In this Annotated bibliography I want to share the research a made about transparency in online education. But how's transparency related with online education? To answer this question I organized several online resources that will guide you throw the exploration of the concept transparency and what does it mean in the context of online education.
I want to start with a funny but enlighten resource.
1. Figueiredo, José Carlos e Simões, Paulo. Transparency in Cooperative Online Education. Flv. Go! Animate, 2010. http://goanimate.com/movie/0t_WqQCZr6m8.
GoAnimate.com: Transparency in Cooperative Online Education by jcarlos
Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!
With this animated video we can start to understand what transparency is: The ability to share, as students, our learning paths and outcomes to a wider public beyond the closed sphere of teachers and colleges at school. The video underlies an important aspect essential in learning: feedback!
Feedback from colleges or random web user that are able to see and develop critical view of online students work. Comparing a close sharing environment, like schools, to a more transparent online educational environments, where openness provide a wider public view , this video gives us the base for discussing the importance of transparency in online education. Openness in sharing self made resources provides more feedback. More feedback drives more quality and cooperative learning between students.
This is a good base for developing the concept of transparency and it's importance to learning.
To develop a more precise idea for the concept of transparency in online education I recommend the reading of the following resource:
2. Valente, Sónia, e Telma Jesus.Transparency in Online Education. Janeiro 2010. Issuu. http://issuu.com/telmaesonia/docs/transparency_work_soniatelma1
One of those aspects is the definition and importance of transparency in online education, explained by Dalsgaard & Paulsen: "Transparency means that you and your doings are visible to fellow students and teachers within a learning environment (…) and to make participants available to each other as resources for their learning activities". I think this is definitely the best way to describe the importance of transparency. Individuals (students and teachers) sharing knowledge and feedback in an open learning environment.
Then the work develops the importance between tranparency between students and between tutors, again based on Paulsen and Dalsgaard paper.
One thing I may disagree is the very optimist conclusion presented in the end:
"Transparency brings the opportunity to improve knowledge quality with less effort, because exist many people to work and sharing for the same goal: learn more, learn better, in less time!" I do agree that a more transparente approach in online education brings improved quality and a more engaging learning experience, but I do not agree with the "less time" argument. If you work on a networked environment with multiple sources of knowledge, how can you learn faster if you have more information to digest. I don't want to affirm that you learn less. What I believe is that when you spend more time connecting with others, you can have more efficiency in producing new knowledge! That's my opinion. Networking gives you more information, more critical analysis, more quality, more efficiency and more motivation in the overall learning experience.
But how can universities develop this transparency and openness in their elearning framework?
To help answering this question I recommend the following article:
3. Dalsgaard, Christian. Social software: E-learning beyond learning management systems. Institute of Information and Media Studies - University of Aarhus. http://www.eurodl.org/materials/contrib/2006/Christian_Dalsgaard.htm.
In this papper, Dalsgaard argues the importance to "move e-learning beyond learning management systems and engage students in an active use of the web as a resource for their self-governed, problem-based and collaborative activities". Concentrating his arguments in a social constructivist view for online education, the author recommends an new approach for students learning activities and interactions based on social software and networks. The author don't want to "destroy" the LMS, a system that integrates the necessary tools to manage an elearning course. What the author challenges is how can be possible to integrate social software within an LMS.
The author presents some tools classified as social software: "The examples of social software technologies (…) include weblogs, wikis, RSS feeds and social bookmarking". One very important and lucid argument the author makes is recognizing that "Although social software tools are not created for educational purposes, I will argue that they can be used to support learning.". This is very important to understand the importance of integrating social software in a LMS. In fact, it's possible to combine the best of both online environments and I definitely agree with that!
Even more interesting is this conclusion:
"Using a management system, personal tools and social networks differs from the sole use of an integrated LMS. The approach differs in terms of focusing on empowerment of students as opposed to management of learning." This is major shift in actual educational models. To empower students instead of closing them in structured online course designed by a teacher. This is especially relevant for the development of students skills that "not only learn a specific topic, but they are equipped with tools to navigate and make active use of the web to solve future problems." and "After the end of a course or an education, the networks continue to exist. Continued participation in social networks and creation of new networks give people access to a vast number of people and other resources.". Now that transparency working for empowering students autonomy, cooperation and lifelong learning. Isn't this the objective of modern education? Yes, definitely!
A good example of how this integration (LMS + social software) is been developed is the NKI model for online education. The following resource, offer a view of NKI strategy:
4. Paulsen, Morten Flate. Visualizing Student Profiles through NKI's Online Catalogue and Student Networks. Cambridge International Conference on Open Distance Learning, Setembro 23, 2009. http://www.slideshare.net/MortenFP/visualizing-student-profiles-through-nkis-online-catalogue-and-student-network.
Visualizing Student Profiles through NKI's Online Catalogue and Student Network
With this slideshow is possible to see how NKI developed their approach for integrating social networks features in an online educational environment. By allowing students to developed a public profile (slide 15) and decide their privacy levels, students can involve with each other by connecting as learning partners. This strategy was well received by the students and the numbers of public profiles are increasing. More important is that this strategy allows individual flexibility and cooperative learning at different levels. Every students can decide how to progress and with who. This is only possible with transparency. And that transparency goes beyond the online education, as students use their profile as portfolio when seeking jobs. How many universities allow this?
I can clearly defend that transparency and social networks are important features that any online education institution must think and develop. Empowering students with personal learning environment, besides the common LMS, can drive them to more engaging, productive and quality based learning experience. My experience as an online student in Universidade Aberta is a proof of that!
These readings were important to me because now I have a more wider perspective for the development of the elearning framework that I want to develop to portuguese universities. Thinking beyond the LMS was already clear to me, but now I have the arguments to develop a new pedagogical and technical framework for elearning.
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