Online Learning, Teaching

Advice for Teaching at Scale Online

There are a growing number of learners online. The recent report, The Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE) from Quality Matters, shared that “more than 2.1 million fully distance undergraduates (12% of total) and 770,000 fully distance graduate students (26% of total) are online learners.” Over the last three years, I have been working completely online as a faculty member and with a distributed research group. I am also fortunate to collaborate remotely with scholars and practitioners to study talent development in higher ed (e.g. mentoring). Much of my work centers around how we support working and learning online in higher ed. Besides investigating how learners persist in open online environments (Veletsianos, Reich, & Pasquini, 2016) I am also concerned with how networked experiences impact/influence our higher education practice. Previously I shared how I support online learners, but many of you might not realize I instruct A LOT of students each academic term. So this post dedicated to the behind the scenes way to scaffold the LOGISTICS of teaching a LARGE ONLINE COURSE and how to support MANY DISTRIBUTED LEARNERS. This post comes with a strong caveat: I am still learning. Always.

First, identify your instructional NEEDS as you organize your large online course. You will need to establish a team of support, that might include: instructional designers, instructional technologist, graders, industry mentors, and/or teaching assistants (TA’s). Do you need help grading assignments? Is there one project you want external reviewers/peers to support, evaluate, or be a part of your lesson? Will you need aid in encouraging social learning through discussion forums, team wikis, or other group activities? Are you looking to redesign a section or project in your course? Try to set this up before the term (if available/teaching assignments are set early enough) and continue to assess the pulse of my teaching team support. I am grateful for colleagues who have joined my class to present, speak, mentor, or offer peer review of final projects. I have also been quite fortunate in working with some amazing teaching assistants/graders (repeatedly) from our doctoral program over the last few semesters. Now that these folks have to focus on their own research scholarship to Ph-inishe-D their dissertation, I am currently thinking about how I manage remote workers for distributed instructional support. Here are my “notes” for training/onboarding new online learning TA’s & graders:

  • Setting Expectations: Establish standards and norms within the instructional support team – including orientation to the course site, review of learning modules, a copy of syllabus with key points highlighted, learning outcomes, and course schedule.
  • Grading Tools & Resources: Identify the means and methods for grading and learning support — this includes division of labor into cohorts/sections, grading rubrics for all assignments, and sample feedback to give for each course activity/assignment.
  • Communication: Organize time and/or spaces to “talk.” This could be a regular meeting schedule to host a synchronous web conference/phone/Skype chat, open/online office hours on-demand for 1:1 meetings, backchannel conversation (e.g. Slack, Yammer, Google chat), and send regular reminders to the group by email for longer instructions/information.
  • Shared Digital Work Spaces: Outline virtual spaces to support the instructional team. Virtual teaming can help with grading, e.g. shared Gooogle Docs for feedback/comments/suggestions for assignments, shared file system for saving assignments/projects, and other spreadsheets/collaborative tools or platforms you might use to “work” beyond the learning management system(LMS) or course site.
  • Learner Support: Create common communication practices among the team (group email) and expectations for responding to learner messages/email is critical. To be firm and fair, we must be consistent with assignment deadlines (I hold a no late work policy, outside of health/emergency situations) and we do our best to answer messages from learners in 24-48 hours and TA’s/graders copy (“cc”) the lead instructor on email conversations with learners.  Each course has a “Peer-to-Peer Support” discussion forum where learners can ask questions, get advice, post articles or resources, work out issues from a module, etc. with their classmates. The TA’s and I will “check-in” on these to see if all questions have been answered with the correct information. Finally, we identify when and how synchronous online meetings (group advising, mini-lessons, or office hours) should occur — based on the section of the course and/or inquiries for assignments.

Second, organize your online course WITH your learners in mind, that is your direct instruction, learning objects, and engagement activities. Similar to the planning notes I shared about the instructional team management, offering similar strategies for support are key for working with my online learners (listed above).  Here are my notes for what my regular

