INVITATION TO WAOE MEMBERS TO DEVELOP A LEARNING TECHNOLOGY PROJECT
Would you like help to develop a project to do with learning or teaching in an online environment? When you submit a proposal, WAOE will convene a voluntary project team to help support you in your development idea. This is free of charge and we undertake to try and find the most appropriate experienced team members for your project as part of a service to members. Would you like to propose a project? Here's what you should do.
WHAT DO YOU DO FIRST?
THEN WHAT HAPPENS?
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Phase 1: Team Construction Phase
Phase 2: Implementation Phase
Phase 3: Closing Review Phase
If you have not already submitted a proposal then the next step is to send a blank email to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive an automatic reply.
If you have received and submitted a proposal we will contact you shortly with details of your project discussion and development area and any account details required.
WHAT GUARANTEES WILL I HAVE?
We can only guarantee that we have your needs at heart and a desire to
help. We are a voluntary organisation that makes no charges for this service.
We hope to learn as much as you through these projects. We cannot guarantee
that we will be able to deliver any or all of what you want. We do however
voluntarily undertake to do our best and ask that
We look forward to hearing from you in due course with your submitted
"Give me enough parallel data, and you can have a translation system for any two languages in a matter of hours," said Och, a specialst at the USC School of Engineering's Information Sciences Institute.
Och's method uses such matched bilingual texts, the computer-encoded equivalents of the famous Rosetta Stone inscriptionsgigabytes of Rosetta Stones.
"Our approach uses statistical models to find the most likely translation for a given input," Och explained.
For more information about this system, go to the USC School of Engineering News and Events.
"Demystifying the digital divide"
by Mark Warschauer, Scientific American August 2003
University of California Irvine School of Information and Computer Science / School of Education professor Mark Warschauer holds that the "have"-v.-"have not" split is dishonest, if not treacherous, that separates twenty-first-century societies according to computer/Internet access or lack of it. That is, although it is clear that disparities exist separating rich, white folks (generally more on the "have" side) from poor, black ones (generally more "have not", especially in Africa) according to high-tech access, these discrepancies mirror social and economic inequities. Thus, it is simplistic to believe that socioeconomic solutions will devolve from increased availability of machines.
In fact, the tendency to arrive at "quick fixes" to complex problems is what Warschauer is warning against in his article, which summarizes efforts he has witnessed in places as diverse as China, Egypt, and India, as well as within the United States, to bring about a process of global socioeconomic inclusion through computer access. Warschauer notes that politically motivated moves to put computers in the small-town libraries of America and magnanimous endeavors to educate poor children in India at hole-in-the-wall computer kiosks have amounted to costly near-failures. Indeed, supplying machines in an area where people need work and housing, not to mention training in computer use, is a venture bound to disappoint. Calling the American quick-fixes a technologically deterministic "fire model" of social repair, in which "a computer, by its mere presence, will generate learning or development, just as a fire generates warmth", Warschauer notes that "failures occur when people attempt to address complex social problems with a narrow focus on provision of equipment."
Warschauer suggests a socioculturally aware, economically sensitive "social informatics" bridging of the digital divide. Given that people have "disparate reasons for wanting the level of computer access they desire", and given that computer skills cannot be assumed to be present in every society, it is "The combination of carefully planned infusions of technology with relevant content, improved education, and enhanced social support (training and counseling) " that will multiply a society's assets. Warschauer rightly notes that "The opposite of 'divide' is 'multiply'", pointing out that it is unfair to those who pay for it and to those who are supposed to profit from it to dump equipment in a place where it is not supported by technological, educational, and socioeconomic foundations.
It might be (foot)noted that the World Computer Exchange is one of a
small group of organizations essaying to offer to poor communities computers
with a purpose; these machines are to be supported by technological training,
hardware and software support, and follow-up assistance. The Exchange
would trade an inaccessible info superhighway for a two-way street uniting
the "haves" and the "have nots".
