Plagiarism in an Online Learning Environment Wk 6

With access to vast amounts of material at our fingertips thanks to the web there are many more opportunities to plagiarize however the web has also provided us with many tools that can help instructors detect plagiarism.

Some examples of plagiarism detection software include Turnitin, EVE among other pay for service type services (Jocoy, & DiBiase, 2006). Free services like Article Checker, Plagium, and one of my favorites Grammerly provide not only access for instructors to check but also for the learner submitting the work to check their work (“Top 20 best free”, 2017). Grammerly is great not only for checking work for plagiarism, intentional or unintentional, but also to help fix some common errors like vocabulary, grammar, and even content formatting errors (“Top 20 best free”, 2017).

Assessments can help to prevent instances of plagiarism in how they are designed. According to Hong Kong Polytech this includes setting clear expectations including around academic honesty and plagiarism (Assessment Design, 2008).

I can honestly say that in the many many online courses I have completed I have seen instructions built into the course, embedded in the rubrics, and in announcements posted by the specific instructor, to make sure to cite all sources properly in most if not all of my courses. Early on in my BS program the instructors were even more explicit in their instructions and most courses included information on the APA style that was the method being used in the course documents page.

I personally like using assessments that are based on an individuals specific work and less on questions that feel like I’m asking them to recite from a text book to answer. Using things like journals or case studies are a couple of examples (Assessment Design, 2008). When I am a learner I know I am getting the concept when I can relate it to something I have personally experienced or someone I know may have experienced. I think using a case study to assess a learner allows them to indicate their perception instead of feeling like they have to write an essay that extolls the technical nature of the learning.

Because of that I also have to be more careful because I am often writing my thoughts down and then checking back on the resources I read through to ensure I haven’t missed citing something, or I may jot a note down while reading the resources and the how it relates to something so I can go back and formulate when putting my assignment together.

I think the other thing that should be taught to learners at all ages and based on the context of their comprehension level is why plagiarism is wrong. For me I see it as doubly bad because it not only strips the author or authors of the work being used from credit for their own work, but it may also indicate that a learner either doesn’t understand the material and uses the authors words because he/she can’t come up with their own or in cases where its done intentionally why are you bothering to attend the course if you don’t intend to attempt to learn something? There are plenty of opportunities to get help if its needed and the information on how to properly cite a source is as available online as the material being used.

Resources:

Assessment Design to Prevent Plagiarism. (2008). The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. Retrieved from http://edc.polyu.edu.hk/PSP/Assessment%20Design.htm

Jocoy, C., & DiBiase, D. (2006). Plagiarism by Adult Learners Online: A case study in detection and remediation. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/242/466

Top 20 best free online plagiarism checker tools and websites {2017}. (2017). Retrieved from https://www.digitalgyd.com/top-20-best-online-plagiarism-checker-tools-free/

 

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Managing the Online Classroom: Part 1 (week 5)

Establishing a learning community that allows learners to take charge of their own learning while engaging with others, peers and instructor, in a supportive and engaging space is key to a successful online program (Boettcher, & Conrad, 2010). Technology and multimedia play a role in the online learning environment as the learners will be interacting with one another via several different technologies and often using multimedia tools.

Some key points to remember when engaging the technology for an online program the instructor should ensure that the technology is appropriate to the use (Laureate Education, 2010) . For example I took a course where the course was required to post all our assignments in blog format (not this course) where the topic of the course was far removed from technology and there was no benefit to the learners to create and maintain a blog where we also had to submit our assignments through a traditional tool that determined if we were providing original work. It was simply a way to use a technology in the course but it wasn’t an appropriate technology as working with blogs provided us no greater insight to the material and was more cumbersome for some of the learners who had limited experience blogging.

It is also important not to have too many technologies which will ultimately overwhelm the learners (Boettcher, & Conrad, 2010). I had a class where we had a chat space, a discussion board, and then used a virtual reality simulation for an additional meeting space. It was confusing which we were using for what aspect of the course and we actually lost two learners from our group because they just got too overwhelmed (their feedback to the group).

