A Look Back Six Years

Monday, Lindsey Sudbury, a member of Academic Technology Services here at Northeastern University, and I did a 90-minute interactive presentation to our English department at their End of Term Retreat.  It was a 30,000 f00t fly-over of a variety of digital tools that might add engagement in writing classes, including social media tools.  Our slides are below:

.
I was struck by how things had (and had not) changed in the past six years.  In 2009, I did a similar workshop at the Innovations Conference.  My slides then:

In those six years, Diigo has replaced Delicious, and Feedly has replaced Google Reader.  But the concept remains on target.

One other change … more faculty are receptive to the idea!

My Current Top Tools

Jane Hart Top 100Jane Hart tweeted that her 8th annual survey of learning professionals was out for her Top Tools for Learning 2014.  I always find this list interesting and a great resource to share with my students.  I regularly use quite a number, and have at least played with all but 18 of the top hundred.  Last year’s list is available on her Centre for Learning and Performance Technologies website.  I have embedded her slideshow from last year here:

The last time I submitted my top ten tools to her survey was in 2012, so it was interesting to first develop my list for this year and submit it…and then go back and reflect on how this list might have changed from what I submitted in 2012.

My top toolsWhat is both interesting and maybe a little alarming for me is how little this list changed in the past two years.  The order is a little different, and Google Reader was replaced with Feedly…but the functionality is the same.  Facebook dropped off and the iPad was added.  Two years ago, I stated:

“…these are my top tools for learning “at the present moment” – but I do see shifts occurring in the next year.  I think this is the first year that I have not listed my learning management system (Blackboard) in my top ten, which is pretty telling on its own.  My home institution has moved to Google Apps for email and productivity, so potentially I will shift from using Dropbox to Google Drive, which folds in another favorite tool of mine, Google Docs.  As we all move to more open platforms and mobile friendly applications, some of the above will evolve as well.  I did not list smartphones or tablets in my top ten, but I am increasingly aware of how well my tools work (or do not work) on mobile devices.”

Well…two years have passed… and I have certainly moved beyond Blackboard.  I regularly use Google Drive and the associated docs…but continue to think and use Dropbox first.  Wherever I go these days, my iPad and iPhone are handy…which I use for note-taking, research, and photos.  In fact, the panorama feature of iPhone camera is another favorite.

Reflecting on the evolutionary changes occurring on the web, I think that I have moved beyond “tools” to practices.  I do have my second top ten list that I use almost as often as my top ten…

And two that were on last year’s list that look interesting and were introduced to me by students were Udutu and Trello.  I continue to check out tools…

…but it is the practices afforded by the open web that continue to excite me – not the tools.  (My grammar colleagues tell me “practice” has no plural…but my mind refuses to accept that…)

practiceBy practice, I mean working and learning in the open.  The web (and these tools) are no longer separate entities from my work / life experience.    I met with some colleagues this morning for coffee, and we were discussing the visit this week by Christina Engelbart of the Doug Engelbart Institute.  In many ways, the top 100 tools for learning simply provide evidence of what Doug Engelbart visualized as “augmenting human intellect.”  The tools have become as much a part of me as the clothes I wear…and as such, the use seems to have become second nature and unconscious.

That said, I still find value in Jane crowdsourcing the top tools.  Seeing what might surface provides new ways of thinking about teaching and learning in a digital age.  If you have not done so, join me in voting for your top tools…and let’s see what all of us develop together.

{Graphic: C4LPT, Allen Interactions}

Enhanced by Zemanta

30-Day Challenge – Day 30 – The Questions I Did Not Ask

Back on March 5th, my colleague Enoch Hale posted a challenge on his blog:

“I want to pose an open challenge: Post an out-of-the-box question about teaching and learning each day for 30 days.”

3 month statsI took him up on his challenge…though I suggested “thirty work days”…to which he agreed.  Over the past six weeks, we have each posted 58 questions – 29 each.  In the process, we have both improved in our blogging.  The biggest “challenge” in a 30-Day Challenge is blogging consistently each work day.  It stretched me time wise and intellectually…but it also was a lot of fun.  Enoch and I fed off of each other.  And…not surprisingly, when one blogs daily, one’s readership increases.  I topped a hundred page views for Day 20 (The New Nomads) and Day 25 (The Training Wheel Question).

Enoch noted on his first day that questions can drive thinking forward.  Answers stop thinking, but questions keep thinking moving.  Over the past six weeks, I have paid more attention to questions being asked.  I have started following Warren Berger, author of A More Beautiful Question.  Maryellen Weimer blogged last month about “The Art of Asking Question,” suggesting that if we want students to ask thoughtful questions, we have to model that ourselves.

Tony Bates in his studyTony Bates out of Canada has been asking thoughtful questions for 45 years about distance and online learning.  His post yesterday took me by surprise – “Time to retire from online learning?

