You cannot build a house if you do not have a blueprint, especially if you want it to stand (Grand & Osanloo, 2014). Given that I would like my research (i.e., my house) to be strong, I need a sound theoretical framework on which to build.
As I reviewed the theoretical frameworks, I thought that Technology Acceptance Model was the one that best fits my research question: In what ways might educational technology contribute to training volunteers at non-profit organizations?
As I read more about it, I realized that I am looking at whether or not technology could play a role, not what role it can (or should play) so Technology Acceptance Model is not the right blueprint for this work. I think it may be a good theoretical framework for any work I do on this subject after this research.
I believe that activity theory is a good fit for my blueprint. My topic will include looking at what activities are present in training volunteers and how technology may have an effect the learning they experience. According to Jonassen & Rohrer-Murphy (1999) “activity cannot be understood or analyzed outside the context in which it occurs” (p. 62). In order to learn what effects may be present, I will need to understand their context and the Activity theory framework will allow me to focus my research on the goal of the training and what needs to happen to accomplish the goal and if technology can be helpful.
I am looking forward to seeing your comments and suggestions for other theoretical frameworks.
Grant, C. & Osanloo, A. (2014). Understanding, selecting, and integrating a theoretical framework in dissertation research: Creating the blueprint for you ‘house’ . Administrative Issues Journal: Connecting Education, Practice, and Research. DOI: 10.5929/2014.4.2.9.
Jonassen, D. & Rohrer-Murphy, L. (1999). Activity theory as a framework for designing constructivist learning environments. Educational Technology Research and Development, 47(1), 61-79.
How am I going to disseminate my research? That is a great question! Until now I had not really planned to circulate my research, but this course as made me realize the importance of sharing my work.
The focus of my research is training staff at non-profit organizations, I think it would be beneficial to share my work with non-profit organizations! I would like to hold a professional development workshop with the organization where I volunteer (Heritage Park). That may be a nice way to start sharing what I find in my research.
I am also interested in building some tools to help training be successful and use the information from my ARP. I am going into this research thinking (and hoping) to find new technologies that can aid in non-profit organizations with their training. Perhaps I could disseminate my findings and help design some modules. At this point, I think this would happen with the same non-profit organization as where I give the professional development workshop.
At this point my network in this field is small. I hope to change that fact soon.
Digital facilitation takes more effort and planning on the part of the facilitator. It takes considerable effort in order for the facilitator to use the technology correctly, engage the learners, and present the content.
There are fewer walls. Digital facilitation allows people to live in one location and study in another. This idea introduces a level of flexibility that has not been available in most learning institutions until now.
There needs to be a balance between teaching the content and the technology. Not all the students in a program will have the same technical ability and will need help to use the tools. That should not reduce the time and effort spent on the content. It is a juggling act to get everything right.
What will learning look like as we incorporate digital facilitation?
How do we adopt the flexibility that digital facilitation provides? How to we make it not scary for those more comfortable in face-to-face environments?
Digital facilitation is like the leaves changing colour in the fall. It is does not mean the end of something (i.e., face-to-face learning), but the symbol of changes on the horizon. Much as the trees do not fear the change, we should not feel intimidated of the changes digital learning can bring.
Community is not something that forms automatically. It takes effort, planning, and attention. This infographic provides strategies to create community in digital environments. An important part of learning is inquiring. According to Garrison, Cleveland-Innes, and Vaughan (2013), “the premise of the [the Community of Inquiry] (CoI) framework is that higher education is both a collaborative and an individually constructivist learning experience” (p. 10). CoI builds on the presences of social, cognitive, and teaching elements, creating a “collaborative constructivist educational experience” (Garrison, Cleveland-Innes, & Vaughan, 2013, p. 11).
While there is a connection between the presences, it is important to focus on each independently. By combining these elements, the classroom facilitation will work for the instructor and students, creating a strong CoI.
Students need interactions in the classroom to allow for the best possible learning (Garrison, Cleveland-Innes, & Vaughan, 2013, p. 48). By utilizing the strategies in the infographic, a facilitator can create a social environment. As students feel they are contributing members of the classroom, they begin to form a community (Garrison, Cleveland-Innes, & Vaughan, 2013, p. 49). As the facilitator, the students will look to you to see the conduct expected of them to create a social presence.
Each student learns differently. As a result, facilitators need to implement a variety of tools. According to Richardson, Caskurlu, Ashby (2020), “facilitation is helping your students reach their goals by encouraging them to participate, suggesting ideas or strategies for them to consider” (para. 2). The strategies in the above graphic should help engage most learner types. Online facilitation does not lend itself well to sage on the stage content delivery. The cognitive presence in the CoI will be stronger if the students have a role in the delivery of content.
