Engaging Learners with New Strategies and Tools (module 4)

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.

module 4 mind map 2 image

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.


3 thoughts on “Engaging Learners with New Strategies and Tools (module 4)”

  1. Hi Andrea,
    It is good that you have the Internet again. I had a similar problem a couple of times and I know how you feel.
    You listed YouTube as a content tool and I agree with it. However, do you think that YouTube can also function as a communication and/or collaboration tool?
    Thank you,

  2. Lena,
    Thanks for the question. I have a hard time picturing YouTube as a collaboration tool. Maybe its becuase I am only vaguely familiar with all of the things that can be done with it, but from what I understand of YouTube, there are not many opportunities for users to work together on a video. Most likely they would have worked on a video in some other program and posted the final product to YouTube. However, I could see YouTube as a communication tool in that people can record messages via video, post it to YouTube, and then their subscribers could watch the message and reply. I did this with the class I currently teach. I recorded a welcome message, posted it to YouTube, and provided a link on our course page.

    Have you used YouTube as a collaboration tool? Do you have any examples of how this could be done?

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