Are you going to #blend14? Join the Unconference session (#unblend14) & More in the Rocky Mountains!

The @SloanConsortium 2014 Blended Learning Conference and Workshop (a.k.a. #blend14) is less than a month away! I am excited to be attending and facilitating a workshop in the rocky mountains (Denver, CO) this July.  As blended learning models for curriculum and program development increase in post-secondary education, learners and instructors are being more invested in different mode and models for education. Last year, I found the mix of programs, discussions, and people at #blend13 very refreshing.  If you have interests in design, development, or research in hybrid and blending learning environments than this might just be the conference and workshop for you!

blend14 banner

For those you who ARE attending #blend14, let me entice you to join in the UN-conference session.  This year, I will be helping to host the Blended Unconference (#unblend14) with Jessica Knott (@jlknott) and Patrice T (@Profpatrice). Unconferences are great opportunities to interact, discussion, and dig into topics that YOU are most interested in. As an a-typical session, the unconference is guided by participants who attend, and are flexible to the needs and wants of the group. It will be YOU who takes control of the agenda, content, and conversation. We will help by providing a basic infrastructure to keep things organized and moving, but this is the opportunity to really make the conference YOUR OWN. Typically unconference sessions introduce a topic or issue, and discussion, debate and ideas ensue.

Should I Attend the Unconference?

Yes!  Well, we think so. If you answer yes to any of the following, the unconference session is JUST for you:

  • Do you sometimes find yourself thinking “I wish they had covered X,Y, Z more deeply” in regular conference sessions?
  • Do you wish you had the chance to ask further questions or expand upon session content?
  • Are you looking for ways to get involved & meet others at #blend14?
  • Did someone ask the perfect question during your presentation & now you want to talk to them further?
  • Do you like interacting with colleagues to expand on ideas, share techniques, debate current trends, or collaborate on research?

Come to the Unconference Sessions on July 9:

  • 1:30 PM – Gather in the Unconference room and review the topics and votes; select top topics
  • 1:45 – 2:45 PM- Break into groups and discuss the top three topics.
  • 2:45 – 3:00 PM – Short break
  • 3:00 – 3:15 PM – Reconvene and revisit the topics and votes
  • 3:15 to 4:15 PM – Break into groups and discuss the next three highest voted topics. (Again, the individuals who submitted the topics will facilitate each of these three groups, with a scribe assigned for note-taking and organizational purposes.)

SIGN UP and submit YOUR UNCONFERENCE TOPIC for #unblend14:

Check out and VOTE ON the current Unconference Topics on Ideascale:

About the Sloan Community on IdeascaleA few ideas to vote onIn other #blend14 news, I will be a “Chef” in the “Technology Test Kitchen.” This NEW addition to the conference will provide participants an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with different tools and technologies they want to use back on campus. Bring your own device (BYOD), and let’s getting developing with audio and/or video, collaborative platforms, communication tools, or presentation resources that YOU want to learn more about.

Are you planning to be in Denver for #blend14? Want to learn more about the #unblend14 Unconference or Test Kitchen? Drop me a line. :)

Q: Should I Start Blogging? A: Maybe.

A common question I field from teachers, faculty, graduate students, higher education professionals, and researchers these days:

Q: Should I start blogging?

My response:

A: Maybe.

write-your-own-blog

Image c/o Blogiau

Blogging and maintaining a blog is not for everyone. I often ask a follow up question to this inquiry to learn more about the motivating factors for the blog:

  • Why do you want to start blogging? [purpose, goal, sharing, reflection, etc.]
  • Do you enjoy writing? i.e. beyond 140-characters & comprehensively
  • What format do you want your blog to be? Written or other, i.e. video, photo-sharing, podcasting?
  • Do you want to express and share your ideas in a public, online forum?
  • What focus will your blog take – work, education, learning, research, or all of the above?
  • Who is your audience? Professional group affiliation? Research discipline? Just for yourself?
  • What platform are you thinking about? Blogger, WordPress or other?
  • Do you have an idea about how often you want to post to your blog?
  • Where will you be getting ideas for your writing? [Content IS king.]
  • How will this contribute to your learning, professional development, etc.? [depending on the person]
  • When will you post to you blog? Daily? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly?

