Initial Blog Post Week 9
EDTE674 with Dr. Lee Graham
Quality Design and Global Networking: The Convergent Crisscross of Common Needs and Efforts
Essential Question: What lessons can we take from Global Distance Learning Efforts?
A really great quote to start out with regarding quality in distance education, in this case in reference to Professor Manuel Moreno at the University de Guadalajara’s Sistema de Universidad Virtual or the Virtual University System (VUS) is as follows: “it is within these educational processes that the quality resides which we seek to preserve, not so much the circumstances in which they take place” (Becerra, Almendra, and Flores, 2012, p. 209). In other words, it is not modality that determines quality, rather “living educational processes” (Becerra & Almendra, p. 209) the academic staff brings. With a network of 15 university centers, developing innovative ways to create, share and apply knowledge, with a constructivist learning perspective, VUS has found ways to strengthen their distance programs while reaching communities that had been underserved by college opportunities. This reminds me of the way the Open University of China (OUC) is structured. The headquarters is in Beijing, Provincial Open Universities meet local needs and at the community level municipalities set up surpervision at learning centers (Moore, M. & Kearsley, G., 2011).
With Professor Moreno at the helm, the VUS has grown. Moreno is a leader in educational innovation in both Mexico and Latin America. His fundamental belief is that he sees the importance of being both a teacher and a learner. Another emphasis that Moreno makes is through Project Portfolio. In this program, students may take a practicum or complete their internship through real world learning environment connections; such as, “business, community or government settings” (Becerra & Almendra, p. 207).
Brazil has “a highly sophisticated technology and economic underdevelopment” (Moore, M. & Kearsley, G., p. 250). Much of the country Brazil wants to make education and training available to is primitive both economically and communication wise. PROFORMACAO provided training for rural teachers of elementary schools. Meanwhile in Iowa, a private online company began to expand its network of online tutors. As I think about Brazil, I think about how a company like Tutor Universe can be interlaced in to support rural learners, and in my case I would be teaching teachers.
To ensure quality in coursework design, the nonprofit Concord Consortium developed the eLearning Model. Included are: asynchoronous collaboration, explicit schedules, expert facilitation, inquiry pedagogy, community building, limited enrollment, high-quality materials, purposeful virtual spaces, and ongoing assessment” (Becerra & Almendra, p. 207). Every online course I have taken throughout my Master’s of Arts program through University of Alaska Southeast (UAS) has included each of these. I have had the opportunity to watch 3 other people take online courses (watching a few of their sessions), and found that these qualities were not all there; particularly community building, and facilitation that embraces the learning philosophy of student-centered learning. I watched as students walked around the room as the professor went on and on the entire session (about 1 ½ hours) of “lecturing” with a PowerPoint. According to Meaza Stewart (2014), “. . . the online tutoring environment must be focused on the learner, be flexible, be dynamic, promote interaction, and allow students to be able to share knowledge with the peer or tutor.” Students were to come up with expected answers, not create answers through discussion groups. One of these programs was preparation of principals! Much of what I have learned about how to teach taking a student-centered approach is from participating in high quality on line classes (Stewart, M., 2014). What the tutoring organization provides is an excellent platform from which students and tutors can effectively meet through a variety of online tools. This creates an opportunity for real distance learning pedagogies to take place. Usually colleges do not have the budget to provide as extensive of a learning platform as would a group of private organizations coming together.
Thus far, I have learned an enormous amount through this class about two separate course design strategies. These “themes were identified: overall design process strategy and instructional strategy for the design relevant to digital environments” (Ashbaugh, 2013, p. 104). Leaders need to be “competent in developing strategic, proactive plans for the future . . . collaborate for best possible solutions to current and unforeseen problems and challenges” (Ashbaugh, p. 105). Our American Literature course design group has definitely proactively solved many potential issues. We have people in our group who have already taught online before. I have learned so much from them, as they each have reached out to a variety of learner types. Also, I have contributed to consideration as to how to reach learners who may be limited English proficient, and/or have problems comprehending text.
Components involved in structural design cycle down from objectives, assessments, strategy, and activities. Components of an online course instructional strategy that is well-designed are: Theory- and values-based, authentic tasks that include interaction for problem-solving, thereby centering the learner(s) as in control of tasks (Ashbaugh, 2013). This is where our group members are in the design process of our course. As I design instructional strategies for the narrative unit, I bring a unique vision. However, I completely expect to learn from others and hopefully receive feedback from this course at a later date, what will or did work and how the module can be updated and kept alive as far as relevance to high school students goes. These course design competencies are universally critical in every nation as our efforts intersect to build a stronger and stronger web of educational opportunities across the globe.
Ashbaugh, M. L. (2013). Expert instructional designer voices: Leadership competencies critical to global practice and quality online learning designs. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 14(2), pp. 97-118.
Becerra, B. L. G., Almedra, M. P. R. and Flores, J. D. C. (2012). Postsecondary distance education in mexico and worldwide: Issues and considerations. The Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 13(4), pp. 205-212.
Stewart, Meaza (2014). Distance learning with tutor universe. Distance Learning 10(4), pp. 23-29.
Moore, M. G. and Kearsley, G. (2011). Distance education: A systems view of online learning.
Images retrieved from Google internet images on 3-13-14: