Thesis: Utilizing Technology to Deliver Curriculum

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¶ … Technology to Deliver Curriculum

Technology in the field of education is a growing phenomenon and educational communities are struggling with the pedagogy, delivery, assessment and accountability and as well there is a sizable community of users and learners who remain deeply dissatisfied with the cost and performance of currently available learning options. Our educational community's strategic plan is currently under revision not only to keep up with the technological demands of a global society, but to synergize cost effectiveness and quality instruction that reflects a changing curriculum. With this in mind, this work will evaluate online learning and the use of Microsoft PowerPoint in the classroom.

EXAMINATION OF ONLINE INSTRUCTION

The work of Barnett and Aagaard (2005) entitled: "Online Vs. Face-to-Face Instruction: Similarities, Differences, and Efficacy" states that advances in technology have resulted in "an explosion of online university programs. Online programs compete for students that were once served primarily in traditional, face-to-face university programs. Given the additional options students have when choosing degree programs, faculty members are often encouraged by the university administration to change courses that heretofore had been face-to-face in an online setting." (p.5) Because of these changes in the delivery of instruction there is a need "to examine instructional practices, evaluate their applicability and effectiveness, and determine their impact on student learning." (Barnett and Aagaard, 2005, p.5) Barnett and Aagaard (2005) report having analyzed fours courses that were taught in both the online and traditional classroom format. Those courses were: (1) research for the instructional leader; (2) school finance; (3) superintendent practicum; and (4) school law. Factors compared across the delivery formats were those of: (1) instructional strategies; (2) actual student achievement; and (3) student perceptions of the efficacy of each format.

There have been many studies to compare the various aspects of traditional instruction vs. online teaching "exploring the advantages/disadvantages of both delivery methods. These studies suggest advantages may be found in either approach depending on the objectives and the methods used to accomplish those objectives." (Barnett and Aagaard, 2005, p.6) It is reported that a "recent meta-analysis of such studies concluded the skill of the instructor and the types of activities in which students are involved are more of a predictor of student success than is the medium that is used to deliver the instruction." (Barnett and Aagaard, 2005, p.7) The traditional instructional strategies are stated to be of the nature that can be modified for online courses. The example provided is that "class discussion involving twenty or more students in a face-to-face setting can become thought-provoking and insightful. When those same twenty students are involved in an online synchronous discussion, however, it may become unwieldy and confusing. Communication cues such as body language and tone of voice that are often obvious in a face-to-face setting are all but nonexistent in online synchronous discussions." (Barnett and Aagaard, 2005, p.8)

The findings in the study conducted by Barnett and Aagaard state that since some student "prefer verbal instruction, while other students learn best through written instruction, and still others prefer a more active, kinesthetic approach, the challenge of incorporating various learning styles into an online setting needs additional attention." (Barnett and Aagaard, 2005, p.27) Additionally stated by Barnett and Aagaard is that as the influence of technology "continues to increase, on-going EXAMINATION of this resource and how it might be used most effectively in the preparation of educational administrators is essential." (2005, p. 27) As educational leadership courses "move more and more to an online setting, requiring aspiring leaders to interact with people in a positive, helpful way, judging the effectiveness of those interactions, and offering suggestions for growth will be critical." (Barnett and Aagaard, 2005, p. 27)

