THEME - A Multipart Series: Technology Support Issues...
UPFRONT -What Support Solutions, Ideas and Tips Do You Have to Offer
FOCUS -Informal Support - Robert Oehlkers
FROM THE DISTANCE EDUCATION CLEARINGHOUSE: NETNEWS -Group Videoconferencing Workshops
UW CAMPUS HILIGHTS - UW Campus Information
NEW TECH TRENDS - Extreme Training Needed? Biometric Security Systems, Gigamachines by the Millenium, Live Picture Offers Improved Web Viewing, Horizon Live Distance
NEW READING -Dancing With the Devil: IT and the New Competition in Higher Ed, A New Monthly Magazine - 'Convergence'
NEW SAVINGS -Intel and Chrysler Save with Videoconferencing
ETC. -Can Linking Make You Liable? NSF Still Battling Over Internet Fund, The Intelligent Essay Assessor, Feds Revise Y2K Estimate, EDUCAUSE Offers Y2K Site, Invisible Worlds to Map the Internet
NEW ON THE LIST - New Subscribers This Month
FYI - News, Conferences and Institutes
ENDNOTE -Net Depression Revisited
SEPTEMBER ISSUE FOCUS - A Multipart Series: Technology Support Issues...Informal Support
If you look at Webster's definitions of support, you'll find among them the two noted above. Another definition of support is "to endure bravely" - something that support staff do day in and day out in the wake of emerging technologies and constantly changing situations.
Those of us who have been involved in distance education know that every area of support needs to be an integral part of every educational session. It needs to be integrated into the distance education plan from the beginning and it needs to be covered in the budget. Without support, effective programming just isn't possible. In the first article in the Support Series, we looked at the many areas of support in distance learning: scheduling, technical, instructional design, site, faculty, student, resources and special needs support. In the following articles, we focused specifically on the areas of Faculty and Student Support, Site Support and Library Resources. This month, Bob Oehlkers describes another type of support that, perhaps, you hadn't thought of - Informal Support.
Next month, to complete the series, we'll be compiling your Support Solutions, Ideas and Tips for the FOCUS article. So...
We'll be grouping them into four categories: Faculty Support, Student Support, Site Support and Resources Support. Send to: firstname.lastname@example.org and then look for them in the October FOCUS article. (Rosemary Lehman)
"Informal Learner Support"
Robert A. Oehlkers, Senior Instrumentation Technologist.
I was pleased when learner support became the focus of DESIEN Pleased because support has not received the attention it deserves considering the importance, and pleased personally because of the timing of this discussion. You see, I just completed my MS degree and thesis from UW Madison Continuing and Vocational Education (CAVE) in May. The rather long title of my thesis is "Learner Support Experienced by Registered Nurses in their First Semester of a Collaborative Distance RN-BSN Program: A Phenomenological Study".
As educators we typically visualize learner support as the support provided by the institutions of learning. The formal support structure of our educational institutions hopefully provides orientation, advising, counseling, site support, and library support to mention just some of the formal support elements. Not often discussed are the informal student supports that play a significant role in the lives of the distance learner. Under the category of informal support are supports such as the support of family and friends, peer support, workplace support, support by mentors, and self-support.
I always need to remind myself that support can be both positive and negative and support has an associated intensity. For example I may complain about my supervisor's negative or lukewarm support for my proposal to attend a January conference in Hawaii.
We probably all have come to realize that persistence by the adult learner in an educational program may have more to do with support received by family and friends than the quality of our program. And yes, negative support by the family may in some cases cause the learner to persist to effect the changes the learner seeks. However, positive support by the family is the focus here. Adults have multiple roles in today's society and the role of learner is but one of the many roles. As educators and program planners we can help families to be supportive. How can we be family friendly? We can be friendly by providing information about the educational program that family members can understand. We can develop brochures, videos, websites and host open houses to help family members understand what mom is doing on Wednesday night when she goes to class or why she spends so much time at home in front of the computer.
When an instructor is not on-site, learners often turn to their peers for support. We need to recognize the importance of peer support for the distance learner. We can foster and develop peer support by making class e-mail and telephone lists (with student's permission) available. We can encourage e-mail between learner to learner and learner to instructor and provide class time for collaborative projects to help learners work together. Providing adequate break-times for learners to socialize is one way to facilitate learners getting acquainted. In my study I learned that sites with only one participant can be lonely places. The learners expressed a sense of being disconnected, the need to talk to peers is important.
The learner's workplace can be an important source of emotional, financial, and educational support. We can encourage learners to talk with their coworkers and supervisors about their learning, and if applicable, have learners discuss and write about learning issues as applied to their work situation. Nurses in my study talked about coworkers asking how their classes were going and then volunteering to swap shifts to cover for them when the crunch of exams came.
