THE UNIVERSITY OF HUDDERSFIELD
SCHOOL OF EDUCATION AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
MSc Multimedia and E-Learning
The initial meeting of the MSc Multimedia and E-Learning course began with introductions, combined with this, a task to discover what skills other members of the group could offer, developing a network of likeminded people who could offer support throughout the duration of the course. This soon progressed into the first step of Gilly Salmon’s, constructivist, five stage model (Monty, 2005), which Moule (2007) describes as the “coherent model upon which to base online learning design in higher education” (Moule also discusses the limitations of this model and offers a more conceptual approach using the e-Learning Ladder which uses an instructivist approach initially, developing into constructivist, as one progresses up the ladder), whereby Liz, the course leader / e-moderator, set a task where small groups discussed a topic. The topic was recorded using a microphone and the free audio editing software, Audacity, which has made creating mp3s and podcasts far easier and readily accessible. This encouragement from the course leader helped the group to form on a different level, creating podcasts and digital artefacts, engaging the students with the technology that would help them develop not only their skills but e-learning itself as described through Experiential Learning “the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb, 1984, p.41 cited in Boyatzis, 1999). Motivation is essential during this initial constructivist approach especially when recording a discussion, to be uploaded onto the web, as the majority of people do not like to hear the sound of their own voice. Understanding that this was to gage peoples views there can be a slight air of cautiousness when uploading material on the web where it is readily available for all to see and scrutinise however it does offer the opportunity to reflect. This was particularly true in my experience of the task. I was happy to discuss with my partner but not to record my voice, therefore it is essential to encourage and develop the motivation of the student not only with regards to the technology but also their initial engagement with the approach of the course. My experience of this initial task highlights the problems with adopting Gilly Salmon’s five-stage model as Moule (2007: 39) quoting Lisewski and Joyce (2003) describes how the approach does not take into account individual learning styles owing to the rigid structure which seemingly undermines the ethos of e-learning.
I was initially dubious about the use of podcasts within the school sector, although mobile learning technologies are continuing to develop; the podcast has the ability to reach the student on the move. While Apple coined the term podcast (Trinder, 2008), the technology is not exclusively Mac, or limited to mp3 players but also easily listened to on an adequately equipped mobile phone. Working within an institution that has over 80% pupils with English as an additional language the podcast could be an invaluable tool to help develop language skills as well as communicating complex instructions or answering frequently asked questions (Amadan, 2006). For some time now, language courses have been available in audio format, which seems natural to develop a personalised, student centred program whereby their individual needs are catered for to help personal and social development within the school community through the use of podcasting.
Collaborating on the PBWiki set up for the MSc was incredibly challenging, as the task was to write a personal, descriptive paragraph, highlighting your interests and skills. I particularly struggled here and as Monty states, e-moderators should, “try to avoid the ‘Post your first message here and say who you are’ type of message. It will frighten some of the participants”.
Wikis have become an integral part of the Web 2.0 boom, enabling the collaboration and sharing of electronic information and knowledge far more efficiently than the ‘old fashioned’ way of email.
Glaser (Glaser, 2004) describes how Wikipedia has more than 340,000 articles, written by a sprawling online community and asks the question “If anyone can change the page at any time, how can you trust it?” Although wikis are beneficial for the contributing student, it does seem hypocritical as wikis are generally frowned upon within academic circles and pupils are advised not to use them as a reference as the information lacks validity, yet they are becoming increasingly popular as a teaching and learning tool.
Groups are able to coordinate easier through the use of wikis (leelefever, 2007) although there can be issues when working in small groups, as the collaboration can sometimes be dependent on one member. This became evident when developing a wiki / discussion group, focussing on Digital natives and digital immigrants, the phrase coined by Prensky (2001) who discusses the divisions between educators and students and how the education system does not cater for the net generation, a generation that has grown up with digital technology. The use of the wiki did not evolve into a critical, academic artefact, but that of a social discussion, whereby the members discussed their personal thoughts and experiences. This could owe to the previous concrete experiences of blogging software that have solid foundations in social networking on a personal level rather than academic. Scaffolding as the word suggests needs to build on prior experience, and the concept was not fully realised by the students and although ideas were exchanged, knowledge was not necessarily acquired as no theoretical underpinning took place. As the task was not assessed this could have had a negative impact on the development of the group and the final artefact.
