eLearning, Web 2.0, Educational Technology, Online/Distance Education, Faculty Development, and more…

The Distance Learning Council (DLC) report below provides an overview of the current status of online/distance learning at the University of Denver (DU). It includes video clips from DLC panel presentations, information on national/local trends, and results of a 2016 survey of DU faculty and administrators about online learning.  Take a look!

Tip: If you are unable to view the “Sway” report, visit the Distance Learning Council Portfolio.

“It is impossible to redesign students to fit into a system, but we can re-design a system for students. This can be the difference between success or failure for our students that need the promise of higher education the most.”

—Joseph South, Director, Office of Educational Technology

The above quote is from “Reimagining the Role of Technology in Higher Education,” the higher education supplement to the National Education Technology Plan (NETP).  Just like the K-12 NETP, Future Ready Learning, the higher education supplement is backed by research. The supplement includes real-world examples, case studies, and actionable recommendations about the role of technology in higher education.

The report examines the changing nature of students in higher education and recommends a new “student-centered higher education ecosystem.”  According to the engaging and empowering learning through technology section, technology provides an opportunity to improve teaching practice and not merely broaden the reach of existing courses. Recommendations for engaging and empowering learning through technology include:

  • Promote Excellence in Teaching
  • Use Technology to Transform Teaching
  • Develop Collaborative Practice of Teaching

This supplement is a “must read” for faculty, administrators, researchers, course designers, policy makers, and other higher education stakeholders.

In this short video (5:12), University of Denver (DU) students share what they wish more professors would do by:

  • Providing constructive feedback and encouragement
  • Recognizing student differences
  • Giving students opportunities to lead
  • Assigning roles for group projects
  • Prioritizing students over grades
  • Sharing their syllabus in advance
  • Providing opportunities for students to get to know one another
  • Using Canvas more consistently

This is the first installment of several video clips we’ll be creating from student video interviews and a student panel organized by the Office of Teaching & Learning for DU’s Teaching & Learning Week.

Special thanks to Alex Martinez his awesome video recording and editing skills!

Poster Presentation –  2016 Quality Matters Conference in Portland, Oregon.

qmposter

Poster Objectives

  • Describe best practices for faculty development programs
  • Share how faculty development programs for online teaching impact face-to-face pedagogy.
  • Share research that describes how faculty development and teaching online has a positive impact on teaching and learning in all types of classrooms.
  • Describe the format and objectives of the Teaching Online Workshop and its impact on face-to-face teaching at the University of Denver.

The Problem

Historically, college faculty members learn how to teach based on how they were taught over their many years as students in a college classroom. Unfortunately, the “dominant paradigm for preparing colleges teachers has not, with few exceptions, included instruction about learning.”

According to Dr. Richard M. Felder, Professor Emeritus of Chemical Engineering,

“College teaching may be the only skilled profession for which no preparation or training is provided or required. You get a Ph.D., join a faculty, they show you your office, and then tell you “By the way, you’re teaching 205 next semester. See you later.” The result is the consistent use of teaching techniques that have repeatedly been shown to be ineffective at promoting learning.”

Another outspoken critic about the lack of opportunities for college faculty to learn about teaching and learning is author and researcher, L. Dee Fink. Dr. Fink recently visited the University of Denver during our Teaching and Learning Week to talk about high impact teaching practices. During his session for administrators, he made it very clear why he believes it is no longer acceptable to NOT require faculty to know about proven teaching strategies before they become college level teachers.

Dr. Fink’s recommendation to our administrators was to make professional development about teaching and learning, the 4th obligation of faculty members, in addition to the traditional emphasis on research, teaching, and service. In Fink’s foreward to Davis and Arend’s Facilitating Seven Ways of Learning book, he bluntly states that the lack of emphasis on requiring higher education faculty members to know about proven strategies that promote learning is the “shame of higher education today.”

The Solution

According to John Sener, author of The Seven Futures of American Education: Improving Learning and Teaching in a Screen-Captured World, online education has become a major “source of faculty development and rejuvenation in US higher education.” Online education requires that faculty change their approach to teaching. There is a growing body of evidence that faculty apply best practice about teaching online to the design and development of their face-to-face courses.

