R2D2 - Not just for Star Wars Anymore

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Week 2 in the MOOC I'm taking introduces the R2D2 Model (which is not the same model as instructional design models with the same name):

Read (Auditory and Verbal Learners)
Reflect (Reflective Learners)
Display (Visual Learners)
Do (Tactile, Kinesthetic, Exploratory Learners)

Dr. Bonk mentions something that I first heard in my Mind, Brain & Education class (EDPSY 597A) that may be pretty controversial in learning design circles:  learning styles and multiple intellegence theories lack empirical support.  Or, as I heard it explained:  They are not scientifically sound.  They are neuro-myths.  So, what do we do with that?  I would echo what Bonk (who has a background in educational psychology) says.  These educational theories (that may more correctly be referred to as educational philosophies) can and should inform the kinds of activities that should be included in course design.  However, we need to be careful about labeling people with certain learning styles or intelligences, because though we all have certain preferences, talents and strengths, our brains are not limited in this way. 

Here's a great YouTube video about why learning styles don't exist.  You don't have to click the link, but it's a nearly 7 minute video that's worth watching.  It helps to explain the problem learning styles present from the perspective of neuroscience and is narrated by cognitive psychologist/neuroscientist/professor Daniel Willingham from the University of VA. 

Now that I've opened up that can of worms...on to R2D2 as it relates to the content of the MOOC I am taking.  R2D2 is a way to emphasize more reflective activities in online classes.  Interestingly, although Bonk debunks learning styles as theory, he attaches each element of R2D2 to particular learning styles.  

Following are some activities that were suggested as they relate to R2D2.
Read:
  • Wikibook or Wikipedia editing or critiques
  • Course Announcements
  • Online articles databases
  • Online crossword puzzles
  • Online instructor Q & A
  • Online scavenger hunt

Reflect:
  • Individual blogging
  • Respond to blog posts/discussion forums of classmates
  • Workplace and field reflections
  • Case study reflection and discussion
  • Online debates and mock trials

Display:
  • Videos for clinical education
  • Medical animations
  • World Trends and indices (e.g. Worldmaper)
  • Interactive maps
  • 3D sketches (e.g. Google SketchUp)
  • Wordle
  • Online news stories
  • Timeline tools
  • Educational videos (e.g. TED)
  • Concept mapping

Do:
  • Podcast productions and shows
  • Paired article critiques in blogs
  • Virtual microscopes (e.g. www.mededu.or.kr)
  • Virtual worlds (e.g. Second Life)
  • Simulation games
  • Visual presentations (e.g. Prezi)
  • Singing YouTube summaries (gotta love it!!)
  • Survey, research andMarket Analysis
  • Student class documentaries

"When thoughtfully designed, content delivered from this perspective should be more enriching for learners.  The R2D2 model provides a framework for more engaging, dynamic, and responsive teaching and learning in online environments" (Bonk & Zhang, 2006, p. 249).  

I think these models offer great ways to remember how important it is to be creative in the design process if we really care about learning beyond just "getting by" in the classroom.  The incorporation of R2D2, TEC-VARIETY or a plethora of other models helps contribute to good pedagogy.  Unfortunately, there are too many classes in educational settings everywhere where students and faculty alike can squeak by without really being engaged and making meaning out of the course content.  My goal is to do what I can to prevent any "stuck-in-a-rut, going-through-the-motions because I need it to graduate" courses.  This challenge, I'm afraid, will be easier said (blogged) than done.  Much like horses and water, you can lead an instructor to tools and theories, but you can't make them use or adopt them.  That's a challenge for every instructional designer (ID), everywhere.  It stands to reason that the success of tool and theory adoption increases as the ID's trust and credibility increases.  

TEC-VARIETY

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I'm taking a MOOC (Massive, Open, Online Course) about "Instructional Ideas and Technology Tools" (Click here for Course Link).  

Week one's topic is TEC-VARIETY, a model for online learning by Bonk and Khoo (2012).  Here's what it stands for:
1. Tone/Climate:  Psych Safety, Comfort, Belonging
2.  Encouragement:  Feedback, Responsive, Supports
3.  Curiosity:  Fun, Fantasy, Control
4.  Variety:  Novelty, Intrigue, Unknowns 
5.  Autonomy:  Choice, Flexibility, Opportunities
6.  Relevance:  Meaningful, Authentic, Interesting
7.  Interactive:  Collaborative, Team-Based, Community
8.  Engagement:  Effort, Involvement, Excitement
9.  Tension:  Challenge, Dissonance, Controversy
10.  Yields:  Goal Driven, Products, Success, Ownership

Bonk argues that we are not doing enough  to motivate students with the technologies that they love.  The TEC-VARIETY model is meant to improve student motivation in online courses and to increase student retention.  I don't think it's the easiest model to remember (unlike R2D2).  However, I think it is a helpful model to keep in mind when designing a course if we want to increase engagement and retention.  