Continuing with the “setting up of the system” course members created a Skype account and added each other as contacts. Having been a Skype user for some years now, since its launch, although not utilising the software on a massive scale, I am however aware of its capabilities. During my PGCE at University of Huddersfield, the lecturers wanted to experiment with remote classroom observations using the product, although I did not participate in this method I can see its potential of not being invasive like having stranger in the room, yet within the school sector this raises quite a few legal issues, transmitting live video of children across the web. Alongside the legal implications of filming children there have arisen a few issues regarding the ethics of Skype. Created by the founders of Kazaa, a peer-to-peer downloading application, “the No. 1 spyware threat on the Internet, according to Computer Associates International” (Ilet, 2004), countries such as China, Germany and Australia have reported that Skype conversations can be monitored or hacked into. Being closed source, meaning the code is unable to be modified, and claiming to be free to use, this is technically not free software. There are however other free open source programs with similar specifications that offer greater privacy such as Ekiga, Twinkle and Wengophone (Ubuntu, 2009).
Initially I did wonder how this social networking tool could actually be implemented in ICT, within the school sector, and thought hard about its relevance within my subject specialism. With great consideration, I began to think about how the social software could be used within other subjects. Considering Jean Lave and Etienne Wenger’s Communities of Practice (Learning Theories Knowledgebase, 2009; Wenger, 2009), using Skype within the domain of Modern Foreign Languages (Wolff, 2006), pupils could call native speakers in other countries; this approach would have mutual benefits for both parties, where information and ideas are exchanged between the practitioners of the foreign tongue, forming relationships within other countries. Using this application in a formal setting the teacher becomes the facilitator where the students learn by applying the technology within the classroom setting, impacting on teaching and learning through a process of engaging and purposeful relationships based on the interaction between the online community.
Similarly a more visual approach could be considered implementing Skype within Geography. As previously discussed, Skype has video capability, offering pupils the opportunity to see first hand how other schools across the globe live and learn.
Another technology that was introduced was Hot Potatoes, which allows “you to create interactive multiple-choice, short-answer, jumbled-sentence, crossword, matching/ordering and gap-fill exercises for the World Wide Web”. Being an avid Flash user I found this piece of software quite unintuitive although it has great potential for non-Flash users. I did however discover that the publishing settings would allow the results to be emailed to a chosen address. This spurred me on to research whether Flash could do the same with such ease and have discovered the benefits of SCORM packages and how Flash quizzes integrate within them.
Mon, Dec 08, 2008 — Recording of Elluminate session Monday 8th December 20.15
I did not participate in this session; I have however, reviewed the recording and evaluated its impact on e-learning. The initial setting of the Elluminate session involved the majority of people asking if they could be heard resulting in a communication problem, as people were not answering when they could clearly hear.
Referring back to Salmon’s five-stage model, students are again on Stage 1, as they are being introduced to a new technology. This for some quickly developed as they reach Stage 2, Socialisation, where the online community of the MSc is contained in one place within the Elluminate session. This shared space provided an opportunity for collaboration, becoming a Community of Practice, which should have progressed onto Stage 3. In the beginning this however did not happen, as the structure of the session was not well paced and resources such as web pages did not work as intended, creating large gaps with no action, leaving users wondering if the technology had stopped working. Because stage 1 had not been resolved, teething issues occurred, as users could not use the technology. The session created a series of mixed messages whereby users were introduced to the initial voting technology as a “bit of fun”, however the application uses instant messaging, like AIM, and users were engaging in less formal online chat as no official rules had been put in place therefore Netiquette was not established.
The quality of the sound from the Moderator, Liz, was not very good and slightly low in volume, this required users to listen more attentively and could have been a strategy to ensure users paid attention.
As the session progressed, ideas were exchanged and for some time Stage 3 was acquired and knowledge shared clearly this shows the development of the group through the eventual familiarity of the software and the instruction from the e-moderator although the session seemed to end abruptly
Ning, another blog / wiki tool was introduced to the group. Joining this and visiting it further there seems to be people who have become members of the site who have posted items related to Hoodia, a slimming aid, and Xanax, which is clearly not the site’s intended purpose. As requests have to be made to join the group, it would seem that the e-moderator has not been vigilant in their selection, (an essential part of developing a community) vetting who becomes a member and what gets posted on the communal site to ensure that effective sharing of information remains the intended purpose rather than a spam area. The communal area has given legitimate members the opportunity to share information, clearly forming Stage 3 of Salmon’s model where the community members have begun to share information, helping each other through the recommendation of resources. The community is now well under way in progressing to the next level, Stage 4 – Knowledge construction. Stage 5 – Development has yet to be reached.
