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Unit 1-3

Page history last edited by Gary Motteram 6 years, 11 months ago


Online learning: tools, tools ...

and more tools...?


When we first started looking at Jane's list back in 2010, we immediately wondered where some of the tools that we used on the course unit, for example video conferencing, might there, Would Wimba (now Blackboard Connect) or Adobe Connect (formerly Breeze) be specifically mentioned; or Second Life (SL)? What about Blackboard itself? Of course some were and some weren't.


Adobe Connect has dropped very slightly this year (2015). Blackboard Collaborate, which we used to use, is down to 71 this year, it was 50 in 2012; Google Hangout is the upward mover in the synchronous communications stakes. Second Life actually dropped out of the list in 2011. Blackboard as a VLE has gone down to 91, four years ago it entered at 68; Moodle is at 12. Interestingly Canvas which was not in the list last year (2014) has now arrived at 78. An analysis of the trends is available on the site: http://c4lpt.co.uk/top100tools/analysis-2014/. Again, it is useful rto compare these trends to the Horizon Reports that I have mentioned.


Whilst preferences for particular instances of particular categories of tools may well be very individual, or be influenced by institutional decisions. Their appearance may represent a sort of gradual or indeed sudden groundswell of popular use (e.g. Facebook over MySpace), it is interesting to observe the types of tool that people are placing in their 'top 10'.


What is more interesting to reflect on is the affordances of the tool both generic and perhaps specific to a particular instance. We are particularly interested here in the nature of online interactions and particularly how these pertain to online learning.


So, for example, whether facilitated by a dedicated communication tool such as Skype, or as a tool within a virtual world such as Second Life http://secondlife.com/ or Active Worlds http://www.activeworlds.com/, what are the characteristics of synchronous text-based discourse; how are these tools managed by a teacher for 1-1, small group and large group discussion or other task oriented activity? And what if we move those activities into a 'meeting room' tool such as Acrobat Connect Professionalhttp://www.elluminate.com/ (now Blackboard Collaborate), GoToMeeting, or other tools like Google+ Hangout  or Skype. How do learners experience synchronous interaction as opposed to asynchronous discussion within a forum?


You will be participating in such interactions in different tools throughout this course unit. Those interactions will, in themselves, be a focus of attention at different points, as will learner and tutor activity. We begin that look through our first seminar.


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