Everyone has different reasons for the WHY they blog, or even how they started blogging. Some use blogging as a forum to connect to a professional or academic community. Others use their blog to share resources and ideas. Bloggers often present concepts and challenge the status quo in their field. Then there are other bloggers who use it for shameless self-promotion and self-marketing. The main point is – you should blog because you WANT TO BLOG.

My blogging tale started back in 2006 when I initially took up blogging to share my travel adventures and general life happenings on, Souvenirs of Canada, for family and friends who wanted to stay in touch. In 2008, I created TechKNOW Tools as a professional development space for an academic advising technology seminar for NACADA, and after that I continued to use this space to discuss my own work experiences, research projects, and share what I have been learning.

blogging requires passion and authority

Image c/o Gaping Void

There are a number of reasons WHY I blog.  Thanks to a researcher reviewing educational bloggers, I audited my own blogging experience, and I have considered what [really] prompts me to blog and continue to blog. For me, blogging and writing about my progress is very reflective and I enjoy documenting, sharing, critiquing, and writing about what is going on in my professional (and sometimes personal) sphere. I appreciate the community of research and educational bloggers who play in this blog sandbox. I like their comments, questions, challenges, and support — and at the end of the day I LIKE BLOGGING — otherwise I would not blog. Really.

If it sounds blogging might be just space for you to share your interests and express your ideas — go get your BLOG ON! Here’s a quick “HOW TO” Set Up a WordPress Blog I created for my learners, with a few helpful resources posted at the bottom to get you fired up for your blog writing. Want some more ideas? Here you go:

Do you have resources for the beginning blogger out there? Any advice or comments for new or potential bloggers? Post it in the comments, and also be sure to say HOW LONG and WHY you blog. Blog on, my friends. Blog on.

Are You Coming to #et4online in Dallas? You Should.

The Emerging Technologies for Online Learning Symposium (#et4online), hosted by the Sloan Consortium and MERLOT, is just around the corner. This 7th Annual #EdTech conference will be held in Dallas, TX from April 9-11, 2014, and based on the program you can expect a number of talented individuals to be in attendance. Registration is OPEN!

et4online

I know that the #et4online is giving you 7 Reasons Why You Should Join Us…

7 reasons

However I will give the reasons I am attending:

  • I get to talk about my #ugstSTORY class in terms of student development, learning design, social media applications, and my own lessons learned for instructional design.
  • Yours truly invited the Featured Sessions speakers to the conference, based on the amazing things they are working on in the field of Ed Tech and my own interest in meeting them. :)
  • I always learn something new from any of the interactive workshops and information sessions I have participated in.
  • You are able to order (almost) FREE MOO cards to help with your networking and such. This could also be handy as you attend the Career Forum (#edtechcareers) this year with some fantastic panelists c/o @RMoeJo
  • If you don’t know Jim Groom (@jimgroom) & his work on Reclaim Hosting – you should. He’s an #EdTech bad ass, and I look forward to his keynote.
  • The discussion, debate, & idea swapping in the Unconference is brilliant. All sessions are user-generated and led by those who attend these meetings. There is usually something for everyone, with regards to topics, and I usually leave with some interesting take-aways and things I want to work on as we wrap up the conference.
  • Last, but certainly not least… I attend #et4online because of THE PEOPLE. This conference is a fantastic meet up for a number of graduate students, early career  researchers, experienced scholars, instructors, entrepreneurs, faculty and more! From my previous #et4online experience, I have been fortunate to collaborate and connect with a number of folks beyond the conference to research, publish, and play. 

Can’t travel to the Big D? Learn more about our virtual attendee option.

