Distance Teaching and Learning

This is a guest post from scholarship recipient Ophelia Morey, a member of the Design for Learning community who attended the Distance Teaching and Learning Conference located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Thanks to the Design for Learning program I was able to attend the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference sponsored by the University of Wisconsin-Madison. As a newcomer to online teaching I felt like a kid in a candy store. This conference offers a variety of sessions for newbies to the advanced educator. There was more than 130 sessions; keynotes, problem-solving session, discussion, demos, hands on mini workshops, speed sessions, plus more. I attended two half day workshops:

  • Integrate mobile devices in your online class: I learned a lot from this workshop because it was highly interactive and gave quick and easy ideas for integrating mobile devices. For example, if you want to engage/survey students before a class begins here are some tips: a) send out a survey with about three questions because it is important to know your students. Example questions: What type of device do you use? Where do you do homework? What are you looking to get out of class? b) post a question on Twitter c) send something via email that can be consumed on a mobile device such as a video. Scott Hamm, the instructor was a wealth of information. You can check out is presentation at this site that also has a blog, list of books and research articles on mobile learning. His digital syllabus for the course Digital Media & Curriculum is also a valuable resource. It features a list of emerging technology tools that you may want to experiment with in your course.
  • eLearning through authentic and distance learning: I learned from this workshop about 21st century skill, learning domains, and authentic task principles to engage learners in online settings. Here are a few resources from the workshop: A Guide to Authentic E-learning and Authentic Learning for the 21st Century: An Overview.

I also attended a variety of information sessions and keynotes. Here are highlights from a few:

  • Serving the underserved: How is the promise of distance education being met? The presenters gave insights into how we can think about distance education as being less about technology and more about social justice. This workshop gave a lot to think about in terms of how distance education has a humanitarian mission…expanding the scope of human learning by the promise of access, affordability, availability, continuity, independence and equity for marginalized groups. This is very interesting and I plan to explore this topic further.
  • Tips to promote active learning online: This presentation lists 50 tips from an active teaching lab where faculty tell how they use technology in a course. They give the good and bad lessons learned.
  • Multicultural engagement: Beyond lecture halls to online classes: this session gave tips on how to engage American and Chinese students in a large online course. Some helpful tips include using a PowerPoint presentation with subtitle, facilitate collaboration between students by use of a wiki, have students work on assignments that require the experience of each language group, use tools that students are familiar and provide step-by-step instruction on use.
  • Digital storytelling as an assessment strategy: this session gave insight into using digital storytelling. Keys themes digital storytelling are 1) reflection, journaling and scripts help students to learning outcomes, 2) student sharing and peer reviews are important, 3) use of a rubric is important, 4) use digital storytelling as an addition to traditional methods such as oral presentations and written reports.
  • The Quest for Learner Engagement: This presentation focused on gamification. I learned that gamification is about engagement using parts of a game, but is not a game itself as compared to gamed-based learning which is teaching using a self-contained game. The presenter stressed the importance of thinking about course design and outcomes before technology.

In conclusion, information about these presentations and others are included on the conference Twitter feed and in the conference proceedings.

By: Ophelia Morey

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