Monthly Archives: February 2014

Teaching Students to Research Better Online



ImageOne of the biggest difficulties that college professors are dealing with currently is about college students who are unable to search for credible online information. When teachers at school teach student show to explore the library to find relevant books on the topic, how to search inside an encyclopedia or an archive of public records, they somehow miss to inform students on how to search credible resources online as well.

Online education is very important these days because libraries and archives are not available everywhere; however the internet is! As students have only the most basic knowledge on how to search the internet, they use extremely broad phrase on Google and hope it will generate the best results. Hence a lot of professors at college face issues with students’ research paper which do not have valid references.

Here are a few things that students need to be taught…

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It’s not just Google that cares less about hiring graduates from top schools

One of my Favorite Videos from Kid President……

EDU 520: OERs and Open Education


Open Education refers to the free and open sharing of educational resources to everyone around the globe.  These resources can be reused, copied, or modified because of open licenses.  It can include educational networks, teaching and learning materials, textbooks, data, or numerous other things.  As the OpenCourseware Consortium’s website states, “Open Education gives people access to knowledge, provides platforms for sharing, enables innovation, and connects communities of learners and educators around the world” (2014).

Promising Aspects of the Movement:

There are so many positive things about the Open Education movement.  Professor Michael McNally (2012) of The University of Western Ontario, mentions the following positive things that creating OERs can offer:

  • Can enhance one’s scholarly reputation
  • Encourages collaboration and innovation
  • Allows an institution greater visibility and can help with recruitment
  • Allows for free exchange of knowledge
  • It’s free, easily available, and saves time
  • Expands access of educational materials to non-traditional students

open data

Downsides of the Movement:

  • Costs of developing and sustaining the OER initiatives
  • Lack of institutional support
  • Fear of loss over one’s intellectual work
  • Fear of criticism from peers or broader community
  • Concerns of the quality of the content

Personal Views of the Movement:

The most exciting and promising aspect of this movement for me would be the fact that this material is open to everyone (there are no geographic barriers to knowledge) and by sharing this information and knowledge, people’s creativity can be inspired by collaborating together to construct something greater than themselves.  For example, let’s say someone starts with a syllabus or outline, and modifies it, then posts that, and someone else does the same thing.  That syllabus/outline now becomes the best it can be, because it has been observed and looked at by educators all over the globe! Then, any teacher can use that syllabus in their course.  The same can be said for a video, lecture, or textbook.  Communities of educators can spring up to discuss this syllabus that accompanies a course and they all discuss what they think about it, and how to tailor it to make it sound better or be written more along the lines of what a teacher wants it to say according to curriculum requirements.  And it doesn’t stop.  The process can keep on going because participants want to keep participating.  As author Curtis Bonk (2009) contends, “…meaningful projects can be undertaken without traditional hierarchical, command-and-control structures, or financial compensation; there is caring and generative human spirit at work” (p. 152).

The second thing that makes me most excited about this movement is that non-traditional learners can take advantage of these resources, and be able to use them to their benefit.  Maybe they want to study something for fun.  Maybe they’re thinking about going to college, and want to study a course before they go.  Maybe they can’t attend college in person, but accessing these online materials would be able to allow them to gain knowledge they otherwise would not be able to get.

The first big current challenge that I see for the Open Education movement would be the copyright and licensing issues that take place over material posted online.  Thank gosh for Creative Commons’ – a “nonprofit organization devoted not just to expanding access to online materials, but also to the creative use and remixing of them” (Bonk, p. 157).  Although this organization is in existence, there are still a lot of issues with copyright and licensing issues at hand that need to be worked out.  The second challenge I see is that MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses), and the use of these other online educational materials, will become more popular and I forsee students wanting to gain some sort of academic credit for participating in these courses.  It can be difficult for universities and academic committees to all come to some sort of consensus over how to grant students actual credits or diplomas for these.  Bonk (2009) asserts, “this content is typically not credentialed and often is simply lecture material or associated content to review.  As such, it is what I call Level One Knowledge – basic facts.  Though not graded, it brings one to a base of learning that is often needed to survive in higher education” (p. 178).  I’m not sure I fully agree with that statement, since MIT puts full courses online- with video lectures, quizzes, and exams for the whole course, but I can see the author’s point here.  Some work needs to be done before universities can start granting diplomas or credits.

