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Online Lectures: Benefits for the Virtual Classroom
by Alvin Y. Wang and Michael H. Newlin, University of Central Florida

Our Online Class

In addition to our conventional classes, we have taught more than 30 sections of Web-based courses. For the past four years, we have co-taught 20 online sections of Research Methods in Psychology, an upper-division class required for all our psychology majors. Our department limits class enrollment (both conventional and Web-based) to 25-30 students per section. The research we have conducted, as well as the anecdotal experiences described in this paper, are based on our involvement with these sections of the class.

Our approach to developing Web-based sections of Research Methods was guided by the premise that we maintain the same high expectations for student learning as we have come to expect in our conventional classes (Wang and Newlin 2001b). Hence, we used the same class materials (syllabus, textbook, assignments, final exam) for our conventional and Web-based sections of the class. However, we did not simply cut and paste our conventional material into an online format without considering the inherent qualities of each media format. As others have noted, to simply transfer information from one format into another is tantamount to creating the equivalent of "shovelware" (Fraser 1999). Instead, we transformed much of our online course content and incorporated multiple information delivery systems in anticipation of the diverse learning styles that our students would bring to the virtual classroom (Wang and Newlin 2001b).

Students access all class components online from the course Web site, which is delivered via WebCT courseware. This includes the syllabus, lecture notes, quizzes and homework assignments. The only exception is the comprehensive final exam, which was administered face-to-face on the last day of the semester.

As in most online courses, instructor-student communication occurs asynchronously via Web page postings, a course forum (i.e., online bulletin board) and e-mail. However, we also schedule required weekly chat rooms where we deliver lectures, discuss topics, and answer students' questions in a direct and immediate manner. The ability to answer questions in front of all of our students serves to reduce the number of individual e-mails that need to be addressed later. Each of our chat discussions is organized around a set of lecture notes that are posted for students to download and print from their Web browsers prior to the lecture. In effect, the class notes are the equivalent of overhead transparencies used by instructors in conventional classes. The chats are also where we review homework assignments, and remind students of upcoming course requirements and deadlines. We are able to accomplish all of these tasks (while having a lot of fun) in a 90-mintue chat room that is held each week.

Didactic Conversation

The development of knowledge requires an expert and a novice working together to influence successful learning outcomes. In this view, knowledge cannot be force-fed to a passive learner. Instead, knowledge is exchanged by an active didactic (instructive) conversation that occurs between an active teacher and an equally active learner (Holmberg 1989).
Didactic conversation requires both the instructor and student to be equally engaged in two-way communication. Now consider Web-based courses that rely solely on asynchronous communication. Information that is delivered solely by asynchronous means flows in only one direction at any given time: primarily from the instructor to the student. In effect, didactic communication becomes all but impossible and the learner is rendered a passive recipient of information. We also argue that the extent to which your students obtain information solely by reading the content on your course Web site is the extent to which you have not taken advantage of computer assisted communication. Thus, having your students merely download materials for your Web class is to regress to an earlier stage in the history of distance education: the mail-correspondence course. Instead, we recommend that instructors use chat room technology to facilitate meaningful interaction with their students. In this view, using chat rooms on a regular basis takes the "distance" out of distance education.

Democracy in the Chat Room

Consider an online chat room. There is no podium, front row, back row, stage lights or microphone. The chat room's participants have no discernable race, gender, ethnicity or physical disabilities. Instead, the online chat room is a place where participants are identified by screen names, and their expressed ideas are judged solely on the basis of their merit. In the virtual classroom, instructors are recognized solely by the fact that their screen names are different from their students'. It is a non-intimidating environment where the playing field is level. Instructors still maintain a position of authority during chats. Yet the social dynamic of an online chat room is considerably more egalitarian than in the typical classroom environment. The relative anonymity of students and the fact that they access the chat room from familiar surroundings (i.e., from their home or office computers) engenders a comfort level that is not found in the live classroom.

