sábado, 9 de janeiro de 2010

Unit 3 - Transparency in Online Education

In this annotated bibliography, i will try to respond to this important questions raised by professor Paulsen. I'll try to comment different articles in order to answer the following questions:

1.How much transparency should we allow in online education?
2.What are the implications of transparency in online education?
3.What are the pros and cons of global student catalogues?

The first article is Transparency in Cooperative Online Education by Christian Dalsgaard,
Aarhus University, Denmark and Morten Flate Paulsen, The Norwegian School of Information Technology, Norway

Transparency can be considered as a strategy that reach, catch, hold, motivate, and inspire students. Transparency gives students insight into each other’s actions.The pedagogical potential of social networking lies within transparency and the ability to create awareness among students...A central characteristic of social networking is the potential to facilitate transparency between students. The basic assumption is that transparency is important to cooperative online education. People can cooperate only if they know about each other and have access to some common information and services."(Paulsen and Dalsgaard, June 2009)

Here is a definition of Transparency by Paulsen and Dalsgaard: "Transparency means that you and your doings are visible to fellow students and teachers within a learning environment. For instance, transparency could mean that students and teachers are made aware of and have access to each other’s interests, thoughts, concerns, ideas, writings, references, and assignments. The purpose of transparency is to enable students and teachers to see and follow the work of fellow students and teachers within a learning environment and in that sense to make participants available to each other as resources for their learning activities."

Each individual creates his/her own page wich he/she develops and modifies as it develops its activities. Other people can follow these pages. It is called passive form of communication and sharing.

The discussion forums, are the opposite of this type of personal page and is a place where students send comments, posts, messages or documents in order to communicate or share.
Having a personal page (weblog or other...) is a form of socialization since it is connected to other personal pages and the indivudual is notified whenever a page is modified. In general it is buildt a network of personal relations. This is what is happening with us in this master. We are enable to follow the work of our colleagues and be aware of the activities they are developing and even make use of that information that we consider important. Everyone should be voluntary engaged to a network and contribute to the learning community. A commitment should be established so that the individual can serve as a resource for all the learning community.

"This transparent information may include personal information about the users and statistics related to the users’ deployment of the online tools. It may further include work students and teachers provide in online notebooks, blogs, and discussion forums as well as results from quizzes, surveys, and assignments."

" Transparency is also an important driver for improved quality. It has the following three positive effects on quality:

Preventive quality improvement
We are prone to provide better quality when we know that others have access to the information and contributions we provide.
Constructive quality improvement
We may learn from others when we have access to their data and contributions.
Reactive quality improvement
We may receive feedback from others when they have access to our data and contributions."

"Transparency may reduce the number of low quality contributions and may make high quality work more accessible as paragons for others. In transparent online learning environments, poor contributions from teachers and course designers cannot be hidden easily behind closed doors. It is important to realize that transparency must be handled carefully with regard to privacy issues. The users must be confident that their privacy is assured. They should be able to choose their preferred privacy level and understand how this choice controls how much of their personal data and contributions will be available to others."

In the article written by Christopher Hill, Principles for Improving Online Transparency, Quality it is focused aspects like: What are the benefits of every online student be well-informed,..."." A key focus of the plan is providing program-specific outcomes data that allows students to make informed decisions about their education investment",he says.

“To meet the education needs of adult students, we must provide them with trustworthy and transparent ways to choose among many available options and to gauge the potential of each one to further their careers.” The goal of the program is “to lead universities and colleges toward greater accountability and transparency.”, said Michael Offerman, president of Capella University.

"All types of transparency in Online education are very important, aspects like student demographics, completion rates, costs, student engagement, and knowledge and skills learned are essencial information for students.This kind of data can be viewed in annual reports." Most important, Transparency by Design reports include outcomes at the program specialization level, allowing prospective students to assess how well a program will prepare them for their professional pursuits."

"One of the requirements for implementing Transparency by Design is the development of a new set of best practices for participating institutions. “You want to make sure things are in place at the institutional level,”" says Merle Harris, president of Charter Oaks State College, who has been instrumental in developing just such standards. “Collectively we went back and we looked at best practices that have been put out by other organizations for online learning and then we developed our set based on those,” she says.

