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Many online educators are searching for platforms that are relevant and agile. In the end, agility is maintained via flexible management.  In other words, instructors should be allowed to choose from the tools they prefer in an e-learning ecosystem so that they can configure their own e-learning environment.  Learning Tools Interoperability (LTI) may enable educators to have this flexible management in the e-learning environment.

LTI is designed to allow plug-and-play integration of instructional applications within educational platforms, such as LMS.  LTI is an open specification created by IMS Global Learning Consortium.  Before the introduction of LTI, connecting custom learning applications with a learning management system (LMS) was complicated and often expensive.  To accomplish this connection, an organization’s IT department had to assign or hire a developer to integrate each application with the LMS.  This process consumed a great deal of time and had to be revisited with each update of the application or LMS.  Conversely, it is easier to get the tools and platforms to work together (i.e., interoperability) if the LMSs and applications conform to the LTI specifications with their application programming interfaces (APIs).

Currently, most LMSs allow third-party applications to integrate with the platform, but the APIs used by each LMS are different (e.g., Blackboard versus Canvas).  For example, a vendor making an application for video editing would need to develop several APIs for their application so that it could connect with the various LMSs.  By contrast, LTI creates a common API that can be employed by any LMS or application developer.  This common API allows applications to be rapidly deployed within a LMS without hiring experts to make this connection.

More than 100 universities and colleges are actively engaged with LTI, and Western Governor’s University (WGU) is a prime example.  Initially, WGU tried to integrate a variety of learning tools with their LMS, and each tool required separate development.  After standardizing to LTI integration, WGU was able to write a single program to make all of the resources interoperable with their LMS.  The creators of LTI, IMS Global, offer a variety of applications that are certified as being compliant with LTI specifications, including hundreds of tools and 18 platforms.  The applications developed for integration include any tool created to connect to a LMS: library resources, subject-specific tools, authoring tools, etc….

The learning environment becomes more dynamic when learning tools are easily integrated into campus platforms, especially LMS.  Adopting a common approach to interoperability promotes faster integration and lowers the cost.  Ultimately, the LTI approach may allow instructors to build do-it-yourself learning environments that dramatically alter the role of and relationship with IT specialists.  LTI may be the first step toward allowing teachers to create a vibrant and rich ecosystem that is relevant and agile.

EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative. (2013, August). 7 things you should know about learning tools interoperability. Retrieved from https://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/ELI7099.pdf

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Traditionally, Instructional Design (ID) models have assumed a framework that was well structured and linear. Therefore, these ID models (e.g., ADDIE) were able to spell out each sequential step in the learning process. The nature of Web 2.0 is non-linear and ill-structured because it is created by users, and Zheng argues that traditional ID models do not meet the needs of Web 2.0 learners. He argues that Web 2.0 forces learners to negotiate ideas, and the final product of such negotiations can serve as posteri goals.

Is information gathered and presented differently in Web 2.0 versus traditional approaches?
Most ID models assume that learners consume content. Web 2.0 applications help learners move from a role of content consumers to that of content creators. Traditional ID models worked with the first generation of the Web because information was presented for consumption on a series of individual pages. However, Web 2.0 technologies are driven through a variety of collaboration, discussion and idea sharing.

A group or an individual, often the instructor, created content in the first generation of the Web. In juxtaposition, Web 2.0 serves as an ideal platform for learning accomplished through social constructivism. There is a sense of shared ownership, and all users have the opportunity to contribute to the online community.

Another major adaptation in Web 2.0 is the ownership of content. Traditional models assume that content is concrete and developed by an author or group of experts. Contrastingly, social negotiation plays a primary role in forming dynamic content in Web 2.0. Through discussions, the learners help to define the ever-evolving content.

The number of simultaneous domains found in Web 2.0 provides another contrast between Web 2.0 and traditional environments. Books, articles and traditional Web pages present information through one medium at a time, such as a series of different Web pages. In order to get a different view, one needs to access a different Web page, article or book. However, Web 2.0 allows users to experience a smorgasbord of media on any given topic within one Web page. A single page might include a discussion forum, video, music, blog and wiki.

Obviously, this variety of content can lead to cognitive overload. Supporters of Web 2.0 should only select those strategies that enhance learning and jettison distractions. Zheng held that Web 2.0 users learn through schemas-of-the-moment, rather than predefined schema construction and automation. Learning in Web 2.0 is by nature responsive and active, rather than simply being receptive. This new approach helps to facilitate learning that can be integrated across multiple domains. That is, the variety of ways information is presented through a schemas-of-the-moment approach encourages connections between concepts, ideas and fields of study.