First, Tony turned 75 this week (congratulations!). He has decided he has reached the point in his life to stop nearly all professional activities.  At 75, he feels he has reached the right to stop (…which could mean I now have 11 years to continue, since I will soon turn 64…).  He wants to stop when he is still at his best.  He has not taught a full course in ten years, and:

“Given the pace of change, it is dangerous for a consultant to become adrift from the reality of teaching and management. It’s time to hang up my boots before I get really hurt (or more importantly, really hurt others).”

Tony then expressed some concerns about the future of higher education and teaching.  Four quotes hit me…and the emphasis below is mine:

“…It’s a full-time job just to keep abreast of new developments in online and distance learning, and this constant change is not going to go away. It’s tempting to say that it’s only the technology that changes; the important things – teaching and learning – don’t change much, but I don’t believe that to be true, either. Teaching in higher education is about to go through as major a revolution as one can imagine. This is not going to be easy; indeed it could get brutal…

…this is a field that needs full-time, professional application, and very hard work, and I just don’t have the energy any more to work at that level. To put it simply, this is not a profession where you can be half in and half out. Dabbling in online learning is very dangerous (politicians please note)…

…And then there’s MOOCs. I can’t express adequately just how pissed off I am about MOOCs – not the concept, but all the hubris and nonsense that’s been talked and written about them. At a personal level, it was as if 45 years of work was for nothing. All the research and study I and many others had done on what makes for successful learning online were totally ignored, with truly disastrous consequences in terms of effective learning for the vast majority of participants who took MOOCs from the Ivy League universities. Having ignored online learning for nearly 20 years, Stanford, MIT and Harvard had to re-invent online learning in their own image to maintain their perceived superiority in all things higher educational. And the media fell for it, hook, line and sinker. This is a battle I no longer want to fight – but it needs fighting…

…Lastly, I am concerned that the computer scientists seem to be taking over online education. Ivy League MOOCs are being driven mainly by computer scientists, not educators. Politicians are looking to computer science to automate learning in order to save money. Computer scientists have much to offer, but they need more humility and a greater willingness to work with other professionals, such as psychologists and teachers, who understand better how learning operates. This is a battle that has always existed in educational technology, but it’s one I fear the educators are losing…”

I need to reflect on Tony’s post much more, but his very personal reflection lays the groundwork for many more thoughtful questions.  It brought to my mind my final question for THIS 30-day Challenge:

Day 30 – What are the questions I did not ask but should have?

There are obviously many more than thirty good questions left to ask…so while this challenge has ended, the challenge for higher education is only getting more intense.  If more educators joined the open questioning within the blogosphere. maybe we can win some battles.  As Tony noted, this is not a field you can be half in and half out.

Thoughts?

{Graphics: Bates}

Enhanced by Zemanta

30-Day Challenge – Day 24 – Bricolage and Course Design

I have been enamored with the concept of bricolage for some time now. French for “tinkering”, bricolage is the building of something from what is available.  Sherry Turkle applied this to programming, suggesting less an exhaustive specification than a iterative growth process with re-evaluation loops.  Turkle writes:

“The bricoleur resembles the painter who stands back between brushstrokes, looks at the canvas, and only after this contemplation, decides what to do next.”

MacGyverIn the late 1980s, we were all introduced to this concept when each week we tuned in to the television show MacGyver.  MacGyver could solve any problem with the materials laying around him.

This idea is a nice metaphor for how the web has evolved in the past decade.  There are now many options for content creation, communication, sharing, and community building laying all over the interwebs…as some of my colleagues call it.  Over the past five years, we in the Center for Teaching Excellence have tinkered a lot as we explored digital technologies that were now available and probed how they might be useful in an educational context.

Stephen Downes shared a link from Inge de Waard yesterday which summarize a new report released from the Technology Enhanced Learning Research Programme out of the UK that explored building online learning solutions that are durable – Beyond Prototypes: Enabling Innovation in Technology-Enhanced Learning.

Stephen’s synthesis of this report:

  • “TEL involves a complex system of technologies and practices…it is necessary to look beyond product development and pay close attention to the entire process of implementation.
  • Significant innovations are developed and embedded over periods of years rather than months. Sustainable change is not a simple matter of product development, testing and roll-out.
  • TEL innovation is a process of bricolage… It also requires engagement with a range of communities and practices.
  • Successful implementation of TEL innovation requires evidence that the projected educational goal has been achieved.”

This resonated with me.  We are in the process of updating our Online Course Development Initiative at VCU.  The OCDI has evolved over the years into a “…complex system of technologies and practices” that does span years rather than months:

  • An online sensitizing activity before joining a cohort to surface preconceived beliefs about online teaching and learning.
  • A week-long cohort process to build community and explore online teaching practices and processes.
  • A three-week online experience to better understand collaborative learning and co-construction of knowledge from the perspective of a student
  • A long-term relationship with a design consultant to develop and teach an online course, providing pacing for development and a safety net for exploration.
  • Teaching the course for the first time and reflecting on successes and challenges
  • Redesign of the course, taking into account the data collected during the first iteration.

