Gamification: Authentic Assessment and impact on Online Learning

GAMIFICATION: Impact and need in Online Education

Student attrition from Classrooms has always been a concern. With lowered financial support from Government, increased calls for accountability and calls from various Stakeholders for student engagement and effective learning. These alarms got louder with the increasing enrolments of Online Learners. According to Online Report Card – Tracking Online Education in the United States, a year‐to‐year 3.9% increase in the number of distance education students, up from the 3.7% rate recorded in 2014 (Accessed at https://onlinelearningconsortium.org/read/online-report-card-tracking-online-education-united-states-2015/)

Since the revenue of most institutions of Higher Learning depends a great deal on student enrolment, it behooves the providers of learning to make learning engaging and a thing of interesting fun.

The use of Technology in Online learning module design and deployment lends itself very well to the innovative use of gamification as an engagement and teaching tool. Most students nowadays are technologically engaged and are already playing games online or just on their iPads or computer desktop apps.

Keep these thoughts in mind as you share your opinion or experience on the following:

Have you at any time played electronic games which were linked with a subject of study in school? What is your experience with online or in-school computer games?

Others will post their opinion to this blog, and you are expected to respond to any post by comment, question or suggestion as the weeks go by. Attached is a Rubric showing how posts are evaluated. Pay attention to the focal areas and the weights ascribed to each, as you make your contributions.

 

References

Grabowski, J., Reed, A., Moore-Russo, D., & Wiss, A. (2016, March). Gamification in Online Education: How and Why?. In Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference (pp. 254-259). Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE).

(Accessed in Walden Library)

Hanus, M. D., & Fox, J. (2015). Assessing the effects of gamification in the classroom: A longitudinal study on intrinsic motivation, social comparison, satisfaction, effort, and academic performance. Computers & Education, 80, 152-161.

RUBRIC

Needs improvement- 1 point Basic- 2points Proficient- 3 points Advanced- 4 points
Content Content has very little relevance to the question. Content is slightly related to the question Content is directly related to the question. Content is substantial and relates directly to the question under discussion.
Details Very little detail was used to support the argument. Uses some detail, some of which are accurate. Others are not relevant to the topic. Uses details such as explanations and examples that support the topic. Uses details such as explanations and examples that support the topic.
Logical flow The points are rather disjointed. Occasional logic, inconsistent. Generally consistent. Very Consistent.
Grammar Grammar is confusing. Grammar sometimes confuses. Uses appropriate Grammar. Uses completely appropriate grammar that helps readers with understanding.

 

DETECTION OR PREVENTION OF CHEATING & PLAGIARISM

One of the early encounters with the term ‘plagiarism’, is when High School or undergraduate students are informed that their efforts at writing fall short of the Instructor’s expectations because they contain a high level of content from someone else’s published work. The gates of the writing race opened, only to let through a frenzy of misunderstanding. Misunderstanding, because in my case, before clarification, I thought plagiarism referred to some physiological syndrome! However, as I developed my writing skills, I had classified the ‘p’ word in the section of my memory both short term and deep, which also stored a close ‘cousin’: cheating.

But, what is Plagiarism? It is a particular word which has very deep ramifications. Please, visit this link for more details: https://www.checkforplagiarism.net/research/what-is-plagiarism

Word-processing: tempted to plagiarize

The ‘cut’, ‘copy’ and ‘paste’ functions in word processors carry hidden behind all that functionality, more responsibility. The responsibility for authenticity. With authentic, we as scholar-practitioners are expected to cite our sources with conventional precision. An example of the standard of citation is the APA (American Psychological Association standard, n.d.)

Helping both writers and Faculty detect if someone’s work is plagiarized, is a list of different software. Yes, a Google search brings up quite a few. Institutions of higher learning subscribe to some robust checkers such as Turnitin. (Accessible at http://www.turnitinuk.com/en_gb/)

Here is a list of other software which help determine the degree of plagiarism in a submitted work:

 

Future Strategies I would adopt

  1. Every Learner will be provided a gamified multimedia module of Resources that help them understand ‘Plagiarism’ from a practical and applicative viewpoint.
  2. With Learner focus and collaborative initiatives, learning and scholarship become part of a continuous improvement project. It is a great benefit that we are in the Digital Age where there is almost always a software for every need. (Digital age, n.d.). Barbara Walvoord, concurrent Professor Emerita at the University of Notre Dame described Assessments as a ‘natural scholarly act’ in which we are simply asking how we can help students learn better. (Walvoord, 2010). I will be adopting a strategy of collaboration, assessment, and continuous improvement in helping my students understand plagiarism and cheating better, from a preventive viewpoint.

