Virtual School Meanderings

October 15, 2013 e-Newsletter – 10/14/13

From yesterday’s inbox…  Just too busy to post until now…

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Book Review: The Handbook of Mobile Learning By Zane L. Berge, and Lin Y. Muilenburg

Reviewed by Dr. Farhad (Fred) Saba

One of the most promising and exciting technologies that has emerged in the last decade is mobile learning. With the ubiquity of wireless communication, smart phones and tablets mobile learning is no longer an experimental mode of education. Major educational institutions are committed to it throughout the world with profound theoretical and practical effects on them. This innovative use of wireless communication and mobile devices for learning has re-opened the discussion of the role of formal education in relation to self-directed informal learning when the opportunity to learn is constantly available in the palm of the hand of the learner.


Exploring Distributed Leadership for the Quality Management of Online Learning Environments

Online learning environments (OLEs) are complex information technology (IT) systems that intersect with many areas of university organisation. Distributed models of leadership have been proposed as appropriate for the good governance of OLEs. Based on theoretical and empirical research, a group of Australian universities proposed a framework for the quality management of OLEs, and sought to validate the model via a survey of Australasian university representatives with OLE leadership responsibility. For the framework elements: Planning and Resourcing were rated most important; Organisational structure was rated least important; Technologies were rated low in importance and high in satisfaction; Resourcing and Evaluation were rated low in satisfaction; and Resourcing had the highest rating of importance coupled with low satisfaction. Considering distributed leadership in their institution, respondents reported that the organisational alignments represented by ‘official’ reporting and peer relationships were significantly more important and more effective than the organisational alignments linking the formal and informal leaders. From a range of desirable characteristics of distributed leadership, ‘continuity and sustainability’ received the highest rating of importance and a low rating of ‘in evidence’ – there are concerns about the sustainability of distributed leadership for the governance of OLEs in universities.

The European Journal of Open, Distance and E-Learning

The Adoption of Open Educational Resources by One Community College Math Department

The high cost of textbooks is of concern not only to college students but also to society as a whole. Open textbooks promise the same educational benefits as traditional textbooks; however, their efficacy remains largely untested. We report on one community college’s adoption of a collection of open resources across five different mathematics classes. During the 2012 fall semester, 2,043 students in five different courses used these open access resources. We present a comparison between the previous two years in terms of the number of students who withdrew from the courses and the number that completed the courses with a C grade or better. Our analysis suggests that while there was likely no change in these educational outcomes, students who have access to open access materials collectively saved a significant amount of money. Students and faculty were surveyed as to their perceptions of these materials and the results were generally favorable.

International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

Making distance visible: Assembling nearness in an online distance learning programme

Online distance learners are in a particularly complex relationship with the educational institutions they belong to (Bayne, Gallagher, & Lamb, 2012). For part-time distance students, arrivals and departures can be multiple and invisible as students take courses, take breaks, move into independent study phases of a programme, find work or family commitments overtaking their study time, experience personal upheaval or loss, and find alignments between their professional and academic work. These comings and goings indicate a fluid and temporary assemblage of engagement, not a permanent or stable state of either “presence” or “distance”.

This paper draws from interview data from the “New Geographies of Learning” project, a research project exploring the notions of space and institution for the MSc in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh, and from literature on distance learning and online community. The concept of nearness emerged from the data analyzing the comings and goings of students on a fully online programme. It proposes that “nearness” to a distance programme is a temporary assemblage of people, circumstances, and technologies. This state is difficult to establish and impossible to sustain in an uninterrupted way over the long period of time that many are engaged in part-time study. Interruptions and subsequent returns should therefore be seen as normal in the practice of studying as an online distance learner, and teachers and institutions should work to help students developresilience in negotiating various states of nearness. Four strategies for increasing this resilience are proposed: recognising nearness as effortful; identifying affinities; valuing perspective shifts; and designing openings.

