I attended the Sloan-C Conference on Online Learning last week and three themes surfaced as I attended sessions and talked with other participants:
Part 2: Speed
The opening session with Frank Mayadas started this theme in motion. He stated that those of us involved in the development and delivery of online learning are moving at a frenetic pace and achieving success. That is in spite of the fact that words like “speed and agility are rarely used to describe higher education.”
How fast can we go? How fast should we go?
The concurrent sessions covered issues related to technology and how it allows us to manipulate data at a faster pace that we would ever be able to do on our own. These technologies have the potential to impact how learning takes place and how networked learning changes the way we design and deliver formal courses. It occurred to me that while technology can make our work easier, it also adds to our to-do lists.
The closing session with Stephen Laster included this statement: “What I did yesterday isn’t good enough for tomorrow.” The speed at which we must move to keep up with the need seems a little daunting. Keeping up with not only what is new, but what is also useful will be a constant challenge as we move forward in the fields of instructional design and instructional technology.
How do we balance careful decision-making and development of effective online courses as our budgets, bottom lines, and student demands push us forward?
photo credit: Amnemona, Flickr
I was inspired by Jane Hart to create my own list of “Top 10 Tools for Learning 2009”. Of course, when I started to write them out there were more than ten… so, for brevity’s sake, this list is from the perspective of the designer, developer, manager of online learning. These are the tools that I have turned to throughout the year to get the work done, and more importantly, to collaborate with others to get the work done. These tools also provide me with learning opportunities making me better at what I do.
- Google Apps – Particularly the Calendar and Documents, Spreadsheets to track dates and involve multiple people in the creation and review of content.
- Twitter/TweetDeck – I was reluctant to join in, but have been amazed at the amount of information, access to leaders in the field, and potential for professional development.
- Skype – Key for conference calls and instant messaging within workgroups. Highly recommend the Skype Number service .
- Firefox – You need a gateway to the Internet for all of this work and my personal preference is Firefox.
- Basecamp – Allows team members to post and reply to internal messages, work on asynchronous whiteboards, maintain version control of documents…
- Dimdim – The features of a synchronous system are not always required, but can’t be beat for walking someone through a product online. Elluminate and Adobe Connect also offer free accounts, but Dimdim works well and can ‘seat’ up to 20 in the free version.
- SurveyMonkey – Getting feedback from multiple parties, in an asynchronous manner, that provides easy to assess responses – an online survey tool can be very helpful. SurveyMonkey offers a free account that will serve the purpose of most development teams, but Google Forms is another nice option here.
- VoiceThread – This can be a great tool for students to present their projects, etc. in an online class, but I have also used it to demo course projects to other development team members when we are all in different locations.
- WordPress – I have found writing my own blog to be a learning process and that has led me to read others’ blogs as well. WordPress offers a super simple way to start a blog that looks great, with the potential to tweak and customize for those with more skills.
- Learning Management Systems – Maybe my 2010 list won’t include this, but it’s still a factor in my current course development efforts. I’ve used Sakai, Blackboard, e-College, and dabbled in WebCT and Moodle. The features are similar and provide a framework for delivering a formal course. WordPress has a lot of similar features as well.