SYNTHESIS

Detection and prevention of plagiarism must be the second layer of regulating writing quality. Prevention of plagiarism is primary and it starts with all writers and students being fully conversant with what the expectations are.

References

Digital age. (n.d.). Retrieved August 10th, 2017, from http://www.yourdictionary.com/digital-age Read more at http://www.yourdictionary.com/digital-age#1Sb9DvJjRHLoPHWb.99

Walvoord, B. E. (2010). Assessment clear and simple: A practical guide for institutions, departments, and general education. John Wiley & Sons.

 

Impact of Technology and Multimedia

Technology and Multimedia practices sit on the super-highway crossroad which assists Scholar Practitioners to navigate terrains previously unreached. The advent of neuroscientific research and application brought a better understanding to learning theories and how people learn. Thus, came a leveraging of the Web and what is now known as Web 2.0 technologies.

The increasing use of the internet with activities such as Digital Design, Communication & Collaboration, and a platform for the growth of online learning has steadily evolved from the beginning of the 20th Century. Over the years, the practice has proliferated as different specialties emerged in what could be called a community of practitioners. These practitioners include:

  1. Instructional Designers
  2. Educators & Researchers
  3. Institutional Leaders
  4. Software Developers
  5. Hardware Developers
  6. Writers & Publishers
  7. Students/learners

The list goes on, but these are probably the drivers of the Educational technology economy and development.

The technology tool should however not be allowed to take over the process, but as a catalyst should support institutional process effectiveness and advancement. One such achievement in this direction is the Learning Management System (LMS). A basic set of technology tools for teaching and learning. What LMS’s do is to bring a collection of these tools into the collaborative sphere of Institution, Instructor, Learner and the community of inquiry. (COI) (Boettcher & Conrad, 2016, pp. 45-48).

Important Considerations

Prior to implementing any technology initiative within the Educational context, the Stakeholder should do the following:

  1. Evaluate and understand the needs. (Contexts, Learners, Program expectations)
  2. Review best practices in other similar environments.
  3. Ease of use and interface design
  4. Required preparation and training
  5. Return on Investment
  6. Vendor availability and support history
  7. Software/ hardware robustness
  8. Learning Community focus and quality of interaction

As I move forward in my career, my bias for technology is based on best practice, result-orientation,

Young student with virtual futuristic interface simulating digital blackboard.

and openness to assessment. I will always be mindful of the eight factors I listed above, but I will also be practical. With a primary focus for Student engagement, learning and success, I will use whatever tools are available to achieve quality results within agreed time-frames.

 

References

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2016). The online teaching survival guide: Simple and practical pedagogical tips (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Bates, A. W., & Poole, G. (2003). Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education: Foundations for Success. Jossey-Bass, An Imprint of Wiley. 10475 Crosspoint Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46256.

Chumley-Jones, H. S., Dobbie, A., & Alford, C. L. (2002). Web‐based learning: Sound educational method or hype? A review of the evaluation literature. Academic medicine, 77(10), S86-S93.

Mayer, R. E. (Ed.). (2005). The Cambridge handbook of multimedia learning. Cambridge university press.

Three Questions

As Instructional Designers and Online Instructors succeed in setting up an online environment conducive to deep learning, we begin to realize that the initial planning has deeper requirements than meets the eye, so to speak. Particularly on the subject of ‘Technology’. Below, are three salient questions and the answers I am providing to them. Please, feel free to post your comments and let me know your thoughts on the subject-matter.

  • What is the significance of knowing the technology available to you?

Knowing what technology is available will help advice good choice and timely application. It will give meaning and interpretation to potential gains as one can leverage key aspects of available software and infrastructure. Examples are communication opportunities. (Skype, iMessage, Voice Over Internet Protocol telephony and Bluetooth connectivity etc.) Emails now have the capability of extensive file size portability and can be embedded with audio and video files.

  • Why is it essential to communicate clear expectations to learners?

Helps set goals. It gives the learner a sense of inclusiveness and responsibility for their learning. Most learners in the online arena are adults, having other engaging activities on their schedules. However, because of their ability to critical think, process think and make sound prioritizing decisions they will usually rise-up to the task if they are given adequate inclusiveness.

  • What additional considerations should the instructor take into account when setting up an online learning experience?

The makeup of Online Community is of great interest. Despite the andragogic nature of the population’s learning style, there still exists a lot of variability in cohorts. The instructor must be inquisitive and help individuals express themselves by facilitating continuous dialogue and community interaction throughout the course.

