from scratch without needing any coding experience, I was given admin permissions and space to have a go at it. I found the initial registration straight forward and in no time I had set up a mock course with four objective modules, an introductions discussion board, a calendar, post box for submitting assignments, and a chat room. Each objective module had its own discussion board, links to resources outside the course, a peer-review module, and an imported quiz module (remember, the in-house quiz module is still under design development, so I used HotPotatos.com quiz builder). The threaded discussion boards were intuitive in operation and well designed to support functionality and navigation. Each module was added by a simple selection function by any course member that has admin authorization. The whole course site framework was set up in about one hour time, without any coding needed. The adaptability of the platform will make it very popular with any instructor, especially when modules currently under design come online. This is a must watch platform.

Michael D. Warner
Embry Riddle Aeronautical University
University of Phoenix
Tempe High School

 

Camtasia Studio reviewed by Maggie McVay Lynch, Portland State University

This is a piece of software that can help you to easily create a visual tutorial for software instruction. The "studio bundle" also comes with their SnagIt product which is a screen capture tool that allows you to define what part of the screen you wish to capture and save it as an image to include on the Web or in a document.

We are using Camtasia Studio extensively to build small, discrete learning objects for a variety of software training questions. These visual tutorials, along with an audio voice-over and linked instructions, will provide just-in-time-training for our faculty. For example, we are in the process of building approximately 200 tutorials (30 second to 2 minutes) for training both faculty and students in how to use WebCT effectively. A sample of just one of our tutorials is here:

You can export the camtasia files as video files and then stream them from the Web or link the entire file directly within your webpage. You can also export to a flash (SWF) file if you would prefer that format. We choose to stream the files because once you add audio, even with short tutorials, we have found thefiles can be rather large (1MB) and for some users working from home the download time is prohibitive.

Working with Camtasia is easy. All you have to do is open the studio, click on recorder, hit record and you've already started. If you are adding audio, you speak into your microphone while doing the tasks you wish to demonstrate. You can also easily add effects, such as text boxes or special highlighting during the production phase. This was so easy, I was able to learn the basics and create my first tutorial within about half an hour.

One of the best parts about this software is the reasonable price, only $119 for a single copy with educational or government discount. (about $350 if you are not an educational or goverment/non-profit entity) It is further discounted if you purchase more copies in groups of five.


Contribute to Education Companion Newsletter

I am seeking members that are interested in contributing to my pet project- an educatonal web site that began in 1999 called The Education Companion Newsletter.

This newsletter is a work of love, and as thus is purely free. It provides timely, insightful articles germane to today's educational arena, plus highlights of new links added to The Educational Voyage Portal web site. These articles are geared to the interests of all those interested in the education. The readership and web site visitors are primarily educators, many of which are involved in distance education.

The education Companion Newsletter has been on hold since I have been involved in business matters that have demanded most of my attention. I am now in the delightful position of being able to revive it. Members that are interested in submitting articles are most welcome.

To provide it's authors with a tangible thank you, I convert the newsletter and author biography pages into simple HTML to archive on the site. It is submitted to the search engines and promoted by search engine resubmission, reciprocal links, etc (one of my specialties.)

I hope you will be interested in contributing articles on getting educators on line and involved with technology! Interested members feel free to contact me at the sources below.

Janet R. Young
IT Specialist, P.S. 161 & The Crown School for Law and Jouranlism, http://www.ps161.com/508/
President, JRY Development Corporation, http://www.jrydevelopment.com/
Phone: 718.258.7725
eMail: jry@jrydevelopment.com

 


The Rewards of Fostering Ethical, Civil E-Discourse

a guest article by Diane Howard, Ph.D.

 

If we as e-communicators participate ethically and civilly in the virtual dimension of the World Wide Web, we can communicate effectively, collaborate viably, and produce great good in our world. The WWW has created a universal dimension where our minds and souls can freely and powerfully share, connect, and bond. Cyberspace scholar, Pierre Levy (1998), describes it as a deterritorialized world in which there is more of a sense of a global collective we who work, communicate, experience collectively in virtual communities, virtual corporations, and virtual democracies. Virtual technologies, while detaching communication from a particular time and place, can transmit a real, albeit not visceral, quasi-presence, which multiple people in various locations can collectively receive. The contemporary world of the Internet is more than simply an information highway (Levy, 1998). It is a unique dimension, which affects almost every area of many of our lives, in which we must use appropriate techniques to effectively collaborate, instruct, facilitate, and cooperate. We must utilize appropriate new skills to foster civil and productive relationships and communities in Cyberspace. We need to think through and articulate ethical guidelines for cyber collaboration and communication in order that we might foster the most productive civil cyber discourse and global contributions.

