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Module A ButtonTopic A7.2: Identifying and Assessing Available Technologies

Answering the Question "What"
This brings us to our next question: What? What are the technologies that will allow us to incorporate all essential components into our online or on-campus classroom?

To answer this question, we need to consider another form of grouping: synchronous versus asynchronous. The following sections provide lists of technologies that are typically found in course management systems (CMS) used to delivery online courses or to enhance campus-based courses.

Content Delivery technologies support the delivery, presentation, and/or exchange of instructional materials. Examples of technology that can be used for content delivery are listed below:

1) Synchronous
a. Virtual Reality
b. Simulation
c. Online whiteboard
d. Document sharing

2) Asynchronous
a. Web pages
b. Television
c. Video
d. Animation
e. Databases
f. Document sharing

Collaboration technologies foster communication and can be either synchronous or asynchronous. Some examples are listed below:

1) Synchronous
a. Chat
b. Teleconference
c. Videoconference
d. Online whiteboard

2) Asynchronous
a. Email
b. Email Lists
c. Usenet groups
d. Bulletin boards/discussions

Assessment/Assignment technologies provide the student the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge, skills, or abilities. Examples of such technology include the following:

1) Assessment - Asynchronous
a. Graded online quizzes and exams
b. Self assessment quizzes

2) Assignment delivery - Asynchronous
a. Web pages
b. Word processed documents
c. Spreadsheets
d. Presentations

Course Management technologies coordinate and facilitate the administrative aspects of teaching. For example, Asynchronous functions would include the following:

a. Grade Tracking and Delivery
b. Student Activity Tracking


Learning Activity III - Answering the Question "What"

Before selecting the technology that best suits your instructional needs, you need to explore what it takes to use these technologies and how they may or may not be effective. Conduct one or two interviews (either face-to-face or via an online discussion) with faculty who have used synchronous and/or asynchronous technologies and ask what they'd recommend.

Ask them questions such as these:

1) Why did you choose this technology?
2) What benefits do you think or know your students gained from using this technology?
3) What preparation did you have?
4) Were there any limitations?
5) What successes have you experienced?
6) What problems did you anticipate and what problems came up unexpected?
7) Did you experience any workload changes for yourself or your students? If so, how did you adjust for them?


Now, let's see how what you discovered compares to the research.

Check the Research
Dr. Barry Ellis, a professor at the University of Calgary and president of DETAC Corporation, presented a perspective on technology in teaching in a paper entitled "Virtual Classroom Technologies for Distance Education: The Case for On-line Synchronous Delivery,” presented at the North American Web Developers Conference in October 1997. In it, he discussed these topics:

1) The Concept of the Virtual Classroom
2) The Student Settings
3) Group versus Individual Model
4) Role of the Media
5) Teacher Preparation
6) Instructional Content
7) Features of a Typical Synchronous System
8) Working Solution, Tested Paradigm


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