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Distance Education Who are distance learners? Older Responsibilities: full-time, homemakers, dependent Female Education majors Convenience of online classes Who are “successful” distance learners? Eager learners High expectations Minimal computer skills Self-directed students

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Distance Education

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Distance education l.jpg

Distance Education

Who are distance learners l.jpg

Who are distance learners?

  • Older

  • Responsibilities: full-time, homemakers, dependent

  • Female

  • Education majors

  • Convenience of online classes

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Who are “successful” distance learners?

  • Eager learners

  • High expectations

  • Minimal computer skills

  • Self-directed students

    • Proactively seek out information

    • Master it

    • They find a way to succeed despite poor study conditions, confusing teachers, or abstruse textbooks.

  • Instructor is more a guide and facilitator

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Student conflicts

High expectations of students, but:

  • Low grades

  • Confusion related to conducting research online

  • Student’s lack of organizational skills

  • Team conflicts

  • Misunderstood emails or discussion postings

  • Impatience if feedback isn’t immediate

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Heading off student conflicts

  • Discuss netiquette

  • Offer rules for appropriate online communication

  • Explain that online communication is often misunderstood

  • Encourage discussion about online issues

  • Encourage students to do research about online communication

  • Respond calmly if students do over-react

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Other issues

  • Plagiarism

  • Test security

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  • 1999 survey of 21,000 students on 21 camuses

  • 1/3 admitted to cheating on an exam

  • 1/2 admitted to cheating on an assignment

  • Students said they are more likely to cheat in classes where the instructor ignores cheating.

  • 2001 survey of CAI students

  • 41% said they plagiarized from online sources without citation

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Curbing plagiarism

Communicate the following concepts to students:

  • Honesty

  • Responsiveness

  • Relevance

  • Respect

  • Openness

  • Empowerment

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Curbing plagiarism

  • The Plagiarism Resource Center at UVA: http://plagiarism.phys.virginia.edu/ (offers free software for detecting plagiarism)

    Commercial sites

  • TurnItIn: http://www.turnitin.com

  • iThenticate: http://www.ithenticate.com

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Curbing plagiarism

Customize assignments

  • Randomize tests

  • Limit test function

  • Time tests

  • Personal input

  • New tests

  • Group tests

  • Oral tests

  • Upgraded self-tests

  • Varied test types

  • Unusual paper topics

  • Recipe assignments

  • Assignments in stages

  • Post-assignment discussion

  • Research instruction

  • Familiarity with student writing

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Virtual Classroom Techniques

  • Text lectures

  • Audio lectures

  • Video lectures

  • Discussions

  • Chats

  • Guest experts

  • Real-time data assignments

  • Virtual field trips

  • Problem-based learning/case studies

  • Online labs

  • Games

  • Cooperative assignments

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Text lectures

Lectures primarily in written form: website, wordprocessed notes, PowerPoint presentations, etc.

Tips to improve online lectures:

  • Start small

  • Keep it sort.

  • Make it personal.

  • Write in a conversational style

  • Draw connections to everyday thing.

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Audio lectures

Lectures in audio format.

Primarily as suppliment to illustrations, charts, diagrams, etc.

Done using audio streaming technology:

  • RealMedia

  • QuickTime

  • Window Media

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Video lectures

Many are talking heads: NOT good!

Better approaches:

  • Conversation between you and a colleague

  • Interview experts

  • Give a demonstration

  • Dramatize a topic

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Create discussion questions that encourage critical thinking.

Use Bloom’s taxonomy


  • Website evaluation

  • Current events

  • Controversy

  • Role play

  • What if?

  • Statistical analysis

  • Exemplification

  • Case study

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Some tips:

  • Set rigid deadlines

  • Allow informality in responses

  • Post summaries at the end of the discussions

  • Post the questions in ascending complexity

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Allows synchronous communication that can be involve interpersonal closeness, immediacy and excitement.

Can give immediate feedback and encouragement.

Some tips:

  • No longer than 60 minutes

  • Schedule at times when students tend to be online

  • Open documents that you want to post on your desktop for easy access when needed

  • Post the chat transcripts for those that can’t attend

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Guest experts

Invite guest experts to interact using discussion and chat

Best questions involve open-ended controversy


  • Prominent people in the field

  • Colleagues in your department

  • Local people working in your field

  • Post the chat transcripts for those that can’t attend

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Real-time data assignments

Use real-time sites on the web as sources of data


  • El Nino information: http://www.elnino.noaa.gov/

  • Iowa Electronic Markets: http://www.biz.uiowa.edu.iem/

  • National Climatic Data Center: http://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/

  • Ozone data: http://www.epa.gov/airnow

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Virtual field trips

Use real-time sites on the web as sources of data


  • Geology field trips: http://www.uh.edu/~jbutler/anon/gpvirtual/.html

  • Tempe Arizona Police Department Crime Unit: http://www.tempe.gov/cau/

  • The Holocaust Museum: http://www.ushmm.org/

  • National Women’s History Museum: http://www.nmwh.org/exhibits/intro.html

  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: http://www.rockhall.com/programs/plans.asp

  • Links to hundreds of online museums: http://www.vlmp.museophile.com/

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Problem-based learning/ case studies

Use of problems and case studies to help students think critically


  • Scientific case studies: http://ublib.buffalo/libraries/projects/cases/ubcase.htm


  • Dialogue used tells a good story

  • Must be relevant, contentious, recent and short

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Online labs

Virtual science labs are created online

Students can handle dangerous poisons, analyze raging rivers, or conduct experiments in evolution


Geology Online Labs: http://www.sciencecourseware.org/GLOL/

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Some free versions of game software:

Hot Potatoes: http://web.uvic.ca/hrd/hotpot/

Crossword Compiler: http://www.crossword-compiler.com

Quizmaster: http://cibertrain.info/quizman/qmselect.html

Castle: http://www.le.ac.uk/castle

Zoomerange: http://info.zoomerange.com/

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Cooperative assignments

Should be structures with the following in mind:

  • All students must participate

  • Must develop a method to capture individual participation

  • Written product must be the result


  • Each team member must take on a role.

  • Each team must create a charter that spells out each member’s role and guidelines on how they will communicate and handle conflict.

  • All communication must be posted on a group discussion board. If chat is used, the transcript must be posted on the discussion.

  • Have each member evaluate all of the members of the group at the end of the project.

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Most of the information for this presentation was taken from:Beck, E., & Grieive, D. (2005). Going the distance: a handbook for part-time & adjunct faculty who teach online. Ann Arbor, MI: Adjunct Advocate, Inc.

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