Thursday, March 29, 2012

Why Use Auditory and Visual Aid in E-Learning?

We all know that it's easier to learn when you get a little extra help: illustrations are the most common and at hand tool. They work around memory in a way that simple text reading cannot. This widely known fact has, unfortunately, led to overdoing by some trainers, especially in the case of e-learning.

Some illustrations and ideas were so often used that they quickly became clich├ęs. There are some drawings or pictures that everyone who ever took an online course has seen: the pupils having a blast at the computer, two people shaking hands, business men having a meeting in an office space and so on. It's what could be described as the most common of stock photography.

Images are extremely valuable, as they can easily show what would otherwise have to be defined in too many words. It so often happens that you read a tutorial and don't understand it until you look at the adjacent print screens or photos! In order to use visual aid at its best, one must take into consideration some basic guidelines. For example, it is important to know whether the respective image is the focus of the page (this could be valid in a course of Visual communication or Arts), or the illustration of a text (like when children learn the alphabet with the help of drawings of things that begin with that letter). Either way, the images must be relevant to the course content - otherwise they just fill up space, which is noticeable and damages the "reputation" of that very course. Relevance will also make them easier to remember. It is crucial that the visual aid does not distract from the content, but rather blends with it.

Another type of visual aid is video material - more complex, as it encompasses sight and hearing. As mentioned above, looking at something makes it easier to understand than having it explained, in the same manner that so many people would rather "see the movie" than "read the book". Seeing someone cut and sew a shirt is more helpful than reading a description of the process. There is no need for fancy equipment, as this is the era of YouTube and home video, when users are more interested in the content than in the quality of the video. Again, video is extremely helpful in the case of tutorials, whether it's about how to use certain software, how to put together your IKEA table or how to bake a cake. Videos also work excellently for students: if you're teaching a poem about the circus, why not show them a video of Charlie Chaplin at the circus? Though it might be a small distraction, it is also a well deserved break. And you can make sure they take it seriously by having them answer some questions on the topic afterwards.

The third medium that can be used to further engage your users is audio. This can function on its own, but it is usually associated with text or visuals. It's not the best idea to send the same message in audio and text, like with subtitles. The same goes for course explanations, examples or other neutral-toned statements. Audio should be reserved for stories, brief explanations and such. There are people who prefer audio to text - just think of audio books - but that would lead us away from the field of e-learning.

The trick to using these media is not to overload the learner. For example, if there is already a graphic chart on the page, explaining it with text might be too much, because they both appeal the same channel: sight. Pairing the chart with audio explanation might work though, as the two come in on different channels.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Keeping Your Learners Engaged

It happens in both traditional and e-learning that the learners have a low activity rate through the course and find themselves clueless in front of the final examination. Or, at the most, they have an all-nighter, trying to catch up with what they didn't learn in months because they were disengaged. Although some people might be ambitious enough to actually pass the test after a cram session, the results will be very short term: they'll forget the information soon and definitely won't be able to put it into practice.
In order to prevent that from happening to your course, there are some steps that you can follow. This way, you will keep your learners engaged and focused on the course, which will also raise the graduation rate of your course.
The first thing you need to do is break up your course in smaller bits. If you think a 60 minutes course is already small, try to break it up into four parts of 15 minutes each - which you can easily do with the aid of Moodle or another LMS. In these bits, include multimedia content, simuations and lots of examples. Have a small review at the beginning of each new chapter, because repetition really helps learning. You can do that with the aid of exercises, such as multiple choice on a given scenario. You can use the Lesson module in Moodle to begin your chapter with a couple of questions and only then have the learner proceed to the new information.
To keep your learners on the topic, social media is a successful tool. Create a blog, a Facebook page and/or a Twitter regarding the subject matter. You don't have to update them solely with course-related stuff, but you should keep that the main focus. Try some domain related humor or interesting links to spice things up. For example, if you're in advertising, find some cartoons that make fun of copywriters, but make sure you also introduce some popular commercials of the moment or an article from the web about your company. You can also send out a newsletter or, if applicable, put up a poster in the office.
When the course is done, you can create a very short follow-up course as revision. This should only contain the key points of the initial course, accompanied by memorable images or scenarios that you used in the original.
Another type of follow-up would be the brief email, emphasizing the key points of the course content. You can send it out soon after the course if over, and then you can send it again after another two weeks, four weeks, and so on. If you think this might be boring and a bit spamming, then send a follow-up exercise: something to provide repetition and reinforcement of the information, to be used as an example and to represent a practical application as well.
Keeping your learners engaged in the course doesn't only mean having them focused through its duration. It also implies that they actually learn something from it, something that they can use. And you can help them do that using attention-grabbing as well as follow-up methods.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Is a Wiki Really Useful in Education?

