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The creation of an online learning space is not a relatively easy task. Selecting the most effective activity, tool or device for learning can be a very daunting task. Falling victim to flashy yet less efficient means of knowledge building can be a common mistake made by an instructor designing a learning space.
Personally, I have always struggled with this as I have always managed to get caught up chasing the rabbit down the rabbit hole on many new technological devices and software offerings that promise to improve learning.
As this was my fifth course within the Masters in Educational Technology (MET) program I had grown accustomed to specific routine for the flow of courses. Every course would follow a somewhat similar routine of course readings, followed by course postings and assignments that encouraged students to write about different theories and educational technology applications.
The implementation of a successful elearning strategy for Higher Education can be born from many places. Students from all walks of life look to different institutions that can provide access to the programs and certificates they need to pursue the careers that they wish to enter. When left on their own, Universities and Colleges can choose to lure in mature students looking to upgrade, and enhance their online course offerings to meet that need. For example, the University of Waterloo has an impressive online catalogue of courses provided by their Centre for Extended Learning. This program alone offers over 240 courses in over 40 subject areas. Although this is just one example of an Ontario University, there are a number of others such as Ryerson and Western that have started to recognize the competitive advantage in providing this service.
Storytelling is something that I have always enjoyed. Whether it is reading a novel to elementary students, or crafting a narrative of events that I have been part of, I have always found it useful. It is one of the oldest methods for educators, and is one that I feel is often forgot or under utilized within classrooms. Malcolm Gladwell has to be the pre-eminent example that exemplifies how teaching through stories makes learning more meaningful. When you can provide a real life example of your concept or theory in action, it makes it more tangible and allows the audience to become invested in the material presented.
I don’t think I would have ever seen the value behind the story of the development of Pesto’s Chunky Pasta line, until I heard it told by Malcolm Gladwell. However, it teaches a great lesson about diversity and how the pursuit of one perfect pasta sauce is a fallacy. Not every student learns the same, and not every palate wants a sweet pasta sauce. I reflected on this very lesson when I began my search for a platform that I could use to best illustrate and showcase my story.
“Knowledge is not a transferable commodity and communication not a conveyance.” This quote by Von Glaserfeld denotes a shift in thinking in how curriculum and consequent lesson planning should be designed. Meaningful learning occurs when the learner discovers the content on their own, by utilizing prior knowledge to help interpret what they are trying to rationalize (Glasersfeld, 2008).
Currently there are a number of different messaging apps that are in use across the globe. Apples iMessage, Japan’s Line, China’s WeChat, Silicon Valley’s WhatsApp, Waterloo’s BBM and Kik Interactive, Microsoft’s Skype and Lync as well as Google Hangout are all messaging systems that have garnered different corners of this market, however, there is no one clear leader of the pack.
For the longest time BBM was seen as the frontrunner for all enterprise and corporate users that wished to have secure group and individual conversations. However, the past five years have not been kind to BlackBerry and in 2012 and 2013 more and more smartphone users outside of the Blackberry world have been anxiously anticipating the release of a BBM app they can use on their devices, but to no avail. The former administration didn’t understand the current climate in this market and when CEO Thorstein Heins vetoed the rest of the board from pursuing this, they lost a huge portion of their users and left the door open for other devices and messaging services to take its place.