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ePedagogy in Online Learning: New Developments in Web Mediated Human Computer Interaction
Date Reviewed: March 6, 2015
This volume consists of fourteen chapters designed “to provide a useful handbook on adopting interactive Web 2.0 tools that promote effective human-computer interaction (HCI) in ePedagogical practice for education and training” (xv). Each essay presents data for the consideration of educators and administrators who are preparing to be or who are actively involved in virtual education. Primarily, the contributors explore using Web 2.0 tools such as Blackboard/Moodle, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, wikis, and blogs, but there is much more.
The chapters are divided into four sections. The first contains essays to help the reader think clearly about methodology as it relates to the continual evolution of online education. The second section consists of essays focusing on differences between synchronous (everyone must meet at the same time either in physical or virtual space) and asynchronous learning (done on one’s own time, such as watching recorded lectures or using message boards to communicate with other students). The third section focuses on how educators might measure student development in a virtual environment. The final section is the most technical with essays dedicated to the use of software and online systems.
This book does not offer quick-and-easy steps for one to follow toward successful ePedagogy. It is dense, heavily technical at points, and it requires readers to set aside time to read attentively. An educator of theological studies will have to creatively search for ways to transfer information to their own setting since none of the essays are directly related to this field.
The essays are social-scientific in nature. The testing conditions and criteria are unique to each particular essay, taking place in geopolitical regions as distinct as Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Taiwan, the United States, and Vietnam. The diversity is promising, offering encounters with a wide-array of scenarios wherein Web 2.0 tools function. On the other hand, the principles offered cannot be understood in a vacuum without reference to context.
This book may be best used as an occasional reference. In other words, it is not the type of practical book one would read through in a few sessions. The most useful part of each chapter for the casual reader may be the list of works referenced at the end of each study. These short bibliographies invite further exploration.
In summary, readers will find insightful academic essays that will assist them in their professional development as educators in a virtual context. The essays are based on data acquired through rigorous research. The uniqueness of each case study requires the reader to actively sift universals from particulars in order to determine what information may assist them in their own work, and the technical nature of the book will require non-experts to familiarize themselves with much of the vocabulary.
Assuring Quality in Online Education: Practices and Processes at the Teaching, Resource, and Program Levels
Date Reviewed: February 12, 2015
This volume engages current debates on establishing or maintaining quality online education, instructional practices, and educational innovation. The book is divided into four parts: (1) five essays on “overview and implications of practices and processes for assuring quality,” (2) six essays on “quality assurance and continuous improvement at the course design and teaching levels,” (3) six essays on “processes for assuring quality at resource and program levels,” and (4) two essays of “final thoughts.”
Thirty-nine education practitioners wrote either single-authored or multi-authored essays for this collection of nineteen articles. Some of them direct online education, quality control, or program assessment. A few others serve in K-12 online learning programs. A couple of contributors hold communications or marketing appointments. Nearly all hold administrative educational leadership or are academic researchers or professors. Many of the authors work at institutions of higher learning located in Pennsylvania. Others teach at institutions located in Colorado, Illinois, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington DC, and British Columbia.
On the book’s coverage of topics, I expected to find and found, pieces about improving course design, determining effectiveness and faculty development, and reviewing culturally diverse student populations. Significant online education concerns are addressed in stand-alone essays: ethics, academic advising, learning analytics, knowledge management, contact hours in online education, and accreditation. The volume also includes a helpful essay on concerns about online accessibility (including reaching disabled persons), affordability, and accountability. Interesting contributions include “The Sloan Consortium Pillars and Quality Scorecard,” that is used to benchmark effectiveness, efficiencies, and innovation, and “The Power of a Collaborative, Collegial Approach to Improving Online Teaching and Learning.” Of notable mention is the careful attempt throughout to focus on issues related to: government – federal, state, and district levels, accrediting agencies, professional bodies, faculty, managers/administrators, controllers, assessors, and learners.
