[Technology 1151] Re: pre assessments for online learning

Archived Content Disclaimer

This page contains archived content from a LINCS email discussion list that closed in 2012. This content is not updated as part of LINCS’ ongoing website maintenance, and hyperlinks may be broken.

nancy.friday at alphaplus.ca nancy.friday at alphaplus.ca
Thu Jun 28 09:50:17 EDT 2007




Hi Diana,

I'd like to respond to your story about Luis and his persistence. I see this
happen a lot within the online environment of AlphaRoute, and with the literacy
student that I myself tutor face-to-face. Some students refuse to be defeated
by technology and are so eager to learn something new and participate with
others that they will plow through incredible barriers to achieve their goals.
I am always amazed and impressed.

Of course there are also many students who do give up at the first technology
glitch and write off a resource because it didn't work the first time, or
created some challenges along the way.

AlphaRoute was developed from its inception to be an environment in which the
student has full access to everything available - to be able to explore say what
a level 5 activity is like when the student is at level 2. To enroll in an
online course (everything is free and non-credited) and to lurk, engage of part,
or complete to earn a certificate of participation. This puts the
self-management piece into the hands of the student.

Within AlphaRoute there is a small group of students who form a community of
sorts. I am always amazed when I speak with a couple of those core students by
how much they know about other students across the provice because of their
interactions by email or chat within AlphaRoute.

There are students who take the AlphaRoute online courses from home and program
computers that use dial-up! It can take a long time for some content to load,
but the students are so keen to participate and learn online, that they persist
when I would not.

I know how much I learn when I refuse to be defeated by an obstacle and work
through a problem until I get some resolution - and how good I feel afterwards
that I prevailed.

I congratulate Luis for his persistence and to you and the program staff for
removing the first barrier and giving him his chance. What was key for his
success, apart from his own determination was his self-knowledge that he could
succeed and the support along the way from you and your husband that he required
and requested.

We have learned from our research into the use of AlphaRoute and what students
indicate they require in learning online is that the support of an online mentor
as well as onsite support as required is key. Students value and welcome the
assistance they need to explore their limits and pursue their goals.

As students move on from basic literacy programs we know they will encounter
external assessment tools that will assess and measure their competency in a
range of areas, including comfort and facility in online learning environments.
And that seems to be where many people engaged in this discussion are
interacting with students who have reading, writing and numeracy skills but
perhaps not sophisticated enough or honed enough distance online learning
skills, including self-management and self-direction to succeed.

I just want to insert what is happening at the early end of the literacy
continuum to introduce and prepare students for what is ahead.

Nancy








"Diana Satin" <dsatin at verizon.net> on 06/26/2007 04:32:54 PM

Please respond to Diana Satin <dsatin at verizon.net>; Please respond to The
Technology and Literacy Discussion List <technology at nifl.gov>








To: "The Technology and Literacy Discussion List"
<technology at nifl.gov>

cc: (bcc: Nancy Friday)



Subject: [Technology 1131] Re: pre assessments for online
learning








Hi--

Many very good points made here. I can tell the story of one student to
illustrate those regarding screening, prerequisite computer skills, and the
perhaps un-screenable factor of motivation.

During my most recent recruitment for our program's English for All-based course
(mostly DL with optional supplementary support available), one person I phoned
from our waitlist was unable to speak with me in English. I explained to Luis
(in my elementary-level Spanish) that the course was likely to be challenging,
but he was welcome to try it and see how he felt. At the face-to-face
orientation, he had great difficulty conversing with the other students but was
able to follow along by watching how to navigate the course website.

At home, he had numerous technical issues:

First, he didn't have lots of computer experience and didn't own a computer, but
bought one, motivated by the course.

Then, he couldn't view the videos because of a software snafu. I (and my more
fluently Spanish-speaking husband) explained another way he could access the
videos using iTunes, which he had his more computer-savvy brother help him work
out.

He also has had language difficulties:

When I called to check in on Luis because I saw he wasn't moving forward in the
course, he said he was having difficulty understanding the videos. I explained
how he could resize the iTunes window and the English for All window, so he
could read the text of the video as he viewed the movie in order to aid his
comprehension.

