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Before you plan any online learning
activity, it's important to understand the broader implications of
using different types of technologies. >> Technologies can be roughly divided
into two categories, institutionally supported
and open access. >> Functionality can be similar between
both groups, but there are issues you need to be aware of before deciding which is
right for you and your students. >> Closed systems are often referred to as Learning Management Systems or Virtual
Learning Environments. Examples include Blackboard or Moodle. >> Often these systems include an
integrated range of technologies, such as discussion forums, information storage, blogs, wikis, and assignment
submission. >> They can also integrate grading and
administration tools. They may even include some open systems
that the institution decides to adopt. >> An institutional's IT or Learning and
Teaching Department usually supports these systems centrally, meaning that training
and technical help are often readily
available. >> There are several benefits of using
institutionally supported systems. Students and teachers can usually access
all systems easily from one place, with one
password. Access to data about student performance,
and tools that streamline administrative process are
often built in. Teachers will usually have immediate help
available from their IT or Learning and Teaching
Department. Institutions are usually required to hold
student data for several years. And usually have measures in place, to manage this effectively on their own
systems. And if you need to reuse your online
content in another class, your IT department
should be able to help you transfer it, ensuring that
none of your content is lost and that time is
saved. >> Of course, there are some restrictions
you need to keep in mind as well. Due to the complexity that can often be
inherent in large institutional systems, many teachers and students can find using
them daunting and challenging at first. Some teachers prefer the autonomy of delivering course content, using
technology they feel is more appropriate rather than
using one that is prescribed. And large systems may not be able to
facilitate certain activities, or functions as well as some
more specific open systems. >> Often referred to as web 2.0 or social media, open access technologies
are usually designed around specific functions or
tasks, that can be set up and used by anyone. They're usually free, but some may involve
a subscription based service. >> Examples include YouTube, Twitter,
Flickr, Tumblr, to name just a few. >> There are many benefits to using open
technologies. Most students and teachers may already be
familiar with them, making it easier to get started
quickly. Teachers can often set up these systems
themselves, without having to go through any complex
institutional administrative process. It's easy to share information and
collaborate on projects with other institutions,
organizations and even industry, as there is no issues
surrounding compatibility between platforms, operating systems or
versions of software. Most open technologies have a range of
privacy settings that can be controlled by
teachers or students. And, there is usually an abundance of support available in online forums and
help sections of various websites, but you have
to know where to look for it. >> So what are the downsides to using open
technologies? Well, they are not integrated into
institutional administration systems. This means that you usually have to manage
giving students access manually, and manage or
submit grades separately. Teachers or students can become overloaded
with having to remember different websites and different passwords, if too
many open technologies are used. You have no guarantee that open technology
platform may be in business in the future. And your institution does not have access
to the data in case something happens to you. Service providers may also terminate
accounts, change the terms of service or in the mid functionality that could result
in the loss of data. And an institution may not offer technical
support for the open technologies. When using open systems, teachers have to be rigorous in providing appropriate
privacy for their students, otherwise they may be held personally responsible for issues that may
arise. Or if a teacher or student breaches copyright, they may also be held
personally responsible. The line between the use of
institutionally supported systems and open technologies is
increasingly becoming blurred. >> You may want to consider a more integrated approach that draws upon the
benefits of both. >> The important thing is that you first
investigate what technologies and policies your own
institution has in place. >> Think about what support is already
available to you. The practical implications of different
technologies. And what functionality will most help your
students achieve the learning outcomes you've set
for them? >> It is also useful to speak to
colleagues about what has worked for them, and any suggestions
they might have for you. >> Now that you've had some time to
consider, I recommend taking a look at the related
activities, so that we can help you determine which
type of technology might be best suited to your
own purposes. [BLANK_AUDIO]

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