The term "wiki" comes from the Hawaiian word meaning "quick". In internet culture, the term is associated with the technology that creates collaborative websites, the most known being Wikipedia.

The creator of the wiki, Ward Cunningham, says that he wanted people who wouldn't normally publish their writing to find it comfortable doing so. People who have something to say often can't find the context to put it in writing. By allowing users to initiate and modify any page in a website is liberating, in the sense that it encourages the equal, democratic use of the Web and promotes content creation by regular people.

Starting from the idea that knowledge should be available for anyone, Wikipedia found an opportunity and went with it - soon becoming one of the most accessed websites and most commonly used sources of reference. It is now obvious that web articles for which you have to pay to read don't have any value -  although you might be willing to pay to read them yourself, you can't link to them - they can't be shared, so they don't make it to the spotlight, they don't go viral, they can't be discussed.

Some of the advantages of the wiki are that, although its nature is open, not everyone has the same level of access and some rules are applied at all times. In order to use the wiki, there is no need for additional software, nor is there a need for specialized courses in learning how to manage a wiki. It's also good to know that technical problems are minimal.

Wikipedia was launched in 2001, as an alternative to the traditional encyclopedia. First of all, Wikipedia is free to everyone and it can be edited by anyone. Anonymous users can add, delete or modify content according to their own knowledge. The costs are minimal - unlike paper encyclopedias - and information can be updated instantly. You can start a page and write anything you want in it.  Anyone else can come along and make absolutely any changes to it that he wants to.  On the newly created page, you can link to any other pages, and, of course, they can link back.

Being open to such a large number of readers and writers, it is not easy to keep all information completely accurate. You can see who added what to a certain article; you can discuss the process of writing the article. The point of view may sometimes be subjective, the article may sometimes share only part of the information. Since errors may still occur, Wikipedia is rarely accepted as an academic source. Sometimes, students can't tell which article is reliable and which isn't, and they quote Wikipedia like it's completely accurate. Nevertheless, it covers an immensity of fields, from history to pop culture, from scientists to starlets and so on. There are pages in virtually any language. The articles are linked to one another, cross referenced, keeping the reader one click away from even more information.

The development of Wikipedia was spectacular. By the end of the year when it was launched, it had around 20.000 articles. In 2007, it had more than 2 million articles, becoming the largest encyclopedia to have ever existed. In 2004, it was already available for mobile phone usage, thus expanding even outside its original basis.

When it comes to other uses for the wiki, people often get confused; mostly because they don't realize how easy it is for this structure to be used. At a smaller scale, the wiki is a version of the Internet, with things that are, at first sight, randomly placed. But a wiki on a certain project has every reason to be well organized. While a number of people add to a page, they may also use the "discussion" section of any page to comment and debate their work in progress. The leader or an endorsed person may look in the "history" section to see every single version of the page, as it has been edited by users. Can teachers take advantage of this tool?

The wiki is easy to use, open to the integration of multimedia content. The teacher can evaluate both the quality and quantity of the students' work. The wiki platform offers an audience to the learning process (the educators as well as other students) and a collaborative working space, where the students can create and share content. In the educational field, wikis can be used as personal portfolios or for the coordination of research. They make it easier to follow a group project; they allow a Frequently Asked Questions system for the students; they make a good debate and discussion environment.

Like most other web 2.0 tool, the wiki has the appearance of being reserved for entertainment or, at the most, for gathering random information. At a deeper incursion, we find that it has true educational value and can be used in schools as well as in company trainings.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Teaching for Online College Programs Makes Sense Today

It is one thing to be an excellent teacher and it is another to know how to continue earning a living from teaching after teacher layoffs. The primary reason for this is that economic survival as an intellectual isn't on the course list in graduate school. For some reason the idea that dedicated public school educators could suddenly find themselves unemployed as a result of massive budget cuts is not available to professors that teach future public school teachers. Fortunately is it possible for a teacher with an earned graduate degree, a Ph.D. or master degree, to convert academic and intellectual strength into an online teaching citadel by learning how to acquire online adjunct instructor jobs with post-secondary academic institutions. The growth of online bachelor degree programs and online master degree programs is creating many online teaching positions that must be filled by technically adept and academic qualified online adjunct instructors. The alert educators should realize by now that making the effort to learn how to teach online for multiple online degree programs is one of the best ways to construct a viable financial fortress in these troubled times.