Students who would never consider speaking out in a conventional classroom are able to do so in an online chat. The consequence is that our online chat rooms become a meeting place for lively and open discussion. Typically, this results in a tremendous increase in student-instructor and student-student interaction compared to conventional courses. At the end of each semester, our students tell us that the online chat room was a liberating experience. In this regard, we believe that online chats fulfill the promise of computer mediated communication: it offers the opportunity for people who are geographically distant to feel interpersonally close to one another.
Social Presence

Research has shown that increasing the social presence of others serves to increase student satisfaction and performance in a computer mediated learning environment (Gunawardena and Zittle 1997). We have found that chat rooms enhance the social presence of instructors and their students in a way that cannot be done by asynchronous communication. Advantages of increased social presence mean that we can give immediate feedback on student questions, provide motivational encouragement, and foster student perceptions that we are genuinely invested, engaged and personally connected with our students' learning experience.

This feeling of community works both ways. As the instructor, you will feel more involved with your students to the point where you will recognize them as specific individuals during chats, as opposed to a mass of students in a conventional lecture hall. This sense of belonging in the learning community has helped us stay interested and focused on the learning process for each of our students.

Many students have reported feelings of isolation and loneliness when involved with online classes. In this regard, it should be noted that the "loneliness" of the distance learner not only describes the experience of some cyber-students, but may also relate to the experience of their Web instructors (Laird 1999). As we have noted in the preceding sections, it is through the use of synchronous chat rooms that instructors and their students can overcome the impersonal nature of asynchronous communication. We urge instructors to develop techniques whereby technology is used to foster rather than hamper social interactivity in the classroom. To reiterate, chat rooms are the most effective means for taking the "distance" out of distance education.

Student Perceptions of Chats

On a pragmatic note, instructors can also monitor students' chat room activity for signs of success or failure in the virtual classroom. For instance, we performed a discourse analysis of student remarks in chats during week three of the semester (Wang and Newlin 2001 a). We found that the total number of student comments and the frequency in which a student responded to a query by the instructor correlated significantly with final grades in the class at week 15. Put another way, students who rarely interact in the chat room and who do not respond to instructor questions tend to earn poor grades in class. Hence, instructors should monitor the frequency and type of chat room activity in order to predict students' performance on graded components of the class. This is important because, in the absence of conventional classroom cues (i.e., fidgeting, quizzical expressions, inattentiveness), students' chat room activity can become a valuable tool for assessing and predicting students' involvement in the virtual classroom.

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Virtual classroom by phuongdoanphuongdoan, 14 Sep 2007 19:59

Knowledge Management and Information Management: The Differences.
By Denham Grey
August 1998

Far too many vendors do not believe there is a difference between knowledge management and information management. They recognize only that market hype has shifted public opinion, so they are morphing to catch up and reposition their products. Can you blame them?
Much of what purports to be knowledge management is in reality information management. Just the other day I heard a rep selling scanners as a core KM technology, "essential for knowledge sharing," without which the organization was doomed to be bypassed by every other firm going down the knowledge track.

The distinction I like to make is this: working with objects (data or information) is Information Management and working with people is Knowledge Management. Information Management is about documents, CAD drawings, spreadsheets, program code. IM means ensuring access, security, delivery, and storage. It deals exclusively with explicit representations. Creation, use, learning, meaning, understanding, and negotiation are NOT core issues but efficiency, timeliness, accuracy, veracity, speed, cost, storage space and retrieval ARE central concerns in IM.

Knowledge management, on the other hand, recognizes value in originality, innovation, agility, adaptability, intelligence and learning. It seeks to leverage the capacity of the organization in these areas. KM is concerned with critical thinking, innovation, relationships, exposure to ideas, patterns, competencies, and collaboration. It supports communities and individual and group learning. KM strengthens alignment among members of a group and encourages the sharing of experiences, failures, and best practices. KM may use technology to foster dialog, increase communication, share context or negotiate meaning, but technology is not the core focus. A people focus in KM extends to recruitment, rewards, retention, recognition and reification. KM is about intangibles, intellectual capital, competitive advantage and innovation— NOT objects.

