Breakout Session

Multimedia, Engagement and Collaboration: How to Humanize the Online Learning Experience

Track:  Engaging Students & Faculty

Wednesday, November 28th, 3:30-5:00pm

This presentation describes how multimedia can be used to foster social, cognitive, and teaching presence in both hybrid and online learning environments. The presentation shares research findings related to the pedagogy of effective online instructional practice. It highlights how interaction is a key variable in learning and satisfaction with distance education courses and how educators can use multimedia to maintain a sense of “human touch” when teaching online. Audience members will leave the session with a better understanding of how web-based, multimedia tools can be used to support online interaction, engagement, and collaboration.
Erica Boling
Associate Professor
Rutgers University

Bio / Expertise:
Dr. Boling is an Associate Professor in the Graduate School of Education at Rutgers University. In the past few years, the Verizon Foundation has awarded Rutgers University’s Graduate School of Education two grants, totally $225,000, to help equip teachers with the tools and skills needed to prepare students for success in today’s digital society. Funding supports a certificate program called Educational Leaders of the 21st Century. This program consists of three online courses that enable educators to establish a foundation for using technology in a variety of educational settings. Dr. Boling is overseeing the development, implementation and evaluation of this program.

Dr. Boling’s current research also investigates the impact of technology on teaching and learning and how the integration of technology can challenge the fundamental beliefs that educators hold about education. Previous research projects include Teachers & Technology: New Visions of Literacy Education. This project investigated practicing teachers’ knowledge, skills, and dispositions towards the integration of technology into classroom instruction. It also explored the ways in which high school teachers’ uses of technology both supported and hindered student learning. Another study, Disciplined Based Literacy in Urban High Schools, was a multi-year project that involved the development, implementation, and evaluation of a teacher professional development program that was designed to increase the reading achievement of marginalized, adolescent readers. Dr. Boling’s research has been reported in highly regarded, peer-reviewed journals such as Teachers College Record, English Education, Research in the Teaching of English, and Teaching and Teacher Education.

 

Cheshta Khurana
Research Assistant/Instructor
Rutgers University

Bio / Expertise
Cheshta Khurana is a doctoral student at the Graduate School of Education, Rutgers University, and has earned three master’s degrees in Elementary Education, English, and Philosophy of Education. She has worked on teacher development and learner needs in both conventional schools and visionary organizations for over three years. Her research interests include community building in online programs and student interaction in web-based courses.

 

Mary Hough
Research Assistant/Instructor
Rutgers University

Bio / Expertise
Mary Hough is a doctoral candidate in the Ed.D. program in Literacy Education at Rutgers University in New Brunswick. She has been teaching in Career and Technical Education for the past 12 years and is interested in research on 21st-century skills, multi-literacies, and online learning.

 

Erica Holan
Research Assistant/Instructor
Rutgers University

Bio / Expertise
Erica M. Holan is the Assistant Director of the Kean University Writing Project.  She received a B.A. in Elementary Education, an M.A. in Reading Specialization, and an M.A. in Educational Administration from Kean University.  She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Education with a concentration in Literacy at Rutgers University.  Her research interests include digital literacies, innovative pedagogies (e.g. through the use of video games), multimodal approaches to instruction, teaching with technology, and online education.

 

Presentation Content:

SUMMARY STATEMENT:

This presentation describes how multimedia can be used to foster social, cognitive, and teaching presence in both hybrid and online learning environments. The session highlights how interaction is a key variable in learning and satisfaction with distance education courses and how educators can use multimedia to maintain a sense of “human touch” when teaching online.

DESCRIPTION OF ACTIVITY, PROJECT, and OR SOLUTION:

This project began more than two years ago when Rutgers Graduate School of Education was awarded a grant from the Verizon Foundation to create and implement an online “Educational Leaders of the 21st Century” certificate program in Educational Technology. A series of three online courses were designed to assist educators in acquiring the knowledge, skills, and dispositions that are needed to effectively integrate technology and 21st Century skills into k-12 and other classroom environments. Course development and implementation were informed by research and theory following a design experiment research model. In order to inform the development of these courses and how to design effective online learning environments, multiple research studies were conducted. One study in particular used the Community of Inquiry (CoI) Framework and Cognitive Apprenticeship Model (CAM) to explore how multimedia can be used to foster social, cognitive, and teaching presence in an online learning environment. Researchers collected course related documents and interview data from one instructor and several graduate students who participated in the course, “Multimedia Design for Educators.” Using a mixed-methods approach to analyze data, researchers discovered effective pedagogical approaches for using multimedia to enhance social and teaching presences. Additionally, they learned which scaffolds were needed to increase cognitive presence in online learning environments. The study highlights how interaction is a key variable in learning and satisfaction with distance education courses (Wanstreet, 2009). This research also highlights effective frameworks and pedagogical practices that promote online interaction and productive online learning communities.

OUTCOME:

Findings from the study inform the pedagogy of effective online instruction and how multimedia can be used to positively impact student learning and the online learning experience. The study reveals how students’ social interactions can be key to their learning success in web-based learning environments and how multimedia can be used to enhance these interactions. Studies reveal that developing and teaching online courses demand adaptations in teaching practices (Fetherstone, 2001). This research presentation illustrates how online courses and the use of multimedia can make learning more personal and meaningful while also increasing student engagement.

IMPORTANCE OR RELEVANCE TO OTHER INSTITUTIONS:

Recently there has been an explosive growth in online learning that is “rapidly transforming post-secondary education” (Moller et al., 2008, p. 66). A growing number of distance education initiatives are in the field of education and rely on the Web “as a primary medium for delivery” (Dickey, 2008, p. 507). As universities expand offerings of online courses, however, they are finding that one of their greatest challenges is how to design and implement courses that “provide a sense of community with constructive feedback and provide open forthcoming communications as well as recognizing membership and feelings of friendship, cohesion, and satisfaction among learners” (Desai et al., 2009, p. 333). Students’ social interactions can be a key to their learning success in web-based learning environments; however, one of the major complaints about computer-mediated communication is the lack of social cues (Hill et al, 2009). When cues are filtered out, communication can become more “task oriented, cold and less personal than face-to-face communication” (Walther, Anderson, & Park, 1994, p. 461). Researchers and practitioners are in general agreement that interaction is a key variable in learning and satisfaction with distance education courses (Wanstreet, 2009).  This presentation is relevant to the NJEDge audience because it helps educators understand the various ways that web-based, multimedia tools can be used to support online interaction, engagement, and learning. The presentation shares research findings related to the pedagogy of effective online instructional practice.

 

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