I will be honest and say that the amount of information presented by Dr. Bonk in the lessons for each week in this MOOC can be somewhat overwhelming--in a good way.  Here are some of the ideas that intrigue me related to TEC-VARIETY/Week 1:

  • Public commitments online increase retention.  This can be achieved by the use of social ice breakers.  Bonk suggests a getting-to-know you activity of having all participants post 1-2 of their favorite websites and explain why they like the sites.  Then, have peers comment on the posts (or rate them).  
  • Class Google jockeys can access the internet and showcase what's important about a topic, providing links to text, soundtracks, video clips, etc.
  • Timelines are used by online newspapers, wired magazine, and by Facebook.  Bonk suggests that we can/should incorporate virtual timelines in online learning.
  • Video blogs could replace written blogs for students.  This seems like an especially appropriate accommodation for students with learning disabilities in written instruction.  
  • Social media.  Bonk and Khoo suggest that faculty create a fan page for their courses in Facebook (or possibly in Yammer here at PSU) to attract potential students and market the course.  It is suggested that the instructor of the course can use this "fan" page to ask students to contribute Web resources, links, and photos.  The fan page can be used as a bridge between formal and informal learning.
  • Feedback:  "Lack of feedback is deemed to be one of the main reasons for withdrawing from an online course" (Ertmer, Richardson, Belland, Camin, Connooly, Coulthard, Lei, & Mong, 2007 in Bonk & Khoo, 2012).  Courses need numerous encouragement and feedback mechanisms - from both peers and instructors.
Now, I must check out the hundreds of links Bonk references to see what can be refashioned and used in the courses that I help design.
I was invited to attend the ICMS focus group on 5/24/12 with learning designers, technical and programming gurus, and faculty from across the university.  We discussed current systems, resource needs, our ideas about ideal future systems, and various challenges to moving to our ideal future system.  

After listening and participating for the day, it seems that a diverse group of people, colleges, and programs from across the university with a variety of needs seek access and accessibility:
  • to resources (people, software, hardware, etc),
  • to support,
  • to courses (especially if we move to offering more open course content beyond the PSU community),
  • to information and knowledge, and
  • for all platforms, browsers, and devices.
Another definite need is to break away from so many silos to a more networked community willing to leverage its assets.  I once saw a picture of a cart that had square wheels being pushed by a number of people who were exerting great force.  Inside the cart, there was a pile of round wheels.  (I haven't published the picture for fear of copyright infringement).  I believe that we have everything we need at Penn State - we just need to look at what's right in front of us and use it.  I feel we really benefit from engaging in a collaborative process and I'm grateful for the conversations around the table on Thursday.  We also benefit from leadership, vision and a strategic plan and I'm grateful for those on the committee who have stepped up to lead this process.

Whatever we do or decide, we must consider system sustainability.  However, having said that, I also hope this process doesn't get bogged down by trying to please everyone, knowing that one size won't fit all.  As they say on clothing tags, "one size fits most."  We have to start somewhere, chewing on this elephant one bite at a time, knowing that we will need to adapt and adjust along the way - trying to fit the needs of most.  Flexibility is key.  

TLT Symposium

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The Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium (http://symposium.tlt.psu.edu/) and InnovaTour were excellent.  Jane McGonigal was inspiring.  It is worth checking out the games she mentioned:
Foldit:  http://fold.it/portal/info/science
Evoke:  http://www.urgentevoke.com/
Find the Future at NYPL:  http://game.nypl.org/#/

Also the Krause Innovation Studio in Chambers Building, the Knowledge Commons in the library, and the Media Commons in the library were very impressive.  They are definitely worth checking out.  What an exciting time to be in education.

Mobile Learning

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I spent the morning listening to Olaf Zawack-Richter as he discussed the field of distance education, including trends in distance education research.  Following the presentation, I looked up some information about him and came across this article he co-authored about mobile learning.   http://www.eurodl.org/?article=357

Emerging Technologies

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Do you want to know what's coming down the pike regarding emerging technologies? This report is an excellent resource (Penn State is a member of this organization, so the resource is free):  http://www.nmc.org/system/files/pubs/1328995195/2012-Horizon-Report-HE.pdf
To register for an account, click "create new account"Click "Register as member"Enter your information Check your email and click the link provided in the email
Enjoy the report!

Wordle

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Check out wordle if you are looking for a new way to capture written concepts creatively/visually: http://www.wordle.net/create
I have created a file that compares MediaSite, VoiceThread, and Adobe Connect. Please use this as a reference when choosing the technology that best suits your needs.   MSVTACcomparison.pptx

Bloom's Taxonomy - Learning in Action

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I came across this file and thought I would share.  It takes Bloom's Taxonomy, connects it with action verbs and then names learning tasks that might be appropriate for each level:  Blooms_rose.pdf

Yammer

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Yammer is an excellent tool for collaboration, information sharing, and group problem-solving and strategizing.  Check out this file about reasons to use Yammer:  Reasons to Use Yammer.docx

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