Additionally for an instructor managing an online course I would say two things are key for me at this time. First would be having a learning management system that provides the appropriate level of interaction and does what you need it to, which is something we are finding is a challenge at work. As technology advances our current LMS cannot keep up with our needs. A team was put together to assess options including having our current vendor provide the necessary enhancements. It was determined this is not an option with their current technological capabilities and we are now searching for a new LMS. Also developing good simulations is key to some of the work I do.

Simulations can provide for a more realizing learning experience outside of the live environment, an on the job experience through the computer (Bell, Kanar, & Kozlowski, 2008). Utilizing strong tools to produce a solid simulation experience is key to a successful program.

Providing simulations at my company, and many others, can give the learner a valuable learning experience in a quasi hands on way, without safety concerns, using raw materials, requiring extra manpower to escort and demonstrate the tasks, or putting the final product on the line for someone who is just learning.

Resources:

Bell, B. S., Kanar, A. M., & Kozlowski, S. W. J. (2008). Current Issues and Future Directions in Simulation-Based Training. Cornell University ILR School. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1493&context=cahrswp

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010).  The Online Teaching Survival Guide: Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Enhancing the online experience [Video file].

Setting up an online learning experience

This week I am learning the important components to setting up an online learning experience. From knowing the technology you are working with to not overdoing the technology are some key components. In addition its important to ensure there is a strong online learning community to enhance the experience for all the learners as well as engaging everyone together including the instructor.

The significance of knowing the technology available to me is that I am able to design a useable course that is stimulating without being overstimulating. I should also know enough to provide at least initial level of help as the instructor if I am wearing two hats.

Its also important to set aside the proper amount of time to put the course together. Its a good expectation to allot “20-30 hours to set up some basic tasks if you are familiar with the tools” (Boettcher & Conrad, 2010, p55).

Another important point is to ensure expectations are clear. We just had a challenging week where I thought the instructions provided by the course and then by the instructor were clear and then crystal clear. Unfortunately somehow, somewhere there was something that I still don’t quite understand and despite being finished with my assignment and ready to submit it six hours ahead of the deadline something happened and I had to work with my professor to get her the correct material. She was very understanding and as I contacted her before the assignment was due and provided my work I did not lose points. She also expressed her frustration that sometimes changes to the deliverables are not updated in the course itself which can pose some challenges when it comes time to deliver on those expectations.

I think its also important for the instructors to consider the time they are putting on the learners. Typically a standard set of assignments are due on Wednesday and then additional assignments are due by Sunday. I happen to look at when everything is due and add it to my calendar at the beginning of the course so that if there are weeks where something is due on an earlier day or across several days of the week I am aware. I’ve had challenging times where an assignment for a mid course project was due on a Tuesday where I was working on a key assignment through the previous Sunday and then had only the Monday to read several chapters of course text and three or more additional resources to ensure I could meet the Tuesday deliverable. I also work full time, often putting in ten hour days so finding that time can be challenging.

I have also taken classes with nurses who are working a double shift and having to find time to do the same reading, submit that Tuesday assignment, and then another assignment that is due on the Wednesday. Those sort of timing issues should be considered when setting up an online learning experience.

Boettcher, J. V., & Conrad, R. (2010). The Online Teaching Survival Gide Simple and Practical Pedagogical Tips. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA

 

 

 

Online Learning Communitiees

I’m back at it, another class has begun and I’m excited to begin the online learning portion of my program. This week we are studying the online learning community aspect of online learning.

I have taken many many online courses in achieving both my BS and now as I enter the final few courses toward my MS. I have had mostly good experiences with the courses and how I interact to learn. When I say interact I am referring to both my interaction with the course content and also with the other students and professor in the class with me.