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.
I attended a technology conference recently and was able to see and play with a new product from the inventor of WebCT, Murray Goldberg. I was very impressed with the product conceptually. It seems to provide an ideal blending of valuable face-to-face instructional approaches with new technologies that greatly enhance the learning experience both for the classroom-based and distance student. The best part is the pricing structure which allows you to purchase only a few or thousands of licenses without too much pain. Silicon Chalk has established a pricing policy of a small annual fee for each student's and faculty's annual license. The current licensing structure charges approximately $15 per year per user for a full license. The pricing goes down as you add more users. You can purchase the license on a per class basis, as well as per department or institution wide. This type of small fee can easily be made a part of student fees in most institutions.
Silicon Chalk supports collaboration, communication, exercises, note taking and presentation in face to face classes where some or all students have laptops, desktops or tablet computers. It allows distance students to participate and creates a fully interactive recording of every learning activity for later learning, review, refinement and asynchronous participation. In addition, there are a number of feedback features that give the instructor important information.
For the professor, the ability to obtain real-time feedback on student comprehension of the ideas being presented, pace of the presentation, and evaluation of student note taking, both during the lecture and afterward, is critical to making adjustments that improve the presentation. In addition, the ability of the instructor to direct multimedia-based presentations to student laptops greatly enhances their instructional value and helps students to focus directly on the presentation without worry about where they are sitting in the room or how clearly they can see the important elements.
For the student, the shared experience both inside and outside of the classroom helps to unify the class, build community, and provide an excellent resource for study. During the class, students capture classroom events with a laptop computer, adding their own notes both during and after class as they relate to specific presentations (e.g., Instructor's PowerPoint, video, or overhead notes) to be reviewed and added to after class. Most of all these tools allow students to be engaged without being exacting note takers and to provide immediate feedback regarding their difficulty understanding concepts and to ask meaningful questions and get answers without disturbing the flow of the class or feeling singled out.
The company does encourage you to download a free
trial for up to 4 months. If you have an environment where more than
1/3 of your students have access to laptops and use them in class, this
may be a product that is worth your review.
The easiest way to become a mentoring volunteer is to subscribe to the WAOE teampool list. Click on the link and it will automatically open an email window for you to subscribe. You don't need to fill anything out. Just click on Send. Once you have subscribed, send an introduction of yourself, your background and skills, and specific interests to email@example.com.
Online learning is increasing in momentum around the world. International online learning communities and collaborative groups are developing around the globe. According to a special report, Online Education: What the Future Holds, the majority of Canadians have demonstrated interest in online learning (Ipsos-Reid, 2002). The European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training reported the results of its survey in E-learning and training in Europe. The survey revealed marked growth in distance education(Cedefop, 2001). The U.S. federal government is turning to the World Wide Web to train its 1.9 million employees, to save money, improve productivity, and enhance the attractiveness of government services. This distance training includes a new Web-based training site which uses 3-D graphics to direct employees to 30 online courses that cover topics related to computers, management, customer service and ethics. This online educational effort is part of a broader e-government initiative to improve governmental efficiency and cost-effectiveness (Thibodeau, 2002). Today only about 16% of full-time students on American college campuses are between 18-22 years of age and are traditional residential students (60 Minutes, 2001).
To reach non-traditional students and to meet their educational needs around the world, more colleges are turning to distance education. Current instructional technology can potentially provide effective learner-centered, personalized education for non-traditional, non-residential students around the globe. As students and faculty move from traditional, on-site learning and teaching, they must learn to make the necessary adjustments.
Palloff & Pratt (1999) focus on online community in e-learning. They conclude from their studies that anonymity and perceived safety of distance communication allow participants in their research projects to experience intimacy and trust. Being able to take the necessary time to make thoughtful responses, participants are able to contribute substantively in online discussions. Palloff and Pratt find that participation of the instructor as a facilitator and equal member of the e-learning community is a significant factor.
