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

Posts tagged ‘distance education’

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

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

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Distance Education Enrollment Myths

Excellent visualization of distance education enrollment patterns. This infographic dispels some of the misconceptions and common myths related to Distance Education. WCET has devoted a series of blog posts that examines and explains the IPEDS Fall 2013 survey results.

InfoGraphWCETMyth

Below is a link to the entire infographic.

http://wcet.wiche.edu/learn/busting-the-myth-distance-education

Faculty Development: Important Key to Online Learning Success

Babson recently released their 12th annual survey that tracks online education in the United States based on responses from over 2,800 CAO’s and data from IPEDS. As always, the release of this important online tracking survey has generated a lot of buzz and back-channel conversations. The Online Learning Consortium shared the survey with their members and invited us to share how our university is making online learning a success. I apologize in advance for the longer than usual post.

This blog post will highlight the University of Denver’s successful model for implementing online courses within our traditional undergraduate programs. Note that our definition of online/distance courses is a course in which “all or nearly all of the organized instruction is conducted online or by distance learning methodologies.”

How the University of Denver (DU) is Making Online Learning a Success

DU Building

 The University of Denver, a private, residential university embraced online education a bit later than some of our competitors.  Like many other colleges and universities, distance and online education at DU was primarily housed in our professional and continuing education studies division, University College. Very few online courses were offered within our traditional academic degree programs until 2009 when we started an online learning initiative.

Fourteen full-time faculty members participated in a pilot project to explore the value of providing traditional undergraduate students the opportunity to take online courses. From the very beginning, we built a comprehensive faculty development component into the program. As a private, residential university, we knew we had to provide our online students with the same type of personalized learning experience that they were accustomed to in their on-campus classrooms.

The faculty members in the pilot participated in an intensive faculty development program called the Teaching Online Workshop (TOW). The workshop allows faculty members to experience online learning first-hand from the student perspective. They learn best practices for designing and facilitating online courses, all while developing their online course as part of the required workshop activities.

The vast majority of faculty members who participated in the pilot indicated that they felt that the faculty development activities were necessary for them to learn how to teach online, that 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 program has now expanded to include graduate level and hybrid courses.

Over 165 faculty members in disciplines from all areas of the university have completed the Teaching Online Workshop. Here’s what some of them said about their experience in the Teaching Online Workshop:

“Participating in the TOW helped me recognize what quality online learning looks like and changed my perception of online courses for the better. As a student in this online workshop, I was able to experience firsthand how thoughtful course design and judicious use of multimedia tools can come together to create a rich learning environment. Practically speaking, the TOW also provided a fantastic opportunity to develop a course with thoughtful feedback and ongoing support from the instructors and my colleagues. The TOW is a wonderful resource for any instructor who is new to online teaching.”
– Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology

“While demanding, the Teaching Online Workshop is well worth the effort it takes. Beyond learning how to negotiate Canvas and being introduced to the Quality Matters Program for online course design, you receive astonishingly detailed feedback as you build your course from instructors who have terrific pedagogical instincts, who review your materials with tremendous care, and who offer invaluable suggestions and strategies for improvement.”
– Professor, Department of Religious Studies

Even some tenure-track faculty members with years of teaching experience who completed TOW reported that teaching online changed the way they teach their classroom-based courses. I’m sure this is not a surprise to many people still reading this post, and not unique to the University of Denver. Online learning and digital technologies are fueling pedagogical innovations which is also impacting student success in all college classrooms (online, hybrid, blended, flipped, face-to-face). As John Sener wrote in  The Seven Futures of American Education, “online education has driven pedagogical innovation.” And I’ve heard this over and over again, from multiple articles and research studies, but more importantly, from professors at DU and my colleagues in the eLearning Consortium of Colorado. I’m happy to report that DU’s Teaching Online Workshop is now required of faculty members who teach online courses within our traditional academic programs.

I appreciate all of the wonderful  research and professional development efforts by organizations such as BSRG, WCET, OLC, IHE, QM and other leaders in the online and distance education world. In the future, I hope more questions about faculty development will be included in research, surveys and discussions about online education.

Submit a Proposal to the 2015 eLCC Conference!

