EDU 625: Final Blog Post…The Next Steps

 

Technology? Communities? Learning Environments? Analyzing Data? Presentations? Games? Virtual Environments? Mobile Learning and Mobile Technologies?

With so much knowledge and so many resources, where does one even start?

Over the past 8 weeks, I have finished another year teaching, visited different states, completed (almost) 2 more classes towards my M.Ed degree, and overall, I have learned so much not only about designing learning environments and integrating learning and technology, but also about myself.

At the beginning of this eight week journey, I had to decide what my personal learning philosophy was. I made the decision that as a Family and Consumer Sciences educator, I like to look at teaching like a chocolate chip cookie recipe. There is a basic recipe that you can use but there are numerous variations and sometimes the recipe does not always come out the way you would like. If that happens, you make another batch and fix your mistakes, learn for next time, and move on. Learning is also like a chocolate chip cookie recipe. The basic recipe is your classroom with students as the chocolate chips and the teacher as the batter. Depending on the nutritional needs of others, a variation of the recipe needs to be used, this being differentiation in the classroom. When the chips and batter are carefully combined and baked, the end product is a mouth-watering, delectable delight. In my classroom, I see learning happening all the time when I am working with my students as a whole group or on a one-on-one level. I also see learning happening when my students are working with each other. I feel so fulfilled as an educator when I see the connections that my students make and the recollection they have from 6th Grade to 7th Grade and from 7th Grade to 8th Grade. It makes me realize that all of the hard work I have done with my students is paying off.

Has my learning philosophy changed? No. What has changed though are my thoughts about how to plan learning activities involving more technology. My first thought when planning lessons and various learning activities is, “How can I make this even more interesting for my students and what technology can I use that can help them even more?” I strongly believe that the more technology that I incorporate, the greater skills my students will gain.

One of the key issues of using technology to actually enhance learning is the fact that the technology is always changing. Maddux and LaMont Johnson (2011) state that, “predicting the future in any field related to technology is a difficult task” (p. 87). With technologies always changing, I believe that nothing is ever set in stone. Something is always being changed, something is always being added and as educators who want to integrate technology, it is our duty to stay on top of our game and be “in the know”.

The positive, however, is that when you become “in the know”, the possibilities are endless. Maddux and LaMont Johnson (2011) write, “We continue to believe that (a) gaming, (b) social networking and Web 2.0 applications, and (c) mobile and handheld computing will continue to gain in popularity and continue to find their way into educational programs at all levels” (p. 89).  There are many positive implications for these technologies that Maddux and LaMont Johnson (2011) write about and I know that I am going to continue using those in my classroom and coming up with new ways to do so.

One of my personal greatest challenges related to technology and learning in my classroom is handling my administrators. We have had some issues with improper use of electronics so administration is very weary of using technology in the classroom. I also do not always have access to websites that I need to have access to because many sites are blocked. If I wanted to download a program on the computer to use, I would need an IT password, so in that case I have to put a work order in and cross my fingers and hope it gets done in a timely manner. Sometimes I have to wait 2+ weeks before my work order is taken care of which can be frustrating when you want to plan a lesson using a program that you need.

One of the main “next steps” that I need to take in order to become more prepared to effectively integrate technology into my learning activities is to do it more frequently. With the school year coming up, I am excited to start using all of these technologies but I feel a bit overwhelmed knowing the challenges I am up against when the school year starts. I am excited to begin EDU 627: Managing Instruction and Technology because I believe I will learn the strategies that will allow me to take all of the new knowledge that I have and make it work for me so I’m not so overwhelmed.  I also need to come up with a strategy in order to communicate with my administrators the need for technology in our building. Right now I feel like I am at a stand still because I do not know how to effectively and successfully communicate with my administrators without being shut down.

How would you approach the conversation with your administrators if you were in my situation?

