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Web watch: Online learning made easy

Last updated: 29 December, 2010
N S Soundar Rajan 16:37 IST

'Online learning now depends more on the ability of educators and trainers to tutor and support learners online than on the technology itself.' - Dr Ian Heywood

The 27-video series by Dr Curt Bonk, professor in Instructional Systems Technology, Indiana University, encompasses topics for both novice and expert online instructors and educators. Viewing these videos helps instructors learn how to engage learners with Web 2.0 technologies, how to build instructor presence, how to design highly interactive and relevant online activities, how to access free and open course resources, how to plan for e-learning courses, and much more. The videos are about 10 minutes long with additional resources, examples and talk handouts. Videos can be accessed either at www.indiana.edu/~icy/media/de_series.html, or at www.youtube.com/TravelinEdMan.

The topics of videos include Planning an online course, Managing an online course (two parts), Providing Feed-back, Reducing Plagiarism, Building Community, Building Instructor and Social Presence, Online Student Instructor Practitioner, Fostering Online Collaboration, Finding Quality Supplemental, Blended Learning (three parts), Online Writing and Reflection, Online Visual Learning, Using Existing Online Video, Webinars and Webcasts, Podcasting - uses and applications, Wiki - uses and applications, Blog - uses and applications, Collaborative Tool - uses and applications, Hands-on Experiential Learning, Co-ordinating Online Project, Global Connections, Assessing student online learning, Ending, Archiving, Updating, and Trends on the Horizon.

*‘Planning an online course’ covers pedagogical and operational differences between on-site and online courses.

*‘Managing an online course’ presents and suggests guidelines for different aspects of managing an online class.

*In ‘Providing Feedback’, Dr Bonk describes the rationale for different forms of feedback in an online environment and provides suggestions for form, content, and timing of feedback.

*‘Building Community’ is about course components and general approaches that can be used to create an online class community.

*In ‘Building Instructor and Social Presence’, Dr Bonk introduces ways to hold engaging online classes by enhancing instructor and social presence.

Points include instructor involvement, timing of activities, and general recommendations for improving communication.

*‘Online Student-Instructor-Practitioner Relationship’ addresses the different types of interactions and relationships that are a part of the online teaching medium. This video also provides details on how to include guest lecturers and experts in an online class.

*‘Blended Learning’ is presented in three parts. The first part introduces and reviews the concept of blended learning. Dr Bonk highlights its potential educational benefits. The second part covers instructions on how to implement blended learning by providing activities and resources to engage students. The third part is on recent developments and where it is likely to head in the future.

*In ‘Online Writing and Reflection Activities’, Dr Bonk stresses the importance of incorporating meaningful writing and reflection activities in an online class. He provides details on techniques and tools that can be used directly in a class.

*The ‘Hands-on Exper-iential learning’ video lists ways to engage students through hands-on activities without being in the same physical space.

*The video on ‘Webinars and Webcasts’ shows how tools, through syn-chronous web-conferencing, can create a ‘classroom’ atmosphere despite the physical distance between students in an online class.

*In ‘Podcasting Uses and Applications’, different educational activities of this popular medium are presented.

*Dr Bonk emphasises the importance of assessment in an online environment in ‘Assessing Student Online Learning’. In this video, apart from presenting a range of assessment types in an online course, he also stresses on important aspects like grading or matching assessments with activities so that students’ learning can be pragmatically gauged.

The School of Education at Indiana University in Bloomington has supported this valuable production effort by Dr Curt Bonk since its inception. Drawing on his background as a corporate controller, CPA, educational psychologist, and instructional technologist, the professor offers, through these videos, great insights into the blending of business, education, psychology, and technology. A well-known authority on emerging technologies for learning, Dr Bonk reflects on his speaking experiences around the world in his popular blog, Travelin EdMan. At this blog, you can also get to know more about Dr Bonk and how his video primers on e-teaching and learning can be used in a variety of ways.

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