II. TECHNOLOGICAL TOOLS FOR VIRTUAL CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION

The work of Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron (2007) entitled: "Selecting a Virtual Classroom System: Elluminate Live vs. Macromedia Breeze (Adobe Acrobat Connect Professional)" states that "tools and technology that can be implemented to enhance teaching and learning from a distance continue to evolve. With this rapid evolution, continuous assessment in necessary to ensure optimal connections take place among students, instructors and educational content in effective, online learning communities." (p.1) Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron (2007) state that distance learning courses "are proliferating in higher education. The National Educational Statistics Center reported in 2004-2005 that about 88% of 2-year and 86% of 4-year postsecondary institutions offered distance education courses. Research in distance learning continually emphasizes the importance of interaction for effective teaching." (p.1) It is further related that studies have indicated that "interactions between students and instructors as well as student-to-student interactions enhance education at a distance by improving attitudes, encouraging earlier completion of coursework, improving performance on tests, allowing deep and meaningful learning opportunities, increasing retention rates, and building learning communities." (Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron, 2007, p.1) Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron (2007) state that research conducted previously on the need for interaction in distance learning has resulted in important guidelines for instructors which include those as follows: (1) Learners require significant support and guidance to make the most of their distance learning experiences. This support can be achieved through a combination of student-instructor and student-student interactions; (2) Learners need to be part of the learning process to feel involved and comfortable. Social presence for both the instructor and the student is important; (3) Learners benefit significantly from learning in small groups that provide support and encouragement, as well as foster the feeling that if help is needed, it is readily available. This builds a learning community based on shared responsibility with individual efforts; and (4) Learners are motivated through frequent, structured contact with the instructor. Instructors often play the role of facilitator; in synchronous environments scaffolding and structure is very important for success. (Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron, 2007, p.1)

Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron (2007) state that advantages to online synchronous learning include those listed as follows: (1) Motivation - synchronous systems provide motivation for distance learners to keep up with their peers; (2) Telepresence - real time interaction fosters development of group cohesion and a sense of community; (3) Good feedback - synchronous systems provide quick feedback and support consensus and decision-making in group activities; and (4) Pacing - synchronous events encourage discipline in learning and help students prioritize their studies. (p.1)Similarities between online synchronous learning and the physical classroom are stated to include that each of these: (1) allow for immediate feedback; (2) include interactions with instructor and peers; and (3) include guided exercise to motivate and increase student learning. (Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron, 2007, p.1)

Synchronous systems allow for the instructor to make assessment of the level of knowledge of students and for course material to be tailored appropriately. Furthermore, the "inclusion of a scheduled time adds the perception (or reality) that the instructor and classmates are providing external motivation and are encouraging the student's participation, which can result in higher retention and completion rates." (Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron, 2007, p.1) Challenges of online synchronous learning include the primary challenge of the need for students and instructors alike to be "comfortable with the technology and environment." (Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron, 2007, p.1) Also stated as a challenge is the scheduling inconvenience and real time participation which "can present additional drawbacks for distance learners as students and instructors must arrange schedules to participate at specific times and locations with Internet access. In addition, the use of video, audio, or large image files can increase the problems caused by limited bandwidth."(Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron, 2007, p.1) Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron (2007) state that "even with these disadvantages, synchronous technologies can add value to teaching and learning models, either as a supplement or replacement for face-to-face asynchronous learning." (p.1)

Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron (2007) additionally relate that "Web and video conferencing technology is becoming more sophisticated with each passing day." (p.1) While web and video conferencing technology are generally utilized by corporations in conducting virtual meetings, these systems "can also be ideal tools for distance learning in the academic environments." (p.1) Finkelstein (2006) is stated in the work of Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron to define the phrase "virtual classroom systems (VCS)" through listing typical features which include those as follows: (1) real-time voice and visual contact between all participants, (2) shared whiteboard, (3) integrated area for the projection of slides or other visuals, (4) capacity for text-based interaction, including side conversations or note-passing, (5) means for learners to indicate that they have questions or are confused, and (6) tools for assessing current moods, opinions, and comprehension as well as for soliciting questions or feedback, and the ability to gauge virtual body language, or a sense of how engaged learners are in the activity at hand. (p.58 in: Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron, 2007, p.1)

Schullo, Hilbelink, Venable, and Barron (2007) state that there are "few studies that assess the pedagogical aspects of a VCS as the initial step in evaluation of the system's capabilities. The trend has… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Utilizing Technology to Deliver Curriculum.  (2009, May 31).  Retrieved June 16, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/utilizing-technology-deliver-curriculum/3483666

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