Let me know if you’re heading to Dallas for the #et4online conference. If enough people are around, there could be rumours of me hosting a Texan BBQ at my homestead.  Until then, I look forward to following the banter about it on Twitter:

Hashtag: #et4online 
Handle @et4online

My #edu13 Sampling Tour at @EDUCAUSE

With limited time in my October schedule, I was only able to drop into the 2013 EDUCAUSE annual conference (#edu13) in Anaheim, CA for a couple of days. It’s unfortunate that I was not able to stay longer; however I’ll share my sample of the #edu13 higher education and technology conference. {This is what happens when you are traveling to conferences, writing a dissertation proposal, advising for Spring 2014 registration, teaching a class & training for a marathon all in the same month. Lessons learned for next year.}
#selfie at our #edusocmedia precinct at #edu13

Inside the Actors Studio @ #edu13

I was fortunate to be able to attend #edu13 since Tanya Joosten (@tjoosten) asked me to co-facilitate a virtual workshop on Social Media for Teaching and Learning. Much of this session shared ideas from Tanya’s book, our research article, and our practical application for utilizing social media for learning/teaching. During the session we modeled our teaching/learning expectations by encouraging participants to interact & dialogue with us on Twitter. Our emphasis was not on the tool, but more on the social learning and interactions you can have to augment educational experiences:

Let's get social #edusocmedia ....its not the tech #edu13Here is our digital handout from the workshop: http://bit.ly/edusocmedia13

Before I had to leave EDUCAUSE on Wednesday, I attended the #edu13 Prepare for Lift-Off: Becoming a Successful IT Pilot Site Panel and took a few digital notes: http://bit.ly/pilotpanel

How can the solution improve student learning? Ask @tjoosten @amcollier & @Veletsianos #edu13

During this session, Tanya Joosten (@tjoosten), Amy Collier (@amcollier), and George Veletsianos (@veletsianos) discussed the TOP 10 questions every institution should ask before piloting a technology solution for learning at their campus:

  1. Why should this solution be introduced to the campus?
  2. How can the solution improve student learning?
  3. Does your institution have readiness or capacity to pilot a new solution?
  4. Who is the audience and are the stakeholders?
  5. What is the pedagogical model that will lead to the greatest?
  6. How will a vendor be selected for the new technology?
  7. How would faculty be selected to participate?
  8. How do you evaluate the impact of the solution on the identified outcomes?
  9. How do you diffuse the innovation on campus and beyond?
  10. What are your questions?

Since I missed out on the live happenings, I made sure to follow the #edu13 backchannel and my tweeps while traveling home. If you don’t have much time or interest in text mining all the many tweets, The Chronicle curated few conversations on Twitter and EdTech Magazine compiled a list of people to follow at EDUCAUSE 2013.

Good morning #edu13

Help My #ugstSTORY Class Tell Their Story

It seems that all is quiet on the TechKNOW Tools blog front… Sorry about that.

The start of the academic semester came fast and furious, and I have been busy engaging with and learning about my students’ stories for my #ugstSTORY class this Fall 2013 semester. This is my UGST 1000 – First Year seminar class where my students explore their major/career options, get support with transition to college, and learn more about themselves.  Feel free to follow along with our “story” this Fall if you would like:

ugstSTORY Pic

With this seminar class, a great portion of the focus is on self discovery and exploration for personal, academic, and career options. Like many students who are “undecided” or exploring their options, many of my #ugstSTORY students have more than one interest and want to make sure they are going down the right path for them. In learning about many of their talents and skills, I can see why it might be a challenge to just focus on one major. They are a creative and involved class who what to include what they VALUE in their future world of work and life.

What My #ugstSTORY Class Values
During the Fall 2013 semester, my #ugstSTORY students will leave a digital footprint, and will be encouraged to explore their personal and professional options. In their research to make an informed decision, a number of my students will reach out to professionals and industry leaders in the world of work to answer: “What do I want to do with my life?” and “How did you get to where you are?” I am not sure these BIG QUESTIONS will and/or can be answered in just one semester; however I think a few of the assignments and projects will hopefully get them started.

The first assignment, the Road Trip Nation (RTN) Project, is designed to help my students explore personal, academic, and career paths. More importantly, it allows them to understand that many directions will lead you towards your goals and dreams. Their recent blog posts identified what how to find their “Red Rubber Ball,” that is, where do they get their inspiration, passion, interests, values, and likes. Specifically, I asked what potential careers, professions or industries would they like to learn more about.  Here’s a short list from their in-depth blog posts this week:

