BreakDrink

Harvey Relief c/o @BreakDrink

As rain from tropical storms flood and impact Texas after Hurricane Harvey, Jeff and I decided to do a quick podcast to share ways we know you can offer relief and support for those in need in the Lone Star state via a @BreakDrink podcast. We appreciate the love and concern a number of you have expressed for our well-being, but we are a-okay. Our fellow Texans to the southeast are under water and they could really use your help.

In this episode, we chat with Paul Eaton who is in the midst of some flooding in Conroe, TX and share few ways you can donate to Harvey (and avoid being scammed) if you are so inclined.

There are a number of ways to get and offer help for Harvey. If you know people who are directly affected by Hurricane Harvey, FEMA recommends visiting www.nvoad.org/how-to-help/ Additionally, DisasterAssistance.gov includes a link to the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s step-by-step guide to filing a flood claim, a map to locate the nearest FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers and instructions on how to apply for assistance. If you have questions about the help FEMA offers or the application process, call 1-800-621-FEMA (1-800-621-3362) or submit your query online. Or better yet, Find an open shelter near you by texting SHELTER and your zip code to 4FEMA (43362). You can also use the FEMA mobile app.

Houston, Dallas, Austin, and San Antonio, are currently taking in residents from the flood and hurricane zones. This means the state of Texas needs your help to support these small towns who have moved into these shelters. Additional donations for various relief needs can be met by visiting the following websites – and if you know of others, please tweet or comment where others can help:

Want to VOLUNTEER in-person to help with Harvey relief? Here’s how you can get involved.

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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.
Higher Education, Reflections, Teaching

Rethinking Office Hours

Office hours were designed to offer a space and place for learners to meet with their faculty. The practice of holding a “office hours” at every higher education campus, and even within a single department, varies drastically. Some institutions/departments set guidelines, whereas others see this as a service expectation that will automatically be assumed by the faculty member.

silly questions

Image c/o Flame @ KZK

The basic idea of faculty office hours was to carve out time to be available for your students. This set time each was is designated for the instructor to be in a physical, set space to offer support and assistance for courses, research, etc. In reality we know that only “a small number of students take advantage of office hours, [and] typically those who show up are not those who most need to be there (Weimer, 2015a). With increased use of technological communications, our students prefer to send a quick electronic message (email, LMS message, discussion board, text, tweet, etc.), to ask a question, seek advice, or get help.  So how do we “meet and reach” our students who are often juggling more than just school and cannot make the typical “office hour” on campus?  How do we make getting support more convenient for both the instructor and the student?

As an online instructor, I have experimented with a few approaches  the last couple of semesters. Although I work with online, adult learners – I think these strategies could also be useful for other faculty who instruct face-to-face (F2F) or blended learning environments.

A Few Ideas to Rethink Office Hours:

