Archive for May, 2010

The LMS: Dinosaur Extraordinaire

May 20, 2010 Leave a comment

The Learning Management System or LMS for those inside the inside is an issue of increasing debate in online education. How should the online classroom be organized? What type of software should unite and unify the students within the educational realm? Is a single piece of unifying software necessary or can this same task be accomplished through the use of multiple pieces of software. Of course both formats can exist; students can learn using whatever software is presented to them and ultimately if the goal of education is accomplished best in this avenue than so be it. In my opinion, the issue boils down to a single source of contention (and one that online learning should more closely embrace): cost effectiveness.

Is it cheaper for a school to use a varied cadre of free-ware? Does the use of a single platform or LMS significantly increase the cost of operating? Well…yes. A school that is forced to comply with the limitations and costs of a LMS enter into a world of middle-man nightmare. No longer is the ideal relationship of student-teacher allowed to maintain with a common goal of learning. With the LMS the relationship is altered, now the software provider enters the fray and hovers over the school with an invested interest. Is the software being utilized correctly? Is the LMS being utilized in a fashion that will allow for further growth and expansion. The introduction of the LMS instigates a conflict of interests. I say ditch the LMS and adopt a policy of “whatever works best works for me.”

I call for an embrace of freeware. No longer do we need an LMS to guide the educational process. Administrators and teachers should be tasked with locating the best resources for their students. As an educator in the field there are fantastic resources at my disposal and anything that improves the student experience is a worthy focus. The LMS is a dinosaur of limitation- let’s ditch it and evolve.

Variability: Locus and Focus

May 6, 2010 Leave a comment

Is there a single feature of online learning that defines the format? What feature can explain the continued growth and success of this new educational paradigm? While narrowing down to such a simplistic perspective is dangerous, I aim to argue that the “variability” factor of online education establishes it as a growing field and ensures its continued success in the future.

Variability is the single most important factor of online education. Such variances extend to all facets of the system, both in terms of educator and student function within the system. As an educator the variability of presentation, communication and direction create an individualized system where each student engages in the classroom content on his or her terms. A student in the online classroom benefits from this personalized system and, as a direct result, can invest a greater level of personal involvement in the classroom community. Variability is the essential feature of the community- it is the roadway to success for both educator and student.

Skeptics of online learning will argue that the online system provides only minimal exposure to educational content. Some will cast the image of the student working easily through course content and earning a degree the “easy way.” One should be cautioned by such short sightedness and would benefit immensely from a greater exposure to the online system. The online classroom is a growing one- one from which significant power and effectiveness can provided extensive benefit to all actors in the educational world. At the core of this power is variability- the power source of personalization and customization from which every student can interact and re-define the role as student.

Commentary: Robert Reich’s “Why Public Education is More Important Than Wall Street…”

May 4, 2010 Leave a comment

I commend Mr. Reich’s reminder that public education is the “engine of human capital.” As I have mentioned in an earlier post, the role of a free and public education is an essential component to this country’s success. Indeed, without a free and public education, this country and its citizenry stray dangerously into a culture where both the present and future worlds are instantly more dreary.

It is in recognition of public education’s great importance that Mr. Reich bases his call for greater financial assistance. While this is a noble claim, I have to assert a re-consideration of his claims and request instead a more efficient system of education from which our funds are better utilized and our students more realistically prepared for society.

Let us choose instead financial conservatism. Let us pause to re-consider and remember that our power lies not in our pocket books but in our brains. We need to audit our entire system and evaluate the modern resources that can revolutionize our education system. Education must extend beyond the brick-and-mortar classroom. Online education can provide a quality education and a significantly reduced cost for communities currently struggling under economic turmoil.

Mr. Reich suggests that more be done to improve our education system. Yes, more must be done, but let us recognize where our energy and capital is best served. We do not need greater spending; instead, we need a greater recognition of the changes of our contemporary society and the forms in which we can update our education system to utilize these resources. Let us start by expanding online education and seriously considering the role that education plays within our world.

The American Dream (and Education)

May 4, 2010 Leave a comment

In order to maintain the possibility of the American Dream, we need to remember that a free and public education is at the core of its existence. A world in which one’s intellectual prowess is measured solely on the level of degree attained strays dangerously away from the foundation on which our system was founded. In a world where anyone can earn a diploma, the diploma is instantly less valuable and, as a direct result, students must pursue a higher degree. As this process continues we gradually kill the American dream and re-assert class stratification and valuation by socio-economic status. Ultimately this system removes the ability for great minds to achieve success and returns to a system where those who can afford the most education earn the most respect. This is, of course, a tragedy.

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Introductory Post: Field Notes: Online Education

May 4, 2010 Leave a comment

This new blog will function as a centralized location for my thoughts and insights about online education.Expect (maybe) regular posts that comment, consider and suggest my perspectives on online education. I look forward to exploring my thoughts here and gradually developing professional contacts.

My background? I am an online educator in Ohio. I have taught English for two years and graduated from Kent State University in 2008. Currently, I am pursuing an Instructional Technologist degree from Kent State while I continue to teach in the field.

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