References

Maddux, C.D. & LaMont Johnson, D. [Editorial]. (2011). Future trends in information technology in education.  Computers in the schools, 28: 87-91. doi: 10.1080/07380569.2011.577399

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EDU 625: E-Textiles…changing the Fashion world and my classroom

Here is a picture of me and my cousin, Mikie. IMG_2883 Mikie is 14, almost 15 and will be starting his Freshman year of high school NEXT WEEK! He is like the little brother I always wanted and I love the time we get to spend together. Like many young boys that I know, he LOVES video games. His favorite character is and always will be, Mario. Unfortunately, he is so difficult to shop for because he has EVERYTHING. A couple of years ago, however, I lucked out and found this t-shirt  that not only had Mario on it but also had LED lights on the front that lit up to the beat of music. I bought him the t-shirt for his birthday, he loved it, and the rest is history. I took a video the day I gave it to him and for some reason I can’t upload it here, however, I found an even better breakdown of how the shirt looks, and how you can operate it, etcetera. Check out how awesome it is here:

I bet you’re thinking, “Well that’s cool and all, but what does it have to do with you and  your classroom?”

Techopedia (n.d.) definites E-textiles, or electronic textiles as, “a type of fabric that contains electronic elements. In general, the development of electronic textiles supports the idea of wearable computing, or electronic devices worked into garment designs” (para. 1).

According to IDTechEx, 76% of manufacturers offer electronic wristwear or bodywear (Slide 8, 2014). However, as you can see from the example with my cousin, there is a market for pieces of clothing with LEDs in them.

As part of the Family and Consumer Sciences curriculum, textiles is one of the twelve major parts that is included. 

For this week’s learning activity, related to emerging technologies and in unison with the STEM program, I would create a lesson where students would be required to design and create their own E-tshirt. The lesson would be for 8th graders who would, in teams, sketch a tshirt idea, choose all of the fabrics that they need, and work together to put the t-shirt together sewing and mechanical wise.

This tech would support the effectiveness of the learning activity because not only does it relate to Family and Consumer Sciences but it also relates to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing) which promotes interdisciplinary learning. 

I strongly believe that there is a huge market for e-textiles epecially with the increase of STEM. I foresee that with this learning activity in my learning environment, students will be thinking more critically about how things work and will see the big picture not only for the future but for themselves.

References

IDTechEx. (2014). Wearable technology 2015-2025. Retrieved from http://www.idtechex.com/research/reports/wearable-technology-2014-2024-technologies-markets-forecasts-000379.asp

Techopedia. (n.d.). Electronic textile (E-textile). Retrieved from http://www.techopedia.com/definition/29467/electronic-textile-e-textile

EDU 625: No worries, there’s an app for that! Mobile Learning and its impact on Education

“Outside the classroom, cell phones, PDAs, PocketPCs, Internet access is everywhere because we need it and use it in our information driven lives. But inside the classroom, the very skills humans need to succeed are discouraged and viewed with alarm. So schools do not teach effective use of Google, of text-messaging, of instant-messaging. They don’t teach collaboration. They barely teach communication outside the stilted prose only academics use. No wonder students are prepared for nothing except more school.” – Ira Socol (2006)


Mobile technologies are more prominent in the world now more than ever. Need to look something up on your phone? Just talk to Siri. No Siri? No worries, there’s an app for that!

There are many different definitions of what mobile learning, or m-learning is, but the one thing that can be agreed upon is that “mobile learning has come to people’s attention because mobile devices are portable, ubiquitous, easily accessible and used by many people” (Keskin and Metcalf, 2011, p. 202).

Below, you will find an excellent PowToon presentation that briefly gives a description of what mobile learning is and its implications for learning. This video explains the positives of utilizing mobile learning as well as some obstacles that teachers might face when utilizing mobile learning in the classroom.

Personally, I have never had an experience using mobile technologies as a learning tool, other than using Blackboard Mobile Learn on my iPhone. However, I have not really used the app that frequently throughout my Post classes, especially when it comes to the discussion board because I find that sometimes it can be difficult to navigate regarding responding to posts.

When I was younger, I didn’t not have a cell phone until I was able to drive and when I got that phone, I was only able to make and receive calls…no texting, no Internet, not even a voicemail. I had that phone up until I got my first teaching job in 2011 and got an iPhone and brought myself into the technology world. Overall, though, I survived.

With that being said, however, I strongly believe that there is an urgent need for mobile technologies in education. I have two issues related to mobile technology for learning that I am concerned about. First, one of my concerns is for my students. I say to myself, “What if I have students that are just like me?” I didn’t have a cell phone in middle school. A lot of my students can’t even afford new shirts, nevermind a piece of mobile technology. The benefit, however, is that the students can potentially have the opportunity to use iPads….once we find out how to get them at our school.

