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

Posts tagged ‘elearning’

Faculty concerns about teaching online

One of the first things we ask faculty to share in the Teaching Online Workshop (TOW) is their apprehensions and concerns about teaching online. The Teaching Online Young people at table with laptopWorkshop is an online course for faculty new to teaching online. Participants experience online education first-hand as students in this intensive four- week course.

The Prompt

Teaching online can be very different from what most of us have experienced in the traditional classroom. Many instructors have apprehension and see great challenges with this method of education.

After reading through module 1.1 about online learning and taking the faculty preparedness for online teaching self-assessment, what are your main thoughts or concerns about teaching online? What potential benefits might you expect?

Faculty Concerns (from 2013 TOW)

“My first concern is that I gather much feedback from the nonverbal communication between myself and the students during class regarding their understanding, interest, previous knowledge, etc.  I am hopeful that I can still receive feedback to tailor my course for the students I will be teaching.”

“My concern is how to determine the optimum number of bells and whistles (news stories, blogs, wiki’s, video links) to include in order for students to stay engaged?”

“First, I am concerned about the fact that students who struggle with time management and/or have procrastination problems typically don’t fare well during an online course because some of the students who enroll in our class will undoubtedly fit into this category. Second, I have heard many students talk about how they just need to post something to a discussion board for credit rather than because they have a really thoughtful point they are intrinsically inclined to share, so I’m trying to think through how I can manage that issue. Finally, I’m nervous about how well I will do with creating an online classroom feel in which students engage in meaningful dialog with one another.”

The challenge I see is keeping a balance of social chatter vs. specific assignment discussions, I have seen this get out-of-hand per some online classes. I always appreciated the online facilitator who encouraged more specifics from students who generalized;  they also minimized extremely long posts by reminding students to stay on point and the importance of being succinct when discussing a point or adding a relevant comment.”

“I am also apprehensive about being organized enough to pull this off effectively and in a timely way. I always meet deadlines, but I tend to procrastinate up to those deadlines.”

I appreciate the honesty and variety of responses to this prompt and understand that these are all valid concerns for faculty new to online teaching.  I will share more concerns later but my next blog post will highlight this groups’ perceived benefits of teaching online.

 

 

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Online Courses: The Quality Question #TLTGfrlv

This is a quick summary of a FREE professional development webinar I attended from Young people at table with laptopthe Teaching, Learning and Technology (TLT) group. This FridayLive session was about good practices for online education, esp. those encouraged by accreditors, states, et al.

Session Description

Courses and educational programs that have on-line or distance components have existed long enough to have a history. Scholars and accrediting agencies are sincerely interested in promoting good practices that improve student learning. What are the good practices that have emerged, where did they come from, how are they implemented by individuals and by programs, and what are the interests taken by external agencies such as states and accreditors?

Guest:  David McCurry, Director of Distance Education at University of South Carolina Upstate
Interviewer:  Doug Eder, emeritus assessment scholar and faculty member
Moderator: Steve Gilbert, TLT Group

Summary & Resources

It was a good conversation and lots of great resources were shared (see below).  The TLT group is a great organization with a long history of promoting effective teaching practices.  Dr. McCurry shared the attributes of good practices in online education from “National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements” (NC-SARA).  We also discussed the 2018 CHOLE Report findings and the role of the Chief Online Learning Officer (COLO).

UNESCO – United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization

ICT –  Information and Communications Technology

There is no such thing as educational technology (Dr. McCurry’s blog)

A Concierge Model for Supporting Faculty in Online Course Design (MuCurry & Mullinix)

Leading & Managing eLearning (Book Recommendation)

Take advantage of upcoming Friday Live Sessions to learn more about Teaching, Learning and Technology. Keep up the good work TLT!

Misconceptions, challenges, and benefits of going online

I just returned from LA after giving a talk at the beautiful Loyola Marymount University (LMU) as part of their Speaker Series.  The Speaker Series is a very cool program that is:

Poster of Kathy's Talk

Poster@LMU

“intended to help LMU faculty explore and understand the possibilities and potential challenges involved in online and hybrid teaching. Speakers are invited to facilitate an honest discussion of the opportunities, challenges, and pitfalls of online and hybrid teaching and to offer some lessons from their own institutions’ experiences.”

Abstract

Like other organizations, higher education has been disrupted by the Internet and technological innovations over the past 20 years. The college classroom is changing as online and hybrid education become commonplace at many institutions today. Although there has been tremendous growth in online and hybrid learning, there is still a lot skepticism and resistance, especially from those who have no direct experience with these new learning formats.

Faculty resistance to online education is one of the challenges I highlighted during my talk.

Faculty Resistance

Faculty resistance is a major challenge faced by traditional higher education institutions considering moving online.  Many faculty are skeptical about online education and believe that:

  • online courses are less rigorous
  • there is more cheating in online courses
  • online teaching is more time and energy intensive
  • online courses are inferior to face-to-face courses

Faculty who haven’t taught online may assume online courses are self-paced with little opportunities for interaction with students.  They may associate online education with correspondence or televised courses from the past that were much less interactive. They may also be skeptical about the quality of online courses.

Another reason for faculty resistance is the lack of rewards, especially related to tenure and promotion decisions. In many institutions, faculty who teach online are often looked down upon by colleagues. Although online education is more common today, there is little prestige for faculty who teach online.

If university leaders want faculty buy-in for online education, they need to acknowledge and address faculty resistance.

I was honored to be part of this wonderful series to talk about online education.

