User:Vtaylor/Group projects/Learner Orientation

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Learner Orientation Help me learn how to learn. Since instructors are no longer the source of information, of truth, they can take a more useful role as facilitator of learning, not the source.

computer technicians This module deals with issues relating to group project kick-off. You have all the preparation completed. Now it is time to bring the students up to speed. You know what they know. You know what they need to know to be successful in the group project experience. Taking students through that first step - Orientation, is the focus of this module.


   * How are you going to introduce your learners to the idea of working on group projects?
   * What will learners have to know before they can start on project work?
   * What do they know about online collaboration and working on group proejcts? 


   * Understand indicators of student readiness to participate in online group projects
   * Review instruction requirements necessary to communicate expectations and process
   * Develop strategies for preparing students for online collbaoration 


   * Tools - listserv, chat, discussion groups, virtual classroom, email
   * Process - project management
   * Requirements
   * Instructions 


Samples of instructions used by distance learning instructors.

   * Using Threaded Discussions As A Discourse Support 


   * Find examples of instructions posted online. These could be for anything. Examine the format and wording. Will this work for your learners and your project assignment? If not, why not? What do you need to keep in mind when developing your instructions?
   * Provide learners with a thorough orientation to reduce uncertainties, provide clear guidelines for success, clarify expected performance and behavior patterns, and establish the direction of the learning experience. Depending on the communication tools available to the instructor, this orientation can take the form of a live session held in an interactive television environment, a videocassette prepared by the instructor and mailed to learners, or an introductory online session. Students who have completed the orientation should understand what is expected of a successful learner in the instructional environment; they should also know how to access specific technological tools and feel comfortable using them.


   * Review the Learner Orientation discussions. Add a posting of your own - either a question or an observation. Post repsonses or comments on at least two other postings. 


   * Email
   * Discussion
   * Listserv
   * Chat 

Determine student readiness for group project work

Review ideas and guidelines for group project planning and participation using online auto-grading quiz format. Topics covered include: Objectives, deliverable (output), learning outcome, content suggestions [knowledge] Mechanics, expectations, roles and responsibilities - details, organization, conflict resolution, instructor support [comprehension][explain]

Students receive immediate feedback and suggestions for additional study if they do not select the correct answer to individual questions.


Teach me process, not content. Don�t mark down my grade on a paper for a misspelled word (a content issue). Mark down my grade for forgetting to click on the spellcheck button (a process issue).

   * ADDIE 


No ideas are new or unique - there is nothing new under the sun. Pooled knowledge and appropriation are not plagarism.

   * Learning objectives for group project activity
   * Limits and limitations
   * Assessment and evaluation criteria 


Be explicit with your expectations in the classroom. I want to know all of the hoops you want me to jump through from the start.

   * Outline
   * More information is better
   * Anticipate questions
   * Reuse and refine 


For students learning to work collaboratively, it is important to provide information on how the group work and deliverables will be evaluated. Many traditional evaluations will be appropriate. The deliverable must meet predetermined criteria, usually defined through a rubric. It is also important to evaluate the collaborative process and participation as well. Online, this can be accomplished by reviewing the number and depth of the posts of each group member. Using threaded discussions, it is possible to assess the contributions of each participant as well as see how the group communicated, dealt with issues and resolved them, with or without the assistance from the moderator. This can provide a very tangible incentive for all group members to participate actively.

Maus states "If we expect our students to know how to use these tools, we must teach them how to do so..."� We cannot assume that young people today have had equal access to technology tools and know how to use them in the educational environment. "Nintendo is not a stepping-stone to practical computer skills any more than toy cars are a preparation for real driving."

Strategies for Teaching at a Distance

At the start of class initiate a frank discussion to set rules, guidelines, and standards. Once procedures have been established, consistently uphold them.

Assist students in becoming both familiar and comfortable with the delivery technology and prepare them to resolve the technical problems that will arise. Focus on joint problem solving, not placing blame for the occasional technical difficulty.

Make students aware of and comfortable with new patterns of communication to be used in the course (Holmberg, 1985).

Learn about students' backgrounds and experiences. Discussing the instructor's background and interests is equally important.

Be sensitive to different communication styles and varied cultural backgrounds. Remember, for example, that students may have different language skills, and that humor is culturally specific and won't be perceived the same way by all.

Remember that students must take an active role in the distance delivered course by independently taking responsibility for their learning.

Use pre-class study questions and advance organizers to encourage critical thinking and informed participation on the part of all learners. Realize that it will take time to improve poor communication patterns.

Early in the course, require students to contact you and interact among themselves, so they become comfortable with the process. Maintaining and sharing electronic journal entries can be very effective toward this end.

