Saturday, December 18, 2010

Lessons from the SLOAN Online Learning Conference - Part 2

This is Part 2: Social Networking and my poster on videoconferencing at the FLC.
Part 1 is here: Whats going on in Online Learning.

Social networking is certainly a hot topic in education. The conference had several sessions on social networking, web 2.0, and other related topics. I made a point to attend some of these sessions since this was one of my top criteria for attending the conference.

As expected the buzz on social networking was high, though it seemed that many were still not sure how (and why) to use social networking in the classroom. Hilbelink (Kaplan Higher Ed) stated that one of the issues with social networking sites is that they are in a constant state of change. The information can become overwhelming to absorb and difficult to filter and becomes frustrating to stay up-to-date. In her presentation
she mentioned that social networking can add to a personal learning network, supplementing other learning and professional endeavors such as journal reading, conference participation, and association membership.

Though doubt on the use of social networks in classes was high, examples of successful social networking use were many. Stoloff, a professor from Eastern Connecticut State was using ePals to connect with other instructors, and participants made use of international virtual connections to supplement their understandings of education in other nations. In his colloquium, local students developed projects on cultural aspects of one of these nations – culture, music, food, etc. These presentations were posted on a wikispace/blog and the international participants were able to critique the presentations and to correspond with the local students. Through this international/intercultural exchange, undergraduates learned of commonalities and differences between student lives across the global. Connections like these give a better understanding of culture than just textbooks or Internet articles.

Shelly Nice (Berkeley College) agrees that social networking has moved beyond an emerging technology and is very common among students in higher education. In her presentation “Research on Using Social Networking in the Classroom” she stated that it is now possible to integrate Facebook into a traditional course and class material can be shared in various forms and from multiple media outlets: computers, cell phone, etc. The audience (as expected) was very interested in seeing how Facebook and similar social networking mediums could be used in education and had very good questions.

Poster Presentation - Videoconferencing Technology: Reaching Out to Learners All Over the World

The objective of my poster presentation was to share the various ways that the Foreign Language Center (FLC) has used videoconferencing technology to enhance language learning at Ohio State University (OSU). I have noted that in several other organizations videoconferencing (VC) systems get only used for some classes and very little else. At the FLC, we have found numerous ways to use the VC system to benefit the faculty, students, and the university community. Besides language classes the FLC has used videoconferencing for training seminars, different types of conferences, departmental meetings, interviews, dissertation defenses, meetings with various experts to talk to students, and more. The FLC hosted famous French musician Moussu T for a live concert and a Q/A session that was groundbreaking for a video based session. Other interesting events include career seminars, an American Sign Language (ASL) conference, talking to authors in various countries to discuss their books for learners here at OSU, and more. In addition, the FLC is now able to digitally capture these sessions and stream and/or reuse them.
The presentation was well received. Many participants were interested to learn more about how we had done these events. Many were curious about costs and how these connections were made. The entire presentation can be downloaded from here!

REFERENCES: PRESENTATIONS (as appearing in this post)
  • Amy Hilbelink, “Out of Social Networking Sites”
  • David Stoloff, “Web Collaborations for an International, CrossCultural Education Colloquium”
  • Shelly Nice, “Using Social Networking in the Classroom”
Technologies discussed: Online learning, Blended learning, Social Networking, Web 2.0, Facebook, Learning Management System

Contact me:
Sujan Manandhar
Technology Integration Specialist,
Foreign Language Center
Ohio State University

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