Professor Edna Aphek (2001), who lives in Jerusalem, Israel, is a living example of the potential power of Cyberspace to promote understanding, reconciliation, and civility in explosive parts of the world. She has experienced dreams come true in virtual, multicultural, learning communities in her region. She states, "It started somewhere out there, in the Cyberspace where no prejudice and hostility reign." Israel is a multicultural country made up of different ethnic groups who have separate cultures, languages and religions. There isn't much contact between some of the peoples, especially between Jews and Arabs, who comprise about 1/6th of Israel's total population. Online computer technology has endowed Professor Aphek and her associates with tools and possibilities for ongoing, multi-cultural, and multi-age communication between different groups. The technologies have no stigma and no prejudice attached to them. They make possible neutral, less biased communication between groups. Professor Aphek has witnessed Israeli and Arab youths learning together without hostility in the virtual worlds. The interactions of these young people have fostered meaningful, bonded relationships that have extended into their real worlds. Professor Aphek viably used Cyberspace to reach out, to connect, and to promote understanding among diverse groups.


Levy (1998) suggests that participants in virtual communities can add to collective intelligence.

In Cyberspace…each of us is a potential transmitter and receiver in a space that is
qualitatively differentiated, nonstatic, constructed by its participants, and explorable.
Here… no longer encounter people exclusively by their name, geographical location,
or social rank, but in the context of centers of interest, within a shared landscape of
meaning and knowledge…Cyberspace provides large and geographically dispersed
groups with instruments for cooperatively constructing a shared
context…communication now involves participants in a form of interaction…This
dynamic…collective context serves as an agent of collective intelligence, a kind of
living bond…Cyberspace promotes connections…


Best-selling author, Howard Rheingold (2000), argues that virtual communities have the potential to empower ordinary citizens at a relatively small cost. He suggests that Cyberspace can provide lay citizens, as well as professionals, with leverage and power that is intellectual, social, commercial, and political. He further insists that civil and informed people must understand the leverage cyber technology provides. They must learn to use it wisely and constructively, as it can not fulfill its positive potential by itself. We must appreciate, respect, nurture, and foster positive and meaningful relationships in our visceral and virtual lives. We must learn to empower each other and to create constructive communities, which wisely and ethically use their leverage and power.

We can start by working at positive communication in our cyber communities. We can show respect for each other by observing and using netiquette in our e-groups and e-organizations. E-community members, who respect others in e-group, will participate in some of the following ways. They will take time to "listen" to an e-community's postings before sending a message and seek information from the group before contributing. Respectful e-participants will encourage communal and reciprocal discussions. They will avoid dumping ideas, premature judging, and/or flaming (posting hostile or negative messages or responses). They will paraphrase or repeat ideas or words of others before responding. Communicating support for others, they will give appropriate praise and comfort. In negotiating and collaborating, they will contribute and receive. They will acknowledge others' ideas, which are the others' intellectual property. They will debate ideas with respect. They will be honest, truthful, and will guard again naively forwarding erroneous and deceptive information. They will seek to ascertain and share truthful facts in forwarded materials.

Such e-community conduct and netiquette can facilitate civil and clear communication that will lead to productive and constructive discourse and accomplishments. By ethically respecting other e-community members enough to listen, support, assist, facilitate, encourage, and provide constructive feedback, we can empower each other and the organization to promote and produce powerful good in our visceral and virtual worlds.

In their book Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace: Effective Strategies for the Online Classroom, Palloff and Pratt (1999) suggest behaviors that facilitate developing effective e-communities. These are honesty, responsiveness, relevance, respect, openness, and empowerment. Just as we must appreciate, respect, and nurture face-to-face relationships and communication, we must do the same in Cyberspace. We need to conduct ourselves in civil and constructive ways to encourage satisfying, meaningful, and productive personal and professional visceral and virtual relationships.

In summary, we can encourage communal, civil, and reciprocal discussions when we do the some of the following:

  • Use friendly appropriate greetings.
  • Avoid contributing our ideas prematurely.
  • Use third or first person.
  • Avoid "you" messages.
  • Respectfully acknowledge others and their ideas.
  • Use descriptive words to clarify thoughts and feelings to compensate for the lack of visual and auditory clues.
  • Avoid "flaming" (posting hostile or negative messages or responses).
  • Avoid attacking another person or their ideas.
  • Think about how others may respond to messages before sending them.
  • Paraphrase or repeat ideas or words of others before responding.
  • Communicate support and care for others.
  • Give appropriate praise.
  • Use respectful, congenial closings.

References

Aphek, E. (2001) < Aphekdr@netvision.net.il> (2001, January). Kamrat :The story of a Virtual multicultural learning community in Israel. < tripathi@amadeus.statistik.uni-dortmund.de> (2001, January).

