Impact of Technology and Multimedia on Online Learning Environments
One of the important best practices for teaching online is the use of a variety of activities that engage group and individual work experiences; these activities could be synchronous and asynchronous (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010). In general, the delivery of online instruction should incorporate interactions between students, instructor and content (Keengwe & Kidd, 2010). Therefore, technology should be used to enable collaboration among students (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.) and engage them in a meaningful learning experience. Technology tools could offer an enhanced learning experience. It promotes interactivity; thus, promotes students’ engagement in the online environment (Roblyer & Wiencke, 2003).
Considerations before Implementing Technology
Before implementing technology in online environments, instructors need to examine the learning objectives, and how the technology could support these objectives (Laureate education Inc., n.d.). Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvack (2012) presented four steps that instructors need to consider when selecting technologies for online instructions. They are:
Step 1: Assessing available instructional technologies
Step 2: Determine learning outcomes
Step 3: Identify learning experiences and match each to the most appropriate available technology
Step 4: Preparing the learning experience for online delivery
(Simonson et al., 2012, p. 115-118).
Another crucial consideration, in terms of students’ readiness, is to make sure that students have equal access to technology. For example, students in rural areas may have slow internet connection (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.).
Usability and Accessibility
In an online learning environment, students need to have equal access to course content and should experience the same engagement in online learning environments. Cooper, Colwell, and Jelfs (2007) stated “improved accessibility for disabled users promotes usability for all” (p. 232). Technology could help in presenting information in multiple formats, it could provide students with multiple means to express themselves and could create multiple ways of engagement; all are major principles for Universal Design for Learning (UDL) (CAST, 2012). Utilizing technology tools through this set of principles could give students “equal opportunities to learn” (CAST, 2012).
Technology Tools for the Future
As I progress in the instructional design career, I believe that I could consider the use of mobile devices in online learning. Currently, as a student, I find accessing the course through my cell phone and tablet a great way to keep me informed with what is going on in the course. I could also respond to posts in the discussion board and access my email to look for relevant messages about the course. The 2013 NMC Horizon Report for Higher Education explained that tablets are currently utilized in higher education; students could download educational applications and access content everywhere; additionally, these applications could ease the students’ social connectivity (Johnson, Adams Becker, Cummins, Estrada, Freeman, and Ludgate, 2013). Many of the web 2.0 tools have corresponding mobile applications like the aggregators, blogs and wikis (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). This makes it easier for students to communicate and connect with the course. Another tool that I found very effective is Twitter; it created a learning community for me to get ideas and best practices in instructional design. This is a tool that I would utilize for the online learning communities.
Effective Online Instructional Strategies
When implementing effective online instructional strategies, I will be looking at how technology could support the learning outcomes. Additionally, I will be looking into the usability of the tools how the technology tool could promote learning. Audio and videos are components that could provide an alternative way to develop content; however, these tools should not replicate the face-to-face experience; rather, it should be concise and supplement course content (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010). Any technology tools should be equally available to all students; for example, videos need to have transcripts and closed caption ability. This will not only respond to accessibility needs but will enhance the usability of the tools for all students. Finally, we should not assume that students know all the technology tools; we should provide resources and tutorials to help students in navigating the tool and understanding its potential.
Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Cooper, M., Colwell, C., & Jelfs, A. (2007). Embedding accessibility and usability: Considerations for e-learning research and development projects. ALT-J: Research in Learning Technology, 15(3), 231-245.
Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Cummins, M., Estrada, V., Freeman, A., and Ludgate, H. (2013). NMC Horizon Report: 2013 Higher Education Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/pdf/2013-horizon-report-HE.pdf
Keengwe, J., & Kidd, T. T. (2010). Towards best practices in online learning and teaching in higher education. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 6(2), 534-541.
Laureate Education Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Enhancing the online experience [Video podcast]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_2098594_1%26url%3D
Roblyer, M. D., & Wiencke, W. R. (2003).Design and use of a rubric to assess and encourage interactive qualities in distance courses. American Journal of Distance Education, 17(2), 77-98.
Rose, D. H., Harbour, W. S., Johnston, C. S., Daley, S. G., & Abarbanell, L. (2006). Universal design for learning in postsecondary education: Reflections on principles and their application. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 19(2), 17.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.
[Untitled image of mobile devices]. Retrieved April 4, 2013 from http://www.busyevent.com/making-a-technology-decision-for-your-event-at-the-last-minute-9-things-to-consider/
[Untitled image of the globe attached to a computer mouse]. Retrieved April 4, 2013 from http://www.useoftechnology.com/information-technology/