Interview: Potential Careers & Industry

Interests & Passions

Journalism; Sports Journalism; Broadcaster Friends; Family; Hockey; Sports
Artist; Engineer; Philanthropist; Advertising; Therapist Stability; Helping Others
Journalism; Pre-Law; Psychologist Community Involvement; Travel; Family
Clinical Psych; Greenpeace Environment Activism; Animals; photography; food; language
High School Librarian Reading; books; writing
Engineering; Tourism; Economics Travel; Stability; Accomplishing goals
No Clue Relationships; Smile; Creativity; Individuality
Writer; Journalism Music; Belonging; Writing;
National Geographic; Journalism Travel; Photography;
Broadcaster/Journalism Sports Talking; Sports; Opinions to voice
Photojournalist; Forensics; Library Science Cartoons; Anime; Photography; Music
Psychology; Fashion Merchandising; Law People; Cultures; Travel;
Sales Engineering Music; Activism; Star Wars
Sports Analyst; Broadcaster/Journalist NFL Analyst; sports industry
Neurology; Psychology; Editor/Publishing Anime; Neuroscience; travel; career student; small business

The reason I am sharing more about my class with you is to get them connected beyond our class and the UNT campus. Since I have some phenomenal friends, family, and colleagues in my own learning and professional network, I thought a few of YOU might be able to provide some of your own experience and wisdom for their exploration, specifically by:

  1. SHARING A Resource: We tweet with the #ugstSTORY hashtag, so if you see a link, article, website or anything related to major and career exploration – cc: @ugstSTORY or just put the #ugstSTORY hashtag on it!
  2. READING Their Blog Posts: If you have time to read, comment & post on their WordPress blogs, that would be super rad. Although many are just blogging for the first time, a number of my #ugstSTORY students have very thoughtful and creative perspectives about life in college so far. It would be great if they got a response or two outside our #ugstSTORY class – drop them a comment or like. :)
  3. MENTOR Virtually: For the RTN Project a number of the #ugstSTORY learners will be seeking informational interviews with companies, professionals, and different organizations (listed above or might not be listed as they don’t know your about your occupation yet); if you OR someone you know is available and interested in sharing with my students what they do for a living and why they love it – LET ME KNOW!  Yes! I want to MENTOR a #ugstSTORY Student p.s. Pass this link onto a friend you might know as well. Thanks!

#EDUSprint 1: Beyond MOOCs – IT as a Force of Change

I joined today’s @EDUCAUSE 1st #EDUSprint webinar, IT as a Force of Change, discussed connected learning, technological impacts, educational models, and, of course, MOOCs. For those of us who educate, design, and research these items, not much of today’s session was new; however the speakers highlighted some interesting points and conversations around “where we are and where we need to go with higher education learning?” Today’s session was focused on framing large-scale, online learning programs – which is why MOOCs came to the forefront of the questions and discussion with the featured panel: Elliot Masie (The MASIE Center) and Chris Dede and Timothy Wirth (Learning Technologies, Harvard University). #EDUSprint 1 - Beyond MOOCs

MOOCs were called many things and labels were shared about the role of MOOCs in higher education. Here are a few words/phrases to describe MOOCs: unbundle, four letter word, innovation, change, disruption of education, learning model, same-old pedagogy, digital engagement, connected learning, revenue-maker, the future, and even an EXPERIMENT. If this is true…

In thinking about pedagogy and instructional design, I really hope we are considering the impact to our learners and subject material. Too often we go to the “shiny and new” hype for learning trends, rather than using learning outcomes to align curriculum content and assessments. Sometimes, I think our administration and educational leaders seem to miss the point…

Here are a few resources shared during the session that might be useful for those of you wanting to bone up on large-scale online learning with MOOCs:

Beyond the talk and questions about MOOCs, I thought the central thread for connected learning and meaning-making in education was strong. The fundamental question that needs to be ASKED and ANSWERED by more of our institutions was posed by Elliot.  was posed by Elliot is critical for our institutions to ASK and answer:

“How can we build a connected campus?