Have students keep a journal of their thoughts and ideas regarding the course content, as well as their individual progress and other concerns. Have students submit journal entries frequently.

Learning Outcomes

The desired learning outcomes of any educational experience should guide the design of an effective instructional model for that experience. These learning outcomes, articulated by the faculty (sometimes with learner input) for a course or learning module, describe what skills or knowledge the learning activity will enable the learner to acquire and what educational experiences will be made available as a result of the instruction. The learning outcomes serve as a "contract" between instructor and student. It is vital that the instructor effectively communicate these expectations and that the learner understand them, in order to achieve the most effective learning experience�whatever the instructional paradigm. Although the planned learning outcomes need not be altered based on the instructional model, new instructional design strategies may need to be considered for the distance education experience to support the intended outcomes.


Distance education has the potential to create a variety of highly interactive learning experiences. Interaction refers to the pattern and nature of communication among and between all elements of the teaching/learning experience. When learners interact with one another, with an instructor, and with ideas, new information is acquired, interpreted, and made meaningful. Such meaningful interactions that elicit learner participation are critical to the learning process. Instructors, learners, materials, and the technology interface used are all components to consider in establishing and maintaining interactions necessary for an effective educational experience.

Instructional Media and Tools

Designing an instructional experience for any learning environment requires careful consideration of the available tools and media that could be used by learners within that environment. Thinking, attitudes, and approaches toward media selection have changed significantly�especially in distance education�with the extraordinary growth of the electronic learning environment and the attendant media and tools now available. Far too often, the technology itself becomes a driving force in decision-making and diverts attention from the most fundamental considerations in the design and implementation of successful programs. It is important to remember that technologies are tools, and their selection must be guided by carefully considering the goals and objectives of particular learning programs; the specific characteristics of the learners served by those programs; and the realities of the costs, utility, and benefits to learners that are associated with the technologies that could be employed.

Social Relationships

Social relationships form the foundation for a community of learners. Systematic instruction, whether face-to-face or conducted at a distance, is enhanced by informal conversation, trust-building experiences, the interjection of humor, the opportunity to share personal and instructional goals, and interactions among participants. If students feel they are part of a community of learners, they are more apt to be motivated to seek solutions to their problems and to succeed. The challenge for distance educators is to design into the instructional situation strategies and techniques for establishing and maintaining "learning communities" among learners separated by space and/or time.

Assessment and Measurement

Assessment and measurement serve several valuable purposes for both instructors and students. Formal assessments of student performance such as lesson assignments, tests, and exams provide instructors with information on student achievement, the basis upon which grades are calculated. Informal assessments, such as question-and-answer periods during class time and class discussions, also produce feedback from students. This information can help faculty members adjust instruction to better meet students� needs. Assessment and measurement activities provide students with milestones or benchmarks by which they can monitor their own progress and adjust their learning strategies accordingly. Their learning strategies should guide them through the process of attaining the defined learning outcomes. It is imperative that assessment and measurement techniques reflect the instructional strategies used in the course and the desired learning outcomes; these techniques should evaluate student progress toward attaining the goals of the course.

Support Systems and Services

The support systems and services for a distance learner must be as complete, as responsive, and as effective as those provided for the on-campus learner. In order to achieve this goal, alternative support methods must be employed to ensure that no distance student is significantly inconvenienced or barred from getting the services required. Since distance students have widely varying access methods available to them, redundant systems should be in place for many support functions. The overall support system should address, at the least, the following areas: technical support, instructional resources, faculty development, instructional design and development, and policy changes aimed at creating an environment conducive to distance education.

Guiding Principles and Practices for the Design and Development of Effective Distance Education

from cvc webct trainer certification

Manage Students - The People Issues

In the process of considering the management of students, there are two areas that online faculty should share with their students:

   * Expectation of their students
   * Faculty guideline and availability 

Student Expectations While the following areas should be defined, this is far from a complete list:

   * Acceptable code of conduct
   * Netiquette
   * Academic Honesty
   * Appropriate method for submitting work
   * Very specific guidelines for paper formats
   * Specific guidelines for email subject line and email signature
   * Grading policies
   * Other topics as deemed necessary 

Faculty Expectations It is healthy to establish some expectations that your students can have with you as their online faculty member.� Again, this list is a work in progress, but here are some suggestions:

   * Weekly office hours
   * Normal work habits.� For example, what time do you read your email.�
   * ART - Anticipated Response Time.� What is the "normal" response time for them to receive an email response from you.
   * Contact information that is non-computer related.� Your office number, hours, fax number, etc.
   * Your definition of 24/7.� Is there a day of the week that you are "normally" off-line.$130