Author Archives: amattacchione

Week 5 Unit 1: Weekly Writing

AnneMarie Mattacchione

October 30, 2014

So far I have used many learning strategies while working on designing my unit. Just reading the information from articles and the text, I have reviewed and noted particular ideas that I want to consider and implement. Getting the foundational knowledge this way was helpful because I could review the information, sit and think about it, compare and contrast the differing taxonomy and play with it in my mind before application. The one struggle I have with learning is, I often feel I need more time to wrap my brain around the new information and how it fits or doesn’t fit into what I already know. For me, this process takes time. Given the fact that each week we must move on I am aware that I can’t linger long. Ideally, courses would be twice as long. I am sure there are very few people that would agree with me. Costs and time prohibit. In my ideal world, students could move along at a pace that is most helpful to them. So, when a student is a quick study, they do not have to linger unnecessarily. Online courses can offer this type of service. However, I don’t think the opposing idea could occur. Our university has removed year-long courses from course selection. It seems our completion rate on those courses was low.  I planned drafts of the differing ways to approach development of a unit of study on paper and then developed the graph of my unit of study on MindMeister. This was a good way to apply my thinking manipulating objects. Although I prefer concrete objects to digital, it was still a good way to organize my thoughts and to create a specific structure of the unit.

The most helpful learning regarding the development of the unit of study was the shared activity with another peer. First it was synchronous and second it was a time of reflection. Evaluating other’s work helps me to understand my own. Hearing another’s perspective helps me to fill in the blanks in my own considerations. I was glad that I could ask a question and not have to wait very long for the answer, which is often the case when using discussion boards or blogs. I feel energized by the back and forth exchanges. It really is my preferred way to learn. No answer is the right answer, there is just food for thought. This kind of collaborative work is what stretches my own learning and also teaches me new metacoginitive strategies. As I listen to how someone developed their unit, I become aware of their approaches and thinking. I always learn something new about the way I learn.

Unit 4 Week 3

October 25, 2014

AnneMarie Mattacchione

Since most of my experiences teaching is direct or face to face I feel I can related to the differing taxonomies of learning, active learning and problem-based learning through my sense of integration with relationships with students in a classroom setting. However, I have designed and taught eCampus courses for three years. My teaching lens is influenced mostly by the relational part of teaching face to face and before this course, I have tried to interpret those same strategies into the eCampus format. I purposely built in activities in which student must connect to one another and process course content together.

Interestingly, when I shared this approach with some of my colleagues who primarily teach distance learning; I get confused and concerned looks. I often feel I have to defend my position to include synchronous components so students can have authentic social learning experiences. Their position is that they have designed eCampus courses so that student do not have to meet at specific times and/or the instructor is not obligated to teach on a specific day or time each week. It was as if having synchronous components defeated the reason for eCampus courses- being completely an asynchronous options for students. I can’t imagine feeling connected to the teacher or other students without it.

In fact, this course is a struggle for me personally. The content is valuable and meaningful. The text is excellent.  The learning activities up to this point do not benefit a wide variety of learning styles. I see the value in written reflections, article critiques, and written comments on students work, however, I miss the verbal exchange of thoughts, ideas and wonderings. The course is heavy on reading and writing. My personal learning style includes a good dose of auditorial and kinesthetic.  I lack the meaningful verbal interactions between teacher and other students. For me, meaningful learning takes place in more than one modality. For me, the synchronous component is necessary. I prefer a steady diet of it. I find that I feel better connected to the course content and can learn more deeply if I get to bat around the ideas and content of the course with others in synchronous time, without having to compose a precise and grammatically correct written statement. Which, for me takes many hours to compose successfully.  Since taking distance courses, the best courses are those in which there is a weekly synchronous component facilitated by a competent instructor who, instead of lecturing, selects hands-on, interactive activities with small groups of students or didactic pairings. It takes time for students to grow comfortable with sharing. It takes time for students to learn each other well enough to understand one another’s perspective in light of their occupation, temperament and learning styles. The success of such interactive sessions requires students to minimize the eventual issues of potential intimidation, proper online etiquette, and vulnerability. Once students are able to feel comfortable with the relationship aspects of distance education interfaces, in my experience, learning become richer and more meaningful. If I could change this course, I would require a weekly or bi-weekly synchronous session with a fixed agenda of interactive learning experiences.