International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning

Quality Assurance in Large Scale Online Course Production

The course design and development process (often referred to here as the “production process”) at ERAU-Worldwide aims to produce turnkey style courses to be taught by a highly-qualified pool of over 800 instructors. Given the high number of online courses and tremendous number of live sections running at any given time, maintaining quality was a significant concern. The model of faculty instructors each producing and delivering their own online course would make achieving consistency in design and delivery difficult. While this production model is common at many schools, it is known to be ineffective (Bates, 2000, Laird, 2004, Chao, Saj, & Hamilton, 2010), so at ERAU-Worldwide it was decided to centralize the process using a collaborative course production team, administered through the Instructional Design and Development (IDD) department. Over time, a process evolved that ensures healthy collaboration among production team members and meeting quality standards based on sound learning, teaching and instructional design theoretical foundations, both factors cited as key influences on the success of distance learning efforts (Chao, Saj, & Hamilton, 2010). Several ERAU-Worldwide courses have won industry awards, including Quality Matters and Blackboard’s Exemplary Course Program, and the influence of the external course review and awards process on the establishment of course design and development quality standards will be addressed below in detail.

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration

The difficulties of Online Learning for Indigenous Australian Students Living in Remote Communities – it’s an Issue of Access

Online learning and new technologies are driving a trend in worldwide education that is not only gaining momentum, it is becoming a juggernaut. While the positives for online learning are clear and are often being touted by Universities and Vocational Education and Training providers as a panacea for educational access, what is not clear is the potential negatives for those who cannot reasonably be expected to engage with online learning. Through a review of current literature and research findings, this paper discusses the difficulties of online learning for Indigenous Australian students living in remote communities who do not have adequate access to online learning technologies. This paper proposes the idea that this seemingly reasonable trend towards increased online learning will in fact be hugely detrimental to this section of Australian society and will see the potential for a widening of the gap in education.

Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration


Faculty Coalition: It’s Time to Examine MOOC and Online Ed Profit Motives

A coalition of faculty groups has declared war against online learning, particularly massive open online courses (MOOCs), because it said it believes that the fast expansion of this form of education is being promulgated by corporations — specifically for-profit colleges and universities and education technology companies — at the expense of student education and public interest.

Campus Technology

eLearning Guild Research: What Authoring Tool Do You Want to Buy?

What percentage of your job is authoring or developing eLearning? If you’re anything like the 1,055 respondents of our 2013 Authoring Tools research report, you spend from 10% to 50% of your time developing (authoring) eLearning (Figure 1) and you have been developing eLearning for between a year (or less) and six years.

Learning Solutions Magazine

Critics Say Sting on Open-Access Journals Misses Larger Point

Perhaps months from now, when the dust settles and academics really look back at it, they’ll find some hard lessons in the elaborate Science magazine exposé this week by the journalist John Bohannon.

Wired Campus

Online Application Woes Make Students Anxious and Put Colleges Behind Schedule

With early admission deadlines looming for hundreds of thousands of students, the new version of the online Common Application shared by more than 500 colleges and universities has been plagued by numerous malfunctions, alarming students and parents and putting admissions offices weeks behind schedule.

The New York Times

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

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  1. […] From yesterday's inbox… Just too busy to post until now… Having trouble viewing this email? Click here FEATURED ARTICLE OF THE WEEK Book Review: The Handbook of Mobile Learning By Zane L. Berg…  […]

    Pingback by Virtual School Meaderings | Leadership in Dista... — October 19, 2013 @ 12:38 pm | Reply

  2. […] From yesterday's inbox… Just too busy to post until now… Having trouble viewing this email? Click here FEATURED ARTICLE OF THE WEEK Book Review: The Handbook of Mobile Learning By Zane L. Berg…  […]

    Pingback by Virtual School Meaderings | Virtual Education |... — October 20, 2013 @ 5:16 am | Reply

  3. […] See on […]

    Pingback by Virtual School Meaderings | Virtuelle-Cluster-Initiative — October 20, 2013 @ 5:16 am | Reply

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