More information and a recording of the 1st #EDUsprint session can be found HERE, and, of course, there are a few Twitter notes from other #EDUsprint -ers for you to take a gander at… and perhaps I’ll see you in the #EDUsprint streams tomorrow…

What Was In The Mix for #Blend13

Last week seems so far away, but not forgotten. Much of my time and social streams had a great mix of conversation in and around around #blend13 – The Sloan C Blended Learning Conference & Workshop. Thanks to the fabulous #blend Conference Chair, Tanya Joosten (@tjoosten), I was fortunate to be invited to present a workshop (or two) and get acquainted with the fine city of Milwaukee over the Summerfest weekend. #MKEwhawhat. Here’s my blogged mix tape of highlights and happenings from #blend13.mixtape

Not only did I fall in love with the city life in MKE, but I was alsoable to attend the 10th annual conference on the topic of blended learning to gain some insight to the history and impact as to where we are going in the field. As educational demands and challenges increase, there has been a great shift to personalized, digital pedagogy. Blended learning has helped to reshape roles for both the instructor and learner to create opportunities for deeper learning and sharing.

Untitled

During my workshop, I asked participants to share what blended learning meant in ONE WORD. A challenging task, as this learning pedagogy and model means so much to so many people. Here are the responses from my session. I learned how blended learning appears to have a number of similarities and differences depending on the academic institution, and the type of characteristics most suited for instructors and our students in blended learning environments.
Untitled#Blend13 connected me to a number of educators,  in both K-12 and higher education, who were using blending learning for curriculum engagement. Blended Learning has encouraged more collaboration and connection to open, shared learning resources. A number of faculty and instructors are finding value in enhancing their subject matter, and the student data on learning acquisition is proving its value. A number of instructors are finding opportunities to mentor and learn in their own personal learning networks, which are strengthening the profession and allowing for growth in education.

#BlendedLearning Word Cloud

Beyond interpreting the blended learning, seeing other models, and discussing effective practices for blending – a larger conversation and discussion thread that was prevalent was around MOOCs. Although I feel as this “hot topic” is appearing in most educational conferences, it was interesting to understand how MOOCs impact blended learning environments, and if they are distinguished from the blend pedagogy.

During the Using MOOCs for Blended Learning panel (#BLmooc), the discussion evolved around the impact (or lack there of) massively open online courses (MOOCs) have within higher education. The debate focused on how campuses should consider wider, strategic solutions for blended learning and the challenges/opportunities MOOCs provide for the learning process, students, open content, and various learning methods.

IMG_20130708_140836-MOTION

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on #BlendedLearning  and #MOOCs  at #Blend13  Karen, Shari, Amy & Tanya. 

There was talk about openness, content, delivery, and more. What struck me was the continued debate or talk about dualism between closed and open methods for delivery and content, which I think was shared in Andy’s tweet/blog post:

The last session I attended was the Unconference Session Around Researching MOOCs with George @Veletsianoshttp://tinyurl.com/moocresearch

There is a number of interesting research questions, methods and more included in the Google Doc — and if you want to connect with any researcher, their contact information is also included. One article I found interesting from Mike Caufield (@holden ) was the x-MOOC  vs. c-MOOC debate shared via his Educause article. I wonder how many institutions consider the space or place their move to MOOC is going, and what sort of learning framework (if any) they place these models.

xmooc is a chewy center

Image c/o @holden in this article 


Last, but certainly not least, I was grateful for connecting with my #PLN of amazing colleagues that I am able to share with on a daily basis on different social media spaces. Who would have thought that this was my first time meeting Dr. Alec Couros (@courosa) in person — it feels like we go back for ages.  With a jam-packed, engaging keynote – I am glad that Alec and others took “notes” on Twitter. We also learned that when you let two Canadians loose in Milwaukee, there is bound to be some havoc. Highlights of our fun with the #blend13 crew (in no particular order) results in collaborative marketing campaigns for MKE, free-style karaoke, BACON love, killer dance moves, great conversations, photo-bombing, and general good times.

Untitled

Name the trouble makers who photo-bombed my #selfie.

Until we meet again #blend13 friends… keep it smooth.

Passing the Torch: Leadership Transition in Our Professional Organizations

In many professional organizations and associations (both formal and informal), leadership positions are fluid and change frequently. Whether it is an elected position, scheduled appointment, or a professional move, it is important to consider how your organization manages leadership succession and transition to sustain the association.