The second concern of mine is how to propose the integration of mobile learning in my classroom when my administrators are very adamant about no mobile devices at all. The district I work in does have a no mobile device policy to begin with, however, students have used their mobile devices in schools negatively and because of incidents that have occurred I am stuck in between a rock and a hard place.

How would you approach this issue if you were in my situation?

Despite the challenges that I need to overcome, I am not going to let it stop my ambition to enhance my students’ learning using mobile technologies. This week’s learning challenge was all about utilizing a mobile app to create a learning activity for a specific learning objective. Rather than completely reinventing the wheel, I thought about taking what I already have and updating it to make it current with the apps that are available.

In my research, I came across a FREE app called, “Fooducate”. Fooducate allows the user to set weight loss goals for themselves, scan and search for foods, track calories and food intake for the day/week, chat with other users, and make comments on products. Also, by using the scan and search feature, the app also gives grades and suggestions on the products that are much better than the ones that were scanned. The video below gives a brief overview of what the app is all about.

For my learning activity, I decided to incorporate the Fooducate app for the homework portion of the activity. 7th Graders in the Family and Consumer Sciences class do a Choose My Plate activity where they are required to track their food for three days, including beverages. The students then have to input everything into the Choose My Plate ‘Super Tracker’ and that system then generates how much they have been eating from the various food groups, what they need to stay away from, etcetera. When the students write down their intake and then go to put it in the Super Tracker, they often run into issues such as not being able to find the foods that they ate and then have to kind of make up the foods, which leads to a skewed result. With the Fooducate app, it takes away all of that confusion and all of the issues and it makes it so much easier to have more accurate results when inputting the foods in Super Tracker. If the Super Tracker does not recognize it still, the students can go on the Fooducate app and input the information from there onto the Super Tracker.

It might seem like a lot of work but once the students get into it, especially with Fooducate, it is so easy!

Although Unit 7 is complete, I intend on searching for more apps I can use in the Family and Consumer Sciences classroom. I strongly believe that mobile learning is the way of the future and educators need to embrace and take advantage of the teaching and learning opportunity.

References

Keskin, N., & Metcalf, D. (2011).  The current perspectives, theories, and practices of mobile       learning. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology, 10(2), 202-208.

 

 

The Education Evolution

Who am I?

I am a female. I am a daughter and a sister. I am a ZUMBA Fitness Instructor, a Mary Kay Independent Beauty Consultant, and a tennis coach. I am a student. I  am a motivator, a goal-setter, an achiever, a good-listener, a compassionate, selfless person and teacher who is responsible weekly for 300 students. Yes, you read that correctly. No, that is not an extra 0. 300 students….in 2 different schools in the district. You do the math.

The perception of me (especially from other educators), however, is that I’m just the “Home Ec” teacher who gets to do the fun stuff. The perception is that I don’t have to write lesson plans or grade anything because my subject is not as important because these kids should be learning this at home anyways. I hate to bust their bubble, but, unless they missed the memo, we are living in a time period of what I would like to call an educational evolution, a revolution if you’d even like to think of it that way.

I look at this educational evolution as more than just Home Economics becoming Family and Consumer Sciences. I look at this educational evolution as a time where people can be even more connected with each other not just at home, but in the classroom. There is so much opportunity for growth for all teachers, no matter what your content area is.

Part of this educational evolution that I talk about is seen through the Web 2.0 tools that are taking over the classroom as we know it. Means (2010) writes, “Most educators will expend the effort needed to integrate technology into instruction, when and only when, they are convinced that there will be significant payoffs in terms of student learning outcomes” (p. 287). Through the use of Web 2.0 tools and various technologies, I am given the opportunity to move from the black and white perception that has been established about Family and Consumer Sciences, and move towards a more vibrant and current time for Family and Consumer Sciences, which is known as post industrial learning.