Several years ago I had a friend inquire when I said I was chatting with a girl from my class. She couldn’t understand how taking an online class led us to get to chatting. One of the key components to a successful learning program is having a strong online learning community component (Laureate Education Inc., n.d.). As Drs. Palloff and Pratt explained there are three major components that make a strong online learning community: People, Purpose, and Process (Laureate Education Inc,. n.d.). This is what led to my chatting with a girl from my class.

The people aspect is the ability to interact with one another during the course which can be asynchronous (we post to a blog site or discussion board at various times but we can all see and comment to one another) or synchronous (we have a set time to be on a call or in a chat room to interact live). This allows the learner to feel connected to others and comfortable that they are not operating in a vacuum but have support or provide support to others.

The purpose is the reason the community has come together, our common goal which is typically the learning objective(s) for the course. Without a purpose this quickly becomes social media and not an online learning community.

The process would be the methods used online to allow the community to interact: blogs, discussion boards, chat rooms, virtual reality meeting sites are many of the options and can be used in many combinations. I believe that in choosing the medium it should be a consideration that it fits with the specific learning objective and provides opportunity to collaborate with the community while not putting undue burden on the learner.

An example of this was a class I took where the learners were broken into groups and had to meet via a chat room to plan several phases of a project. Unfortunately in one case I was the only person on the East Coast and the rest of the group wanted to meet at what was my 10pm. We were able to work things out but had I been unable or unwilling to attend the chat at the time the rest of the group met I would have lost points. To me that process was a poor one to choose.

Resources:

Laureate Education (Producer). (2010). Online learning communities

Analysis of Scope Creep

I have been part of many projects over the years professionally where scope creep became an issue. I have even written about several of these issues for classes over the past couple of years.

My current assignment to blog about a professional or personal project that dealt with scope creep immediately made me think about a house remodel we completed several years ago.

The initial project scope was to expand some of the internal living space to allow my brother, his wife, and their four children to move into the home with my aging mother when I relocated out of state. There was a need for an additional bed room, and the kitchen had some outdated appliances that could not be updated without a remodel. In addition we had a few minor repairs we wanted to make.

A less than reputable contractor pushed a great deal of scope creep into the project to inflate his role and ultimately his fee. The most egregious instance was when in removing the front door to replace it and cracked several strips of the white vinyl siding. He convinced my then sister-in-law that instead of replacing it with new pieces of siding (at his cost) that would appear different in color (from standard white??) he could remove all of the front siding and replace it with nice redwood plank siding, at a steep cost to us. The siding did look nice when installed but then he failed repeatedly to seal it. Ultimately we were left with wood siding across the front of the property, that weathered poorly. In hiring someone to come clean and seal properly we were told that the wood was very cheap and definitely not redwood.

Because of this and other scope creep projects interjected into the overall remodel some of the components to the kitchen remodel had to be scrapped, we had to use leftover counter material donated by a relative, and put appliances on hold for a later time due to cost overruns. When we initially scoped the project we had factored in additional funds for potential overruns and had a small list of wish list items to add in if time/budget allowed. The scope creep pushed by a devious contractor on a naive contact led to a poor project and much re-work over the years.

The lesson learned for us is, go with your initial scope. Any changes to the scope should be seriously considered against impact to the original goal and only approved after weighing risks/rewards.

 

Estimating Costs and Allocating Resources for an ID Project

I found a great blog  at instructional design village  that provided great links to a cost assessment tool and insight on how to calculate duration, which is what MS Project uses to assign resources. As I get more of my clients used to formally using Instructional Design (ID) for training programs this site will be helpful to use as I calculate cost assessments. I will need those cost assessments to track the return on investment (ROI) in level 4 evaluations as I provide clients with data to support continued use of the Instructional Designers for training projects.

In addition the site Ito.blog.ryerson had some links to additional useful tools for estimating cost and effort. The site also provided information on a template to help estimate activity duration. This will be helpful in setting realistic timelines for some Web Based Training (WBT) as this is a new medium for me to work and I am not as comfortable estimating the duration on my own. In addition if I need data on the different durations between an Instructor Led Training (ILT) and a WBT for a client looking for options, this tool will provide me good support in calculating that data.