Palloff, R, Pratt, K. (1999) Building learning communities in Cyberspace. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Levy, P. (1998). Becoming virtual: Reality in the digital age. (R.B. Bononno, Trans.) New York: Plenum Publishing.

Rheingold, H. (2000) The virtual community: Homesteading on the electronic frontier. Cambridge: MIT Press.


The WAOE Annual Members' Meeting (AMM2003) started on June 27th and ended July 11th. A quorum was reached to vote on amending our Bylaws to add a sixth WAOE Director, a computer specialist as Chief Technical Officer (CTO). The Treasurer and President will also serve again, with my term continuing from 1998 to 2005. This is not because I know the most about online education. Functioning mostly in my second language on an outer island of Japan, without the best computer
facilities or training, I am just very keen on having a window to the world of online education expertise through WAOE. It sustains my enthusiasm that other educators around the world are well served by WAOE, a community of practice realizing visions with the unprecedented speed of an Internet-based organization.

The current AMM2003 discussion topics reflect WAOE's mission: expanding member-to-member networking services, the Online Educator Development Committee's online teacher education courses, reviving the concept of Online
Course and Resource Evaluation Workgroups (O-CREWs), linguistic/culturalchapters and discussion groups, starting a special interest group for foreign language teaching online, and developing a Code of Ethics for Distance Education. Further projects have been proposed at the meeting, including O-CREWs for African Health and Mentoring/Informal Learning, a course on the Foundations of Distance Education, and other ways WAOE could serve international society. For details please review the archives of waoe-views discussions for June-July 2003.

Some of WAOE's original objectives and purposes in the Bylaws have been cited inside and outside of WAOE. The guiding light is there, activated by the sharing of expertise among members, so let us keep advancing new projects while
sustaining ongoing ones. Especially the many new members may benefit from studying the above links, the AMM2003 documents, WAOE's main pages, and the organizational page for those interested in volunteering their efforts for the professional development of online educators through WAOE.

The archives for each site can be accessed from the Communications section of the WAOE site. Or you may directly bookmark the following archives.


Troubleshooting the WAOE Website, Discussion Boards, and List-Servs

Because WAOE is a virtual organization, members are dependent on using their computer to see information and participate in all aspects of this organization. In this section the Webmaster will answer questions about the WAOE site or discuss common problems that members may experience. With the large variety of software and hardware used today, most often the problem is resolved with a configuration change. Send your questions to Maggie Lynch. She will try to answer you within two days to immediately resolve your problem. If your question is a common one, she may then use your question (anonymously) in this column so that other members can benefit as well.

Q. Is there a "daily digest" available for the VIEWS list. And how to I put a "vacation hold" on messages if I am going to be gone for some period of time?

A. Yes, the VIEWS list does have a daily digest. This means you will receive only ONE email each day in which all the messages from that day are contained. You can then scan the email for those topics that are of interest to you, instead of having to read and evaluate all the emails that come to your inbox.

If you wish to only be part of the digest list, you need to do the following two steps:

  1. Unsubscribe from the regular VIEWS list.
  2. Subscribe to the VIEWS-DIGEST list.

If you click on the links above, it will generate an email. Do not enter any information. Simply click on SEND. If you still have a problem unsubscribing to VIEWS or getting added to the DIGEST list, contact Sam Eneman, our list maintenance man extraordinaire.

Q. I reviewed my membership information in the "members-only" section and want to change some of it or add additional information. How do I do this?

A. We have not yet created the program that allows immediate update of the database. However, you can send an email to the webmaster with the new information and she will make the changes within about seven days. We hope to have automatic member update forms sometime in the Fall.

Q. Sometimes I send an email to another member then get back a message that it cannot be delivered to certain individuals, yet I know that the address is correct as it worked last week. Why does this happen?.

A. There are two possibilities as to why this happens. The first is that mail servers may not always be working. This is particularly true in rural areas of the U.S. and in countries where the electronic infrastructure is not stable. The only solution is to try again. Sometimes you will receive a "host unknown" response when the server is down. If you know it is an accurate email, wait a week and try again.

The second reason your email may not be delivered is that many of our members have free email accounts through providers like Yahoo or Hotmail. These accounts have strict limits as to the number and size of emails they will maintain on the server. Once that limit is reached, all additional emails will be returned to the sender. There is nothing you can do except to wait until the member downloads their email. This may take several weeks depending on their schedule.

There are three types of error messages you might receive from a full mailbox: "mailbox full" or "user unknown" or "undeliverable." The error message is dependent on the type of webmail program the institution uses. This mailbox full phenomenon has been especially prevalent during the last few weeks as members received many emails from the VIEWS discussion list during the Annual Member's Meeting. You might try resending your important emails again to check if they have cleared their mailbox.