  • Start with Orientation: Think about both pedagogical design and delivery as you structure a large online course. Consider how will orient, support, and communicate with your learners over the semester. Introduce them to sections of your syllabus, key areas to move through the course, and where to get access to help on campus and online. Also, be sure to identify the learning spaces,  support resources, and design components required to be an effective learner within your course.
  • Get to Know Your Learners: Assess who is in your class. Do you know who is in your class? Why are they taking this course? Is it required, an elective, or other?  I often have my students complete a Google form to share information about themselves and experiences with online learning, the subject matter, and to identify their own learning goals at the beginning of the term (e.g. from Spring 2017: http://bit.ly/ltec3010sp17). Understand where and how your learners are approaching this course and their motivation/goals for the semester. Keep their goals and backgrounds in mind with your learning content.
  • Share Valuable & Timely Information: Produce weekly reminders of readings, activities, and assignments help to provide multiple insights and ideas around the topic of the module or week’s lesson. Often I collect (and tweet) multiple resources on a class hashtag ( e.g. my instructional design/facilitation course hashtag #LTEC4440) and I will highlight a couple of key readings/articles/videos/podcasts in the regular weekly course announcement/email that is pushed out to my students. that might be relevant for my students.
  • Build a Community of Support: In a scaled online course, you need to set your learners up to interact with peers online to enhance their social interaction and offer assistance. If you do not set these up, then you are setting up yourself for multiple messages, open boundaries, and unrealistic expectations for all in a large, distributed course. Consider looking at your learning activities and curriculum design to see if you currently support the followings types of interactions to offer more engagement in your course (Sheridan & Kelly, 2010):
  1. Learning–content interaction: Do your students engage and interact with your course content to make dig deeper into the subject? How are you helping learners make meaning with learning objects they interact with online? Are they reflecting, curating, discussing, applying, or analyzing your course materials and not just consuming information? Learners who interact with learning content tend to get a higher grade (Zimmerman, 2012).
  2. Learner–learner interaction:. Peer support is everything in online learning. I leverage the Peer-to-Peer Support for discussion forums, team projects, research proposals on wikis, feedback on video presentations, and more! Your learners often like to collaborate and share ideas on challenging concepts with multiple platforms. How will you support this type of virtual teaming?
  3. Learner–instructor interaction: How are you “present” in your online class at the instructor? Being visible online is critical for your students learning outcomes. Learners often are motivated and enthusiastic about your course, if they see you are present online. This might be participating in discussion forums, offering video or audio feedback to assignments, summarizing modules in advance, and perhaps offering synchronous (+recorded/archived) online class meetings for feedback, questions, and more. I keep track of announcements and media files that I can utilize in the future with very little edits and related transcripts for accessibility needs.
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networkedscholar, Open Education, Research, Social Media

#CFP Due April 15th: Digital Learning and Social Media Research Funding 2017

Are you an early career scholar or an advanced doctoral student researching networked scholarship, social media in education, open learning, emerging technologies, etc.? Then this might just be the grant funding for you!

Dr. George Veletsianos (Canada Research Chair in Innovative Learning and Technology at Royal Roads University) and Dr. Royce Kimmons (Assistant Professor, Brigham Young University) invites applications from advanced doctoral students (i.e. those who completed their graduate coursework) and post-doctoral associates to conduct research with The Digital Learning and Social Media Research Group. This research funding opportunity aims to scaffold and mentor advanced doctoral researchers and early career scholars to co-plan, execute, and submit for publication a research study.

There are five (5) $2000 CAD grants available for research that focuses on one or more of the following areas: networked scholarship, social media use in education, digital/online learning, open learning, emerging technologies, learning analytics, social network analysis, or educational data mining.

Requirements

  • Advanced doctoral student status (usually in the 3rd or 4th year of their studies) OR postdoctoral status having completed a graduate degree (Ph.D./EdD) within the last 3 years.
  • Enrolment in or having attained a graduate degree (Ph.D./EdD) in education, educational technology, learning technologies, learning sciences, curriculum and instruction, cognitive science, or other related fields.
  • Individuals must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents of Canada or must hold a valid employment visa or work permit issued by the Government of Canada.
  • To be well-suited for this opportunity, individuals must have excellent organizational abilities, analytic skills, and be familiar with methodologies involving the analysis of quantitative or qualitative data.
  • MORE information about this grant application process can be found on George’s blog.

Questions?

Please feel free to reach out to me, or for further inquiries regarding this opportunity please send an email to: CRCILT.Research@RoyalRoads.ca

BreakDrink, EdTech, Higher Education, Podcast

@BreakDrink Podcast, Episode No. 5: Digital Redlining with @hypervisible

In @BreakDrink episode no. 5, we chatted about LOADS of things related to our assumptions about access, policies, and practices in have higher education, specifically with regards to technology and learning. Last year for 2016 #OLCInnovate, I invited Chris Gilliard to share his work on Digital Redlining for a short “Ignite-like” talk. Why do we assume everyone has access to the Internet? Or a device? Or access to the same digital learning resources? What do we know or care about privacy and our data? Thanks for joining us to podcast on the topic, Chris. We suspect you’ll be back to chat more with us sometime about similar issues… and anime, of course

Here are a few show notes, ideas, and resources shared in @BreakDrink episode no. 5 with Chris:

Information Literacy, Filtering & Access

Online Access & Web Architecture

Do you KNOW what limitations to your search or access to your knowledge is like at your institution? Understanding Google Search Algorithms & SEO

Journal Access & Journal Databases: What are your resources or limitations? What can you not find that is not accessible on Google Scholar?

