Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Visual Collaboration

My research interest is in virtual teams in the workplace. Virtual teams are“teams that rely on information and communication technology for interaction”(Beng, 2007, p. 4). I believe that the technology that would have the greatest potential in virtual teams is visual collaboration. Visual collaboration is a process where two or more people work together in order to accomplish a common goal by relying on communicating through visual mediums.
In previous research that I have done I found that one of the factors that increases the success of a virtual team is face-to-face communication and visual collaboration can accomplish this (Sommer, 2010). Organizations now have the advantage of being able to use free software the allows for visual collaboration, like Skype, however there are also other alternatives that are fairly inexpensive that will allow organizations that utilize visual collaboration in virtual teams more effectively, like video conferencing.

There are potential problems for using visual collaboration in an organization. Unless the organization is certain that the network is secure the virtual team members may not want to discuss confidential information. As with any technology is may be difficult for the organization to convince their employees of the benefits of using the technology. There will most likely be a learning curve for the new technology as well.

The benefits of using visual collaboration in virtual workplace teams far exceed the costs. By having virtual teams in an organization utilize visual collaboration the chances of success of the team increases.

Above is a video that discusses a particular video collaboration software.

Beng, C. (2007). An investigationof the role of trust in virtual team management success (Doctoral thesis,Murdoch University, Perth, Australia). Retrieved fromhttp://scholar.lib.vt.edu/theses/
Sommer, N.(2010). An Analysis of Team Trust Building Behaviors in Virtual Workplace Teams. (Master thesis, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston, Illinois).

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

eLearning in K-12

Should K-12 adopt a new approach to learning?  With a graduation rate that is declining in Arizona, should radical steps be taken?  Below is a video that I find interesting on the topic. 

Do you think eLearning will be effective for K-12?


Rice (2006) provides a comprehensive examination of the literature surrounding eLearning in the K-12 setting.  He found that there are five types of K-12 online programs.  They are listed below with a brief description.
·         Statewide supplemental programs - students are enrolled in either a physical school or cyber school in the state and are taking an individual course online.
·         District-level supplemental programs - students take courses online that are operated by individual districts that are not state agencies.
·         Single-district cyber schools – students take courses online that are operated by individual districts that are not state agencies.
·         Multi-district cyber schools – students take courses online that are operated by individual districts that are not state agencies that allow students from other districts to attend as well.
·         Cyber charters – students take courses online that are operated by individual districts that allow students from across the state to attend as well.
Currently there is no research that has found that one type of K-12 online program is better than the others.  Each have their benefits, however the curriculum tends to be similar.
Blomeyer (2002) states that in order for eLearning to be effective in the K-12 setting there needs to be moderators that actively keep track of students learning and activities in the eLearning environment. 
So is this practical?  Would there still be a need for teachers, aka “moderators”?  Is eLearning in the K-12 setting going to save money or just put the same amount of money to different use?  There are so many issues to consider and the research is still limited.  Before I allow my children to take all of their K-12 courses online I need to see the research and evidence that shows it works and even after that I may still be skeptical.
Blomeyer, R. (2002) Online learning for K-12 students: What do we know now? Naperville, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. Retrieved April 23, 2012 from http://blomeyerandclemente.com/Documents/NCREL%20E-Learning%20Synthesis%20(rev.).pdf
Rice, K. (2006). A Comprehensive Look at Distance Education in K-12 Context. Journal of Research on Technology in Education. 38(4), 425-448.