Passing the Torch

In thinking about transitioning out of my current role with NACADA, I was asked to share my experiences and resources* for incoming leaders for in the association. I figured I might as well share a few of these ideas with others who might be transitioning or transferring of roles in their professional organizations as well:

I. Build Your Professional Posse – No leader can do it alone, nor should they. Surround yourself with some great people who share similar interests and passions in your professional area. You know who they are – you have met them at a conference, attended one of their presentations, connected with them online, or heard about the great work they are doing – so reach out and get these members involved.

  • Recruit members at annual conferences/meetings in-person and online. We used a shared Google Form to invite others, e.g. the  #AdvTech Technology in Advising Commission Sign-up for 2012-13

  • Pass on and share the names, contact information (email, phone numbers, Twitter handles, etc)

  • Find out HOW members want to be involved with your group. Be open to suggestions and areas of interest that you have not thought about.

 

II. Take Note — Document, Organize & Archive – Be sure to keep notes, capture screenshots, record meetings, and file take notes, take screenshots, record online, and file information in an organized way throughout your elected/appointed term.

  • Save and file emails into folders from the professional association, members, and more – you never know when you will need to refer back to them

  • Organize information by projects, deadlines, and responsibilities

  • Store and save your files in an accessible space for your group to review

  • My “go to” spaces of organization for NACADA included:

 

III. Mentor While You Lead – Succession planning does not have to start at the beginning or end of your elected/appointed term. Consider involving members in your professional organization early and often.

  • Encourage point people for sub-groups, committees, or projects

  • Recommend collaboration within and outside your specific group

  • Involve participants in activities, presentations, research and development with your interest/commission area (psst you should not do it alone).

 

IV. Meet with Your Members – You will want to organize a regular meeting schedule with your committee, group or advisory board. Inquire about these at the start of each academic semester or quarter, and try to keep them on a regular schedule. Save the date(s) in advance.

  • Determine when you can meet. Try using a Doodle to sort out your meeting schedule.

  • Find the best space to “meet” for your group as they may not be anywhere near one another geographically:

    • Conference Call? There are a few free ones like http://www.freeconferencecall.com/ out there

    • Professional Association or institutional online web conferencing available? NACADA uses the Adobe Connect platform

    • I also am a fan of Google Plus Hangouts – free group video chat for 10 people and the ability to have IM chat and shared documents from Google Drive and/or screen sharing capability

  • Put out your agenda a week in advance to remind others of meeting, where/how you are meeting, and to give time to prepare/read over meeting information

    • I use Google Docs for shared agendas to encourage members to add discussion topics, questions, or updates

 

V. Create a Communication Plan – Consider making a communication plan for your professional group. This will help you understand the how, where, when and why for communication. This will also help you to disseminate information, seek out information, ask questions, and engage the members of your professional group.

  • Survey your group to find out WHERE they want to stay connected and informed. This can be at an annual conference/meeting or online. {We asked at the annual meeting, and on the digital sign-up sheet.}

  • Create welcome messages for email, Facebook or other networks to tailor and respond to interested members ASAP, for e.g.

Hello ________________,

Great to hear that you are interested in getting involved in the NACADA Technology in Advising Commission (#AdvTech)! Our #AdvTech Commission would love to have you join in the fun. To help identify your interests for involvement in the commission, please complete the NACADA Technology in Advising Commission Sign-up for 2012-13 {insert URL}

Also, be sure to connect to our commission  Facebook Group: {insert URL} There are a number of great conversations, questions and opportunities to share resources in this space. Finally, we do have an option to sign up to the commission listserv and information on the NACADA Technology in Advising Commission web page

Looking forward to getting you connected and involved soon!

Best,

Laura Pasquini

NACADA Technology in Advising Commission Chair 2011-2013

  • Get SOCIAL (media) – find an online, connected space that works for your group. Our group was interested in a moderated/closed Facebook Group; however I have seen Google Plus Communities, organizational listservs, Facebook Pages, LinkedIn groups (e.g. Advising Veterans), or hashtags on Twitter (e.g. #firstgen) to bring professional groups together. Just be sure to keep up with the conversation in whatever space you choose to use.

  • Be open for members to reach out to you for questions, ideas, suggestions, and getting involved. I often connected with members via email, Skype, on the phone, Google Plus, or another social network. Keep the conversation going, and consider hosting “office hours” or regular ways to connect with you.
  • Think outside the communication box. Consider offering different means for sharing member information and updates. We tried out the NACADA Tech Talks of 2012, and after the NACADA 2010 conference members of our group initiated the the #AcAdv Chat weekly Twitter conversations.