Teaching Theology & Religion readers may find a number of relevant essays. The volume does not engage theological education or religious studies in the liberal arts. Still, discussions and principles raised are transposable to online religious education. Online religion studies and theology programs continue to become more popular. A 2012 study of online education in the United States shows that 70 percent of higher education institutions surveyed have recognized the critical importance of online education; 6.7 million students enrolled in at least one online course (I. Elaine Allen and Jeff Seaman, Changing Course, Babson Survey Research Group, Pearson Education, and Sloan Consortium, 2013). An August 2014 web search at www.GradSchools.com lists more than 150 accredited online religious programs: 51 doctorates, 138 masters, 22 certificates, and 7 hybrid programs. Religious community online has been empirically investigated (Heidi Campbell, Exploring Religious Community Online, Peter Lang, 2005). In time, religious educators will also study this phenomenon. Until then, religious educational administrators and leaders can contextualize insights from this volume with classical areas of program creation and evaluation in curriculum, instruction, institution, faculty, and student components, to provide innovative online educational program.
Pedagogical Applications and Social Effects of Mobile Technology Integration
Date Reviewed: February 6, 2015
This edited volume of seventeen articles explores the impact of mobile technologies on the field of education. In the Foreword, authors Greg Levitt and Steven Grubaugh believe “we are at the forefront of a computing paradigm shift that will change how teachers and students interact with the world of educational connectivity, content, pedagogy, and learning” (xiv). Since the introduction of the first touch screen cell phones in 2007, mLearning [mobile learning] educators have been engaging the possibilities and potential of this technology for education. The editor argues that the capabilities of mobile technologies make “each student’s end user experience with mobile learning . . . much richer than it might be on a computer” (xiv). The authors represent a variety of disciplines including education, management, engineering, computer science, and instructional technology.
The volume is divided into two sections. The first offers fourteen chapters on the theme of pedagogical applications for the best practices in mobile technology integration (xvii). These articles explore a variety of platforms including e-readers, i-Pads, GPS devices, and various mobile phones and tablets. These devices give mLearning “two distinct features… [one,] it allows educational processes to take place anywhere and at any time; and two, it includes any kind of handheld device which is small and easy to carry and that uses a communication technology” (194). Several articles engage BYOD [bring your own device] programs, new literacies, digital storytelling, microblogging, web 2.0 and 3.0, social media, and flipped learning. They examine the impact of moving from static information to interactive and socially connected, collaboratively produced information with Web 2.0 and 3.0 tools. They argue that mobile devices shift pedagogy from a teacher-centered classroom to a student-centered one (124). The second section provides three chapters on the subjects of social applications and tools for effective mobile technology integration (xviii). The articles examine user-generated content and the social implications of mLearning for global learning.
Even though none of these articles specifically address theological education, mLearning will impact theological education in the near future. Seminaries and Schools of Theology have been slow to incorporate new technologies into instruction. However, as the text points out, the adoption rate of mobile devices worldwide has outpaced all past technologies including radio, television, desktop computer, and laptop computers (206) and theological education will need to address this societal change. The power and the challenge of mLearning is that it is constantly changing. What an author explores in an article today might be outdated by the time it is published. The epistemological questions and approaches of this text will remain valid for years, but the technological applications will only be valid for a few years. Designing a twenty-first century theological curriculum requires faculty to prepare students to live, work, and do ministry in an increasingly complex, technologically savvy world, and this volume is a good discussion starter.
Two important technological issues are highlighted for schools to consider: what is their capacity to integrate mLearning devices with their existing platforms, and will the school provide the device or ask students to use their own (197). For administrators and faculty who want to investigate mLearning, chapter 13 “Quality Education for Children, Youth, and Adults Through Mobile Learning,” and chapter 14 “The Changing Roles of Faculty and Students when Mobile Devices Enter the Higher Education Classroom,” provide an excellent introduction to the field, suggest implications for pedagogical practices, and outline advantages and challenges of this technology for learning. This book is recommended for theological libraries which support institutions with online education programs.