Virtual School Meanderings

March 4, 2013 e-Newsletter – 3/4/13

From this morning’s inbox…

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Planning and Managing Distance Education Systems: Hardware Systems

Dr. Farhad (Fred) Saba
Founder and Editor,

In the past 30 years, particularly since the analog to digital revolution in media communications took roots in the 1980s, information technology has had a transformational impact on academic research, teaching, learning and administering in universities. The strategic question at this Systems Level is: For what purpose this hardware technology is going to be employed? DeMillo (2012) warned administrators who made heavy investment in information technologies in order to distinguish their institutions from others in the current transformation of the higher education landscape. He asserted that deployment of information technology in support of the classroom instruction is doomed to fail, if strategic changes do not take place to make investment in hardware systems yield desired results.


A Study of Mobile Learning Trends at the U.S. Naval Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School

  • To plan for future mobile learning two military educational schools conducted a study of current mobile device ownership and use by their students.
  • Survey results show that a majority of students say they would use mobile learning if it were available, with a higher fraction of students interested in mobile learning the younger the student body, which suggests demand for mobile learning will continue to grow in the future.
  • The results seem to align with general higher education institutions, with younger students showing increasing use of mobile devices and interest in accessing online learning materials.
  • Besides e-mail and web browsing on their mobile devices, students want to be able to access course management systems; sync course calendars across their devices; access course reading materials; and use mobile applications that support class work and provide remote access to class lectures.


Bridging the Gap Using Access Grid Video Collaboration Technology: A Case Study in Music Performance Education across Two Continents

  • Researchers employed a mixed-methods design of inquiry involving survey designs and phenomenological methods research techniques to determine the Access Grid’s effectiveness for remote music performance education and to assess the students’ impression of this videoconferencing system.
  • The configuration method and setup for this delivery were complex, involving a cyclic process of refinement by researcher observations and discussions with the student performers and the teacher after each class.
  • Student responses indicate that despite the technical complexities of configuring the equipment for music performance, the Access Grid provided a learning experience comparable to that of a typical classroom environment and in some respects superior


Student Satisfaction with Blended and Online Courses Based on Personality Type

The purpose of the study was to investigate differences in perceived student satisfaction in blended and online learning environments based on personality type. A total of 72 graduate students enrolled in blended and online courses at two research universities in the United States completed an abbreviated online version of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI®) and an online student satisfaction questionnaire. Overall, results indicate participants were satisfied with courses delivered in both environments. Analyses revealed several significant differences in perceived student satisfaction with certain elements in blended and online courses based on personality type.

Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology

What educators should know about teaching digital storytelling

In this paper, the authors present some of the most important lessons they have learned from teaching courses, conducting workshops, writing articles, and supervising graduate student research on the educational uses of digital storytelling. The guidelines described here are categorized within the ADDIE instructional design framework and are presented as starting points that educators should consider when they begin to integrate digital storytelling in their classrooms. The guidelines provide useful information that will help educators teach students all phases of the digital storytelling process, including analysis, design, development, implementation and evaluation of digital storytelling projects that focus on educationally meaningful topics.

Digital Education Review

‘As a student, I do think that the learning effectiveness of electronic portfolios depends, to quite a large extent, on the attitude of students!’

Lynch and Purnawarman (2004:50) point out that ‘a solid electronic portfolio can show reflection, evolution of thought and overall professional development’. Research shows that electronic portfolio assessment, if implemented thoughtfully, can successfully engage learners in critical thinking and problem solving, promote lifelong education, encourage self evaluation and allow learners to have a higher degree of control over the learning process (Pierson and Kumari, 2000; Mason, Pegler, and Weller, 2004). Given the value of electronic portfolios, there has been growing interest in using electronic portfolio assessment to support teacher education (Lynch and Purnawarman, 2004). In this paper, we discuss on-going efforts at the University of Hong Kong to design assessment tasks for a language awareness course entitled ‘Pedagogical Content Knowledge’. The final-year student teachers taking the course are required to compile an electronic portfolio based on their reflections on the relevance and applicability of the issues relating to dealing with the content of learning in pedagogical practice discussed in the course. This paper sets out to describe and analyze issues relating to the design and implementation of the assessment, focusing specifically on the challenges that the research team faces. In our paper, we draw on a range of data, including student teachers’ feedback on the assessment and in-depth reflections of two student teachers after the assessment to critically evaluate the extent to which the assessment has achieved the intended learning outcomes. The reflective study shows that apart from technical support, methodological and psychological preparation designed to help students to take on a more active role in the learning and assessment process are also needed to help students to perform effectively in the computer-supported assessment. Implications are drawn for those who plan to conduct electronic portfolio assessment in higher education.

The Electronic Journal of e-Learning

An Open, Online Class to Prepare Faculty to Teach Online

Professional development opportunities are too limited for faculty who are learning to teach online. Preparation is typically provided in the form of technology training, with little focus on the pedagogy of teaching over the web. In addition, most professional development programs offer their workshops on campus instead of providing an opportunity for faculty to be learners online. The Program for Online Teaching Certificate Class created a possible model for better preparation with a free, open, year-long online class focused on pedagogy and tool choice, with participants engaged in active reflection as part of a community. Participants in the 2011-12 class were surveyed regarding several objectives, including whether their learning goals were achieved within the framework of the class. Participants, including 16 who earned a certificate through full participation, overwhelmingly indicated the achievement of their personal learning goals, satisfaction with the community developed within the class, and increased confidence in their ability to build online classes around their pedagogy rather than being led by the technology tools. The results of the study indicate that an open, online class may be an effective model for faculty development in online teaching.

Journal of Educators Online

From the development of online resources to their local appropriation: a case study

Sharing resources questions the capacity of different institutions to collaborate in a meaningful way. Different steps in the sharing process are to be taken into account as we contend that teaching resources, despite their intrinsic qualities, can remain unexploited otherwise. The present contribution proposes to study both the development of online resources, the challenges that are posed once the created resources are meant to be used by partner institutions, and the ways they can be integrated into the local contexts, It aims at understanding the process involved in an online learning environment designed for the learning of English, originally created for a specific local audience, and ultimately replicated in several universities. We will distinguish phases to be respected for a successful sharing experience, during the development and appropriation phases, in order to favour the dissemination of innovation in a university context.

Journal of e-Learning and Knowledge Society


Raising the Bar: How Education Innovation Can Improve Student Achievement

On Thursday, February 14, 2013 in a hearing of the Subcommittee on Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education innovators including:

  • John Bailey, Executive Director, Digital Learning Now
  • Preston Smith, CEO and President, Rocketship Education
  • Holly Sagues, Chief Policy Officer, Florida Virtual School presented a comprehensive view of changes that are redefining education in the 21st century in their testimonies.

They were followed by Jim Shelton, Assistant Deputy Secretary for Innovation and Improvement, US Department of Education.

You can either watch the entire archived Webcast of the hearing or read the text of each testimony in the hearing.

Policies in the United States and Europe are shaping up to provide open access to research results that are generated by billions of dollars of public funds each year. According to University World News in a story titled Open Access Publishing Takes a Step Forward “The European Union (EU) appears ready in principle to endorse the European Commission’s proposals for developing open access to scientific information arising from publicly funded research. But officials say there is some way to go before a detailed system can be agreed.” Also Inside Higher Education reported a Big Push for Open Access, stating that: “New taxpayer-funded research must be made available to the public free of charge within a year of its publication, the Obama administration said Friday.”

Farhad (Fred) Saba, Ph. D.
Founder and Editor

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