An interesting paradox, I found employers were providing tuition reimbursements on the one hand while their supervisors were sabotaging the learner with unfriendly work schedules. Of course, the reverse was also true where the supervisors were providing positive support and the work institution's policies were negative, while all along still providing tuition reimbursement. Here again, the brochures, videos, web sites and open houses can be used to help inform those at the learner's workplace to hopefully improve the support.
It seems to me, especially where we provide educational opportunities for adults in business, engineering, health care, education and other professions, we as educators need to collaborate and actively work with the work place institutions for our mutual benefit and ultimately for the support of the learner.
A positive find from my study was the benefit of using mentors from the community. The Health Assessment course given by the UW Collaborative Nursing Program required that learners have a volunteer mentor. The mentor, a health professional watched and reviewed health assessment procedures performed by the learner at their local location. The nurses in my study report their mentor provided more than the eyes and ears for the instructor. The mentor was someone the nurses could talk to and get professional, emotional and moral support. I bet many programs and learners besides nursing could benefit from using volunteer mentors. Have you given any thought to using mentors in your programs?
Lastly, the learners still are the ones responsible for reading, writing papers and taking the exams. Much has been said in the adult learning arena about the self direction of adult learners. I think we know some learners are self directed and some are not; a lot depends on the context of the learning. I may be a terrific self directed learner in computer programming but learning statistics may be another story. The point is, we as educators need to encourage self support in our learners but realize support from us and others is a necessity. Informal supports, often overlooked can play an important role in the life of the learner, I know because sixteen nurses graciously gave their time to tell me about the support they received.
"Group Videoconferencing Workshops"
Michele Jacques, ICS Information Resources Manager
If you are interested in teaching via videoconferencing, please visit a new Web site which describes two workshops for teachers and trainers. The Instructional Design Team of Instructional Communications Systems (ICS), University of Wisconsin-Extension has developed these workshops. You can access information about them at: www.uwex.edu/disted/training
"The Orientation Workshop" is for those new to videoconferencing and will help you and your organization acquire basic videoconferencing knowledge and skills. "Creating Interactive Teaching Strategies" is an advanced videoconferencing workshop that will help you and your organization develop in-depth knowledge and skills needed for creating and implementing successful videoconference presentations, programs and courses. Both workshops are designed to be customized to your particular needs and situation.
Other videoconferencing references and links to additional resources are available on the Distance Education Clearinghouse in the Compressed Videoconferencing section located at: www.uwex.edu/disted/compvid.html
Michele Jacques-ICS, UWEX
Distance Education Clearinghouse
Information Resources Manager
(Send campus distance education HILIGHTS to: email@example.com)
UW-EXTENSION - ICS - Course information for the winter/spring 1999 Catalog of Distance Learning can now be submitted. UW System institutions offering courses via any distance education technology are encouraged to submit information for the catalog. The Catalog of Distance Learning is published both on the Web and in print by Instructional Communications Systems, UW-Extension. The home page of the Web version of the catalog has received more than 6,000 hits per month every month since January. In July, the home page received 7,195 hits - the largest number to date.
There is a form on the Web to submit courses for inclusion in the catalog at: www.uwex.edu/disted/forms
We are also developing a separate page within the catalog with a listing of degree programs offered via distance education. If your campus is offering any degree programs please contact Milly Jones at ICS 608-262-3772 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and we will be happy to provide a link to the Web site for the program and a brief description of the program. We will also list individual courses within the program in the course listing section.
The deadline for courses to be included in the printed version of the catalog is Friday, October 2. The Web catalog will be available after October 9. The print catalog will be available by mid-December. ICS distributes over 25,000 copies of the catalog to locations throughout Wisconsin and the U.S., including UW-Extension offices, public libraries and to past program participants.
UW-MADISON - The Department of Learning Technology and Distance Education (LTDE) at DoIT is announcing a mini-grant program as a part of a pilot test of WebCT - an integrated web-based learning system. The pilot test has been underway since Summer. Fourteen classes are in various stages of development with WebCT. Currently eight UW Madison courses are using WebCT with students. For the next phase of the pilot test, LTDE is offering a mini-grant of $250 to cover student help, software and other computer services. Training on WebCT will also be provided. LTDE has funds for approximately 20 projects.
