1. Our text categorizes electronic information into four types:

Textual Information
Presentation Graphics Slide Show
Spreadsheets and Databases
Multimedia objects

Provide an example or multiple examples of effective use of each type of electronic information for eLearning. Be sure to provide specific information about what makes your indicated use “effective”. Explaining effectiveness in light of one of the media theories as presented in this session (or another media theory you prefer) is expected.

Various course documents including announcements, course outlines, course notes, syllabi and policies, are all examples of textual information. All of these examples can be effective in providing the student with information but don’t necessarily rank high in Media Richness; they don’t allow for instant feedback, they don’t offer cues about things such as body language, the communicator doesn’t typically use their natural language and there isn’t a personal focus. On the other hand, there is a level of Social Presence with textual information because it is a form of communication. The student gets important information, such as the course syllabus, from the instructor and may perceive a level of Social Presence and in turn a higher level of satisfaction.

Microsoft PowerPoint slide shows and Prezi presentations are both examples of effective Presentation Graphics for much the same reasons as textual information. They provide a type of communication from instructor to student therefore a level of Social Presence may be perceived by the student. If a slide show includes embedded multimedia objects, then the level of Media Richness goes up and may be considered even more effective.

Excel spreadsheets can be effective in an eLearning course; interactive charts where students can track their graded assignments and their overall grade can again, offer students a higher level of satisfaction based on a perception of Social Presence. Media Richness is relatively low.

Videos and voice recordings are great examples of the effective use of multimedia objects in eLearning because of their level of Media Richness. Videos offer cues about body language and facial expressions and both allow the communicator to use their natural voice. Both have “the ability to carry information about the message” (Newberry, pg. 1).

2. Our text goes into some very specific detail on the proper formatting of textual information. Explain what you believe to be the most important guidelines for your use of textual information that are provided in the text and then create a sample text document (other than an announcement) that demonstrates the best practices of formatting textual information. Be sure to explain the purpose of the document and who the intended users are if that isn’t obvious from the document itself.

In my opinion, I believe that if a document is visually “clean” it is much easier to follow. I believe that the most important guidelines offered in the textbook are: white space, bulleted lists and text attributes. These formatting guidelines allow for a document to be broken up into sections without sending the reader to different pages or files which can sometimes be confusing. This also allows for a continuous document that is well organized and easily printed if the student prefers to have a hard copy.

Below is a short assignment that I would post on Blackboard for my students:

Lesson Activity

Subject:               Basics of PowerPoint
Lesson Topic:     Inserting & Formatting Text

Student Performance Objectives

By the end of the unit, given a demonstration and guided practice, each student will:

  • Insert text into a slide accurately.
  • Manipulate text within the slide appropriate to the design theme.

Assignment – Continuation of PowerPoint Project

Each of you will continue working on your PowerPoint projects for an employer. Refer to your presentation outlines that you have created in previous lessons to help guide you in what text to enter into which slides and where that text should be placed so that it creates an easy-to-follow layout. You will then format the text that you have entered choosing font styles, colors, size and attributes appropriate to your presentation. It is important to keep in mind your design theme, your topic and your audience when choosing what to write and how to display it. The object is to make your slideshow appropriate to use as a presentation for your department; remember your work represents your employer so strive for quality.

Method of Evaluation

Students will be graded based on the PowerPoint Presentation Rubric located in Course Documents

3. What is the difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication as it is used in eLearning and how do you choose between the two for a given task?

The major difference between synchronous and asynchronous communication is timing. Synchronous communication is instantaneous; the discussion is occurring in real-time. Asynchronous communication is delayed with those in the discussion contributing at separate times, sometimes days apart. The best way to choose which form is best to use in an eLearning environment is to consider several factors. How many people do you expect to participate? Synchronous communication is better when the number of participants is small. What kind of feedback are you hoping to get from your students? Asynchronous communication is better if you expect lengthy, well thought out and researched responses. Will all of the participants be able to log in or call in at the same time? Many online students find it difficult to work these types of meetings into their busy schedules therefore asynchronous discussions are often best in an eLearning environment.

4. What technologies does your CMS/LMS have to support synchronous communication?

There are two tools available in Blackboard for synchronous communication; the Virtual Classroom and the Chat tool. The Virtual Classroom is typically used for class activities where all students can participate simultaneously. Smaller meetings, for example, the instructor holding office hours to meet with individual students, can be achieved using the Chat tool.

5. What technologies does your CMS/LMS have to support asynchronous communication?

Blackboard offers many more asynchronous communication tools than synchronous. Discussion boards, email, blogs, wikis and journals are all available for delayed communication through the LMS. Students can use blogs and journals for writing their own responses to a topic; other students can comment on blogs but only the instructor can access the journals. Emails typically go back and forth between specified people, not necessarily the entire class. Discussion boards show threads of communication that begin with an original post; these are good for critical thinking exercises. Finally, wikis are used for asynchronous group work where collaboration is necessary.

6. Describe a task or assignment you could use in an online class that would use either asynchronous or synchronous communication. Explain the task or assignment, identify the technology you would use to support the activity and explain why you chose that technology. Explain what you would do to ensure that the activity was successful.

I would like to try using the discussion board to close an assignment. For example, as a Computer Applications instructor I might give my students an assignment such as, “Create a flyer advertising an upcoming Halloween event using Microsoft Publisher and email it to the members of the class.” I would then post questions on the discussion board to get the students talking about the assignment and what they learned. An example of a prompt I might use is: “How did you decide the best layout for your flyer? What about graphics and font? Did you find any of the assignment difficult and if so, what part and how did you find a solution? What other documents could you create outside of school using Microsoft Publisher?”  I would make it mandatory for all students to share their thoughts about their own assignment by starting a thread underneath the questions/topic I created. I would also make it mandatory for students to give feedback on a certain number of the other student’s posts regarding their flyers. If it was a small class I would ask that students post a comment on all of their classmate’s threads so everybody receives some type of feedback on their work.

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