Category Archives: Professional Development

#HigherEdScope – An Introduction

Screen Shot 2016-07-22 at 12.33.32 PMIt’s been a while, but there’s a new project underway that I’m really excited to tell you about. It’s #HigherEdScope. Friend and colleague Jon Ernstberger (LaGrange College) contacted me earlier this year to propose a collaboration: live, “podcast”-like broadcasts using Periscope, with the two of us as co-hosts of a monthly topic. (Check out Jon’s Pushing Frontiers: #HigherEdScope post.)

When I think back on those early conversations I’m reminded of a quote attributed to Richard Branson:

“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity, but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”

It was in that spirit that I joined the project. I hadn’t tried Periscope and I was just recording my first-ever videos for the Center for Online Education (with some anxiety), but … after some initial planning, I was all in!

Getting Started

So what have we done so far? The process has included numerous phone calls, Google chats, Google Doc revisions, and full rehearsal sessions. In July, Jon and I broadcast Episode 1, an introduction to the broadcast series, our background as co-hosts, and our goals for the project, which include:

  • Sharing how we stretch the boundaries of technology, online learning, and social media in our higher education contexts
  • Discussing current topics in edtech and higher ed (Jon and I were already doing this on a pretty regular basis, and now hope you’ll join in.)
  • Increasing our own teaching and learning knowledge bases, and
  • Trying something completely new for the sake of seeing how it will work out (see my living room/video studio pictured below).

Living Room Video Studio

My approach to all of this comes from my experience creating educational and informational web content, managing multiple social media accounts, and teaching online courses.

Jon’s perspective is similar, but he also brings experience from directing online programs at a higher education institution and developing faculty members in areas of technology and pedagogy. He’s also got the technical skills.

Check it Out!

We are off and running – you can view our individual co-host introductions and Episode 1 on the #HigherEdScope YouTube Channel. We’ll archive everything there. Episode 2 – 5 Things We Hate About Higher Ed, will take place on Tuesday, August 16th at 12:30pm. Join us live via Periscope and follow @HigherEdScope on Twitter for more info and announcements. We’ll be broadcasting on the 3rd Tuesdays of the month.

 

ET4Online: Emerging Technologies for Online Learning

This week I have the pleasure of attending the Sloan Consortium’s 7th Annual International Symposium: Emerging Technologies for Online Learning as a virtual attendee. I think this is the first time I’m experiencing remote participation in an on-site event … and it’s great!

#et4online

Not only are there a lot of streamed sessions to choose from, the social media interaction is helpful in bringing us all together through shared conversations and resources. Thanks to Saint Leo University for making it possible for me as an adjunct instructor and course designer to experience this event.

Here are a few of the sessions I attended, along with (very) brief notes and links that take you to the conference pages where more information (including slides and handouts) are uploaded and openly available.

How’d You Do That? Tips and Tricks That Might Account for My 95% Retention Rate

  • “Keep class fresh and fun for you and your students.”
  • Try having students submit discussion questions – students may be more likely to participate.
  • Provide a table-format course schedule with details about due dates, instructions, objectives, etc.
  • Decide what your policies are (e.g., late assignments) and stick to them. “Otherwise it’s a guideline.”
  • Good conference tip: “look for a few gems.” Ideas that intrigue you, make you think about what you are doing, and could be actionable.

Turning the Lens Inward: Analyzing Instructor Participation in Asynchronous Discussions

  • Take a look at the Discussion Participation Tool presented in the session.
  • Good breakdown of types of responses – social, teaching, cognitive.
  • “It’s nice when you can’t tell who is the teacher and who is a grad student” in an online discussion forum.
  • We’re all in search of a “desirable instructor profile” that includes optimizing frequency of posts and types of posts. Would expectations be different for full-time/part-time instructors?

Developing Collaboration Online: Comparison of Structured Group Assignments

  • Challenges exist in creating outcomes and activities that meet the needs of students from novice to expert.
  • Importance of the role of social presence cannot be overstated.
  • Advice includes: move toward synchronous sessions, intentionality in assignments, complexity of group work, use of webcam, on demand videos and assignments.
  • Consider designing, approaching online course in phases (Boettcher and Conrad, 2010).
  • Provide step-by-step instructions for students’ “first night” in your online course.
  • Reflective blog prompts bring closure to every assignment.
  • Interesting assignments described, including “Cool Tool Duel.”