In effective online teaching and learning, the instructor does not impart knowledge in a unidirectional way as an expert. Effective e-learning is not passive. Time and space do not confine online teaching and e-learning. Interactions and collaborations between students and instructors facilitate effective online learning. The sense of community is especially significant in effective distance education. Class participation in e-learning is important. Students verify their active engagement in the learning process by posting their thoughts and responses. Students posted contributions of critical thoughts and responses are more important than memorization and regurgitation of facts to an instructor.
Today with electronic bulletin boards, discussion boards, e-mail discussion groups, or chat areas, online learning can be interactive. Web sites can provide various interactive teaching and learning solutions and resources. Picciano (2002) reviews the research literature on Web-based learning and contends that it supports the position that the success of online courses frequently depends upon the nature of interactions. It is common, therefore, for online instructors to encourage or even require a certain amount of participation in various forms of interactive e-activities. Both students and faculty frequently report that increased satisfaction in online courses depends on the quality and quantity of interactions. Shea, Fredericksen, Pickett, Pelz, and Swan (2002) report the following about the relationship of online satisfaction, interaction, and performance from a survey of 3,800 students enrolled in 264 courses through the SUNY Learning Network (SLN).
Developers of the California Distance Learning Project (1997) contend that research indicates that students who are most interested in distance education have common characteristics. These qualities are independence in pursuit of continuing education, motivation, high expectations, self-discipline, older age than average students, and a serious attitude toward learning (Palloff & Pratt, 1999). Especially for such active students, online instructors need to function more as facilitators or moderators than as traditional teachers. Collison et al (2000) argue that online teaching requires "moderators," rather than "teachers" in the classic sense. They assert that this is necessary, if student learning is to be active, "authentic," and more than passive memorization and reciting of information using high-tech equipment. They determine that an online teacher, a moderator, needs to act more like "a guide on the side" instead of a "sage on the stage." These characterizations have become cliches in the rhetoric non-teacher-centered, pedagogies. However, in online teaching the practical and theoretical implications of being a "guide on the side" are especially critical.
Receiving effective facilitation in online learning may be especially significant for students who are introverted and lacking in confidence. Palloff and Pratt (1999) are convinced that online education can draw out students, who might seem unmotivated in on-site classrooms because they are quiet and easily intimidated in face-to-face situations by more extroverted classmates or instructors. Effective facilitation can enhance a sense of inclusion for online students who are socially or geographically isolated.
However, facilitation is a challenge for many teachers. College instructors and professors often have special difficulty adjusting to the roles of facilitators rather than lecturers or unidirectional teachers. Distance educators must make the effort to adjust, however, as online and distance learning is more about process and discovery than memorizing and repeating content. Medical people, counselors, therapists, and social workers often do better in learning this new mode of facilitative instruction. They are more used to listening and then making sense of what they hear. It is easier, in general, for them to get their own personae out of the way. Effective online and distance facilitation of learning is generally more informal than teaching in face-to-face, on-site classes. However, it takes effort to move from the formal to the informal, when instructors are not physically together with their students.
In teaching online, a moderator's postings are "interventions," not "contributions." The "interventions" don't assert authority as much as they prod learning and discussions to go deeper. As the students and moderator interact, inquiry is at the center of the learning process, not information from the teacher or another authority. The moderator is not at the center of e-learning; the learning always is. Teachers who use their skills as conceptual moderators enrich the learning. Online learning is collaborative learning. If students are working on a common project or are participating in a common thread in a discussion, which creates a kind of conversation about a topic, they can experience a sense of participation and collaboration. Instructors, as educational facilitators, must encourage dialogue as inquiry. They must use inductive, expansive questioning to facilitate success in online courses. An effective online learning process is interactive among students, peers, instructors, technologies, and content.