The more I learn about designing significant learning experiences the more it affirms my selection of course assessments, feedback, learning and teaching activities in my face to face courses. It also causes me to pause about the eCampus courses I have designed and teach and wonder if I am capturing the excellent processes outlined in the book and supplemental sources. I struggle to decide if those courses are effective due to my inexperience with eCampus course development rather than perhaps I do not have all the elements or enough of the right elements articulated in the pages of the book. I sense that it may be a little of both. I am excited that I will have the opportunity and resources to answer that question more fully this summer when I have time to sort through the materials in this course again and develop/adopt useful exhibits that will help me derive an answer. I think the way to really understand this material is to apply the concept to several courses I teach, assess the courses ongoing, make changes based on measurable evidence and have the opportunity to tweak the course on-going several times over the course of a couple of semesters.

As far as my own reflection of my strategies for learning so far in the course, I have learned that I need to read and reread the texts assignment several times a week before attempting the written assignment or application. I am one of the unfortunate learners where I am not able to remember what I have read on reading it one time. I not only need to review and read again and again, I have to apply it right away or I lose important facts and concepts quickly. I am envious of learners who can rely on their memory. My husband has a book “How to Read a Book; The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading’ by Adler & Van Doren. At first, I did not understand the benefit of this book. Didn’t we learn how to read books in preschool and primary school? My husband is a doctoral student. He said it was one of the most important books he has ever read despite being a student. So I browsed the content pages- which is one of their strategies for successful reading- it included the following: The Dimensions of Reading, Analytical Reading, Approaches to Different Kinds of Reading Matter, and The Ultimate Goals of Reading. I was amazed at what I could learn about reading from reading this bookJ

In conclusion, my number one metacognition strategy this semester is applying some of the principles of this book since we are doing a good bit of reading. I am working on implementing The Activity and Art of Reading: Active Reading, The Goals of Reading: Reading for Information and Reading for Understanding, Reading as Learning; the Difference between Learning by Instruction and Learning by Discovery, Present and Absent Teachers.

Works Cited

Adler, M. J., & Van Doren, C. (1972). How to Read a Book; The Classic Guide to Intelligent Reading. New York: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating Significant Learning Experiences An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.

Unit 4 Week 2 Weekly Writing

October 18, 2014

AnneMarie Mattacchione

I am working on revising an established face to face course, our introductory course for the Early Childhood Education Degree. After reviewing Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy I was able to more critically understand the differences between factual, conceptual, procedural and metacognition knowledge. Figure 1 The Cognitive Process Dimension better clarifies how each type of knowledge is represented in the action dimension of cognition. I applied this information in terms of defining how the cognitive process aligned with the learning objectives for the course. I was taught that for a 100 level course we strive to help students remember and understand with application. While, 300-400 level courses are interested in analyze, evaluate and create. That was how I was taught but not what I believed. I just could not see how using brute force to remember and understand a concept was a good idea since we know that is not the best way for children to learn.  We are preparing teachers, why would we want them to learn a teaching strategy they should not apply to their teaching in the classroom? I didn’t. For more than a few years, I have used a mix of processes for teaching knowledge.

Rose’s version of Bloom’s Taxonomy- Learning in Action provides very specific strategies for each area. The strategies listed have several of Gardner’s multiple intelligence styles of learning embedded. This appealed to me because the concept of multiple intelligences are a focus within the introductory course I am developing for this assignment. This idea reminds me that perhaps, I should add another layer to my concept map. It may help me to more easily see the learning styles that are minimal or lacking. I have been paying more attention to a schema that will help me to organize all this information so that I am included as diverse range of activities and assignment as possible. However, I also want to ensure each activities and assignment is meaningful and in line with backwards design principles.

McTighe’s white paper was not new to me but it was written in such a way that makes it easy to understand and apply the concepts. I feel like I need some practice. As the article suggest, this type of design is not usual to many and takes a bit of getting used to when developing courses. McTighe references Covey’s principle of starting with the end in mind. A principle I am well familiar and practiced. As a former administrator of several early childhood programs, I held tightly to this principle with good results. Intuitively I used this principle of backward design, however, not with the full scope of the entire course learning objectives. As well, I have not measured my effectiveness against well designed learning objectives. As a degree program, the faculty are doing so as we move through this course, so this information is timely and interesting to the group.

McTighe encourages the use of essential questions to determine useful objectives. This idea was not new to me but I have become convinced the practice is essential to get at what is most important. He states that we cannot possibly help students learn and apply all that they could know about the course subject. I appreciate that perspective. I come to terms with this problem each planning session prior to each semester when deciding what is the most important information students should know now considering cultural, research and pedagogical changes since the last time of teaching the course. The work it takes to get at the most essential questions will take time initially, but can leave us with the certainty that for at least this semester we are offering the best for our students.

