Tuesday, 31 May 2011

E-tivity examples and resources

Struggling a bit with our current task to design an e-tivity (or sequence of e-tivities? - I'm not quite clear) for our tutor group, so I thought I'd take some inspiration from what's out there already...

Source: http://edutechwiki.unige.ch/en/E-tivity
E-tivity 1 (related to Stage 1- Access & Motivation)
Purpose - to be able to access the VLE Asynchronous Discussion tool
Task - to post an initial message introducing yourself to others
Interaction - the e-tutor checks that students can access and provide feedback for motivation.
E-tivity 2 (related to Stage 2 - Online Socialisation)
Purpose - to introduce yourself to others in your group
Task - to post a message introducing a topic of the student's choice via the Conference Room tool
Interaction - contributions from others in the group within a 'threaded' discussion. Participation and summary by e-tutor.
E-tivity 3 (related to Stage 4 - Knowledge Construction)
Purpose - to analyse your preferred methods of learning and to consider alternative processes or models
Task - to post thoughts on a particular piece of reading on learning methods
Interaction - others members of the group provide their own interpretations and thoughts. E-tutor moderate and summarise.

Source: https://www.dlsweb.rmit.edu.au/toolbox/elearntrainassess/toolbox/resources/e_space/e_facilitator/advice/sample/sample.htm
A nice little widget (or a text download equivalent) offering several examples of e-tivities at each of Salmon's 5 stages of the e-moderation framework.

Source: http://www.scribd.com/doc/38734622/e-Tivities-Game-Based-Approach
An example of using email-based games as e-tivities.

Source: http://e.foi.hr/engwiki/index.php/Pool_of_e-tivities
Links to examples of e-tivities from language education

Resources relating to e-tivities:

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Developing socialisation - a counter view to Salmon's e-tivities

The development of socialisation in an on-line learning environment’, Jones, N. and Peachey, P. (2004)

This paper takes a critical view of Salmon’s five-stage model and questions the validity and usefulness of all the stages as they are presently described by Salmon. It is also an example of a small-scale piece of ethnographic research and evaluation.

The paper describes a number of iterations of an e-moderating course, developed to support teachers/lecturers new to computer-mediated communication. The course adopted a constructivist approach, with social dialogue as an essential feature of the pedagogy.

At Stage 1 (of Salmon's framework) a face-to-face induction workshop was held. This allowed familiarisation with the VLE and for students to experience initial message posting and sharing. 

Each time the course was presented, a relatively high level of informal interactivity was observed at Stage 1, which was followed by a significant drop at Stage 2. It then slightly increased at Stage 3, as would be expected of Salmon's framework. This suggests that there was not strong evidence of the formation of an effective online community during Stage 2, and that the intended socialization which underpins an effective community did not emerge. The authors argue that this is because effective socialization in fact emerged during Stage 1 due to the effective design of induction sessions. Given this success, Salmon's recommendations for Stage 2 e-tivity design may need to focus more on maintaining motivation than on socialization.

Take away thoughts
  • Stephenson and Coomey (2001) - promoting dialogue, and the consequent development of learning communities are important factors contributing to success of online courses.
  • "Social factors as well as intellectual factors are important in e-learning"
  • Development ins elearning have "not provided practicing educators with the wherewithal to reconstitute and embed constructivst ideas within their personal philosophies and teaching practices" (Bonk, 2003).
  • "... for effective learning, the skills of the moderator are more important than the features of the software tools being used..." (Alexander and Boud, 2001).
  • There are contrasting views on whether the socialization stage of a course can/should be carried out entirely online (advocated by Salmon, 2000), or partly face-to-face (advocated by Mason, 2002, who argues that this is one of the 'most important' features of successful online courses.

Jones, N. and Peachey, P. (2004) ‘The development of socialisation in an on-line learning environment’, paper given at the American Educational Research Association Annual Meeting in 2004 [online] http://www.ncolr.org/jiol/issues/viewarticle.cfm?volID=3&IssueID=12&ArticleID=14 (Accessed 10 February 2011).

Alexander and Boud (2001), Bonk (2003), Mason (2002) all cited by Jones and Peachey (2004).

E-tivities - integrated into a campus-university module

‘The integration and implementation of a range of “e-tivities” to enhance students’ interaction and learning’, Pavey, J. and Garland, S.W. (2004)

This is a case study of a UK sport science course that used Salmon’s framework to enhance student interaction.