It was interesting to me, searching for blogs and message boards related to this topic instead of trying to find articles. What I liked is that the bloggers had used these tools as instructional designers and found them helpful. This assignment provided me a resource I had not thought of before, to look specifically for blogs and message boards in my searches, as a continuation of accessing the ID community for online support. I subscribe to a number of blogs belonging to other instructional designers but I had never thought to specifically search for content in a blog this way.

I am looking forward to using it more often in the future.

 

 

The Art of Effective Communication

This post is my Wk 3 blog assignment for my current class. There was a multimedia presentation titled The Art of Effective Communication that presented the same communication three ways; as a written email, as a voice mail, and as a face to face conversation. First I was struck by the fact that while I have worked for corporations that have warned about which options might be better in various contexts for many years none have taken the time to present this.

It was such a short exercise and provided me with new insights. I have been taught over the years not to “read tone” into an email but its in our nature to do so and one thing I felt was that Jane’s email did not appear to have any negative tone. I did think that the sender, Jane, appeared hurried. By hurried I mean that her message to Mark was urgent. She needed Mark to provide some data for a report, she knew he’d been tied up in meetings, but her own report was in danger of missing deadline due to the delay in receiving his data. She was asking for an ETA or if he could just send her the specific data in a separate communication so she could get her own work done. Also, her message was concise, not too lengthy or wordy.

When I then listened to Jane’s voicemail to Mark I felt that she sounded less hurried, less urgent, but more pleading. I actually didn’t feel that it was the same wording as the email I had read. Apparently when I read the email I hadn’t paid as much attention to wording like ‘I appreciate your help’. I picked up on the polite cues more in the voice mail message that in reading the written communication. I finished the exercise with face to face and then went back to read the email again and there were the polite cues I had not picked up on the first time.

Finally there was a video clip of a face to face conversation. I will say it was strange to me and I think maybe the way it was filmed didn’t quite hit the mark the producers were going for as I expect that the face to face was supposed to be even better that the audio only piece.

I actually felt that the face to face was strange for several reasons, first Jane said the same thing again, but it didn’t fit as a conversation. It came across as one sided as if Jane just talked and didn’t allow Mark to answer her. Second the actress playing Jane had a different tone than on the voice mail and it came across to me as whiny. I started to feel annoyed that she was taking up Mark’s time by coming over when she indicated she knew he was busy. Also, her body language was off putting to me. She made sympathetic gestures like tilting her head for understanding that felt out of place since the conversation was one sided.

I do think the overall message was good that while sometimes we think our communications are sufficient the written communication, especially electronic in nature, is often not received how we intend and can be misunderstood.

It is better to have a face to face conversation when that is an option, just make sure its a conversation and start by asking if the person has a minute to chat. When face to face is not an option a call is better than an email.

One think I would add where we are advised our email can be misunderstood, it is also important for the recipient to refrain from reading tone into a written communication. Just thinking how I knowingly try not to read tone into written communications, and that I didn’t think the email example was poor communication but completely missed the polite aspects is an indicator that there is room for improvement on both sides.

Learning from a Project Postmortem (wk 2)

The project that immediately came to mind was one when a telecom company I previously worked for was launching wireless as a product option in partnership with one of the smaller cellular providers.

They did a pilot offering at a couple of sites but it was abbreviated and there wasn’t a sufficient amount of time to evaluate and make modifications to the programs/product. The areas chosen to pilot were based on competition saturation and not on any market analysis of product demand. After only several months with low product uptake the entire product line was shut down and assessed.

What contributed to the project’s success or failure?

Lack of marketing research to confirm the best areas to launch the pilot was a definite contribution to product failure. Attempting to pilot by going after established cell customers posed many challenges for sales reps, including customers being unable to port their wireless numbers. The cost to leave the current carrier plan was higher than the incentive to switch to new carrier as well. Both of those issues were addressed mid pilot but it had shaken the faith of sales reps and customers before it was fixed. In addition only a handful of popular phone models were made available leading to a number of interested customers deciding not to sign up for the product.