In conclusion, Instructional Designers, Project Managers, and Instructors are all wearing the caps of effectiveness. They are key process actors and it is best for them to do their job right-the-first time, then plan to repair what does not turn out right in the future. Therefore, the right choice of tools, based on informed expertise, is the way to go for quality outcomes and excellence.

Thank you for taking time to read this post, and I look forward to your comments

 

Effectiveness with Online Learning Communities

adjusted learners

Individuals learn better in communities as they ‘rub’ minds together. With a little variation, the Online learning environment comes with a lot of ‘bells -and-whistles’, the objectives of course designers vary as they apply the instruments of technology and communication in the execution of instructional plans. (Bates, & Poole, 2003). However, the rather new research database on online learning shows that certain best practices in the field are supported by definite constructs which many have tried repeatedly, with demonstrated success.

Not all applications of Technology to Online learning are useful. Before software enter the market, most of them are well researched and still undergo post -marketing surveillance, but the disconnect with technology happens in the field and not with the developer. You see, due to the various needs of users, and the diverse nature of the environments in which they operate, the software/user interface should be user-friendly enough to make the learning curve appropriately short.

If the new student in the online environment is not careful, he or she could fall prey to early attrition. Student attrition in the online learning environment happens when the frustrations of talking the ecology of Distance Learning overtakes the learner and he or she decides to leave the program prematurely. A year ago, I did some work in this area and studied ways of using Instructional Design methodologies to motivate learners as a counter to this trend. You may read this online article titled: ‘Online Education and the Challenge of Motivation’ accessible at www.educationcorner.com/online-education-motivation.html. Experts agree that a sense of isolation besets the new learner who had been used to the companionship of peers in the traditional learning environment.

However, the picture of the Online Learning Community is quite complex and much bigger than what motivation alone will solve. The complexity of software environments and the need for motivation are barely the tips of the iceberg of online community growth and sustenance. Every Class cohort is different, with the Instructor/Facilitator also introducing a variable which changes as each Class population changes. Though the learning material remains the same, the interaction or no interaction of these dynamic elements suggests that Facilitators need to approach their learner groups with a sense of inquisitiveness as well as empathy. According to Dr. Keith Pratt, contributing to the presentation on ‘Online Learning Communities’, the Facilitator can give the learner a sense that he or she is not alone, and the Instructor is human. ((Laurette Education, 2010). These two interventions can prevent unnecessary learner attrition, in a measurable way. It is important that we plan for measurement as Scholar-Practitioners of Online Learning Science.

As practice gets smoother, more scientific and ethical, we will find the following results:

1) Instructor uses of Pedagogical innovativeness will increase.

2)Increasing use of informal social networking tools to create a sense of ease among new learners.

3) More research in tracking cohort communities and best practices which assisted early bonding and sense of community.

This Blogsite will be exploring the phenomenon of online Community bonding strategies over the next few weeks, so please keep visiting the site.

Temitope

 

References

Bates, A. W., & Poole, G. (2003). Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education: Foundations for Success. Jossey-Bass, An Imprint of Wiley. 10475 Crosspoint Blvd, Indianapolis, IN 46256.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Online learning communities [Video file]

Scope Creep: A previous Personal Project

A Bright New Day

I have always liked to express myself through writing, fine arts, and Music. This propensity is next followed by my passion for public speaking. In the early 2000’s I was writing on anything that could take a scribble. From Restaurant napkins to grocery store receipts, I wrote on the inspiration of every moment.

One day, in the middle of my muse experience, I decided to pool my scribbling together and begin the step toward publishing a book. I did not start the scribbling project with a plan to publish, but it led to a published book after 2 years. (Ogunsakin, 2007).

The shift from casual scribble to conscientious editing (self-edited) happened without a formal plan, and can be described as ‘scope creep’. Scope creep is a term used in project management, where the initial boundaries of the original project change or are adjusted in the light of ensuing circumstances.

According to Techopedia, an online resource providing Insight and inspiration for IT professionals:

Scope creep refers to a project that has seen its original goals expand while it’s in progress. As the term suggests, scope creep is a subtle process that starts with small adjustments and ends up resulting in projects that take far longer to complete or even fail before they are finished. Even if the project is completed, scope creep can result in final deliverables that look nothing like what was originally envisioned.

How did I deal with this issue?

  1. By keeping track of changes through backed-up computer files
  2. By cultivating a higher degree of patience
  3. By seeking help from others who had done some work in this area.

With the benefit of hindsight, now I would approach matters a bit differently, by planning my scope and timelines clearly, prior to project commencement.

