Sunday, September 21, 2014

Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

The use of technology tools in the distance learning environment, can provide students with many learning opportunities that they would not be able to easily experience otherwise. According to the scenario below, the high school teacher can benefit by using instructional media technology, such as still and motion graphics, interactive media software and pre-recorded resources to help build the learning experience.

Scenario 2: A high school history teacher, located on the west coast of the United States, wants to showcase to her students new exhibits being held at two prominent New York City museums. The teacher wants her students to take a "tour" of the museums and be able to interact with the museum curators, as well as see the art work on display. Afterward, the teacher would like to choose two pieces of artwork from each exhibit and have the students participate in a group critique of the individual work of art. In the role of the instructional designer, what distance learning technologies would you suggest the teacher use to provide the best learning experience for her students?

To give the students a live tour experience, the teacher can have an interactive virtual web tour of the museums be created using an easy to use software called Easypano Studio 2014. Information in the form of digital artifacts can be researched and collected by using the museum website, knowledge from the curators and from the teacher herself. Of course, the teacher may have to get permission from the museum, to ensure that she is using the material for educational purposes. A sample using this software can be viewed here. The teacher can incorporate audio, video and photographs to produce an interactive 360 full virtual tour in a panoramic view. The software proves to be easy to use for first time users, and is not incredibly expensive. Creating this type of experience can "permit the educator to bring sights and sounds of the real world into the learning environment-the classroom" (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, pg. 92). It is important to be aware that not all learners have experience with museum tours, therefore, when building the experience, it is important to "be only as realistic as needed in order for learning to effectively occur"(Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, pg. 92).

To help the teacher capture her digital artifacts and experience, she can use a device called Google Glass, where the device can, "shoot relevant videos and images with a wink" (Foradian, 2014).
Furthermore, webinars and such can be streamed directly onto your Glass than your smartphone or laptop so that its easy to be accessed anywhere, anytime" (Foradian, 2014). If budget permits, this device has proven to be extremely convenient and useful to capture any live experiences, that can be shared seamlessly at a later time.

It is important to be aware that it does "take a great of time and extensive resources to provide totally authentic, real-world learning experiences continually" (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, pg. 116). Therefore, using software applications and recording devices that the teacher can use herself, may help with getting things done a lot quicker. Also, it is important to note that, at times depending on your need, the teachers need to be aware of the resources such as time it can take to build the ideal experience that they need versus want for their students. Planning ahead would always help in situations like these.

The teacher can also create a podcast series to capture her lecture experiences to share with the students. It can then be "stored on a website or other Internet location for easy access" (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, pg. 97) such as the content management system, virtual tour, or other web space that is being used for the course. A lot of the media resources that the teacher collects, can also be uploaded on Flickr or YouTube.

It could be useful to ask the museum, if they could provide some support to allow distance learning students to capture the real experience. For example, see if they have pre-recorded video or audio tours available for sharing or if they could allow a dedicated time to setup a video conference for students to ask questions after taking their virtual tour, to the docents available. 

Furthermore, for the two art pieces the teacher would like the students to critique, extra resources can be made available via hyperlinks in the interactive tour. Once the students are ready to critique their chosen art pieces, they can use a Web 2.0 tool called a wiki space. A wiki space would be beneficial for the students to collaborate on, where they can post their perspectives on the artwork. "A wiki can be an excellent tool for collaborative online writing assignments and group activities compiling information in a single online resource" (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, pg. 129). They can use a site called Wiki Space, which is nearly inexpensive to setup.

Creating a virtual world for the students, creates an "exciting potential for placing students in real-life applications of course content" (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, pg. 132). I am really looking forward to the time where "virtual environments 'built on the very premises of online engagement and interaction' will ultimately replace the World Wide Web"(Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012, pg. 132). What an exciting distance learning education future to look forward too!

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

EasyPano Holdings Inc. (2014). Retrived from

Wiki Space. (2014). Retrieved from

Foradian. (2014). Retrieved from

Flickr. (2014). Retrieved from

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