The division between information and knowledge management is not clear cut. For example, consider knowledge artifactsexplicit representations of commercial or business processes. They are grounded in information systems but their value depends on people and their alignment, beliefs, relationships, and negotiated meanings. A business example of knowledge artifacts would be the systems, technologies, beliefs, training, roles, and people involved in processing an order in a large firm. Information management deals only with the objecthow the order is routed, who has authority to execute it, which address list should be used. Knowledge management would take a more holistic view, gathering lessons learned, benchmarking the process for best practices, gathering common problems and solutions, examining workplace ergonomics, and supporting informal learning in a local community of order processors.

Business concepts often blur the distinctions between documents and knowledge artifacts because they combine inference (an outcome of information management) and intuition (an outcome of knowledge management). Meta-data also play an ambivalent role. Where meta-data are used to provide metrics rather than to convey value and context, they are information management tools. Examples include data about authorship, creation and revision dates, word counts and other statistics. Meta-data for knowledge management, by way of contrast, would be used to ascribe value judgments, provide historical and decision-making contexts, and assist with determining relevance.

"Boundary objects" also illustrate differences in approach between information management and knowledge management. The concept of boundary objects comes from workplace ethnographic studies by Etienne Wenger, John Seely Brown, and others. Boundary objects are key documents or conversations that are handed off from one workplace community to another; e.g. the request to issue an insurance policy moves from sales (to credit the representative with commission), to accounting (to record the sale and issue the invoice), to legal (to check wording of special clauses) to claims adjuster (to determine premium). While information management attends to the work processes moving the product forward, knowledge management attends to the way the communities interact and how each adds meaning, learning, and perspective to the original request. These communities must negotiate what the document means, understand its implications, and appreciate risk and opportunity.

Knowledge management operates at a more abstract level than IM. This often makes the causal links with benefits and tangible assets difficult to grasp and explain, but that does not render them less real or reduce the strategic importance of KM.

Date: 11th September 2007

Time: after the normal lecture
Location: Labroom
What was discussed:

  • Dividing tasks for enhancing the wiki's information

Phuong: Meeting records (from A4), Phuong Research, Reflection, Bonus
Lan: Information management, Reflection, Bonus
Trang: Reflection, Bonus
Thao: decision details, reflection, Thao Research, Resources (the chatroom and forum that are used in our wiki, some descriptions and link to these), Bonus

  • Online chatting at night to discuss together.

Date: 3rd September 2007

Location: Global Café
Minutes: 60
Content: Allocation of task for assignment 4
Lan + Trang + Thao + Phuong: Interview
Trang: Analysis of Culture
Lan: Three different roles, gatekeeper and expert
Phuong: Technology and applications
Thao: Local partners and strategies
Team's due date: 9th September 2007
What was discussed:

  • The company's cultural environment:

-Mission, goals, objectives
-Working environment, information and knowledge sharing
-Employees' behaviour
-Rules for rewarding and punishing
-Vietnam's culture
-Laws and regulations

  • Information and Knowledge

-Flowing diagram of Information
-Sharing and exchanging
-Knowledge management planning

  • 3 different roles: choose 3 options only:

-inbound and outbound logistics manager

  • Technologies

-Content Management System
-Learning Management System
2 applications of each type of technologies?