It is to my understanding that the postindustrial paradigm of instruction is based on principles such as being learner-centered, attainable standards for students, customized instruction, formative and summative assessment, collaboration, team and individual assessments, and the use of various instructional strategies. I use all of those things. Also, I believe that in order to sum up the postindustrial paradigm of instruction, one needs to think of the 21st century skills we are trying to teach our students: global awareness, financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy, civic literacy, health literacy, and environmental literacy (ACTE, 2010, p. 14). I am not only teaching the 21st century skills but I know for sure I am teaching with the postindustrial paradigm of instruction at the front of my mind.

One of the core ideas of the postindustrial paradigm of instruction that is crucial for success in my class is collaboration. Reigeluth (n.d.) writes, “collaboration is important in work life, civic life, and family life. Therefore, students need experience in collaborating on small teams. Team-based learning on a task provides an excellent opportunity for students to develop their collaboration skills, but it also provides a valuable opportunity for students to learn from each other” (p. 78). Some instances in my class where collaboration is necessary is when the students are working on Foods labs, housing projects, child development assessments, etcetera. The students are graded on how well they work together in a group and they normally find that if they don’t work well together, their grade is not what they would like it to be. They then use their interpersonal relationship strategies that we have also worked on in order to make their labs, activities, and projects successful. 

One of the main ways that I see Web 2.0 benefiting teachers is through the use of wikis, blogs, and other sites that allow collaboration and group work. There are programs and websites that allow for SAFE group collaboration among students in the same class, school, district, and/or state. I have seen programs that have been used in English classes that allow students to write essays or respond to questions posed by the teacher, and then their peers get to make comments, edits, etcetera. The program is similar to a discussion board that you would find in online classes. I find this extremely beneficial because it prepares students for their next level of education, as well as the real world. Web 2.0 allows teachers to make learning more interactive for students and allows the students to take more ownership over their own learning while enjoying learning at the same time.

I strongly believe that Web 2.0 and social learning advances knowledge management. According to Rosenberg (n.d.), knowledge management is “the creation, archiving and sharing of valued information, expertise, and insight within and across communities of people and organizations with similar interests and needs, the goal of which is to build competitive advantage” (p. 159). As I stated above, with the implementation of collaborative work via discussion groups, Web 2.0 is working to advance knowledge management because it is helping with creation and continuation of collaboration in and outside of the classroom.

Here is a video that gives more background about Web 2.0. 

The education evolution is alive and depending on the way teachers use the tools mentioned today, depends on if the tools are useful in their classroom. What kinds of Web 2.0 tools or technologies are you using in your classroom to enhance your learning?

References

Association for Career and Technical Education (ACTE). (2010). Up to the challenge: The role of Career and Technical Education and 21st century skills in college and career readiness. Retrieved from http://www.p21.org/storage/documents/CTE_Oct2010.pdf

Fechter, L. (2012). Lou advocates for web 2.0 tool – Xtranormal in the classroom. [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j50X5LSbgzc

Means, B. (2010). Technology and education change: Focus on student learning. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(3), 285-307

Rosenberg, M.J. (n.d.). Knowledge Management and learning: Perfect together. In R.A. Reiser & J.V. Dempsey (Eds.), Trends and issues in instructional design and technology (pp. 158-168). Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. 

 

 

Open Courseware: Changing Education FOREVER

Bonk (2009) defines open courseware (OCW), as the “placing of free content on the Intenet for anyone to use. OCW offers free, searchable, and open access to university resources and course content” (p. 163). The open education movement started in 2001 when MIT announced that they were making “most of its courses freely available on the Web” (Bonk, 2009, p. 163).

One of the things that I think is most excting about the Open Education movement is that through the Open Education movement, people from ages 16 and up, are allowed to study and participate in courses that they are ACTUALLY interested in. The Open Education movement, through the use of MOOCs (massive open online courses), give people the ability to access quality material that they might not have had access to due to other circumstances or barriers.

McNally (2012) asserts that open education eliminates the barriers to learning (geographic, financial, and academic) and I cannot agree more.  By allowing open education courses and resources, we are allowing people who might not have the financial freedom to go to school because they have other obligations to begin to pursue their dreams and their goals through these couress.