Over the past four years, we have engaged 77 faculty members in the development of 74 courses.  Yet I would suggest that we are only in the early days of “sustainable change.”  Some of these courses are still under development or have not yet been redeveloped.  We have the beginnings of a community. As we move forward, we need to continue the process of bricolage…engaging with and building this community.

As part of that tinkering, we should keep Lisa Lane’s comment this week in mind:

“We think of our online classes as being on the web, but most of them aren’t on the web – they’re inside an LMS, isolated from the internet. New online instructors often sense this sterility and add images and videos. But the images are often decorative rather than instructional, and the videos are now embedded, which is great for convenience and less distraction but less suitable for exploration…

…Where are the structured web spaces, the ones where we as teachers know what’s there, but where students can explore? Databases full of primary sources are boring. Where is the equivalent of installation art, where the artist defines the space but the interpretations and experience are left to the viewer?”

Great questions!  The UK report above has some interesting observations:

“…the tools of educational technology have no magical power in themselves, only by being embedded in the practices of teachers and learners do their mediational means come into play…”

“…Technology should only ever be considered as supportive of educational practice, never as core to it…”

“…successful innovations in TEL [technology enhanced learning] are often not new inventions.  They more often involve assembly of technological elements and practices, most of which already exist, into novel configurations, applied in new settings…”

The model presented in the UK report suggests the complexity in creating a sustainable online practice:

TEL Innovation Model

The UK report suggests that it is a misconception to think of “technology” as the innovation.  The innovation is in the mindful use of the technology.  Creating that mindfulness takes time, tinkering, and…as the report suggested…”persistent intent.”

So my 30-Day Challenge question today is:

Day 24 – How might my teaching practice be informed and sustainably changed for the better by tinkering with open resources on the web?

…keeping in mind – stay focused on the learning, not the cool tools…

Thoughts?

Graphics: Box Theory, tel.ioe.ac.uk}

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

30 Day Question Challenge – Day 1- Complicated or Complex

My colleague here in our Center for Teaching ExcellenceEnoch Hale – intellectually pushes me all the time…and that is a good thing.  Enoch has become a valued addition to co-teaching GRAD-602 with Jeff Nugent this semester.  If you have listened to some of our podcasts, you have heard him.

Like many of our colleagues, Enoch is beginning to explore the concept of networked learning.  He has recently started blogging.   In yesterday’s post, he posed an open challenge: Post an out-of-the-box question about teaching and learning each day for 30 days.  He came up with this idea after hearing me talk about my own blogging challenge issued by Michele M. Martin back in 2008, and recently modeled by Michele in her 30 Juicy Questions series.  Enoch is doing this to jumpstart his own blogging…but it is a great way to potentially build a personal learning network via blogs.

I’m game.  As Enoch noted, answers can stop thinking, but questions move thinking forward.

Enoch’s question yesterday was: DAY 1: What would my class look like if every student embodied a sense of intellectual playfulness?  Great question.  The concept of “play” is ingrained in pre-schoolers’ learning, but “school” too often seems to strip play away from learning.

So, my question:  Day 1: Is the instructional design for teaching with new media complicated or complex?

This question came to my mind after reading Harold Jarche‘s post back in February – Management in Perpetual Beta.  He suggested that managers with good judgement might still make poor decisions, because they are viewing problems as complicated, when in fact they are complex:

“Complicated, in which the relationship between cause and effect requires analysis or some other form of investigation and/or the application of expert knowledge, the approach is to Sense – Analyze – Respond and we can apply good practice.

Complex, in which the relationship between cause and effect can only be perceived in retrospect, but not in advance, the approach is to Probe – Sense – Respond and we can sense emergent practice.”

In my view, integrating new media into teaching is an emergent practice…and as yesterday’s post suggests, must be viewed in context.  So, does that make the instructional design complicated (which suggests right and wrong answers) or complex (which suggests experimentation because we do not yet know “right”)?  Just yesterday, Debbie Morrison posted “Why is Adoption of Educational Technology So Challenging?… ‘It’s Complicated’“.  My question – is it complicated?  Or is it complex…and how might that change of terms impact design?

If you are in on Enoch’s 30-Day challenge, link back to his blog so that he can collect – as he says – the collective genius.

Thoughts?

Enhanced by Zemanta

On the Horizon

nmc14

I am not at the Educause Learning Initiative 2014 conference this year, but I always look forward to the New Media Consortium‘s annual Horizon Report, in which a team of colleagues from around the world attempt to forecast six key trends, six significant challenges, and six emerging technologies that will impact teaching and learning in higher education.  I had the opportunity to serve on the K-12 Horizon Report Advisory Board in 2011 and 2012, so I know the hard work that goes in to developing these trends, challenges, and forecasts.

For the 2014 report key trends (with the somewhat provocative abstracts quoted) ,

  • The growing ubiquity of social media and the integration of online, hybrid and collaborative learning were noted as “fast trends” driving change in the next two years.

“Social media is changing the way people interact,present ideas and information, and judge the quality of content and contributions… The impact of these changes in scholarly communication and on the credibility of information remains to be seen, but it is clear that social media has found significant traction in almost every education sector.”

