INTE 6720

The Merri-Weathers represent the spectrum of online teachers. Tammie ‘Vail’, an early childhood instructor at Colorado Mesa University, designs both online and on-site courses. Jennifer works with K12 as an online instructor, and Alicia is a wanna-be designer/instructor of online higher ed courses. Our mutual interests lie in the variety of components that make up great online learning experiences for our students.

Do elearning designs that focus on creativity increase learner motivation?

Background

Traditionally, instructors design class assignments around pre-determined themes, structure and formats leaving little opportunity for creative expression. With the surplus of multi-media design apps now available, educators might develop assignments that allow students to take a more autonomous and creative means to show understanding. Does this type of design tap into the elusive motivation of the learner?

Problem Statement

Stimulating student motivation to participate in learning has consistently taxed instructors from all educational settings.

Participants

  • K-12 and Higher Ed. online instructors
  • K-12 online students
  • University distance learners

Methods

  • Individual student surveys
  • Teacher observation surveys

Impact

Ultimately, the results might offer insights into what motivates learners thereby improving instructional designs in a variety of ‘classroom’ settings.

Does social media inclusion in assignments help students to connect and learn more than traditional online classrooms?

Background

Traditionally, online classrooms are self-contained. Students must learn to navigate them but once the course is completed they do not have access to information that was shared within the classroom. Currently the majority of students use social media to connect and keep up with current trends on a daily basis. Can including this type of interaction, which will continue to be available after the course ends, help students learn and retain more?

Problem Statement

Students lose access to other students and the shared information after the course ends..

Participants

  • Higher Ed. online instructors
  • Higher Ed.  online students
  • University distance learners (in our class)

Methods

  • Individual student surveys
  • Teacher observation surveys

Impact

The goal is to identify if it is worth it for instructors to include a variety of different social media into their course to engage the learner and give them resources that they can use later on..

How does the structure of an online game affect learning?

Background

Some games used in the classroom are prefaced as fun while others are prefaced as educational. Most games used in the education field are meant to teach the students about a concept or idea. Teachers often present the games as educational and students seem to immediately disengage from it. Perhaps if teachers prefaced the game as a reward or just for fun game the students would be more motivated and actually learn more from it.

Problem Statement

Students learn more from games perceived as “fun” rather than games perceived as “educational.

Participants

  • K-12 and Higher Ed. online instructors
  • K-12 online students
  • University distance learners

Methods

  • Individual student surveys
  • Teacher observation surveys

Impact

Ultimately, the results might offer insights into what types of games help students learn more about any given subject.

5 comments

  1. Hi Merri-Weathers,
    All of your topics sounds like rewarding research challenges and I am excited to see which direction you go with them. Your second topic really struck me as interesting. In the background of this topic, your team wonders whether or not social media will create connections that will continue to promote learning and retention after the class is over. This point seems more important than the inability to access material from the class. Productive relationships are harder to save than pdf or screenshot.
    Your problem statement is clear and straightforward, but I wonder if you will have time to measure how effective social media has been after the course, given the limitation of this semester. You may consider how collaboration using social media impacts continued collaboration later within the same course.
    I wonder if the different age groups each of you works with will impact the value of these continued relationships. I think this may be an important factor you may want to consider. K12 students may learn to productively use social media, where as you may find that higher ed students are already using it on their own terms to collaborate or continue working relationships.
    I am not completely clear on what information you hope to gather with the surveys. Will you be looking for social media usage numbers or more qualitative data or both. I would imagine your student surveys would be the most valuable but it may be interesting to see how teacher and student perception differ on the subject.
    I noticed that you didn’t mention any negative impacts. From experience, I feel that spreading students too thin over multiple platforms may cause the students lose focus on the learning.

  2. This feedback relates to your third inquiry possibility: How does the structure of an online game affect learning?

    Background:
    Your question is clear, but after I read the “Background” statement, I think it’s out of alignment with your inquiry. Your question asks about the “structure” of the game, while your inquiry is really about how the student’s “perceive” the game. A game’s structure has little to do with how it perceived by the students. I would argue that a “educational” game can be perceived as “fun” and a recreational game could be perceived as “educational.”
    What you’re really seeking to do is discover what types of games engage student’s in learning (as stated in your “Impact” section). I would recommend you re-write the question around this goal.
    Have any of you taken INTE 5830 – Games and Learning? In it I learned that the “fun” factor has a lot to do with the outcome of the game being under the player’s control. In other words, if the player is allowed to fail at the game and get a terrible score, it can be just as fun (and educational) as if they ace the game. This might be a way of framing the “fun factor” of a game.

    Problem statement or opportunity:
    Are you really stating a problem? Why shouldn’t a student learn more from a game that is “fun?” Can’t an educational game be fun? I would challenge you to reframe your problem statement in terms of the student’s perception. Maybe reword it something like, “If a student perceives a game as ‘educational,’ it they don’t engage with the game fully.” This might be a rich perspective from with to conduct your inquiry because perception is governed by all sorts of social and environmental factors.
    I worry a little that your topic is too broad to complete in a semester. Will you ask your participants about specific games? If so, I think focusing on a few games would help you limit the scope of your project. SimCity (and related “Sim” games) are some of my favorite educational games that can be quite engaging. Plus a lot of people have played them, so “Sim players” might be a large pool of people to study. Plus, some may perceive the Sim games as “educational” and some may perceive them as “fun.”

    Participants:
    You have access to a wide array of learners. I think your challenge will be to focus on which learners you are studying. Trying to study K-12 all the way up to University-level learners would be a huge undertaking. It would be hard to get a representative sample, as described by Segor, and the validity of your inquiry may be on shaky ground. You might want to choose a specific age group or class of students to limit the scope of your inquiry.

    Data collection methods:
    According to your description, you plan on relying solely on surveys for data collection. However, according to Stinger (2007), “Surveys are of limited utility in the first phases of an action research process” (p. 78). I would highly recommend exploring other data collection methods and triangulating your findings.
    What is your for data collection plan? Your project description offers no details about this.

    Positive and negative impact:
    Your impact statement is succinct.
    So, what challenges do you anticipate? I would suggest your biggest challenges are to limit the scope of your inquiry, and develop a plan to validate your findings.

    References:
    Stringer, Ernest (2007). Action Research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

  3. Alicia, Jennifer and Tammie,

    Background: I am also pursing an additional certification in Online Teaching, so I find your areas of inquiry very relevant and interesting! I feel that your preliminary topics are a good fit for all three of you.

    Problem Statement or Opportunity: In regards to Question 2, I wish you would elaborate a bit more. In what ways to students lose access to each other? I feel like social media tools prevent that from happening…

    Participants: Our readings have shown that is important to interact with multiple stakeholders; you have included K-12 and Higher Ed. online instructors, K-12 online students, and University distance learners- well done.

    Data Collection Methods: I agree with Joe’s comment and Stringer’s findings.

    Positive and Negative Impact for Q1: The phrasing moved me to look up the following quote from Stringer, “This new vision rejects the mindless application of standardized practices across all settings and contexts,” (Chapter 1- no page number on my Kindle, sorry).

    Positive and Negative Impact for Q2: Perhaps you can identify the specific social media tools you will include in your research, as these platforms- and technology in general- are in a constant state of change.

    Positive and Negative Impact for Q3: Ditto for Q2.

    I look forward to following your research and applying your findings to my future online teaching!

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