Ken Desautels
Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Ken Desautels - Sunday, October 23, 2016, 1:01 PM
 

As we move forward exploring effective methods of Online Course Facilitation, there are underlying issues that can detract from the benefits of online learning.

Technical difficulties that may arise during online classes can frustrate the student. Researchers have also suggested that technical difficulties, which inevitably arise during online training, have the potential to disrupt the learning process (Webster & Hackley, 1997).

Visit the following page (https://elearningindustry.com/5-common-problems-faced-by-students-in-elearning-overcome ) as a starting point in discussing the negative impact technical issues have on an online course, and any solutions to these underlying technical issues you can employ, if any, to make online learning a viable solution.

Reference

Webster, J., & Hackley, P. (1997). Teaching effectiveness in technology-mediated distance learning. Academy of Management Journal, 40, 1282-1309.

 
Steve
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Steven Adams - Monday, October 24, 2016, 7:34 PM
 

Ken:

To start, I feel as those I have experienced each of these issues. The largest for me has been the technical issues. I find that I want to use the system when maintenance is being performed and I am easily frustrated when computers do not respond the way I believe they should.

I believe that Stout provides laptops to undergraduate students (http://www.uwstout.edu/lit/es/). A similar policy could be incorporated for graduate students and other online learners. The cost of the computer is built into tuition, but students would have access to the computing power necessary to complete the courses, eliminating one source of technical issues.

Steve

Picture of Lisa Mcilquham
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Lisa Mcilquham - Monday, October 24, 2016, 9:09 PM
 

Steve,

Thank you for sharing the information about Stout providing laptops to the undergrads.  That is a really nice way for a university to make sure that students obtain the materials they need. How does Stout handle broken laptops and devices?  Are they fixed in-house or shipped out?  I assume they would have something like our high school has.

Here is what our high school experienced; it has recently gone to the 1:1 for the entire student body and one of the first problems they found was that students didn't know how to take care of the hardware or be wary of the software hazards the internet contains.  The school quickly had lots of students without functioning devices as the broken device went through the process of recording the problems, being packaged, waiting to be pickup for shipping, getting fixed, and then returned to the school to be check by the technology department and then returned back to the school and the student.  It became quite a complicated process as new situations continually arose.  It wasn't very long before the teachers were angry because there would be one or two students who couldn't partake in class due to a device waiting to be repaired.

Soon, the technology department created an in-house repair team that was run by the juniors and seniors.  Now, laptops are "cured" of their ailments within moments instead of weeks. As for larger repairs, the student run program purchased extra devices to be used as "loaners" while they repaired the damaged laptop.  This eliminated the frustration of not having the technology needed for class and kept the teachers from needing back up lessons for one or two students.

Lisa

Ken Desautels
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Ken Desautels - Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 4:28 PM
 

Lisa, Did the school (or tech team) review the procedures with students prior to rolling out the devices? Regardless of the age group, orientation to the device itself through online or in person demonstration is needed to avoid the scenario you experienced.

-Ken

Picture of Lisa Mcilquham
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Lisa Mcilquham - Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 6:25 PM
 

Ken,

I don't know.  I don't remember anyone talking about this, I bet if they did a "teach-to" about proper behaivors with devices, every kids would learn at least one care tip.

Interesting thought....kind of a common sense thing now that I think about it.  I hope the high school did.

Lisa

Ken Desautels
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Ken Desautels - Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 1:59 PM
 

Lisa

We issues 200 iPads to the students however part of the roll out included a student/parent orientation to proper use. The students also signed an acceptable use form prior to receiving the device. We have been doing this for five years with only four broken screens. Considering these are teenagers, I thought that was a good record. If you want any documentation or forms I used - just ask.

 

Ken

Steve
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Steven Adams - Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 6:36 PM
 

Lisa:

I do not know what Stout does, but I would suspect that they have a team similar to your school that takes care of these issues. I believe that the students are issued a new computer every two years on campus. This alone would cut down on some problems.

Your schools seems to have created a great solution. The tech students gain valuable skills and are probably the most tech saavy people in the building. Other students can get their equipment back sooner.

In my experience, students do not take good care of equipment. We have traditionally had families sign a form stating that they will take care of the equipment. It makes much more sense to spend some time up front with students to develop basic computer skills.

Steve

Ken Desautels
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Ken Desautels - Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 3:55 PM
 

Steve, You make a nice point about providing laptops for the graduate programs. Do you feel that there may be an issue regarding tech support if devices are given to students taking online courses who are not in the local area? Support may be an issue here? As far as the frustration when computers do not respond the way you expect, Do you feel Help Desk access for students would help the issue?

-Ken

Picture of Lisa Mcilquham
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Lisa Mcilquham - Monday, October 24, 2016, 10:10 PM
 

According to the article you had us read, self-motivation is on the list for technical difficulties.  Due to the fact that I am currently adjusting to this online learning thing, as I try to learn a new married life style, create curriculum for a new course at the middle school, and keep up with the "old usual" tasks that consist of my life, I find self-motivation to be fleeing from brain and body almost hourly; so I only found it fitting that I do some learning about how to motivate students that will someday cross my path with the same issue.

I found an article that gives instructors methods to help motivate those that are struggling to stay motivated, much like I am.  The author Debbie Morrison lists her methods about half way down the page.  She goes into a bit more detail, so if you are curious follow this link https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/how-to-motivate-students-in-the-online-learning-environment/.

Her methods summed up:

  • Provide timely feedback on assignments as this creates a connection between the instructor and the learner.
  • Respond to questions in a timely manner to demonstrate that the instructor cares.
  • Include specific feedback to send the message that learning is important
  • Interact with the class as a whole on a weekly basis to show instructor involvement
  • Acknowledge student struggles and support the student as they need it.
  • Comment wisely in the discussion boards and praise the good work you see the student perform

Did you guys notice that Maggie does all of these?  There might be something to this.

