The Advantage of the Podcast in Education

The greatest technology I have used is the podcast.  In today’s society, podcasts are the newest, greatest thing, and most importantly, free.  iPod was the word of the year in 2005 and most students have some device that plays mp3s or mp4s, whether it is a cell phone, computer, or mp3/mp4 player.  The lesson plan I created for podcasts includes developing student-produced podcasts as both a teaching tool as well as an assessment tool.

Creating podcasts gives students the opportunity to also develop skills using computers, software such as PowerPoint, Excel, movie editing, and other industry specific software, as well as a variety of hardware, along with Internet and RSS feeds.  This constructivist approach allows students the flexibility to use their own creativity as well as motivate the students to produce quality podcasts due to the fact that the podcasts are then showcased worldwide on iTunes.

This activity although designed to enhance the learning of science labs, can be adapted for any subject matter.  I have found that when students learn that they will have to teach what they learn, it motivates them to pay more attention to detail and can provide excitement in the classroom when students can create their own product.

By Higher Power Training: Providing Instructional Design and Training Services since 2000

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Learning Theories and Technology

There are a number of learning theories applicable in the Instructional Design process.  Two common approaches include: behavioral and cognitive.

While behaviorist theories base their learning on the stimulus-response interaction, cognitivists base their learning on the process of discovery with the aid of an instructor.  Cognitivists place greater interest in knowledge, meaning, intentions, feelings, creativity, expectations, and problem-solving.  Behaviorists place greater emphasis on positive re-enforcement and negative punishment.  Although behaviorists and cognitivists are very different, both have some similarities.  Both believe learning theories should be objective and discuss the environmental impact training has upon the learner.  Cognitivists also believe in reinforcement, but on a different level. They reinforce the learner through a process of retrieving existing knowledge and presentation of new information.

Jerome Burner is the cognitivist that best reflects Higher Power Training‘s view of learning.  We are a firm believer in providing an environment that allows students to explore in a controlled environment allowing students to process, store, and retrieve information for use.  As a trainer it is essential to establish a foundation to develop critical thinking and problem solving skills within students.

Higher Power Training is responsible for designing innovative and interactive training programs that can be implemented into classrooms or online.  In the workplace, the cognitive approach works best because of the ever-changing growth of a company or organization.  With the use of the cognitive approach students have the opportunity to discover their own findings and share their results in a controlled but creative way.  Leadership qualities will be developed by providing a structured program that encourages inquiry-based learning and student creativity by branching through scenario based e-learning modules.

By Higher Power Training: Providing Instructional Design and Training Services since 2000

Technology Can Help Training

When comparing computer use in grade school to that in high school, grade school programs are much more behaviorist in their use and effect.  Whether the computers are used for English, math, science, or social studies, computer-based training is generally designed to supply immediate feed back.  Most training programs will give feed back at the end of each assignment or at the end of each question.  If students are successful, they are rewarded by being permitted to enter the next level; if the students are unsuccessful, they are required to repeat the level they are current trying to complete.

Computer-based training programs are designed purposely this way to offer students learning methods that instructors are not capable of providing in the classroom.  For example, it is not practical to expect a trainer to assess a quiz immediately after each student has completed their work, but with computer-based training programs students have the opportunity to receive immediate feed back, while supplying the training department with valuable information to help shape their training programs and instructional design process by assessing the students’ growth, using this Kirkpatrick Level 2 Evaluation.  These computer based and web based training programs are critical in student growth and development.

By Higher Power Training: Providing Instructional Design and Training Services since 2000

Growing with Technology

Technology has impacted almost every aspect of our lives including adult and higher education. Adult learners, like other students, all learn best in a variety of approaches and succeed best when their strengths are highlighted. It is the responsibility of the instructor to identify each student’s strengths and teach to those strengths; many times, technology can assist in this objective and provide both instructors and students with many benefits to enhance and reinforce the educational experience.

Technology in the Classroom

Technology has been used in training for years; it used to include VCRs, overhead projectors, and bulky desktop computers, but with the aid of technology advances, technology in the classroom has become endless. In the Era of Technology, students in a college classroom can be exposed to virtual reality training devices, PDAs and tablets, digital cameras, laptop computers, iPods, digital projectors, and smartboards. As adults we now have the opportunity to continue our professional development and training without ever stepping foot into a classroom by taking online courses. When considering the advantages and disadvantages of technology in supporting adult and higher education, three factors should be considered:

(1) Does the technology improve access to training?

(2) Does the technology improve the quality of education?

(3) Does the benefits of the technology justify the costs?