 

Reference

Ogunsakin, T. (2007). A Bright New Day. Xulon Press. ISBN: 9781602664692 Accessible at https://g.co/kgs/9nBwyf

Techopedia (Accessed:HTTPS://www.techopedia.com/definition/24779/scope-creep)

 

Communication is Storytelling

I am a relative newcomer to the blogging scene. My first Blog was published in 2012 and it has been off & on since then. More of ‘off’ than ‘on’. I have a passion for writing because I am a storyteller at heart. I believe that people need to hear the stories of others because they can learn a thing or two. Reflection is an aid to learning because it allows for comparative analysis and critical thinking.

My first and only published book was published in 2012, and I have about three at various stages of drafting. This backlog continues to gnaw at me, and I want to break the mold of procrastination. An analogous question comes to mind, therefore:

A jockey is riding a horse in a Derby. At the end of the race, they say the horse won. Who and who was in the race?

I believe that the words of inspiration which form the theme of most of my writing, are meant not only for my readers alone but for both reader and writer because we are both in the race of life, and we should cross the finish line together. Thanks for reading my blog, and please give some comments.

Tags: Writing,  Motivation, procrastination, perseverance, passion

Project Management: The Importance of a precise schedule

 

 

Project Schedule and Estimating Activity Duration

A project plan is a road map for Project Managers (PMs), as they manage a full cascade of variables within  new projects, with an objective to bring all the moving parts to a successful conclusion. Relying on the help of the project Team and key Stakeholders, each PM tries to keep the pace of activities in sync with the project schedule, the heart of the plan.

In continuation of our mission to provide links to tools for innovative Instructional Design, a list of three online resources is published below:

  1. PROJECT PLAN AND SCHEDULE DEVELOPMENT

Effective project scheduling starts by identifying all the work required for the project long before delivery. It considers dates and resource constraints as the schedule is created. The project schedule helps any team to clearly identify everything essential to successful project conclusion.

A useful online resource: ‘INTRODUCTION: Plan and Schedule Development – Create a Work Breakdown Structure (WBS)’, is accessible at https://engineering.tamu.edu/media/699875/planning-tasks-and-wbs.pdf

  1. PROJECT PLAN DEVELOPMENT

After the scope has been clearly defined for a project, and the work breakdown structure (WBS) has been created, the next step is to draft a schedule or timeline. This is done for every deliverable item identified in the work breakdown structure (WBS).The project planner needs to identify a list of activities needed to every phase of the project. The online resource ‘BASICS OF PROJECT PLANNING’, is Accessible at http://zilicus.com/Articles/Basics_Of_Project_Planning.pdf., and  How to plan the delivery schedule is on page 5.

  1. PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND SCHEDULING SOFTWARE

Software for drafting project plans have come a long way. GanttProject is a free project scheduling and management app for Windows, OSX and Linux. The download is available at http://www.ganttproject.biz/

In ending this blog, I just want to say that I would appreciate your comments on the topics raised, and see you next time. Thanks.

 

References

Larson, E., & Larson R. (2012). 10 Steps to Creating a Project Plan. Retrieved from https://www.projecttimes.com/articles/10-steps-to-creating-a-project-plan.html

Laureate Education, Inc. (Executive Producer). (n.d.). Creating a project schedule [Video file]. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu

 

 

Communicating Effectively

M  edia use in communication, is a means of extending our senses. (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2014). The rightful choice of media, the effective use of these choices, and continuous improvement research, all ensure significant results in practice. According to the cognitive theory of multimedia learning (CMTL), human response to multimedia is to build meaningful connections between words and pictures, as they learn more deeply than with words or pictures alone. (Mayer, 2009).

[dropcap]Comparing three media (Email, Voicemail, and Video message), one discovers a trend of improving message quality or delivery. Email presents the message in clear script, but must be read to be understood. The assumption that the reader can interpret written words into a  clear and audible tone, it is assumed that the listener is conversant with the language being used. A video message is a form of face-to-face communication and is usually more understandable than an email or voicemail. Apart from an audible comprehension, a video message is reinforced with visual cues, and makes more meaningful communication. In effect a video message is a series of moving pictures supported by audible words and sounds.

None of these are perfect communication tools, but video gets closer to the mark, since it is rendered in 3D and in color. However, each of the tools of communication considered in this blog post should be seen as effective for a purpose. Purpose is what determines choice, for the end justifies the means.

How was meaning derived from each message medium?

  • The email had to be re-read to make sure that I understood the message.
  • The voicemail had to be re-played to make sure that I understood the message
  • The video message was played once and I understood that I needed to respond to the sender’s request completely.