In their book, Building Learning Communities in Cyberspace: Effective Strategies for the Online Classroom, Palloff and Pratt (1999) encourage facilitators to promote honesty, responsiveness, relevance, respect, openness, and empowerment to produce effective e-learning communities. When using threaded discussion forums with an active bulletin board and e-mail dialogue with their students, instructors of online courses have opportunities to gain greater knowledge of their pupils than in face-to-face classes alone. Further, online students often experience more open, honest, vulnerable, transparent, and supportive group relationships and collegiality with other students than they do in on-site, face-to-face classes..
Dr. Lynn Schrum (2002) recommends the following online requirements:students posted biographies, frequent interactions, collaborations, and responses to question-asking forums. Her recommendations for online teaching strategies further include requiring active participation, topical flexibility, and minimal technology requirements. Online course Web sites should include syllabi pages with course goals, objectives, requirements, procedures, policies, schedules, required materials, and contact information. They can provide pages for announcements, resources, links, message boards, student pages, digital drop boxes for papers, and grade book spreadsheets. Class size in most online courses should be small with approximately fifteen students or less. Classes should be divided into small working groups of three to five.
Goals of online teaching should include facilitating higher-level, thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis, and evaluation. In order to evaluate online learning, as to whether or not higher-level thinking skills are being used and transformative learning is taking place, the facilitator might ask the following questions of a student's work.
Ongoing management of technology and online classes must also be addressed as instructors adjust to cyber-teaching. Students and instructors critically need initial training and ongoing technical support in terms of human assistance and appropriate software. Mentors can be provided to faculty for ongoing class support. Finally, instructors and students need to accept the fact that they will face technical challenges and will have questions that will need clarifications from time to time.
Today there is great debate concerning the effectiveness of distance education. Often this divide is based on opinion and limited experience, evidence, and research. Frequently educators, communicators, and presenters with limited experience in the use of distance technology resist it and argue that it depersonalizes, dehumanizes, and isolates. They argue that on site, face-to-face education, communication, and presentation are more powerful because they are more personal. Dutton, Dutton, and Perry present their research that compares online and traditional lecture formats. They contend that, on average, students perform at least as well in classes with an online component, as students in traditional, face-to-face formats (Dutton et al, 2002). Educators, communicators, and presenters with more experience in using distance technology often contend that distance students, in general, can perform as well as on-site students. Furthermore, they argue that distance education can enhance education, communication, presentation, and socialization in qualitatively unique and personal ways.
For those educators who resist distance education in its various forms, the real issues may be less about education and more about resisting change or resisting reaching out beyond their comfortable local regions. Resisting distance education in a variety of modes may also be more about fear of loss of territory, control, influence, power, and/or the right to function as the primary or sole mediator, arbitrator, or expert, than about education. Distance teaching involves a loss of traditional control. If it is to be effective, teachers must function more as facilitators or moderators, than as lecturers, for example.
Being willing to make adjustments and changes to utilize modern technologies in education can be extremely worthwhile. Distance education in various forms offers valuable new possibilities, vistas, and territories.
Here are some basic guidelines for effective educational online facilitation.
Cedefop (2001). E-Learning and Training in Europe. Retrieved August 11,
Collison, G. , Elbaum, B., Haavind, S ., Tinker, R. (2000) Facilitating online learning: Effective strategies for moderators. Madison: Atwood Publishing.
Dutton, J. et al. (2002) How do online students differ from lecture students? JALN, 6 (1). Retrieved August 11, 2002 from http://www.aln.org/alnweb/journal/Vol6_issue1/6_1dutton.htm
Ipsos-Reid (2002). Online education: what the future holds. The Net, 22. Retrieved August 11, 2002 from http://www.netn.org/net22.htm.
Palloff, R, Pratt, K. (1999) Building learning communities in Cyberspace. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Picciano, A. (2002). Beyond student perceptions: issues of interaction, presence, and performance in an online course. JALN, 6 (1), Retrieved August 11, 2002 from http://www.aln.org/alnweb/journal/Vol6_issue1/6_1picciano.htm.