When I asked him how he feels in the course, what with the difficulties and all,
he says he's learning the language, and he does not have another opportunity to
learn because he isn't enrolled in any other course.

(Luis was able to hold this conversation completely in English! Struggling, but
all in English.)

So, Luis is an example of someone who could have been screened out due to his
limited computer and language skills. However, he's persisted in this primarily
DL course for 2-1/2 months, he's improved his computer knowledge through his
involvement with the class, and he's earning mostly 100% scores on his
coursework.

Other students who passed the screening because of their stronger computer and
language skills haven't persisted as Luis has.

Diana Satin
Jamaica Plain Community Centers
Adult Learning Program
Boston, MA
781.352.4540
----- Original Message -----
From: Silver-Pacuilla, Heidi
To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2007 1:02 PM
Subject: [Technology 1128] Re: pre assessments for online learning


Hi everyone - great to see the conversation keeping up at such a robust level!
I just wanted to raise a point from my research review as well as my personal
work and research with students. I would caution against pre-assessments that
screen people out of classes. Pre assessments in our literacy and ESOL world
should screen people *into* the right environments for their skills, otherwise
we will lose them - again. Students who responded to evaluations of their online
learning experience unanimously say that they learned computer skills AND
self-directed learning habits *by* participating. This is a very fine line in
service delivery, I know, but I think the key is to encourage students to try
and then have supports on hand as/when they need them. We also have to keep
pushing to produce and use better, more responsive instructional materials that
teach the skills necessary to learn from them.

Good luck to all of us!



Heidi Silver-Pacuilla, Ph.D.

American Institutes for Research

1000 Thomas Jefferson Street NW

Washington, DC 20007

202.403.5218 (Phone)

202.403.5454 (Fax)


-------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----

From: technology-bounces at nifl.gov [mailto:technology-bounces at nifl.gov] On
Behalf Of Melinda Hefner
Sent: Tuesday, June 26, 2007 12:27 PM
To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List
Subject: [Technology 1126] Re: Tryout periods



I'm so glad to hear that your students' computer literacy skills are assessed.
We've found that students often think that the computer skills they have are
sufficient for a DL course, when they aren't. (They may e-mail and use the
internet, but not know how to save files, upload files, use discussion boards,
use digital drop boxes, use virtual classrooms, etc., etc.).



You didn't mention this, but I assume that the assessments also measure
sefl-management skills, learning styles, lifestyle considerations, hardware and
software requirements, etc. Measuring students' perceptions of DL courses is
also helpful since many first-time DL students think that DL courses are easier
than seated or hybrid courses.



I've seen lots of DL readiness assessments, but often they only address
computer skills rather than also addressing the areas I mentioned above. As DL
courses become more and more common and as student learning and student
satisfaction data are analyzed, I believe that the importance of comprehensive
distance learning readiness will emerge.





Melinda M. Hefner
Director, Literacy Support Services



Basic Skills Department
Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute
2855 Hickory Blvd.
Hudson, North Carolina 28638
Office: (828) 726-2245
FAX: (828) 726-2266












>>> "Susan Jones" <SUJones at parkland.edu> 06/26/07 11:09 AM >>>

I have seen exactly such readiness assessments. I'm pretty sure I had to take
one before I took an online course here in 2000... but it wasn't a grad program.
Starting recently, *all* our students have to take a "computer competency"
assessment and course placement is recommended from that. (We have several
levels of basic computer competency classes.)

Susan Jones
Academic Development Specialist
Academic Development Center
Parkland College
Champaign, IL 61821
sujones at parkland.edu
Webmastress,
http://www.resourceroom.net
http://bicyclecu.blogspot.com


>>> Melinda Hefner <mhefner at cccti.edu> 6/25/2007 2:41 PM >>>
I'm jumping in here mid-stream so this may have been discussed previously.