However, as we say in my household, “Nothing is free in life but a headache.” As beneficial as these courses and resources are to everybody, what happens to the educators and people that create these courses and resources for everyone to see? It also brings up the point with the future vision of education- what will happen to teachers? In an interview, futurist Thomas Frey (2008) stated that “teaching will transition and become more of the iTunes model” (6:32). This is something that personally makes me nervous because as a Family and Consumer Sciences teacher, my course is being cut and jobs are being eliminated because districts want to spend their money elsewhere. With the Open Education movement, I wonder what would happen to teachers like me. I don’t see Foods being able to be taught online only due to the necessary labs that would have to be conducted. I also wonder in regards to challenges, what would happen if more people utilized MOOCs and the entire education system became obsolete? 

My students are mesmerized by technology and sometimes I find it difficult to connect with them because their focus is not there. In order to engage my students more my learning activity is a menu creation project that incorporates Skype Classroom and a menu creation program on the Internet.

The learning activity is divided into multiple parts. The first part of the activity is the hook or initiation into the activity. Students view the video on YouTube titled, “Open Your Own Restaurant” (The StartUp Path, 2011). This video gives students ideas about what to think about when working on their project and gives the teacher a way to introduce the topic to the students. The second part of the activity is the re-teaching and re-learning about the elements of menu design and what types of considerations need to be kept in mind when starting a restaurant and planning the menu.Prior to using Skype Classroom, students will go on the Internet onto http://www.schedulefly.com/rou/ and view various interviews with restaurant owners who give different insights about what helps when opening a restaurant, whether it be training, duties and/or responsibilities, and how to work your business. While students are viewing the videos, they are required to take notes on important points they might find useful for their project. After individually viewing the videos, students will come together as a whole class to collaborate to create and organize questions that they will like to ask the restaurant owner that they interview on Skype Classroom.Once students have created the questions for the Skype Classroom chat with a restaurant owner, the conversation will be able to be held. During this time, students will ask the restaurant owner the questions they came up with and is ultimately an open conversation between the owner and student, with the teacher as a conversation facilitator only. While the conversation is occurring, students will once again be taking notes, writing down any important points that they might be able to use in their project. Once the conversation is over, the class will come together and discuss what they found interesting about the conversation that they had with the restaurant owner. After the conversation, students will individually begin to plan their restaurant name and menu. The menu will vary depending on the type of restaurant that the student wants to open, however, the student must include prices for their dishes, just like they would if this was a regular restaurant. The entire activity will take place in the classroom and a computer lab. The main items needed for this activity are a computer with Internet capabilities, a webcam to be used for Skype Classroom, and a projector and SMARTboard.

What are your thoughts- do you think Open Education resources could ever be available for a class, like my Foods course, that requires a hands-on lab portion?

 

References

Bonk, C. (2009). The world is open. San Francisco, CA. Jossey-Bass.

Frey, T. (2008). Futurist Thomas Frey on future trends in education, jobs, transportation [Video file].

Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWVvLwR5bVA  

McNally, M. (2012). Democratizing access to knowledge: Find out what open educational resources (OER) have to offer [Video file].

Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2IPOgl0ZE8

Wikipedia. (n.d.) Food Technology. [Photograph]. Retrieved from http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/7c/Food_tech_room_Marling.JPG

Experiential Learning in a F2F classroom! What type of learning works best for your classroom?

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The three types of instruction that can be “observed” in classrooms across the United States are Face to Face/ Traditional instruction, Hybrid instruction and Online instruction. 

Ball, Mosca, and Paul III (2013) define face to face/traditional instruction as, “The traditional method of teaching a course involves the instructor transmitting knowledge and information to the students. The instructors spend a considerable amount of time developing lecture materials in an attempt to enhance the material to maintain student focus and spark interest” (p. 74). Also during face-to-face instruction, the only activities that are done outside of class is homework and technology may or may not be part of the course, depending on the teacher.

One of the techniques that I believe works best in my classroom in regards to face-to-face instruction is through experiential learning. David Kolb’s experiential learning theory states that, “learning is a cognitive process involving constant adaption to, and engagement with, one’s environment. Individuals create knowledge from experience rather than just from received instruction. Conflicts, disagreements, and differences drive the learning process as learrners move between modes of action, reflection, feeling and thinking” (Bergsteiner, Avery, and Neumann, 2010, p. 30). As stated, Kolb’s experiential learning theory is divided into four modes: feeling, watching, thinking, doing. (Academy of Art University, n.d.). Each mode has learner characteristics that define each mode, however, when combined, there are many positive implications for teaching and learning. In my classroom, experiential learning can be seen through labs, whether they are cooking labs or sewing labs. Cooking labs are considered group work and would be classified under “feeling” for Kolb’s theory, however, the learning targets for the lab are so in depth that the students experience all four modes of feeling, watching, thinking doing.

