E-tivities: The Key to Active Online Learning

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They are motivating, engaging, purposeful activities developed and led by an e-moderator. They are frameworks for active and interactive online learning. E-tivities are in the hands of the teachers themselves and promote active e-learning. This is not a book about the technology of online learning. The study aimed at finding the extent to which participants understood the concepts of e-moderation and e-tivities. We analyzed the participants' performance in three different tasks to give account of the incorporation of the concepts.

The results from the analysis of the tasks showed that participants understand online processes, they have some technical skills and they have many personal characteristics that will help them become e-moderators. Key words : E-moderation, e-moderator, e-tivity, foreign language teaching, higher education, online course, teacher's professional development. Online education and technology-enhanced learning are becoming important issues for higher education programs and language education is no exception.

These professional development programs should help faculty develop skills to cope with students' challenging abilities to engage in more informal learning opportunities outside the classroom. Teachers in our institution have several needs regarding the development of moderation skills and the design of online language activities since when teaching online, they are more concerned about assigning grades than promoting interaction or designing new activities for their courses.

To respond to the needs of our language faculty, we designed a professional development strategy that helps them develop the skills to deal with the new challenges they face when trying to embed technology into their teaching. The program focuses not only on the instrumental use of the tools, such as setting up a blog; it also focuses on its pedagogical use.

For example, reflecting on the ways to use a blog to teach a concept or to develop a skill such as identifying the main idea of a text. The course was designed based on two concepts: e-moderation and e-tivities. In this section of the paper, we will go through some experiences in which the concepts of e-moderation and e-tivites are part of a professional development program and we will examine those concepts. Finally, Shin and Bickel report that in order to have successful professional development strategies or programs, training needs to be aligned with the trainees' needs so participants perceive training as something positive for their professional practice.

E-moderation is a term coined by Salmon that refers to processes of managing the communication among teachers and students in online environments and the skills online teachers or e-moderators employ to establish a teacher's presence in an online environment. Salmon developed a model for appropriately moderating an online course see Figure 1. Success of online learning depends on the appropriate integration of learning about technologies and learning through or with technologies Macdonald, The model seeks to promote the interaction between groups of peers and the e-moderator who plays the role of mediator and supporter Berge, The implementation of the model to design courses has benefits for designers, e-moderators, and participants.

E-tivities have several characteristics: they make the work of the teachers more productive and focused, they are focused on the learners; they transfer the knowledge to the resources and the learners' skills to access information because they are based on the idea that knowledge is socially constructed; e-tivities are cheap and are easily combined with face-to-face environments Richards, ; Salmon, Rumble , reflecting on the costs of producing learning materials as an aspect that may hinder innovation in higher education and advocating for the implementation of e-tivities, says that:.

  • Kundrecensioner.
  • E-tivities are valuable for:.
  • Leicester Research Archive: E-tivities: the key to active online learning.
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Herrington, Reeves, and Oliver suggest that e-tivities promote engagement because they build up robust and usable knowledge through authentic tasks and situations. Laurillard and Scharmer as cited in Salmon, , characterize e-tivities as a way of accessing and digitally applying teachers' creativity, vision, and inspiration. This study is a single instrumental case study with a holistic and interpretative approach to data analysis.

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  5. It is single instrumental because it focuses on a specific issue; it uses a holistic and interpretative approach to analyze the data because the entire case is examined and descriptions, themes, and interpretations related to the case are presented Creswell, ; Merriam, ; Stake, ; Yin, We followed a case study as a research approach because it allowed us to explore and analyze the course to answer the following research questions: 1 What e-moderator competencies from the ones proposed by Salmon's model of online learning and teaching are identified in the forum discussion in the course?

    In this section of the paper, we will provide a description of the course used as a professional development strategy. The course has been offered twice , and had a hour intensity. The first time in a blended modality with 10 hours of face-to-face meetings and the other 22 hours were used for asynchronous work such as forum participation and preparation of e-tivities and readings and the second time completely online.

    The course runs on the Moodle platform and has five Units. Unit 0 is an introductory unit containing a welcome message, the methodology, the content, the course timetable, the assessment, two forums, the references used in the course, and the course and teachers' evaluation. Unit 1 explores the concepts of e-moderation and e-tivity.

    It has a video about the reasons to include technology in the classrooms and readings and presentations that explore the main concepts of the course. Unit 2 explores internal-to-Moodle resources.


    It contains video tutorials on how to set up a questionnaire, a chat room, an assignment, a forum discussion, a sample and a tutorial to design a rubric to assess a forum discussion. Unit 3 explores external-to-Moodle resources. The unit presents video tutorials of different resources for teaching reading and listening, a video about the advantages of using an LMS or the open web as a learning platform. The final unit of the course embodies the assessment, where participants have to design and upload an e-tivity.

    There were 20 participants in this study, 14 teachers from the first version of the course and six teachers from the second version. None of the participants had any prior experience working with e-tivities or with the concept of e-moderation, but most of them had previously worked with the Moodle platform at least once in their academic or professional life. See Figures 2 , 3 , and 4 for more information about the characteristics of the participants.

    We, as moderators, asked the participants to complete three tasks during the eight weeks that the courses lasted.

    Gilly Salmon e-tivities. Review.

