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A course about using electronic technologies
to support and enhance teaching. 

Developed by Tony Whittingham
Go to the Cyberteacher web site

The Evolving Teacher Environment
You cannot teach a man anything. You can only help him discover it within himself. -Galileo Galilei
Introduction | Learning Gateway | Activities  | Assessment | Follow Up
Technology is on the verge of fundamentally reshaping the education system. In particular, the technology to deliver full-length courses online is rapidly becoming a reality. The creation, delivery and management of courses over the Web will be the driving force for educational change in the 21st century.

Objectives: At the completion of this module you will be able to

  1. Describe four significant developments in the application of electronic technologies in teaching. For this course the developments are blended learning, learning objects, mobile learning and learning portals.
  2. Describe the teacher support functions of learner and content management systems (LMS and LCMS).
  3. Publish MSWORD and PowerPoint teaching resources on the World Wide Web (WWW).  

Learning Gateway

1. Significant developments in eTeaching

1.1 Blended Learning.
There is now considerable research to demonstrate that teaching is most effective when there is a blending of ‘traditional’ methods with electronic technologies. The term blended learning is used to describe a solution that combines several different delivery methods, such as collaboration software, Web-based courses and knowledge management practices. Blended learning also is used to describe learning that mixes various event-based activities, including face-to-face classroom, and self-paced learning.
An overview of blended learning from the Learning Circuits magazine (subscribe to their free newsletter)  
This article, "New Technologies, New Ways to Learn", looks at changing perceptions of the nature of learning processes and how they may best be served by contemporary technologies. It has links to a wide range of definitive articles on the use of technologies in teaching.

1.2 Learning Objects.
A paradigm shift in online learning is occurring. The vision is to enable new and existing learning content to be created as small, independent ‘learning objects’ which can then be tagged and managed in a learning object repository and ‘assembled’ into learning modules or courses as needed. 

A learning object may be defined as an online resource that may used to achieve a specific learning outcome. Associated with the object is metadata (information about its characteristics eg. author, format, date created) which enables its identification (eg. find objects dealing with the subject Photogrammetry), evaluation (eg. is the object suitable for use in a course for geologists and what are the copyright implications?) and retrieval (eg. where is it located and what is its format).

Standards are now available to guide the development of learning objects and their metadata. Use of these standards will ensure objects can be reused and delivered using technologies, irrespective of the vendor,  that are compliant with these standards.
A very comprehensive Australian report (from 3 Flexible Learning Leaders) on the application of learning objects.
An overview of learning objects with links to learning object repositories
This is a presentation (in pdf format) on learning object repositories
In this site, you will find information on learning objects. The purpose is to provide a look at the different definitions, the current state of standards, and other happenings in the area of learning objects.

1.3 Mobile Learning.
The evolution in education and training at a distance can be characterised as a move from dLearning (distance learning) to eLearning (electronic learning) to mLearning (mobile learning). The recent release in Australia of the 3G mobile phone system adds another dimension to the application of mobile phone technology in education.
A major project on the application of mobile phone technology in learning
A review of the potential of 3G mobile phone technology  
There are many good reasons for educators to look into wirless technology. Many new wirless products are coming on the market; hitherto undreamt of educational uses are becoming possible as a result of wirless technology.

1.4 Learning Portals.
A learning portal serves as a bridge that provides links to learning. A learning portal may contain Web-based applications for  e-mail, chat, and discussion forums, in addition to links to quality endorsed (by the teacher) web sites . Kathy Schrock, an early portal pioneer, said an educational portal is a "classified list of resources that have been evaluated by specific criteria to be useful for support of teaching and learning."  Learning portals can help deliver learning to a geographically dispersed students effectively. This lean training solution is particularly well-suited for teachers who don't have the need or resources for full-scale custom course development, learning management software, or a large implementation.
Key factors for learning portals with examples
A portrait of learning portals  
The Scout Portal Toolkit (SPT) allows groups or organizations that have a collection of knowledge or resources they want to share via the World Wide Web to put that collection online without making a big investment in technical resources or expertise.


