Sunday, April 5, 2015

Technology Resources: A Walden University blog entry

Technology Resources: A Walden University blog entry

Most institutions of higher learning have technology resources that we do not think of. I found several at Moberly Area Community College pretty quickly and I am sure I am omitting more. The ones that came to mind immediately were the Help Desk, the eCollege LMS, the Pearson Learning Studio for the virtual classroom, library resources galore including Ebsco, Gale Cenage sites, Films on Demand, and the ebrary; the ITV arrangement for video links between campuses for class uses, and Smarthinking. I have used all but the Smarthinking and virtual classroom technologies. Both are Pearson products and the feedback from others is not that great.

*Quick Note: The LMS, Smarthinking, library resources, virtual classroom, and Help Desk are online resources. The Help Desk has an online section and reference guide on the school website. The Pearson Learning Studio is both online and mobile. Very few use it on mobile devices as they interact with the instructor via the web in computer rooms or at home during synchronous class times. In addition, MACC offers Office 365 to all students and faculty via a download from Microsoft. Finally, like every institution we also have an e-mail service. We have a lot of online resources, but we often use them without even thinking about them as "online" resources.*

            The Help Desk is pretty self-explanatory and a requirement anywhere you go. That is part of the larger IT community at the school which also delivers professional development courses for the staff and faculty throughout the school year. They do this in seat and via the web using the Java based system of WebEx which is another technology (and one that works well). The LMS goes without mention as an everyday use for me. The library is great and I encourage my students to use it. I push for more books on the system each semester and their use in my classes. Films on Demand is good for documentaries which I tell my students are usable sources for my classes. The ITV is something I think is not used very well and that is not due to the technology.

            That seems to be more of a turf thing than anything else. I could teach the same course for multiple locations if they would consider it. The problem is not with me using it because I have. The problem lies with how the instructors and staff use it. Part of it involves turf wars and part of it involves pedagogical issues, particularly in course activities. This is a case where a lot of students have problems with the lack of interaction. Many will just not take the course, will take it online, or will drive 30 or so miles to where it is rather than be alone in a room with a TV.

            The Pearson Learning Studio needs help. My courses are not configured for it so the result is a real mess. This is a mobile app and from what others have told me they pretty much ignore it and use the LMS instead. The virtual environment works fine for them. I have not used this system yet and would do so if a course I taught was needed, but at the moment they’re only offering them online or F2F. Most of this is due to things outside of my control. This is basically blended learning and I would be more than happy to develop courses for this, but I do not feel my department is interested. As I stated in the online forums, there is a serious pedagogical issue with the use or development of new models and technology for many instructors. 

            I feel there is a big opportunity for blended learning that is being ignored at my school. As the VIRI (Virtual, Interactive, Real-Time, Instructor-led lecture model shows, students will be more interested in a course where there are blends of learning styles and delivery systems (Francescucci & Foster, 2013). MACC has the capability to maximize their use of these systems. I just feel there are more people issues that prevent this from happening than anything else. I also keep coming back to the same point I’ve made in multiple posts. It is not the model or the technology, but the pedagogy involved in getting students to learn. You can use whatever you want in a class, but if you cannot effectively engage them with the content in a meaningful way, it will not matter. 

            This is what I find so odd about all of talk about technology and integrating it in the classroom. We know that some use the “no significant difference” concept while others use the opposite concept. What the studies do show us is that the pedagogy is the issue, not the platforms. This is true of all platforms. If the pedagogy is adapted to the delivery system, then learning will occur. If not, then learning will encounter barriers. I found the article by Kock, Verville, and Garza to be pretty pointed on this with their study (2007). That is why I think our school has good resources, but it is how they are used that matters.

Francescucci, A. and Foster, M. (2013). The VIRI (Virtual, Interactive, Real-time, Instructor-led) classroom: The impact of blended synchronus online courses on student performance, engagement, and satisfaction. Canadian Journal of Higher Education, Vol. 43(3), 78-91.

Kock, N., Verville, J., & Garza, V. (2007). Media naturalness and online learning: Findings supporting both the significant and no-significant-difference perspectives. Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education, 5(2), 333-355.


  1. Hi Jim, I found this great article that provides two sides to the use of technology in the classroom. Issues such as dehumanizing on one side versus building communication on the other side were discussed. I think you will find this article interesting. ~ Sharon

    Kemp, A. T., Preston, J., Page, C. S., Harper, R., Dillard, B., Flynn, J., & Yamaguchi, M. (2014). Technology and teaching: A conversation among faculty regarding the pros and cons of technology. The Qualitative Report, 19(3), 1-23.

  2. Hello Jim. You seem to be really interested in the whole technology thing or at least exploring the integration of technology. There is a conference coming up this fall - The Teaching Professor Technology Conference - in New Orleans, October 2 - 4. I saw an ad for it on faculty focus website. It sounds like something that you would enjoy. If I was teaching, I think I would really like to go to that, as well.


    1. That's an expensive conference. If my school wanted to foot the bill it would be great, but I don't see that happening.

      I really do think mobile learning is where we are going. The problem is all the dead weight from people with a lack of vision or just being complacent. I probably ought to write that paper on m-learning now.

  3. Jimmy,

    I agree that mLearning technology is the direction that learning is headed. There will be resistance some initial and others will be budget problems with training opportunities and conferencing funding. Many of us who have adopted to integrating technology have done so on our own without a lot of support.
    The challenge is for the colleges and university to not just come out with policies but provide the training and resources for technology.

    Mark B