Poster Handout

Entire Poster – PDF version

 

“When carefully designed and thoughtfully applied, technology can accelerate, amplify, and expand the impact of effective teaching practices.” This quote is from the 2016 National Education Technology Plan (NETP) released by the U.S. Department of NETPCover2Education.  The plan is backed by research and emerging teaching practices. It includes excellent real-world examples and actionable recommendations about the role of technology in education. The plan is divided into the following sections:

  • Learning
  • Teaching
  • Leadership
  • Assessment
  • Infrastructure

Ready or not, here they come!

We’ve known for years that higher education faculty need to learn how to effectively infuse technology into their curriculum as technology usage grows in the K-12 environment.  I think we have finally reached the point where the majority of our incoming students have been actively using technology in their K-12 classrooms, and I’m concerned that many faculty are still unsure, or unwilling, to learn how technology can enhance student learning.  In my opinion, if we don’t prepare more faculty to expand their use of technology, our students will be short-changed and unprepared for the future.

Distance/Online and Blended Leading Tech and Teaching Innovation

One of the plan’s recommendations is to “develop a teaching force skilled in online and blended instruction.” I wholeheartedly agree with this recommendation as I’ve seen first-hand how online and blended education drives technical innovation and supports effective teaching practices. Faculty development programs designed to prepare faculty to teach online not only expose faculty to new technologies, but these programs also expose faculty to innovative teaching practices. Technology and online/blended education are facilitating the legitimacy and acceptance of the critical role of faculty development in higher education. In my opinion, this is something that is long overdue.

Conclusion

The National Education Technology Plan is chocked full of great ideas and examples. The plan acknowledges that both K-12 and higher education still have a long way to go before fully leveraging the potential of technology to improve educational outcomes. I’m hopeful that both K-12 and higher education institutions will continue to explore ways technology can positively impact learning.  I plan to highlight some of the recommendations and highlights in a future post(s). I’m so glad I stumbled across the NETP!

collageComputersD2l

I’m always impressed by Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman’s candid depiction of the state of teaching and technology in higher education. As Inside Higher Ed’s editors, they provided an overview of why teaching means more than ever (about time!) in this one hour webinar about innovations in teaching. Here are my tweets from the webinar:

  • Agree that it is finally no longer acceptable to just be a content expert, “innovations in learning to teach” is critical to HE.
  • Faculty should be rewarded for innovative teaching & it needs to count towards promotion and tenure in research universities.
  • Agree that new modes of delivery and technology are having a positive impact on teaching innovation.
  • Agree that GREAT teaching is happening at all levels – not just elite institutions. Good teaching needs to be rewarded!
  • No innovation in higher education teaching is going to happen without faculty buy-in.
  • Learning to teach online is having a positive impact on the quality of teaching in ALL courses at DU. Teaching Online Workshop

Search #IHEteaching for more tweets. If you missed the webinar, I definitely recommend checking it out.

https://www.insidehighered.com/audio/2016/05/03/innovation-teaching

 

 

How does teaching online influence a faculty member’s teaching and technology practices? I’ll be exploring this question during a presentation at the 2016 eLearning Consortium of Colorado (eLCC) conference called, “How Teaching Online Enhances Your Pedagogical Toolkit.”

One of the research studies that I’ll be sharing during my eLCC session is the title of this eLCC Conference Logo - What's in Your Toolkit?blog post, “Faculty Development for Online Teaching as a Catalyst for Change.” This article describes an action research study by Carol A. McQuiggan that was published in the Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks in March of 2012.

McQuiggan’s research questions for this study were:

  1. Which aspects of the professional development activities do faculty perceive as being most effective in helping them to reflect on and question their previously held assumptions and beliefs about teaching?
  2. Do faculty experience changes in their previously held assumptions and beliefs about teaching as a result of learning to teach online and, if so, how does transformative learning explain the changes?
  3. What impact does learning to teach online have on face-to-face teaching practices?

I’ve been very involved in faculty development for online teaching for over 16 years through the University of Denver’s Teaching Online Workshop.  I agree with McQuiggan and other researchers that teaching online can have a positive impact on face-to-face teaching practices. Faculty development designed to prepare faculty to teach online often allows faculty members an opportunity to reflect on their teaching practices, both online and in the classroom.

