Sunday, March 18, 2012

Selecting Distance Learning Technologies

A new automated staff information system was recently purchased by a major corporation and needs to be implemented in six regional offices. Unfortunately, the staff is located throughout all the different offices and cannot meet at the same time or in the same location. As an instructional designer for the corporation, you have been charged with implementing a training workshop for these offices. As part of the training, you were advised how imperative it is that the staff members share information, in the form of screen captures and documents, and participate in ongoing collaboration.

According to Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, and Zvacek "In distance education, it is imperative that educators think about how communication will occur and how to apply experiences that will promote effective and efficient learning" (2012, p.94). When implementing a training workshop for individuals separated by distance and time, the methods of communication must certainly be strongly considered. There are a number of tools that could provide successful communication solutions, along with the ability to share information and collaborate on a variety of projects and documents.

One of the simplest solutions that could be used to solve this corporation’s training needs would be in the form of a wiki. A wiki “is usually thought to be a space designed to be created and edited by groups of persons” (Simonson et al., 2012, p.129). In an article on CNN Money, Nussenbaum (2008) writes of the success of Raleigh-based Rosen Law, whose owner and chief executive decided to transition his entire operation to a wiki. With many employees hesitant to make the change, Rosen put up a $1000 prize incentive. This led to a great deal of effort from his employees to get acquainted with the wiki. While Rosen expected that there would be much collaboration on the site, one benefit that he did not foresee was that it caused employees to learn more about one another job duties. The contest was a success and the transition to a wiki allowed Rosen to discontinue using Lotus Notes for email, calendars, contacts, and case files resulting in a huge savings. The initial transition wasn’t even financially driven but simply was an effort to move to a wiki for it ease of use.

While a wiki seems to provide a simple solution for the organization’s needs, there are a number of more robust web 2.0 tools that could also be used to foster collaboration and share information and documents. Wiggio is one such tool. Wiggio is a free, cloud-based product that includes a number of features such as virtual meetings and conference calls, shared calendars, email, text and voice messaging, file-sharing, polling, and the ability to create to-do lists and assign tasks. Simonson et al. state “Increasingly, the Internet will be used to connect learners for sharing of videos, in addition to data (text and graphics)” (2012, p.111). With the ability to communicate via two-way audio and video, Wiggio seems to provide everything needed to implement training and aide in future collaboration within the organization. In a blog post, Kimberly Martin (Case Study: AmeriCorps VISTA Using Wiggio to Collaborate) of AmeriCorps VISTA details her success story with Wiggio. Her project required collaboration between three geographically separated groups. After trying a number of different communication methods without success, Martin and others decided to give Wiggio a try at the suggestion of colleague. They were set up and organized in one day. Martin continues to praise Wiggio for its ease of use, value, and the fact that all of the organization’s correspondence is kept in one place, making for a very organized team.


Martin, K. ().Case Study: AmeriCorps VISTA Using Wiggio to Collaborate. Retrieved on April 8, 2012 from

Nussenbaum, E. (2008, February 12). Boosting teamwork with wikis. CNN Money. Retrieved on April 8, 2012 from

Simonson, M., Smaldino, S., Albright, M., & Zvacek, S. (2012). Teaching and learning at a distance: Foundations of distance education (5th ed.) Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.

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