Teaching presence combines social and cognitive presences in the facilitation of the course (Garrison, Cleveland-Innes, & Vaughan, 2013, p. 46). This presence is more about the facilitator than the students, but it affects them and their learning. Delivering the content the same way every year will not create the strong presence for a CoI. The strategies outlined above can help to keep the delivery lively. As the facilitator, it is important to keep the position of the learner in mind while delivering the course; these strategies can help do that.
These strategies are only a few of the many available to guide facilitation in online classrooms. The conversation surrounding approaches is infinite since there are always going to be innovations worth adding to the puzzle. Thoughts and ideas are welcome in the comments area below.
Bull, B. (2013). Eight Roles of an Effective Online Teacher. Faculty Focus.
Richardson, J., Caskurlu, S., & Ashby, I. (2018). Facilitating your online discussions (PDF), Purdue Repository for Online Teaching and Learning.
Vaughan, N. D., Cleveland-Innes, M., & Garrison, D. R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca University Press.
Digital facilitation is not as easy as everyone thinks.
As I watch the world gravitate to online education, I repeatedly hear comments about it being easier, not that different, and not as effective. The truth is, it is different and comes with its own set of challenges. Though it does work.
Digital facilitation comes with so many options, it may be difficult to choose the right tool for each circumstance.
With all the available tools and those that continue to come, I think it is possible for facilitators to be overwhelmed with choices. If facilitators choose multiple tools, students may also feel overwhelmed.
Digital learning is not a second choice or a left-over to accomplish education and the facilitation should not treat it as such.
I think that people look at digital facilitation and learning as a act of desperation to complete education and firmly believing that face-to-face is the best option. I do not agree. I think digital learning is another option, not better, not worse.
How do we change the stigma around digital facilitation?
How do teaching styles differ from face-to-face to digital facilitation? Do they have to differ? If yes, how much and in what way?
Digital facilitation is like a compass; it helps learners get to where they want to go.
Reflection is not a skill that I naturally possess, but it is something that I value. With every experience, be it my own or one that I am a part of, I am learning to look back and see what went well and what could use improvement. In my mind, there are always items in each category, and it is worth reviewing. I have found that it is easy to view reflection as a waste of time or not needed – something that I am guilty of doing on several occasions, but when I do take the time, I am better prepared for the next time a similar experience happens. That being said, it is time for a reflection on my experience designing a digital resource.
I have always enjoying designing new ways to tackle a problem. I like taking paper processes and making them digital or reviewing a new process to ensure it is providing the expected results. This is the first time I had the opportunity to design something new. In the past, I have always worked with the existing resource to improve it. While it was daunting being the one to create a digital learning resource (DLR), it was also exciting. I was surprised to see the how much a role empathy should play in all designs. My experience did not lead me to think that empathy has any part of designing courses and resources. I was pleased (and relieved) to learn the truth. I question how to get those currently in designer roles who are not employing empathy to realize the power behind empathetic designs.
For future designs for which I am responsible, I would like to have users involved. Due to my circumstances, I was not able to implement feedback from users into the design. As a result, my design used the literature to create an informed design. I hoped to receive some feedback from those who reviewed my prototype, but that was not the case. Given the limited amount of feedback, I realized the value I placed on knowing what others in the field thought and suggestions they had.
I am looking forward to my next opportunity to design a course. I will be able to take what I have learned and apply it again, and hopefully do a better job. When that time comes, I would like to keep better notes during the process in order to have a stronger reflection upon completion.
“You can change your perspective without even moving your feet” (Seeling, 2013, para. 5). This statement made me stop and think. In order to create something new, perspectives must change, at least a little bit, otherwise results will not differ. After completing the readings this week, I (re)realized how important it is to have the right tools available in order to change perspectives, foster ideas, and create the new (whatever it is!).
I kept my PoP in mind as I read the articles so I could start to consider the best way to approach the issue. How can we create an online orientation that will fulfill the needs taken care of in the face-to-face delivery with the additional needs of online learning? In an attempt to start the process, I created an Empathy Map and Mini-Manifesto. I have always felt that the designer needs to keep the end-user in mind while in the design process. I was not able to articulate that thought so clearly until being a student in the MALAT program, but it has always been part of my values. Now that I have the opportunity to create a digital resource, I can take that belief and apply it. Empathy is the first step in doing just that.
