Discussion Post on Characteristics of Effective Feedback in Groups

The purpose of this discussion is to analyze feedback given and recommend best practices that could support students in giving effective feedback.

Online learning communities provide an opportunity for students to exchange ideas, work collaboratively on authentic assignments and experience various roles in a team setting. To ensure effective collaboration instructors need to provide guidance, training and support for students. Additionally, by learning together in a community, students receive and provide constructive and critical feedback (Palloff & Pratt, 2007).

For this week discussion, read chapter 8 on “promoting collaborative learning” from this week’s resources (note: use your Walden ID and password to access the resource).

Reflect on your experience as a student in the MSIDT program at Walden; based on your experience and from this week resource answer the following two questions by Friday:

  1. How could instructors promote effective feedback among students in groups?
  2. Think about the feedback you provided to your peers in last week’s discussion, what would you have changed/added in your feedback? Provide a rationale for your answer.

Support your answers from this week resource and your own experience.

Expectations:

This is a required and graded activity. The delay in your response will hinder the discussion of the group so try to post on time; you need to post your initial response and feedback by the indicated dates. A complete rubric is available to guide you answers; read the criteria carefully and let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to reading your posts.

View Rubric for Evaluation

Reference:

Palloff, R., & Pratt, K. (2007). Building online communities: Effective strategies for the virtual classroom. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Plagiarism Detection and Prevention

Image of stop cut and paste

With open access to many resources in the internet, students might unintentionally copy and paste or use other people’s work withoutproper citation. In some cases, under pressure, students might intentionally plagiaries; task, time and grade pressures could motivate students to plagiarize (Stover & Kelly, 2005). To help students in understanding academic integrity, instructors need to provide clear expectations, refer to institutional polices on academic integrity, and utilize the use of plagiarism detection software.

Plagiarism Detection Software:

For example, Turnitin.com is software that checks the originality of papers, enables peer assessment and provides online grading capabilities (iParadigms, LLC, 2013). Another software, EVE2 which is an essay verification software (CaNexus.com, n.d.). The software searches the internet for suspected sites; it then sends a report to the instructor with any similarities (CaNexus.com, n.d.). A quick Google search provided many plagiarism detection tools available to students like WriteCheck and Grammarly which is also checks spelling and grammar.

Designing Assessments:

To prevent academic dishonesty, instructors could develop assignments that are based on students’ collaboration, incorporating real-life expectations (Laureate Educations Inc., n.d.). While plagiarism rates in online courses are similar to the traditional courses (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.), assessment strategies in online courses should be different from traditional courses. To elaborate, traditional exams are not effective in the online learning environments; it requires many strategies like the use of remote proctoring, retina scan and thumb printing (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). Assessments designed for online learning needs to be authentic and challenge the students to use their research skills by discovering the answers and working with others to develop meaning and solutions (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). These are skills required in real-life situations in the workplace. Personally, now as a graduate student, I prefer the assessments that help me to develop new skills, which then help me to find proper solutions or analysis to various authentic situations and promote the use of higher order thinking. In my undergraduate years, I found some exams that tested knowledge and memorization somewhat intimidating; maybe it was the design of the assessment or because exams were the widespread practice in assessing students’ learning and students usually got tense.

Facilitation Strategies:

A magnifier on a copyright wordInstructors need to apply effective facilitation strategies to help students in understanding the meaning of plagiarism and to prevent students from unintentional plagiarism when possible. If the instructor suspects a cheating incident, he/she could confront the students (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.) offline through email or a phone call; he/she could try to understand the reasons and inform the students about the implications. More important, is that he/she start early in the online course to educate students about the fair use, copyright and plagiarism (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.).

Additional Considerations:

Jocoy and DiBiase (2006) suggested that instructors could implement and expectation management plan which is a combination of ensuring that the students understand the institutional policies and procedures about plagiarism. Additionally, to assume that the incidents happening are due to lack of understanding of the aspects of plagiarism (Jocoy & DiBiase, 2006).

In conclusion, effective instructional strategies could prevent plagiarism. Instructors need to provide clear expectations with reference to institutional polices in the beginning of the course; they could include this reference in the syllabus and communicate it to students through the announcements. More important, is the design of authentic assessments that could promote collaboration and application of real-life skills. In the future, when facilitating online courses, I would consider these kinds of assessments rather than the tests and exams.