"Merle Harris, president of Charter Oaks State College and her associates concluded that there were a few basic principles for institutions that really want to be transparent." You can take a look on them by reading this two articles: Principles for Improving Online Transparency, Quality and More Principles for Improving Online Transparency, Quality.

The principels for improving online transparency are:
#1 Make distance education a central element of your mission:
#2 Accountability to stakeholders:
#3 Responsiveness:
#4 Faculty competence:
#5 Institutional integrity:
#6 Excellence in student services:
#7 Integrity in marketing:
#8 Curricular quality:

“The keys are disclosure, transparency, the ability to interact with students easily and the quality of the curriculum. So that we know what we’re trying to achieve and we regularly measure it.”

In this blog entitled Higher Education Management Group
A LinkedIn Group (Founded by Keith Hampson, PhD) if found one post that consists in an interview with Dr. Mike Offerman, Capella University entitled: Quality, Access and Transparency in Higher Education focusing aspects like: Quality in higher education, the capacity (and willingness) to meet the needs of “non-traditional” learners, What role does increased access to data on institutional performance and student learning play in higher ed reform.
"It was access to data that drove the creation of Transparency by Design. We realized that the online delivery format generates huge amounts of data. Unprecedented data—data on every interaction in the learning exchange, including data about demonstrations of learning outcomes. But, most of us were not looking at the data in any coherent manner.", says Dr. Mike Offerman.

I also foud this list of 21 questions that will help you (student) choose the degree program that is right for you.

"Learner characteristics are influenced by several factors, including:

•Locus of control: Is the individual student in control of the learning or are there external forces in charge of what the student learns?
•Task orientation: Is the learner able to stay on task without going too far astray?
•Level of motivation: Is the learner intrinsically motivated or extrinsically motivated?", as refered by Christopher Hill in his article:Online Course Design Should Consider Learner Characteristics.

In my opinion, distance Education Resistance is origined by the lack of transparency in all aspects. See tha article:Distance Education Resistance: Understanding Its Origins, written by Christopher Hill.

Paulsen and Dalsgaard considered that "Student catalogues are important tools for showing students that they have access to a learning community. A comprehensive catalogue that provides relevant information about students is crucial to students acquiring an overview of the learning community. Student catalogues usually provide information about all students enrolled in a course; however, if students can access information about the students enrolled in other courses offered by the institution, they may benefit from taking part in a larger learning community. Moreover, a catalog that includes alumni could be of interest to students who seek advice on courses they are considering or on future employment.To facilitate cooperation, a student catalogue should include information that makes it easy to initiate and maintain communication, such as e-mail addresses, telephone numbers, chatting identities, etc. It may also include information on geographical location (e.g., zip codes) to facilitate identification of potential partners for occasional face-to-face meetings. Similarly, it may include progress plan information so that students can identify peers who are working with the same study unit. Finally, one may argue that student catalogues should include CV-type information to make it possible to search for peers who have special competencies.

Student catalogues must address privacy issues appropriately. Some information in student catalogues may be regarded as sensitive and may require student consent. Some students may also be opposed to inclusion in a student catalogue."

The students who seek learning partners are asked to do the following:
1.Register their personal presentations.
2.Decide who may access their presentations.
3.Search for potential learning partners.
4.Invite somebody to become their learning partner. "

"The new challenge is to motivate students to engage in joint work...transparency is a prerequisite for distance students to work cooperatively.
Transparency enables students to be visible to each other as potential partners and resources
an important objective is to support an individual’s consciousness and awareness of the activities of others. This can be achieved by making a variety of information transparent, for instance by developing student catalogues and learner profiles, by encouraging learners to become partners, and by sharing personal learning tools.
Whereas discussion forums and other tools for direct communication and collaboration focus on direct sharing, social networking can support students’ indirect sharing of resources, thoughts, ideas, productions, writings, notes, etc. This kind of sharing can provide students with insights into the workings of other students, and, thus, give them an increased consciousness and awareness of the activities of other students.
The pedagogical potential lies within developing social networks in which students’ activities are visible to other students. The potential is to support transparency through a combination of personalization and socialization and through sharing personal information and tools within social networks (Dalsgaard 2006)".

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