Online Communication

Changes in technology have dramatically changed the way education is conducted for both teachers and students. Better microcomputers, new software, and the Internet bridging the technology provides many opportunities to both present and receive educational materials. A primary consideration in utilizing technology in education is the amount of time involved in developing online materials and the time required by the students to work with the materials.

Online communication can basically be divided into communication technology and various software programs used for the presentation of materials. In many cases the two work together through a network.

Sharing of materials can be conducted at a distance and within a lab. Popular distance education software such as Skype, WebEx, and Zoom make it easy to videoconference where both video and audio interaction provides an almost live experience. These technologies also require educators to be cognizant of freedom of information and privacy (FOIP) concerns. As the host of a web-conferencing meeting or having network administrator rights in a computer lab, comes the responsibility of having access to personal information.  From seeing other people’s screens to controlling what they can and can’t do on a computer, educators need to take into account ethical considerations. Transparency and disclosure of how the technology works should be considered and discussed with all people involved (FOIP).

We now have a generation of people who have grown up with television and expect and desire information in a video or animated with audio format. Software to generate and edit video is common and has become an expensive. To present information in a flipped classroom model, teachers can develop lessons, post them to shared drives such as Dropbox, Google drive, or Microsoft one drive where students can then easily watch and study the materials before the class time. In class the instructor can deal with student questions and/or arrange environments where students can work on the materials in groups (University of Washington).

Students also have the ability to collaborate through a variety of freely available technologies such as Microsoft Teams and OneNote. Institutions also set up ways to share materials through services like Moodle and network shared drives. Collaboration on some projects may create excitement by having students get involved in the applied side of science and promoting their projects through crowdsourcing sites in an attempt to generate revenue for their projects. The popularity of TV shows like Dragons Den and Shark Tank demonstrates the interest in entrepreneurship (Piggybackr).

I am reminded of a professor friend of mine who told me at one time he would handwrite his research, give it to an administrative assistant, who would type it up. Technology evolved and he learned to do word processing and type his own manuscripts. He took my course on video and audio editing and commented to me that instead of requesting others produce and edit his videos he thought the technology had evolved so he was now expected make his own videos.

In addition to teachers knowing Microsoft Office based products (Word, Excel, OneNote and PowerPoint), teachers today need to have a working knowledge of Adobe products such as Photoshop, InDesign, Premiere and Audition. I think teachers should be versatile in their web communication tools but have one, such as Zoom, that is their favorite and they are very knowledgeable in. In my experience knowing the industry standard software is the best practice.

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