rich list of collaboration environments potentially useful in DE and ISD projects
Twigg, C. A. (2003). Improving learning and reducing costs: New models for online learning. Educause review, 38(5). Retrieved March 9, 2005, from: http://www.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0352.pdf
Twigg provides a fascinating overview of the results of redesigning large enrollment courses at 30 different colleges and universities. The redesign projects were funded by a $200,000 grant to each institution from the Pew Charitable Trusts, and managed by the Center for Academic Transformation at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (http://www.center.rpi.edu/PewGrant.html).
At the time of writing, 20 of the 30 redesign projects resulted in significant improvements in student learning outcomes. Ten of the redesign projects resulted in no significant difference. All of the 30 projects resulted in cost savings to the institution ranging from 20% to 84%, with an average cost saving of 40%.
The courses redesigned spanned numerous disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, quantitative subjects, and natural sciences. According to the author, all 30 courses include 6 characteristics: Whole course redesign, active learning, computer-base resources, mastery learning, on-demand help, and alternate staffing. From the 30 courses redesigned, 5 distinct design models emerged: supplemental, replacement, emporium, fully-online, and buffet. The article reviews courses based upon each design model, demonstrating improved learning outcomes or cost savings resulting from the redesign.
Articles from the Educause Review are generally very informative and interesting, and this article continues that trend. Focusing on courses representing best examples from each design model, the author provides an informative overview of each course redesign. Each overview provides some “before and after” comparisons in terms of student performance and learning outcomes, or efficiencies and cost savings, all of which were statistically significant.
The overviews of courses employing the supplemental design model demonstrated very significant improvements in the areas of student attrition, and student performance. For example, the redesigned general psychology course at University of New Mexico maintained its existing lecture and class structure, but supplemented lectures and readings with a 2 CD set containing interactive activities, simulations, and movies. The redesigned course also employed 3 online mastery quizzes, which students were encouraged to take as many times as needed until they scored 100%. One of the significant outcomes of the course redesign was the reduction of student attrition from 42% to 18%.
The emporium, fully-online, and buffet models were commonly used for courses serving large numbers of students (1500+), generally requiring institutions to offer large number of sections each semester. Each redesigned course enabled the consolidation of numerous course sections into one section, managed by a few faculty, graduate teaching assistants, and other lower level assistants as needed. In many cases the number of faculty required to serve a given number of students was reduced significantly.
The examples of cost saving designs created a number of tensions in my thinking about course redesign:
Tension 1: Teaching and learning vs. Products and services The author takes a products and services view of courses, and minimizes the potential impact placing mentors and assistants between students and expert faculty. I agree that institutions must find ways to reduce costs and maintain quality. However, such fordist approaches further depersonalize the learning environment and process.
Tension 2: Software vs. human instructors The example course designed using the buffet model is an impressive example of programming. A sophisticated software application guides students through learning experiences, suggesting alternative learning strategies if student progress takes a downward turn. This is perhaps the most dehumanizing approach presented.
Tension 3: What should be standardized? The author suggests a transformation which standardizes faculty practice and individualizes the student learning experience. Some learning theories support individualized learning, but what might we lose if we standardize faculty practice? What is the baseline for such standardization? Some standardization is desirable in online learning environments. But, at what point does standardization of faculty practice for the sake of automation, alter the metrics of quality from humanized metrics to dehumanized metrics?
All of the examples in this article are impressive. However, I cannot help but wonder if automating the learning process on such a large scale doesn’t move us further away from the kind of learning that best prepares an individual to interact and collaborate in a dynamic society, and toward a preference for learning that isolates us from multiple perspectives.
(Links open in a new window)
Supplemental Design Model http://www.thencat.org/PlanRes/R2R_Model_Sup.htm
Replacement Design Model http://www.thencat.org/PlanRes/R2R_Model_Rep.htm
Emporium Design Model http://www.thencat.org/PlanRes/R2R_Model_Emp.htm
Fully Online Design Model http://www.thencat.org/PlanRes/R2R_Model_Online.htm
Buffet Design Model http://www.thencat.org/PlanRes/R2R_Model_Buffet.htm
Brown, A. R. & Voltz, B. D. (2005). Elements of effective e-learning design. International review of research in open and distance learning, 6(1). Retrieved March 9, 2005, from: http://www.irrodl.org/content/v6.1/brown_voltz.html
Voltz and Brown provide and overview of six elements they suggest are crucial for effective e-learning design. The six elements are: activity, scenario, feedback, delivery, context, and influence. The authors define e-learning as, “teaching and learning that are delivered, supported, and enhanced through the use of digital technologies and media,” (p. 2). From this perspective e-learning may encompass distance education, hybrid, and traditional class room instruction. The focus of the article is on the development of learning experiences that are appropriate to the audience, and are highly engaging, enabling students to achieve the intended learning outcomes.
According to the authors, the six elements should be part of the design phase of an e-learning project. Activity, refers to the degree the learner is involved in a learning activity. Learning is proportional to learner involvement. Scenario, refers to the importance of motivating and engaging the learner. A critical factor in the scenario element is authenticity, or a clear relationship to real-world contexts. Feedback describes the important role student-to-student, and teacher-to-student feedback plays in the learning process. Ideally, a well designed e-learning task will provide multiple channels for feedback both during, and after the completion of the learning task. Delivery refers to the tension e-learning designers experience in selecting and designing learning tasks that provide richness, and are highly engaging, without creating technical requirements which render the e-learning task accessible only to a few. Context describes the variety of sensitivities e-learning designers must have: cultural, ethical, ethnic, ecological, and pre-requisite learning. By considering these and other important factors, designers are able to design appropriate scaffolding, ensuring learners are able to achieve the intended outcomes. Influence speaks to the need of assessing the impact an e-learning task will have on learners, their learning community, and the environmental impact of its design and use. Generally, this element speaks to the psychological, ethical, and educational messages and values implicit in the design, as well as the proportion of learning compared to the development effort required.
The article provides helpful direction for e-learning design. However, I am somewhat puzzled in that most of the 6 elements represent a normal part of the instructional design process, which was never mentioned.
The article raises an interesting issue: What is the difference, if any, between e-learning tasks and learning objects? Typically, learning objects are thought of as reusable instructional objects, very similar to the e-learning tasks described in the article. Yet, no mention is made of learning objects.
While identifying some important issues to consider during the design phase of e-learning tasks, this article does not connect with existing standards for learning objects, or discuss in practical terms how the 6 elements ought to plug into a design methodology.