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Running Head: Learning Outcomes

Keith C. Quarles
EDU651: Collaboration & Learning in a Virtual Environment (MLI1521A)
Learning Outcomes and Course Assessment EDU 651
Dr. Kimberly Doerflein
6-29-2015

Blogs and Blogging

Running Head: Learning Outcomes

From this course, Edu651, I have learned that Blogs can be personal, educational or
business related. Thus, blogs are useful in communicating with friends, colleagues, customers,
and the general public. Blogs are interactive, online conversations on the read/write web
platform that empower collaboration through group communication and feedback. Richardson
(2010) states, one of the biggest potential of Weblogs is the ability to create spaces where
students can collaborate with others online (p. 23). Of course, the blog creator will introduce
ones vision for the direction that one poses the topic will unfold/develop: yet, opinions will vary
in abundance. Some blogs are restrictive and only allow certain people to post/edit on the
blogger. Passwords and encryptions are methods of preventing just anybody from posting on a
specific blog.
Actual blog sites such as Blogger allow more posting of information per posts and may
be more asynchronous in its delivery of content than micro-blogging communication by way of
sites such as Twitter which only allow smaller increments/tidbits of conversation on a subject
to be transmitted in one post but in rapid succession. Twitter has become useful to everyone who
wishes to broadcasts to masses through electronic media; even politicians have gotten in on the
act and use the micro blogger to campaign. Blogger allows one to create a free blog and add
pages within the blog that may prove useful in presenting, instructing or just in conversation.
Thus, blogging can be useful in education since it aids in the organization/transmission of
information within the blog while providing a way to post links to other sites that allow more
collaboration. In class we created a blog and linked other Web 2.0 tools such as wiki and Twitter
to the blog. The experience benefited the learning outcome which was to gain technical
competence/knowledge of how to link the blog and direct users to sites with more information on

Running Head: Learning Outcomes

the subject. I am more efficient in process of creating and linking blogs to other sites after
completing the learning activities in this course on blogging.
Wikis/PBworks
Wikipedia, an online dictionary/encyclopedia created by a collaboration of electronic
knowledge-sharing. Though the reliance on Wikipedia as a source of credible information is
much maligned by researchers/critics; Wikipedias popularity is trending. From Wikipedia,
wikis were born. Wikis may contain smaller amounts of information and may be more
personalized than a Wikipedia site but allow for collaborative posting/editing of content. Wiki is
short for the Haiwaiin word wki-wki which translates into English as quick (Richardson,
2010). In EDU 651, we created a wiki with PBworks and linked it to blogs. The PBworks
software allowed learners to set up classroom environments through front- page editing and
additional pages may be added which engage learners through classroom/learning activities.
PBworks also allows the creator/educator to create folders especially for class instruction with
the ability to create passwords for each student.
This was my first experience with PBworks and I was unaware of the features that give
color, animation and/or graphic representation in an effort to concentrate on more practical
features regarding collaboration. However, I will find time to dress the PBworks up after I
finish the rest of my classwork. I read a comment from the instructor regarding colorization and
graphics after I turned my assignment in since the comment was directed toward another student
in a discussion board format under the Ashford University online classroom application; yet, it
aroused my interest in further investigating the power of PBworks as an educational/instructional
tool. At any rate, PBworks allows educators to post lesson activities, links, and graphic/visual
presentations to learners electronically, asynchronously and interactively. Richardson (2010)

Running Head: Learning Outcomes

states, importantly, the class wiki has a link back to the class blog where class members are
posting outside reading on a regular basis (p.65). Overall, wikis are innovative in producing
venues for online collaboration. The use of wikis: may further change the way we
educate/learn/communicate since it allows read/write web transmissions as opposed to just only
reading what traditional researchers post as reliable information. Wiki creation is an n easily
accessible/usable method of providing educational instructions from my understanding through
the study of the Web 2.0 tool in this course.
Social Networks and Bookmarking
Social networks which include popular software designed for online communications
such as Skype, Facebook, Twitter and Linked are becoming even more popular as instructional
tools. As part of what web 2.0 has to offer in collaborative networking software, the abovementioned tools offer a variety of means of communicating/collaborating. The social Web
says that we have hosts of friends or friends of a friend and easy connections at our disposal that
can lead to new and informative discovery and learning (Richardson (2010). Social networks are
advantageous to use as instructional tools since learners are familiar with the networks from
personal use, easy access and account registration and minimal or no cost.

