Designing a Social Pedagogical Network Site

Introduction

Multimedia Production (MP) course is aimed to discuss and explore how new and emerging technologies can facilitate teaching both inside and outside the classroom. At the end of this course, students will built up the necessary conceptual and practical understanding and skills of the topics required to use, design and develop rich digital resources. One of the ways of delivering the course is by using the advancement of information and communication technology in the form of e-learning.

Online learning or e-learning is different from through reading manuals, watching videos, researching on the web or participating in instructor-led lecture. That means it should be designed differently to help ensure it is a successful part of a course.

This paper focuses particularly on the design process of MP course using best practices for developing e-learning courses composed by The Defense Centers of Excellence Training & Education Directorate (www.dcoe.health.mil).

Best Practices: Planning for e-Learning

Successful e-learning development begins with a well-designed development plan. While many of the factors of a development plan may vary, the following stages is recommended to be implemented: (1) develop meaningful learning objectives; (2) choose the appropriate technology; (3) organize course content logically; (4) update course content regularly; (5) effective interactive learning; and (6) soliciting feedback.
Develop meaningful learning objectives

The MP course is design in a blended learning mode, where e-learning will support face-to-face sessions. Therefore learning objectives are carefully developed so that students of this course clearly understand the learning they are required to demonstrate at the end of the course. Activity on each topic is chunked into three stages; before classroom, in classroom, and after classroom activities. The before and after classroom activity is self-managed learning through e-learning.
Quality e-learning limits instruction material to essential information defined through development of clear, meaningful, performance-based objectives that are achievable in the allotted time.

Screen shot 2013-05-07 at 11.40.53 AM

Figure 1. A topic of Multimedia Production course

Choose the appropriate technology
Technology and its features can be engaging to some learners but frustrating to others, so selecting technology that is suitable for the intended audience is critical. Selection of the appropriate technology support the learner’s ability to demonstrate repeated successful integration of information into their knowledge base, improvement in their relevant skills and/or positive change in their attitudes.

Dougiamas (1998) claimed that constructivism occurs especially well when the learner is engaged and in constructing something for others to see. Later on 2002, he developed Moodle for educators under the philosophy called “social constructionist pedagogy”. Nozawa (2011) differentiate social constructionist pedagogy from other similar philosophies as follows:

  1. Constructivism: Knowledge is created through the interaction with the environment.
  2. Constructionism: Learning effectiveness can be observed when something is usefully created for people.
  3. Social constructivism: Movement towards a whole community forms culture and meaningfulness.
  4. Connected behavior: Thoughtful action stimulates learning.

Consideration of this philosophy led the instructor to use Moodle, a course or learning management system that is being utilized by many educational institutions to present information and learning experiences for students. Moodle help to focus on the experiences that would be best for learning from the students’ point of view. It also helps to realize how student in this course can be a teacher as well as a learner.

Organize content logically
There are many ways to organize a course to accomplish a particular set of objectives. A course could be arranged in any of the following ways: chronologically, from concrete to abstract (or vice versa), from theory to application (or vice versa), around a set of questions, around a set of practical problems or case studies, according to disciplinary classifications or categories, etc. However, when organizing the course, the goal should be to create the structure that supports the learning objectives (Eberly Center, n.d.).

MP Course Map

Figure 2. Multimedia Production course map

The MP course is organized from theory to application, it builds towards greater complexity starting with component pieces, and working towards synthesis and creation. The course starts with the ICT in education concept, and paradigm shift in education. Afterwards, students are introduced to various types of new and emerging learning and teaching technologies. As the course progresses students will built up the necessary conceptual and practical understanding and skills to use, design and develop learning and teaching tools.

Update course content regularly
Ongoing updating and monitoring is a major part of the e-learning development cycle. Course content needs to be updated on a regular basis. They also need to be checked to see that all links and resources are active.

The MP course is designed to be reviewed annually to ensure that the most current information is presented. The advancement of educational technology requires the information to be updated to

Interactivity is essential for learner success
Effective “interactive” learning uses various methods to engage the learner with the content and decreases passive receiving of information from an instructor or content on a screen. Additionally, careful design of content layout, overviews, summaries and information sequence can improve learner engagement.

Interaction in MP course is unique and designed to the respective learner based on their unique learning needs. One of the uniqueness is the fact that the students are digital native; they are used to watch videos rather than reading books. With that in mind, the course designed to integrate videos to compliment the learning.

MP forum

Figure 3. A forum discussion in Multimedia Production Course

To enhance learner interactivity the course explores the use of discussion forums to discuss questions, solve problem, or short-research assignment. The course is also designed around a co-created knowledge base using various tools including wikis, Google Docs, Twitter-microblog sharing, and social media. Learners are engaged to use a combination research, analysis, practices, and even their imagination to collate knowledge in the course.

Soliciting feedback
Timely and accurate learner feedback is an essential component of e-learning. Immediate learner feedback improves the overall course because the instructors can integrate quality suggestions into future editions of the course.

Ideally, the good time to solicit feedback for communications or clarity of course content is on the second week, stumbling blocks on halfway through the course, and effectiveness of course at meeting student expectation at the end of course. The MP course only solicits students’ feedback at the end of the course.

Conclusion

Development of social pedagogical network site in the form of e-learning is most efficient and an effective when best practice is used to guide the effort. However, the key to successful use of technology in education lies not in hardware or software but in brainware. Moodle and other tools do not promote learning and teaching on its own so that its effectiveness lies in the way of instructors’ active and interactive participation.

References

Defense Center of Excellence (n.d.). Best practice for developing elearning courses. Retrieved from http://www.dcoe.health.mil/Content/navigation/documents/Best%20Practices%20for%20Developing%20eLearning%20Courses%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf accessed on 2013-05-06

Dougiamas, M. (1998). A journey into constructivism. Retrieved from http://dougiamas.com/writing/constructivism.html accessed on 2013-05-06

Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence (n.d.). Design and teach a course. Carnegie Mellon Univeristy. Retrieved from http://www.cmu.edu/teaching/designteach/design/contentschedule.html accessed on 2013-05-07

Nozawa, K. (2011). To moodle or not to moodle: Can it be an ideal learning environment? Retrieved from http://www.ps.ritsumei.ac.jp/assoc/policy_science/183/183_19_nozawa.pdf accessed on 2013-05-06

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