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Posts tagged ‘Online Learning’

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Supporting the 7 Principles of Good Practice During a Pandemic

INTRODUCTION

It is no secret that technology and online education are disrupting teaching and learning. This disruption started well before the COVID pandemic. Some people argue that this disruption to education is long overdue. My hope is that this time will provide

photo of woman using laptop

Photo by Polina Zimmerman on Pexels.com

faculty and teachers an opportunity to re-think their teaching practices as they pivot to teaching online. When Chickering and Gamson published the seven principles of good practice, we were in the very early stages of using computers and the Internet in education. Chickering and Erhmann’s (1996) essay entitled, “Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as a Lever”, encouraged educators to employ technology in ways consistent with the seven principles of good practice. They stated, “Any given instructional strategy can be supported by a number of contrasting technologies (old and new); just as any given instructional strategy, some technologies are better than others: Better to turn a screw with a screwdriver than a hammer – a dime may also do the trick, but a screwdriver is usually better.”

Modern technologies, when applied with the seven principles in mind, can increase student engagement, learning, and satisfaction. This blog series will describe how faculty and teachers can use 21st century technology to support research-based principles of good practice.

BACKGROUND

Chickering and Gamson (1987) introduced the “Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education” over thirty years ago to improve undergraduate education. These principles were based on decades of research on college level teaching and learning. The Seven Principles of Good Practice are:

1. Encourage Contact Between Students and Faculty

2. Develop Reciprocity and Cooperation Among Students

3. Use Active Learning Techniques

4. Provide Prompt Feedback

5. Emphasizes Time on Task

6. Communicates High Expectations

7. Respects Diverse Talents and Ways of Learning

Chickering and Gamson noted that “while each practice can stand on its own, when all are present their effects multiply.” I believe these principles have stood the test of time.   

Since this seminal research was first published, a plethora of new technological innovations have been introduced that impact current pedagogical practices. Both old and new technologies we use in education today are what Ehrmann (1995) described as “worldware” which refers to software or technology that “isn’t designed for instruction” but is also used for teaching and learning.

The exciting thing about today’s worldware is that it is much easier to use and is often available for free! In addition, schools and universities are adopting learning management systems which incorporate easy to use tools that can effectively support these principles. Crews, Wilkinson, and Neill (2015) examined how the seven principles can be applied to online course design to improve student success. They concluded that “all seven principles are essential in the development of teaching within the online environment.”  

Chickering and Ehrmann encouraged faculty to explore technologies that are “interactive, problem oriented, relevant to real-world issues, and that evoke student motivation.” This blog series will describe how innovative teachers leverage 21st technologies to support each principle of good practice. 

References

Chickering, Arthur W.; Gamson, Zelda F. (March 1987). Seven Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education. AAHE Bulletin, p 3-7.

Chickering, Arthur W.; Ehrmann, Stephen C. (October 1996). Implementing the Seven Principles: Technology as a Lever. AAHE Bulletin, 3-6.

Crews, Tena B.; Neill, Jason K.; Wilkinson, Kelly (2015). Principles of Good Practice in Undergraduate Education: Effective Online Course Design to Assist Students’ Success. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, Vol. 11, No. 1.

Video

10 Commons Myths about Teaching Online #InsideDigitalLearning

Members of the academic community have very strong opinions about online education. These opinions are often negative and based on myths, not evidence. Some like to share their negative perceptions in the comments section of articles or blogs about online education.  Here is an example from the comment section of a recent Inside Higher Ed article entitled, “Online Education Ascends.”

Are we really ready to accept that the students are the best judges of the quality of an education they are just starting? And all kinds of things are here to stay, and most of them are horrible. That’s hardly a selling point. And maybe this is the heart of the problem. Online education for most administrations is a selling point and has very little to do with educational quality. (By: 3rd Tyrant)

I think 3rd Tyant’s comment was in response to Stewart Sutin’s comment that online education is here to stay.  Sutin shared some well researched tips about how to ensure the quality of online education by:

  • Carefully selecting online instructors
  • Providing instructors with adequate training and access to course design specialists
  • Providing adequate budgets to support faculty and quality programs
  • Providing ample tech support
  • Ensuring institutional objectives extend beyond enrollment growth

I agree with all of the above. I also appreciated Chris’s reply to 3rd Tyrant’s comment,

“Why the assumption that in-person is high quality but online is not?”

I’m guessing 3rd Tyrant has bought into the common myths about teaching online and hasn’t done research on the subject.  3rd Tyrant and other online education naysayers need to take time to learn the facts about teaching online.  The video below does an excellent job of responding to the ten most commons myths about teaching online.

This video is one of the many excellent resources from Open SUNY Center for Online Teaching Excellence.

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.

 

 

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.

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!

Faculty Development for Online Teaching as a Catalyst for Change?

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.