The authors used Salmon’s five-stage framework to develop their e-tivities, and suggest a template which can be used to map the particular aspects of an activity against each of Salmon’s five stages:
Stage in Salmon's model          Activity
1. Access and motivations Instructions given in face to face session. E-tivity objectives set. Encouraged to familiarise selves with the technology.
2. Online socializationFamiliarization task. Information information exchange encouraged.
3. Information exchangeDiscussion board introduced - allocated tasks using synchronous and asynchronous discussion.
4. Knowledge constructionOnline information gathering, quizzes and discussions - the main part of the e-tivities.
5. DevelopmentOngoing discussion boards with tutor moderation as required. 
The e-tivities developed for this course were delivered through the Blackboard VLE, which was also new to the students/course at the time. Plenty of familiarisation and orientation time was therefore built in to the programme before students were required to engage in the course-specific learning e-tivities. Four e-tivities were developed:
  • formative quizzes - based on a range of online resources and readings, and which provided automated marking and feedback (e.g. drag and drop labelling of anatomical diagrams) 
  • interactive web pages and animations - animations of complex processes, helps students to understand concepts 
  • topic discussions - using asynchronous discussion board. 
  • an online 'lecture' - 90 minute online tutorial using synchronous discussion with students participating in small groups at a number of shared PCs.
Take-away thoughts
  • "Students have ample time to read other students' comments, do research and formulate a detailed response" (Clark, 2001)
  • "Providing guidelines for online activity should be rated as an important criterion for keeping online discussions 'on-topic'." (Beaudin, 1999)
  • Examples of such guidelines for communication are given, and include that groups nominate a spokesperson, that messages should only be posted when invited, that all messages must be directly relevant, and that participation is mandatory.
  • Importance of sufficient time to become comfortable with the technology, and that this is carried out separately to the main activities - "this approach supports the work of Salmon (2000) who found that students need to feel competent about how to use a VLE before they are comfortable with exchanging ideas and information".
  • The tutor can sometimes serve best by staying silent (Rohfeld and Hiemstra, 1995) as the effort of learning is passed to the students, individually and as a community. This approach has been demonstrated to be effective in increasing critical thinking and active learning (Hughes & Daykin, 2002)
  • Tutoring skills include knowing when to stay silent, weaving and summarizing ideas, asking the right questions (not necessarily giving answers), providing consistent support, and introducing and integrating activities into the module.
  • 83% of the students felt that web-based material should be developed for other modules... but 69% did not find the online lecture/group chat was a worthwhile experience as an alternative to face-to-face delivery. I wondered whether this might be due to technical challenges, discomfort at potential exposure in front of peers, or an underlying expectation that 'lectures' are didactic rather than constructivist in approach. My own experience has often shown students wanting to be told the answer, and finding it uncomfortable if they are required to construct knowledge more independently or collaboratively. 
  • The paper argues that online discussions might provide a means for students who prefer not to ask questions in front of their peers or lecturer - while this may be true, my gut feeling is that online fora still provide plenty of opportunities for a shy student to feel uncomfortable. They are (usually) still identifiable to the other participants, and there may even be heightened concerns regarding the fact that any comment made may be archived, prolonging the 'agony' of any 'embarrassing' comment or faux pas. 
  • The authors considered that the asynchronous and synchronous discussions were the most innovative aspects of the developments presented. Compared to our current Open University experience on H807 (in 2011), it's hard to feel that this is innovative. However, the paper is from 2004, and more importantly refers to a campus-based module. I think that incorporation of such online discussion in a campus-taught class today may well still be viewed as innovative.
Pavey, J. and Garland, S.W. (2004) ‘The integration and implementation of a range of “e-tivities” to enhance students’ interaction and learning’, Innovations in Education and Teaching International, vol.41, no.3, pp.305–15.

Clark (2001), Beaudin (1999), Rohfeld and Hiemstra (1995), Hughes and Daykin (2002) all cited by Pavey and Garland (2004).

Salmon’s five-stage model

Salmon (2002) has coined the term ‘e-tivity’ to describe ‘a framework for active and interactive learning’ (Salmon, 2002, p.1). She argues that participants in online learning groups need to be supported in a structured way through a learning ‘event’, and that it is when this structure is absent that online learning fails.

Salmon suggests that all interactive learning activities should be:
  • motivating, engaging and purposeful
  • based on interaction between people – individuals and groups and resources
  • designed and led by someone who understands their role and has learned the skills of online conference moderation
  • simple, low cost and easy to run
  • reusable.
The key features of e-tivities are:
  • a ‘spark’ – stimulus, challenge, task, problem
  • an online activity – students have to DO something
  • a participative element – students have to respond
  • a summary, feedback or critique – from the group or tutor
  • guidelines – instructions for the activity, an invitation to take part.
Salmon’s five stages are:

Students begin at stage 1 where they require maximum technical and e-moderator support. As they progress, they develop in their online interactions, gradually developing and strengthening the learning community, requiring less support, and engaging more in personal and community knowledge construction. Salmon’s five-stage framework provides the scaffolding structure for learning and, she argues, each of the five stages requires different kinds of activities.