The timing of this PoP is tricky since students are all off campus and therefore, I am unable to contact them for information, but I am sure that I will find an empathy method that will allow me to gather the information I need. I am fortunate that I was on the team who planned the face-to-face version as well as the team in charge of the online delivery.
As Kouprie and Visser (2009) stated “empathy is a necessary quality for developing products that meet customer needs” (p. 437). It is important to realize that, ultimately, we are always working to meeting the needs of customers, they may be students or clients, thus we need to keep their needs at the top of our minds.
Kouprie, M., & Sleeswijk Visser, F. (2009) A framework for empathy in design: stepping into and out of the user’s . Journal of Engineering Design, 20(5), 437-448. DOI: 10.1080/09544820902875033
Seelig, T. (2013). How reframing a problem unlocks innovation. Fast Company. Retrieved from https://www.fastcompany.com/1672354/how-reframing-a-problem-unlocks-innovation
I had the privilege of participating in four presentations regarding educational technologies. These presentations covered everything from means to learn to evaluation tools, each one being available online. One of the reasons I chose the MALAT program was to learn about and add to my digital toolkit. This course is helping me do exactly that!
As I listened to these presentations a recurring question came to mind. With all these tools available to educators (both online and face-to-face), how does one go about choosing the right one? With the abundance of options, it is easy to use the first thing that one comes across or spending numerous hours looking for the best tool. I know that I can fall into the later category without intending to do so. A concern I have is that it might be hard to find the balance between researching tools and committing to one.
My team is focusing on educational podcasts as the learning event. As I read more about them it becomes evident that any fool with a recording device can make a podcast; however, that does not mean that it would be high of production or educational quality. For my own critical inquiry, I am looking at to find out if podcasts can improve volunteer training. As I began my research, the quality of a podcast did not enter my thoughts. Now that I have participated in these presentations, I realize that I need to consider quality as I draw my conclusions.
I leave this post with a question to which I am not sure there is an answer. With so many tools available, how does one know the best tools of the trade?
The specific issues were; does podcasting offer a means to improve formal learning when implemented as an educational priming tool, how best to mitigate the effects of an over abundance of resource information, and how can volunteer training be improved through its use. Further, will the inclusion of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines ensure equitable accessibility for diverse learners and can this modality help to close the digital divide.
Educational podcasting presents some positive attributes that can address the digital divide. Its portability, ease of use and low technological requirements are touted as defining characteristics for this purpose.
Portability is the most often referenced as an attribute of the modality with research papers highlighting the ability to consume an educational podcast while doing other activities (McGarr, 2009). However, when actual use and individual context were examined, it was found that learners often elected to use the podcast as a sit-down learning activity supporting the idea that there is a disconnect between the anticipated and actual use of this modality (Selwyn, 2010).
The technology required to create, deliver, and consume a podcast is relatively simple with distribution being effective even over the most basic internet connection source. Additionally, the standard file format for podcasts is small, which makes them ideal for transmission over the less stable networks often found in rural areas (Betella & Lazzari, 2007). Podcasting shows promise for combating the digital divide and when enhanced with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles, can offer learners access to continued educational opportunities.
UDL principles approach access to learning as a matter of equity; making sure “all students have the ability to interact with and learn from the curriculum rather than being given individualized instruction that further separates their learning from that of their peers” (Meyer, Rose, & Gordon, 2014; Venkatesh, 2015, p.11). UDL provides an opportunity for alternative modes of submission and assessment so learners are able to synthesize and express understanding of concepts and learnings in a way that is most appropriate for their individual context (Berlanger, 2005; Edyburn, 2011). All learning modalities used in a classroom should enhance learning potential for all participants and not create barriers.
As a way to enhance learning potential, podcasting can be as a Primer Podcast delivering introductory learning resources and preparing students for the following classroom session. This use can create a more engaging classroom experience but presents a risk of overuse and over dependence.
Primer podcasting should not be viewed as a substitute classroom session or as a way to eliminate alternative learning resources. A 2018 article warns of the risks associated with the over use of podcasting for the delivery of course material and notes that some believe podcasting has no place in the classroom and is a distraction (Goldman, 2018). For this reason, feedback provided by the learners becomes an important tool with which to inform technology use decisions.