The learning journal is a demanding piece of writing, as it requires honest, personal reflection on the learning that has taken place. Kolb alongside Roger Fry created the 4-stage Experiential Learning Model, which is broken down into the following categories
- Concrete experience
- Observation and reflection
- Forming abstract concepts
- Testing in new situations
This model has further been broken down into four learning styles, which can be applied as a constant spiral
Kolb and Fry on learning styles (Tennant, 1996 cited in Smith, 2001)
|Converger||Abstract conceptualization + active experimentation||· strong in practical application of ideas
· can focus on hypo-deductive reasoning on specific problems
· has narrow interests
|Diverger||Concrete experience + reflective observation||· strong in imaginative ability
· good at generating ideas and seeing things from different perspectives
· interested in people
· broad cultural interests
|Assimilator||Abstract conceptualization + reflective observation||· strong ability to create theoretical models excels in inductive reasoning
· concerned with abstract concepts rather than people
|Accommodator||Concrete experience + active experimentation||· greatest strength is doing things
· more of a risk taker
· performs well when required to react to immediate circumstances
· solves problems intuitively
Smith (2001) deconstructs Kolb’s learning styles, critiquing the weakness in the results owing to the limited amount of studies, highlighting issues regarding his theories and how care needs to be taken when approaching. He describes how initially the model successfully assists in the planning of activities and how actively engaged the learner is although it does not offer enough contemplation or reflection. Reflection is an essential area where people can connect with their feelings and address emotion (Smith, 1999). Smith (2001) continues to describe how the learning styles do not apply to all situations as memorisation and information assimilation could be more appropriate to different situations, the sequences of the stages are not necessarily in a logical order and as individuals should not limit themselves to one learning style hindering their development, which again returns to the concept of reflection. Jarvis’s (1994, 1995 cited in Smith, 2001) experiential model considers different pathways realising that different processes can take place at the same time creating alternative routes rather than the systematic spiral. Cultural and social experiences are also not considered in Kolb’s model as it is based solely on western experience, this lack of consideration will clearly be an issue if considered in the institution I work which has over 80% of pupils from ethnic minority backgrounds. The model however “provides an excellent framework for planning teaching and learning activities and it can be usefully employed as a guide for understanding learning difficulties, vocational counselling, academic advising and so on”(Tennant,1997: 92 cited in Smith,2001).
Considering the experiential learning model and styles associated, writing this learning journal has given me the opportunity to reflect on the concrete experiences that took place throughout each day school. From this reflection I have been able to form abstract concepts, contemplating how the application of some of the concrete experiences could develop my teaching and impact on learning. Using these modes as a foundation I aim to implement and test the established applications and theories, therefore completing Kolb’s 4-stage Experiential Learning Model (Hanley, 2008).
References and Further Reading
Amadan, K. (2006) Benefits of Podcasting for Educators. Available at: http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/5-17-2006-96434.asp [Accessed January 1, 2009].
A pedagogical model of elearning at KVL: “The five-stage model of online learning” by Gilly Salmon. Available at: http://www.itlc.life.ku.dk/it_paedagogik/elaerings_paedagogik/gilly.aspx [Accessed January 26, 2009].
Belshaw, D. 5 ways teachers can use educational technology to engage students at teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk. Available at: http://teaching.mrbelshaw.co.uk/index.php/2007/05/04/5-ways-teachers-can-use-educational-technology-to-engage-students/ [Accessed January 2, 2009].
Benefits of Podcasting for Educators. Available at: http://www.buzzle.com/editorials/5-17-2006-96434.asp [Accessed January 1, 2009].
BioMed Central | Full text | Wikis, blogs and podcasts: a new generation of Web-based tools for virtual collaborative clinical practice and education. Available at: http://www.biomedcentral.com/1472-6920/6/41/ [Accessed January 1, 2009].
Boyatzis, R. E. Kolb, D. A. & Mainemelis, C. (2000) Experiential Learning Theory: Previous Research and New Directions. [Internet] IN: Sternberg, R. J. & Zhang, L. F. (Eds.). Perspectives on cognitive, learning, and thinking styles. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum, Available from: http://www.learningfromexperience.com/images/uploads/experiential-learning-theory.pdf [Accessed 15 January 2009]
Learning Theories Knowledgebase (2009, January). Communities of Practice (Lave and Wenger) at Learning-Theories.com. Available at: http://www.learning-theories.com/communities-of-practice-lave-and-wenger.html [Accessed January 25, 2009].
