Monday, December 8, 2008

Week 14. Online distance learners in Japan

This week, I reviewed an article “Predictors of Learning Satisfaction in Japanese Online Distance learners.” This article studied the online distance education in Japan. Reading this article, the feeling was complicated, because I could still remember the first day I participated in R685, we all agreed that we are far behind the emerging technology. The article I read here was published in 2008, and according to the authors, we are still far behind. However, the surprising points is that the reason we are falling behind is not because we don’t the access to reach these emerging technology, but because we are hamper to bread the original model such as the author mentioned, the teachers’ authoritative role, culture value. I was also surprised to know that so far, there are still only a few universities in Japan where students can study entirely online at a distance. Because of the invention of technology products such as NDS, PS3, XBOB, I think the technology integration in education in Japan should be very flourish; however, the truth is that they might be more falling behind than other Asian countries, such as China where the open-sources software is supported by governments, and other institutions. As educators, I think though new doesn’t necessarily better, we at least need to give it a try and should not sacrifice students’ benefits just because we are hamper to step forward.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Week 13. II Sarah "Intellagirl" Robbins – The Pink Hair Lady

This week, we had a guest speaker who is “intellagirl.” I was so fascinated by what she is doing now. The real name of “intellagirl” is Sarah Robbins who is a Ph. D. candidate in Ball state University. She and her husband (Mark Bell) wrote a book called “Second Life for Dummies.” Intellagirl and her husband gave us some brief introduction about the second life, but there are two parts which really caught my attentions. The first part is the identity issue in the second life, and the second part is using second life teaching composition.

I take a “Young Adolescent Development” course this semester, and during the class, we discuss a lot of issues about developing identity during the development, but I never think about by interacting with others and different communities in the second life could be one possibility. Everyone can create their own account and edit the appearance of their avatars; this, according to the intellagirl, is the process of building identity. Maybe most of us will think that online users are more likely to disguise what they should be and create a new one identification; however this is a misconception. According to the research, most of the users see their on-line identity as an extension of their real identities. As a real life, there are hair style stores, cloth stores, and different kinds of fashion stores in the second life, everyone can use these small decorations to create their unique identity. The other interesting part related to identity was that, as the real world, we can distinguish or make assumptions about a person by observing one’s dressing, in the virtual world, such as “World of Warcraft,” we can also distinguish different characteristics by the decoration they have. For example, if you see other players have a crown, you are supposed to know they are experienced players, because those decorations can only gain by participating in and win during the wars. However, if someone who gain that decoration by buying from other players, this kind of behavior is also seen as cheating, and breaking the community rule. Intellagirl use the second life teaching composition which is really a new application for me. This idea even inspired me to have my final project- using second life as an assistant tool or complementary tool to teach EFL multilingual writers.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Week 13. Game-based learning experiences – Second Life (SL)

Everyone likes to play games, but not everyone likes to study. In the past, there was a clear cut between playing and learning; however, because of the emerging technology, now we can learn by exploring the virtual world.

Second life is the first virtual learning environment I visit, and it was founded by Philip Rosedale in 2003. SL was designed for users to immersed in a 360 degree virtual world experiences, but later, more and more “residents” (individual as well as institutions)contribute to the virtual world and even create more possibilities and potential. Nowadays, we can experience many learning and teaching applications in the second life, such as Shakespeare Theater, Princeton library, Stanford University, and etc.

From my viewpoint, SL best represents the “Web 2.0” feature among other technologies. The first important feature is the “give & take” culture which I believe is the best and most important feature. All buildings, objects, and resources are created by residents. Later, other residents share these resources, and create more other resources. Second, second life provide a plateform where people can freely login and interact (socialize) with other residents. Third, second life is easy to access. Once you have computers or even mobile devices (ex. iphone), you can download the software and play it anytime. Fourth, there’s not limitation. You are free to explore any island, and participated in any events. As users, you are responsible for your own behavior. You decide what you want to explore and when you want to leave when you don’t like the islands or the events.