Interest and acceptance of faculty development has grown by leaps and bounds over the last decade at the University of Denver as more and more instructors learn about course design and effective teaching practices through their participation in the Teaching Online Workshop.  In my opinion, technology and online education are responsible for helping to legitimize the role of faculty development in higher education as more and more faculty members’ develop online and hybrid courses.

McQuiggan’s observed that online teaching also caused a shift from teacher-centered to more learner-centered teaching with less reliance on lecture. She notes that faculty members also applied this learner-centered approach to their face-to-face classrooms. I strongly believe that teaching online is a catalyst for change in higher education that is long overdue! I’m looking forward to talking about this topic with my eLCC colleagues in April.

 

Dr. L. Dee Fink was invited to be as a keynote speaker and workshop facilitator at the University of Denver’s Teaching & Learning Week last week. Dee is an author a nationally and internationally-recognized consultant on college teaching and faculty development.

Kathy and Dee Fink

Kathy Keairns w Dee Fink

As a long-time member of our Office of Teaching & Learning (OTL), I was familiar with Dee’s work and taxonomy of significant learning so I was very excited to meet him. However, I have to admit I was skeptical that we could find 30 faculty members willing to give up 3.5 hours to attend his workshop entitled, “Designing your Courses for Significant Learning.” I was pleasantly surprised that I was wrong because the demand was so high for his workshop that we increased the capacity to 50 due to a growing wait list. His lunch keynote was capped at 110 and we were overcapacity for that too!

Although I did not attend his workshop, all of the feedback from faculty I spoke with was very complimentary and definitely worth the time. Fortunately, I did have the opportunity to attend Dee’s keynote, a special workshop he held for the administration, and small meetings with members of the OTL. Many of his ideas really resonated with me and shared my belief about the importance of providing faculty members with the professional development they need to be GREAT teachers.

Two questions we should ask all college faculty members as part of the evaluation process:

  1. What did I do this year to LEARN new ideas about teaching?
  2. What did I CHANGE this year to improve my teaching?

Most faulty come to college-level teaching without any formal preparation for teaching. Why is it NOT acceptable to require faculty to know about proven teaching strategies before they become college level teachers?

All universities should Identify Campus-Wide Learning Outcomes

All universities and faculty need to:

  • Be Learner-Centered
  • Work on Continuous Improvement

5 High Impact Teaching Practices

  • Changing Students’ View of Learning
  • Learning Center Course Design
  • Team-Based Learning
  • Engage Students in Service – With Reflection
  • Be a Leader with your Students

Professional Development should be the 4th obligation of faculty members in addition to research, teaching, and service.

I barely touched the surface here of what I learned from Dee’s visit and I’ll be mulling it over a lot of over the next few months. Check out his latest book, Creating Significant Learning Experiences, An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses. And if you are looking to bring in a speaker to your campus, I highly recommend Dr. L. Dee Fink!

Presenters: Russell Poulin and David Clinefelter

I attended a FREE online webinar today entitled, “Recruiting, Orienting & Supporting ONLINE Adjunct Faculty: A Survey of Practices” and I learned several things I feel compelled to share. The webinar was sponsored by The Learning House, Inc., and WCET (WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies).  I’ve highlighted some of the takeaways and more information below. I do wish we had the same data about full-time and tenure-track instructors who teach online.

Be careful about # of courses adjuncts can teach so it doesn’t lead to full-time equivalent.

Employment for online instruction is stable – little turnover per the data and demand for online adjuncts is growing.

Policies for formal evaluation
– Student evals – per term
– Supervisor – per term or once per year
– Peer reviews – very limited
– Some institutions have no policy for evaluation

Only 35% offered “required” instructor-led training before an adjunct can teach online.

Written policies for interactions with students (i.e., within a specific timeframe)?

– Posts a topic on message board
– Respond to posting
– Grade Assignments
– Respond to student email or inquiry (w/i specific timeframe)

Researchers were surprised that many institutions did not have any policies for interactions with students.

Institutions tend to use highly different philosophies for course design by adjuncts.

Pedagogical training is limited at many institutions.

Customized vs Master Course – need to pick one and stick to it based on institutional culture.