“Education paradigms are shifting to include more online learning, blended and hybrid learning, and collaborative models. Students already spend much of their free time on the Internet, learning and exchanging new information. Institutions that embrace face-to-face, online, and hybrid learning models have the potential to leverage the online skills learners have already developed independent of academia. Online learning environments can offer different affordances than physical campuses, including opportunities for increased collaboration while equipping students with stronger digital skills. Hybrid models, when designed and implemented successfully, enable students to travel to campus for some activities, while using the network for others, taking advantage of the best of both environments.”

  • The rise of data-driven learning and assessment and the shift of students as consumers to students as creators were noted as “mid-range trends” driving change within three to five years.

“There is a growing interest in using new sources of data for personalizing the learning experience and for performance measurement.  As learners participate in online activities, they leave an increasingly clear trail of analytics data that can be mined for insights… As the field of learning analytics matures, the hope is that this information will enable continual improvement of learning outcomes.”

“A shift is taking place in the focus of pedagogical practice on university campuses all over the world as students across a wide variety of disciplines are learning by making and creating rather than from the simple consumption of content. Creativity, as illustrated by the growth of user-generated videos, maker communities, and crowdfunded projects in the past couple years, is increasingly the means for active, hands-on learning.”

  • Agile approaches to change and the evolution of online learning were noted as long-range trends, driving change out beyond five years.

“There is a growing consensus among many higher education thought leaders that institutional leadership and curricula could benefit from agile startup models… The Lean Startup movement uses technology as a catalyst for promoting a culture of innovation in a more widespread, cost-effective manner. Pilots and other experimental programs are being developed for teaching and improving organizational structure to more effectively nurture entrepreneurship among both students and faculty.”

“Over the past several years, there has been a shift in the perception of online learning to the point where it is seen as a viable alternative to some forms of face-to-face learning. The value that online learning offers is now well understood, with flexibility, ease of access, and the integration of sophisticated multimedia and technologies chief among the list of appeals…  While growing steadily, this trend is still a number of years away from its maximum impact. Progress in learning analytics, adaptive learning, and a combination of cutting-edge asynchronous and synchronous tools will continue to advance the state of online learning and keep it compelling…”

Significant challenges foreseen included:

  • Solvable challenges such as the relative low digital fluency of some faculty, as well as the relative lack of rewards for teaching.

“Faculty training still does not acknowledge the fact that digital media literacy continues its rise in importance as a key skill in every discipline and profession. Despite the widespread agreement on the importance of digital media literacy, training in the supporting skills and techniques is rare in teacher education and non-existent in the preparation of faculty <…those of us in faculty development would argue that “non-existent” is inaccurate…but widespread adoption is probably accurate>. As lecturers and professors begin to realize that they are limiting their students by not helping them to develop and use digital media literacy skills across the curriculum, the lack of formal training is being offset through professional development or informal learning, but we are far from seeing digital media literacy as a norm. This challenge is exacerbated by the fact that digital literacy is less about tools and more about thinking, and thus skills and standards based on tools and platforms have proven to be somewhat ephemeral.”

“Teaching is often rated lower than research in academia… There is an overarching sense in the academic world that research credentials are a more valuable asset than talent and skill as an instructor… To balance competing priorities, larger universities are experimenting with alternating heavy and light teaching loads throughout the school year, and hiring more adjunct professors.”

  • More difficult challenges, such as the emerging competition from new models of education, as well as the ability to scale innovations in teaching.

“New models of education are bringing unprecedented competition to the traditional models of higher education… As these new platforms emerge, there is a growing need to frankly evaluate the models and determine how to best support collaboration, interaction, and assessment at scale. Simply capitalizing on new technology is not enough; the new models must use these tools and services to engage students on a deeper level.”

“Our organizations are not adept at moving teaching innovations into mainstream practice. Innovation springs from the freedom to connect ideas in new ways… A pervasive aversion to change limits the diffusion of new ideas, and too often discourages experimentation.”

  • Wicked challenges, such as expanding access or keeping higher education relevant.

“The global drive to increase the number of students participating in undergraduate education is placing pressure across the system. The oft-cited relationship between earning potential and educational attainment plus the clear impact of an educated society on the growth of the middle class is pushing governments to encourage more and more students to enter universities and colleges…”

“Many pundits worry that if higher education does not adapt to the times, other models of learning (especially other business models) will take its place…institutional stakeholders must address the question of what universities can provide that other approaches cannot, and rethink the value of higher education from a student’s perspective.”

To determine emerging technologies, NMC grouped technologies into seven categories:

edtech

2014 Higher Ed NMC Horizon Report p. 35

The six technologies highlighted as emerging this year included:

  • Adoption in next year: Flipped Classrooms and Learning Analytics

“The flipped classroom refers to a model of learning that rearranges how time is spent both in and out of class to shift the ownership of learning from the educators to the students… The goal is for students to learn more authentically by doing.”

“Learning analytics is an educational application of “big data”… new ways of applying to improve student engagement and provide a high-quality, personalized experience for learners.”