The future of the second life is hard to predict, because the community culture in the second life is hold by all residents, and maybe those who haven’t been there; however, maybe one of the residents one day. In other words, it’s the users to create their own culture which is very powerful, and unpredictable. I will be looking forward to see what the second life looks life 5 years after!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Week 12. Podcasting, Webcasting, and Coursecasting

Regarding technology application in education, I always try to avoid using because I want to, but using when necessarily and when students have benefit. I have a lot of chances to discuss course design with teachers this week, and I found that most of them are gradually accept the truth that more and more technology has been adopted in the physical classroom. However, I found out most of the teachers they still perceive “technology application” from the “web 1.0” perspectives.

Take my “teaching writing to EFL multilingual writing practicum” for example, our group member decided to have on-line forum. This on-line forum discussion will ask students read articles or watch videos and then they have to post and respond to others. I asked my other group members, what are their purposes or reasons for integrate on-line discussion in the physical classroom? They told me, “We want it because we want students to do something at home after the regular class hours is replaced by individual meeting with the instructors. Besides, it’s different from traditional writing class so it might work.” I argued these two points strongly.

First of all, I believe that before adopting new technologies in the teaching, these technologies should be evaluated. In the “Formative evaluation strategies helped identify a solution to a leaning dilemma,“ the authors suggested using formative evaluation strategies to evaluated new technology which provided users criterions to measure the achievement of the goals. In the articles, there are students from medical school requested that lectures should be videotaped and make available on a Web site. To respond students’ request, school use formative evaluation to systematically determine whether videotaping was the best solution. By doing this, school course designers can understand students’ attitude, parents’ attitude, and solutions for possible problems. All these pre-testing evaluation can provide a clear guideline for future adjustment. Second, merely integrate an on-line activity into traditional classroom will not make the class different, because technology will not function till it is well designed. I believe that on-line discussion should be used when students can have more productive produce. Overall, I believe technology can bring more possibilities, and break the limitation within traditional classrooms, but all these benefits relied on well-designed course structures.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Week11. Educational Blogging

“ A February 20074 reports published by the Pew Internet & American Life Project noted that at least 3 million American have created blogs, with similar numbers being seen worldwide. “ (Stephen Downes, 2004)

As other web 2.0 technologies, blogging can be used in a various way. Some people use blogs to share their daily life, some people use blog as a creation of course projects, some people use blogs to be their learning journals. All these bloggers share one common feature which is using blogs as a communication tool to exchange ideas with others. Not only exchange ideas with others, these bloggers present their own personalities by creating their personal blogs which reflecting different writing styles, contents selection, or the links they provided for their readers. There is another common tool we often see in these blogs which is “RSS” feed. RSS stands for Rich Site summary or Real simple Syndication. Like subscribing newspapers or magazines in the real world, readers subscribe blogs they are interested in. Once bloggers update new articles, these new updates will automatically download to your computer or mobile gadget. In other worlds readers don’t need to go back and check each blogs individually. This function does save time, but we discuss whether it is good or bad in terms of learning process.

Our concern is that maybe due to the convenience of the information retrieving, students no longer need to search the information, and make some efforts to get the information. We say that by exploring the internet resources, students can develop the so call “21st century skills “(Schrier, 2006) as follows:
• Information Management skills
• Media Fluency skills
• Communication skills
• Critical thinking and problem solving skills
• Enthusiasm, creativity, and curiosity
• Consideration of multiple perspectives
• Teamwork and collaboration skills
• Self-direction, responsibility and reflective learning skills
• Social, Global, and Community Awareness
However, if students become lazy and take those automatically download function for granted, they will lose their motivation to practice and conduct the above skills. As a consequence they lose their chance to develop 21st learning skills. Though this is also my concern, I have a positive attitude. I think maybe these skills will still be developed unconsciously. After all, nowadays, we know that student can not only learn from formal education but informal education.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Week 10. Interactive and Collaborative Learning