Lisa

Citation for above link: Morrison, D. (2012, August 31). How to Motivate Students in the Online Learning Environment. Retrieved October 24, 2016, from http://www.indjst.org/index.php/indjst/article/view/89029

Ken Desautels
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Ken Desautels - Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 4:11 PM
 

Lisa, Timely feedback by the instructor is definitely a must in order to make the student feel connected. What if the student misses a deadline? The feedback in the discussion threads may not be as frequesnt as needed. Contact outside of class via email or phone call may be warranted to help keep the student motivated. You mentioned you are working on new curriculum in your post. If you were to create an online course, what steps could you take to avoid technical issues in your class?

 

-Ken

Picture of Lisa Mcilquham
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Lisa Mcilquham - Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 9:06 PM
 

Ken,

Some of the steps would be difficult because I would be teaching skills that come with time and experience, such as adaptability and self-motivation.  Working with middle school students, I would have to “hold-their-hand” and guide them as to how to go about this new type of learning and coach them on self-motivation. 

Time management, could be done synchronously for the first few days of the class to help the students set up reminders and calendars to help them use their time wisely.  I could also communicate to the students how long each activity should take them, and to emphasize that if they are accomplishing the tasks way too soon or way after the estimated time, to contact me so we can talk about the actuality of what they are doing or not doing which is causing the time difference. 

As for the equipment, I would need to have sources and service providers readily available for students to contact if their devices don’t perform as needed.  More importantly, I would need to communicate clearly the minimal performance expectations of a device that would be used with the class.

I would need How To videos and/or Step-by-Step instructions collected and ready for the computer literacy questions and difficulties.

I am sure this is just scratching the surface.

Lisa

Ken Desautels
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Ken Desautels - Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 2:17 PM
 

Lisa, I came accross this site for educators that may help you incorporate online tools in your classes. Although I tend to avoid applications that I cannot directly monitor, this list is quite comprehensive. I have used EduCreations before with nice results and Explain Everything looks very interesting. I hope this helps you, or at least gives you some ideas for future use.

TeachThought.com

-Ken

Picture of Lisa Mcilquham
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Lisa Mcilquham - Thursday, October 27, 2016, 7:08 PM
 

Thank you Ken.  I appreicate it.

Steve
Re: Technical Difficulties - Please stand by
by Steven Adams - Saturday, October 29, 2016, 8:42 AM
 

Lisa:

I think that it is great that Maggie models all of what an online instructor can be. My online experiences have been mixed, but I will say that it is easier to find the motivation to complete assignments when the instructor is engaged.

Steve

Arin Ceglia profile pic
Know your tool
by Arin Ceglia - Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 7:57 PM
 

Ken,

One issue I would add to the 5 Common Problems article is knowing the courseware tool inside and out as a coursebuilder. Allow me to elaborate: Every digital learning environment has it's own technical issues or hurdles or sometimes just things that are a nuissance. This is a problem for everyone who authors, teaches, or learns in a digital environment — nothing's perfect, as the saying goes.

The solution, however, starts with knowing your tool as a course builder. EVERY instructional designer or course author must be proactive in designing the course around these known challenges or quirks in the system so that students aren't left to figure it out themselves. If there are tricks, easy hacks, or things a course builder can do ahead of time, then it should be done (if possible).

-Arin

Ken Desautels
Re: Know your tool
by Ken Desautels - Tuesday, October 25, 2016, 4:23 PM
 

Arin, You provided great advice and it is apparent you have had experience in this field. When I was teaching using the eCollege LMS, the support staff were constantly "tweeking" items to better enhance and avoid issues. Have you dealt with instructors wanting to personalize the course too much and affect the stability in a negative way? I know that that did happen when I was teaching (no it was not me). The modifications made to the class affected the entire section of that particular course. Everyone teaching that particular course had the personalized notes.

-Ken

Arin Ceglia profile pic
Re: Know your tool
by Arin Ceglia - Wednesday, October 26, 2016, 8:02 PM
 

Ken,

eCollege is also a platform that is being sunsetted, so I think the number of tweaks you experienced was peaking. (Pearson announced just 12 months ago that they would no longer be updating the platform, so bugs and issues would go unresolved.)

To be honest, instructor personalization of a course is a catch 22--pros and cons for sure. The modifications across a section is certainly problematic if not done right or for the wrong reasons. One negative thing I've seen is the instructor has negatively impacted grades and caused unintended ripple effects to the gradebook.

Arin

Ken Desautels
Re: Know your tool
by Ken Desautels - Thursday, October 27, 2016, 3:56 PM
 

Arin, Grades are a whole other topic that I could write a novel on. In terms of Pearson, I was aware of the eCollege system updates stopping. The school was shifting to Canvas by Instructure. I have used Canvas before and have a few staff using the free version to host online content for the courses they teach (high school). Although we were given ample opportunity for training, I did see new staff missing key concepts. The orientation to online teaching is a good thing but should be updated to reflect new policies and things NOT to do.

 

-Ken

Steve
Re: Know your tool
by Steven Adams - Thursday, October 27, 2016, 6:16 PM
 

Arin:

I would bet that there are issues with each software package, as you stated "knowing your tool" really means understanding what the package can and cannot do. I like the videos in this course that explain many of the elements that could mix people up if they are new to this environment.

This means that the instructor has to understand the system and possibly even test it as a student. This is what I do for all the online programs I use. I become a student and test out the program. It is very helpful when diagnosing issues later.

Steve

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