Feedback allows educators to better understand what is needed by the learner enabling informed decisions regarding multimedia platform use. As Knowles notes that “In this direction he must, if he is an educator, be able to judge what attitudes are actually conducive to continued growth and what are detrimental” (Knowles, 1973, 69). With the sheer volume of information currently available, and the ease with which information is disseminated, podcasting resources are abundant and often without any means to verify author credibility and subject matter veracity. Assessing the pertinence of the information and the applicability to the educational offering becomes crucial. This is supported by Weller as he acknowledges this information abundance and stresses the importance of proper selection, aggregation and interpretation of existing materials (Weller, 2018).
Podcasting has earned its place as a pedagogical tool in formal education as a far reaching, easy to produce and use, flexible mobile delivery modality (Santos, et al., 2019). This includes applications in the private sector where it is used as a tool to facilitate volunteer training.
According to Statistics Canada, 44% of Canadian participated in volunteer work in 2013 (Statistics Canada, 2015, p. 3). With that many people volunteering annually, we need to ensure their training is handled in the best possible way. As more technical options are available for education, podcasts enhance volunteer training through their ease of use and personalization of learning.
As previously noted, subscription delivery will permit targeted delivery of timely training information with minimal disruption to the volunteer and the podcast can serve as a primer information source delivered prior to in person face-to -face training. Providing technical information to them in advance allows the trainer to focus the face-to-face time on experiential learning adding value for the volunteer by minimizing the time demands resulting from in person training.
Volunteers are unpaid and motivated extrinsically so it is vital that empathy is employed when mandatory in person training is required.
With each of us identifying an educational issue to act as a lens with which to focus our individual investigation, we were able to develop a broad reaching overview of how this technology fits within the scope of education.
Betella, A., & Lazzari, M. (2007). Towards Guidelines on Educational Podcasting Quality: Problems Arising from a Real World Experience. In Lecture Notes in Computer Science: Vol. 4558. Human Interface and the Management of Information. Interacting in Information Environments (pp. 404–412). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-73354-6_44
Goldman, T. (2018). The Impact of Podcasts in Education. Advanced Writing: Pop Culture Intersections. Retrieved from https://scholarcommons.scu.edu/engl_176/29
McGarr, O. (2009). A review of podcasting in higher education: Its influence on the traditional lecture. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 25(3). https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.1136
Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: Notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26(1), 65–73. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x
Weller, M. (2018). Twenty Years of Edtech. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/7/twenty-years-of-edtech
Podcasts are a viable option when sharing information. They are useful to distribute recordings intended for educational or entertainment purposes since the content of a podcast fits the need of the intended audience. A benefit of publicly publishing podcasts is that those who are interested in the same topic can find them and receive the same information (Evans, 2008). Podcasts can replace face-to-face lectures as a method of disseminating information to learners. Using this method, learners can access the material in the location of their choice and using the device of the choice (Parson, Reddy, Wood, & Senior, 2009; Brookes, 2010; Evans, 2008). This makes education much more flexible than it is in a face-to-face environment. Looking at some of the available literature surrounding educational podcasts, I see that there is information on both sides of the argument on using podcasts for educational purposes. While I have limited experience with podcasts, I can see their value as an educational tool. Having the ability to listen to a lecture when and where works best for the learner is a worthwhile feature of this technology. Also, having the information available outside of the formal lecture time allows learners to go back and review it should something be unclear at a later time, allowing the learner more control of his/her learning.
How does this fit with training staff? That is what I am planning to explore for the duration of this course. I volunteer at a seasonal not-for-profit living historical museum. Each season begins with training for all staff (paid) and volunteers. This training happens in a face-to-face setting and consists of only a lecture style of delivery. This style of training goes against the interactive nature of the museum, given that one of the primary goals to interact with the guests. I would like to start to explore the idea of building a blended training program for the museum, incorporating both interactive and individual components. Here are some questions that I plan to explore:
How can podcasts benefit training?
What needs to differ between training for volunteers and paid staff, if anything?
What is the best content for podcast training?
As part of this research, I welcome comments and questions from you.
Brookes, M. (2010). An evaluation of the impact of formative feedback podcasts on the student learning experience. Journal of Hospitality, Leisure, Sport & Tourism Education (Oxford Brookes University), 9(1), 53–64. https://doi-org.libresources2.sait.ab.ca/10.3794/johlste.91.238
Evans, C. (2008) The effectiveness of m-learning in the form of podcast revision lectures in higher education. Computers & Education, 50,491–498. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2007.09.016
Parson, V., Reddy, P., Wood, J., & Senior, C. (2009) Educating an iPod generation: undergraduate attitudes, experiences and understanding of vodcast and podcast use, Learning, Media and Technology, 34:3, 215-228, DOI: 10.1080/17439880903141497