The teacher layoffs seem to have taken a great number of academics by complete surprise, but the next round of pink slips should be met with a plan to discover the benefits of teaching online. The growth of online bachelor degree program and online master degree programs plus the adoption of distance learning by the thousands of community colleges and technical schools is creating a host of online adjunct jobs that must be filled by prepared academics. It is necessary for a prospective online adjunct instructor to learn how to use a personal computer because in order to teach college and university students enrolled in online college courses an online instructor will be required to move smoothly in and out of multiple digital interfaces. The educators with at least a modest level of skill with a computer should have no trouble learning how to interact with the online degree programs with two to five different post-secondary academic institutions. It goes without saying in order to teach online it is first necessary to start applying to teach online courses. This can be accomplished by navigating the Internet and locating the faculty application section of the thousands of post-secondary websites.

There is nothing like experience to encourage the candor necessary to make a realistic decision, and educators have the intellectual tools required to accurately determine the viability of distance learning in terms of their professional careers. There is very little discussion available about the growing presence of distance education technology, and the alert academic examining this should easily identify a growing number of online adjunct instructor jobs with online bachelor degree program and online master degree programs. Obviously, the educator that masters the functions of a personal computer and becomes proficient in the navigation of the Internet can start building an online teaching schedule. It is possible to teach online full time or part time depending on the amount of academic work the academic is willing to accept form various community colleges, state universities and for-profit colleges. The important first step any teacher interested in online learning must take is to start making applications in the faculty application sections of the thousands of post-secondary websites on the Internet. Each school that offers online college courses to its enrolled students actually needs academically qualified and technically proficient online adjunct instructors.

The shadow of teacher layoffs on the traditional campus is creating a need for academics to take a fresh look at jobs teaching online college courses. Obviously, the authority derived from taking control of the teaching schedule can have a very positive effect on an educator feeling threatened by budget cuts, and online teaching provides a teacher with an earned graduate degree the opportunity to increase the number of online classes in an online teaching schedule or decrease them according to financial goals. The best way to start acquiring online teaching positions is to apply for any many online adjunct faculty openings as possible each day in the faculty application sections of post-secondary websites. Every community college, state university, four-year state college, technical school and for-profit college offers its enrolled students online college courses, and there are more online bachelor degree programs and online master degree programs every academic year. This means there is every reason to believe that an aggressive application strategy can eventually produce an online teaching schedule that will generate as much online adjunct income as can be earned by continuing to teaching in a traditional academic environment.

There is nothing esoteric about teaching online, but too many academics seem to think that logic is misplaced in the effort to transition out of the physical classroom and into a variety of online college classes that can be taught from a personal computer. The current thinking about distance education technology on the part of academic administrators is located in the economic impact the budget cuts to public education are making on the traditional academic industry and the skyrocketing cost of maintain the physical plants known as campuses. The logic of distance learning is that it is far less expensive to distribute post-secondary academic instruction on the Internet from a computer server than it is to continue offering the same academic instruction in a physical classroom. The new and returning college students understand the logic inherent in the convenience of earning an academic degree from work and at home from their laptop computers instead of driving a vehicle at odd hours of the day and evening to remote physical location. These two logics combine to produce many online adjunct openings that must be filled by academics with earned graduate degrees, a master degree or doctorate, as more online bachelor degree programs and online master degree programs are deployed in an attempt to satisfy the education needs of swelling post-secondary student populations with less costly alternatives to the physical classroom. Additionally, these circumstances make it possible for a prospective online adjunct instructor to use logic to construct a sustainable online teaching schedule.

It may be difficult to find the bright spot on the traditional academic campus since the teacher layoffs seem to have no end. The nature of the educator with a graduate degree, however, is not one that gives up easily in the face of challenge, so an academic willing to learn how to teach online from a personal computer can actually produce a sunny academic forecast by understanding the role of distance education technology and how it is creating many online adjunct job openings. The aggressive online adjunct instructor can build an online teaching schedule populated with as many as ten online college classes. There is no doubt if each online class pays the online instructor two thousand dollars the online adjunct income can compete against a traditional faculty salary and win. Further, the online adjunct instructor can teach the college and university students enrolled in the online bachelor degree programs and online master degree programs from any place on the globe that provides a connection to the Internet. Obviously, it will take some focus and determination to transition out of the physical classroom and into an online teaching schedule, but teaching online for a living is preferable to watch traditional teaching jobs disappear at an increasing rate as budget funds for public education make the cost of maintaining the physical plants knows as campuses and the classrooms on them less affordable every semester. The best strategy for locating online adjunct faculty openings is to learn how to submit evidence of academic achievement and classroom experience in the faculty application sections of post-secondary websites.