Supporting Effective Teaching & Learning Practices with VoiceThread #edtech #elearning

I used the “free” version of VoiceThread (VT) in my online course this fall, EDU 261 – Teaching, Learning & Technology, and based on that experience, I will definitely use it again. VoiceThread is a VoiceThread Screenshotpopular Web 2.0 tool used to foster learner engagement and increase instructor and student presence in online and hybrid courses.  It is basically an online discussion on steroids, but it can also be used to create presentations and tutorials. Learners can add audio comments, video comments, or text comments to VoiceThread slides.

This is the second time I’ve used VoiceThread in this course. The first time VoiceThread was optional, and I only used it a few times during the course.  This time I required students to use it as part of their course participation and discussion grade.  I created a Voicethread almost every week to share mini lectures/announcements. Then bi-weekly, I required students’ to comment/respond to questions using VoiceThread in lieu of a traditional text-based discussion.

What I liked about teaching with VoiceThread

  • Easy to re-record VoiceThread comments compared to other screencast/video recording tools.
  • Flexibility for adding comments (text, audio, or video).
  • Opportunity to both see and hear student comments
  • Basic license free for students and instructor
  • Very few technical issues

How I will use VoiceThread differently next time

  • Use VoiceThread for ice breaker instead of threaded discussion
  • Purchase license for VoiceThread to fully leverage the technology
  • Use VoiceThread for Peer Review Assignment
  • Share/post student tech projects
  • Include Voice Thread discussion requirements on VT slide
  • Require everyone to post at least one video VT comment early in the course

In addition to supporting several of the principles of good practice on the slide included in this post, VoiceThread also supports the following UDL principles:

  • presenting content in a variety of formats
  • keeping learners motivated by offering choices
  • providing multiple means of engagement

I was able to teach the entire course using the FREE version of VoiceThread.  The free account is available for anyone who is at least 13 years old and has a valid email address. It allows you to create up to 5 VoiceThreads, comment by microphone and text, and share or embed VoiceThreads via a shared link or embed code.

Register for FREE Voicethread account

  • Go to http://voicethread.com
  • Click “Register” in the top-right corner of the page.
  • Fill out and submit the short form.
  • Check your email for the confirmation message, and click on the verification link in this message.

Visit the link below to compare the differences between the Free account and the Single License here.

https://voicethread.com/howto/whats-included-6/

Give it a try!

 

 

Teaching in the Digital Age and more words of wisdom from Dr. Tony Bates

I had the opportunity to meet Dr. Tony Bates, the author of Teaching in the Digital Age at the World Conference on Online Learning in Toronto. Tony is a leader in the field of Dr. Tony Bates with Kathy Keairns at book signingonline education and I was thrilled to receive an autographed hard copy of Teaching in the Digital Age at the conference.  I use this as the textbook for my Teaching, Learning & Technology online course.  Although the book was written 2015, it is still very relevant and worth checking out.

Dr. Bates is an outspoken advocate for preparing faculty members in the art and practice of teaching.  In his 2017 end of year blog post, he laments:

“Without a grounding in pedagogy and a knowledge of the research into how people learn, it is impossible for most instructors to see the real potential of digital technology for improving their teaching.”

Tony’s stance on this important problem (lack of faculty training in pedagogy and how people learn) is similar to other critics of higher education in the US like D. Fink, John Sener, and Richard Felder.

I’ll end my blog post with a recent quote from Tony:

“Technology is best used when it helps solve an actual teaching problem.”

Learn more about this issue, OER, Innovation, and Online Learning in Tony’s “That was 2017 in online learning” blog post. Also, check out his FREE digital book for guidelines about teaching & learning in the digital age.

Why I’m using VoiceThread in my online class

I’ve been debating on whether or not to use VoiceThread (VT) as an alternative to text-based, threaded  discussions in an online course I’m teaching this Fall. The course is titled EDU 263 – Teaching, Learning & Technology. The last time I taught the class, we experimented with VoiceThread, but only during one week of a ten week class.

Screenshot of Voicethread with picture of Kathy, University of Iowa buildings and downtown Denver

VoiceThread Slide (2016 Teaching, Learning and Tech course)

Instructor presence and community building are keys to the success for learners in online courses. VoiceThread will be used to not only support these principles, but also supports the following standard competencies for the course:

III. Utilize technology to manage and communicate information.
VI. Utilize instructional technology to support a wide variety of learners and learning styles.
VII. Explore various instructional tools and technology, including computers, video, graphics, multimedia, audio, and other media, and their contributions to the learning process.
VIII. Investigate and design a lesson using instructional technology coupled with a variety of instructional strategies, including: cooperative learning, discovery, problem solving, games, simulations, discussion, demonstration and presentation.
IX. Select the most appropriate instructional methods, materials, and media for a particular lesson or presentation.

The deciding factor for me as I was spending my Friday evening evaluating and testing VoiceThread, was receiving timely technical support from VoiceThread.  I sent support a message to VoiceThread support tonight at 6:50 pm and received an email response from Sadie at VT at 7:14 pm which resolved my problem.  What is really impressive is that I’m using a FREE version of VT!  I’ve been experimenting with VoiceThread since 2009 and look forward to using it in my course.

Quality technical support is crucial when teaching with technology and I hope the level of support I received from VT tonight continues for me, as well as my students. I’ll let you know how it goes…

VoiceThread Research Abstracts

 

Improving Face-to-Face Pedagogy Through Faculty Development Programs for Online Learning

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

 

The Future is Now! Is Higher Education Ready for the Role of Technology? #NETP

“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!

Why is it acceptable that most faculty come to college-level teaching without any formal preparation for teaching?

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!

FREE Webinar about supporting online adjunct faculty

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!