I apologize to my classmates for this late posting. My computer got a virus last week that at first limited my access to the internet, but then eventually cut me out completely. While I did get access to the internet a few days ago, I only today got access to my email and blog again…Yay! Below, please find my module 4 mind-map which details the various tools that instructors can use to engage their students and aid in their learning.
As more students across the world continue to turn to online learning rather than face-to-face instruction, online educators must find new tools to keep the students motivated to learn. It has been suggested by many researchers and authors, such as Siemens (2008) and Durrington, Berryhill, and Swafford (2006), that educators use the tools that students are already familiar with to deliver content, communicate with students, and promote collaboration. Many of these tools can be downloaded as apps on students’ phones and tablets, such as Skype, FaceTime, Twitter, Facebook, Facebook Messenger, and Google Hangouts for communicating with other students and the instructor; and YouTube, Blackboard, iTunes U and ABCMouse.com can be downloaded as tools for gaining content knowledge. Increasingly, apps are becoming available that allow for collaboration anywhere and at anytime, such as Blackboard and Dropbox. For tools that are not available as apps, access is still available through websites via any web-enabled device. As Siemens states, “the tools under the umbrella of the participative Web include blogs, wikis, podcasts, social bookmarking, YouTube, and virtual worlds (such as SecondLife). When used primarily for social means (i.e., staying in touch with friends or collaborating on a project), few would argue their effectiveness” (2008, p. 6). While the challenge still lies with the instructor to design courses that encourage participants to use these applications as learning tools and to provide timely feedback, using tools that students are already using should make the process much easier. Of course, just utilizing these tools periodically is not enough. Educators must interact with students constructively and frequently. Durrington, Berryhill, and Swafford write that “distance learning can be as effective as traditional instruction when the technologies are appropriate for the instructional tasks, instructors provide timely feedback to students, and levels of student interactivity are high” (2006, p. 190).
Durrington, V., Berryhill, A., & Swafford, J. (2006). Strategies for enhancing student interactivity in an online environment. College Teaching, 54(1), 190-193.
Siemens, G. (2008). Learning and knowing in networks: Changing roles for educators and designers. ITForum.