Effective Technology

The integration of technology has been an ongoing challenge for years but the rewards for technology integration are well worth the struggles. Three learning theories that impact adult learners are the behaviorist approach, constructivist approach, and cognitivist approach; all three approaches can be enhanced with technology and can successfully enhance the educational experience for all students no matter what their strengths and weaknesses. The digital age can enhance liberal education if we make appropriate use of digital opportunities. The key to technology effectiveness is proper integration of the technology so that it enhances or reinforces a lesson plan rather than creating difficulties for the students or teacher such as technical issues or distractions. In a world that is dominated by technology, it is important for students to be introduced to various technological options and experience how they can be beneficial in both their class as well as real-world application. One of the biggest benefits with technology such as the Internet is that students have unlimited access to information. Internet, as well as virtual reality, PowerPoint, iPods, PCs and tablets, can also offer interactivity. One of the most common benefits of technology is how various technologies can be combined, for example, a teacher can place all videos, PowerPoint lectures, and assignments on the Internet for students to use at home as they continue to study outside of the classroom or workplace. Technology can also aid in the development of problem-solving skills as well as encouraging inquiry-based thinking, thus gaining a deeper understanding of the information presented in class. The greatest benefit of technology is that technology will continue to improve and change, offering instructors even more ways to deliver the information to their students, thus allowing all students the best opportunity to succeed no matter what their best learning methods.

Ineffective Technology

Although technology offers a variety of benefits, there are disadvantages that need to be addressed before determining if and what technology can enhance adult learning. The most popular complaint with technology is the lack of professional development supplied to teachers and staff to help successfully integrate new technology into already pre-established curriculum and lesson plans. Technology can also provide distractions.

Technology in Training

When researching the different types of technologies available to enhance learning, a trainer must first determine their own knowledge of the technology and available professional development. Once the trainer is proficient with the technology, they must determine how integrate it successfully to achieve their ultimate goal. They must consider costs for technology, the time it will take to train the students in the technology, possible problems the trainer or students may encounter with the technology, and the ability for the students’ learning to be enhanced and not hindered by the integration of the technology. When identifying the needs for an adult course, a trainer must consider many factors that impact their students both in the class and outside of the class, such as the busy lives of the students; therefore, assignments and assessments can be a critical issue that should be addressed to help the adult students succeed. Another factor is that technology, especially for adults, can be overwhelming if it is a new experience for them. PDAs of tablets offer the best technology integration for adult courses for a number of reasons. The first is that many adults already have some experience with PDAs or at least some of their functions such as scheduling and calculating. The next is that the PDA will offer adult students a way to stay organized in the class and be able to track their professional, personal, and school workload. The third and probably the most important factor is that most adults have some experience with the software. Other benefits include taking all their class notes on the PDA, downloading lectures and videos, and accessing the internet. To be successful, technology needs to be integrated without the students even realizing it, so that the emphasis remains on the lesson and not on the technology.

Conclusion

Technology has become a fact of life in and out of the classroom. It is important to recognize that many types of technology can help students, if designed appropriately. It is the responsibility of trainers, executives, and instructional designers to understand that adults learn with a variety of approaches, and they must design the best opportunity for students to be successful in the trainings. Although there are disadvantages, effective technology can advance learning the same way technology has improved medicine, science, and our daily lives.Technology has impacted almost every aspect of our lives including adult and higher education. Adult learners, like other students, all learn best in a variety of approaches and succeed best when their strengths are highlighted. It is the responsibility of Higher Power Training to identify an organization’s strengths and teach to those strengths; many times, technology can assist in this objective and provide both trainers and students with many benefits to enhance the educational experience. Technology integration is a much debated topic in higher education. In this Era of Technology, people cannot avoid technology, whether its cell phones, plasma televisions, DVRs, etc. Although children are eager to learn and use these advanced technologies, adults are many times reluctant to venture out to the unknown and experience new technologies because it can be intimidating and overwhelming. Thus, it is crucial for teachers and trainers, who teach adults, to identify the appropriate technology integration to reinforce and encourage learning rather than to intimidate and distract adult learners.

Advantage of Hybrid Classes

Hybrid courses are courses that combine face-to-face classroom time with online learning activities that are designed to complement each other.

Hybrid courses contain three key points:

(1) Web-based learning activities are introduced to complement face-to-face work.

(2) “seat-time” is reduced, though not eliminated altogether.