creative commons

I have learned quite a bit about Open Education and OERs that are “free”.  I use that word loosely, since all things shared online may not be “free” to all just yet.  Licenses and copyright issues are still being worked out in the midst of all of this sharing and collaborating.  I think the sky is the limit with Open Education and it’s a really exciting time to be a learner online right now!


Do you think universities offering MOOCs will ever offer “legitimate” online degrees for online learners?  If so, when?


MIT Open Courseware  —

Udacity —

edX —

Tufts Open Courseware —

Ning —

Drupal —


Bonk, C.  (2009).  The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education.  San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

McNally, M.  2012.  (2012, March).  Democratizing access to knowledge: Find out what open educational resources (OER) have to offer [Video].  Retrieved from

OpenCourseware Consortium.  (2014, February).  About the OCW consortium.  Retrieved from

EDU 520: F2F, Hybrid & Online Learning Environments

There are three primary formats which can be used to design, develop and implement learning environments:

  • Traditional or Face-to-Face (F2F)
  • Hybrid (Web-Enhanced)
  • Distance or Online (Web-based)

In F2F learning, “lectures are the main vehicle for transmitting knowledge from teacher to student” (Bates & Watson, 2008, p. 39).  Lectures take place orally and at the board, while students sit back and listen.  The professor normally spends a significant portion of course preparation time on lecture development.  Effort is made to make the lectures interesting and informative.  Homework can be assigned from textbooks and handed in on paper.  Testing is done primarily in class and is based on lecture material, as well as on the homework given to students.  Traditionally, grading is done by hand.  Teachers can keep many office hours for students, since students can meet their instructor in person, or ask him/her questions additionally online or on the phone.  This learning environment has traditionally been teacher-centered.

Online learning traditionally consists of teacher(s) and students never meeting face to face.  Instead of the traditional lecture, online courses may ask students to look up resources (articles, videos, blogs, etc.) to read or view.  Teachers spend more time designing the course and assigning weights for assignments, than preparing lectures.  Homework could consist of students having to post to a threaded discussion or blog, or create a project.    Traditional paper-and-pencil tests are replaced by individualized projects that need to be submitted by a certain due date.  This cuts down on cheating that could occur with the same standard multiple-choice test given to all students.  Grading is no longer done by hand, but done by a computer, as all assignment are submitted online.  Assignment of grades can be set up using a Learning Management System like BlackBoard Learn.  Office hours for online instructors consist of specific time set aside online by the instructor where students can ask questions during that time.  Students can also email the instructor and wait to hear back.  This learning environment is a learner-centered one, where students must take their own initiative to complete assignments and self-assess their strengths and weaknesses (or not do well in the course).   They must be motivated and learn how to manage time efficiently.  Crawford, Smith & Smith (2008) argue, “[the] distance learner must be able to successfully exhibit the ability to scrutinize his or her own level of performance as well as review and evaluate his or her progression toward meeting the learning objectives” (p. 137).

Hybrid learning is a mix between the two listed above.  Students meet for part of the time in class, and the other part they work with materials online.  Students may be asked to watch videos, listen to audio files, or look up articles at home, then come into class and discuss what they have researched.  Time in class may or may not be spent lecturing, but it could consist of discussing what the student has done on his or her own time regarding researching the online course material.  Homework could consist of researching material online (maybe they have to post to a blog or watch a YouTube video), or traditional bookwork assignments.  Quizzes and tests could either be given in class or online.  Grading could be done by hand or on a computer.  The responsibility for learning is shared between the teacher and student.

teaching 1 F2F

Some effective teaching techniques for F2F learning could be for teachers to:

  • Stick to 3-4 main points in a lecture
  • Vary the presentation format every 15 minutes
  • Provide handouts to summarize lecture material
  • Walk around the room to interact with students
  • Ask students questions every 15-20 minutes to increase participation
  • Incorporate some short in-class exercises every 15 minutes to increase engagement
  • (Most importantly) Convey enthusiasm for your subject material!!