  1. Offer a standard “Office Hour” time slot at least 1-2x per week. This might be the day before assignments are due, or perhaps an evening hour after the typical 9-5 work day. You can indicate availability in your own office, by Skype/phone, IM, or via a web conferencing platform. You decide!
  2. Identify YOUR preferred mode of contact/communication. Let them know HOW and WHEN you will be checking and responding to their messages. Be sure to consider your own communication workflow – then share these expectations for your learners about your preferred protocol for related course communications.  Here are the best ways (in order) for students to contact me:
    • EMAIL: This is BY FAR the recommended method. My students know they will get a response from me within 24-48 hours by e-mail, and they are to include their course name, section, and ID in messages. This also allows me to track and keep a record of our conversations in a student file I save in Outlook.
    • Skype/Google Chat: A few of them have also utilized Skype/Google Chat for a quick IM if I am Available (“green”) online.
    • Bb Learn Messaging/Email: I have decided to close the LMS messages on Bb Learn this term, to organize all incoming inquiries from students into my institutional email account.
    • Google Voice: I use a number set up here as my primary office number. Students have used it to leave web voicemails and/or text messages every now and then.
    • Twitter: I have also welcomed the odd Tweet here and there – but often these get tossed into another space for more than 140-characters. More so this is used to share news, information & articles via the course hashtags e.g. #LTEC4440, #LTEC4121, #LTEC4070 and #LTEC3010
  3. Require 1:1 meetings early in the semester (Weimer, 2015b). If possible, have a 1:1 meeting planning in your course schedule to discuss a final project/assignment. You can use this time to check in and allow your students to ask question. This introduces students to your “space” and often encourages them to follow up. Pro Tip: This takes time and organization for your own schedule. Only consider 1:1’s if you can manage it (30 students or less recommended), and if there is a specific purpose within your course design and learning objectives.
  4. Offer class meetings for group advising and support. Provide semi-regular meetings for your students. Ask your learners when a good class meeting time is via Doodle poll to help establish most available times during the semester to host these meetings. My courses often met in the evenings between 6-8 pm and online in a GoToTraining or Adobe Connect room. These meetings were designed to offer information, updates, and a bite-sized instructional piece for my learners. In previous F2F courses, I had offered this sort of “meet up” after a campus event, in a seminar room, or even an off-campus coffee shop. For my graduate students in smaller classes, we would even conduct peer-review sessions in Google+ hangouts. Include an agenda for the meeting with the topics that will be covered and open discussion. Always solicit questions from your students in advance & leave time for Q & A at the end.
    • Pro Tip: Take questions you received from emails and include them into the class meeting advising sessions. Often learners might be afraid to ask during an open Q & A time, so “plant the question seed.” Students learn from other learners’ questions.
    • My incentives to attend our online (non-required) course meetings = advice on projects/assignments, helpful “how to” or demonstrations, and guest speakers (A BIG thanks goes out to Jess, Josie & Paul this term!).
    • Offer a recording and class notes for those who cannot attend, but want the supplemental information and resources.
  5. Try offering “on demand” office hours. I use helpful scheduling websites with my Google Calendar to set up student meetings. Both youcanbook.me and calendly offer easy ways for learners to schedule 15-, 30- or 60-minute meetings, depending on my own personal work/travel schedule. Example of the calendly appointment scheduler below:

Step ONE

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 6.26.18 PM

 

Step TWOsched

 

Step THREE

book
 Step FOUR

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 6.51.51 PM

  • ProTip: Be sure have your students identify the purpose of the meeting. E.g. I ask, “What specific issue you would YOU like to resolve at our meeting?
  • Dedicated meeting location: Since I lecture online, I decided to keep all my office hour meetings in a set GoToMeeting space that is standard for all my courses. This is included on the course syllabus, class announcements, and, most importantly, it is an accessible location – students can use their web or phone:

LTEC Virtual Office Hours with Dr. Pasquini” Please join my meeting from your computer, tablet or smartphone. https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/981968477

  • You can also dial in using your phone.United States (Long distance): +1 (213) 289-0012
    Access Code: 981-968-477 

I am still evaluating my own office hour approaches for my distance learners, so please feel free to share your strategies with me. How do you support your learners? What ways have you encouraged your students to connect with you for office hours? Do you have suggestions that I might want to consider for online office hours? Post your suggestions below!

References

Weimer, M. (2015a, February 17). Office hours alternative resonates with students. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-and-learning/office-hours-alternative-resonates-students/

Weimer, M. (2015b, February 18). Office hours redux. Faculty Focus. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/office-hours-redux/ 

PhD

Thriving… Not Just Surviving in Your Ph.D.

Today is the start of the UNT Learning Technologies (#untLT) Doctoral Fall Writing Boot Camp (October 17-18, 2014). This program has been developed by our department to support our doctoral researchers in their dissertation progress. Currently a number of doctoral researchers are writing and working in the LT Agora with snacks, support, and relevant available resources.

