Google Docs Survey

Assignment Description

Create a Google Docs survey that you will submit to your cohort. The survey should cover some aspect of open resources, portals, or participatory technologies as covered in The World is Open–e.g., experiences with various portals or services, awareness of various tools, level of comfort in specific areas, etc. You may do a broad survey of technologies (e.g., open source software) or you may concentrate on a specific topic (e.g., Second Life). Your survey should be comprised of at least 12 related questions and should include examples of text, multiple choice, checkbox, choose from a list, and scaled response questions. Your survey should include branching logic (e.g., moving to a specified page based on a user’s response) when necessary.

My Work

Choosing a Topic for my Survey

Unlike some of my classmates, right now, I don’t have any particular real world need to gather data. I still wanted the topic of my survey to be useful to me, though, so I wanted to create a topic related to our assigned reading. As described by our assignment description (above), Chapters 6-8 of The World Is Open discusses “open resources, portals, and participatory technologies.” These chapters in The World Is Open emphasizes the vast potential of Web 2.0 to create participatory learning spaces, giving examples like:

  • The Museum of Online Museums, where you can virtually “visit” exhibits from museums around the world (Bonk, 2010)
  • Global Nomads Group, where students use videoconferences with students in other countries to learn about world cultures (Bonk, 2010, p. 232)
  • ePals, which helps connect students and teachers from one country to another for communication and learning (Bonk, 2010, p. 261)
  • Ice Stories, in which students could read and respond to stories from scientists working in Antarctica (Bonk, 2010, p. 262)

Just to name a few. Bonk (2010) makes a strong case for the new potential of online learning to help their students connect with outside resources and other people from all around the world. Bonk also spends part of Chapter 8 connecting the participatory potential of web technologies to Friedman’s ideas of globalization.  Bonk (2010) says:

Thomas Friedman argued that the world has become flatter, deeper, richer, and more personally empowering for those who want to compete and collaborate economically across countries and continents… Concurrent with this flattening process, the world is making available a huge percentage of its educational treasures. It is unlocking windows and doors to educational opportunities for the entire world that were previously sealed shut (p. 388).

According to ideas of globalization, the world is “shrinking;” the connections between cultures, peoples, and economies are faster, tighter, and more dense than they were in previous generations. Bonk, as the quote above describes, says this same process is happening to education. And to an extent, this is certainly true. We have the potential to learn from anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. We also have an abundance of resources (like the list of examples I provided above) in order to do that. But– here’s the question I thought about as I read Chapters 6 to 8– do we do so on a regular basis?

Ghemawat (2009) provides a contrast to Friedman’s expansive view of the potential of globalization. According to Ghemawat, the data suggests that, while we have the potential to act “global,” most of the time, we still act “local.” He points out:

Web traffic within countries and regions has increased far faster than traffic between them. Just as in the real world, Internet links decay with distance. People across the world may be getting more connected, but they aren’t connecting with each other. The average South Korean Web user may be spending several hours a day online — connected to the rest of the world in theory — but he is probably chatting with friends across town and e-mailing family across the country rather than meeting a fellow surfer in Los Angeles. We’re more wired, but no more “global” (Ghemawat, 2009).

Bonk successfully argues that Web 2.0 has a strong potential to help students access open resources from all over the world, and to learn and collaborate with peers they have never met. However, I think it is also important- rather than talk just about potential– to think about what instructors are actually doing in terms of participatory learning, and consider how we might improve those processes.

I believe, then, that even though we have the vast potential of web technologies to connect us with people and resources around the world, “local” is still one of the primary ways in which we learn and teach. We learn often from the other students at our school, in our class, who are sharing the same educational space and experience that we are.

So where did this take my survey? While tools like the Museum of Online Museums, Global Nomads Group, ePals and Ice Stories are fantastic resources for the motivated teacher, I wanted to use my survey to think about what participatory learning tools are used on a day-to-day basis by instructors; to think about tools that have the potential to encourage “local” collaboration.

Many university instructors use a learning management system, like Blackboard, Canvas, or Desire2Learn. We can debate the merits of these tools, but the fact is, they are being used regularly. Consequently, I think it is useful to consider how to make these tools more participatory, more collaborative, and more in line with today’s student’s needs. Purposeful education, I believe, should start with fostering connections between an instructor and a student; between students in the same class. Education can be global, thanks to Web 2.0, as Bonk describes. But, education is still intensely local. How then, can an LMS contribute to or detract from this process of creating local participatory learning spaces?

Consequently, the survey I created for this assignment gave me the opportunity to think about some of these questions and consider the relationship of a learning management system to the creation of local participatory educational spaces.

My Survey

You can access my survey at this link.

Reflecting on the Use of Google Forms

I had used Google Forms in one class previously (ED 601), so I was somewhat familiar with the use of the tool. However, this is the first time I’ve had the opportunity to test out the “branching” feature, and I was pleased with how simple it was to use. I also liked that I was able to create “sections,” so as to visually guide survey participants through the organization of the survey. Since our class was so small, I wasn’t able to necessarily see how the data comes in to and is analyzed/organized by Google Forms, but I felt that the process of choosing a topic and working within Google Forms to create a survey was still a meaningful exercise.

