Supporting Online Learners with New and Emerging Technologies
There has been an increase in the use of Web-based ‘collaborationware’ in recent years. These web 2.0 applications in particular wikis, blogs, podcasts and facebook are being adopted by many educational institutions. These tools offer the opportunity for powerful information sharing and ease of collaboration. The Distance Education Unit of the Ministry of Education is attempting to these emerging technologies such as blogs, wikis, podcasts and facebook as a natural element in the tutoring in the National Open School of Trinidad and Tobago. (NOSTT) // It was decided due to financial considerations that these alternative solutions be adopted to deal with students who were out of the natural school system or who had spent limited time in the classroom. // Notwithstanding the apparent digital divide that exists and other issues of accessibility the question of using the appropriate technology was at hand. // It was hypothesized that if learners had additional and easy access to their tutors and to other learners that the collaborative effect would result in greater participation and increased averages. // It is in this regard that a pilot is being run using the technologies in question. These include blogs, wikis, facebook, elluminate vroom. // Wikis are Web sites that can be edited by anyone who has access to them. The word “blog” is a contraction of “Web Log”- an online Web journal that can offer a resource rich multimedia environment. Podcasts are repositories of audio and video files that can be ‘pushed’ to subscribers, even without user intervention. These audio and video files can be downloaded to portable media players that can be taken anywhere, providing the potential for “anytime, anywhere” learning experiences. // A blog is a website where entries are made in a journal style and displayed in reversed chronological order. Whereas a wiki is a website that allows users to easily edit, add, remove and change the content of pages, sometimes without the need for registration. Facebook is another social networking website that was originally designed for college students but is now open to anyone over the age of thirteen years. . : Elluminate, the company offers live web conferencing and e-learning solutions for academic and corporate markets. // These were selected because they were proven to very effective tools that support asynchronous and synchronous online learning / teaching.
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