For more information about WebCT see the WebCT homepage: http://homebrew.cs.ubc.ca/webct/webct.h tml. To preview WebCT go to http://courses.doit. wisc.edu:8900/public/AboutLearning/index.html and create a guest account to see what part of a course could look like and to use WebCT tools, or contact Carol Schramm at: at: email@example.com, 265-9111. WebGrant III Announcements are scheduled to be mailed this week to Department Chairs, with a copy to the Department Secretary and Dean. Grants will be in the amount of $750. Applications will go to the Department Chair who will select up to two to forward to LTDE for funding consideration. Proposal deadline is October 15.
For further information, call the LTDE department at 262-5667 or send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit the Web Grants Web page for a copy of the announcement, resources, training dates etc: http://www.wisc.edu/learntech/grants/webgrnts.htm
UW-SYSTEM - Curricular Redesign Grants are still available for 1998-99. Proposals are requested for projects to be supported by UW-System Curricular Redesign Funds. The purpose of this fund is to support curriculum redesign and related faculty and staff development in the effective use of technology in teaching and learning within the UW System. For more information about the grants, please visit the Learning Technology Development Council (LTDC) web page at http:/www.uwsa.edu/olit/ltdc/index.htm and click onto "RFP" under "What's New?"
NEW TECH TRENDS
EXTREME TRAINING NEEDED? "While we can point to innovations in CBT, Online Learning and Performance Support, are there any RADICAL or EXTREME approaches to training being developed and implemented?" asks Elliott Masie of the Masie Institute.
"It is time for the training industry to look at EXTREME measures. What can we do, as a field, to develop extreme new models for delivering workplace (and educational) training and performance?" Masie's Conference, TechLearn '98 (November 15 - 18, 1998 in Orlando, Florida), plans to host a session called Extreme Training. The purpose of this brainstorming session will be to explore dramatic new models for training. The results will be published after the Conference. If you would like to highlight your projects or ideas for Extreme Training, send an email to: email@example.com (TechLearn Trends #72- 29 Sept 98)
BIOMETRIC SECURITY SYSTEMS - The advent of low-cost, high-power PCs is making it possible to implement biometric security systems without spending a lot of extra money. Compaq is now offering a $99 fingerprint reader as a peripheral for its Deskpro PC line; and voice recognition and facial verification technologies are also becoming more affordable. "A little software, some hardware, 8-bit digitization, a $1.50 microphone and you have some pretty discriminating (voice-recognition) technology," says Wendt. "Facial-verification technology can be implemented for less than $50." (TechWeb 3 Sep 98)
GIGAMACHINES BY THE MILLENNIUM - Tomorrow's computer users will need more computer power as they begin to take advantage of technologies such as speech software and voice e-mail. According to the VP and general manager at Intel, they'll want a gigahertz machine for multimedia, three-dimensional graphics, continuous speech input, visualization and videoconferencing. Intel also plans to introduce 'constant computing' to utilize the unused idle power. Meanwhile, a researcher at IBM predicts that by the millennium, 50 million people will be using speech software to control their computers. You'll be able to ask your browser to find you things on penguins in Antarctica or dictate your emails, which will be multimedia; so instead of dictating the text you could record your voice and it would automatically arrive at either the recipient's PC or telephone. People will realize that voice is more valuable than the same words recorded as text." (Financial Times 23 Sep 98)
LIVE PICTURE OFFERS IMPROVED WEB VIEWING - Live Picture Inc., a Campbell, California startup backed by former Apple CEO John Sculley, is planning to market software that makes it easier to view graphically sophisticated documents, such as brochures, catalogs and newsletters, by converting Adobe Acrobat files into a simpler format that doesn't require extra software to use. Sculley is pushing a "network-printing" approach to documents with information that changes frequently, such as sales brochures, noting that as much as 30% are wasted each year because they're out of date by the time they're needed. Live Picture has endorsements from Sun Microsystems and Canon Inc., but faces stiff competition from Hewlett-Packard, which is said to be developing its own, similar solution to the problem. (Wall Street Journal 1 Sep 98)
HORIZON LIVE DISTANCE LEARNING - Horizon, based in New York, is a leader in providing interactive group learning and collaboration solutions on the Internet. Horizon connects geographically dispersed individuals via Web browser allowing real-time virtual group meetings in a classroom atmosphere. The system, which eliminates costly business expenses, allows organizations to feature live instructor-led training anytime worldwide. Horizon Live Distance Learning Inc., previously a subsidiary of i/o 360 Digital Design, Inc. was spun off as a separate corporation in March, 1998. Current clients and trial customers include Reuters, Prentice-Hall, Computer Sciences Corporation, Amdahl, Financial Courseware, Process Sciences and a major credit card company, among others.