When educators still teaching in the physical classroom or teachers recently unemployed as a result of public education layoffs think about the prospect of teaching online for online bachelor degree programs and online master degree programs the question of whether it can actually produce enough online adjunct income to make it worth the effort. The answer is that a full time online teaching schedule containing six to ten online faculty openings can generate an income that will equal or exceed that what can be earned by continuing to teach on the traditional campus. Of course, there is more than income available to an online adjunct instructor. For example, every online college courses is located on the internet. This means that all that is necessary to access the online degree program is a laptop computer and an Internet connection. Actually, it is this feature about earning an academic degree online that attracts so many new and returning college and university students. The point is that the online instructor and the college students do not need to be present in any one physical classroom in order to connect with each other. Since every post-secondary academic institution is deploying online courses as quickly as possible, the economic opportunities for educators with earned graduate degrees, a doctorate or master degree, and sharp computer skills is practically endless because it is easy to teach online for multiple schools without actually being on the schools' campuses.

The teacher layoffs came like a thunderclap for many academics teaching in a physical classroom on a traditional campus. However, just as the passing of a thunderstorm reveals the clear sky often painted with rainbows, the disturbance in the academic labor market reveals online teaching as a viable alternative to traditional academic employment. For example, a traditional academic position generates just one salary, and that salary can be lost to severe budgetary cuts in public education. Conversely, an online teaching schedule populated with multiple online faculty positions generates a variety of online adjunct income streams that are not interdependent in the sense that if one is lost the others continue throughout the year. Since every community college, technical school, state university and for-profit college now offers online degree programs to their enrolled students, the chances of developing a alternative academic career that can be coordinated from a personal computer located in any developed geographic location on the planet are very high. The best place to start investigating online teaching opportunities is to visit the websites of post-secondary academic institutions. Each school has a faculty application section that is specifically designed to accept academic credentials and documentation of classroom experience. The budget cuts to public education are creating a rocky academic employment landscape that can be smoothed out by building an online teaching schedule. Academics worried about their employment status in the physical classroom should make the effort to apply for online adjunct faculty jobs with online bachelor degree programs and online master degree programs because it is now obvious that the majority of post-secondary educational instruction is being moved to the Internet. The reason there are so many opportunities to teach online is simply because academic administrators are discovering that it is very cost efficient to provide new and returning college students with online college classes leading to an academic degree they can earn from their personal computers. Of course, each online college course must be taught by a qualified online adjunct instructor, so as the online college degree programs become more available the number of online teaching job openings grows at the same time. The academic with an earned graduate degree and a moderate level of computer skill can begin building an online teaching schedule by entering the required information about academic achievement and classroom experience in the faculty application sections of community colleges, four-year state colleges, state universities and for-profit schools. It will take a high degree of focus to organize a successful search for online teaching positions, but the effort will be worth it since teaching online can smooth out the academic employment landscape by generating online adjunct income all year long.

One of the most difficult issues facing educators during the rounds of teacher layoffs is which direction to go in after becoming unemployed as a provider of educational instruction. After all, the general economy and the associated high levels of unemployment in other fields does not offer much in the way of opportunity for an intellectual seeking alternative employment in public education. In addition, the vast majority of teachers are place bound in that they are accustomed to working on the same physical campus for decades and the idea of having to travel to another geographic location in search of teaching work is truly a difficult prospect. Fortunately, distance education technology can solve both of these problems by providing the academic with an earned graduate degree, a doctorate or master degree, with plenty of adjunct online faculty jobs and an extreme level of professional mobility. Since all online college degree programs are located on the internet all of the interaction an online adjunct instructor has with them is accomplished from a personal computer. This means the professional mobility inherent in online teaching as a career path is literally not available to educators that stay in the physical classroom on the traditional campus. Academics with earned graduate degrees that want a ticket out of the traditional classroom can find the ticket in an online teaching schedule.

Many academics are forced to deal with teacher layoffs resulting from budget cuts to public education and they are finding the task difficult and demoralizing since the general economy is suffering from high unemployment. After all, if an educator can no longer teach in a physical classroom on a traditional campus just where else is there to work and earn a decent living. Fortunately, distance education technology is coming to the rescue for alert academics with earned graduate degrees, a master degree or doctorate, and at least a modest level of computer skill. The best way for educators to confront the academic employment issue is to learn how to construct an online teaching schedule populated with online adjunct job openings with online bachelor degree programs and online master degree programs. The distance learning programs are increasing in number each semester provides an alternative career path for academics that understand why online college courses are important to new and returning college students and academic administrators of post-secondary academic institutions. The real reason there are so many available online faculty job openings is that college students want to avoid the cost of traveling to a physical campus and administrators want to avoid the cost of maintain the physical classrooms. The prospective online adjunct instructor can learn about the distinct possibilities of earning a living by teaching from a personal computer by visiting the thousands of state university, community college, four-year state college and for-profit college websites on the Internet.