  • Local partners

-Lists of local partners
-Choose the best possible ones
-Setting out strategies and processes to deal with these partners

Date: 7th September 2007

Location: Global Café
Minutes: 60
Content: Knowledge management planning
Lan + Trang + Thao + Phuong: Knowledge management planning on going
What was dicussed:
-Processing of the planning repor
-Sorting information to match all parts
-Discussing problems occured within the team

Assignment 4:underline text

1) Identified 3 different roles in the TCI Company:

Sales & Marketing Department: sales person
Finance & Accounting Department:accountant
IT Department: IT person

2) Identify one expert and one gatekeeper within the TCI Logistics Company

Expert: The general manager
Gatekeeper : The sales person

This is

Question 1: What is your company’s mission statement?
Mission Statement is “Offer customers competitive pricing, timely transportation, individualized value-added logistics services and integrated global automation, while adhering to strict quality standards.”

Question 2: Can you tell me your organization’s structure
There is about 1 general director, 6 departments, 3-6 people in each department. However, only operation department has 10-15 people. Six departments are Inbound and Outbound (Sea freight and Air freight), Operation, Research & Development, Finance and Human resource department.

Question 3: What is your company’s main goal?
We set two kinds of goal such as official goal and operative goal
- Official goal is open new office in Danang, expand service and joint the stock market in 2007. Moreover, we want to get about 2 million USD sale revenue/year.
- Operative goal is each employee must achieve his/her assigned target. Otherwise he/she will get the money punishment.

Question 4: What policies company set?
- Employee will get the salary reduction if they are lazy and not on time. Moreover, we make compliment for any excellent contribution and performance. The money prize is about 500,000 to 1,000,000 VND/ month.
- Beside holidays, every year each employee is allowed to have a vacation which last in 12 days,
- Every employee has to formally dress in company.
- Employee must report to higher level people if he/she is in trouble.
- Employ must finish their assigned job.
Question 5: Does your company have any training program for staff?
- New employee is trained in 2 months before he/she really work
- Each employee is trained by manager of assigned department.
- Especially, salespersons are trained by all departments’ managers because they need to have the basic knowledge about the every activity in company.
Question 6: Who can answers or gives explanations when employees have concerns relate to business process?

- Manager gives advises
- When we have problem, we usually ask manager. He helps employees to solve problems.
- He is the person to give the last decision
- He has been working in this industry for 10 years
Question 7: Who do you think knowing what is going on and who is doing what in the TCI?
- Sales person is the key player in the TCI
- They must know the core business
- They must know the tasks of employees, who do for what because their business relate to all employees in the company

Question 8: What are tacit and explicit knowledge in the TCI?
- Explicit: reports, malfunctions, procedure documents, databases, websites
- Tacit: meeting, discussion, ideas, experiences

Question 9: what kind of technology your company is using?
Email, Intranet, telephone, website, database, data warehouse, data mining, IT service, MIS, ERP, automatically ID card checking machine which check the time of each employee come to company.

Question 10: How does the website help for the company?
- I seldom access on the company website. Honestly, it does not help anything for my business. I do not know what are putting on the web
- I just a form
- I show some our partners
- I usually meet direct to customers or we use phone.
- The company is small in one building so I can meet direct with others
Question 11: How do customers use the website to get information, give orders or tracking?
- Customers contact direct with sales person through phone or meet directly
- It is difficult to contact trough the web
- We do not update information on the web

Question 12: How is the learning in the company?
- Before, the company sent some employees to study oversea but they refused because they are busy or taking care for family
- Working more will help us to familiar with the job
- Sales person rarely share information or experience with others Explicit knowledge & tacit knowledge

As my part is about technology support. Here are suggested technology-based solutions for previous issues:
_WCMS_: enhances the integration, collaboration and communication between departmental employees, between employees and managers as well as reducing associated costs of training and IT services.
Moreover, external users such as customers, investors, shareholders, government bodies can also take advantage of CMS to publish and search necessary information about the company quickly and conveniently. For example, a customer can find priorities of offering a cargo and related promotions or they can take a good view of TCI through updated media releases
_DMS_: DMS is applied to manage the creation and revision of documents within the organization while allowing the workflow standard and metadata rules for retrieving sources of documents as main function. That reduces the paper-based workflow and simplifies the reporting process within TCI while enhancing the document management, efficiency of working process and communication and coordination of employees.
_TTI_: advanced tools to instruct teams with necessary skills for escalating jobs and implementing projects through online training courses and sessions. That satisying the desired learning needs of employees and
enhancing the working efficiency of TCI.
_EKP_: EKP is multimedia container of online LMS performed in different languages. It supports technologies (virtual classroom and courseware) which enhance the e-learning environment to the majority of learners, managers and organizations in the world. The standard web browser makes it easily and quickly to for learners to access and implement.