This week we talked about distance learning. Different from physical classroom, distance learning breaks up many limitations such as single learning environment, time limitation, and content format. Because distance learning has much flexibility compared to physical classroom, distance learners can be various, too. This can be a potential challenge for instructors. How can instructors design successful distance online course where everyone can learn? However, to boosting online learning outcome, it relied on the interaction and collaborative between instructors and learners. Take one of my on-line learning experiences for example. Usually the instructor gave us some guiding questions, based on these questions; students have to post opinions or responds online. A successful discussion will be continued if most of the students actively participated posing and responding activates. In other words, the richness of content will also be created if students interact with each other, and collaborate to create more and more content online.

From my viewpoint, to contribute a successful distant learning, the instructors have to create an interactive and collaborative learning environment where encourage each learners to participate in the class actives. For distance-learners, we will expect them to have strong self-regulated abilities, because no one will monitor their learning pace

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Week 9. Wikis, Wikipedia, Wiki books, and Collaborative Writing

This week, each of the students in the class has to create our own wiki account. By creating an account, your editing efforts will be recorded rather than being an anonymous contributor.

I believe that for most of the people the first wiki product they knew will be “Wikipedia,” an open-content encyclopedia, built on wiki technology (Bryant, Forte & Bruckman, 2005). It is also my experience. It is very common that you Google search a word, the first result comes out will be the Wikipedia. Later, because of some limitation, wiki created another application call “wiki chapter,” which allows more content to be present at one time. The article I read for this week called, “Becoming Wikipedian: Transformation of Participation in a Collaborative Online Encyclopedia.” This article explains what’s Wikipedia, and also present the creation process of the wikipedians. According to the authors, wikipedians can simply be categorized into 2 types: novice and experts. Novice is newbie in the wiki space, and their primary goal is collecting information. What they do is observing other wikipedians, and edits some minor errors such as grammar errors, spelling errors. However, for experts, they create contents. The goal for these wikipedians experts is not only contributes to quality contents but the appeal of community, and perceived contributions to society (Bryant, Forte & Bruckman, 2005). Wiki space provides a good place for scaffolding skills where novice improve their skills by observing or inquiring other wikipedians and when they are ready, they will take one step forward to edit other’s words. However, editing other’s work may cause some quarrel. To solve this problem, wiki space provided “talk pages” for these contributors to negotiate. All these activate provides wiki users a space to contribute to our community and also a space to negotiable to each other and produce quality products. This point is what I don’t know before I read these articles. Therefore, if I found people who critique the content quality of wiki products, I may try to let them know the content there is not merely cut and post, but collaborative writing products which going through a process of discussion and negotiation.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Week 8. (Oct 20th) YouTube, TeacherTube, and the Future of Shared Online Video

YouTube is now my favorite tool for information search and even presentation. Different from audio file, YouTube is a kind of audio files, which for visual learners like me is the best way to learn. Instead of Google search, I usually type in keywords and expecting to see some useful videos. According to some statistics showed in the class, most of the people still using YouTube as entertainment tools, but I think maybe like novice in wiki space, the new users of YouTube first find interesting videos in YouTube, and consuming information there; after a period of time, they may try to contribute videos . I haven’t have the chance to see whether YouTube users will eventually produce their own works or not but it may be an interesting case to know about.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Week 7. Open Educational Resources

This week, I read an article “The emergence of Open-Sources software in China” published by Pan Guohua and Bonk Curtis J. which studies the open educational resources in China. It’s an interesting article, because we usually read articles related to western countries and this is one which specifically related to Asian country.