  1. Scholar Buddy Search – Find a friend at a larger university/college + ask them to search a topic (or borrow a password) to compare search results
  2. #icanhazpdf hashtag – Ask a friend on Twitter to email you the closed or pay-for-play publication
  3. Alternative creative ways to search: Find a romantic partner at a larger institution; academic citizenship acquisition? Or other ways to search for journal articles and here.

Searching Online & Information Literacy

The process of how information is shared needs to be explained. There are issues with walling-off information, the privatization of knowledge, and those who are moving towards a blockchain in higher ed. – explain what this means for limitations to information/knowledge.Do we teach our students to go beyond the first page hits on the Google search page? Do you know How Google Search Works? Much of our civic online literacy skills could be developed in order to hold ed tech & technology companies more accountable

Technologies in higher ed have many inequalities and technology is not neutral. Want to get more political for higher ed & #edtech? I’ll let Audrey Watters take this one: The Politics of Ed Tech Issues in higher ed are real for all of our campus stakeholders — students, staff, and faculty. These issues are around privacy, cyberbullying, trolling data security, and more. We need to be asking more about the technologies to learn what is ethically right and the limitations to these platforms, applications, and digital resources.

For a start, why don’t we learn more about privacy. Perhaps, it’s time we take a “short course” on privacy and what it means to be online, connected now. Check out the Privacy Paradox created by Note To Self. There are 5 podcasts and actions you do to take back your privacy & data. BONUS LISTEN: Privacy, Data Survivalism and a New Tech Ethics

We Need To Ask More About…

  • Do we really care about privacy online? Are we putting thoughts into the spaces and places online we are working with our learners?
  • Pew Research – State of Privacy in America  & Online Privacy & Safety articles
  • Do we know how our learners access educational materials and resources at our colleges/universities?
  • Cell-phone dependent students: the learners’ main access for Internet is their mobile device which is problematic as this is their main way to complete coursework, assignments, projects, etc.. (e.g. Educause 2015 mobile study & Case Study from Australia)
  • Do we think about the digital divide when considering our practices in higher ed for teaching, service & support?
  • Are we thinking about the platforms & apps we’re requiring our learners to use and how these technologies might be “sucking up their data”? We should.

@BreakDrink Books for Recommended Reading:

Here’s how to connect with Chris Gilliard to learn more about his work and this topic:

@BreakDrink Podcasts Shoutouts/Recommendations:

If you have comments, questions, or feedback about this podcast episode, please feel free to post a comment below, or follow us on the following the “BreakDrink” podcast channels:

We welcome banter & comments there. If y’all listen to the podcast via iTunes, please consider leaving us a rating and review.

DETA, Online Learning, Research

Developing a Research Model for Online Learning: @UWMDETA Wants Your Feedback!

The National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) has been busy since the DETA Summit at #ELI15. Besides building a framework for inquiry, formulating measures, #DETAToolkits, and establishing research designs and instrumentation, the DETA team has been working on developing a research model for online learning — and they WANT YOUR FEEDBACK!

The DETA team reminds us that the field of distance education research is not new, but we do need to come together to consider how we examine, support, and thrive in online learning:

In distance education, a common language or ground has not yet been established.  Although existing scholarship attempts to establish an identity for teaching and learning on the fringe or margins (see Moore, 2013), such as distance education, there is still much work to be done.  It is common in other disciplines to struggle with finding this common ground as well (e.g., Corman and Poole, 2000).  Yet, unlike many other disciplines that have models illustrative of the phenomenon of interest or research models that guide the design of research, distance education has seen little traction in this area.  A cohesive approach to researching distance education from a transdisciplinary lens is pertinent.        

The lack of common language and work being conducted in disciplinary silos has led to a disregard or lack of acknowledgment of previous developments in the field.  Furthermore, the disconnect many times between the fast moving development of practice and redundant research of already proven practices is less than helpful to developing distance education. 

The function of the proposed online learning research model is “to facilitate cross-institutional distance education research efforts as a strategy for ensuring quality in teaching and learning for all students.”