  • Adoption in next two to three years: 3D Printing and Gamification

“Known in industrial circles as rapid prototyping, 3D printing refers to technologies that construct physical objects from threedimensional (3D) digital content… This technology is commonly used in manufacturing to build prototypes of almost any object (scaled to fit the printer, of course) that can be conveyed in three dimensions.”

“The games culture has grown to include a  substantial proportion of the world’s population, with the age of the average gamer increasing with each passing year. As tablets and smartphones have proliferated, desktop and laptop computers, television sets, and gaming consoles are no longer the only way to connect with other players online, making game-play a portable activity that can happen in a diverse array of settings. Gameplay has long since moved on from solely being recreational and has found considerable traction in the military, business and industry, and increasingly, education as a useful training and motivation tool…the gamification of education is gaining support among educators who recognize that effectively designed games can stimulate large gains in productivity and creativity among learners.”

  • Adoption in four to five years: Quantified Self and Virtual Assistants

“Quantified self describes the phenomenon of consumers being able to closely track data that is relevant to their daily activities through the use of technology. The emergence of wearable devices on the market such as watches, wristbands, and necklaces that are designed to automatically collect data are helping people manage their fitness, sleep cycles, and eating habits. Mobile apps also share a central role in this idea by providing easy-to-read dashboards for consumers to view and analyze their personal metrics… Today’s apps not only track where a person goes, what they do, and how much time they spend doing it, but now what their aspirations are and when those can be accomplished… As more people rely on their mobile devices to monitor their daily activities, personal data is becoming a larger part of everyday life.”

“As voice recognition and gesture-based technologies advance and more recently, converge, we are quickly moving away from the notion of interacting with our devices via a pointer and keyboard. Virtual assistants are a credible extension of work being done with natural user interfaces (NUIs), and the first examples are already in the marketplace. Virtual assistants …and their applications for learning are clearly in the long-term horizon, but the potential of the technology to add substance to informal modes of learning is compelling.”

Of interest to me, the framework of the Up-Scaling Creative Classrooms (CCR) project out of Europe was used to identify implications for policy, leadership, and practice related to the identified trends and challenges.  A visualization of the CCR is as follows:

CCR Project

There is a lot crammed in to his graphic…but they do try and show some of the interrelationships between ideas.

Jon Becker tweeted:

becker tweet

… and then later tweeted his own answer with a link to a 2011 study by Martin, Diaz, Sancristobal, Gil, Castro and Peire – “New technology trends in education: Seven years of forecasts and convergence.”  They noted:

“The bibliometric analysis over the predictions highlights that some of the predictions were right, e.g., social networks, user-created content, games, virtual worlds and mobile devices. Other predictions did not have the expected impact, e.g., knowledge Web, learning objects and open content, context-awareness and ubiquitous computing. However, other predictions were successful, although their impact was delayed one or two years, e.g., grassroots videos and collaborative Web. Regarding the application of the bibliometric analysis to the obtained metatrends, the evolution of learning objects toward open content did not seem to be successful due to the low index of publications about open content. However, the metatrend of ubiquitous computing and context-awareness toward mobile devices was successful, according to the high index of publications. Other metatrend that can be considered successful was the evolution from augmented reality toward mobile augmented reality. The increasing importance of mobile devices in education is fostering all the technologies related to them. Augmented reality did not have the expected influence in education in 2008–2010, although, according with its publication evolution, it will probably play a more important role on 2011–2012.”

So, a track record that is not 100% but not bad either.  For our potential future faculty in GRAD-602, as well as our mobile scholars in UNIV-391, this report suggests a future in which they will live and work.

Check out this year’s Horizon Report.  What insights do you gain from this?

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

Integrating Teaching and Technology

tptechThis past weekend, I was in my old hometown of Atlanta for the first Teaching Professor Technology Conference.  With only 650 people attending, the conference had an intimate feeling to it.  This was one of the first conferences I have attended in which I knew very few people, but friends were quickly made…and I added to my Twitter PLN.

After the opening plenary, poster sessions, and a day of rapid fire sessions (including mine), I awoke Sunday morning with an interesting epiphany.  Online education actually has become mainstream.  Many of the sessions mentioned online instruction, but the fact that the instruction was online was not the point.  The point was how technology … digital technology … was being used to impact learning.  It seemed everyone at the conference was passionate about learning!

For someone who adopted online instruction before Blackboard was created…this rocked!

Friday afternoon, Joshua Kim, Director of Learning and Technology for Dartmouth and blogger for Inside Higher Education, gave the opening plenary talk entitled “The Teaching Professor in 2020: Shaping the Future in a Time of Rapid Change.  A good talk, yet troubling.  With the increasing use of online education and the fascination this past year with MOOCs, Joshua suggested that higher education is in the midst of a historic shift…and that shift could be one that moves education from relationships with students to mass production of learning content and processes.  He suggested that higher education over the past two hundred years succeeded because of the relationships built between faculty and students (and between students).  In an era when rock star faculty can create a “course” that has 160,000 people enrolled, Joshua suggests that there cannot be an implicit relationship between the individual faculty and individual student.  In some ways, it reminds me of the move industrially from craft manufacturing to assembly line manufacturing – which had both positive and negative outcomes. Joshua suggested that you need those relationships for authentic learning … and stated “Authentic learning does not scale.”