(University of Minnesota, Center for Teaching & Learning, 2013)

This sticks to the traditional lecture-style format, but adds some engaging and motivating tricks for the classroom.  It helps to focus the classroom toward the student, even though the teacher is leading.

hybrid group

Some effective teaching techniques for hybrid learning could be:

  • Students watch a video at home but take a test on what they have seen in class
  • Split students up into groups so that interaction can take place in class and online
  • Have students teach material in class, instead of teachers
  • Teachers set up blog/threaded discussions, and students respond to topic posted

(University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Learning Technology Center, 2014)

Both teachers and learners take responsibility here.

online learning

Some effective teaching techniques for online learning could be for students to:

  • Set up and lead discussions in threads or blogs
  • Find and discuss web-resources, journal articles, videos
  • Be assigned individualized (every person gets a different assignment) projects
  • Complete crossword puzzles as assignments
  • Collaborate on a research paper
  • Students look over and grade each other’s work

(Pelz, 2004, p. 33-46)

This style helps motivate students to keep on track and complete assignments in a timely manner.  It promotes interactivity among fellow students and allows for a student-centered approach.


I am thinking about changing my learning activity a little bit so that it is more digitally-mediated instead of purely focused on computers.  I would like to incorporate something with groups (like the hybrid learning environment does).  I teach in a F2F format in my classroom but I try to incorporate online elements like BlackBoard Learn and PowerPoints to get the focus away from the teacher and move it towards the student as best I can.  I really like the idea of the hybrid classroom setting because it puts more responsibility on the students to take their own initiative to watch videos and complete assignments for class.  Class time can then be used to discuss what students have watched or researched, or to have students do presentations or teach fellow classmates lecture material.  They can also work in groups and be interactive.  I do a little bit of that now, where I have students work in groups to complete math labs and I also have them go up to the board and present a math problem to their fellow students without my help.  Any errors are corrected by their classmates.  I post all assignments and take-home quizzes on BB Learn, so they must become proficient with using online materials.  It behooves teachers to become proficient in the latest technology, since it benefits our students in the long run by using it in the classroom.


How advantageous are hybrid classrooms for students?  Do they retain more material?  Do they end up performing better than in a traditional F2F classroom setting?  (My colleague taught a college hybrid math class last semester and his class performed horribly!  They never showed up to class, they never watched the videos they were supposed to, they received poor grades on their quizzes and tests).  I’m curious about other people’s experiences with hybrid classrooms.


Strategies for Online Teaching:

Teaching College Courses Online vs. F2F:

Merlot II:  Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching:

Hybrid Courses:  Obstacles and Solutions for Faculty and Students:


Bates, C., & Watson, M. (2008).  Re-learning teaching techniques to be effective in hybrid and online courses.  Journal of American Academy of Business, Cambridge, 13(1), 38-44.

Crawford, C. M., Smith, R. A., & Smith, M. S. (2008).  Course student satisfaction results: Differentiation between face-to-face, hybrid, and online learning environments.  [Article].  CEDER Yearbook, 135-149.

Pelz, B.  (2004).  (My) three principles of effective online pedagogy.  Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks8(3), 33-46.

University of Minnesota, Center for Teaching & Learning.  (2013).  Planning Lectures.  Retrieved from

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Learning Technology Center.  (2014).  Hybrid Courses.  Retrieved from

MOOCs & Higher Ed – they still need some work……