DETA Research Model (Proposed)

 

The research model document publically is available online the DETA website for you to view. Please take a gander and comment. Your input will not only help the DETA team, it will also support many of us who research, work, teach, learn, manage, and then some online in higher education. In the proposed research model for online learning four components include (1) inputs and outputs, (2) process, (3) context, and (4) interventions.  I was interested in the three facets that describe the relationship between and among the components of the research model, including:

  1. Cyclical: Learning is conducted in cycles. It might be in a semester system, a certificate program design, or through a series of short courses. In thinking about this, it will also be important to identify attributes of the student, instructor, course, and program that feed into this cycle of learning.
  2. Transactional: Both students and instructors engage and are a part of the learning exchange. The learning process requires efforts and contributions on both end, i.e. design of a course could influence completion rates, learning interactions, course dynamics, and the feedback loop for online learning.
  3. Structurational: As instructors and staff design, develop, and modify online learning the courses, instructional methods, and program characteristics are a direct result of human action, which in turn, facilitate and constrain student interactions in online learning.

For each of these areas, I have made a few notes and questions for the DETA team — but I don’t want to influence your  feedback before you provide your own comments/questions/suggestions  on this research model. Please take a moment to review the proposed research model and complete a very brief FEEDBACK form embedded into this website at the bottom of the page and/or address any questions you have to the DETA Team:

http://uwm.edu/deta/research-model/

 

References

 

Corman, S. R., & Poole, M. S. (2000). Perspectives on organizational communication: Finding common ground. Guilford Press.

Moore, M. G. (Ed.). (2013). Handbook of distance education. Routledge.

 

Online Learning, StudentAffairs

#SAchat Podcast: Online Student Services

Last month I joined Dustin from The Student Affairs Spectacular Podcast, to talk about the impact online learning will have on student support for our learners. Much of what is happening in distance education, which includes online learning, blended learning, hybrid courses, and more, will impact how to student affairs educators work.  As we discussed how online learning will be relevant to student affairs, I shared a few resources to get listeners stated and shared these resources in the show notes (below). Thanks for the invite Dustin, and happy listening:

SAC-Podcast

Link on Stitcher: http://app.stitcher.com/splayer/f/65465/38022983

Show notes:

This blog post is cross-posted at The Student Affairs Collaborative website. Read more about all things Student Affairs and Higher Education at https://studentaffairscollective.org/

Professional Development, Research

Got Hashtag? [Gathering Edu & Ed Tech Conference Hashtags]

HashtagLauraI am wrangling up hashtags from all 2015 education and education conferences. If you know of a conference with a hashtag, let me know. ADD the conference name, hashtag, and the conference website HERE (or here http://goo.gl/6Uvlvs).

Giddy up!

EdTech, Learning Technologies

Checklist: Selecting Technology for Learning

With so many possibilities for digital learning, selecting media and technologies for appropriate course instruction is a very complex process. Although there are a wide range of options in the ed tech realm, pedagogical considerations should always come first. Instructors should reflect on the learning objective and desired outcomes for their subject matter before identifying identifying technological applications for the course.

The SECTIONS model, developed by Tony Bates (2015), is a pedagogical framework for determining what technology, specifically how this technology will be appropriate for instructional approaches. This might include identifying and determining pedagogical characteristics of text, audio, video, computing, and social media. With this framework, Bates (2015) asks five critical questions for teaching and learning for technology and media selection:

  1. Who are the learners?
  2. What are the desired learning outcomes from the teaching?
  3. What instructional strategies will be employed to facilitate the learning outcomes?
  4. What are the unique educational characteristics of each medium/technology, and how well do these match the learning and teaching requirements?
  5. What resources are available?

In thinking about the interplay of technology and learning, higher education courses will need to consider how this design process is developed. In this book chapter, Bates shared an alternative approach to the ADDIE model for instructional design – Learning + Technology Development Process Model (Hibbitts & Travin, 2015).

Learning + Technology Development Process Model (Hibbitts & Travin, 2015)

Regardless of the model for learning design, it will be important to assess how technology will impact the pedagogy. The SECTIONS model is an effective framework to best inform instructors when deciding what media or technology to use for face-to-face, online or blended learning courses:

  • Students
  • Ease of use
  • Costs
  • Teaching functions (including the affordances of different media)
  • Interaction
  • Organizational issues
  • Networking
  • Security and privacy

I would encourage you to utilize Bate’s (2015) Questions to Guide Media Selection and Use, to support your learning design when consider technology adoption for teaching. This open, shared educational resource will provide you with a broader reflection on issues and considerations for your digital pedagogy. Here is an abbreviated checklist for selecting technologies for learning I adopted for a learning module. It was developed for faculty who would like to consider the broader issues for teaching with technology, and how to navigate this course planning process for digital/media inclusions.