Currently, my 6th and 7th grade students are in their Foods unit and my 8th graders are in their Sewing unit. Both units require the students to take action and be more responsible. Also, when the labs (experiential learning) are going on and are completed, I have noticed that my students have made stronger and more meaningful connections to the content. Overall, experiential learning theories allow students to take ownership of their learning, which as a result, makes them more successful.

Ball et al. (2013) define hybrid instruction as the goal being “provide moderate-to-high degrees of access and flexibility while offering the potential for moderate-to-high dialogue and low-to-moderate structure” (p. 73). Hybrid instruction is also known as “blended learning” because it combines online learning and face-to-face instruction.

One of the techniques that I think is very beneficial to use for hybrid instruction is critical thinking. Brightman (2001) writes, “John Dewey defined critical thinking as ‘reflective thought’- to suspend judgment, maintain a healthy skepticism, and exercise an open mind” (para. 2). Hybrid learning, or blended learning, being that is part face-to-face instruction and part online, I think that critical thinking activities whether it be online or in the classroom, need to be incorporated into the class. I think that critical thinking activities give students a better understanding of the activity that they are doing and allows them to also explore their own ideas and create their own opinions about certain things. Personally, I am not a big advocate for hybrid learning because I was in a very unsuccessful hybrid course during my undergraduate time. We were actually “hybrid learning guinea pigs” and it was a mess. We were more online than anything else and then when we were in the classroom, everything was very unstructured and I found myself many times asking myself, “Was this really worth the drive?”

However, I am going to try to incorporate hybrid learning in my learning activity with my 8th graders when they create their menus online. Students will be required to create their own menu for a  restaurant that they create. Students will have to create a full menu, determine menu prices using their knowledge of unit pricing, and design their menu to be printed. This project builds off the previous knowledge that the students obtained in seventh grade on basic menu creation. Originally, I designed the project to be simply face to face, however, there is a lot of useful information that my students can get from the internet that will benefit them with their project. I know that if I use this technique with my students, the learning experience will be more beneficial for them.

Lastly, Kaymak and Horzum define online learning as, “gaining knowledge and skills through sychronous and asychronous learning applications which are written, communicated, active, supported, and managed with the use of internet technology” (p. 1792). One of the techniques that I think is beneficial for online learning is both critical thinking and discussion. From my experience so far with online learning, I have found discussions to be very beneficial to learning where I find myself thinking about what other people “spoke” about throughout the week. However, the only negative that I see with discussion is that with bigger classes, your discussions are not consistent or sometimes are not even acknowledged. If the discussion is optional, then I believe that the discussion is not as beneficial as it could potentially be, however, when discussions are going on, it brings in the critical thinking portion and really advances the learning for everyone. 

Watch this video for some more information about face to face learning vs online learning—- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ni9Meh_QinQ . What are your thoughts on Face to Face learning vs Online Learning? What do you think will work best for your classroom and why? 

References

Academy of Art University. (n.d.) David Kolb’s experiential learning. Retrieved from  http://faculty.academyart.edu/resource/kolb.html

Ball, D., Mosca, J., & Paul III, D. (2013). Evaluating the effectiveness of audio in hybrid courses. American Journal of Business Education, 6(1), 73-84.

Bergsteiner, H., Avery, G., & Neumann, R. (2010). Kolb’s experiential learning model: critique from a modeling perspective. Studies in Continuing Education,32(1), 29-46. doi:10.1080/01580370903534355

Brightman, H. (2001). GSU: Master teacher program on critical thinking. Retrieved from  http://www2.gsu.edu/~dschjb/wwwcrit.html

Kaymak, Z., & Horzum, M. (2013). Relationship between online learning readiness and structure and interaction of online learning students. Educational Sciences: Theory & Practice, 13(3), 1792-1797. doi:10.12738/estp.2013/3/1580