Schrum, L. and Hong, S. (2002). Dimensions and strategies for online success: voices from experienced educators. JALN, 6 (1). Retrieved August 11, 2002 from http://www.aln.org/alnweb/journal/jaln-vol6issue1.htm#schrum .
Thibodeau, P. (2002). Feds Tout E-learning Site for Government Workers. The Net, 29. Retrieved August 11, 2002 from http://www.netn.org/net29.htm
How well have WAOE's original purposes stood the test of time? While
this writer draws a few observations in our sixth year, readers may be
the judge, and comment in WAOE communication
channels. Here are WAOE's 22
The primary objectives and purposes of this corporation shall be:
(a) to organize a worldwide professional association of educators who
use or wish to use online computer technology for education;
(i) to promote the deserved enhancement of the professional status of
online educators, technology specialists, and administrators who implement
online education responsibly in terms of pedagogical principles and humanistic
(s) reflecting the global potential of Internet technologies, to fill
the need for an organization of worldwide educators, one that is unencumbered
by geography, physical travel, paper publications and other material means
of production that must be subsidized by members;
Discussion. Considering that ethics are not only what we are up against
but also what we stand for, WAOE's purposes provide a foundation for our
efforts toward a code of ethics for education in the Internet Age. The
above purposes also seem broader than other formulations in expressing
a global perspective with intercultural sensitivity. An Indian presenter
Q. I'm confused about the various ways to communicate in WAOE. Would you please describe the differences between the listservs and the WebBoard?
A. WAOE uses several means for members to communicate. Some of them are password protected, and others are open to anyone on the Web. For example, VIEWS is an open discussion list for both WAOE members and non-members. Anyone can join by simply subscribing to the list. VIEWS is a listserv. This means it is a mail distribution list that automatically sends you an email anytime anyone posts a messages or responds to a message. Depending on the topic, you may get many emails in one day or very few.
WAOE has several other lists with this same architecture. There are individual lists for specific language groups (e.g., French, Turkish, Russian, Japanese) where WAOE members may converse in their native language. There are also lists for specific purposes that has limited membership, such as the WAOE Board, the Ring, or Teampool for the mentors. All of these lists are archived with search capabilities. So, if you are a member of that list you can also access the archives at any time. The Communication section of the WAOE site provides links to most of the lists.
Q. Several times during the past couple of months I've had problems accessing the WAOE site or an email address. What am I doing wrong?
A. There are several possibilities as to why this happens. The problem may lie with PSU's web server, it may lie with your computer or server processing, or with any number of routers between your computer and PSU. The best approach is to try several times and if it still doesn't work, to give up and try the next day.
Unfortunately Portland State University, who hosts the WAOE site, has also had two major power outages in the past 6 weeks that took the server down for two to three days each time. The last one also resulted in a file corruption problem that required a complete restore of backups. In addition, PSU has been one of hundreds of colleges that has suffered severe virus attacks. Most of these viruses did not corrupt files or impact WAOE information. However, they do take up server space and cycles as they replicate themselves thousands of times and send spurious emails to thousands of users.
The good news is that this happened during the summer months when the problems could be addressed and there were not as many students to re-spread the virus. We have now put some additional security into place and email quarantines that will make it more difficult for this to happen again. If you continue to have any problems please contact Maggie McVay Lynch.
Q. I don't have time to read all the VIEWS messages and they take up space in my inbox. Is there a way to get a digest version?
A. Yes! We are currently generating a once per day digest for VIEWS. This means that whether there are 50 messages or only three in a day you will only receive ONE email from views. This email will contain all of the messages from that day in a single file for you to scan and pick out what interests you. To subscribe to the digest, send an email to Sam Eneman, the list manager, and he will make sure that you are deleted from the regular VIEWS list and subscribed to the digest version.