Facebook accounts

are free; require an email to sign up and one may acquire a personal/business account. Two
separate accounts safeguard personal information/postings from interfering with educational
instruction which in turn can prevent incidents like the case our class studied in EDU 651 in
which a teacher made a comment on a personal Facebook page and one of her students took
offense. Skype accounts are also free and require an email for sign up; yet, offer audiovisual
communication which can aid in instructing learners synchronously. Twitter is a micro-blogging
tool as mentioned above that can be used to transmit small amounts of content instantaneously.

Running Head: Learning Outcomes

Linked is a networking site that has many purposes such as for businesspeople networking,
educator networking and of course social networking. Linked requires an email at signup and
offers premium accounts with upgrades features as does the other above-mentioned social
networking software.
Social bookmarking software such as Delicious/Diigo offer means of connecting people
who share the same interests. Tagging plays a vital role in how one is connect to other through
the most social bookmarking software. Delicious is unique from most other social bookmarking
sites like Diigo. With Delicious, the tag is really the most important element. Both of the
social bookmarking software sites offer RSS feeds (Richardson, 2010). Delicious main
concern/purpose is sharing links and tags in order to create a collaborative network while others
are more concerned with content sharing.
Professional Learning Communities and the Potential of Online Collaboration
From my personal perspective, I view professional learning community formation the
potential of online collaboration as coincidental and correlated. A Professional Learning
Community (PLC) may stem from a movement by educators, administrators or learners who
desire/choose to broaden the spectrum of input into a given subject or learning initiative by
collaborating online. In turn, online collaboration fosters PLCs by empowering users within the
networks with access to sources of information within the scope of ones queries. The old saying
two heads are better than one comes to mind when I consider the potential of online
collaboration to reduce uncertainty through networking and knowledge-sharing. Richardson
(2010) states, in essence, we write not just to communicate but to connect with other who can
potentially teach us more (p.28). Online collaboration could potentially aid in create numerous
PLCs which would promote more online collaboration and continuously extend knowledge-

Running Head: Learning Outcomes

sharing.; The continuous extension of knowledge-sharing could in turn produce future


generations of more knowledgeable, informed educators and learners.
Society will holistically benefit from future PLCs and online collaboration since both
would connect people who need to know information with those who have the information to
share asynchronously/synchronously. If used properly, the connections made in online
collaborations could be used by educators/researchers all over the globe in order to make more
informed decisions regarding critical issues such as the economy, health, personal finance, legal
issues and educational instruction in schools/business. In my opinion, it is the wide-scale sharing
of information that give PLCs and online collaboration the potentials to become the universally
accepted methodology by which to teach/learn/decide about issues that affect numerous amounts
of stakeholders.
Strengths and Weaknesses of the Course
The course strengths include the introduction of innovative online software, learning
activities that teach how to use the software and instructions on how to sign up and operate the
software to use at work or school. The initiative to connect the learning activity to real world
application was evident in week five when we were assigned the task of writing a letter of
recommendation to our bosses regarding the use of a Web 2.0 tool for some business purposes.
In addition, the sequencing of the discussion topics, learning activity and assignment content led
me as a learner in a logical path towards the summation of the class activities in this final paper.
West and West (2009) state, in order for students to transform new information into knowledge,
they must actively assimilate the new information with prior learning (Piaget, 1970; Bruner,