TRISTRATA SECURITY SOFTWARE - TriStrata Security Inc. has developed a new approach to encrypting computer files that it claims is hundreds of times faster than conventional cryptographic techniques, which rely on mathematical algorithms and their "keys." The TriStrata approach was inspired by a concept where each letter of a message is changed to a code by an addition process determined by randomly generated numbers. In the old days, spies kept code books containing pages of random numbers, but today's computers are powerful enough to generate a set of random numbers so large that the same set can be used in every server that manages encryption operations. In its demonstration, TriStrata was able to use its software to encrypt a standard word-processing file in one-hundredth of a second. Larger files containing video, for instance, can be scrambled the moment they're sent over the Web. In its endorsement of the new software, PricewaterhouseCoopers says it will use the TriStrata product for its internal communications and the accounting firm is setting up a business to help other companies install and use it. (Wall Street Journal 8 Sep 98)
DANCING WITH THE DEVIL: Information Technology and the New Competition in Higher Ed - This new book is a collection of essays, published by EDUCAUSE. With information technology and distance education rapidly becoming new modes of learning, institutions can no longer rely only on traditional methods to survive and prosper. In Dancing With the Devil, seven highly respected and knowledgeable leaders examine the challenges facing all types of campuses. They address themes dealing with: competition from for-profit providers; building a powerful technological infrastructure on campus; changing restrictive structures to reward; encouraging and managing technological innovation and finding the money to fund these kinds of transformations. Each author offers guidance based on the belief that higher education can successfully confront these challenges in a spirit of renewal. (Jossey-Bass Publishers, Fall Book Listing)
A NEW MONTHLY MAGAZINE 'CONVERGE' - 'Converge' published its first issue in September. The magazine focuses on education and technology. It looks at all levels of education and all varieties of technology. Articles address distance education, as well as, information technology. For more information and a free subscription go to: http://www.convergemag.com
INTEL AND CHRYSLER SAVE WITH VIDEOCONFERENCING - Intel expects to save $25 million in travel costs over the next year, thanks to new videoconferencing equipment it will be using to conduct business overseas without having to leave the office. Chrysler has already saved $4.9 million with similar technology. During the past year, more than half its members used videoconferencing as a way to cut costs, up from 27% in 1996. (Conde Nast Traveler, Sept, 1998)
CAN LINKING MAKE YOU LIABLE? - If your Web site links to a site that links to a third site and the third site contains illegal reproductions of copyrighted material, can you be sued for damages? So far, the answer is no, because Los Angeles Federal District Court Judge Manuel A. Real dismissed one of the defendants from a case brought by Hollywood glamour photographer Gary Bernstein, charging that such linking is illegal. After the judge's ruling, Bernstein withdrew his lawsuit, but legal experts say the issue will come up for court review another day. Law professor Mark Lemley says that "the consequences of holding an end user liable for copyright infringement would be disturbing for the Net... It might deter surfing. It might also give some unscrupulous groups the power to suppress speech or critics." (New York Times 25 Sep 98)
NSF STILL BATTLING OVER INTERNET FUND - The National Science Foundation is confronting a new challenge from Congress over plans to spend the $60 million collected by Network Solutions Inc. as part of the registration fee paid for Internet domain name addresses. The latest obstacle came when the Senate Finance Committee announced it is considering repealing part of a 1998 law that had cleared the way for the NSF to spend the money, which up until then had been locked up in a court proceeding. "This would put a wrench in the plans we have to help universities connect to high-speed networks," says the deputy director of NSF's office of legislative and public affairs. "There seems to be a problem brewing." The money has been earmarked for the Clinton administration's Next Generation Internet initiative. (Chronicle of Higher Education 25 Sep 98)
THE INTELLIGENT ESSAY ASSESSOR - A psychology professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder is spearheading the creation of an Intelligent Essay Assessor, a computerized tool to assist professors in grading students' written essays. Thomas Landauer says that to use the program, a professor must first teach it to recognize both good and bad essay writing by feeding it examples of both, which have been manually graded. The program can also be trained using a "gold standard" - materials written by experts on the same subject as the essay to be graded. Earlier digital essay graders work by analyzing essays mechanically - looking at sentence structures and counting commas, periods and word lengths. Landauer's program can actually "understand" the student's writing using artificial intelligence technology called "latent semantic analysis," comparing the patterns of word usage in the essays with the usage patterns it has learned from the samples. The Intelligent Essay Assessor is *not* meant to be used to grade essays in English-composition or creative-writing assignments, where a student is being graded more on writing skill than subject knowledge. (Chronicle of Higher Education 4 Sep 98)