True?  I am not sold that authentic learning is implicitly tied to small class size…but I do buy the issue of relationships.  And I agree with Ollie Dreon, who tweeted:

tweet01

Joshua suggested that higher education might move in similar directions to the airlines, which have unbundled travel into commodities you buy…or very elite high end first-class travel.  The relationship-creating experiences might become our “first-class” education while MOOCs and low cost competency assessment represent “coach-class” education.  Reminded me of the discussions we have had in our CTE led by Jeff Nugent on the idea of the post-course era.

In a blog post, Joshua noted that his three takeaways from the conference were:

  • Faculty Not Satisfied with the Status Quo – Looking to Improve Teaching and Learning
  • Faculty are looking for Campus Partners
  • A new generation of tech savvy faculty will be the future campus leaders

The poster sessions were held Friday night during the reception.  Fun discussing digital technology while wandering with a glass of wine…might be a model for future faculty development! 🙂

One high point for me was as I wandered by the poster of Erin Wood of Catawba College entitled “Engaging the Change: From Hardback to No Back” and heard her say “We got that idea from the Center for Teaching Excellence at VCU.”  Turned out that Erin was a graduate of VCU and had attended a number of CTE workshops while working on her degree.  At Catawba College, she had pointed her colleagues to our website of resources, many of which they have adopted.  One never knows the impact our group might have…but fun seeing a concrete example.

Saturday, Brian Kibby from McGraw-Hill Higher Education gave the breakfast plenary entitled “Gradually then Suddenly: How Technology Has Changed Teaching in Higher Education.”  I initially tweeted that it was interesting that the conference brought in someone from publishing to talk to faculty, yet Brian gave an uplifting talk.  He stood not at the podium but out in the room, and used no technology (other than a microphone).  One of Brian’s strengths is storytelling, and he wove a compelling story that examines the parallels between changes in publishing and changes in teaching.  In both cases, the “customer” or “consumer” is changing.

Brian’s question was whether the culture at our institutions was one of YES or one of NO when it came to using technology for teaching and learning.  Rather than focus on why one should not use technology, he suggested one look for the possibilities and then make it happen.  He discussed the focus on learning analytics and suggested that if one focuses on results, one is use a lagging indicator.  Instead, he suggested we should look for leading indicators, and engagement might be one of this indicators. (So how does one “measure” engagement in an online class?  Page views, time on pages, eye tracks?)

Brian had a recent article in Inside Higher Education that looked at the question of when will we see the complete digital transformation of higher education in the United States?  He suggests that it is started and will occur in the next three years.  Optimistic…but then again, I am an optimist!

Sheryl Barnes mentioned something on Twitter that I had not caught:
tweet02

Brian ended his session by discussing MOOCs.  After the session, I talked to him and made the suggestion that McGraw-Hill might want to consider MOOCs less as a new model for courses as much as a possible new model for textbooks.  He seemed intrigued with the idea.

The next session was led by Ike Shibley, Chemistry professor at Penn State Berk, on tips for blended courses.  Ike teaches organic chemistry online…reminding us that the hard sciences can be taught online.  However, given lab components, blended makes much more sense.  Ike reminded us that students were not paying for our time or lectures…they were paying for learning.  He suggested that course design should include opportunities for learning before, during, and after each class.  He uses screencasts to cover lower order thinking levels of Bloom so that he can concentrate on higher order thinking in class.

skifailOne interesting question for online faculty lay in how authentic our learning might be.  His metaphor was that it did little good to spend 45 hours talking about skiing and viewing videos of great skiers…and then for the final exam placing the student at the top of the hill on skis and pushing them downhill.  He suggested a climate of rehearsal in courses…formative assessments tied to authentic outcomes.

This conference had lots of practical applications embedded in the sessions.  One tool that Ike demonstrated was PeerWise out of Australia.  Students use PeerWise to create and to explain their understanding of course related assessment questions, and to answer and discuss questions created by their peers.

A team from Anderson University discussed their implementation of a campus-wide iPad initiative.  They saw their initiative not as a technology initiative but as a learning initiative…looking to change practices for faculty and students.  The tablets open up new possibilities for classroom instruction, but faculty have to rethink class policies about use of iPads in class.  What does one do if students do not bring their iPad to class?  Students get AppleCare and supplemental insurance if they need to replace their iPad, and have the option to buy it if they leave early.  Faculty are issued iPads, but they remain the property of the university.

A good comment made by one of the team is that iPads do not mean business as usual.  It is a new tool suggesting new practices, and for active learning to occur in class, one should have students doing active learning between classes.

Another app that looked interesting is BaiBoard, which allows for interactive shared whiteboard through iPads.

