Thursday, August 19, 2010

Efficiency in Distance Learning at VA Department of Health (Robert Bradley, Va Dept of Health)

Case study style presentation...first case study I've seen here, actually.

Started out by stating "Not everything can be done via online courses" and defined distance learning. Good start - We don't realize, sometimes, how multifaceted that term can be. for the 20-30 people in this room, there's probably 20-30 different definitions.

"Distance learning is a form of instruction that focuses on technology and instructional systems design that aims to deliver education to students who are not physically on site"

Multiple facets of distance learning:

Video/Web Conferencing - Whereas was previously used for solely social purposes, now it's coming into business and education with a vengeance. WebEx cited specifically. While this is positive usage, one thing needs to be kept in mind when utilizing video remotely - bandwidth, bandwidth, bandwidth.

Websites (Internal/External) - Sites can be literal warehouses of information when you set up references at the end of a course. Pretty cut/dry.

Web 2.0 Applications - Biggest advantage of using 2.0 technologies in education = THEY'RE FREE. Speaker cites that for the VA State Govt to accept 2.0 technologies, there must be something to them. I think, overall, 2.0 gets a very 'toy-like' rap - that they're all built for play. You need an informed ambassador to address the powers that make the decisions...and push them in the right direction (see: adopting 2.0).

Mobile Platforms - VA Govt is looking toward the two major hitters: Blackberry and iPhone. Mentions that providers carry around their phones all day long, so they needed to give them a way to access educational pieces, etc. on the fly. Speaker also mentions that their online content for mobile purposes is available via Podcast or Vidcasts.

So, why did they make such a move?
- Budget Reductions
- Recognized need for verification process and policy (amen)
- Recognized need for training
- Recognized need for up to date training methods

How did they make the move?
- Va DoH set up a Distance Learning Committee (Open to all divisions of VaDoH)
- Centralized training policy developed (amen, amen)
- Policy for Web 2.0 application usage (good idea...'play nice' policy)
- Learning management system superusers (Hmm...could be useful)

Good overall case study - informative and entertaining.

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