My essential questions are somewhat determined for me because our degree program follows the National Association for the Education (NAEYC) Standards for Early Childhood Education degree programs. So, what our association has determined as the most important areas to focus in teacher preparation. It will be interesting to align these standards with my sense of what students should know and be able to do in terms of backward design. For me, it is not clear if the standards are the end in mind and then the course is developed or rather, do we have the end in mind and determine which standard fits? There is much to consider and sort through. I have a feeling that I will need a few more semesters to allow all this information to sink in and feel that I understand and can apply effectively.

I used Mindmeister to make my concept map. I began with the course title and current NAEYC standard. I then used two of the indicators under this standard. I created a third based on the “end in mind.’ I included for each the supportive skills assigned to this standard, again an NAEYC mandate. I then included how Bloom’s Revised Taxonomy and Significant Learning Experiences align with the indicator (also the learning objective.) I then added a placeholder for teaching and learning activities and feedback and assessment. Which I separated since for our program, are used very differently. We spend a lot of time ensuring our feedback is intentional and meaningful toward student understanding and learning.

Introduction_to_Early_Childhood_Eduction (4)

Works Cited

Bloom’s Taxonomy-Learning In Action. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wikipedia: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/24/Blooms_rose.svg

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating Significant Learning Experiences An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Krathwohl, D. (2002). A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy: An Overview. Theory into Practice, 212.

McTighe, J. (n.d.). Understanding by Design. Retrieved from https://www.mheonline.com/secondaryscience/pdf/ubd.pdf

Weekly Writing Unit 4 Week 1

Weekly Writing Unit 4, Week 1

October 11, 2014

AnneMarie Mattacchione

I was delighted to read chapter 2 & 3 of the text. Many of the concepts Fink describes were part of my unconsciously competent skills when teaching adults. I am consciously aware of how I implement foundational knowledge, application, integration and more recently learning how to learn or metacognition. However, caring and human dimension have been a part of my course planning and activities but I felt perhaps I may be  wasting the students time implementing strategies and assignments that focused on getting at the caring and human dimension indicators. I was torn by what I felt was right, but not having clear direction to do so.  I feel a new freedom. Now I have empirical clout to defend my position!

It is my opinion that all situational factors will impact my lesson plan. I plan to use an anticipated course that I will teach in spring to develop my lesson plan. My focus will be on the one course that is least developed utilizing the taxonomy of significant learning as well as Brown, Collins and Duguid’s article. I believe that a review of all my courses would benefit from looking through this new lens. Since I plan to use an existing course I first need to do an analysis of the course outcomes, assignments, and activities which align with the situational factors and which areas are lacking or weak. I imagine using a grid of some kind to help me process this information more intentionally. So something like the following:

 

Categories Learning Outcomes Activities Feedback and Assessment Revise?
Foundational Knowledge
Application
Integration
Human Dimension
Caring
Learning how to Learning
Tools
Enculturation
Authentic Activity
Structuring Activity
Apprenticeship

 

I would insert the appropriate outcome, activity/assignment, feedback and assessment which currently aligns with the category and consider its strength and appropriateness. I can already see another benefit of this type of analysis- redundant and missing or weak areas.

When considering the important situational factors listed in exhibit 3.2 the first category is already known since I am selected a scheduled course for spring semester 2015. Considering the second factor: expectations of external groups I have addressed the three bullets in the courses I current develop. However, as a faculty group I want to ensure we have a good understanding and articulated assumptions regarding our curricular goals for the department. I think I know it and I think we agree, however I don’t want to assume. Under nature of the subject, I need to further consider the final bullet- Is the field relatively stable, in a period of rapid change? I believe our field (Early Childhood Education) is in a period of rapid change. I must consider how this will impact what and how I teach. I cover this area considerably in one of my courses however, again, do we have agreement across the discipline? And how are we making adjustments?

While I believe that I use intentional and meaningful strategies to get to know my students, I want to compare the bullet list carefully. I am fortunate that the majority of students in our classrooms I have advised. Therefore, I get to know the students before they begin courses and again between semesters. I take advantage of this time by first understanding their story- how did they come to the university? Why are they interested in the discipline? What are their academic goals? Are they currently employed and where? Have they had prior work experience in the field? What are the personal demands they are juggling this semester? What schedule of courses would work for their successful completion considering their personal demands? One characteristic I have not implemented during the advising meeting is getting to know their learning style. It comes out a little when we talk about face to face and eCampus courses. Some students are strongly opposed to eCampus courses because their learning style requires interactive discussions and questioning as well as support for learning how to be a good student. A task much harder to learn online unless the teacher is available and attentive. It would be easy to ask them to take a short interactive quiz to determine their learning style.