I have rarely seen in DL courses, especially for DL literacy courses, any kind
of distance learning readiness assessment. You're so right when you say that
"...it seems reasonable that we help them find the instructional method or class
that best fits their needs and learning styles." I'm in a 100% online grad
program and several of the folks have dropped out because their technical skills
simply weren't adequate. I've found too many educators who have discounted the
DL readiness piece and go on to blame the students for not being successful.

Melinda M. Hefner
Director, Literacy Support Services

Basic Skills Department
Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute
2855 Hickory Blvd.
Hudson, North Carolina 28638
Office: (828) 726-2245
FAX: (828) 726-2266






>>> Leslie Petty <lpetty at twmi.rr.com> 06/25/07 10:40 AM >>>

I agree. Some of the states in Project IDEAL have found that students who
have an extensive orientation to the distance material - including plenty of
time to "play" and get a feel for this instructional approach - tend to persist
longer. If we want students to be successful, it
seems reasonable that we help them find the instructional method or class that
best fits their needs and learning styles. It's hard for them to make an
informed decision about distance if they're unfamiliar with it, so the idea of
try-out periods makes a great deal of sense.

Leslie Petty

Wendy Quinones wrote:
I'm a little late getting back to this, but I love the point you made,
Nancy, about the try-out being a learning experience even if the course
isn't completed. I've found that to be the case with PD online as well,
with teachers trying out the online experience and deciding they definitely
don't like it and leaving; others finding that the material or the
participant interaction to be so valuable that they persist in the face of
all kinds of technical and personal difficulties. Not too different from
our students, I think. In this age of accountability we focus perhaps to
much on outcomes and not enough on process and what can be learned from it,
regardless of outcome.

Wendy Quinones
----- Original Message -----
From: <nancy.friday at alphaplus.ca>
To: "The Technology and Literacy Discussion List" <technology at nifl.gov>
Sent: Friday, June 15, 2007 2:03 PM
Subject: [Technology 1073] Re: Tryout periods



Hi,

Nancy from Toronto here again in response to the issue of learner
retention.
Recruitment and retention have been the focus of much discussion during
the
distance delivery research we have been engaged in at the AlphaPlus Centre
with
the four sites that have been exploring distance delivery.

Retention has also been a noted interest in what happens in short online
courses
that we have developed and delivered as part of AlphaRoute for the past
three
years. Our emerging and currently only form of new content for AlphaRoute
this
year is online courses. Our courses are four weeks long. For the first
two
years they were delivered in a discussion forum - Web Board (supported by
an
external course web site) as part of AlphaRoute. This year we are
offering the
courses in Moodle. You can take a look at the course topic list and
external
course web sites at:
www.resources.alpharoute.org > Resources > Online courses for adult
literacy
students

What we have found in terms of retention is that for the first two weeks,
students are gung-ho, and then we see a drop-off in week three that is
sustained
through week four. Generally we have found that a third of the students
that
enroll in a course complete it and receive a course certificate of
participation.

Interesting what you share David about a two-week period being perhaps the
right
amount to try-out time.

I should note that we acknowledge there is a continuum of learning for us
all,
and so for a student to take the step and enroll in an AlphaRoute online
course
is in fact a learning step. Trying it out for a week or two to see how it
works
and then not continuing is also learning. Committing to take the course
and
complete the work to achieve the certificate at the end (and learning some
cool
stuff along the way) is a goal for us. And in the world of demonstrating
literacy learning and a range of skills, can make for a great
demonstration.
But we would like to think that our courses are so valuable to learners
and
engaging that they will all move from start to finish. It isn't realistic
that
they will though - because of that continuum of learning.

>From the stats and knowledge of the programs that the students enrolled in

the

courses come from, the highest retention rates come from students whose
instructor has included the AlphaRoute online course within their
instruction
and where students are in a computer lab at the same time taking the
course. So
motivation and support (instructor and peer) are onsite. However, the
course
facilitator is at a distance and does contribute to a motivating and
retention
aspect of student support. The development of online courses in
AlphaRoute has
not been done within a research project or model. We are learning as we
go and
writing articles and sharing information as we learn. Our challenge at
this
point is to focus on that three week drop-off reality and see what we can
do
from the course content and development side to attempt to support
learners in
sustaining their involvement past that drop-off point.