    Participants' contributions to a forum discussion for Tasks 1 and 3 and an assignment submission for Task 2 were used as data sources in order to obtain qualitative information; the instruments also allowed for some quantitative analysis in terms of frequencies and percentages, which are reported in the results section. In Task 1, participants had to discuss the principles of e-moderation and the roles and skills of e-moderators; they posted their contributions to a forum discussion that was later collected for analysis.

    This task was analyzed in light of the e-moderators' competences outlined by Salmon There was at least one contribution per participant and the time allowed for completing this task was one week.

    The Key to Active Online Learning, 2nd Edition

    Table 1 shows the instrument used to analyze this task. In Task 2, participants had to design an e-tivity. Each participant designed one e-tivity which they published in a space for online assignments submission in the platform and the e-tivities were collected at the end of each course. This task was analyzed using a checklist based on the characteristics of e-tivities: title, a clearly explained purpose, a brief summary of the task, clear instructions for the participants, requested responses from an individual to others, instructions for the e-moderator, total time allowed for the completion of the activity, and link to the next activity as described in Table 2.

    And, in Task 3, participants had to describe the strategies and activities that could be incorporated in an online course based on Salmon's model. There were about 42 posts since each participant had contributed at least twice. This task was analyzed using a three-column chart: The first column contains the stages described in the model access and motivation, online socialization, information exchange, knowledge construction and development.

    The second column comprises the strategies in the model setting up and accessing the system, sending and receiving messages, carrying out activities, reporting and discussing findings, conferencing, course-related discussions, critical thinking applied to subject material, making connections between models and work-based learning experiences, use of conferencing in a strategic way, and reflection on learning process. The third column presents some of the activities or actions that can be carried out in each stage: for example, welcome and encouragement, introductions and icebreakers, assigning roles and responsibilities, asking questions and encouraging discussions and reflection.

    This segment of the paper reports the results from the analysis of the tasks assigned to the participants. Results from Task 1 report the e-moderator competencies. Results from the second task report on e-tivity design and the results from the third task give an account of the strategies and activities the participants may implement in an online course based on Salmon's model.

    The results from this task are reported in terms of the competences we identified from the ones proposed by Salmon and are not intended to make a difference between the competencies that the participants brought to the course and the ones they developed during the course. Also, the results are not intended to make a categorization of the competencies in the blended and the online versions of the course.

    These results seek to answer the research question: What e-moderator competencies from the ones proposed by Salmon's model of online learning and teaching are identified in the forum discussions? The forum discussions from participants in both versions of the course show several personal characteristics that can help participants develop the necessary skills to become e-moderators.

    They show determination and motivation to become e-moderators. The following post reflects how the concept of e-moderation helps a participant understand what an online teacher should be:. They also show a positive attitude, commitment, and enthusiasm for online learning. The following participant's contribution shows that she is very motivated towards online learning and she harbors a strong desire to be trained in the use of technology in education:.

    Another characteristic participants developed in both versions of the course was to establish an online identity as e-moderators which means creating an online presence by means of a profile picture and a personal e-moderating style that are reflected on writing and message style. All participants built their profiles in the platform with a personal description, a picture, and a brief summary of interests. A sample is presented in Figure 5. Sensitivity to online relationships and communication is another personal characteristic identified in the participants' contributions that allow e-moderators to facilitate online processes; it implies providing suitable feedback and using language appropriately Salmon, These posts are examples of these characteristics:.

    Reflecting on the role of different language skills in online learning also shows the participants' willingness to work in online learning environments. A participant discusses the role of the written language in online settings to give instructions and to promote clarity:. Creating and sustaining a useful and relevant online learning community also appeared in the discussions in the forums in both courses.

    However, this would be an issue to further explore. This post reflects that discussion:.

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    Regarding technical issues, participants had the basic technical skills and the willingness to be trained as e-moderators such as reasonably good keyboard skills and some experience using networked computers or an LMS Salmon, However, they stressed the need to know how to use special features of software to be incorporated in their online lessons. Participants in both versions of the course seem to be able to build online trust, to help others in online environments and to understand the potential of online learning to support students Salmon, Salmon defines those competences as necessary skills prospective e-moderators should have to become e-moderators.

    The following posts show how participants think online learning helps them find ways of addressing their students' needs and how they help their students feel confident in their online courses:. They also showed other characteristics such as being able to appreciate the basic structures of online conferencing and the web.

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    In this post from a participant, we can see an example of this appreciation:. Participants in both versions of the course seem to know how to pace discussions and use time online. In this post, a participant explains how he facilitates discussions in his online classes:. Table 3 shows a summary of the qualities and the characteristics identified in the forum discussion in Task 1.

    This section of the paper reports the characteristics of the e-tivities the participants designed. The characteristics of the e-tivities are based on Salmon's , e-tivity framework.

    E-tivities | The Key to Active Online Learning | Taylor & Francis Group

    The results from this task are intended to give account of the characteristics identified in the e-tivities, hence, the results are not intended to provide a deep analysis of the e-tivities designed in each version of the course blended and fully online. However, we will provide a certain degree of comparison.

    The results from this task seek to answer the research question: What characteristics from the ones proposed by Salmon , are identified in the e-tivities designed by the participants in the course? All of the e-tivities in both versions of the course had a title.