Since I am teaching the same course I am developing, I have a good idea of my own particular challenges and strengths that can be adjusted to while developing the course. During the semester I keep a log of my new awareness of my own teaching and how I want to address it the next time I teach the course. Since I teach most of the courses in the degree, I typically do not teach the same course in sequential semesters, so tracking the adjustment is critical for implementation later. After five years of fulltime teaching I would have assumed I would change course content less often, but I find the opposite is true. As I grow and develop as a teacher, I am being more aware of how well students are learning or not learning. This inspires me to challenge myself to keep exploring and learning how to teach. I am finding honest student feedback to be very helpful as well as continuing my studies of adult learning.

 

Works Cited

Brown, J.S. (1989).  Situated cognition and the culture of learning,  Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32—42.

Fink, L. D. (2013). Creating Significant Learning Experiences An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey- Bass.

 

 

Article Review #3

AnneMarie Mattacchione

October 4, 2014

Examining teacher education practices in early childhood degree programs is the central theme in this journal article review. Reconceptualising higher education pedagogy in online learning outlines a study of 16 subjects (courses) across two early childhood degree programs. The study focus was to help early childhood faculty address the change to federal requirements in teacher preparatory degree programs. Prior to the federal changes, degree delivery consisted of paper-based coursework in an online context. The idea to reconceptualise the pedagogy was birthed out of an action research idea by the faculty.  The emphasis on understanding the conclusions of the study are the characteristics of online pedagogy and not on the delivery mechanism. (Green, et al., 2010) Prior to the study, student learning focus primarily on knowledge and application as two separate and distinct processes and measures. After the study, faculty embraced the idea of learning as knowledge creation, unified and a social process.

The design of the project was guided by design-based research, also call development research. Researchers reflected individually and as a team on the pedagogy being utilized. “Data from the reflections provide a basis for decision-making about how to change what is happening to optimize outcomes.’(Green, et al., 2010, p. 258) Six characteristics were utilized to describe the project.

  1. Focus on broad-based, complex problems critical to higher education
  2. Integration of known and hypothetical design principles with technological affordances to render plausible solutions to complex problems.
  3. Rigorous and reflective inquiry to test and refine innovative learning environments, as well as to reveal new design principles
  4. Long-term engagement involving continual refinement of protocols and questions
  5. Intensive collaboration among researchers and practitioners
  6. A commitment to theory construction and explanation while solving real-world problems

The reconceptualization utilizing these six characteristics dramatically changed the way faculty designed the online courses with much emphasis on strategies to emphasis a full range of higher order learning outcomes, such as advocacy, advancing community knowledge, adaptiveness and promisingness. (Hone & Sullivan, 2009) Strong influences in assignment development included teaching through assessment and advancing community knowledge. An example used in the article is captured below.

Faculty efforts to advance community knowledge illuminated an awareness of how that knowledge would be integrated into current student and online community learning. Instead of students learning in isolation, the idea of integration was explored. Equal parts of online community knowledge, student’s community knowledge and individual knowledge creation were blended to form collaborative group work. “The online sharing of community knowledge becomes adaptive knowledge creation within the individual, which in turn impacts the wider community. Students bring to the assessment task their unique interests and they become conscious of shared and/or overlapping knowledge, which they develop into a group response. (Green, et al., 2010, p. 267)

Another aspect of interest to me was the idea of promisingness. “Promisingness has been described by Hone and Sullivan (2009 as a kind of knowledge facilitated in online learning environments through a progressive curriculum, unfolding and emerging.’  (Green, et al., 2010, p. 268) The idea is for students to experience the increasingly flexible content, tasks, and assessment in each course. Thus, incorporating the cognitive learning experience within a social construct; this principle aligns nicely with the work of Vygotsky and Bronfenbrenner.

