Friday, October 12, 2012

Assessing Collaborative Efforts

The thorn in the side of teachers and students since the beginning of education has to be group projects. At least this is how I felt as a student and as a new teacher. I was the type of student who liked to do things by myself and my way because I wanted it to be on my terms (which usually meant last minute but very well done). When required to work in a group, I usually took on most of the responsibility and would even delegate to others. Personally, it didn't bother me when others didn't do work because I assumed I could do it better myself anyway. I wasn't letting anyone mess with my GPA. As a new teacher, it was a nightmare assessing group projects between determining individual and group achievement and listening to complaints among group members. In both positions, group work and assessment did not come naturally to me. I assume I am not the only one who feels this way.

One of the problems is that the same methods of assessing individual work are being applied to group work. Teachers do this because they are accustomed to it. Students complain because they know something is wrong and they, too, have gotten used to standardized grading, or grading for every child based on the exact same criteria (content knowledge, skills, behaviors, etc). We cannot assess this way because if everyone in a group does the same exact thing, it is nothing more than independent work done in the company of others.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Conference Video Presentation Story Board

(click image to enlarge)

Here is my storyboard for a video to introduce the concepts of asynchronous and synchronous learning at a conference.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Distance Education: Collaborative Interaction

Collaborative interaction in the field of education once meant working in small groups within the brick and mortar classroom. As new innovations allowed for people to connect synchronously and asynchronously from a distance (specifically the internet and various collaborative innovations like Skype, blogs, wikis, etc) collaboration changed. It became global and reached far past those in your immediate environment. Siemens (2008) sees collaborative interaction as a way to improve education through distance learning in a way that face-to-face (F2F) learning cannot.

The need to improve education is seen in greatly in poverty stricken areas. Digital literacy has become an important aspect of succeeding in this digital age, and the digital divide has separated those that are digitally literate and those that are not, and most times poverty is a factor. A blog post by Danica Radovanovic states, "collaboration possibilities using the Internet and social media services present one of the communication practices for overcoming inequalities in e-skills, twenty–first century literacies and communication, and foster better collaboration and participation." In her view, collaborative interaction helps to close the gap by teaching communication skills, specifically digital communication, a skill Radovanovic sees as important to obtaining knowledge in the 21st century, one that has played a part in the knowledge gap.

Distance Education: The Next Generation

Distance education has sprouted in the areas of corporate training, higher education and K-12 schooling. There is a need to evolve the practices in each area (Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W. & Coleman, C., 2008). The problem is not that distance education doesn't work, it is that it has been done quickly with not enough attention to quality.

In the case of training, Moller, Huett and Foshay identify the reasons distance learning became popular: it is cost saving, scalable and timely. However, focus on these areas took focus away from quality and rushed delivery of distance learning content. More focus is needed on quality, needs assessment, and other factors to create quality education.

Quality is also a problem in higher education (Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W. & Coleman, C., 2008), though the quality of instruction is more dependent on the instructor than with corporate training. There are new pedagogical issues that need to be addressed. These issues include but are not limited to collaboration in a virtual environment, managing a virtual environment and intellectual property rights. There is a need for distance learning in higher education to evolve so that the negative perceptions of e-learning courses and those who teach hem can be dispelled.

Unlike with higher education, the quality of instruction tends to be less dependent on the teacher with K-12 virtual schooling. Many schools develop specific programs to meet state requirements and standards. There are many positive aspects that need more consideration like the ability to offer more communication with students and families and the availability to offer more courses in different areas.
Distance education isn't going anywhere. There needs to be a focus on finding best practices in different areas to create learning environments as good as or better than their face-to-face counterparts.


Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008, May/June). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 1: Training and Development). TechTrends, 52(3), 70–75.
Moller, L., Foshay, W., & Huett, J. (2008, July/August). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 2: Higher Education). TechTrends, 52(4), 66–70.
Huett, J., Moller, L., Foshay, W. & Coleman, C. (2008, September/October). The evolution of distance education: Implications for instructional design on the potential of the Web (Part 3: K12). TechTrends, 52(5), 63–67.

Monday, January 25, 2010

BlogLuke: Gospel Greats Team Up to Raise Money for Haiti

From BlogLuke:

Check out Kirk Franklin and many others in the following video to raise money for Haiti.

Yes, there is someone listening who knows your name. It is God and he hears all of His children's prayers.

You can buy the song here. After January 30, you can purchase the song on Itunes or at a store near you. It is a great song for a great purpose. Please support the cause.


Of course, donating to any Haiti relief charity will still be going to help Haiti.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Leadership: trait or process?

Recently in grad school I have been asked whether or not leadership is a trait one is born with or if it is learned through a process over time. Below are my responses made in the class.

Leadership can seem at times like a trait given to some people at birth. The kid in school who always commanded the class's attention, the guy at work with all the great ideas and the friend in the group that makes all of the decisions are all examples. Leadership, however, is not a trait but a process. How, then, did all of those people become leaders? Simple, they have had life experiences that taught them a lot about being a leader. It wasn't necessarily on purpose, but the right combination of life happened and they gained the skills to lead. The good news is that those skills are part of a process that can be learned.

Being a process makes leadership a skill that needs always to be worked on. Rowe states that, "leadership is about influencing a group of people who are engaged in a common goal or purpose" (Rowe 2007, p. 1). You cannot be a leader without followers. Even an assigned leader can still have a team to lead but not have any followers. In order to be a leader you must know the goals and purposes of a group and continue to have a dialog that allows you to know when those goals change. Once a leader's goals differ from those of the group it will not matter how much of a leadership trait is present, it will fail.

Leadership as a process

I am a true believer that personality traits are fostered through life experiences, including modeled behavior by those in one's life. If I walked in Bill Gates' shoes from birth until now I would be Bill Gates. The thing is, no one can completely walk in someone's shoes because to completely understand someone else's actions, reactions and personality you would have to have had the exact same experiences, be the same person. Had I been adopted by Bill Gates' family and they never had given birth to him, my experience would still be different. They would treat me differently, not necessarily love me less. Then there would be my journey to understand my being adopted. All of these would mold me differently, while not always in a huge way. This is why it is hard for people to break from the lifestyle they were born into, whether it be poverty, abuse, etc. Hard but not impossible because as humans we have the ability to learn behavior as well. If I was an introverted child, I can learn to be extroverted. This part of humanity astounds people and gives them hope. That is why stories like the Grinch and Scrooge and rags to riches are so popular.

You can be a leader if you really want to be a leader.