Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

technologyInteractive Tours Situation

A high school history teacher, located on the west coast of the United States, wants to showcase to her students new exhibits being held at two prominent New York City museums. The teacher wants her students to take a “tour” of the museums and be able to interact with the museum curators, as well as see the art work on display. Afterward, the teacher would like to choose two pieces of artwork from each exhibit and have the students participate in a group critique of the individual work of art. As a novice of distance learning and distance learning technologies, the teacher turned to the school district’s instructional designer for assistance. In the role of the instructional designer, what distance learning technologies would you suggest the teacher use to provide the best learning experience for her students?


As ID, our role is to ensure we design the best learning environment for the students (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). Interactivity is a key element to do so. Allowing students to use interactive tools / participate in interactive activities has been found to allow students to carry meaningful dialogues on the class’s forum (discussion board). Some expressed their excitement about being able to interact during class (Shen, Wang, & Pan, 2008, p. 1083).

Based on the above scenario, we can identify the following interactive needs:

  • Tour of the museum
  • Exchange with the museum staff
  • Selection of artwork and group discussion/debate

Of course, we would need some more detailed information about the learners, as “taking the time to learn about the learners in the class yields a more productive learning environment” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012, p.154). In this example, we will keep it generic on high school students, but for any application, we will need more details to finalize the propositions.

The first option we can offer to the teacher is to organize a video field trip. This would be an interesting option for the teacher, as participating in field trips engage students “in more critical and creative thinking outside the bound of the classroom, and allow students to engage more actively in the learning process” (Higgins, Dewhurst, & Watkins, 2012, p.102). As the students cannot travel to the museums, we have to bring the museum to them.
A lot of museums are actually offering live videoconference, either free or with a fee. The museum employee will be touring them throughout the museum and providing information about the artwork. The employee will be able to ask and answer questions to the students, in order to make the process very interactive. Examples can be found on the Amon Carter Museum of American Art and the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s website.
A very useful videoconferencing tool (if not provided by the museum directly) will be Acrobat Reader Connect. More than a standard videoconference tool, Adobe Connect will allow the teacher to record the tour in order to use it later with the class, to create interactive quizzes, and even set up breakout rooms to allow students to break into two groups to debate on some of the selected artworks (Adobe – Acrobat Connect Pro Demo, n.d.).

A second option would be to create an interactive map of the museum. Various online programs are offering this option, one of them being Nu Cloud. The design of the map is very attractive, especially for high school students, and will make the interactive tours very interactive, allowing students to wander around the museum and learn about the artwork presented. To be able to have interactivity with the museum staff, a videoconference (or basic phone call) can be organized at the same time to allow the employee to answer questions. Depending on the level of interactivity needed, a discussion forum can also be set for students to ask questions during their visit, and get the answer asynchronously by the employee. This could be organize to set expectations from the students to come in the next day to have answers to their questions.
The teacher can select some piece of artwork using the interactive map, and have a class debate on them. The debate / discussion could also be organize in a discussion forum. This might depend on the age of the students and what class they are in.
The interactive map created, the forums and videoconference link can all be set up in a CMS.

Videoconference tours have been efficiently used to enhance interactivity in classroom as presented in this article. Students are engaged as they are virtually on a field trip, and the interactivity created with the employee is allowing them to get answers to all of their questions.

Another example of the interest in interactive tours to learn about a place is the Google Project, working on getting the white house tour available. This will look similar to the street view option in the google maps, allowing people to get a “private tour” of the white house. This is a way for the Government to provide access to the US culture to the widest possible audience (Tour The White House With The Google Art Project | Techli, n.d.).

As ID, our role is to ensure we design the best learning environment for the students (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek, 2012). Interactivity is a key element to do so. Allowing students to use interactive tools / participate in interactive activities has been found to allow student to carry meaningful dialogues on the class’s forum (discussion board). Some expressed their excitement about being able to interact during class (Shen, Wang, & Pan, 2008, p. 1083).

References

Adobe – Acrobat Connect Pro Demo. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobatconnectpro/demo/
Classroom Videoconferences / American Art. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://americanart.si.edu/education/video/
Distance Learning | Amon Carter Museum of American Art. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.cartermuseum.org/learn/distance-learning
Higgins, N., Dewhurst, E., & Watkins, L. (2012). Field Trips as Teaching Tools in the Law Curriculum. Research In Education, 88102-106.
Live video makes historic tours, distance learning interactive – Your local online newspaper: News. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.presspubs.com/kanabec/news/article_42573c50-5d0b-11e3-b502-0019bb2963f4.html
Shen, R., Wang, M., & Pan, X. (2008). Increasing Interactivity in Blended Classrooms through a Cutting-Edge Mobile Learning System. British Journal Of Educational Technology, 39(6), 1073-1086.
Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson.
Tour The White House With The Google Art Project | Techli. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://techli.com/2012/04/google-uploads-the-white-house/

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One response to “Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

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