2. Learner and Content Management Systems

Electronic systems have been developed to assist teachers, students and administrators to manage teaching and learning. Systems are also available to manage the development and delivery of online courses. More recently systems have evolved that combine both learning and content management functions.
LMS (learning management system): Software that automates the administration of training. The LMS registers users, tracks courses in a catalog, records data from learners; and provides reports to management. An LMS is typically designed to handle courses by multiple publishers and providers. It usually doesn't include its own authoring capabilities; instead, it focuses on managing courses created by a variety of other sources.
CMS (content management system): A centralized software application or set of applications that facilitates and streamlines the process of designing, testing, approving, and posting e-learning content, usually on Webpages

References: You can create and apply demo courses at each of these sites.
The most popular management systems are Blackboard and WEBCT
Australian product

Select and register (it’s free) in the ‘Sample course – Reusable Learning Objects’ As well as learning about LMS’s, CMS’s and Learning Objects you will get to experience an online course with objectives and assessment ( a rarity).

3. Developing World Wide Web Resources

A range of tools are available for developing World Wide Web based resources that can be accessed via the Internet. These tools include HTML and XML editors (e.g. Hot Dog, WebAttack), web site authoring software (e.g. Dreamweaver, FrontPage), Web site templates (e.g. Geocities) and Microsoft Applications (e.g. MSWORD, Powerpoint). Teachers who are not regular developers of web sites may prefer to use the Microsoft applications with which they are familiar or FrontPage with its Microsoft interface for developing and publishing their teaching resources.
2020 Visions, Transforming Education and Training Through Advanced Technologies.
This paper argues that there is an important future for educational multimedia, and new methods and software programs are available that will change how it is produced.
The FrontPage web site. Note the education and training add-ins.
The 'Web Style Guide' an online book covering all aspects of web site design


1. Establishing an eTeacher Website.
Most Internet Service Providers (ISP) e.g. Telstra Big Pond, provide facilities and storage space that may be used to establish an eTeacher web site. Alternatively there are many companies that offer free web site hosting services. The down side of using a free hosting service is the requirement to include advertising banners on all web pages.

This activity uses a free hosting service that offers a number of facilities particularly useful for teachers that include zip file transfer of content, Front Page extensions, editing of html code, comprehensive file management and blog creation.

Refer to this activity's handout for instructions to create a free eTeacher web site. 

2. Publishing MSWORD files on your eTeacher web site.
MSWORD is relatively simple software tool for developing resources for access by students via the Internet. The resources may include interactive links, both within and external to the document. The use of tables, with hidden borders, can assist the layout of document elements and provide consistency across resources. MSWORD resources may be published in either/both .doc and .html formats.

Refer to this activity's handout for the instructions to publish MSWORD resources to your eTeacher web site.

3. Publishing PowerPoint files on your eTeacher web site.
Remote access via the Internet to PowerPoint presentations can provide valuable support for students and teachers. Hyperlinks developed in the original presentation will be maintained in the web site published version. The web site version presents PowerPoint slide in a frame with a list of slide titles in an adjoining frame.

Refer to this activity's handout for the instructions to publish PowerPoint resources to your eTeacher web site.


Self Assessment
1. You should be able to evaluate the opportunities from applying the following four emerging areas in your teaching:
a) blended learning, b) learning objects, c) mobile learning, and d) learning portals.

2. You should be able to describe the teacher support functions of Learner Mangement Systems (LMS) and Learner Content Management Systems (LCMS)

3. You should be able to develop and publish MSWORD and PowerPoint teaching resources on the World Wide Web.


Follow Up
"The best learning happens in real life with real problems and real people and not in classrooms." Charles Handy
Before you launch into all this 'techo' stuff, read this article with its focus on informal/social learning. How can you blend this with technology?

1. Create a web site for use in your teaching, that provides students with a portal to WWW resources that you recommend and access to online PowerPoint and MSWORD teaching resouces.



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