References:

CaNaxus.com. (n.d.). EVE Plagiarism Detection System. Retrieved from http://www.canexus.com/
iParadigms, LLC. (2013). Turnitin products: FAQs. Retrieved from http://turnitin.com/en_us/products/faqs
Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by adult learners online: A case study in detection and remediation. International Review of Research in Open & Distance Learning, 7(1), 1-15.
Laureate Education Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Plagiarism and cheating [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
[Untitled image with a magnifier lens on a copyright word]. Retrieved April 11, 2013 from http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/technology-blog/copyright-infringement-claim-brings-down-democratic-national-convention-154802666.html

Impact of Technology and Multimedia

Impact of Technology and Multimedia on Online Learning Environments

Globe attached to a computer mouse

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

Smart Phones

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.

 

References:

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/

Setting Up an Online Learning Experience

The preparation for the online learning experience is similar to the preparation for the face-to-face environment; the main deference is “more planning must be done before students arrive at the course site” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 56).

The Technology Available:

Computer Monitors Shaking To be able to create an effective learning experience which challenges and engages students, instructor should utilize the technology tools available to them (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010) through their institution and online. For example, the learning management system could be used to facilitate the discussions among students; online discussions create meaningful and social environments, which promotes students’ interactions (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).

Additionally, at the beginning of online courses, the instructors are encouraged to create welcoming and safe environment, which promote students’ openness. For this first step, instructors could post personal introductions about themselves to present the human aspect of their life (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). Moreover, instructors may choose to put a picture, audio message or a video (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). Technology could facilitate these activities; however, technology could be a barrier to effective online communication. For this reason, Conrad and Donaldson (2011) explained that instructors are encouraged to use and understand the technology tools available to them and provide introductory interactions that could “break the ice of using technology” (p. 52). Since there are many tools available online, instructors could select one to three technology tools which could be used to support the subject area and the learning outcomes (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010). Once the instructors select the proper tools then they could help students by building the needed skills to use these tools (Conrad & Donaldson, 2011).

Communicating Clear Expectations:

Multitasking mom

In the online learning environment, students come to the course, and they want to be successful (The George Washington University, n.d.). Without support, or a welcoming and safe environment students could drop from the course as early as the first week (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). The syllabus provides a clear road map for students about the goals of the course, the important dates, activities and assignments (The George Washington University, n.d.). In addition, online learning environment provides “policies, procedures, and the mechanics about how to communicate and learn in an online environment” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p. 72). Students have many responsibilities related to their work and family; they need to plan ahead for the upcoming projects, assignments and the associated workload (The George Washington University, n.d.). This aspect is very important for me as a student; as I am an adult learner with work and family responsibilities, it is important for me to know the expectation, the dates and plans for the course so I could plan my other responsibilities accordingly.

Additional considerations:

The other additional considerations that instructors could plan for when designing and implementing an online learning experience are: building personal connections with students (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.), establishing a weekly rhythm for the course which sustain students’ engagement with the content (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010), and developing effective discussion questions that could support the growth of the online learning community (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010).

The conclusion:

This week’s resources and discussions helped me in understanding the importance of the instructor’s presence in the online learning environment. Through effective planning, instructors could build a safe and inviting environment for students from the beginning of the course. This presence continues during the course through providing clear expectations and road map for students to help them navigate through the online experience. Ice breakers, weekly plans, and effective discussion boards are all effective strategies that could promote students enjoyment and success in the online learning experience.
References:
Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Conrad, R., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner: Activities and resources for creative instruction (Updated ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Laureate Education Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Launching the online learning 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
The George Washington University. Establishing expectations. Retrieved from http://learn.gwumc.edu/hscidist/FRED/EstablishingExpectations/index.htm
[Untitled Image of Computer Monitors Shaking ]. Retrieved from March 21, 2013 from http://aspanational.wordpress.com/2012/02/09/the-impact-of-technology-on-the-federal-government/
[Untitled image of a multitasking woman]. Retrieved March 21, 2013 from http://childrensdirectory.net/2012/07/multitasking-mama/

Online Learning Communities

This blog post provides insights on online learning communities; the post covers its impact on students learning and satisfaction, the elements of community building, how to sustain the online community and relationship to effective learning instructions.

The Impact

Online learning communities provide venues for students to challenge each other, co-construct knowledge, and provide appropriate feedback (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.).  Additionally, both instructors and students participate equally in the learning community; however, instructors should create a safe environment for students to help them in expressing themselves and explaining to them how he/she will support them thought their learning journey (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.).