Since the study was an action research, much of the knowledge gained is qualitative; therefore, subjective and without the rigors of quantitative study. The authors noted that challenges and changes are ongoing and expected. Continued analysis and evaluation needed with the promise of the publication of follow-up papers, which will include “insights and perspectives from student’s and further personal journeys of academics.’  (Green, et al., 2010, p. 270)

As faculty of early childhood education, this study was of particular interest to me. As I was reading, my thoughts compared our current online pedagogy with the study. I quickly realized that I may have an articulated online pedagogy, but I cannot assume our department has the same one. Since we are in the middles of our accreditation self-assessment process, this is an ideal time to bring up the challenge of what is described in the study- “Further reconceptualization in online environments across courses is required to ensure the links, connectivity, and consistencies across degree programs are strong and demonstrate more meaningful professional study experiences for students. (Green, et al., 2010, p. 270) I am afraid we may be “insular and unconnected.’

I even considered inviting the lead author of the study to come to Fairbanks to enlighten us further concerning their learning and adaptations. I am hungry for further understanding and their process that took them on this journey.

References

Green, N. C., Edwards, H., Wolodko, B., Stewart, C., Brooks, M., & Littledyke, R. (2010). Reconceptualising higher eduction pedagogy in online learning. ProQuest Education Journals, 257-273.

Hong, H.-Y., & Sullivan, F. (2009). Towards an idea-centered, principle-based design approach to support learning as knowledge creation. Educational Technology Research & Development.

 

Unit 3 Weekly Writing

AnneMarie Mattacchione

September 29, 2014

I teach students fresh out of high school to elderly students wanting to do what they love, not necessarily what they could afford at an earlier age, and all ages in-between. This range of ages enables me to have a depth of understanding of our current student capabilities and learning challenges. It also challenges me to try to meet all the needs of those students. While Exploring the Edge focuses on new and innovated teaching strategies and practices, not all young student navigate their world through the variety of interfaces outlined in the article, but many do. Many elderly students do not identify with how younger generations learn from technology.  I teach primarily to the female population with an occasional male student. It is true that females interface with the online environment; they are not nearly as interested in the gaming community as males. They tend to engage in social media with limited gaming characteristics while many more males engage in gaming with some social media. Females tend to use games such as Words with Friends, or Wagon Trail.  The description of World of Warcraft and how it teaching leadership and group cooperation was a good summary of these concepts. My son has played World of Warcraft for several years and for the last two years has been a guild master. He talks to me about his struggle with keeping his guild committed and competent in a global world of competition. At first, being female and academic, I questioned his use of time, since the commitment to being a guild master is substantial for a full-time student and part-time employee. But as time went by, his illuminations about leadership and commitment to something difficult for him felt more valuable. Just when I was coming to terms that the game would be useful way to utilize his time, he stops. Instead, he has chosen to spend time with people nearby instead of people who live all over the world and likely people he will never see, nor interact with again. I was glad for his change of mind. With limited resources of time and energy, I value pouring into the people that are family, friends that are in physical reach.

Further into the article Brown encourages the use of this kind of technology in classrooms. He doesn’t specify which kind of classroom, face to face or online, which makes me wonder about application in both settings. The interactivity of Brown’s strategies pair nicely with Eric Mazur’s approach. Interconnectedness is not new to the social sciences. Similar techniques have been used for many years to elicit students to hone their interactive and problem solving skills much needed to work with other students and later as practitioners in community settings. If these are 21st century skills then, I feel good about my student’s preparedness. I imagine this type of approach is welcoming to students in theoretical fields. Mazur’s classrooms tend to be well populated. It seems if you sit near the front you may have more frequent interactions with him. I imagine it is difficult for him to get to connect with his students personally and build a rapport. I would imagine the learning experience for those students are different than for the other students that sit in the middle and back of the lecture hall. Connecting with a mentor on-going, in my opinion, should be one of the characteristics in the 21st century literature. This webpage and content was not new to me. The partnerships between education, business, government and communities mimic the global economy landscape.

Twenty-First Century Children details the path that school should take to ready the future workforce to work within and successful navigate a global economy. The 3Rs include: English, reading or language arts; mathematics; science; foreign languages; civics; government; economics; arts; history; and geography. As well, the 4Cs include: critical thinking and problem solving; communication, collaboration; and creativity and innovation. It was not clear if the 4Cs include approaches to learning. In this course we have discussed the importance of temperament, individual learning styles, culture and learning modes necessary to build appropriate online courses. I have longed wished that K-12 classrooms would focus more on individual learners than learning outcomes. Brown’s article points to the idea that if we design assignments around people’s natural maturational imperatives, students will learn not out of brute force, but out of a state of pleasure and deep satisfaction of their own needs and desires. That’s the kind of learning we all want to experience. I would argue that this type of learning begins shortly after birth when parents and other caregivers meet the emotional and learning needs of infants. Who then become toddlers who continue to explore learning based on their maturational imperatives, pleasures of interest, learning styles and preferences. If we are careful to encourage such explorations, toddlers become preschoolers who have an enthusiasm for learning that cannot be contained. Imagine if this same level of enthusiasm were carried through to primary and secondary schools? Learning the 3Rs and 4Cs would be well received and as Brown puts it “but the concept of lifelong learning- a term used all too glibly-“ would not only be more important than ever, but more embraced than ever. (Brown, 2006, p. 23)