At lunch, Ray Schroeder, Associate Vice Chancellor for Online Learning at University of Illinois and founding director of the Center for Online Leadership and Strategy at the University Professional and Continuing Education Association, discussed the Vortex of Technology.  This link is a Google Site page that Ray used as both his presentation and his handout, something I found rather cool. With my aging eyes, it also helped that I could sit in the rear of the ballroom and bring his presentation up on my iPad to follow along – links and all.

One emerging technology that he discussed was LeapMotion, which uses hand movements to replace mouse or touchpads…very cool!  At $80-some dollars, I see a purchase in the near term!

One of the more interesting sessions dealt with cognitive load and screencasting, by Oliver Dreon, Millersville University of Pennsylvania; and Tim Wilson, University of Western Ontario.  I loved Ollie’s comment that an hour-long (or two-hour long) screencast was not a technical problem, it was a teaching problem.  He suggested ways to chunk material into ten-minute videos.  They noted lots of screencasting options, but suggested that for many, screencasting was an opportunity to create poor material.  At the same time, they repeated a mantra I have heard from Bud Deihl, do not let perfect be the enemy of good enough.

My session was on “Preparing Digitally Savvy Future Faculty,” which I co-developed with my fellow GRAD-602 co-teachers, Jeff Nugent and David McLeod.  Around 30 people showed up at 4pm…so I was stoked!  The Prezi is embedded below:

The last session of the day dealt with service learning and social media, a topic that my partner David McLeod will discuss in our presentation at the SLOAN International Conference on Online Learning in November.  Purdue is doing some interesting things with OpenBadges as a way to incentivize service learning.  Another Purdue app that got some buzz was Backdraft, which allows a speaker to create tweets before a presentation and then release them via iPad as they speak to punctuate their talk.  Very cool!

On Sunday morning, I attended two more sessions.  Matt Cazessus of Greenville Tech led a session on student-led blogging.  He used Blogger to create a central class site, and then multiple group blogs with 4-6 student authors in each for online discussion…in both online and face-to-face classes.  He did a nice job contrasting how boring a Blackboard discussion is versus the creativity of student blogging.  I was following the tweets from Jill Schiefelbein‘s session in another room on adding human touch to online classes, and was struck how we were having the same discussion in the blogging session.

My last session was led by Shawn Apostel of Bellarmine University on using Prezi for active learning in a class.  Shawn shares his Prezi’s before class so that students can edit and add questions or resources…which he then uses in class.  He also creates shared Prezi’s for small group brainstorming.  I have used Prezi for presentations and done the shared editing with co-presenters, but had not considered using it in class.  I did learn a new word – Prezilepsy: sickness caused by unnecessary Prezi swoops and dives around the screen.  #guiltyascharged  🙂

Atl

Good to be back in the town in which I was born 63 years ago.  Atlanta has grown from a southern town to a megatropolis of over 6 million people.  When I graduated from high school, the blue domed Hyatt in the lower right of this image was the tallest building in town.  Now, I was sitting in my hotel room looking down on the Hyatt!  I left Atlanta to join the Navy in Annapolis, but spent another 7 years nearby when I was at Gwinnett Tech.  So good to come back to Atlanta!

And good to attend a conference exploring the intersection of teaching and technology.  Next year, the conference will be in Denver October 10-14.  I look forward to returning!

{Images:  Teaching Professor, Shelly Duffer, Britt Watwood}

Enhanced by Zemanta

A Conversation on Risk Taking by New Faculty

Flickr CC/NC/SA

It’s Spring Break here at VCU, so no GRAD-602 class this week.  However, as Jeff Nugent, David McLeod and I are all here this week…and since the Open VA Conference was cancelled due to a March snow storm, we decided to have another podcast conversation.

Last week in our class, our students discussed a case study around a new faculty and his integration of technology into teaching.  During the class and afterwards in the blogs, a number of students noted that they would not take “such a risky behavior” as trying new ways of teaching in their new job. For instance, one student said, “After reading this case, I was like “Wow, this dude is pretty ballsy!”  I would be scared to do anything this big my first year whether it’s a tenured positions or not.”  In the comments, another said that having students blog was “a radical move”.  We heard similar points in class.

That got Jeff, David and I thinking, and this conversation ensued…

Thoughts?  Reactions?

{Image Credit: kyz}

Enhanced by Zemanta

EDCMOOC Week 2: Looking to the Future

krupp: Creative Commons CC:BY (Flickr)

.

We are in our second week in the University of Edinburgh’s Coursera MOOC – E-Learning and Digital Cultures. This was the image that greeted us when we clicked on the Week 2 page – a cross-stitch noting that its gonna be the future soon!  Nice Flickr photo from krupp!

Of course, we are typically pretty bad at predicting “the future.”  I was in high school when the movie 2001: A Space Odessey came out, the movie from which the course banner comes.  This movie vividly pictured a near future where moon colonies and space stations would exist by 1999.  Our current International Space Station is cool, but nowhere as cool or massive as the one embedded in my teenage movie mind.  Now, some 45 years later, the future is quite different from this childhood vision.  As Buzz Aldrin noted on the cover of MIT Technology Review back in November, “You Promised Me Mars Colonies. Instead, I Got Facebook.” Indeed!