Community Building

Community Building

Building an effective learning community requires planning and clear vision on who will be participating in the community (Saragina, 1999) and what are the common interests for this community that will keep participants engaged. Wilcoxon (2011) suggested that the structure of a learning community should include social presence, teacher presences, structured and unstructured cognitive presence ( full article ). Palloff and Pratt in Laureate Education Inc. (n.d.) explained that the community consists of people, purpose to community, process in which the training is developed, communication and social presence.

Sustaining the Online Community

Students who start their online learning experience unprepared may drop out early in the course (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). For this reason, instructors should reach out to students early once they recognize that the students are not present, and students, in general, appreciate the follow-up (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). Further, it is the responsibility of the administration, instructors and students to build the community and sustain its presence. For example, institution could offer mandatory online orientations to help students getting familiar with the environment; by this means, students who  do not want to pursue online learning could then leave without affecting the enrollment in actual courses (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.).

Learning Community

Clip Art from MS Word

Online Learning and the Community

Effective online instruction happen when the learners are able to interact with each other, with content and the instructor (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2012). Additionally, when designing online courses, we have to include strategies which promote students’ engagement through the exchange of knowledge and experiences (Simonson et al., 2012). Similarly, in online learning communities we have to develop rules of engagement that by stating expectations, frequency and how to engage (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). By this means, we will be able to facilitate learner-learner and learner-instructor interactions. We also have to provide an organized learning environment to help students navigate through the course; in addition, provide opportunities for students to collaborate, be reflective and continuously reinforce their sense of presence (Laureate Education Inc, n.d.).

References:

Laureate Education Inc. (Producer). (n.d.a). Online learning communities [Video podcast]. Baltimore, MD: Palloff and Pratt.

Saragina, P. (1999). Creating an online learning community. Retrieved from http://www.ion.uillinois.edu/courses/instructors/guestlectures/saragina/index.asp

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.

Wilcoxon, K. (2011). Building an online learning community. Retrieved from http://www.learningsolutionsmag.com/articles/761/building-an-online-learning-community

Online Instructional Strategies

For the coming eight weeks I will be sharing on my blog best practices, reflections and strategies about online instruction.

Analyzing Scope Creep

Scope Creep

Change in scope could affect both the budget and the timeline (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). I was responsible for developing a workshop on group work; I did research and started the design of the workshop. After presenting and reviewing a first draft to the client, he asked to include points related to peer assessment. This is a related topic and could enhance the topic, however, it was not specified in the objectives of the workshop, so the assessment part was out of scope and considered as scoop creep. Dr. Solovich explained that scoop creep happens as a result of a new idea from senior management (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). Besides affecting the timeline for the design, when implementing the workshop, the facilitator ran out of time and was not able to finish all the content which affected the overall quality of the workshop.

At that time, we as a team, accepted the change, but did not plan for it or for the change process. We informally handled the request for change and as a team we were committed to extending the project’s scoop without accounting for the additional time and resources (Portny, Mantel, Meredith, Shafer, & Sutton, 2008).

Looking back on the experience now, as a project manager, I would have created a change control system (Portny et al., 2008). The system could be achieved by the following steps:

• Review the request for changemonitor_evaluate_correct
• Identify the impact of change on the project in terms of schedule, budget and performance
• Evaluate the disadvantage and benefits of the requested change and the appropriate alternatives if applicable
• Authorize personnel to approve or reject the change
• Communicate the change and ensure it is implemented accurately
• Report the progress and impact of the change to all stakeholders
(Portny et al., 2008).

Another idea is to suggest to the client to create an additional workshop and deal with it as a new project (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). Additionally, I would use change request forms to formally document the change and assess the impact. These forms could be used as a tool to educate the stakeholders on the change process (Doll, 2001).

Finally, it is sometimes impossible to avoid scope creep (Portny et al., 2008), however, it is possible to monitor and control change; using clear communication and accurate change plans project managers could manage change in projects effectively.

References:
Doll, S. (2001). Seven steps for avoiding scope creep. Retrieved from http://www.techrepublic.com/article/seven-steps-for-avoiding-scope-creep/1045555

Laureate Education Inc. (Producer). (n.d.). Monitoring projects [Video Webcast]. 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_1957702_1%26url%3D

Portny, S. E., Mantel, S. J., Meredith, J. R., Shafer, S. M., Sutton, M. M., & Kramer, B. E. (2008). Project management: Planning, scheduling, and controlling projects. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

[Unitiled image of a monster with scoop creep]. Retrived from http://rightideas-brightideas.blogspot.ca/2010/05/stop-scope-creep-1-killer-of-projects.html