I graduated high school in 1982. My senior year was my first introduction to DOS. Oh boy, shortly after that windows point and click options enlightened the world of the programming challenged. I was very grateful that I did not have to learn code and computer language to make something work on a computer. Now I want to. I almost feel I need to. There is discussion among some states to make computer programming part of primary and secondary core requirements. I think of the possibilities I may be missing not having a rich understanding of computer language and the development of interfaces. I am PRO technology! I embrace it. I am marveled by it. Like many of us, we have been witness to the advent of the computer and online ages. Just the other day, I was talking with my son and his girlfriend about my new iPhone 6. Joshua’s girlfriend went to the Verizon to check out the 6 Plus. She came back and was critical of the size. She indicated that it would be like talking to your iPad as a phone. She gestured with big open palm movements next to her ears indicating the tremendous size of using the iPhone 6 Plus. I quibbled “Oh, it’s like the 80’s cell phones!’ She stared blankly. Never took her eyes off mind. It was then that I realized I was talking to a 23 year old, who had no idea, what I was talking about. It was then that I realized the only technology used in my high school consisted of a TV, boom boxes, electronic typewriters, cash register, land-lines, and stapler. So much has changed. I imagine this generation of students will be having this same awareness as old technology moves over for new. Perhaps we must adopt one more 21 century axiom, nothing is permanent, but change.

Brown, J. (2006).  New learning environments for the 21st century: Exploring the edge.  Change, 38(5), 18-24.

Article Review #2

Article Review #2:

AnneMarie Mattacchione

September 27, 2014

Recent discussion concerning cultural and other characteristics of student learning led me to investigate further. Learning Styles and Online Education (2007), argues that “when students’ learning styles are identified, it is possible to define an appropriate context of learning.’ The article discusses the design, methodology, approach, research limitations and implications, originality and value of the findings. For purposes of the study, learning styles is defined as “the preference or predisposition of an individual to perceive and process information in a particular way or combination of ways’ (2007, p. 8). Zapalska and Brozik utilized the VARK questionnaire to determine student learning styles to analyze which of the learning styles or combination typically accesses and/or has preferences for an online learning community rather than other learning modalities. The VARK questionnaire determines the preferred learning style or combination of learning styles using the following modes: Aural (A), read/writers (R), visual (V), and kinesthetic (K). Typically a strong preference in one particular mode is evident, often paired with one or more mode(s).

For this study, two courses were examined with a total of 25 students over the course of summer and fall semesters. Zero students identified themselves as unimodel, five bimodal, 16 trimodel, and four multipmodel. Of the 25 students, only two identified with strong auditorial preferences. The remaining models were rather evenly mixed among preferences. This indicator led the researchers to determine that few students with a strong aural learning style were lacking from participating in online courses. Based on the information collected during the study, Zapalska and Brozik determined that online courses should accommodate all types of learners. “Combining a mixture of approaches and teaching methods allows online student to choose the instructional style that best fits their individual learning styles’ (2007, p. 12). Recommendations include using a learning styles assessment instrument like the VARK to enable teachers to design courses with assignments tailored to their student preferred learning style. The article suggest several teaching strategies for all online education to increase the opportunities to bi or multimodal student learning styles: provide content in multiple formats, allow for individual locus of control (enabling students to move through the course topics in random order), and encouraging active and collaborative interactions (2007, p. 10).

To encourage active and collaborative learning, teachers should offer discovery learning, project-based and cooperative learning to encourage creativity, decision-making and problem solving (2007, p. 10). Such assignments typically pair students together to facilitate and complete a project that captures all four learning style modes. Specific examples of this type of assignment include small-group discussions during synchronous sessions, online work in groups and application-rich assignments. One in particular interested me, the idea of virtual field trips and videos. Often, textbook publishers provide e-packs that include special short videos or short films. Providing students with virtual trips allow students to be able to comprehend what they are learning (comprehension level) and apply what they have learned in new ways (application level). Students learn at the speed comfortable to them, and this affords them with more opportunities to feel in control (2007, p.11).

