Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Continued Expansion of Blended and Fully Online Learning

I found really interesting and exciting the reports that show the great increase of online courses and online programs across all academic levels in the United States. Indeed, according to the most recent Allen and Seaman’s (2010) "Learning on Demand" report (located at there was a 17% annual growth in online enrollment from 2007 to 2008. In my opinion this increase shows that students are having more confidence in taking online courses and that academic institutions already started understanding the importance of offering fully online programs. However, hopefully the fact that the demand for online learning is increasing might not somehow jeopardize the quality of some programs which just for offering online courses too would not be properly designed and developed.

On the other hand, it was little bit discouraging to read the results of the Eduventures (2010) report regarding the trends in instructional tool usage in online education programs because it seems that most online programs are heavily text-based which means that institutions are not really investing time and effort in utilizing some of the new technologies provided by the Internet. Of course, this statement doesn’t necessarily imply that by using more recent technologies online courses will be taught better. Institutions should also provide the professional development opportunities for instructors to learn the best practices to integrate such technologies into their virtual classrooms.

Personally, I think that the trend is that little by little institutions will implement new technologies as part of their online courses such as mobile learning, Web 2.0, immersive environments, etc. The appropriate integration of these technologies will then boost the continued expansion of online learning not only in the United States but in other countries as well. As a matter of fact, there are many countries still reluctant to take advantage of the benefits provided by online education. Education institutions in those countries might already offer a blended program or a few online courses but not a fully online program. It will be interesting to see if other countries follow the same growth in online courses as the United States within the following years.

Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2010, January). Learning On Demand: Online Education in the United States, 2009.

Trends in Instructional Tool Usage in Online Education Programs, Research Brief, Eduventures, February 2010

Saturday, September 18, 2010


Yeah, I know that there are many advantages of using e-books such as portability, accessibility, and probably the most important, promoting ecology by saving trees. However, I'm not completely convinced that these advantages are enough to support the Governator's plan to replace all textbooks in schools in California. It seems that the main reason he's doing that is trying to save in the consumption of textbooks but I wonder if there are other alternatives (such as simply re-using the textbooks) .

I'm not againts e-books, I think it's awesome to be able to have books online, especially if they have advanced features such as bookmarking, highlighting and providing word definitions. However my main concern of replacing textbooks by e-books is that not all of the kids will be able to afford a digital divice to access the e-books and even if they did, there is always a big chance of the device being stolen, broken or becoming obsolete. For instance, my HP Jornada PocketPC just lasted 3 years before becoming obsolete and based on my own experience, most devices last just about that long.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Digital Literacy

In the 21st century, being literate means knowing more than just read and write. A literate person will be that one who knows how to effectively use information technologies and how to integrate them in their daily professional and personal lives.

However, according to the 21st Century Skills organization, there seems to exist a "profound gap between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need in typical 21st century communities and workplaces" (21st Century Skills report, n.d.). One of the possible reasons for this gap is that current teachers and school administrators are relunctant to use them or simply don't possess the knowledge and expertise to integrate current technologies into their classrooms.
There are still many people who consider technology to be more harmful than helpful, e.g. Jarion Lanier and Nicholas Carr. They argue that technology is diminishing our mental abilities, for instance, we are not exercising our brains any more to learn several phone numbers since now we depend completely of our phone devices to store them. Furthermore, Carr argues that several studies show that people are not reading books any more because they have a harder time trying to focus.
Personally, I think that it is important for students to become digital literates because they will have more and better professional opportunities. To me, being literate also includes to be wise about using the technology in the most appropriate way. Also, it is important that students develop strategic thinking skills because tecnology as such is constantly changing. As instructors we need to prepare students so they can easily re-adjust their skills when a new technology comes up.
Learning for the 21st Century (A Report and MILE Guide for 21st Century Skills) (no date).