FEDS REVISE Y2K ESTIMATE - The federal government's Year 2000 Conversion Panel now says it will cost the government at least $5.4 billion to reprogram its computers for solving the Year 2000 problem caused by old programs that used two-digit year codes leaving a computer not knowing what century it's in. This new estimate is about $400 million higher than the last one. (New York Times 6 Sep 98)
EDUCAUSE OFFERS Y2K SITE - EDUCAUSE is offering campus administrators access to more than two dozen institutional Y2K sites via a Web page that also offers links to the U.S. Department of Education and other related sites, see: http://www.educause.edu/issues/y2k.html . (Chronicle of Higher Education 4 Sep 98)
INVISIBLE WORLDS TO MAP THE INTERNET - Internet software developers Carl Malamud and Marshall Rose have founded Invisible Worlds, Inc. with the goal of creating a way to navigate the Internet using maps that portray the relationships between computers and information as three-dimensional space. "We think you should be able to take your mouse or joystick and drive around the Internet," says Malamud. "One of the reasons the Web seems so chaotic is there is no way to see it visually." The navigational tools, which will be available some time next year, will be known as the Blocks protocol. Initially, users will view the interactive maps using their Web browsers, but Malamud hopes to someday offer map-viewing software with more powerful visualization features. Malamud traces his inspiration to the work of such writers as Thomas Pynchon, whose "Mason & Dixon" novel celebrates the role that the cartographer can play in defining uncharted territory. (New York Times 23 Sep 98)
NEW ON THE LIST -
WELCOME to: Michel Gelobter, Jason Corry, Sherry Garcia, Javier Garcia, Becky Telford, Katherine Amos, Patty Lins, Dale Wilson, Dulce Cruz, Victor Rivera, David Discenza, James Herzberg, Roman Hasko, Javier Garcia, A Arafat, Mary Hayes, Peggy Jacobson, Anne Porter, Kelvin Saldern, Susan Sutlo, Ivan Kampel, Elizabeth Yoon, Rukesh Patel, Ann Li, Jan Richards, Ken Sauer, Dick Cleek, Jorgen Wollsten, MA Miller, Mark Weinberg, Ed Stredulinsky, Dale Soules, Hillary Frazey, Cary Komoto and Mark Peterson.
News, Conferences, Institutes
To learn about Funding Distance Learning and the New Media, tune in October 21, 2:00-4:00 pm ET via satellite or on your PC to hear Arlene Krebs, author of The Distance Learning Funding Sourcebook, Ken Salomon, attorney, Down Lohnes & Alberson and Richard Hezel, author Educational Telecommunications: The State-by-State Analysis. Registration Fee is $175 for CCSN, CRD & NUTN members; $275 all others. Register by calling CCSN at 101-728-0200 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reminder - CAUSE98 conference, "The Networked Academy," is scheduled for December 8-11, 1998, Seattle, Washington. For more information see: http://www.educause.edu/conference/c98/c98.html
The program committee is seeking proposals for presentation at the Stop Surfing - Start Teaching 1999 National Conference: Teaching and Learning Through The Internet. The conference will be held February 21-24, 1999 at Ocean Creek Resort in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Proposal guidelines and Registration Information can be obtained by going to: www.sc.edu/conted/ssst.htm
NET DEPRESSION REVISITED - Remember the Carnegie Mellon University Net Depression Study released last month? A number of researchers, including Vanderbilt University's Donna L. Hoffman, are criticizing the study that suggested that the Net may be a lonely place, causing depression in many people who used it extensively for e-mail, chat and similar purposes. Noting that the subjects of the study were not randomly selected (and not matched with a scientific "control" group of people who didn't use the Net but were otherwise like the people in the study), Hoffman says the CMU research is "not ready for prime time. This is not saying that Internet does not cause depression. Maybe it does - but this research does not prove that." She adds that the CMU finding is hard to believe because it runs "counter to experience, anecdotal evidence, practice and scholarly research." (Washington Post 7 Sep 98)
OCTOBER ISSUE FOCUS - Last in a Multipart Series: Technology Support Issues...Subscriber Support Tips
DESIEN ARCHIVE: An Archive has been created for past issues and interaction comments. Locate at: http://www.uwex.edu/disted/desien/
DESIEN has been created to encourage information exchange and discussion of distance education issues concerned with: 1) UW Systemwide distance education progress and institution course/program development, 2) faculty/team development, 3) technology, 4) policy, 5) funding and 6) research. List recipients outside of the UW System are also welcome to join in with information contributions and discussion.
Distance Education Clearinghouse
Instructional Design at Instructional Communications Systems
Training for Videconferencing
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Last Updated: January 2006