external image Desire2Learn_logo.gif
Desire 2 Learn (D2L) is an online courseware site that colleges and university professors use to enhance learning for students by facilitating discussions, providing important announcements, etc. D2L has many components that range from being able to communicate with peers and professors, personalizing a profile, accessing course paperwork and syllabi, and turning in course assignments. It is a very unique tool that is set up very similarly to a regular classroom because content is posted, exams can be taken online through D2L, and feedback and grades are delivered. D2L can be used to facilitate an entire course like an online class or can be used as a supplemental tool for traditional classes that meet on a regular basis.

This video allows views to see many components of the D2L site and how to use them:

Related Theory external image d2lIcon.gif

Discovery Learning (Bruner)
Discovery Learning is inquiry-based, in which the user draws on his or her own past to solve problems. The learner draws on their own experience and existing knowledge to draw new connections while interacting with the world. Bruner says that students are more likely to remember concepts discovered and learned through their own discovery.

Some key advantages of this theory include:
  • Encourages active engagement
  • Promotes motivation
  • Promotes autonomy, responsibility and independence
  • The development of creativity and problem solving skills
  • A tailored learning experience

With the utilization of online course technologies, students conduct their learning on their own terms and in their own time. Online courses that demand additional contribution and connections drawn will be more effective in this theory than others. For example, a course that simply places lectures and quizzes online will not be as effective in Discovery Learning as a course that demands students to conduct their own research, interact with different online environments and make connections to their own knowledge and experience.

Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning (Mayer)
Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning supports the idea that people learn better from the combination of words and pictures than from just words alone, and encourages the use of multimedia that accurately supports how the human brain works. This theory is based on three key assumptions:
  1. There are two separate channels (auditory and visual) for processing information
  2. Each channel has a limited capacity for receiving information
  3. Learning is an active process of filtering, selecting, organizing, and integrating information based upon prior knowledge.

Humans actively create material representations of information due to the limited capacity for receiving information. Therefore Mayer argues that people do not receive pictures and words separately, but rather create meaning out of these things and receive them together. Therefore, learning that combines visual elements with words can help the human mind to construct one single representation so it can be more easily received as a single construct. Courses that allow multimedia that combine word and pictures aid in memory and learning according to this theory.


Benefitsexternal image d2lIcon.gif

There are many benefits to an online course. The most obvious is that coursework can be completed on the time table of the learner. Although there can be deadlines for assignments or windows of time in which a quiz can be completed, online coursework is more conducive to returning students or students with full-time jobs or extensive family commitments because they do not have to rearrange their schedule to attend a course.

Another benefit is that more students may be able to take a course. Instructors are not restricted by room size constraints and have the freedom to let more students into the course if they so desire. Especially in heavily lecture-based courses, this may be a benefit to instructors in that they can extend the enrollment size of their course.

Online courses also foster use of modern multimedia technologies in learning. Because learning is not taking place in a classroom, teachers are given a creative opportunity to differentiate instruction for the medium. The instructor can mix lecture, screenings, online activities, quizzes, papers and other instructional activities and evaluations. This type of differentiation can cater to a variety of learning styles, which is another benefit to students.

Challengesexternal image d2lIcon.gif

One of the major challenges of online courseware is that students cannot engage in face-to-face communication with their classmates. Therefore in classes heavily rooted in discussion, students are not able to collaborate in person with the students that are learning the same information. This changes the classroom dynamic significantly. Comments cannot be responded to immediately, but possibly much later when more time has been spent to develop a response, which could also be seen as a negative.

Although learning on the student's own time may be seen as a benefit, this could also be a challenge. There is no control over the learning environment, therefore some students may attempt to learn in surroundings that are distracting and not conducive to learning. Additionally, any group discussion or group activity that needs to take place may be more difficult to coordinate because students are operating on such different time tables. Therefore deadlines may not be as quickly-paced as the instructor might desire, because outside factors must be considered like work, family commitments, etc.

An additional challenge, especially in younger learning, is that modeling may be a bit more difficult to conduct in online courses than in the classroom, specifically in reference to behaviors. Examples like an art class, speech class, music class or fundamental photography class rely on teacher demonstration and guidance throughout practice in the course. An online class can be useful in transmitting information; however in some content areas it may not provide the instructional guidance the students need.

Special Guidance external image d2lIcon.gif

Moving a course exclusively online can be difficult for students that are not technology-savvy, therefore there may be a wide gap (especially initially) in the capability of students that are familiar with the technology and students that are not. Therefore, special attention may need to be paid to students that are just learning the technology or may not be comfortable with the online format to begin.

Although the flexible class format is one that is appealing to students, especially returning students that are working, it may be more difficult to communicate changes in the course and make any changes without adequate advanced notice. Therefore, the professor (or teacher) must pay special attention to all elements of the curriculum, checking in on student progress and making sure to project out any potential changes in coursework.

Additionally, the importance of very clear instruction and outlined expectations will be important for online learning, since the teacher is not verbally communicating with the students to reinforce any requirements or answer any questions. The teacher needs to be available for contact very often in case of student questions, especially surrounding deadlines. However, if the teacher is efficient in developing a curriculum that is mostly self-explanatory and does not require much maintenance or discussion, students should be able to follow the curriculum with little to no guidance from the teacher.

Current Research external image d2lIcon.gif

A University of Delaware student found that, "the type of technology used to deliver a course affected students' satisfaction and success and that students are most successful when the delivery system is web-based, as opposed to CD-ROM, videotape, or interactive television. Survey results further indicated that student satisfaction and success is closely related to the quality and frequency of interaction with the instructor." To read more, click here.

Teaching College Courses online vs. Face-to-Face indicates that, "current Web-based online college courses are not an alienating, mass-produced product. They are a labor-intensive, highly text-based, intellectually challenging forum which elicits deeper thinking on the part of the students and which presents, for better or worse, more equality between instructor and student." Additionally, "initial feelings of anonymity notwithstanding, over the course of the semester, one-to-one relationships may be emphasized more in online classes than in more traditional face-to-face settings."

Lesson Ideas external image d2lIcon.gif

Many instructors in traditional classrooms have been utilizing D2L and other courseware to supplement a regular course. The teacher and students then are able to reap the benefits of the online technology while not sacrificing the benefits of a traditional classroom. Teachers can continue to utilize this tactic and develop lesson plans that involve online discussion or posting information online.

For an online course, an instructor can post readings for students who will then have a discussion online about the readings. It would be best for the instructor to pose a discussion topic or question to help maintain focus for the assignment. The great benefit of having an online discussion is that a student can go back and reread for understanding and ideas. Having an online discussion allows students to take time and think critically about responses.

Resources external image d2lIcon.gif

Internet 4 Classrooms
Educational resources and ideas for teachers on utilizing the internet effectively in the classroom.