References

Bonk, C. (2010). The world is open: How web technology is revolutionizing education. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Ghemawat, P. (Oct. 14 2009). Why the world isn’t flat. Foreign Policy. Retrieved from http://foreignpolicy.com/2009/10/14/why-the-world-isnt-flat/

 

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4 Comments

  1. First things first–you’ve offered a well-crafted survey that uses the best features of Google Forms to create sections and branching to make the process flow smoothly and logically for the responder. This is such a critical element in getting thoughtful responses and a good return rate for larger surveys. Your description of your thought processes in creating this survey made it even more clear that your survey was intentionally designed for ease of use. Thank you.

    But you really had me here:

    “However, I think it is also important- rather than talk just about potential– to think about what instructors are actually doing in terms of participatory learning, and consider how we might improve those processes.”

    Of course there are amazing tools and resources out there, but it’s all potential until they become part of standard practice for educators at all levels. And that requires the kind of local (or cohort based) interactions that are at the heart of your survey. I’ll be the first to admit that I have a bias against most current LMSs. In the first place, the term is a misnomer. They don’t manage learning (if, in fact, learning can be managed at all). They manage instruction, and they do that in ways that are still teacher-centered and reflective of the traditional lecture-based system that has remained essentially unchanged since the earliest universities. (I tend to over simplify, but you get the idea.) That’s one reason that I think the questions you pose to students are so important. My concern is that so few students have seen other models that there is little basis for comparison.

    Another major LMS annoyance is that they tend to assume that all content is taught in essentially the same way, and that’s they method that is presented to the instructor. The tendency is to fit content into the LMS model rather than crafting a teaching and learning model that best represents the kind of learning environment that an instructor needs or desires for his/her content. I’d contend that this course would be a very poor fit for any current LMS. That doesn’t mean that’s the case for every course, but when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. There are other ways to build a teaching and learning structure, and as an instructor I want the freedom to be able to do that.

    “But, education is still intensely local. How then, can an LMS contribute to or detract from this process of creating local participatory learning spaces?

    Consequently, the survey I created for this assignment gave me the opportunity to think about some of these questions and consider the relationship of a learning management system to the creation of local participatory educational spaces.”

    I hope that this will be the case now and in the future, and I hope that our cohort will react to this question as well. I suspect the question has specific relevance to you as an instructional designer. In that sense, feedback from you regarding the construction and management of this course would be most appreciated.

  2. Valarie I like that you point out the unevenness of the global/local dualism. I find myself ambivalent on that tension. I find both sides interesting precisely because people don’t actually fit neatly on one side or the other. The same South Korean probably plays COD on her Xbox and has acquaintances/playmates around the world, for example. She then uses the game controller skills at work to conduct surgery, or the like, remotely on a patient in Germany. Is it really that cut and dry?

    I love that you took on the issue of lms. The integration of lms with HR departments employee management systems indicates that for Instructional Designers there will always be a need for skills with these tools. I think Skip is right as well. By now you probably understand that I don’t agree with the Audre Lorde’s statement, “The masters’ tools will never dismantle the masters’ house.” I think the critical and self-reflective person can dismantle the master’s house with his tools around the both of them and leave them both better for it. “Revolution” is rather like when the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.

  3. I’ll admit to painting LMSs with a broad and perhaps somewhat unfair brush. I abandoned them many years ago, in the early days of Blackboard’s institutionalization at UAF. I blogged about Blackboard and my frustrations with it in an old blog that I no longer update, but you can read the litany of complaints from 2010 in this short post: http://www.skipvia.com/blog/?p=199.

    There have clearly been improvements in the depth and scope of Blackboard, but I’d argue that at its heart BB is still intent on recreating as closely as possible a traditional teacher-centered classroom. And that’s what I find most frustrating about its use. However, I’m saying this with little to no experience with the current iteration of Blackboard. I’m actually more familiar with Canvas, which I think is a superior tool in many ways–but still not a tool that I would favor over working with the real world tools that are the basis of this course.

    From a data gathering standpoint, and from the perspective of standardization (and perhaps even professional development), I can see why universities favor LMSs. But creating a teaching and learning environment that may need to be force fitted into that structure seems backwards to me and less likely to drive innovation and creativity.

  4. Valerie,

    I really enjoyed your piece and some of the points you bring up on Learning Management Systems. I am constantly pulling my hair out about some of the frustrations I have hit with the LMS platforms I have used. The district I’m currently working for uses Canvas, which is fine, but it’s by no means a perfect system. Like Skip said, it’s not a “learning” management system, it’s an “instruction” management system. Basically, it’s a pretty place to put all of the instructional videos and assignments, ect. I’m sure that non-primary teachers find it to be a less frustrating. I was all gung-ho at the beginning of the semester with Canvas and using it with Blended Learning, but found some setbacks. For one, it takes so long to “train” 7 and 8 year olds to get onto the LMS and access content that our class fell behind in our curriculum, and two, I was constantly putting out fires and acting as tech support for the kiddos doing independent work via Canvas, that I couldn’t give my small groups the attention they needed. Now I just use a sheet with QR codes that link to the videos and assignments I would’ve post on Canvas.

    I loved this >> “Consequently, I think it is useful to consider how to make these tools more participatory, more collaborative, and more in line with today’s student’s needs.” I think when LMS gains the elements you just mentioned, then they will earn the title of being a “Learning” Management System.

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