BIONDI, P. & DESCLAUX, F. (1998) Silver Needle in the Skype. In Suresnes, FRANCE: EADS Corporate Research Center, p.98. Available at: www.blackhat.com/presentations/bh-europe-06/bh-eu-06-biondi/bh-eu-06-biondi-up.pdf [Accessed January 25, 2009].
DICKMEIS, T. & BIHLER, P. (2005) E-Learning and VoIP?. In How Skype can revolutionize interactive E-Learning. INSA de Lyon. Available at: www.bihler-online.de/mixed/pdf/voip_summary.pdf.
Eickmann, P. Kolb, A. & Kolb, D. A. (2004) Designing learning. [Internet] IN: R. J. Boland & F. Collopy (Eds.), Managing as designing (pp. 241-247). Stanford: Stanford University Press. Available from: http://www.learningfromexperience.com/images/uploads/Designing-Learning.pdf [Accessed 15 January 2009]
Fry, R. & Kolb, D. A. (1975) Toward an Applied Theory of Experiential Learning. IN: Theory of Group Processes. (Cooper, C. ed). New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc
Glaser, M. (2004) OJR article: Collaborative Conundrum: Do Wikis Have a Place in the Newsroom? Available at: http://www.ojr.org/ojr/glaser/1094678265.php [Accessed January 1, 2009].
Hanley, M. E-Learning Curve Blog: Constructivism Pt.4: Experiential learning theory. Available at: http://elearningcurve.blogspot.com/2008/01/constructivism-pt4-experiential.html [Accessed February 15, 2009].
Ilett , D. (2004) CA slaps spyware label on Kazaa – CNET News. Available at: http://news.cnet.com/CA-slaps-spyware-label-on-Kazaa/2100-1025_3-5467539.html [Accessed January 25, 2009].
Jarvis, P. (1994) ‘Learning’, ICE301 Lifelong Learning, Unit 1(1), London: YMCA George Williams College.
Jarvis, P. (1995) Adult and Continuing Education. Theory and practice 2e, London: Routledge.
Kanter, B. Beth’s Blog: How Nonprofits Can Use Social Media: skype. Skype Me! Double Edge Sword … Available at: http://beth.typepad.com/beths_blog/skype/ [Accessed January 25, 2009].
Kolb, D. A. (1976) The Learning Style Inventory: Technical Manual. Boston, Ma. TRG Hay/McBer.
Kolb, D. A. (1984) Experiential Learning. Englewood Cliffs, NJ. Prentice Hall
leelefever (2007) Video: Wikis in Plain English | Common Craft – Explanations In Plain English, Available at: http://www.commoncraft.com/video-wikis-plain-english [Accessed January 1, 2009].
Masters , A. 4 Ways to Engage Today’s Generation of Students. Available at: http://ezinearticles.com/?4-Ways-to-Engage-Todays-Generation-of-Students&id=1813993 [Accessed January 2, 2009].
Monty, A. (2005) A pedagogical model of elearning at KVL: “The five-stage model of online learning” by Gilly Salmon. Available at: http://www.itlc.life.ku.dk/it_paedagogik/elaerings_paedagogik/gilly.aspx [Accessed January 26, 2009].
Moule, P. (2007) Challenging the five-stage model for e-learning: a new approach. Research in Learning Technology, 15 (1), pp.37-50.
Prensky, M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. MCB University Press, 9 (5), p.6. Available at: http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
Smith, M. K. (2001) ‘David A. Kolb on experiential learning’, the encyclopedia of informal education, http://www.infed.org/b-explrn.htm. [Accessed January 15, 2009].
Smith , M.K. (1999) reflection @ the informal education homepage. reflection. Available at: http://www.infed.org/biblio/b-reflect.htm [Accessed January 15, 2009].
Tennant, M. (1997) Psychology and Adult Learning 2e, London: Routledge.
Trinder, K., Guiller, J., Margaryan, A., Littlejohn, A. & Nicol, D. (2008) Learning from digital natives: bridging formal and informal learning, Glasgow Caledonian University. Available at: [Accessed January 15, 2009].
Ubuntu (2009) Skype. Skype – Community Ubuntu Documentation. Available at: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/Skype [Accessed January 25, 2009].
Wenger, E. Communities of practice. Available at: http://www.ewenger.com/theory/ [Accessed January 15, 2009].
Wolff , P. (2006) Skype and distance learning. Available at: www.toolsfortheclassroom.com/Skype%20and%20distance%20learning.doc