Recommendations

  1. Choose a model for course design and fully develop it.
  2. Set clear expectations for faculty engagement with students (create guidelines).
  3. Use best practices to select new adjunct faculty and then provide comprehensive training (is institutional training & support provided? list of cheating tools, students services, online pedagogy).
  4. Provide an ongoing system of professional development, training and performance review.
  5. Systematically include adjunct faculty in the life and governance of the college or university.
  6. Understand and address internal and external polices – Intellectual property, another caution to be careful of full-time status of adjuncts, academic integrity policies.

Finally, here is a list of the key findings from the report according to the Learning House website:

  •    One-size-fits-all policies are common. Policies that were designed for on-campus adjuncts were frequently applied to those who teach online, which can present challenges in the different modality.
  •    Adjuncts teaching online are often given responsibility and flexibility. Thirty-one percent of online adjunct faculty are often given responsibility for course design, and 21 percent of institutions allow online adjunct faculty the ability to totally customize the courses they teach.
  •    There are two approaches to how institutions have adjunct faculty develop online courses. Colleges and universities tend to fall into two camps, either using a “master course” philosophy (the institution develops the course) or “full development/customization” (the faculty member develops the course.
  •    Professional training and development are not guaranteed. Eighty-four percent of respondents reported high levels of technical and instructional design support, but most professional development and training requirements were offered face-to-face or on campus.
  •    Recruiting is the same for online and on-campus adjuncts. Online adjuncts are hired using the same advertising and screening methods used to hire on-campus adjuncts.

You can download the report on the Learning House website but you will need to provide your name and an email address to access the full report. Keep in mind that Learning House is a vendor and not a non-profit like WCET.

Thanks to WCET and Learning House for this FREE professional development webinar!

I’m looking forward to attending the Distance Teaching & Learning Conference in Madison this week.  I’ll be presenting at the conference with my colleague, Heather Tobin, about the University of Denver’s Teaching Online Workshop. Below is an excerpt from the proceedings paper.

Faculty as Students: One Model for Preparing Faculty to Develop and Teach Online

Introduction

Many college faculty members learn how to teach based on how they were taught over their many years as students in a college classroom. Unlike K-12 teachers, “most faculty learn how to teach by absorbing teaching skills and style informally from a mentor, or learn along the way through practice or trial and error. This model is commonly accepted reflexively without examination or question” (Sener, 2012, p. 51). Many educational researchers are calling for a paradigm shift about the way higher education faculty members are prepared to teach. Davis and Arend argue that the “dominant paradigm for preparing colleges teachers has not, with few exceptions, included instruction about learning.” (Davis & Arend, 2013, p. 9).

Online education and technology are slowly changing this paradox as more and more faculty members participate in professional development activities to learn how to teach in the online environment. According to Smith (2010), “creating and delivering online courses has also led to new and essential tasks that faculty must accomplish, and new skills sets accompany the essential tasks. These new skills incorporate the selection and application of new technologies and new instructional assumptions and strategies” (p. 54). We have experienced this first-hand at the University of Denver (DU) through our efforts to prepare faculty members to teach and develop quality online courses.

Background

The University of Denver has been offering online courses and degree programs through our professional and continuing studies division, University College, since 1997. However, online courses are relatively new within our traditional academic programs. In 2009-2010, 14 full-time DU faculty members participated in a pilot project exploring the value of providing traditional undergraduate students the opportunity to take online courses. These faculty members completed an intensive online workshop as students, and participated in a series of faculty development follow-up sessions to learn how to develop a quality online course. The vast majority of faculty members who participated in the pilot project indicated that faculty development activities were necessary for them to learn how to teach online, and the initial creation of an online course was time-consuming but that they would teach an online course again because of the generally positive outcomes they observed. The Teaching Online Initiative eventually expanded to include graduate level and hybrid courses.

Teaching Online Workshop (TOW)

The Teaching Online Workshop (TOW) was first offered by the Office of Teaching & Learning (OTL) in 2005 as an optional professional development workshop for instructors interested in teaching online. TOW is an intensive four-week online workshop designed to prepare instructors to develop and teach an online course. The workshop was revamped in 2009 as part of the Teaching Online Initiative, and the workshop and initiative were continued based on positive feedback from students and instructors who participated in the pilot phase….

Download Entire Proceedings Paper