The New Lingo for Educators

We decided to create on-line learning for our audiences. What’s next? As I’m searching the web looking for “best practices”, I’m sensing that first we want to be clear about what we’re doing.  There are many terms flying around out there, and I decided to get some definitions to make distinctions.  Note that my chosen definitions below could be discussed, tweaked, and argued by colleagues, which certainly would be a fun activity.
Through my search for answers, I  became aware that papers can be written in search of defining each one of these terms.  In fact, it may be beneficial to revisit your definition periodically and see if it still works for your program.  So my definitions are really just to start people thinking.
  1. Education:The transfer of knowledge
  2. Training: The transfer of ability
  3. Faculty development:The broad range of activities that institutions use to renew or help faculty members in their multiple roles. Faculty development activities include programs to enhance teaching and education, research and scholarly activity, academic leadership and management, and faculty affairs, including faculty recruitment, advancement, retention, and vitality. The intent of these activities is to aid faculty members in their roles as teachers, educators, leaders, administrators and researchers.
  4. Professional development: To improve and broaden knowledge and skills and develop the personal qualities required in their professional lives. (a more detailed definition depends on your program’ audience. Defining it will help you identify your learning outcomes)
  5. Teacher development: The process of which teachers attitudes to their work are modified and teacher’s professional performance may be improved. Teacher development activities may include new theoretical and teaching suggestions, critical reflection on their practice and commitment to teaching, and receiving support and feedback.
  6. Teacher training: Formal activities or classes that either train students to be teachers, or train teachers on specific curricula to further and deepen their practice of teaching and add activities and lesson plan possibilities.
  7. Train-the-trainer: Specific type of training that empowers and prepares learners to have the ability to train others. Instruction is designed to serve as a model for the learners. Learning outcomes would include (but are not limited to) not only the topic, but also facilitation techniques, organization, educational technology, resources, and ways to assess.
  8. Web-based learning: Associated with learning materials delivered in a Web browser, including when the materials are packaged on CD-ROM or other media.
  9. Online learning: Associated with content readily accessible on a computer. The content may be on the Web or the Internet, or simply installed on a CD-ROM or the computer hard disk.
  10. Educational technology: An array of tools that might be helpful in advancing student learning. Tools may include, but is not limited to, software, hardware, internet applications, mobile devices, and activities.  Educational technology takes instructional and learning theory into consideration, so that proper tools and techniques are selected to match learning outcomes and students’ needs.
  11. Instructional technology: “The theory and practice of design, development, utilization, management, and evaluation of processes and resources for learning,” according to the Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) Definitions and Terminology Committee.
  12. Instructional design: A systematic process that is employed to develop education and training programs in a consistent and reliable fashion” (Reiser & Dempsey, 2007). In addition, Instructional Design models or theories may be thought of as frameworks for developing modules or lessons that 1) increase and/or enhance the possibility of learning and 2) encourage the engagement of learners so that they learn faster and gain deeper levels of understanding.
  13. Distance education: A method of teaching in which the students are not required to be physically present at a specific location during the term.
  14. Distance learning: Involves interaction at a distance between instructor and learners, and enables timely instructor reaction to learners. Simply posting or broadcasting learning materials to learners is not distance learning. Instructors must be involved in receiving feedback from learners.
  15. Podelation: Oh wait, that’s not a word…..yet!

Writing for Your Audience is the Right Thing to Do.

Another article from copyblogger reminded me of how to use the web to get my information to the public.

In the past, I would always hear about using plenty of key words within your site codes so the search engines will have many ways to find you and bring people to you. The article, called Keyword Research: It’s Not What You Think, in copyblogger gave me a bit more insight.

The article suggested that you need to read (and read and read) what is popular on the web. In our case, we would read all of the environmental health information that our target audience reads. First, it is very important to understand what words grab their attention. Also, what kind of articles are attractive to them and what ways do they get their information. This sounds like a lot of time, but studying your audience puts you in their world and in the long run you will have a much more effective outreach program.

I also found interesting the tools to see what phrases people are using to search for environmental health information.

Keyword research tools like Wordze, Keyword Discovery, and Wordtracker estimate the number of times people search for different phrases. For instance, according to Wordze, approximately 11,222 people search for the term “blogging” each month.

It is a bit of a game, and I love games. It seems like if we combined “environmental health” and “blogging”, we would reach more people. You can also gauge the popularity of a topic relative to other topics. This may give us a better idea of what information the “web” community needs in relation to environmental health.

In relation to using a blog for outreach:

  • Businesses with blogs want to make money. We would want to use a blog to build partnerships, create community, and reach target audiences that go beyond borders. Doing this effectively will lead to successful grant proposals and publications. Most importantly, we will have a greater impact and be sustainable with our community education efforts.
  • Knowing what our target audiences read and using familiar and popular phrases will help us find a niche and social network. We can reach more people, and we can post topics that people want to read about. In relation to Center research, we can examine what about the research will be important and valuable to our target audiences. Can we find a niche that others are not covering on the web?
  • We can connect with community organizations and potential partnerships. Most community groups are using the web and social networks to reach audiences.

Copyblogger suggests that before starting a blog, you carefully decide on a niche and angle.

Ok, so we did all this and people are coming to our blog. We can see the interest by the statistics showing us the number of hits, how they find the site, the links they click, and perhaps comments from the public on the posts. But are we doing effective outreach and education? How do we measure effectiveness? Those are questions for continued discussion.

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