*There are a number of different tools and online resources to help with professional organization workflow. I am just sharing the specific ones I used with my NACADA Technology in Advising Commission the past couple of years. Figure out your purpose, then find the appropriate tool that will work for you.

Supporting Student Success at #UFTL13

UFTL13

I was able Last week UNT hosted the annual University Forum on Teaching & Learning:

UNT’s University Forum on Teaching & Learning (UFTL) is a one-day annual event that enables faculty, graduate teaching fellows, and staff involved in supporting teaching and learning to share ideas and practices that motivate learners, promote critical thinking skills, engage in real-world problems, and better prepare students for life and work in the 21st century.

This year’s #UFTL13 focus,  “Supporting Student Success,” helped initiate the conversation and help our campus understand how to support our students. It also shed some light on what success is and what it REALLY looks like for our learners.  In moving beyond the dirty R-word (retention),  it is critical to think how the meaning of the word success varies for our students. Our planning of “good” teaching and learning practices may need to extend beyond a course credit, a classroom setting, or a syllabus requirement for our students to be truly successful.

During the morning round table discussions, we chatted about reaching students beyond our state mandates or the general push to graduation, and thought more about how to connect with our learners to better understand their needs and purpose for being at the university. It was clear that success means many things to many different people. Our small group identified different things that signify success (in general) including promotion, failure, self-discovery, overcoming challenges, and such. The key issue we had in talking about “success” for learning is the divergent goals that formal education require specifically in terms of assessment, evaluation formats, and individual competency reviews.

Later in the morning Dr. Cassandre G. Alvarado, from UT Austin, asked “What is student success really?” in her keynote address. In Dr. Alvarado’s opening statements, she shared how higher education is broken with the “universal problem” being = too many students are not successful. [I will get into the "broken higher education" discussion in a future blog post- note this for now].

First we talked about the definition of success, brainstormed a few ideas, and chatted about how we might need to redefine success in our classroom and on our campus. Here is what success meant to our small group and from the speaker’s point of view:

  • effecting people in a positive way
  • being an inspiration
  • impacting others around you
  • having a goal, working hard & making sacrifices to work towards that goal
  • passion for what you are doing or how you are working with others

BIG IDEA: Success is more than content knowledge.

enjoy-your-success

 Key Goals for Success & to Be Successful shared by Dr. Alvarado in her keynote:

1. Perseverance - “Nearly every man who develops an idea works at it up to the point where it looks impossible, and then gets discouraged. That’s not the place to be discouraged.” ~ Thomas Edison

  • We need to share with our students our struggle so they can learn
  • Model for our students our own struggles
  • Reward effort as well as correctness, e.g. rewarding effort on homework and tests, using innovative assessment methods produced almost triple gains

2. Community –  “My model for business is the Beatles. Total is the sum of the parts… Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” ~ Steve Jobs, 2003

  • Community happens inside and outside of the classroom
  • Is about understanding our role
  • Is more than just friends, e.g. Creation of learning communities increase ention through Drop, Fail & Withdrawal rates stayed the same; cluster of courses

3. Imagination – “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” Thomas Edison

  • Discovery is imagination
  • Ask students to solve problems that don’t yet exist not ones that have already been solved
  • “See yourself on the other side.” Dr. Marcy Haag’s mantra 4 breaking a board in a Taekwondo class and she shares this for learning/perseverance

Finally, I was asked to join a student, staff, and faculty panel (I fit a couple of these roles) to talk more about student success at UNT. Here are the questions posed to the #UFTL13 panel:

  • How do you define student success? Can you share an example of or tell a story about student success at UNT. (This could be a personal story, one of a colleague, classmate, friend, etc.)
  • From your perspective, what do students need to experience success at UNT?  Do you have any examples to share?
  • What types of partnerships make student success a reality at UNT?  Do you have any personal experience with partnerships?
  • From your perspective, what can staff/instructors/students do to enhance student success?

Of course, I took a few notes and tweeted during the panel, so here are a few themes that emerged from the our responses:

#UFTL13 Student Success Panel Responses

How do you define student success on your campus? What student success stories can you share? Think about it, and let me know.