that's good idea, Trang.
I want to add one more solution. TCI can open frequently discussions (called Evaluation
discussion) in which managers will evaluate the working efficiency and performance of each employee
during previous weeks or months, then employees can express their opinions about their other people.
That enhances the relationship of employees and with managers as well while controlling the work
process of the company^^

the solution for the issue" the distance between employee and manager. It makes the unfriendly working enviroment"

I reccommend that TCI should organize some outdoor activities or parties 1 time/ month. It is a good chance for people to understand each other

I want to add one more issue :
The culture of vietnam impacts on the culture of TCI. For example, there is the distance between manager and employees. therefore, the working enviroment is not friendly. Employees are afraid of manager. So, they won't dare give the straight question or opnion. It will prevent to share knowledge between manager and employees

As teacher extends the deadline of assignment 4 Knowledge Plan, we have more time to interview,
write our parts and collect the tasks together.
After conducting the interview, I want to summarize the main issues of TCI company while Lan and
Trang are noting the transcript:
-High centralization: only top manager can make decisions, other lower levels are told what to
do only, decisions overload on top level, less quality decisions in quick time.
-Lack of collaboration and integration between departments. Each department just try to finish
their work independently, departmental conflicts, less responsibility and accountability of employees.
-Employees are lacking of awareness of the company's goals.
-The website is inflexible to be navigated and used by customers and partners, they can not get
enough information about the company, about the transaction and make effective use for their needs.
-SOme employees are eager to improve their knowledge and experience, but the company do not provide
them an effective way to expand the knowledge or encorage them to learn from each other, face
with problems and solve problems by themselves, the tacit knowledge can not be transfered
and expressed, the company will become old-fashioned and not adapt with environment as qucikly as
other organizations.

Hey Lan, you should call Ms. Nga to make an appointment with her and ask her whether we can
meet other people for more information. I think we can interview at the end of this week or
at the start of next week because we are sunk in big assignments now.

Interview for assignment 4 by phuongdoanphuongdoan, 29 Aug 2007 16:28

I wanna congratulate to all of you. We are working hard to deal with a pile of assignments.
Continue to try our best and take care.

Congratulation by phuongdoanphuongdoan, 25 Aug 2007 03:28

I have asked Jaime already. He said that the interview in not necessary for assignment 3 but
assignment 4. So, we can make an interview after finishing the individual assignment which only
needs information from searching^^Try our best!

hey, what is your question? I can't see anything in here.

hey, the assignment 3 doesn't need an interview right? Because it is hard to organize an
interview with her in this time because she has to organize het schedule as well and that may
make us late for the deadline. So I think the information from the main website and outside sources
is enough, or we can send email to her and ask something more. The interview will be conducted
for assignment 4 which requires teamwork collaboration.OK?

no, Google gadget allows to search outside, it has the same function of a real Google search
engine. You may misunderstand with the search inside on the top bar menu. Let's try and see the

Date: 3rd August 2007

Time: 2pm
Content: Discuss what we're going to do about the wiki and how we will do it
Results of meeting:

* Redesigning the wiki based on the Assignment Guide (see details in Design)
* Creating pages for each section
* Adding contents for each section if possible
* Writing individual reflection

That's great. Please organize the meeting with her as soon as possible since we don't have much time left.

But it only search inside the wiki site. It doesn't search outside sources, so what's the point of using it?

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