Any suggestions or ideas from the range of instructors and researchers
participating in this discussion are more than welcome!

Nancy Friday









"David J. Rosen" <djrosen at comcast.net> on 06/15/2007 09:01:41 AM

Please respond to The Technology and Literacy Discussion List
<technology at nifl.gov>








To: The Technology and Literacy Discussion List
<technology at nifl.gov>

cc: (bcc: Nancy Friday)



Subject: [Technology 1064] Tryout periods








Distance Learning Technology Colleagues,

Earlier this week, in response to a message Heidi Silver-Pacuilla had
posted, Holly Dilatush wrote:

"too many learners register, show up one week, then drop before/
without completing 12 hours/first episode. Follow-up (to attempt to
determine WHY) has been challenging -- guesswork more than documented
responses. There
are SO many extenuating circumstances."

For many adult learners, especially those who choose online options,
and for many reasons, we need to design/include/expect a "tryout
period" a short online learning experience -- perhaps two weeks --
sampling the material, process and technology used in the longer,
online learning. At the end of the tryout, participants can stop (if
they were experimenting with the medium, are not happy with the
content, can't make the longer commitment, or for any other reason).
Those who are ready to commit, can do so, and at that point begin to
be counted in the DOE-funded system.

Does an example of this already exist somewhere? If so, how is the
tryout period funded? (State and local funders and private funders
need to pick up the costs of this "tryout")

I believe we need the same sort of tryout period for teachers doing
online professional development. Does a model of this exist somewhere?

Your thoughts?


David J. Rosen
djrosen at comcast.net



----------------------------------------------------
National Institute for Literacy
Technology and Literacy mailing list
Technology at nifl.gov
To unsubscribe or change your subscription settings, please go to
http://www.nifl.gov/mailman/listinfo/technology
Email delivered to nfriday at alphaplus.ca


===========================================================
Nancy Friday
AlphaRoute Coordinator
AlphaPlus Centre (http://alphaplus.ca)
Telephone: (416) 322-1012 x.305
Fax: 1-800-788-1417
TTY: 1-800-788-1912
nancy.friday at alphaplus.ca
============================================================


----------------------------------------------------
National Institute for Literacy
Technology and Literacy mailing list
Technology at nifl.gov
To unsubscribe or change your subscription settings, please go to
http://www.nifl.gov/mailman/listinfo/technology
Email delivered to wbquinones at comcast.net




----------------------------------------------------
National Institute for Literacy
Technology and Literacy mailing list
Technology at nifl.gov
To unsubscribe or change your subscription settings, please go to
http://www.nifl.gov/mailman/listinfo/technology
Email delivered to lpetty at twmi.rr.com






--
*********************************
Leslie Petty
Associate Director, Project IDEAL
University of Michigan
Institute for Social Research
734-425-0748
----------------------------------------------------
National Institute for Literacy
Technology and Literacy mailing list
Technology at nifl.gov
To unsubscribe or change your subscription settings, please go to
http://www.nifl.gov/mailman/listinfo/technology
Email delivered to mhefner at cccti.edu



-------------------------------------------------------------------------
-----


----------------------------------------------------
National Institute for Literacy
Technology and Literacy mailing list
Technology at nifl.gov
To unsubscribe or change your subscription settings, please go to
http://www.nifl.gov/mailman/listinfo/technology
Email delivered to steve_quann at worlded.org
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lincs.ed.gov/pipermail/technology/attachments/20070628/10ebc89b/attachment.htm
-------------- next part --------------


----------------------------------------------------
National Institute for Literacy
Technology and Literacy mailing list
Technology at nifl.gov
To unsubscribe or change your subscription settings, please go to
http://www.nifl.gov/mailman/listinfo/technology
Email delivered to nfriday at alphaplus.ca


===========================================================
Nancy Friday
AlphaRoute Coordinator
AlphaPlus Centre (http://alphaplus.ca)
Telephone: (416) 322-1012 x.305
Fax: 1-800-788-1417
TTY: 1-800-788-1912
nancy.friday at alphaplus.ca
============================================================