According to the article, the initial driving force for developing open educational resources in China is the financial concern. Because individual schools can only have a limited budget, some schools decided to cooperate together. They collect their budget and adopted open sources software designed by western countries. Though through the use of open sources software, the financial problem solved, they decided to localize the open-source software systems from western countries. In other words, Chinese scholars want to customization the western open-sources software into Chinese (Pan & Bonk 2007). Different from other western countries, the development of open sources software is supported by government organization in china. They develop Red Flag Linux, and plan to adopted this system national wide.
The development of open source software brings a lot of benefits to students. In the traditional setting students can only use their own school resources, but now they are able to get the access to more resources from other schools or institutions. In addition, the huge population of China also means that more talents can participate in open source software development and create more educational resources. This is now the society of “Give & Take” not “Hide & seek”

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Week 5. Neo Millennial and Web 2.0 Learners

Reviewing the characteristics of Neo Millennial and web 2.0 learns, I am a little bit freaks out. Suddenly I feel myself seems out of date. The learning experience I have is no longer the same as my students will have. The role of instructors and learners might switch in the future classroom. In the future classroom, we may rely on our students to teach us how to facilitate emerging technologies, because they are learning through a totally different process which allows them to adopt new technology easier, and faster. The new generation learners are changing in an amazing speed. Actually, there is a question which bothers me for a while. Whether it is the emerging technology reshaping the web 2.0 learners or these web 2.0 learners construct a new web 2.0 community?

I think, I will say they are two ways. The emerging technology require users to seeking, sieving, and synthesizing, rather than on assimilating a single “validated” sources of knowledge as from books, television, or a professors’ lectures (Dede, 2005). On the other hands, users who gradually get used to this kind of thinking process will later produce contents which follow by the existing patterns.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Week 4 II. Digital Literacy Skills

Reviewing the “Learning for the 21st Century (A Report and MILE Guide for 21st Century Skills),” I think that to be a successful learners for 21 century there are two features: independent learners and cooperation work. Though independent and cooperation sounds contradict to each other but I will explain them in detail.

For the independent learners, I mean here, is the ability to learn by themselves. They have to develop the ability to search the sources among tons of exploring information everyday; they have to develop the ability to decode different types of resources, such as multimedia, digital resources, printed content, etc. The main point is that, they must know what’s there, and how can they manipulate these resources even when there’s no instructors. For cooperation work, I mean here, is the ability to communicate with others. Though online community didn’t have a strict regulation compared to the real world, online community have their rules. Like citing people’s work in printed paper, online users have to tag or provide hyperlinks when using others’ works. The knowledge is also constructed by communication process. For example, people write a paragraph of Wikipedia, and other people add more paragraphs. Some people have other opinions to the existing paragraph so that they edit them. A complete piece of Wikipedia is then constructed by the communication process.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Week4. What we know & What you don't know about on-line games?

On July 7, 2008, Business Weekly published two articles related to the influence of on-line games toward learning.

In the first article, Break up four major myths- playing with your kids and building competitive. The authors pointed out the four major myths of online games which pervasively believed by most of the people.

Myth 1: Online games can be addictive
According to Guo, F. Y, professor of informatics department, National Sun Yat-sen University, adolescent is easily addictive to everything, such as novels, sports. Therefore, the point is not preventing your kids playing online games but how can we teach them interact with an appropriate way and avoiding addictive.

Myth 2: Online games make kids become stupid
Though some researches do approve that playing online games hampering mental development, still, other researches provide more positive affect than negative one. For example, students’ problem-solving skills, and deductive skills are improved. The author also pointed out that this myth was based on the assumption that online games are easy, but eventually they require multiple skills at the same time.

Myth 3: Online games make kids become more irritate
Most of the parents blame children’s antisocial behavior for playing online games. However, in 1999, FBI gathered a group of psychologists, psychiatrist and school administers and found out that social and family effects were far more then online games. When encounter problems in reality, children easily escape to the virtual world.

Myth 4: Online games isolate kids from the society
Most of the parents worried about that children sitting in front of the computer screen without communicate with others will hamper their communication skills. However, while playing on-line games, they could probably talk much more than in real life.
The above are the four major myths and the author’s augment. Later, the author of The Gamer Disposition even provides more evidence about how can people learn from playing online games, and how can these skills cooperate in real life tasks.