From a training perspective the cellular company didn’t have enough capacity for learners to practice in their development environment. The site kept crashing. It was also not being kept up to date with the specific equipment our sales reps could offer making it difficult to practice when the site was up.

Incentives for sales reps dedicated to the project were insufficient to make up for their missed sales opportunities from their regular calls. This led to many managers assigning weaker or new sales reps to the pilot project. Using the top sales reps would have provided stronger sales opportunities to drive deeper into the potential customer pool.

Which parts of the PM process, if included, would have made the project more successful and Why?

There was a corporate PM who failed to include key parties in the overall project plan.

Neither corporate nor site level marketing were consulted as part of the corporate project plan in determining the best sites to roll this out to. An area with less cell saturation would have provided a larger customer base to market the product to.

Marketing should have also been consulted prior to agreeing to specific phone models to offer as the most popular models were not included in the pilot. Instead the project team decided on two pilot areas based on retention needs due to high level of competition and agreed to offer what the cellular vendor company suggested (to their own benefit).

Having site sales leadership buy in to ensure the resources of top sales agents, and site marketing to create strong sales incentives for sales agent participation would have led to more successful sell in and participation from the top sales agents.

Members of the cellular vendor company were on the project team but no one discussed ensuring the vendor could provide the required access to their development environment for training. Having confirmed the available access would have led to less wasted training days, or a plan could have been developed to manage their limited availability.

One corporate trainer was on the project team but some simple job aids on products were the only training materials created. There was no effective training plan made within the project plan.

The project timelines were not realistic. There was a limited time to set up the product offerings, pricing points, and training strategy. Then after only 4 months of selling wireless the project was closed. It was not put on hold it was just ended. Customers were reverted to the cellular vendor’s company and the credibility of the telecom took a big hit. When they regrouped to offer wireless a year later it was not well received, took a long time to drive customers to try the product and ultimately failed again. The differences were that marketing was better, there was a more realistic time to evaluate and most customers went through a full contract term before it ended.

Project Management

Hi, I am currently learning about project management principles and how to apply them as an instructional designer. I will be posting on this topic in the coming weeks. I am looking forward to the learning experience and I hope you join me for the ride.

Week 4 Matching Technology with Purpose

Sometimes use of technology in a class is unmatched with the needs of the learner or the goal of the learning object itself. Its important to remember that ensuring the learning is more efficient and effective by being relevant to each individual and the circumstances in which they are learning (Hodgins, 2003). The goal is “to deliver to the right person, at the right time and place, in the right amount, in the right context, on the right device, using the right medium” (Hodgins, 2003). This is not always an easy task and thought must go into each of these aspects from the onset of the design process.

One instance where the wrong technology was used that I have personally seen was when my company created a web based training (WBT) to be delivered online to learners to train on a key safety program. The WBT was not necessarily the wrong medium but it wasn’t used to its fullest potential which would have fit the learning content, it missed the right context piece completely. It was created as a series of images where someone narrated a scene and basically told the learners about this program.

In performing the role in the program there are a great deal of complex components and operations that must be done otherwise life and death circumstances could arise. The program could have been developed within the WBT but written where it was more interactive allowing the learner to check things off, and click on areas that needed to be locked out for example. Another medium that might have been even better is to use a virtual reality program allowing the learner to go in and search for permits and pull them, to outline the area and then go into the space in the virtual reality program and turn the dials and block the lines. Then if there are errors, nothing has happened to real people or machinery and the learner has had a more hands on experience.

This is the sort of thing that needs to be considered when creating a learning program, how will this be best taught, will this medium provide the most learning, and are we using more technology than we need that will detract from the learning.

Resource:

Hodgins, W. H. (2003). Learning technology standards. Encyclopedia of distributed learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.