DocStudents

I am looking forward to joining the “Doctoral Campaign Strategy Meeting” tonight on a panel this evening with our faculty, including Drs. Cox, Ennis-Cole, Knezek, Tyler-Wood, and J. Wircenski. (Drs. Allen and Warren will participate remotely if they are able). This Q & A session will provide some advice and give some ideas for not only how to “survive” but also thrive in doctoral research regardless of the phase.

This presentation is a remix of @drjeffallen ‘s wisdom/advice

I like to use the phrase thrive not survive, to for the doctoral process. There are a number  a number of supportive strategies and ideas to get to the PhD finish line, including:

  • Making a habit of WRITING & scheduling only #ShutUpAndWrite session
  • Social, emotional & mental support
  • Identifying champions in your department, on campus & in your discipline
  • Outlining the major professor-advisee working relationship – needs & expectations
  • Using the advice of your committee wisely
  • Organizing your research materials & literature review effectively
  • Mapping out your data collection process
  • Attending to your personal-wellness & well-being
  • Connecting to a cohort of scholars in your personal learning network
  • Giving up something, to get something to finish your dissertation
  • Understanding how you work best
  • Consulting & using the resources available
  • Focusing your efforts wisely

Want to learn more? I will be sure to post notes and advice from our panel of professors and doctoral researchers who attend. What is YOUR advice on how to THRIVE in a doctoral program and through the dissertation process? Please share!

UPDATE (post-panel):

Doctoral Strategy Panel - Group Photo

From left to right: Drs. Cox, Ennis-Cole, Knezek, Pasquini, Tyler-Wood, and Wircenski.

AcAdv, PhD, Reflections

PhD Balance & Support: Life as a Doctoral Researcher and Higher Ed Professional

As part of my “Thanks-For-Supporting-My-PhD-Completion” and ways to motivate other doctoral researchers, Melissa and I decided to write an article for NACADA’s Academic Advising Today. This piece shared insights from our #hackPhD Panel at #nacada13 and our own hindsight of what it takes to successfully finish the degree.

PhD Survivor

We are not alone in thinking that being both a full-time professional in higher education AND full-time PhD student is a CHALLENGE:

The tensions among academic and personal roles can have a great impact on an advisor’s doctoral education. The theory of doctoral student persistence (Tinto, 1997) in particular can provide a look at how conflicting roles might impede a doctoral student’s academic progress. Tinto’s theory (1997) assumes that the primary communities for students relative to their graduate education are their peers and the faculty in their programs. Social integration within graduate education is almost synonymous with academic integration in the department. These social communities assist students with both intellectual and skill-building capacities needed to succeed in their doctoral programs, as well as networking within the greater professional community. Membership in other communities, e.g. those encompassing personal roles, can have a negative impact on graduate persistence by providing conflicting demands for time. If students are not able to manage their competing roles, they may find that they must give up on some of them.  (Read the full article here.)

I am thankful to the #AcAdv Chat community and fellow PhD friends (#sadoc & #phdchat) for the support. A number of my colleagues from these groups ALSO hold a faculty or staff position on campus, while grinding through their doctoral coursework and/or dissertation. I salute all of you who have made it, and a number of you who are still working towards the end. {You can do it! #GoScholarGo!}

At times this challenge is not easy – AT ALL. What it often comes down to is, support at the local level. At my campus, I was fortunate to have dedicated faculty advisors, solid graduate program support, an understanding/empathetic boss, a supportive and collaborative office team, and brilliant Dean to scaffold my PhD progress. Although my support network online is brilliant,  I think that it is imperative for the Staff/Faculty Supervisor of the PhD employee to consider how they can impact degree completion. Here are a few suggestions on how to get started:

