I attended an excellent webinar this week co-sponsored by Quality Matters (QM) and Educause Learning Initiative (ELI) called “Measuring Effectiveness of Online Blended Programs.” The three speakers, Kay Shattuck from QM, Veronica Diaz from ELI, and Tanya Joosten from UWM and DETA, explained various research projects and ways we can collaborate to measure effectiveness and quality of courses and programs. ELI’s “Seeking Evidence of Impact” (SEI) project really caught my interest. Many colllege instructors have been experimenting with some great new technologies and innovative teaching practices and we need to chronicle and share the impact of these efforts. According to the Seeking Evidence of Impact website:
SEI is a program led by the ELI teaching and learning community to find current effective practices that enable the collection of evidence to help faculty and administration make decisions about adopting and investing in best practices. They developed this Study Guide & Template so we could all use it as we “seek evidence of impact” at our institutions.
All three presenters were excellent and I’ve posted some of the resources shared from the webinar and back channels. I definitely recommend checking them out and getting involved with this important research.
Slides and eventually the recording which ELI and QM members will have access to for the next 90 days.
Quality Matters Resources
Continuous Improvement of the QM Rubric and Review Processes: Scholarship of Integration and Application
Distance Education and Technological Advancement (DETA) Grant Project
Misc Sites Shared in the Webinar
I’m very excited that we’ve received so may excellent proposals for the Teaching and Learning with Technology Symposium (TLTS). The TLTS is a FREE faculty development event and a great opportunity for you to network with fellow educators throughout Colorado. Faculty and staff at eLCC member institutions are invited to attend the Symposium to be held on October 24th, 2014 at MSU Denver on the Auraria Campus.
The keynote speaker, Charles Dzuiban, is a national leader in online and blended education and we are very excited that he will be joining us for this event. This year’s theme is “The Quest for Quality” and session tracks include the following topics:
– Course Quality
– Multimedia for Learning
– Universal Design for Learning
– Blended Learning
– Social Learning
– Online Learning
Space is limited so register right away if you plan to attend.
I learned about Unizin from a colleague at Colorado State University (CSU), CSU is one of the founding members of the Unizin consortium. I still haven’t figured out what the “zin” in Unizin stands for but according to the Unizin website:
“the Unizin Consortium is universities coming together in a strategic way to exert greater control and influence over the digital learning landscape. It enables each institution, its faculty, and students to draw on an evolving set of tools to support digital learning for residential, flipped classroom, online courses/degrees, badged experiences for Alumni, or even MOOCs if desired. Unizin supports the differing missions and strategies of universities.”
In addition to CSU, Indiana University, the University of Florida, and the University of Michigan, are founding members and investors in this membership-based higher education consortium. I’m still not clear about what Unizin is and how they will operate, but here are a few things it is not:
- LMS – although all members are using a single LMS vendor, Canvas
- MOOC – it will not offer courses, content or degrees in its own name
Unizin is affiliated with Internet 2 which will serve as Unizin’s financial home. To learn more about the Unizin Consortium, review the links below:
It will be interesting to see where this leads and which institutions will join the consortium.
There have been some excellent resources shared on the WCET listserv recently in response to a question about assessment of faculty readiness to teach online. This discussion is very relevant to my university, because like many other “responsible” higher education institutions, we require that our instructors complete an intensive Teaching Online Workshop before they teach an online course. Below are a few of the resources shared by some of the WCET members that I found very useful:
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.
The results from Inside Higher Ed’s Survey of Faculty Attitudes on Technology are not that surprising for those of us who work in higher education. Although this survey is titled faculty attitudes about “technology,” the primary focus of this article is faculty attitudes about online courses. The majority of faculty members surveyed consider online courses to be lower quality than face-to-face courses. But of course, another result is that appreciation for the quality & effectiveness of online learning grows with instructors’ experiences with it. I think it would be very difficult to evaluate whether the quality of an online course is inferior to a traditional course if you have never taken or taught an online course.
As always, the comments on the article are just as interesting as the article itself with online learning enthusiasts arguing that online courses are as good or better than face-to-face courses, while the other side argues that online courses are inferior.
As an online learning proponent, I’m not going to try to convince anyone that online courses are any better or worse than face-to-face courses. But I am happy that the survey addresses the issue of quality and learning outcomes – these are important in all courses, regardless of the delivery mechanism. There are both excellent and “not so excellent” courses in both the online and face-to-face environment. Improving the quality of ALL courses should be the focus of these discussions instead of online courses vs traditional courses.
Below is a snippet from a comment by John Ebersole that I wanted to share here because I agree with him that we should not lump traditional for credit online courses into the same category as MOOCs.
“We do a dis-service to “traditional” online learning when we lump it together with MOOCs. We have had over 25 years of experience with the former and have consistently seen learning outcomes equal to or greater than those found from a classroom experience. MOOCs, on the other hand have yet to demonstrate ANY significant learning . Many have no assessments and those that do are from exams of dubious origin and conducted with little security. The online courses offered by over 70% of public and 60% of private institutions (remember there were nearly 7 million students taking at least one on line course in the fall semester of 2012) have high completion rates (over 80% at my institution), while MOOCS struggle to retain even 5%. We should not conflate the two.”
There are a lot of self-assessment tools designed to assess whether students are ready to take an online course but few that are designed to assess whether an instructor is prepared to teach online. I recently ran across this Self-Assessment Tool for Online Teaching Preparedness developed by Penn State. Instructors complete a short self-assessment that includes the following categories:
- Organization and Time Management
- Communicating Online
- Teaching & Online Experience
- Technical Skills
After completing the self-assessment, instructors receive detailed feedback via email based on their responses. Thanks Penn State!
Interesting presentation titled the “Seven Futures of American Education.” The Sixth Future predicts that the 2nd era (the 1st era is access) of online education is improving quality – not just for online education, but for all education. I hope that the Sixth Future is realized and “Education Improves” because some of the other scenarios are more dystopian. My experience has been that when you ensure the quality of online education, traditional education also improves. This shift to quality assurance is long overdue in higher education. We need to demand that in addition to being content experts in their fields, ALL higher education faculty members are certified to teach, just like our K-12 instructors. I believe that online education has and will continue to be the main driver for improving the quality of teaching in higher education.
This presentation is based on John Sener’s book “The Seven Futures of American Education: Improving Learning & Teaching in a Screen-Captured World.” The Seven Futures posits that we can improve education by “cyberizing” it which means we can use emerging technologies to improve educational quality.
The group discount for hotel rooms for the eLearning Consortium of Colorado’s (eLCC) annual conference ends on March 10th so if you plan to attend this AWESOME eLearning conference, register and reserve your room by March 10th. The early bird deadline for registering for the conference is March 15th!
This year’s schedule isn’t posted yet but you can find last year’s schedule below and as always, there are some wonderful presentations scheduled again this year!
I think the model described in this Wired Campus Blog post, 10 Highly Selective Colleges Form Consortium to Offer Online Courses makes a lot of sense. Students already attending one of the institutions in the consortium will be able to select from a wider range of courses and class sizes will be limited to 20 students. The article notes that the online classes might especially benefit students who are studying abroad. In my opinion, consortiums like this involving multiple online courses from multiple institutions will only continue to grow. The universities involved in this consortium are partnering with 2U, an educational technology start-up that provides universities with the technologies and infrastructural support for converting their on-campus programs into online programs.