Daniel Staemmler

Things about eLearning, Educational Technology, and more…

Problems and Obstacles with Online Learning (2/4)

Before going into detail on some criteria for selecting appropriate learning content, here a quick outline of problems and obstacles that learners might encounter when learning online. Once learners utilizing new information and communication technologies, they might encounter two fundamental problems. On the one hand this is the problem of orientation and on the other of cognitive overload.

Disorientation of Users

The problem of users disorientation is closely tied to his navigation behavior in structured network systems online. As such, for instance, the Internet in its entirety is referred to with its many individual web pages containing different content (text, graphics, video, animation, etc.) that are linked with each other.

Due to the depth of information it can be hard for the user to identify his precise position within the variety of the content presented, and secondly to actual determine his state of his learning progress. Therefore the problem of orientation is very closely linked to cognitive overload. An obvious conclusion is to put more emphasis onto the structure, in a sense of predefined navigation, in order to minimize the users orientation problems in online (learning) environments.

This seems contradicting, since a certain degree of disorientation can be considered very useful for discovery-based learning. A strong pre-structured navigation sequence results in a user behavior, which is rather determined form the outside than self-determined. Due to this determination individual learning differences are not taken into account, more so those of a third party/ person (e.g. designers, programmers, etc.) who sketches out learning paths. It is rather desirable, that the learner can choose independently from several options available the one who will unlock the learning content for him. For students with no or little experience in learning with new media, it is advisable to offer a predefined learning path which helps them to orient themselves. Good mechanisms to support the learners orientation are for instance tables of contents, indexes, maps, and “fish-eye” perspectives which highlight important parts and reduced the unimportant in size or faded color.

Cognitive overload

Mentioned earlier, there is a correlation between the disorientation in online (learning) systems and cognitive overload. This problem occurs because the user always has to keep in mind and remember the system learning/ working in. Meaning the user must constantly be aware of: “Where have I been already? What did I already read? How and in what way did I get there, what kind of information do I still have to look into and how can I get there?” Storing all this information has nothing to do with the actual process of information acquisition and processing learning content. However, a quiet large part of memory capacity is needed to store this secondary information and demands additional attention.

Part I: E-Learning: Choosing the right Learning System and Learning Content
Part 2: Problems and Obstacles with Online Learning
Part 3: Particular Design for Online Courses (coming soon)
Part 4: What is Interactivity and Interaction? (coming soon)

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Filed under: eLearning, , ,

Choosing the right Learning Management System and Learning Content (1/4)

Part I: The right choice of Learning System and Learning Content for Online Learning

The constant flow of information steaming off of new discoveries and achievements in our society as well as new insights in everyday situations call for innovative learning strategies. Especially in the health sector knowledge as a resource increasingly gains importance. The demands on health services is to promote the development of new solutions for knowledge transfer. Great opportunities and possibilities arise for apprenticeships, education and trainings with the so called new technologies and the Internet.

Why E-Learning?

The shift of educational and training activities from the classroom and face-to-face teaching into the virtual space and an online course increases the flexibility for all participants. Especially in hospitals where many employees need to be up to date with their level of knowledge, is the organization and coordination of training and working hours necessary. Online courses once available, can be accessed from any computer or mobile device (e.g. smart phone) at any moment in time.

E-learning or teaching and learning online is nowadays, as one form of knowledge transfer and knowledge acquisition, part of many areas of continuing education. The term e-learning stands for electronic teaching and learning utilizing one or more computers, laptops or mobile devices which are usually connected through a network. Online learning can be open on the Internet and self-directed or staged for a specific user group in a walled off space. Such a closed and secured  learning environment can offer students specific and didactically prepared information, e.g. who are highly relevant to professionalism at work. In addition there are a variety of application scenarios aimed at different target groups. The latter range from school children to students to professionals who see themselves constantly faced with new requirements and regulations in their everyday work.

Technical Requirements

The technical requirements for the implementation of online courses can be met and fulfilled relatively quickly. There are a variety of fee-based learning platforms (e.g. Blackboard and Clix), and free open-source products (such as Moodle and ILIAS) to significantly simplify the administration of course content and management of users. Once installed on a computer that acts as a server, the learning materials can be set up. Searching for and choosing the right system demands to carefully think about which requirements need to be met.