One criticism of the study is the small sample size. I also wonder if the study was conducted during the fall/spring semesters what effect this changed would have on the data. Sometimes students are forced to take online courses during the summer because their face to face option is not available. Typically, most university faculty are off contract during the summer months. I wondered further how often students take online courses out of necessity rather than preference when no other option is available. It is likely I will look for a study that tries to answer the latter question.

Zapalska, A., & Brozik, D. (2007). Learning styles and online education.  Campus – Wide Information Systems,  24(1), 6. doi:https://dx.doi.org/10.1108/1065074071072645

 

 

Unit 2: Week 2 Weekly Writing

AnneMarie Mattacchione

September 22, 2014

Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies (2010) provides 50 independent effects for consideration. The meta-analysis describes each facet of the study and provides detailed metrics. I applaud the attempt to make sense of online studies measuring the effects on student learning; however, I find myself questioning the validity. For example the meta-analysis outlines in exhibit 1. Conceptual Framework for Online Learning (p. 5) the comparison of like and enhanced assignments between the differing learning modalities. It indicates that some opportunities for learning were provided in one context but not in the comparison assignment. For example: “Live, one-way webcast of online lecture course with limited learner control (e.g., students proceed through materials in set sequence)’ is compared to “Viewing webcasts to supplement in-class learning.’ It appears one set of students are instructed to proceed through the learning materials while another is provided a choice to use the materials. In my opinion, if we do not measure the same course assignments then how is it possible to have a valid understanding of the student learning outcomes?

In the Early Childhood Education department at UAF faculty have developed face to face, eCampus, and audio courses to meet the needs of various learning styles and course accessibility. We measure each course learning objectives with a mix of common assignments and teacher selected assignments. Each course has a least one common assigned which includes the same assignment instructions, rubric and student feedback format. We can measure student learning across all modalities in this one learning outcomes using the common assignment. However, I do not see how we can do the same for the teacher selected assignments, since each teacher determines what assignment is used and how it is measured. I could not compare the effectiveness of the student learning outcome with mine since we do not have a common way to measure. To me it would be like measuring apples to oranges. However, individual teachers can compare their teacher-determined assignment from year to year to understand the effectiveness of the assignment, instruction and student supports. As a whole, I am not convinced this particular meta-analysis can make a valid determination of the effectiveness of online compared to face to face courses. I suppose I need to see that we are comparing apples to apples.

However, I consider the ongoing conversation concerning the differing approaches to online learning interesting. What exactly do we mean by online learning? According to this study blended learning seems to edge-out other forms of learning online and purely face-to-face.

“In fact, the learning outcomes for students in purely online conditions and those for students in purely face-to face conditions were statistically equivalent. An important issue to keep in mind in reviewing these findings is that many studies did not attempt to equate (a) all the curriculum materials, (b) aspects of pedagogy and (c) learning time in the treatment and control conditions. Indeed, some authors asserted that it would be impossible to have done so. Hence, the observed advantage for blended learning conditions is not necessarily rooted in the media used per se and may reflect differences in content, pedagogy and learning time.’ (p. 17)

This particular statement aligns with what I believe takes the best of both the online and face to face world- combining approaches that are best for students learning styles. Some students confess during advising appointments that they do not like the online forum of learning and benefit more so from face to face contact with peers and teachers. They often cite their learning style necessitates a face to face interface for learning. Some students argue that flexibility of schedule is more important than meeting the needs of their particular learning style. They do the work online because it is most convenient for them, rather than take a modality they prefer. Then there are students that feel most comfortable taking online courses, yet still complain they feel isolated. When I added blended elements to my eCampus courses, student feedback was more positive about them not feeling so isolated.

To me, meeting the student learning outcomes is not all there is to the learning experience for students. Another wondering I had about the meta-analysis is comparison of student accomplishment. Did students learn more because they had higher grades? Did students learn more because it fit their learning style better? Will students maintain the learning? I have earned high grades in all my courses since starting college many years ago, but can I remember the course content? Which content do I remember? For me, the most memorable learning opportunities involved the interdependent relationships between me and the teacher and my peers when I was able to construct my own knowledge in a social context. Sometimes that included online learning communities, but most often in face to face settings. The point of learning is not to learn something once; it is to use the information in an application for future learning or performance. I would argue those students who are able to use their preferred learning modalities and styles are more capable of application and retainment.

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Planning, Evaluation, and Policy Development, Evaluation of Evidence-Based Practices in Online Learning: A Meta-Analysis and Review of Online Learning Studies, Washington, D.C., 2010.

