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Oct 17

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Educational Technology in Open and Distance Learning

Still blogging the ICDE 2013 conference. Panel Sessions #2.

Exploration and Practice on Promoting Digital Learning Community Construction Based on Mobile Internet Technology – By Taking “Fujian Lifelong Learning Online” as an Example

By Shen Guanghui, The Open University of Fujian, China

China’s mobile users – about 75%. Fujian Lifelong Learning Online – www.fjrtvu.edu.cn – The platform has unique features: a distributed management system to share resources between the master site and the subsites. Columns can be changed for the users needs. The platform has massive digital learning resources. Every user can also be a provider. They have 40,000 elearning resources for every age group. The platform offers personalized supportive services, including search methods accordingly to curriculum, lecturers, or other features. Their online times are tracked; online counseling is available. It includes intelligent question answering, SNS setting, flexible information managing.

They have targeted 8 cities, 30 counties and 2 villages in the Fujian province. It offers new learning modes and promotes learning organization construction. It provides one-to-one or one-to-many learning. Their audience included the elderly, migrant workers, and community people.

The platform includes ground crew workers’ training, network information security personnel training, primary and middle school teach training, advertising personnel training, with 160,000 enrollments.

A key success factor is the government providing strong digital networks and access throughout the community.

Another strategy shared was to promote online and offline connection through community activities and seminars – to make connections between real and virtual communities.

Access is key to a successful mobile learning strategy. I’ve now heard from China, Korea, and South Africa on mobile learning. The students’ consistent ability to access is key. In China and Korea, partnership with government and/or business was crucial to providing access.

Increasing of Interest to Utilization of the Internet through Online Simulation in the New Student Orientation

By Soleh Hadiryanto, from the Open University in Indonesia

Does the online simulation in the class increase the utilization of the Internet? The study examined the interest of students in using the Internet, using it for learning resources, the barriers the students faced, and what they thought of the online simulation. They looked at the simulation and how it changed the students’ interest in utilizing the Internet as measured with a questionnaire. Interest in using the Internet was moderate before they participated in the online simulation. Their interest definitely increased after they participated in the online simulation; however there were some obstacles in participating in the online simulation.  Recommendations: The instructor should give the opportunity for students to have enough time for the experiment. More computers are needed to for students to participate in the online simulation.

Captioning in Distance Education

By Yoshitomo Yaginuma from The Open University of Japan.

Captioning is important for students with hearing impairments, developmental disabilities, learning disabilities, and for foreign students. Captions are important to exchange TV lecture serious internationally. The Open University of Japan delivers more than 150 TV lectures every year. They are trying to make all of the lectures 100% captioned. In this study, they evaluated a crowd-sourcing captioning system, and created systems to retrieve lecture movies to provide keyword search and associative search. The crowd-sourcing approach shares the work of captioning to the general public. They used the Collaborative Caption Editing System developed by IBM. With crowd-sourcing, the experts in captioning check for quality and make corrections. The system allows the workers to caption without manipulating the video. The crowd sourcing method was faster 8.4  vs. 11.7 (x the original length of the video). SRT is the most popular closed caption format. Speech recognition helped shave off even more time (8.1x the original length of the video).

Caption data can be used as indexes to create effective retrieval methods of the lecture movements. Keyword search is possible as well as associative search (which looks similar to the online thesaurus searching).

A South African Distance Learning Case Study: Reducing Distance Through Mobile Technology

By Patrick Mafenya, from the University of South Africa

This study started because the university was criticized for not using technology to provide access to UNISA through using more technologies. They explored probabilities of reducing transactional distance between students and the institution. Educational technologies have the potential to expand educational opportunities to the marginalized and disadvantaged. 90% of the population in South African uses mobile phones. They used focus groups and individual interviews to collect data from the students. UNISA is a purely distance education university, but they have facilities for students to come and meet with professors face to face as well. Participants were from 5 colleges and were only first year students. Findings of the study included the following themes from the participants perceptions and experiences: limited electrical infrastructure, lack of financial resources, limited bandwidth, inadequate human resource capacity, isolation, and organizational barriers. The university and the government provide learning centers in the rural areas that have the same access as is available in the cities. They still have print based materials to reach the students without Internet access. Reaching the disadvantaged is a reason to explore the use of mobile devices for learning. Cell phones are easy and cheap. Cell phones are used for reminders, reminders of assignments due, etc. They want to grow to using the cell phone as a learning tool as well.

Reflection: With the mobile technology theme, there are definitely clear uses for administrative communication – which helps the students feel connected and cared for. Depending on level of Internet access and the cost of the data plans, the mobile devices could provide access to content and assessments.

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