Sunday, May 15, 2011

Motivating online students to work collaboratively

Motivating online students to work collaboratively
¾     Students must understand the importance of working online collaboratively. It allows students to gain the skills necessary in order to be competitive in today’s work market. Companies often have employees dispersed around the World, and have to use online collaborative methods to meet, and plan on projects. By learning these skills at the college level, the student graduates with experience in this area. Students want to know that what they are learning in college has a direct correlation with their future career. Explaining this to the students early on, allows them to understand the importance of collaborative activities, and it allows them to acquire a positive attitude about the activity.
¾     The collaborative activity should be well developed. There should be enough time for the students to get to know one another, as well as work on each section of the assignment. Dividing the assignment into specific parts, and assigning each part a deadline can be helpful. There should be rules as to where and when they will meet within the course, while allowing them to choose how to connect: via phone, email, or instant messaging.
¾     In order for an online group to work successfully online, all members must agree to the same norms. This includes the division of or roles, how the group will communicate, how non-participation will be handled, and how quickly member responses will be expected.
¾     The instructor should make their role in the activity clear. The instructor is meant to be the facilitator of the activity. As a facilitator, the instructor can intervene in the group when help is needed. The instructor should also observe the interactions of the group to ensure that all are participating. If there are any that are not, the instructor can contact the student and encourage their participation.
¾     Some type of evaluation should be included at the end of the activity. For example, each virtual group can present their work in an area of the course for others to provide feedback.  This would allow the students to provide as well as receive feedback that can help them to work collaboratively more effectively in the future.
I will end with a quote from Bernard, Rubaclava & Rojo (2000)“In order for collaborative online learning to take place successfully, it is
crucial that the learner feels part of a learning community where his/her
contributions add to a common knowledge pool and where a community
spirit is fostered through social interactions.”

Bernard, Rubalcava, Rojo(2000) 'Collaborative online distance learning: Issues
for future practice and research', Distance Education, 21: 2, 260 — 277
Palloff, R., Pratt, K (2005) Collaborating online: learning together in community. Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Copyright in an online course

Online learning has made the distribution of information more easily accessible. This is in turn, has created an increase in the amount of plagiarized assignments being submitted, and the lack of credit to outside sources. The 2003 National Survey of Student Engagement indicated that 87 percent of the students who completed the survey at least sometimes included information from online reports and sources without giving the original authors credit for their work (Waterhouse & Rogers, 2004).
Establishing an intellectual property policy would allow the students to understand and avoid copying work without providing proper citations. The particular institution has the right to assign sanctions to the violation of this policy. Students must understand the severity of their actions, and that there are consequences associated with them.
The TEACH Act provides the online colleges and universities with specific rules and guidelines that must be followed in order to not infringe copyright laws. This Act requires the use of a copyright policy, provide copyright information to faculty and students, course materials must include a copyright notice indicating that it cannot be further distributed without permission of the institution, and the transmission of information is solely for students who are enrolled in the course (Crews, 2002).
The guidelines for fair use remain the same for distance learning, as for on ground courses. Therefore, the purpose, nature, and effect on the market are all considerations in order to evaluate a situation for fair use. Waterhouse & Rogers (2004) suggest developing learning management systems that limit the access to copyrighted material while enrolled in the course. Also, to only allow students to have access to the course material only during the duration of the course. Overall, it is the faculty’s responsibility to educate and detect cases of plagiarism, and violation of copyright laws.

Crews, K. D. (2002, September 30). New copyright law for distance education: the meaning and importance of the TEACH Act. American Library Association, 1-12. Retrieved from
Waterhouse, S., & Rogers, R. O. (2004). The importance of policies in e-learning instruction. Educause, 3, 28-39. Retrieved from