Course Banner

Yet, there were things  the movie 2001 got right.  Technology has pretty much invaded our lives, becoming ubiquitous and always on.  Back in 1968, the movie depicted humans conversing with HAL – the intelligent computer on the Discovery spacecraft.  Today, we converse with Siri.

As with last week, the course facilitators began our learning journey with a series of short videos that had quite different views of the future.  The first is a favorite of mine – A Day Made of Glass from Corning. This was the second video in a series, and both give a quite utopian view of the world where technology is seamlessly interwoven with our lives.  The two kids in this video impishly used their tablets to shift the car interior to pink…and I could see my granddaughters doing the same thing.  A similar world of integrated technology unfolded in Productivity Future Vision.

In Sight and Charlie 13, we have a much darker view of the future, where technology is used to manipulate or track people against their will.  This theme shows up often in science fiction literature and media.  One wonders just how accurate the opening of each episode of Person of Interest is.  We may already live in a world where technology is used to track us – if Hollywood is to be believed.

These two world views were also evident in the readings.  In Johnston, R (2009) Salvation or destruction: metaphors of the internet. First Monday, 14(4), an analysis of editorials about the internet showed that people tended to have either a utopian view of the web (transformative and revolutionary in a good way) or a dystopian view (destructive and supplanting humans in a negative way).  Annalee Newitz in an address noted the combination of hope and fear as themes in science fiction (and I thought I was an avid science fiction reader – I had not read half of what she had!).  I loved her comment about “You Can’t Stop the Signal!”  That could be good news or not so good news.  Bleecker, J. (2006) in A manifesto for networked objects — Cohabiting with pigeons, arphids and Aibos in the Internet of Things discussed the increasing degree to which objects are becoming connected to the internet and communicating with humans.  Again, one wonders if one can (or should) stop the signal.

Regarding education and these twin views of hope and fear, the course facilitators focused on the emerging phenomenon of MOOCs (massive open online courses).  They used a blog post from Clay Shirky to provide the utopian view.  In Shirky, C. (2012). Napster, Udacity and the academy. shirky.com, 12 November 2012, Clay suggests that the disruption that MP3s caused for the record industry might be a model of how MOOCs will disrupt higher education in a good way.  Countering this is Bady, A. (2012). Questioning Clay Shirky. Inside Higher Ed, 6 December 2012, in which Bady suggests that Shirky ignores the profit-driven business model driving the development of some MOOCs.

The week’s reading ended with an hour-long keynote address by Gardner Campbell on open education, which I embed below.  Gardner weaves a tale of many different open initiatives and continues to use the T.S. Elliot quote: “That is not it all all, that is not what I meant, at all.”

One image that stood out to me from his talk was how hospitals could be viewed as providing either a home or an institution, and how that view impacts interactions with patients.  I was drawing the same conclusion about online education.  In higher education, are we designing and delivering online education that is open, welcomes learning, and celebrates participation across a diverse group of learners, or are we building rigid institutions with strict rules of access and participation?

Sidebar – totally stoked that Gardner will be keynoting at our Online Summit later in May!

MOOCs are an interesting lens through which to view both utopian and dystopian views of higher education.  On the one hand, MOOCs were noted by the 2013 NMC Horizon Report as one of the top tech trends on the near-term horizon.  The Chronicle quoted Larry Johnson as follows:

Surprisingly, MOOCs have never before appeared in a “Horizon Report,” though the technology was mentioned last September as a far-term technology in a separate report from the consortium, said Larry Johnson, its chief executive officer. Nearly six months later, MOOCs have moved to the forefront of emerging higher-education technology, according to the report.

“It’s unprecedented,” Mr. Johnson said, noting that the closest parallel he can remember was the rise in interest in virtual worlds in 2006. “But even those didn’t catch on as fast as this is,” he added.

On the other hand, there was some recent piling on when a Coursera course on “Fundamentals of Online Education: Planning and Application,” crashed and burned – primarily due to a lack of planning and application.

For even more reading, check out the series of articles this month in MIT’s Technology Review.  The articles focus on the business side of online education, but also suggest interesting fodder for reflection about learning.

We are in the early days.  I hope that MOOCs are disruptive as Shirky suggests.  I also suspect that they will not be as disruptive as the dystopians warn.  As Gardner might suggest, I do not know that we know what we mean when we say “disruptive education.”  I don’t know…but like my little friend here, I say “Hell Yes!”

And…as Gardner ended his keynote with lines from Carl Sandberg’s poem “At a Window“, I hope we are at a window to watch “…and wait and know the coming of a little love” … a hopeful message rather than a dystopian one.

For those in #EDCMOOC, I would as always be interested in your views.  Agree?  Disagree?  Reframe the question differently?

{Image credits:  krupp, krupp}

Enhanced by Zemanta