Checklist: Selecting Technology for Learning

STUDENTS

___Review accessibility mandate or policy of your institution, department or program.

___Determine demographics of the students and appropriateness of technology.

___Consider student access to technologies, both off campus and on campus.

___Determine digital skills and digital readiness of your students with learning expectations.

___Justify students’ purchases of a new technology component (if needed) for learning.

___Assess prior learning approaches & how technology can support student learning.

EASE OF USE

____Select the technology for ease of use by instructor and students.

____Identify technology that is reliable for teaching and learning.

____Verify the technology set up, maintenance and upgrade is simple.

____Confirm the technology provider/company is stable to support hardware or software use

____Outline strategies to secure any digital teaching materials you create should the organization providing the software or service cease to exist.

____Locate technical & professional support, both in terms of the technology and with respect to the design of materials.

____Determine technologies to best support edits and updates of learning materials.

____Outline how the new technology will change teaching with to get better results

____Assess risks and potential challenges for using this technology for teaching and learning.

COST & YOUR TIME

____Consider media selection by the length of time and ease of use during course development.

____Factor the time it takes to prepare lectures, and determine if development of digital learning materials will save time and encourage interaction with students (online and/or face-to-face)

____ Investigate if there is extra funding for innovative teaching or technology applications; if so, determine how to best use that funding for learning technologies.

____Assess the local support from your institution from instructional designers and media professionals for media design and development

____Identify open educational resources for the course, e.g. an open textbook, online videos, library page of articles, or other potential OERs.

TEACHING & EDUCATIONAL FACTORS

___Determine the desired learning outcomes from the teaching in terms of content and skills.

___Design instructional strategies to facilitate the learning outcomes.

___Outline unique pedagogical characteristics appropriate for this course, in terms of content presentation and skill development, specifically for:

____Textbook, readings, or other online text materials;

____Audio, such as podcasts, streaming audio from news, etc.;

____ Video, such as slide presentations, lectures, tutorials, and screencasts; and

____Social media, such as blogs, wikis, microblogs, photo sharing, curation, etc.

____Plan learning aspects that must be face-to-face (in-person or online).

INTERACTION

___Identify the skills for development and interactions that are most to determine the best type of media or technology to facilitate this learning.

___Determine the kinds of kinds of interaction to produce a good balance between student comprehension and student skills development.

___Estimate the amount of time the instructor will be interacting personally or online with students, and the type of medium for this interaction. 

ORGANIZATIONAL ISSUES

____Determine institutional support in choosing and using media or technology for teaching.

____Identify if the institutional support is easily accessible, helpful, and will meet the needs for the learning technologies for the course.

____Determine if there is funding available to ‘buy me out’ for a semester and/or to fund a teaching assistant so I can concentrate on designing a new course or revising an existing course.

____Locate institutional funding or resources for any learning technology or media production.

____Review the ‘standard’ technologies, practices and procedures for teaching and learning, to verify requirements for utilizing institutional technology resources, i.e. the learning management system, lecture capture system, etc.

____Determine if the institution will support trying a new technological approach to learning, and will support innovative media or digital design.

NETWORKING

____Outline the importance for learners to network beyond a course, i.e. with subject specialists, professionals in the field, and relevant people in the community

____Identify how the course or student learning can benefit from networking and learning from external connections.

____Determine the appropriate network and/or social media space to integrate for your learners to network with each other and connect with external community members.

____Integrate these networking mediums with standard course technology.

____Delegate responsibility for its design and/or administration to students or learners. 

SECURITY AND PRIVACY

___Determine the student information you are obliged to keep private and secure.

___Identify the institutional policies for security and privacy for teaching & learning.

___Outline potential risks and challenges of using a particular technology where institutional policies concerning privacy could easily be breached.

___Identify who at your institution could best advise you on security and privacy concerns, with regards to learning and teaching technologies.

___Itemize the areas of teaching and learning, if any, available only to students registered in the course.

___Identify the types of technologies to best restrict or limit access to course materials (if any) for my registered students.

 

Interested in reviewing your own learning design further? DOWNLOAD the Checklist: Selecting Technology for Learning

Reference:

Bates, A. W. (2015). Chapter 8: Choosing and using media in education: The SECTIONS model. From Teaching in a Digital Age. A Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. Retrieved from http://opentextbc.ca/teachinginadigitalage/

Hibbitts, P. D., & Travin, M. T. (2015). Learning + technology development process model.