Part I: E-Learning: Choosing the right Learning System and Learning Content
Part 2: Problems and Obstacles with Online Learning
Part 3: Particular Design for Online Courses (coming soon)
Part 4: What is Interactivity and Interaction? (coming soon)

Filed under: eLearning, , ,

Top Lists in the Field of Learning

Often I come across lists of free learning tools and those you have to pay for. However, they always produce a lot of retweets on Twitter. So here is a list of lists that refer to learning tools and in addition blogs that I came across:

Feel free to add to this list in the comment box below. Additions are always welcome 🙂

Filed under: Education, eLearning, Web 2.0, , , ,

Live online learning – free eBook

Live Online Learning – a facilitators guideWhile doing research on an earlier piece I came across this free eBook on this facilitator’s guide to live online learning. To be able to download your free copy you have sign up and confirm your email address for an occasional newsletter.

Here is what’s in for you:

  • Whys and wherefores
  • Planning your session
  • Communicating with voice and live video
  • Communicating using images and text
  • Sharing resources
  • Building in interactivity
  • Building up to the session
  • Facilitating the session
  • Following up

You can sign up and download the eBook by clicking here.

Filed under: eLearning, How-To,

Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning

cover final reportThe U.S. Department of Education published in May 2009 a meta-analysis and review of online learning studies. Under evaluation were empirical studies published during the years 1996 till mid of 2008.

The meta-analysis found that, on average, students in online learning conditions performed better than those receiving face-to-face instructions.

Key findings have been nicely and straight to the point summarized by Donald Clark.

Filed under: Education, eLearning, Evaluation,

125 hours of math learning content

PiratesBeing a Product Manager at scoyo (German production) is fun. It is even more fun ones one of your products launches completely. So here we go with 125 hours of learning objects in the subject matter mathematics for school children grades five to seven. Parts of it are available on the US platform already which is in open beta right now. Meaning you can register yourself for free and explore the content available over there.

The images in this post shows one set of characters in the math production, the pirates. There are plenty more so have a look for yourself and let me know how you like it.

Filed under: eLearning, , ,

At the Educational Trade Fair in Hanover Germany

I am in Hanover right now at the Educational Trade Fair (aka didacta) at our scoyo booth and do some promotion for our recently launched online learning platform in German for school children in age range from 6 till 14 years old. Here is a video impression and me trying to fix our presentation. I’ll be posting some more pictures later when  I am back at home.

Filed under: eLearning, Germany, , ,

A Review of the Open Educational Resources (OER) Movement: Achievement, Challenges and New Opportunities

Dan Atkins, John Seely Brown and Allen Hammond compiled for the Hewlett Foundation a report about the Hewlett Foundation Open Educational Resources (OER) initiative. Open Educational Resources (OER) have been mentioned in this blog before and this report is a great and worth reading addition to it.

Filed under: eLearning, Evaluation, Open Access / Open Content, , , , , ,

Social Networking – What's next?

Social networking has taken over and everybody is talking about it. The big players are MySpace, Facebook and on the professional networking end LinkedIn and Xing (former OpenBC), to only mention a few. Are you part of one, two or even more of these social networking? I am! Signing up is easy and mostly done in a few steps but creating your profile takes most of the time a little longer than only a mouse click here and there. However, help is on the way: OpenID. “OpenID is an open, decentralized, free framework for user-centric digital identity.” Further information is also available at Wikipedia. However, a recent article in the New York Times discusses the idea of a standardized OpenID which is pushed by several companies. But why? Well, the question is pretty simple, there will be more and more social networks out there. My guess is, that not only classes, universities, schools, and professional networks will be the center of interest. More so private social networks like extended circle of friends, communities, neighborhoods, and families. So who wants to enter all the personal information over and over again? I do not and therefor pledge for an OpenID that will help me to sign up for those social networks I would like to be part of and those I have been invited to.

Interested in creating your own social network that you are in control off? Here is one of my earlier entries that describes one option on how to do so.

As a side note, this somehow reminds me a little bit of the idea and discussion about global ID and how Google is or can be a part of it. John Lanchester wrote a pretty comprehensive and interesting article about it that I enjoyed reading.

Filed under: eLearning, Social Networks, Web 2.0, , , , ,

Study about ICT impact on Education in Europe

The European Schoolnet in the framework of the European Commission’s ICT cluster has published a review of 17 studies of ICT impact on schools in Europe. The reviewed studies and surveys have been “… carried out at national, European and international level“. After the years of investment into ICT in schools this report tries to answer the question: “What does the research and evaluation tell us about the return on investment in ICT?” The review focuses on to major areas in regard of investments in schools: (1) learning outcomes and learners and (2) teaching methodologies and teachers. The findings are divided into more quantitative and qualitative based which I personally think is very useful since both of these research approaches deliver different results. For a condensed from of the research findings please refer to the pages 5 to 8 of the review.

Filed under: eLearning, Evaluation, , , , , ,

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