Teachers Talking | Mr. Bland & Coach Pabon | Controlling Your Digital Footprint

Digital Content is King

Welcome to the 21st Century – where a video recorded in high definition via a mobile device may be uploaded and shared to Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, etc. in just a matter of minutes – if not seconds.

Now, these videos may be anything from a surprise birthday party, service member returning home from deployment, an engagement proposal to a fight at school.

Either way, the speed with which video may be shared with anyone who has access to the internet is incredible when you really take a moment to think about that.

Now, for all of the positive scenarios of sharing video, that may, very well, be a good thing.  However, when considering the negative instances of sharing video, educational institutions need a positive way to control the “spin” factor, as well as, the associated positive/negative reputation that develops from this kind of exposure.

Control Your Digital Footprint

Your “Digital Footprint” is anywhere that information about you, or your organization/company, can be located digitally — especially via the interwebs.  It is important to understand how wide of a digital footprint you generate.  Then, you need to take steps to control your digital footprint.

From an individual viewpoint, this could be as simple as not creating any online accounts.
Or, is it really that simple?  If you don’t have any online accounts, does that prevent someone else from posting an image and/or video(s) where you are “tagged”?

You see …
Not participating in the digital/information age is not really a solution — especially from the viewpoint of a company or an organization.

It is more important to positively interact with and engage with the consumers of your product, service, or information.  Additionally, it would probably be in your best interest to control your digital footprint in the same spaces as the consumers with whom you interact (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, Youtube, etc.).

This is becoming more and more important for schools across the nation.
The education world tends to be slow in adopting technological advances – including forms of communication.

In the end, it is more important to be proactive and to take action to ensure that the message you want disseminated throughout the interwebs is actually what is getting promulgated.

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Best Practices in Virtual Learning Environments

Originally Posted: March 23, 2011


Woman holding a future digital reportBest Practices in Virtual Learning Environments

Dictionary.com defines best practice as “the recognized methods of correctly running businesses or providing services” (World English dictionary section, para. 1).  When based on principles, the same activities that constitute best practices in “traditional education” will, usually, translate well across any medium chosen for course delivery.  For a course to be of value, it has to answer a need – successfully.  This is where Instructional Design (ID) becomes important.  It is the analysis at the beginning that will help determine the “consumer’s” need, and how best to address that need.  Piskurich (2006) states that one of the benefits to employing ID is that it helps to identify the best practices for content delivery, essentially identifying the best manner for the target audience to successfully acquire the intended knowledge.  


Additionally, listing course prerequisites is vital and should, almost always, be mandatory.  Piskurich (2006) further suggests that course prerequisites are important for, both, the instructors, as well as, the students.   With a well-developed set of expected prerequisite skills and knowledge, the instructor(s) have a fair understanding of their students’ ability, and what kind of material they will be able to utilize with their students.  At the same time, potential students have an understanding and fair expectation regarding what information will be covered in their course.  Students that are reviewing course prerequisites can make informed decisions whether or not a course is too basic, too advanced, or just right.


Factors for Success in Virtual Worlds

Andrea L. Foster (2008) reported that educators experienced in utilizing the 3D virtual world, Second Life (SL), for distance education have stated that “…communication among students actually gets livelier when they assume digital personae” (p. 12-13).  Foster also reports that one educator, that teaches a freshman English composition course via SL, suggested that educators getting started in SL should be open to the idea of allowing students to have some control over the course in order to maximize student engagement.  Other suggestions include eliciting feedback and suggestions from other educators and students.  From a personal standpoint, this author believes that VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) is essential in order to keep the audience engaged.  Having experienced SL conferences where the main means of communication between the presenter(s) and the audience have been either text chat (only), VoIP,  or a combination of both, it is very easy to say that this author found it more engaging to utilize VoIP with the occasional text chat for a side conversation/question.  Additionally, the use of multimedia such as video and/or presentation slides definitely helped to create the opportunities for increased audience participation.


Application Becoming Reality

The Simulations and Virtual Reality course that this author is currently participating in has really expanded the thought process regarding how to approach the final capstone project, and which tools, skills, and objects will be needed in order to develop a successful product.  This author had already settled on creating a course within Moodle, an open-source Learning Management System (LMS), entitled, “Developing Immersive Virtual Learning Environments”.  However, participating within the 3D world of SL has taken the original concepts to a whole new level of possibilities.


For the final project of the Simulations and Virtual Reality course this author intends to create one of the lessons for his final capstone course.  Beginning with basic best practices, this author will develop a detailed syllabus that will contain course prerequisites, course requirements, and technical requirements for the final capstone course.  Within SL, this final project will have to make use of multi-media viewers, a magazine and brochure shelf in order to provide external links to various learning objects, and text and voice chat.  Additionally, this author plans to explore the benefits of possibly utilizing SLOODLE which is an open-source project that has integrated SL with Moodle, and may be found in SL at: SLOODLE TeleHub and Fountain: 128, 128, 22 (SLOODLE, Home section, para. 1).


