The following appeared as a story on Exchange September 16, 2010.
How to effectively engage a population of adult learners – military, educators, business professionals and domestic engineers, among others – through Web 2.0 technologies is the research topic of CDL mentor John Beckem, who has been sharing his ideas and conclusions with colleagues at professional conferences. Beckem explores the use of audio files, Elluminate, You Tube, Flip Cams, Skype, wikis, blogs and vodcasting in his repertory of technologies that “enhance and promote collaborative learning in an online classroom.”
Beckem’s approach is designed to generate discussion posts by learners, correct assignments and provide grading and feedback to learners. He notes that audio files with inflection and tone make possible a “personal touch.” Additionally, through the use of Flip Cam videos, pragmatic practitioners of various disciplines are brought to class, such as an academic chief diversity officer and a United States Army colonel. A blog page at http://diversityintheworkplace2010.blogspot.com is available so learners can view video interviews and post comments. Videos are also posted on You Tube and embedded in the blog.
To capture and gauge the learner’s engagement with the Web 2.0 technologies, a wiki page was created at http://diversityintheworkplace2010.wikispaces.com,and integrated into the course. Learners were given authorship privileges and collaboratively created the page by adding, editing and designing its layout and content. They posted summaries of their team projects, which included links and uploads of audio files, pictures, videos and articles. In addition, learners created their own discussion pages as part of the wiki, where classmates were able to respond or post new comments.
“The wiki page is an ongoing, evolving digital story. New content is added and developed as the course progresses,” Beckem explains.
Elluminate sessions provide mentoring and tutoring for students, who communicate live with the professor. Through this technology, learners around the world can host group study sessions, share files, utilize a blackboard and brainstorm, fostering an environment of shared learning.
Beckem also posts a blog on the college’s Commons at http://commons.esc.edu/onlinelearningandengagement/category/uncategorized, which serves as a creative environment where new ideas can be presented and the pros and cons of new and existing technologies can be discussed.