The situation for educators teaching in physical classrooms is murky right now as a result of the continuing uncertainty about emerging teacher layoffs. While this is understandable given the situation on the traditional campus, it can be rectified by beginning a successful campaign for online teaching. However, in order to do so an academic must have a clear vision about the changes in the academic labor model. To put a sharp point on the reality of teaching today, academic administrators are no longer willing or able to support the salaries paid to traditional educators working traditional public education settings. Instead, they would prefer to hire online adjunct instructors to fill the growing number of online adjunct professor jobs at the post-secondary academic level. The teacher working at the secondary or elementary level of the academy with a graduate degree, a master degree or Ph.D., should take a long look at the online teaching opportunities with community colleges, state universities, for-profit colleges or technical schools. Every post-secondary academic institution has a website, and on each academic website is a link on the first page that will lead to the faculty application section. It is in this section of the school's website that information about available online teaching jobs can be found by prospective online adjunct instructors.

When an online adjunct college professor is teaching online college classes from a laptop computer while sitting in the lobby of a small hotel in Paris the freedom afforded by online teaching positions is palpable. It is possible for an academic with a graduate degree, a master degree or Ph.D., and an online teaching schedule to teach college and university students all year long from practically any geographic location in the world. While many teachers would not travel or move to Paris, there are many educators who have been the subject of budget cuts that would like to simply move to a less costly town or small city. The problem with traditional teaching is that the same academic labor problems are magnified in the less populated areas. Teaching at the post-secondary level of the academy in numerous online adjunct professor jobs is a goal that can be achieved by making many applications for online adjunct jobs every day. The way to make these applications efficiently and effectively is to navigate the Internet to the websites of community colleges, state colleges and four-year universities. Inside these academic websites is a faculty application section. This section of the post-secondary website is designed to accommodate the submission of classroom experience and academic achievement.

The broad consensus about online education is that it satisfies a great number of needs for college and university students and the academic administrators that must meet the enrolled students' educational needs. Teachers working in physical classrooms should understand the function of online degree programs insofar as they meet the new academic employment dynamics as they are defined by the cost-efficiency of distance education technology. The simple fact of the matter is that online adjunct jobs are less burdensome on public education budgets than traditional teacher salaries. The alert educator will understand that the way to continue teaching and still earn a decent living in the face of continuing layoffs is to learn how to apply for and acquire online college classes. An online teaching schedule populated with six to twelve online courses can generate multiple online adjunct income streams throughout the calendar year. Granted, teaching online will require a graduate degree, a master degree or Ph.D., and increasingly sophisticated computer skills, but the academics that make it a professional goal to access the growing number of online teaching positions will be able to earn a living long after the teachers on the physical campuses have been told to go home.

It is becoming harder than ever to remain in the physical classroom since the budget cuts to public education seem to have no end. As more traditional educators lose their salaries from teaching it is important for them to realize that online teaching jobs can relieve academic hardships. The truth of the matter is that distance education technology is relatively easy for academic administers to deploy since it is a mature technology and the post-secondary level of the academy, community colleges, state universities and for-profit colleges, utilize it as a way to replace the expensive physical classroom on the traditional campus. The result of the emergence of online college degree programs is a great deal of online adjunct employment that needs the participation of academically qualified and technically adroit online adjunct instructor to accept it. Every online college class that is developed in order to allow a college or university student to earn an academic degree from a personal computer must be taught by an academic with an earned graduate degree. However, if a teacher with a bachelor degree is willing to earn a master degree or Ph.D. it will be possible upon graduate to start building an online teaching schedule populated with numerous online college courses.

It is not at all necessary to exit the physical classroom in order to start teaching online for online bachelor degree programs and online master degree programs. In fact, it would be a very good idea for an educator that is still teaching on a traditional campus to stat investigating how online adjunct jobs are being created each time a new online college degree programs is made available to college and university students. The fact o the matter is that each online college courses within an online degree program must be taught by an online adjunct instructor with an earned graduate degree, a doctorate or master degree, and at least a moderate level of computer skill. It is possible to teach as few as one or two online courses at a time, and since many online degree programs offer classes that last only five to eight weeks long and are offered to college students twelve months of the year, the online adjunct income streams can certainly come in handy in the event of another round of teacher layoffs. The best search strategy for locating adjunct teaching positions online is to navigate the Internet to the faculty application sections in the websites of community colleges, state universities and for-profit colleges.