Impact of Technology and Multimedia on Online Learning

Impact of Technology and Multimedia

The Role of Technology in Online Learning

Technology is one of the primary components of online learning. Online learning is not just about the delivery of content; it must also integrate technologies that enhance the overall experience. Technology tools can make or break the educational experience of learners. As posited by Palloff and Pratt (n.d.), the effective integration of various technologies need to ultimately serve to enhance the learner experience and provide opportunities for a deeper level of content development.

Similarly, the universal design of learning is ‘applied when curriculum designers create products to meet the needs of students with a wide range of abilities and learning styles and preferences” (Burgstahler, S. 2008). According to the UDL curriculum, the following three components are essential. They are (a) multiple means of representation- to give learners various ways of acquiring information and knowledge; (b) multiple means of expression- to provide learners alternatives for demonstration of what they know; and (c) multiple means of engagement- to tap into learners’ interests, offer appropriate challenges, and increase motivation. It is essential for software and web developers to create programs that not only gain the interests of learners on a visual level, but also provide opportunities for learners to directly interact with the content through various learning activities.

Considerations

There is a great deal of discussion regarding how interactivity leads to deeper learning and comprehension of content. Moreno & Mayer (2007) contend that it is the quality of the interaction not the quality of content that determines whether real learning takes place. Palloff & Pratt (n.d.) warn that it is essential to be judicious in technology selections. No tool should be used simply because it is available. Tools should only be used to help learners attain learner objectives. One way to ensure this is to allow students a choice in the types of tools they will use. By providing examples of technology resources, students can select those in which they are most familiar and comfortable. Again, these tools must be purposeful and significant so that they not only correlate with learning goals but allow students to demonstrate some level of content mastery.

Web 2.0 technology has helped to enhance learner participation through strategically designed opportunities for interaction and collaboration. For example, there are hosts of tools that allow for user generated content. Such examples include Wiki Pages, Blogs, Skype, and discussion boards.

Usability and Accessibility

It is important that selected technology tools are easily navigated by students. Unless a student is working on courses in the area of instructional technology or advanced computer science, they should not need to have an advanced technical skill set in order to navigate selected technology tools. Palloff and Pratt (n.d.) also warn that instructional facilitators have to remember that a benefit of online learning- attending class from anywhere; can also be a challenge. There are some students, depending on geographical location that may not be able to access technology tools with a level of speed or accuracy that is necessary. For example, a person located in a rural area may only be offered dial-up services. In this case, most Web 2.0 technologies that are integrated in online courses will be so slow that they will come a deterant for students rather than the intended enhancements.

Final Thoughts

I recognize that technology will continue to have a significant role on teaching and learning. Specifically, I am reminded of theories centering on social learning. These theories go beyond what students learn…they consider how students learn. Brown and Adler (2008) posit that our understanding of content is socially constructed through conversations about that content and through grounded interactions, especially with others, around problems or actions. Thus, both instructional designers and facilitators must incorporate strategies that allow for social learning in order to lead to deeper content development.

Brown, J. S., & Adler, R. P. (2008). Minds on fire: Open education, the long tail, and learning

2.0. EDUCAUSE Review, 43(1), 16–32.

Burgstahler, S. (2008). Universal design in education: Principles and application. Retrieved from

http://www.unco.edu/cetl/udl/JobAids/UD_education_system.pdf

Moreno, R., & Mayer, R. (2007). Interactive multimodal learning environments. Educational Psychology Review, 19(3), 309–326.

Palloff, R. & Pratt, K. (n.d.). Enhancing the online experience. {Video Presentation}.

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