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Copyrighted Multimedia

The principal mission of higher education is to further and disseminate knowledge (Desmarais, 2001). In this effort, educators use a variety of methods in order to educate their students. This requires the understanding of copyright laws and their applicability to education. Using copyrighted information for educational purposes does not automatically make it fair use. In fact, the purpose is only one of four factors that are taken into consideration. Among them are: use, nature of the work, amount of material copied, and the effect on the market.
Educators can use multimedia productions developed for educational purposes for up to two years after the first use with the class (Desmarais, 2001). After this time, it requires permission of use of the original authors, even if intended for educational purposes. There are also limitations as to how the portions of media that can be used. Up to 10% or 1000 words, whichever comes first is the limit on text material. Up to 10% or three minutes is the limit in motion media. In regards to music, the limited is 10% or no more than 30 seconds. Photographs are limited to no more than 5 photographs from one artist.
Huffman (2010) indicates that there has been an increase in the use of multimedia presentations for educational purposes. However, students are not being taught how to cite and give credit to the original authors. This problem seems to extend to academic scholars who use multimedia presentations at conferences and seminars. We all understand the importance of citations and references, yet many fail to provide them. Hoffman (2010) provides specific guidelines and expectations for the use of outside sources in multimedia presentations. The Hoffman Media Presentation Model extends from the use of a credit page to also include in-text citations throughout the work.

Desmarais, N. (2001). Copyright and fair use of multimedia resources. The Acquisitions Librarian, 13(26), 27-59. doi: 10.1300/J101v13n26_03
Huffman, S. (2010). The missing link: the lack of citations and copyright notices in multimedia presentations. TechTrends, 54(3), 38-44.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

The invisible web

The invisible web
The invisible web is defined as the collection of academic data that is not searchable through the traditional method of using a search engine (Lewandowski & Mayr, 2006). With the growth and expansion of the internet search engines are unable to search many web pages that are at least partially accessible (Anderson, 2008). This unreachable area of the internet has many names including: the hidden web, the dark web, the deep web, and the invisible web.
When searching for information online, the average user will not know if the results provided are from the visible or invisible web (Anderson, 2008). The search engine will do it’s best to retrieve all the information that it has available, and return what it has found. There is no way of telling what information was left behind. However, Anderson (2008) believes that much of the invisible web is in fact discoverable and retrievable. He suggests the use of Bright Planet , because it claims to search more than 70,000 databases in a variety of formats.
Apparently, one of the reasons why the invisible web was indeed invisible was because search engines could only retrieve web pages that were in HTML format. Files that were not in this format, like PDF, MP3 and Excel, were excluded from the results. Search engines are already being improved to include more of a variety of formats in the search results.
Understanding what that the invisible web consists of and learning alternative methods for retrieving information can helpful for college level students researching information. This will allow students to be aware that the total of search results provide on the web is not a definitive portrayal of the information that exists in the world on the particular topic.


Sunday, February 6, 2011

Copyright Protection

The right of copyright protection was first included in the U.S. Constitution (Wilson, 2005). The purpose was to allow artists and inventors to develop new products and masterpieces in order to help the U.S. develop as a powerful nation. The reality is that times have changed. Waxer & Baum (2006) indicated that the copyright law continues to experience changes. The most common change is the increased rights of the authors, which has resulted in conflicts as to the author’s economical right to the product and the intent of society to progress, mentioned in the Progress Clause.
Copyright protection lasts seventy years. During this period of time no one can reproduce the product in exactly the same form. “Copyright protects only particular expressions of ideas, not the ideas themselves”(Wilson, 2005, p.8). During this period of time others can duplicate the methods used to develop the idea as long as they do not replicate the exact product. The length of time that a copyrighted protection lasts does not limit other inventors from creating new products based on the idea of the original product. In that sense, the length of time involved in a copyright protection does not limit progress.
Since there are limits as to what is considered copyrightable material, there are pieces of work that can be used freely by others without the creator’s permission. For example, a writer develops a new book with a creative new plot. Since literary plots are not copyright protected, anyone can write another book using the same plot. On the other hand, you can use the ideas of others freely. For example, the grocery store down the street is using a double coupon Tuesday strategy to persuade customers to enter the store. You can use the same idea.
How can copyright laws be fair to all of those involved? How can any law fully protect the rights of the creator, while allowing technological and creative progress to continue? At what point do the rights of one party become more important than those of the other?