(3) the Web-based and face-to-face components of the course are designed to interact pedagogically to take advantage of the best features of each. (Hybrid Courses)

Hybrid classes are designed for students that are looking to combine in-line classes with on-line activities.  They also provide students that have a full schedule with family, work, and other classes with the ability to take additional classes by eliminating travel time and on-campus time.  They also provide students that prefer an on-line environment with the opportunity to take advantage of some face-to-face interaction.  Where are hybrid classes offered?  How are they perceived by teachers and students?  Are they superior to traditional classes?

Hybrid classes are offered across the country at various universities including: the University of Central Florida, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Arizona State University, Brigham Young University, and Bakersfield College.  Although these schools offer hybrid courses, the subject are very diverse, supporting an idea that most courses can be designed as a hybrid course.  The University of Central Florida offers more than one hundred hybrid courses to help assist with the overpopulation of the institution; some of those classes include: U.S. Space History, Assembling Digital Media, and Composition I.  The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee offers a number of different classes including: Advanced Nursing Practice Interventions, Cross-Culture Study of Religion, Survey American Literature, and Management Analysis.  The University of Arizona also offers a variety of classes such as Instructional Leadership.  Bakersfield College offers hybrid courses in multiple levels of mathematics.  Brigham Young University also offers hybrid courses, however their course structure differs from the other universities mentioned. At BYU, “Hybridization occurs when on-campus educators adopt distance education technologies and practices, and when distance education organizations adopt/adapt campus-based educational practices.”(Hybrid Learning)   With so many opportunities to experience a hybrid class, how are they perceived by the teachers and students?

Hybrid classes have many positive benefits for both teachers and students.  Hybrid classes offer teachers new teaching opportunities.  For instance, teachers can develop the lesson plans to utilize the strengths of both on-line and in-class teaching strategies to be more effective in achieving the class objectives and goals.  These courses thus provide solutions to problems that were difficult to fix with the limitations of traditional in-class or on-line classes.  Teachers also have the opportunity to connect to their students more in a hybrid class than they do in an on-line class, while students are more responsible for their participation and work than they typically are in an in-class course.  “The integration of out-of-class activities with in-class activities allows more effective use of traditional class time.”(UW-M)  Discussions that spread over both on-line class time and in-class time can be much more effective for two reasons.  The first is that students can spend more time reflecting on the discussion topic, research the topic, and collect their thoughts.  The other advantage is that students who are less likely to participate in an in-class discussion can still share their ideas via on-line.  “Faculty believe that their students learn more in the hybrid format than they do in traditional class sections.  They report that students write better papers, performed better on exams, produced higher quality projects, and were capable of more meaningful discussions on course material when reflecting online.”(Hybrid Courses)  Another benefit is the organizational process of a hybrid class.  Quizzes, grading, surveys can all be automated, while threaded discussions, course documents, announcements, and grades are easily accessible for students.  Although there are many positives offered in a hybrid class, new technologies and teaching approaches are likely to have their challenges as well.

There are a few challenges that hybrid courses present to teachers.  The first is the redesign of a course; course objectives and goals may change, teachers will have to redesign their lesson plans to effectively integrate in-class lessons with on-line activities, and most importantly, teachers must be comfortable with all technology necessary to provide an effective on-line component.  The biggest challenge a teacher will face once the class is established is managing the two different environments learning without overwhelming themselves or their students.  Students on the other hand will be forced to learn new technologies which can make a course more difficult to achieve the goals and objectives if students are spending more time troubleshooting technology rather than on the on-line activities.  After weighing the positives and negatives of hybrid classes, how do they compare to traditional in-class courses and on-line courses.

When hybrid courses are properly designed utilizing the benefits of both on-line and in-class components, the hybrid courses become superior to both on-line and in-class courses.  Students have a greater time flexibility and convenience by working on-line.  Students will have the opportunity to interact and participate with classmates and their teacher in the environment they are most comfortable with.  Students will have 24/7 access to course work and on-line resources while having face-to-face time to assist with any difficulties students are having on-line.  In-class time will also provide classmates and teachers the opportunity build stronger connections than an on-line class will.

Based on the information gathered, hybrid classes on an effective alternative to the traditional in-class or on-line courses.

Hybrid classes are highly recommended due to the number of benefits for teachers, students and universities.  Teachers “may find improved attendance in the reduced classroom portions of the course, while their face-to-face teaching techniques are expanded and discussion responses by students are generally more thoughtful when written than when given extemporaneously.”(Hybrid Learning)  Students benefit by “increased time flexibility – including reduced commuting and parking time & opportunities for employment.  Students also have access to pre-recorded lectures and course materials for review if needed.”(Hybrid Learning)  These lectures are typically better quality and easier to comprehend because they are done in shorter modules.  Universities also benefit by “increased enrollment without increasing classroom space. Schools can offer “paired” courses on one day (block scheduling) allowing commuters & part time students the opportunity to take 2 classes with only one on-campus visit.”(Hybrid Learning)   Hybrid classes take advantage of technology and successfully integrate it into education improving learning across the country.

