My Skype Experience

My learning partner Amie and I decided to research the trends and roles in adult education related to cloud based tools. I provided Amie with an article by Blue and Tirotta (2011), which discusses the roles of adult educators in teacher preparation programs that use cloud computing, and an article by Behrend, Wiebe, London, and Johnson (2011), which contains survey results related to trends at community colleges in the United States as a result of introducing cloud technology. Amie provided me with a report by the UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education (2010), which discusses the roles of adult educators using cloud based tools at a global level, and a blog post by Walsh (2011) providing reasons for the rapid increase and demand for online higher education. Between us we had a lot of information to work with.

After spending some time looking over each other’s findings, we set up a time to talk over Skype. I am familiar with Skype, having used it to talk to family and friends while studying in Australia, however I have not used the program in a professional manner. I would recommend for first time users of Skype in a professional setting to check your surroundings to see what is behind you. I had my bathroom door open, clothes on the floor, and my daughter’s toys scattered all over the place! On a more serious note, on connection of our video call it was good to finally match a face to words after exchanging ten or so e-mails back and forth over the last couple of weeks. After some ice breakers, we got down to serious business, that is, discussing our amazing findings about how cloud computing is changing the roles and trends in adult education.

From our one hour and twelve minute conversation, one discovery that Amie found was something I had not carefully thought about before. When an institution chooses a provider for their cloud based software, such as, Microsoft, Google, or Novell, difficulties arise in the event that the institutions wants to change software providers. “There are significant costs in migrating from any widely-used system. While some providers make claims about the interoperability of their products it is rarely easy to transfer content from one system to another” (UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education, 2010, p. 7). One example I can think of that has directly affected me, is when a college I was working at transitioned from Novell GroupWise to Microsoft Outlook for faculty and administration e-mail services. It was a laborious and expensive process for the information technology department to transfer individuals’ contact lists and e-mail histories between the systems. Workshops and online tutorials also had to be provided to employees who were not technologically savvy enough to learn the new software on their own.

I currently use the course management software Moodle and the online assessment tool SAM2010 in my courses. A change in software provider would have a significant impact on my course preparation. If my university decided to switch from Moodle to a similar piece of software, such as Blackboard or WizIQ, there is no automatic method to convert between platforms (Moodle, 2012). I would have to create my new course site from scratch to recreate what I previously had. There are organizations that provide these conversion services, such as Move2Moo, but I would imagine their prices are expensive, and I would need to contact a sales representative to get pricing information. SAM2010 provides self-marking assignments for Microsoft Office and I tend to base my classes around these assignments. I will give a demonstration of the software, then the students will perform a similar task in-class, and finally they are assessed on their understanding of the material with a SAM2010 assignment, that can be completed at home or on-campus. A switch in software provider to rival services such as MyITLab or WileyPlus, would result in a restructuring of my entire set of lesson plans. The use of this software is a policy of my department which I embrace, but it is also a sign that we should not tie technology to the classroom too closely.

Overall, I enjoyed my Skype experience with Amie and I wish her the best of luck in her completion of PIDP 3100 and the BC Instructor Diploma Program. It was a rewarding experience researching cloud based tools in adult education and I look forward to future research, whether individually or collaboratively, in my program.

References

Behrend, T. S., Wiebe, E. N., London, J. E., & Johnson, E. C. (2011). Cloud computing adoption and usage in community colleges. Behaviour & Information Techhnology, 30(2), 231-240.

Blue, E., & Tirotta, R. (2011). The Benefits & Drawbacks of Integrating Cloud Computing and Interactive Whiteboards in Teacher Preparation. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 55(3), 31-39.

Moodle. (2012, February 23). Blackboard Migration. Retrieved from Blackboard Migration: http://docs.moodle.org/24/en/Blackboard_migration

UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education. (2010). Cloud Computing in Education. Moscow: UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education.

Walsh, K. (2011, January 19). The Changing Dynamic of Online Education. Retrieved from EmergingEdTech: http://www.emergingedtech.com/2011/01/the-changing-dynamic-of-online-education/

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About simoncrothers

I am an Australian who moved to British Columbia, Canada with my family in 1998. After completing my undergraduate degree in mathematics and computing science at Simon Fraser University, I moved back to Australia for several years. During this time I completed a Masters in Computational Mathematics and began my teaching career in mathematics at the University of New South Wales. In 2010, I moved back to Canada and taught computer science at Douglas College for three years. I am currently regular faculty in the Computer Business Systems department at KPU. I have also taught some courses in the Business and Quantitative Methods department at KPU. In my spare time I like to spend time with my wife Jami, who I met in Australia, our three year old daughter Lillian, and our newly born son Aiden. I also like to indulge in the occasional video game and I am involved in various self-employed web development projects.
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