  1. Ask How To Support: Sounds easy enough, but often it does not come up in 1:1 meetings. Consider asking how their degree will fit into their overall career goals, and what sort of strategies and resources would be most appropriate to reaching this objective.
  2. Identify Funding Resources: Inform students about tuition breaks, employee scholarships, and travel funding that might be optional during their doctoral study. Sure – your grad student might be savvy enough on this topic; however it does not hurt to inform them about budget allowances or potential funding sources.
  3. Encourage Professional Development: Continue to nourish and cultivate professionals who want to hack their doctoral degree, AND contribute to their own personal growth. Professional and informal affiliations often helps their progress towards degree completion.
  4. Consider Scheduling & Being Flexible (with Time): Allow for a varied staff schedule, time in office, or even opportunities to telecommute on projects. This might even include moving a lunch or break around to meet with dissertation committee members, writing groups, or graduate student seminars. Often your graduate student is very good at both self- and time management, so trust them to be effective in and out of the office.
  5. Express Value for Scholarship: Help your employee identify service, teaching and research scholarship on your campus and with your professional affiliations. Think about their research as an extension of your unit’s or institution’s vision and mission, and capitalize on their talent and skills in this area. Scholar-practitioner contributions can impact strategic goals, and compliment what you do day-to-day.

If you currently supervise a doctoral researcher who is a full-time staff member, how do you support your employee? OR vice-versa. What do you need as full-time employee AND PhD student to get you to your dissertation defense? Please share in the comments below.

References:

Johnson, M. A., & Pasquini, L. A. (2014, September). Negotiating the multiple roles of being and advisor and doctoral student. Academic Advising Today, 37(3).

Tinto, V. (1997). Toward a theory of doctoral persistence. In P. G. Altbach (Series Ed.) & M. Nerad, R. June, & D. S. Miller (Vol. Eds.), Contemporary higher education: Graduate education in the United States (pp. 322-338). New York, NY: Garland Publishing, Inc.

PhD, Reflections

#Dissertation Thanks and Acknowledgement for my PhD Journey

“Communities of practice are groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly.”

~ Etienne Wenger

My doctoral dissertation research is dedicated to all the members of my personal learning network and communities of practice, who connect, inspire, collaborate, interact, challenge, and share with me personally and professionally. I am thankful for your passion.

Here are a few slides from my final dissertation defense from Thursday, June 12, 2014. Some slides have been removed to prepare for journal publications, and I promise that more will be shared on this blog or here:  http://socialmediaguidance.wordpress.com/

 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I would like to acknowledge the support and encouragement I received during my doctoral research. I am incredibly grateful for those of you who stood by to support me along the way. Thank you for helping me during my PhD journey.

Fiachra

My husband: Fiachra Eamon Liam Moynihan – I am truly grateful for your love, support, and patience. Without you, I would not have been able to thrive in my doctoral program or balance my research with everything else. Thanks for joining me in this scholarly adventure – I could not accomplish this feat without you by my side.

Thank You Dissertation Committee

To my  doctoral dissertation committee:  Dr. Jeff Allen, Dr. Nick Evangelopoulos, Dr. Kim Nimon,  and Dr. Mark Davis.  I appreciate the support during my dissertation research, and general advice you provided about academic writing, publishing, career development, and life on the tenure track. I look forward to our continued collaboration in publishing, research, and more.

Mi Familia

My family: My parents, Michael and Coleen Pasquini, and my siblings Mark and Katie. You were the first community that encouraged me find my passion in learning. For this, I thank you.

PLN

My friends: A sincere THANK YOU to my friends near and far. I am honored to have an eclectic support network to challenge and check in on me. A heartfelt thanks goes out to all of you who provided support, inspiration, mentoring, peer pressure, and motivation along the way. Shout out to: #untLT, #AcAdv, #PhDchat, #EdTech, #HigherEd, #SAchat,  and other communities and/or hashtags we created along the way.

OEM

My colleagues: Thank you to the fantastic team I have been fortunate to work with over the years at the Office for Exploring Majors in Undergraduate Studies at UNT. Although this division no longer exists, you all will hold a special place in my heart.

Thank You!
Image c/o Flickr member Chris Piascik