Final Wrap-Up: eLearning 2008

eLrn08 logo .

Been digging out back in my office in Richmond, so did not get to this yesterday. I wanted to summarize two other sessions that I attended at the ITC eLearning 2008 conference earlier in the week.




Putting Our Stake in the Ground: Baldrige and Distance Learning
Xeturah Woodley, Distance Learning Director, Central New Mexico Community College

I was interested in this presentation because I have over twenty years in the quality movement and was a Baldrige examiner for the state of Georgia in 1999 and 2000. So this is a subject I feel passionate about!

Xeturah gave some background on her college and program. Their accrediting body has institutions submit AQIP’s (Academic Quality Improvement Programs), so the language of quality is institutionalized. She discussed the merits of using the Criteria from the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award as a way to take her program to a higher, world-class level. My only caution to her is that her focus appeared to be on winning the Baldrige rather than on improving quality….and typically those focused on the award miss the point of the process.

She went over the seven Baldrige Criteria and their relationship to her program. She used as a model work Jim Hinson has done at Presbyterian Hospital, where they used the Baldrige to improve quality and won New Mexico’s top quality award.

She faces an uphill challenge. Her campus does not have consistent policies regarding assessment or data collection. It is a unionized campus – union rules do not allow online teachers to work off-campus! I wish her well. She has the right approach, as the Baldrige Criteria can be successfully used by any institution to help focus the search for better quality. However, it appears her institutional culture will have to change as part of the process. If nothing else, Xeturah may improve the quality of her small piece of Central New Mexico Community College.


Instructional Challenges in the Mobile Education World
Peter Chepya, Professor of Digital Innovation {love that title}, Post University

I thought that Peter did a pretty innovative thing for a presenter at a technically oriented conference – he stood in front of a roomful of practitioners and used absolutely no technology – no powerpoint, no websites, nothing fancy. Instead, he helped us focus in on the cellphone each of us were wearing, and spent the hour visualizing education delivered through these devices.

Peter has authored an article in The Community College Enterprise (Fall 2007) entitled, “A short take on design challenges in the mobile education world.” He discussed the movement to use the cellphone as the Fourth Screen:

Movie Screens –> TV Screen –> Monitors –> Cellphone Screens

Most of us in the room still see the cellphone as a “device” or tool…but to our students it is more a part of the fabric of their lives. Informal learning and personal lives are intertwined with formal learning in this environment…and Peter suggests that we not try and separate them, but instead co-opt them. He noted the frustration many faculty feel when students take a text message, but he suggests in his article that such:

…a state of total immersion has enormous potential for instructional
design. In the culture of mobility, the user is not passive. The user is
reaching out, continuously making choices of what to pull in, expecting
to be engaged and to contribute.

The engagement of the cellphone might be visualized by looking at what other cultures are doing. In Japan last year, five of the top ten bestselling novels were “written” on cellphones. Commuters draft novels while going to and from work and post them to web sites where their “public” vote on the best ones…which are then published in print form. The casual use of SMS text messaging by today’s youth is in line with their comfort level with FaceBook, blogging, and other social mechanisms and networks. Rather than censuring this behavior, why not embed education into it?

Many of us in the room felt restricted by the small size of the cellphone screen, but Peter countered that the micro-screen could become wall-sized in the mind’s eye. I know personally that I have my grandson’s photos loaded into my iPod Nano…and have no problem visualizing his smiling face when I see it on the small screen! Innovations such as the iPhone suggest that the micro-screen is growing in size anyway and could be a moot point.

I suggested that those of us “chronologically-gifted” need not necessarily become “thumb-people” as Tom Friedman called them. New voice to text software and processes suggest that a website such as Jott might be able to take a voice message the teacher sends via cellphone and convert it into a text message for each of our students.

A very interesting and engaging presentation!

One thought on “Final Wrap-Up: eLearning 2008

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *