Wednesday, June 27, 2007

First Morning at D2L Conference

I've been looking over the D2L Conference schedule (checking out the competition) and have found some interesting options for the first morning. After the opening keynote by Dr. Ruth Clark, the first round of sessions (10:15-11:15) are all D2L-led sessions focusing on various aspects of the product line, such as:

  • Accessibility
  • Learning Object Repository (LOR)
  • Overview of Liveroom and Learning Repository
  • Objective Based Learning with Desire2Learn
  • Groups & Sections
The next round of sessions (11:30-12:30) are all user-led sessions. At this time I will be presenting a new version of my most popular workshop, Web 2.0 Whirlwind. This time it is titled Web 2.0 Whirlwind Inside Desire2Learn. The main difference is that I am showing how the Web 2.0 tools can be used by both faculty and students inside D2L Content areas, as well as News, Discussions, and possibly other areas within a D2L course. Some of the free web-based tools that I will be showing include:
  • Zoho Writer
  • MeeboMe
  • SlideShare
  • Zoho Sheet
  • CamStudio
  • Zoho Show
  • YackPack
  • Toondoo
  • Zoho Wiki
  • Springdoo
  • YouTube
  • Zoho Notebook
  • RSS feeds and Google Reader
  • Flickr photos
  • Zoho Meeting
  • Podcasts
  • iMeem
  • Zoho Creator
  • Picnik Photo Editor
  • Zoho Polls
Okay, I admit that I might not be able to get through all of that in one hour, but that's why I call it a whirlwind. Attendees will have guest access for about a month after the conference so they can look at the things that we don't have time to get to during the session.

Competition? Sure, there's some good sessions in my time slot. If Web 2.0 tools don't float your boat (that's a Lake Superior reference for you land lubbers), then check out one of these other sessions at 11:30
  • 1. Matching Learning Styles & Multiple Intelligences to Instruction
  • 2. Breaking the Desire2Learn Course Mould
  • 3. Revelation (Learning) Theory
  • 4. Working with Support Persons at the Department and College Level
  • 5. It Takes the Village: Creating an Online Instructor Community
  • 6. Making a Breakthrough into Pervasive Technology Using Desire2Learn
  • 7. Piloting Clickers with Desire2Learn
  • 8. Public Utilities: Giving Administrative Power to the People
  • 9. Using Respondus Applications with Desire2Learn
Rats, there's at least two or three of those (9, 7, 1) that I would like to attend, but I can't, unless no one shows up for my session.
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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Answering Questions about e-Learning in Vietnam

After a rather icky day of traveling yesterday from Beijing to Hanoi, I awoke this morning to prepare for a meeting at the Vietnam Ministry of Education and Training (MOET). My friends Mr. Khanh and Mr. Hoang from Tra Vinh University (TVU) set up this meeting at MOET as a major step in the process to get official approval for the delivery of e-Learning programs in Vietnam by Minnesota Online.

MOET tightly controls all forms of education in Vietnam and without their approval we will not be able to move forward with the collaborative relationship between MnOnline and TVU and also between MnOnline and the VACC (Vietnam Association of Community Colleges). Today, the MOET group was led by Dr. Tran Van Nhung, Vice Minister. After brief introductions and welcomes, I made a presentation about Minneota Online emphasizing the student support services that are provided, as well as the types of degrees offered 100% online, and also placed a special emphasis upon the accreditation process in the USA for online degree programs.

It was very interesting to listen to their questions and concerns, since they all had a familiar ring to them. In particular, they are much the same concerns that have been raised constantly in the USA over the past 10-12 years. How do you know for sure who the learner is? Are there certain subjects that just can't be taught online? Isn't the quality of instruction/learning significantly lower than in F2F instruction?

By the end of the morning session, I believed that we had made significant progress towards a better understanding of what Minnesota Online can provide as well as how e-Learning can be provided in a high-quality, high-achieving manner. We'll wait to see what the outcome is as they decide whether to allow foreign countries to deliver e-Learning opportunities in Vietnam. My sense is that they will.

Friday, June 01, 2007

E-Learning in China

Today we visited Beijing Normal University (BNU) and had a discussion with representatives from their Continuing Education department that handles e-learning. They have 30,000 students studying in the Continuing Ed department and most of those take some (or only) e-learning classes.

BNU is ranked #8 overall of the 701 Chinese universities. They are now a comprehensive university with roots back over 100 years as a teacher's college.

Some of the more interesting comments were:

  • In e-learning they have about a 70-80% degree completion rate. This far exceeds the degree completion rate in the U.S. but falls far short of the face-to-face degree completion rate at BNU where 99% of the students finish a degree within four years of starting (that's what they said, so I believe it).
  • Only students who score in the top 20% on the college entrance exam can get into Chinese Universities, and this includes departments like Continuing Ed through distance learning. Therefore 80% of the college-eligible students don't get the privilege of going to Chinese higher education institution.
  • Only the top students (of the top 20%) get into the traditional face-to-face programs, then the next tier of students get into Continuing Ed and take the e-learning courses. The school officials can't imagine why any student would pass up the F2F opportunity by choosing e-learning instead.
  • E-learning in China is clearly viewed as being inferior, which is largely, but not completely explained by the lower caliber of students who get into the e-learning programs in the first place. Still, e-learning is viewed there as an inferior way to learn.