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 References:

Arizona State University. Accessed April 15, 2007 from http://asuonline.asu.edu/FacultySupport/Hybrid.cfm.

Bakersfield College. Accessed April 15, 2007 from www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/distance_learning/hybrid.asp.

Brigham Young University. Accessed April 15, 2007 from http://home.byu.edu/webapp/home/index.jsp

 Hybrid Courses. Accessed April 15, 2007 from http://www4.uwm.edu/ltc/hybrid/.

 Hybrid Learning. Accessed April 15, 2007 from http://media.njit.edu/hybrid/defined.php.

University of Central Florida. Accessed April 15, 2007 from http://www.ucf.edu/.

University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. Accessed April 15, 2007 from http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/LTC/hybridcourses.html

 

 

Web Usability

Objectives

Company websites and all marketing platforms, for that matter, are extremely critical for a company’s success to reach out to potential clients.  These marketing tools are a representation of the company; consumers consider these advertisements a reflection of the quality of work or products offered by the company.  The objectives of the Report are to provide recommendations to:

  • Increase website traffic
  • Improve website visiting time
  • Create a polished website
  • Identify the most cost effective option to compete with local competition
  • Provide online conveniences for current clients
  • Generate a flow of new clients

Web Usability

The website usability test contains numerous components.  When designing or evaluating a website properly, one must take into account: website goals, target audience, market research, accessibility, end-user scenarios, site map layout, site concept and metaphor, design details, and graphic style and images.  This evaluation will contain information about the primary page, secondary pages, and tertiary pages where deemed necessary.

Web Site Usablilty Evaluation Outline

  1. Web Site Goals
  2. Approximately 20 Goals
  3. Order of Importance
  4. Emphasize top 5

Target Audience (User Profile)

  • AgeRange
  • Gender
  • Education Level
  • Economic Situation
  • Geographic Location
  • Primary Language
  • Ethnic Background
  • Other Unifying Characteristics
  • Market Research
  • Competitors
  • Related Themes
  • Accessibility
  • User Limitations
  • End-User Scenarios
  • Information Category Outline (site map – text)
  • Web Site Flow Chart (site map – visually designed)
  • Site Concept and Metaphor
  • Design Details
  • Colors (3-6)
  • Color Palette
  • Fonts
  • Color
  • Size
  • Style
  • Graphic Style and Graphics
  • Logos, Buttons, Illustrations, Videos, Flash, etc.

Hybrid Courses: Getting into the Technology Pool One Step at a Time

If the advances in technology have you a little intimidated in the field of learning and training, you are not alone.  Many companies, students, and Universities are sensitive to resistance of complete distance learning with an e-learning platform.  The answer for those seeking to try the technology-based learning without committing fulling to the online experience is the development of the hybrid course.  Hybrid courses are courses that combine face-to-face classroom time with online learning activities that are designed to complement each other.

Hybrid courses contain three key points:  (1) Web-based learning activities are introduced to complement face-to-face work; (2) “seat-time” is reduced, though not eliminated altogether; (3) the Web-based and face-to-face components of the course are designed to interact pedagogically to take advantage of the best features of each. (Hybrid Courses)

Hybrid classes are designed for students that are looking to combine in-line classes with on-line activities.  They also provide students that have a full schedule with family, work, and other classes with the ability to take additional classes by eliminating travel time and on-campus time.  They also provide students that prefer an on-line environment with the opportunity to take advantage of some face-to-face interaction.  Where are hybrid classes offered?  How are they perceived by teachers and students?  Are they superior to traditional classes?

Hybrid classes are offered across the country at various universities including: the University of Central Florida, the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee, Arizona State University, Brigham Young University, and Bakersfield College.  Although these schools offer hybrid courses, the subject are very diverse, supporting an idea that most courses can be designed as a hybrid course.  The University of Central Florida offers more than one hundred hybrid courses to help assist with the overpopulation of the institution; some of those classes include: U.S. Space History, Assembling Digital Media, and Composition I.  The University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee offers a number of different classes including: Advanced Nursing Practice Interventions, Cross-Culture Study of Religion, Survey American Literature, and Management Analysis.  The University of Arizona also offers a variety of classes such as Instructional Leadership.  Bakersfield College offers hybrid courses in multiple levels of mathematics.  Brigham Young University also offers hybrid courses, however their course structure differs from the other universities mentioned. At BYU, “Hybridization occurs when on-campus educators adopt distance education technologies and practices, and when distance education organizations adopt/adapt campus-based educational practices.”(Hybrid Learning)   With so many opportunities to experience a hybrid class, how are they perceived by the teachers and students?