The implication of this consideration, is that we have a field of choices in communication. Based on the urgency or timing of a communication need, one has one of three choices or possible combinations of any two or all three to choose from. So, in communicating with members of a project team, one would choose the medium or combination of media, based on:

  • Need for clarity vs cost
  • Time available vs sense of urgency
  • Sequence of priorities (Timeline).

This information is not for Project Managers only, but also useful for project team members to know and use, as the team executes the assigned project.

 

References

Mayer, R.E. (2009). Multimedia learning (2nd ed.). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2014). Teaching and learning at a distance. Charlotte, NC: Information Age Pub. Continue reading “Communicating Effectively”

Learning from a Project “ Post-Mortem”

“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to not stop questioning” – Albert Einstein

PROJECT POST-MORTEM

As I review one of many recent projects, I do so to apply cumulative learnings that pertain to the rightful use of assessment, the need for appropriate application of Instructional Design methodologies, and an understanding that there is nothing like a perfect project. Projects can always be improved on, and when this continuous improvement philosophy forms the basis of strategic purpose, one can, both improve, as well as learn with excellence.

In November 2015, I completed my Masters in Higher Education with a Capstone project. It was an opportunity to apply newly learned project management principles, in a learn-by-doing format. (Greer,2001). The project was titled: Designing for Motivation and was based on literature reviews which provided the main thrust and justification for the final deliverables.

One of the reference resources which was used during the design of that project was an article published in a Blog titled: ‘Bright Hub’. (Rhinehart Neas, 2010). According to this article, a capstone project at the Masters level is meant to meet certain criteria:

  • it should be academically sound
  • research should be inclusive and holistic
  • it should culminate in a lasting project that can be carried on by others
  • it should scaffold on prior as well as recently acquired knowledge
  • the presentation should inspire others to participate or inquire
  • the final paper should be detailed, yet concise

These considerations will be added to my post-Morten review parameters. The full review follows below:

Getting my bearings

This was my first real academically focused capstone project as I was introduced to the basics of project management at the beginning of the Capstone course. Working with groups, I honed many skills which would eventually prepare me for the rigors of the final project.

Processes, Artifacts, & Activities included in the project

  • Interactive pre-course questionnaire for asynchronous audience
  • Registration instructions for an online communications tool
  • Narrated automated PowerPoint slideshow (Main Training Module)
  • Interactive post-course questionnaire
  • A Capstone Paper, documenting the project process.

Processes, Artifacts, & Activities not included

  • Interactive pre-course questionnaire for synchronous audience
  • A flow chart of learning objectives scaffold as introduction
  • Summary slides within the presentation to pause and allow metacognitive review
  • A more intensive and focused participant search
  • A plan for implementation of formative feedback data.
  • A detailed project plan

Summary

One of the key steps of Project Management (PM), is the preparation of a Statement of Work (SOW) or Project Charter (PC) document. These are initiating documents which allow a consensus to be reached and which provide inputs from the Project Manager’s or Instructional Designer’s expertise in the generation of project dynamics. ‘Designing for Motivation’, being an academic project did not have the luxury of agreeing initiating parameters. However, it was understood at the time, that certain elements would not match real-life scenarios and these would be in what Project Managers call ‘assumptions’.

This project was successful because the deliverables were innovative and applicable to the scenario identified in the needs analysis. In the process of designing the training module, it was determined that the format had to be accessible synchronously as well as asynchronously. Since some of the respondents were resident in other States, this was achieved through a series of innovative communications (emails, text and Skype). The Stakeholder/Respondent email contained an explanation of the project and what was required of prospective participants. The time frames of project start-off and completion were clearly stated, though, I had to do extra communications to get at least 10 respondents, when previously accepted respondents changed their minds. To avoid this frustration, I would allocate at least 2 months to my respondent search ahead of project commencement, and utilize more selection parameters.

The most gratifying and professionally satisfying part of the project, was that I was able to combine much of my previous learning in creating the training module, and lay the ground work for my future research study.  With the benefit of this work, I can redesign the participant selection tool. Also, one thing I would change is the mixed offering platform of synchronous & Asynchronous to fully synchronous.

References

Greer, M. (2001). The project manager’s partner: A step-by-step guide to project management. Human Resource Development.

Ogunsakin, T. (2015). Designing for motivation. Final Capstone project at Walden University.

Rhinehart Neas, L. M. (2010). How to Create a Master’s Degree Capstone Project [Blog] Accessible at http://www.brighthub.com/education/postgraduate/articles/72316.aspx