Why don’t existing Instructional Design models work in Web 2.0?
Zheng’s argument for the need of a new ID model was predicated upon the premise that existing ID models are not appropriate for Web 2.0 environments. Early models of ID were based on the ADDIE (Analyze, Design, Develop, Implement and Evaluate) model. This model and similar ones (e.g., Gagne’s) are examples of linear system instructional design (SID). These approaches were created for goal-based, well-structured learning, which doesn’t work in the ill-structured Web 2.0 framework. Notions of constructivism in learning challenged these linear models.

The next generation of ID focused on non-linear SID. In essence, these models were very similar to earlier linear SID, but non-linear models were not restricted by a specific sequence of steps. The non-linear method took a more holistic approach, which encouraged learners to relate different events and access several events simultaneously. However, the non-linear method does not work well in the ill-structured Web 2.0 environment because goals in the non-linear approach are predefined.

Instructional designers have realized a disconnect between online learning and these two SID models (i.e., linear and non-linear). As a result, three new models have emerged to fit the unique needs of online learners, but these new approaches still do not fully meet the needs of Web 2.0 learners. The WisCom (Wisdom Community) design model aims to harness the collective wisdom of members through knowledge creation and social negotiation. However, the WisCom model still positions learners in the role of consumer and does not allow for user-generated content. The T5 (Tasks, Tools, Tutorials, Topics and Teamwork) design model promotes creative thinking and helps teachers use learning management systems (LMS) in an effective manner. Nevertheless, the T5 model does not account for learner’s knowledge creation in the online environment. Lastly, the 3PD (Three-Phase Design) model helps create a productive online learning environment, modifies content according to the needs of learners and maintains a quality environment. While the 3PD design is learner-oriented, this approach does not coordinate the various elements of the design process.

What theories serve as the basis for Zheng’s new Web 2.0 design model?
Five theories serve as the basis for Zheng’s new design model. First, emergence theory holds that highly complex and intelligent behavior can emerge from the interaction of elements without hierarchical or centralized control. Second, functional contextualism emphasizes goals that are developed as a result of initial learning (posteri goals) as opposed to priori goals that are formulated before learning begins. Third, the individual differences of each learner were considered in the formulation of this model. Fourth, metacognition was deemed a central component of this Web 2.0 design model. Last, the self-regulation of each learner was emphasized in the formation of the new model.

What does Zheng’s new Web 2.0 design model look like?
First, the Web 2.0 design model was characterized by a learner-centered approach in which users could simultaneously access a variety of knowledge domains. Second, the goals of the new approach would be defined by learners after the initial stage of social negotiation occurred through discussion on a topic (posteri goals). Third, schemas-of-the-moment would help to unravel ill-structured problems and issues that emerged in the learning process. Fourth, the collaboration of the teacher and learners would promote a dynamic learning environment. Last, this environment would encourage learners to adjust their metacognitive thinking skills and self-regulation.

The primary difference between the three new ID models and Zheng’s approach can be found in posteri goals and schemas-of-the-moment. The implementation of Zheng’s approach requires teachers to consider what learning activity will best elicit a desired behavior. This approach holds that complex learning is derived from open-ended learning, which incorporates posteri objectives and goals. The author also argues that open-ended learning promotes metacognitive thinking and self-regulatory behavior.

What are the strengths and weaknesses of this chapter?
The strengths of this chapter can be found in the literature review. The summary of theoretical models was solid, and the author made an excellent case for the need of a new design model. However, the major weakness of the chapter was the author’s presentation of his own model. He did not clearly define exactly what his model entailed, especially how it might be implemented.

How could teachers use the ideas presented in this chapter? What is the future?
I agree that ID should always be a central focus of teaching. I am not sure if traditional models are completely irrelevant to new learning environments. Perhaps traditional models could be tweaked to fit the Web 2.0 environment instead of completely scrapping approaches that are tried and true.

This chapter provided a very rich and concise overview of the evolution of ID. I now understand this development more clearly. Particularly, I thought the author did an excellent job of explaining why instructional designers moved from a linear to a non-linear approach. I will be interested to see what models will develop in the coming years to address the needs of learners in complex learning environments. The evolution of ID will never end in this regard because technology is ever-evolving. As content presentation changes so too will learning to some degree.

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