 


References

Best practice. (n.d.). In Dictionary.com’s online dictionary. Retrieved from http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/best+practice


Foster, A. L. (2008). Professor Avatar. Education Digest, 73(5), 12-17. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.nu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=28755255&site=ehost-live


Piskurich, G. M. (2006). Rapid instructional design: Learning ID fast and right. (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.


SLOODLE (n.d.). In Sloodle.org’s open source project. Retrieved from http://www.sloodle.org/moodle

Virtual Immersion: The 3D Web

Originally Posted: March 11, 2011


Virtual Immersion: The 3D Web


While we may not be discussing the “final frontier”, we certainly are rapidly approaching the next frontier.  Kluge and Riley (2008) refer to 3-D virtual worlds as the next technological stepping stone that will redefine the internet as we know it today.  Web 3.0 could indeed become the 3-D virtual web filled with avatars (digital representations of ourselves), virtual businesses, homes, and learning environments.  Watch your step because the virtual rabbit hole is deep, and mostly unpaved.


ASCD’s Educational Leadership magazine reported that virtual learning provides an abundant amount of flexibility and additional opportunities for different student populations to pursue their educational goals based on varying needs.  Some of the students served include:

  • at-risk students/dropouts
  • accomplished athletes
  • pregnant/homebound/incarcerated students (2011).  

In addition, utilizing and accounting for some of the considerations presented by Lee and Owens (2004) in their “Media Analysis Form”, there are several factors that support an educator’s decision to use a 3D virtual world such as Second Life.  These factors and considerations are displayed in Table 1.


Table 1

Summary of factors and considerations

Factors

Considerations

Content requires interactivity (computer/internet).

Content involves computer software and practice.

Collaborative learning is desired.

There may be opportunities for group learning experiences including building relationships and sharing information.

Audience requires motivation.

Based on the target audience, there may be a stronger requirement for higher intrinsic motivation to increase likelihood of successful learning.

Audience requires convenience.

Time away from work is a challenge because of schedules and/or project requirements.

Audience has limited access to expertise.

Expertise is limited and must be leverage across the organization.

Keep travel expense low.

Travel requirements are a barrier due to budgets, distance, and business considerations.  Web-based delivery eliminates travel expenses.

 

Note. Adapted from “Media Analysis Form,” by W. W. Lee and D. L. Owens, 2004, Multimedia-Based Instructional Design. p. 355. Copyright 2004 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

 

On the surface, many of the pros and cons related to education in general, and in a real world setting, translate to the same benefits and challenges of using 3D virtual worlds, such as Second Life, for teaching.  Educators still have the ability to create interesting and intriguing lesson plans (or not), and students have the ability to be helpful to other students, or to be disruptive.  However, the simple idea of engaging students in a 3D virtual world helps to promote interest, at least initially.  Additionally, there are some controls that may be utilized by educators to help minimize disruptive behavior, such as access control lists.


One of the immediate benefits to utilizing 3D virtual worlds for education is “The Death of Distance” as discussed by Dr. Tony O’Driscoll in his list of seven sensibilities that differentiate virtual social worlds from other interactive media (2007).  By nature, the 3D web may be accessed by anyone with broadband access to the internet.  However, the technological requirements of broadband access, computers with more memory, better graphics, etc. may, itself, impose limitations on students that do not have ready access to the minimum technical requirements to engage in the 3D web.  


Personally, I had the opportunity to attend a “ribbon cutting ceremony” by the University of Hawaii staff members recently in Second Life.  There were attendees, not only from all over the United States, but literally from all over the world.  There was plenty of opportunity for professional networking which is another important aspect of the present and future role of 3D virtual worlds in education.  As may be expected, there was also some “unintentional” disruptive behavior when I accidentally advanced the speaker’s slides which eventually caused the speaker to have to take a few seconds to ask the attendees to refrain from such behavior.  This showed the need for educators to familiarize themselves with some of the internal security controls such as limiting which and how avatars may interact with “in-world” objects.


The rabbit hole is deep and mostly unpaved, but the 3D web is the next frontier.  As educators we must immerse ourselves in the future of virtual learning environments, and acclimate ourselves to the expectations and experiences of our future students.  

 


 

References

ASCD. (2011, February). Double Take. Educational Leadership, 68(5), 8-9.


Kluge, S., & Riley, R. (2008). Teaching in virtual worlds: Opportunities and challenges. Issues in Informing Science & Information Technology 5, 127-135. Retrieved from

http://find.galegroup.com/gps/infomark.do?&contentSet=IAC-Documents&type=retrieve&tabID=T002&prodId=IPS&docId=A200343078&source=gale&srcprod=AONE&userGroupName=nu_main&version=1.0


Lee, W. W., & Owens, D. L. (2004). Multimedia-based instructional design. (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.


O’Driscoll, T., (2007, March 22). Virtual social worlds and the future of learning [Video file].  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O2jY4UkPbAc