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, , ,

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, , , , , ,

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, , , , , ,

February/March Issue of Innovate

The journal of online education innovate is bimonthly publishes by the Fischler School of Education and Human Services at Nova Southeastern University. The February/March issue includes “… articles that address online assessment and effective course design, the value of e-portfolios as dynamic records of academic and professional development, and the creative use of synchronous communication tools for online tutorials“.

Among the published articles is a review (registration required – free) from Stephen Downes about the OpenCourseWare Consortium. It seems like that he recently spends some time in comparing online offerings from educational organizations and institutions (see an earlies post at this blog). However, even though Stephen Downes has some criticism about the site design and the navigation he concludes that “the OpenCourseWare Consortium site is useful because it describes an important initiative that is developing rapidly, but an air of exclusivity permeates the site“. At the end of his review stands the apeall that knowledge doesn’t belong to the universities, it belongs to all of us and therefor should be made openly accessible “… to society as a whole“.

Filed under: eLearning, , , , , ,

More Trends and Predictions

I know, I know, there are a lot of trends and predictions being published and released right now. After all it is this time of the year to reflect on what happened and to predict what might be.

However, I just received the wwwtools for education newsletter with a nice assembly of “Trends from 2006, Projections for 2007… and Beyond“. Graeme Daniel put a nice list of notes and trends in education together. He split these different areas up into the following categories:

  • Highlights: Technology in education, 2006,
  • Technology 2006,
  • Forecast for Technology, 2007,
  • At the hardware trade shows,
  • The iPhone – Rising Star of Macworld?
  • More mobile and wireless trends,
  • Converging technologies: Computers, TV, Video and Net,
  • A mixed bag (e.g. Web 2.0, Nanotechnology),
  • Just for fun, and
  • Books.

Enjoy once again the trends of 2006 and predictions for 2007. If you want to sign up for the wwwtools for education newsletter you can do so by clicking here.

Filed under: Blogging, Technology, Web 2.0, , , , , , ,

Edumio, the Digg Website for the Academic Field

Logo EdumioWho does not know the Website Digg.com where you users can vote for stuff they found on the web and that they want to promote. I have to admit that I have never used Digg so far. However, I just ran across a website named Edumio which basically works like Digg.com only that it targets the academic and educational field. Edumio offers the opportunity to share resources and meet other who have a similar interest. Well, the later one I found already at the CiteULike website.

Using Google with the term “edumio” today resulted in 120 pages that mention/link the website. Nothing compared to the 35 million and more websites that have been returned when I googled for CiteULike. However, we’ll see what will happen to Edumio and there service to digg academic and educational resources/article. – Happy Digging!

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

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