I believe that online game could be a fun and effective tool for learning. However, as instructors and parents, we need to have a positive attitude and carefully instruct our students’ or children how to use this tool properly.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Week3. Web 2.0 - boosting cooperation

Two are better than one

When a crab gets caught into a bucket, it can easily escape, but if there are more than one crab inside the bucket, they will fight against each other rather than cooperate. Finally no one can escape. This is well known as “Crab bucket syndrome,” which will not be a distant phrase for people working on industrial management but it is also commonly used to describe social situation as well as other situations. Under this notion, among the education system especially in Asian countries, we are taught that you are your only friend. We compete with our classmates, other examines, and we work individually. I will not aware of the influence if not being USA.

In western countries, people work cooperatively, and prefer interact with others. Richard J. Light, of the Harvard Graduate school of Education, discovered that students’ success relies on their ability to form or participate in small study groups. (Brown, J. S., & Adler, R. P., 2008) Web 2.0 definitely has certain impact on current status; it changed the role of web users, the information process in our brain, and learning style.

Differentiate from the web in the early age, Web 2.0 provides more free access (ex. Open Educational Resources, OER), more flexibility (ex. Wikis) and ownership (ex, blogs), which shift users’ role from merely consumers to contributors. As Crossman L. (2006) noted in his article “Time’s Person of the Year: You,” there are people who sacrifice their spare time, sitting in front of the screens and create those microcontent to make these small pieces matter. There are more and more students in Taiwan, who post their specialties on-line and seeks for others to exchange their specifies for free. For example, an English major student might exchange with a chemistry major student so that they can learn from each other without even spent a cent.

Everything is changing and there is no way for us to say “No.” Everyone is taking the use of the benefits created by web 2.0. It will be too slow to learn by your own. It’s time for us to contribute, and consume those exploding information.

• Brown, J. S., & Adler, R. P. (2008, January/February). Minds on fire: Open education, the long tail, and learning 2.0. EDUCAUSE Review, 43(1), 16-32. Retrieved February 23, 2008, from
• Time Magazine. (2006/2007). Time Magazine Person of the Year, 168(26), December 25, 2006/January 1, 2007.
• Nicholas Carr (2008, July/August). Is Google Making Us Stupid? Atlantic Monthly. Retrieved August 18, 2008, from

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Week2. Course Management 1.0 in a Web 2.0 World

This week we discuss the current trend of integrating technology into education. I start to get a little sense about the differences between web 1.0 and Web 2.0. So far, I understand that web 1.0 is technology which designed to make life easier, such as internet, computer, and Microsoft word process; but, web 2.0 are technologies, which focus on social network, user-centered.

By reviewing articles, I found that though technology progress really fast, integrate them into education is still far behind. It is true that we have online course, and distance education, but many users complained that instructors simply moved traditional course design into online which will not make online learning or distance education success. When learning environment changed, from physical classroom to on-line interface, we will ask online learners to think in different way, and the tasks also required them to have different problem-solving skills. Therefore, online course is definitely not merely transferring everything digital and teach the content in the same way. Also, students’ performance or learning outcome should have different assessment tool to evaluate their online learning performance.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Week1. Technology Newbie

R685 "The Web 2.0 and Participatory e-Learning," is my first IST department. Though I have been participated in Dr. Bonk’s class for three semesters, I still feel nervous, because I know little about technology. To be honest, till I enter the class, I still don’t know what’s “web 2.0” & what’s “E-learning.” However, I am super exciting to explore more technology use in education and hoping to bring these new applications back my country, and boosting learning outcomes.

Regarding this weblog, I will use this space as my learning reflection. Each week we will read at least three articles, and I will share what I learn or my opinion to the articles. Sometimes, I will also share some of my learning experiences toward technology application in the learning environment. I think, by reviewing this blog in the end of the semester, you will see how I construct my knowledge by building these technology application step by step each week.