E-Learning Generations and Thoughts

Well, I certainly now know the evolution of online learning; where it originated and possibly where it’s heading.  It seems that there has been monumental growth in the past twenty years in this field and I can only imagine (not really) where the next twenty years will take us!  I decided to take a deeper look at what Second Life is all about because I know what my second life is and was wondering how/if it compares; so I read about it and this is what I discovered.  Second Life is an online virtual world developed by Linden Lab and introduced in 2003.  It is not a game, there are no manufactured conflict and no set objective.  Participants (known as Residents) create virtual representations of themselves, called Avatars and are able to interact with other avatars, places or objects.  They explore the world/grid, meet other residents, socialize, participate in individual and group activities, build, create, shop and trade virtual property and services with others.  It even has it’s own currency which can be exchanged for real currency?!   So… my first thought is why engage in this virtual world with all of these components when one can step outside his/her door and experience these first hand rather than virtually!  Then my mind went to who/what this world would be good for.  I am definitely an extrovert, I crave/need physical beings to engage with but am respectful of those who are not.  This world could be engaging for those who are not.  Also, for those who are working on building confidence in different aspects of their lives and those who are home-bound for medical, emotional, physical, and/or mental reasons.  This is my thought, hopefully I’m not being offensive, I am honestly ignorant to this world and am learning about it as well as about the people who engage in it:)  So, I am glad these virtual worlds exist because we all need places to engage in or retreat to that are stimulating for our being and bring us joy!!! Peace

My thoughts on Moore’s Theory of Transactional Distance

First of all, what a life of experience and travel this man has had!  Secondly, I found myself relating his theory and variables to what I see and know as a classroom teacher with students in front of me.  The first, dialogue, is so important to establish with each of my special needs students and it presents differently depending on the need I have to reach them and the need they have to respond.  A difference may be at my level, dialogue is initially established as trust in each other is formed whereas there are several pieces in this transactional distance that determine the dialogue.  Structure makes sense to me in that the more there is, the less flexible the program.  When the learner doesn’t have much input into his learning, if he doesn’t have autonomy, he is apt to shut down and have little interaction with instructor.  To me, autonomy is the key variable in this theory for learner success in transactional distance learning and I feel key to students learning in a classroom environment.  If a student isn’t engaged and invested in the process, little learning will result!  This article also kept reminding me of differentiation and how vital this is for each and every student, no matter what the philosophy, personalities, environments, or medium of communication!   Peace

My Reaction to Your Comments

Thank you all for commenting and adding words of encouragement!  I am taking this class for recertification points as well as wanting to learn more about technologies to improve teaching/learning for myself and my students.  The population of students that I work with use technology as a mode of entertainment, reinforcement of skills taught and a coping mechanism to engage in the learning process.  I have videoed students using appropriate behaviors and used this to teach a child with Autism what the behavior I’m requesting looks like.  I currently have a student with Autism that utilizes an i-pad for his schedule throughout the school day and his behavior is determined by whether his schedule is accessible to him.  At this point I’m not sure of how distance education would benefit this age group of students but I definitely see the power of it with older students from every walk of life!

My Reactions to the Article

My first impression after reading the article is that technology has come so far in a short time and the possibilities are endless as to where it can/will go.  One can get lost by the language and theories initially but when spending time learning (online) what they mean; it becomes easier to understand.  Distance education reaches across barriers and cultures and provides an avenue for learning that otherwise would not exist.  It opens possibilities to people who previously had very limited alternatives when traditional education didn’t work for them.  I am one that would struggle with the autonomy piece because I do much better when I can reach out and touch others in my learning.  I use/love the non-verbal cues and feel that I would be much better at listening and understanding what is being presented.  However, I’m aware that there are others that are completing opposite of me and shine when being left to themselves or their virtual worlds.  The metacognitive learning processes are key to being successful in learning whether online or in a classroom and students need guidance and to be taught what each of these components look like.  The teacher presence information is interesting.  I agree that it’s an important element of the online community but hope to find out more about how it’s attained in this forum.  Just from our short time together, I can see where communication and reaching out to each other is important and appreciated but how in the world would a teacher of a vast number of online students do that?!  As the synchronous learning activities improve so will these interactions.  I have been a part of video chatting (?) with a student in the hospital along with his 18 classmates in our classroom as well as face-timing with my college kids; I’m sure both of these are avenues that can be utilized in distance education.  All-in-all, I’ve learned a lot about distance education from this article and it’s made me think about the past, the present, and the future of our educational system.

Lou Ford

Hi, my name is Lou Ford and I am taking this class for recertification points and to become familiar with eLearning.  I work with special needs students in kindergarten and first grade.  I’m not sure how much this will benefit them but I know they would much rather do something on the computer than sitting at a desk.  I have 4 nearly grown children of my own whom have been doing most of the technology for me!  They have set up my facebook and instagram accounts and figure my phone and computer out when I’ve done something to them, almost  daily.  I don’t have much free time but when I do, I can be found running through the streets or on a trail.  I started this as a way to be alone when my kids were small and now most of them enjoy doing it with me! I have set my twitter up as well and have not used either of these technologies in the past.  I’m not sure how these could facilitate learning for my specific students at this point but am eager to explore them.

2nd Attempt Is Always Better!

Hello, is it me your looking for…. Yes it is.  My name is Lou and I am technology challenged!  I am taking this class to maybe catch up to my children and students.  I have four nearly grown children and I teach special needs students in kindergarten and first grade at PES.  I am noticing that the time at the bottom of this is 4 hours faster than true time?!