Sunday, September 26, 2010

Week 3 - Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

The Scenario

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?

Possible Learning Technologies to Use

With computer and internet-based technologies, new opportunities to provide a variety of learning activities has arisen for teachers. These new technologies promote “active learning, collaboration, mastery of course material, and student control over the learning process” (Simonson, Smaldino, Albright & Zvacek, 2009, pg. 232). Today’s children and teens are acquiring on their own, new approaches to accessing knowledge (Wiki’s, blogs, podcasts, google, facebook, etc), so it is important that from an instructional design perspective, the technology used be engaging and effective. Simonson, et al (2009) stated “the critical job of the educator is to be only as realistic as needed in order for learning to effectively occur (pg. 93). Effective use of different media allows the educator to bring sights and sound of the real world into the learning environment (Simonson, et al, 2009). As the instructional designer consulted in the above scenario, I would suggest the use of two different technologies. The first technology I would suggest the teacher use would be video conferencing with the curator at the museum. A program I recommend for this is Elluminate. Elluminate is a web-conferencing tool which allows users to view a presentation, listen to a speaker and participate in live chat. This tool would allow for real-time interaction with the curator while having an experience of visually seeing the museum through a virtual experience. Many schools and universities are utilizing technologies such as Elluminate to offer extended learning opportunities. Penn State University is one such institution. Rick Sherer, Assistant Director for Instructional Design and Delivery states "After reviewing several collaboration software tools, we felt that Elluminate Live! was the most appropriate solution for the support of synchronous events in online distance education environments (Retrieved from on September 25, 2010)

The second technology I would suggest the teacher use is a Wiki. A wiki “is a Web site that allows users to add and update content on the site using their own Web browser. This is made possible by Wiki software that runs on the Web server. Wikis end up being created mainly by a collaborative effort of the site visitors” ( A wiki would allow the teacher to post pictures of the artwork chosen to include in the class discussion. The teacher could create a page for each piece of artwork and include discussion questions. The students could then create their own pages to record their thoughts about the artwork as well as answers to the discussion questions and perhaps some of their own questions. Following this, the teacher could engage the classroom in a verbal discussion to complete the learning experience. The use of a wiki in this lesson allows learners the opportunity to publish their thoughts in a collaborative environment where others can respond and engage each other in new thinking. Osgood, J. (2009), has used wiki’s in her classroom and states “The optimal benefit of using a wiki for classroom education is the ability to facilitate and document collaboration among class members".


Elluminate :

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2009). Teaching and Learning at a Distance: Foundations of Distance Education (4th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson. (2005) retrieved from:

Osgood, J. (2009). Virginia Commonwealth University School of Social Work website: retrieved from


  1. There are a great many technologies out there that caters not only for corporate learning solutions but primary and secondary education too!

  2. Margaret,
    Excellent resources for engaging your learners. It is important to motivate students and allowing them to work in domains they currently using provides connection and purpose. Well done! --Deanna