Unit 2: Week 1 Weekly Writing

Unit 2 Week 1: Weekly Reading

AnneMarie Mattacchione

September 20, 2014

Ally discusses and offers recommendations for best online teaching practices based on several schools of learning: Behaviorist, Cognitivist, Constructivist, and Connectivist. Ally’s article focuses on ensuring the reader is able to understand the importance of each school of learning as well as functionality in online learning communities. I appreciate the connection to valid theoretical approaches and the importance of application. His discussion is meaningful and timely. For some time, concerns about the validity of online teaching approaches and strategies have been worrisome to me. I see myself as a true novice in terms of online course development and teaching, hence the reason for my engagement in this course.

My teaching experiences are generally through face to face modalities: classroom semester-based courses, community workshops, seminars, intensives, and coaching. It is easy to relate to Ally’s differing schools of learning utilized in classroom-based teaching and learning. I teach each of the schools of learning to students in the Early Childhood Education degree. I use parallel process as a learning strategy when teaching adult students. Since children learn best by constructing their own knowledge, I use constructivist approaches when designing classes and assignments in hopes that the students will use similar approaches when teaching children. We discuss how behaviorist principles are employed in their learning as well as the children in early childhood classrooms. We weave cognitivist philosophies into all courses to emphasize the importance of assimilation and accommodation. I have no argument that these schools of learning are appropriate, equally useful and necessary for both online and classroom-based learning.

After reading the final school of learning, Connectivist theory for online learning, I concluded that the title is limiting. Since students are utilizing technology both in and outside the classroom setting, the principles are current and useful for classroom-based learning. So much so, I would advocate for a titled change from Connectivist Theory for Online Learning to Connectivist Theory. Ally describes these guidelines in terms of rapid information dissemination and evolution, innovative and globally influenced, learning in peer to peer and social constructs, and finally multidisciplinary. In my experience, classroom-based teaching and learning not only does not preclude such characteristics but are common inventions.

It seems reasonable to question the ability of students to embrace each guideline. For example: Connectivist theory supposes the rapid changes to and addition of information and knowledge. “The rapid increase of information available from a variety of sources means that some information is not as important or genuine as other information. As a result, the learner must be able to identify important information from unimportant information. (Ally, 2008, p. 34) While this is true based on the sheer number of available periodicals and technology resources, that information is not always accurate, valid and reliable. I find myself regularly helping students understand and navigate toward valid and reliable sources of data. Since this type of discrimination is taught as a pre-requisite at the B.A. level, but not for 100 and 200 level courses, students do not have the necessary skills to determine appropriate web-sources or peer-reviewed journal articles. Many want to use sources that are questionable, not because they know the difference, but because they think if it is published on the web or is found at the local library, it must be good enough to use in course assignments.

As well, I see another challenge to the current University degree structure. Ally speaks to the need for students to become more multidisciplinary, “Learners must be exposed to different fields so that they can see the connections between the information in the fields.’  (Ally, 2008, p. 35) After reading this guideline, I smiled. Finally, research that validates what I have long known, that it is more meaningful to integrate knowledge from other disciplines to help students understand foundational concepts. I use knowledge from family studies, psychology, human development, and brain research to explain common principle of child development. I am fortunate that my educational curiosity helped me to explore other disciplines, in turn, offering this knowledge to get students excited about cross-discipline study. In recent month, it seems that universities struggle to ensure timely completion and minimal expense to students. While, this awareness is valid both in terms of outcome measurement and affordability, inspiring students to go beyond the degree requirements to explore related disciplines will be a challenge.

Despite challenges, both online and face to face classroom learning experiences include many more similarities than differences in terms of applying school of learning theories outlined in Ally’s article. The more I think about the differences in each modality, the more I embrace what Ally describes as “the goal to any instructional system is to promote learning’. (Ally, 2008, p. 18) Ally goes on to indicated that “strategies should be selected to motivate learners, facilitate deep processing, build the whole person, cater to individual differences, promote meaningful learning, encourage interactions, provide relevant feedback, facilitate contextual learning, and promote support during the learning process. (Ally, 2008, pp. 18-19) Isn’t that a true statement no matter a student’s choice in learning environment?

Ally, M. (2008).  Foundations of educational theory for online learning. In  Anderson, T., & Elloumi, F. (Eds.).  The theory and practice of online learning  (2nd ed.)  (pp. 15—44). Athabasca, AB, Canada: Athabasca University.