Hybrid classes have many positive benefits for both teachers and students.  Hybrid classes offer teachers new teaching opportunities.  For instance, teachers can develop the lesson plans to utilize the strengths of both on-line and in-class teaching strategies to be more effective in achieving the class objectives and goals.  These courses thus provide solutions to problems that were difficult to fix with the limitations of traditional in-class or on-line classes.  Teachers also have the opportunity to connect to their students more in a hybrid class than they do in an on-line class, while students are more responsible for their participation and work than they typically are in an in-class course.  “The integration of out-of-class activities with in-class activities allows more effective use of traditional class time.”(UW-M)  Discussions that spread over both on-line class time and in-class time can be much more effective for two reasons.  The first is that students can spend more time reflecting on the discussion topic, research the topic, and collect their thoughts.  The other advantage is that students who are less likely to participate in an in-class discussion can still share their ideas via on-line.  “Faculty believe that their students learn more in the hybrid format than they do in traditional class sections.  They report that students write better papers, performed better on exams, produced higher quality projects, and were capable of more meaningful discussions on course material when reflecting online.”(Hybrid Courses)  Another benefit is the organizational process of a hybrid class.  Quizzes, grading, surveys can all be automated, while threaded discussions, course documents, announcements, and grades are easily accessible for students.  Although there are many positives offered in a hybrid class, new technologies and teaching approaches are likely to have their challenges as well.

There are a few challenges that hybrid courses present to teachers.  The first is the redesign of a course; course objectives and goals may change, teachers will have to redesign their lesson plans to effectively integrate in-class lessons with on-line activities, and most importantly, teachers must be comfortable with all technology necessary to provide an effective on-line component.  The biggest challenge a teacher will face once the class is established is managing the two different environments learning without overwhelming themselves or their students.  Students on the other hand will be forced to learn new technologies which can make a course more difficult to achieve the goals and objectives if students are spending more time troubleshooting technology rather than on the on-line activities.  After weighing the positives and negatives of hybrid classes, how do they compare to traditional in-class courses and on-line courses.

When hybrid courses are properly designed utilizing the benefits of both on-line and in-class components, the hybrid courses become superior to both on-line and in-class courses.  Students have a greater time flexibility and convenience by working on-line.  Students will have the opportunity to interact and participate with classmates and their teacher in the environment they are most comfortable with.  Students will have 24/7 access to course work and on-line resources while having face-to-face time to assist with any difficulties students are having on-line.  In-class time will also provide classmates and teachers the opportunity build stronger connections than an on-line class will.

Based on the information gathered, hybrid classes on an effective alternative to the traditional in-class or on-line courses.

Hybrid classes are highly recommended due to the number of benefits for teachers, students and universities.  Teachers “may find improved attendance in the reduced classroom portions of the course, while their face-to-face teaching techniques are expanded and discussion responses by students are generally more thoughtful when written than when given extemporaneously.”(Hybrid Learning)  Students benefit by “increased time flexibility – including reduced commuting and parking time & opportunities for employment.  Students also have access to pre-recorded lectures and course materials for review if needed.”(Hybrid Learning)  These lectures are typically better quality and easier to comprehend because they are done in shorter modules.  Universities also benefit by “increased enrollment without increasing classroom space. Schools can offer “paired” courses on one day (block scheduling) allowing commuters & part time students the opportunity to take 2 classes with only one on-campus visit.”(Hybrid Learning)   Hybrid classes take advantage of technology and successfully integrate it into education improving learning across the country.

By Higher Power Training: Providing Instructional Design and Training Services since 2000

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Arizona State University.http://asuonline.asu.edu/FacultySupport/Hybrid.cfm.

Bakersfield College.  www.bakersfieldcollege.edu/distance_learning/hybrid.asp.

 Brigham Young University. http://home.byu.edu/webapp/home/index.jsp

 Hybrid Courses. http://www4.uwm.edu/ltc/hybrid/.

 Hybrid Learning. http://media.njit.edu/hybrid/defined.php.

University of Central Florida. http://www.ucf.edu/.

University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. http://www.uwm.edu/Dept/LTC/hybridcourses.html.