Reach the PeakMark your calendar for the 26th Annual eLearning Consortium of Colorado (eLCC) Conference April 15-17, 2015 in Breckenridge, Colorado. Join us or submit a proposal for the conference which focuses on the best tools for faculty and support staff­ to meet the needs of diverse students in online, hybrid,
or any technology-driven courses.

The Conference includes:

  • FREE hands-on computer workshops
  • Keynote presentations from elearning leaders
  • Concurrent sessions featuring the latest elearning strategies
  • Exhibits and demonstrations
  • Excellent networking opportunities
  • eLearning awards for faculty & support staff

Submit Proposal

Distance/Online Education ≠ MOOC

Over 10 years ago (2003), I finally completed my thesis project entitled “In Your Face in Cyberspace, A new Paradigm for Online Learning.” This project also included the development of a website entitled, “Introduction to Distance Education,” an online course designed to present my research. Even back then, there were many terms for online education including:

  • Distance/Online Learning
  • Online Education/Learning
  • Distance Learning
  • e-Learning
  • Open Education/Learning

I wrote that “the terms “Distance Education” and “Distance Learning” are slowing being abandoned because they no longer adequately describe the range of educational options and delivery methods offered today. For example, is a course delivered primarily on the Web but having three on-campus sessions during the semester a distance education course? Does it make a difference if the students live a long distance from campus or are on-campus students? Distributed, hybrid, and blended education are terms often used to describe courses that meet both face-to-face and at a distance.”

However, in 2014, we are still struggling to find the “perfect term” to categorize online/distance courses. One term that does not accurately represent “traditional” distance or online courses is MOOC. Unfortunately many people who are not familiar with the long history of distance and online education use these terms interchangeably. At the University of Denver, we recently updated our official definition of an online/distance course to:

A course in which all or nearly all of the organized instruction is conducted online or by distance learning methodologies.

I’ve organized some of the differences between a traditional online/distance course in higher education and a MOOC in the table below. I’m sure there may be other differences I’ve missed, but these are a few of the differences that I often think about when contrasting MOOCs with traditional online courses.

Table Mooc vs Online

Outsourcing Online Instruction?

Once a peripheral offering in higher education, online and distance education is becoming essential to the mission of many colleges and universities today. More and more vendors, also known as “Bundled Service Providers” (BSPs), are competing to cash in on the continued growth of online education in higher education. Services offered by the BSPs include market research, lead generation and marketing, admission counseling, course development and 24/7 technical support. Most BSPs charge on a revenue share basis where the vendor keeps 20% to 65% of the gross revenue for a course/program. One vendor, Academic Partnerships made $4 million from its share of tuition from Arizona State, over $10 million from Florida International University, and $18 million from Ohio University’s nursing program in 2012. (Source: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2013/05/31/nonprofit-colleges-should-be-wary-new-breed-profit-players-essay).

Some of the major players in this space include:

The eagerness of for-profits to enter the online education higher education market sounds very familiar. In the late 90’s and early 2000’s, dot-coms and for-profits were jumping onto the distance learning bandwagon to launch new online programs. NYU Online, Virtual Temple, US Open University and Arizona Learning Systems were very popular until the dot-com bust which forced the closure of many of these new online ventures.

Some faculty members are beginning to push back on some of these  partnerships. An October 11, 2013 issue of Inside Higher Ed, reported on a recent clash between faculty and administration at Rutgers about a partnership with Pearson. Faculty were concerned about intellectual property rights and academic freedom as well as sharing the revenue from tuition with an outside vendor.

 

8 Lessons Learned From Teaching Online

8 Lessons Learned from Teaching Online from EDUCAUSE on Vimeo.

Some people are under the impression that online education is something new to higher education with the recent obsession with MOOCs, but “for-credit” online classes and degree programs have been offered for many years. This short video highlights the following 8 lessons learned from 2 experienced online educators.  By the way, most of these strategies are also applicable to the face-to-face environment.

1. High-Touch is more important than high-tech

2. Establish Social Presence using Digital Storytelling

3. Use Technology Intentionally

4. The Power of External Resources

5. Make your Expectations Explicit

6. Fun, Playfulness and the Unexpected

7. Login Regularly

8. Personal Feedback