Running Head: Learning Outcomes

1990) (p.59). The final paper then addressed issues from the class in a logical sequence that
coincided with discussions, learning activities and assignment sequencing throughout the course
which keyed me in on the development of the concepts involved in collaboration and learning in
a virtual environment for certain learning outcomes. West and West (2008) states, according to
social constructivists, knowledge construction is not passive, but active and collaborative
(Knowlton, 2001) (p.59). The curriculum and content of the curriculum were sufficient in
gradually leading me to learn how to use the software tools to collaborate in addition to
instructing me regarding the benefits and risks are involved in employing the software in an
educational/business environment.
The course weaknesses, in my opinion, were the unbalanced proportion of activities per
week and waypoint transmission. For instance, Week five of the course had an overload of work
in my opinion. It seems as if the first four weeks may have not sufficiently covered all the
material so in week five the load was magnified to get all the activities in before week six. Even
though week six had only one discussion, I think it would have been better to spread the
activities more evenly out over the weeks. I also had problems with my assignments losing
formatting when submitting through Waypoint which is more of a technical issue.
Personal Experience Using the Above Tools
My experience with Blogger, PBworks and Delicious is limited to the courses I have
taken at Ashford University. In previous classes of my Maters in Teaching with Technology
program, I have used Blogger during completion of classwork which involved using Web 2.0
tools to communicate/collaborate. In this class, I have used Blogger to link PBworks, and
Twitter to my blog page. PBworks was the most impressive tool to me because I could actually

Running Head: Learning Outcomes

construct a classroom by using the features in PBworks. Link sharing was simple which allow
me to share more information via PBworks.
My experience with Facebook, wiki, Skype and Linked extend beyond the curriculum of
this course. I used wiki, Skype, Facebook and Linked to communicate with business associates.
I conducted training classroom activities primarily through wiki and used Skype, Facebook and
Linked to a lesser extent to communicate/collaborate with business associates through a network
that our team devised/secured after integrating Web 2.0 tools into our business planning and
strategy. As a result, we were able to collaborate on training initiatives and business strategy by
using the inexpensive, easily accessible and user-friendly Web 2.0 software. All of the
participants involved were already familiar with Facebook, Skype and Linked as social networks
but in training we researched and confirmed the wiki and social networks as viable means of
training/instruction and for collaborating with peers in business/education. The associates were
also taught how to protect identity, privacy rights and how to secure the websites through wiki,
Skype and Facebook.
Conclusion
My take-aways regarding wikis, blogs, social networking/bookmarking include the
gaining of technical competence in linking blogs with other Web 2.0 software, the uses, benefits
and future application potential of the software tools for instruction and the risks and benefits
associated with employing the above-mentioned software as educational tools. Thus, learning
outcomes that involve acquiring extended knowledge of online collaboration were achieved in
my opinion. Critical thinking objectives were emphasized throughout the study of wiki,
Facebook, Delicious etc., in order to provide substantiation for the tools as instructional tools.

Running Head: Learning Outcomes

The course had a strong regiment for teaching/learning activity sequencing but lacked
balanced proportion of discussion, learning activity and assignment scheduling. However, the
curriculum was aligned in a logical sequence which climaxed within the content requirements for
the final paper. I feel that the curriculum had a flow and direction towards closure.
Online collaboration and PLCs provide opportunity for peers, associates or
any party with similar interests to communicate/collaborate preferably through electronic means
since it is convenient and has many software tools for collaboration. The potential for
Professional learning communities and online collaboration to reshape how we think about
education and learning processes for years to come. The connecting of people with similar
interests throughout the world can create more informed future generations as we progress
towards the prospect global unity in business and education.
My experience with the above mentioned software tools have come from within an
outsider this course. Wikis, Skype and Facebook were key software tools when collaborating
with business associates online for training and business planning purposes. In EDU 651 at
Ashford University, learning activities involving the use of Blogger, Delicious and Twitter has
added value to my experience with Web 2.0 collaboration tools. Actually, I never heard of social
bookmarking until this class! I have become more receptive to new forms of
collaboration/communication software and the proper use of the tools during instruction. I had
previous knowledge of social networking, blogging and wiki and this course built on the
knowledge. In turn, I acquired new knowledge which I can apply to future class/business
scenarios in order to further extend my knowledge of how web 2.0 tools empower online
collaboration to achieve learning outcomes.

Running Head: Learning Outcomes

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Reference
Richardson, W. (2010). Blogs, wikis, podcasts, and other powerful web tools for classrooms (3rd
ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
West, J. A. & West, M. L. (2009). Using wikis for online collaboration: The power of the readwrite web. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.