#et4online What Happens In Vegas, Should be Blogged

Much to my surprise, my first visit to Sin City was less about the bright lights, gambling, or trouble I could cause…and more about innovative ideas and collective sharing for learning technologies. This is what happens when you attend the 6th Annual International Symposium on Emerging Technologies for Online Learning (#et4online).

Waiting for my flight to #et4online

In returning from the #et4online conference, I think that there are a number of great conversations, thoughts, and questions I am left with. So, fortunately for my readers, what happens at an #et4online conference in Las Vegas, will NOT stay in Vegas.

Here are a few #et4online conference highlights, notes & tweets (I am not alone – as I know @tjoosten does this as well):

  1. Location Location Location – Kudos for the Planet Hollywood site. Easy to get around, wifi access was great, it was the middle of the strip & close to some great restaurants, and, most importantly, Rex Manning from Empire Records looked over me while I sleep. What more could a gal want?
  2. #EdTechCareer Forum Round Tables - This was the 1st year to start this initiative; however we had a decent turn out and more importantly conversation with our facilitators @amcollier @veletsianos@tjoosten, @whitneykilgore, Kevin Grazino & Rachel Salas-Didier. Thank you to the emerging scholars and career-seekers who stopped by to talk about direction in the field, finding passion, planning for career applications, and more around the job search and career development we have in the #edtech field.
  3. Keynote: What’s That Coming Over the Hill? Digital Futures, Emerging Cultures, New Learning c/o @timbuckteeth This chat had a malay of ideas and experiences for connected learning and pedagogy. Unfortunately Steve had to return back to #PELC13 back in Plymouth, otherwise it would have been great to pick his brain about e-learning more.  Here are a few notes myself & others took via Twitter from his talk.
  4. Plenary: Seven Tales of Learning Online with Emerging Technologies with @veletsianos I like how George shared his learning experiences as a student, researcher, and instructor to help us look critically and realistically at how we are using emerging technologies in education. Here are a few collected tweets from the talk.
  5. The Launch Pad: What a great way to show case Ed Tech start ups, and provide an space in the conference to discuss how educators/developers can work together and collaborate to pilot these initiatives. It was great to connect with Lida & Scott from @Ginkgotree after our BreakDrink.com podcast last October to demo the product. Great to hang out & hopefully we’ll connect again in MI soon!
  6. Discussion & Dialogues of Education Is and Is Not – Specifically what is broken or needs to be fixed, and the reality of this statement. I appreciate how George Veletsianos engages in this more on his blog post, and chat with Amy Collier encouraged me more to think about the change, challenges, and issues being labeled in higher education and for online learning.
  7. #UNet4online: Open Space Technology - These sessions were threaded throughout the conference program and facilitated by Jennifer Ross (@jar) to encourage conversations and idea-swapping for online learning. I was able to attend one on April 10th and the final one on April 11th. I appreciated the  free space to challenge, ask questions, brainstorm, and share ideas/practices with peers. Shout out to the #unet4online tweeps: @amcollier ,@rasebastian, @veletsianos@KavuBob, @jleung81, @g4m, @johnrturnerhpt, @jar@hollyrae, @desertjul & @markjwlee who joined in on various unconference conversations. We were able to  talk about valuable ideas for learning including distributed flip educational models (not.a.MOOC),  higher education organizational design/culture, and ownership in education. Want to learn more? Check out the fantastic post on the (f)unconference from Amy Collier or my rough Google doc notes.
  8. Getting Social  – For me, this is why you attend a conference. I love connecting with others and learning how they are working with students, researching ideas, and just having some great banter. I am glad I got some quality time with @amcollier, catch up time with @tjoosten & @veletsianos, and hang time with new friends, such as @jar @dwicksspu & @kavubob. For those of you who were social [media] online – it was nice to connect via the #et4online hashtag. Let’s continue the conversation.

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Thanks to David Wicks (@dwicksspu) for inviting me to join the #et4online conference steering committee. I look forward to 2014 #et4online planning in Dallas, TX. Giddy up! For those of you who are going to Summerfest & #Blend13 - I will see you in July. :)