Innovation in ICT
(Information Communication Technologies)
Our objective in the Digital Learning in Global and Local Contexts course at Lamar University, was to examine the benefits of Information Communication Technologies (ICT) used in educational environments and the best approaches in which innovative ICT practices have been used for education in local and global contexts.
Our first task was to create a presentation that would serve as a call-to-action and would inform the viewer and promote my innovation plan. I chose to create a video with a voice-over narration that would share my supporting research of global literature and what I have learned with my colleagues and community. I addressed what works and what could be done better (i.e. the pluses and deltas) and how to apply the best aspects of Web 2.0 tools in online learning that are at the center of my innovation plan.
I then compiled a literature review of my supporting research to share what I have learned with my colleagues and community. This literature review of local and global trends provides support and evidence for my presentation, addresses the pluses, deltas and how to apply the lessons learned from research, while identifying possible gaps in the research and questions for future study.
Research involving surveys of thousands of undergraduate students and instructors in institutions in over a dozen countries has revealed perceptions and trends in online learning. Students have shown a strong interest in digital tools and find technology useful in learning, saying technology has helped them ask instructors questions, engage in the learning process and work with other students on class projects. Technology makes them feel connected to other students, their instructors and what is going on at their institution.
In terms of the LMS, students and instructors show a high level of satisfaction with operational tasks of their institutional learning management system. Students expressed satisfaction with submitting and accessing content, while faculty were satisfied with posting content and receiving assignments. Forming heterogeneous groups of student to collaborate through the LMS allows students to develop leadership qualities, generate innovative ideas, produce shared artifacts, and accomplish significant learning outcomes for the core competencies of the course.
Incorporating social networking and gamification features into the course whether via the LMS or through a parallel platform to the institutional LMS has been found to provide benefits to learning and engagement, due to enhanced communications, greater opportunities for networking and teamwork, faster and easier sharing of resources and information. Students collaborating in groups through these features find that this an enjoyable platform to exchange ideas, develop better understanding of concepts that are difficult to learn individually, build meaning from doubt, dissent, and criticism, and find opportunities for leadership roles within the group activity.
What could have been done better?
Students have shown a strong preference for hybrid learning to both face-to-face and online courses. This demonstrates that while students appreciate technology tools in learning, online learning it is still missing the aspects of social interaction, feedback, and collaboration that students value as part of their learning process. Faculty were skeptical about the effectiveness online learning the need for more collaboration tools, and both faculty and students wanted more open educational resources (OER).
Aside from email contact with faculty, synchronous and asynchronous forms of communication within the learning community tend to earn the lowest scores in surveys of student satisfaction with online learning. The vast majority of courses can be described as holistic or supplemental, featuring high amount of content, low interaction and one-way communication; a small minority can be described as social, featuring user interaction, with the vast majority of that consisting only of posting on discussion boards.
Discussion forums often do not have clear protocols for posting and reading from instructors, nor are topic selections and instructions clear and conducive to higher level thinking and finding meaning from the content. The instructors are typically not aware of the possibility of social disconnection from the asynchronous nature of the medium. A lack of read and post notifications from many LMS, and a lack of interactions from instructors results in students not receiving the immediate feedback necessary for thoughtful discussions.
Applying the lessons learned
On the issue of the lack of incorporation and appropriate use of Web 2.0 tools when integrating technology into learning, I did find it interesting that the literature I found was from all around the world; the ideas and issues we are discussing are definitely part of a larger global conversation. Educators around the world have realized that online learning is so much more than just "going paperless" and using the LMS as a repository for content and submissions; we have found that it truly can be used as a way to foster interaction and collaboration, innovate teaching, and further student success. This research and exposure to the experience of others in implementing innovation strategies will definitely be useful in helping me implement my own innovation plans and develop strategies for professional learning to help instructors grow as digital educators.
I evaluated an existing online course and redesigned it to incorporate Web 2.0 tools in an innovative way, based on my research. I have decided to implement and manage course delivery in an online environment with greater opportunities for long term student collaboration in heterogeneous groups with more synchronous communication between them and with the instructor. I have also decided to move beyond just discussion boards as the main form of interaction and collaboration between students. In the EDUC 1300 course, students will use designated collaboration area of the LMS to work on group projects and presentations on topics that are of interest to them, with their artifacts then shared with the rest of the class and the world through blogging and ePortfolios. The use of shared Google documents will allow students to share their own research and use peer review and ranking to collaboratively synthesize knowledge, allowing each of them to achieve a greater understanding than they could if they were working alone. I will incorporate live conferencing, Flipgrid and YouTube, which are synchronous and asynchronous video tools that allow for more visual interaction and feedback.
Aside from efforts to improve the student experience and learning , I see the need for the course instructors to be supported by a customized PL agenda that promotes their knowledge of and exposure to Web 2.0 tools. They will require system of mentoring, coaching, collaboration and feedback which will allow for a cycle of continuous improvement in professional learning and student outcomes, and will lead to further innovation in online teaching.