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

Posts tagged ‘online education’

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!

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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!

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

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

Online Education: More than MOOCs – #iheONLINE

I just attended an excellent webinar titled “Online Education: More than MOOCs.”  The free webinar was presented by Inside Higher Ed editors Scott Jaschik and Doug Lederman who clearly demonstrated that they have a solid understanding of the history of online education, which goes beyond the recent hype about MOOCs. They do an excellent job of explaining how traditional online courses and MOOCs are not synonymous, and acknowledge that too many pundits and non-experts do a disservice by not differentiating between the two which also drives me crazy.

Doug and Scott also discussed many of the key issues colleges and universities are facing today as well as changing faculty roles in the digital age. Many of their comments were based on data collected from recent surveys, recent articles on the subject, as well as conversations they’ve had with faculty and administrators. I was also very impressed with their responses to some of the questions asked by the people attending the webinar.

You can download a booklet from Inside Higher Ed that includes both news articles and opinion essays on this topic and click here to view a link to the recording of this brief, but very informative webinar.

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.

 

7 Futures of American Education

I had an opportunity to meet John Sener at the Quality Matters conference in Nashville last week and purchased

a  copy of his book, “The Seven Futures of American Education – Improving Learning & Teaching in a Screen-Captured World.” I just started reading the book and wanted to share a couple of interesting quotes from the book:

  • Over the past 15 years, online education in the US has gone from zero to mainstream
  • If the first era in the history of online education was focused on providing access, the 2nd era has the potential to be defined by improving quality — not just for online education but for all education
  • Cybersymbiosis – irretrievable dependent on digital technologies (this isn’t a fad that is going to eventually fade)

John led a pre-workshop seminar at the conference about “using the seven futures as a framework to improve educational quality: a dialogue” and I was really impressed that he
stayed for the entire conference.  I’m looking forward to reading more of his book.

Quality Matters Online Student Bill of Rights

This is an excellent video about the importance of quality course design in online courses from the student perspective. Visit the Quality Matters website for information about the Quality Matters Standards and Rubric.