Thanks again to Sloan-C and Saint Leo! This is a small sampling of the range of speakers, topics, and interactions that are being shared. Explore the conference program online for more info – most session pages include downloadable materials and presenter contact details.

You may also want to follow @et4online to get updates about next year’s conference, and, of course, the #et4online hashtag.

Update! I’m an official Sloan-C Ninja after completing the conference’s social media challenges, including my first video upload. Check out the badges. :)

facebookinstagramtwitter (1)vinerssninja

Going Green with a Paperless Conference Session

For anyone who has participated in a traditional conference poster session, you know that they can be a little awkward. From the perspective of the presenter, it’s a little like a junior high science fair with students standing by their projects hoping someone will stop and ask a question. From the attendee’s perspective, browsing the poster tables leaves you feeling bad about walking by some tables (while avoiding eye contact with the eager presenters) and a little frustrated trying to locate the few posters that are of interest to you based on the descriptions provided in the program.

Last month I was fortunate enough to present a paperless poster session, entitled Online Career Services: Blogs as ePortfolios, at the Sloan Consortium International Conference on Online Learning in Orlando. This was a great opportunity to further explore my interest in blog formats and ePortfolios, and to rethink the traditional conference poster format. Sloan-C’s challenge to us was to “go green” and conduct these sessions “electronically rather than utilizing printed poster materials tacked to display boards.”

Session Logistics

The conference’s poster session venue included high tables where participants and presenters could stand and talk in a reception-like atmosphere in the exhibit hall. The wireless Internet access worked well, and power strips were available for all presenters. The “go green” challenge also allowed for a little experimentation.

  • Blog: Since my presentation was focused on bringing awareness to the flexibility of blog formats, it made sense to create a blog to illustrate the point. I created a WordPress.com blog, Blog Your Portfolio, to display the content of the presentation via pages and widgets. I used an iPad during the presentation to walk attendees through the navigation of the site and answer their questions about blogs and ePortfolios. The blog continues to remain “live” online and I hope to add content and encourage reader comments as well. The Examples page has gotten the most attention so far, linking to five career ePortfolios built using blog platforms. (Please let me know if you have one to add to the list!)
  • Live Chat: I moderate a weekly live Twitter chat (#IOLchat) in my role as an education writer/blogger with OnlineCollege.org. We decided to try conducting the event from the poster session. This was a little chaotic for me, talking with people in person at the session while contributing to the chat participants via Twitter, but it was a success and a lot of fun to do. (You can review the conversation here.)
  • QR Codes: Sloan-C provided QR codes for all conference sessions, including the posters. This turned out to be a great way for people to stop by a table quickly, gather info from the QR code, and keep moving. The codes took the user back to the presenter’s session page on the conference’s website. Each page included an abstract, session description, and additional resources (e.g. links and PDFs) uploaded by the presenters.
  • Slideshow: Wanting to be prepared in case of limited wireless access or slow connections during the session, I created a PowerPoint file as a backup. As it turned out, the wireless access worked well and I didn’t need the slides, but I ended up uploading the file to Slideshare. This made it easy to add the presentation to my LinkedIn profile and hopefully reach a few more people with the content.

Going Green is Good

Overall, this was a great experience and an opportunity to experiment a bit with a traditional conference format. The one complaint seemed to be that there just wasn’t enough room for people to move around comfortably, but this was addressed in the morning announcements the following day as the conference organizers recognized the problem and vowed to allow for more space in 2012.

The primary benefit I see, beyond the positive environmental impact, is that the digital materials last longer. The links, files, and codes can all be shared and referenced well after the conference ends. They can also be used in advance of the event to promote sessions via social media accounts like Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

Have you presented or participated in a paperless conference session? If so, please consider sharing your feedback and suggestions here.

Join in! LinkedIn Groups for Instructional Designers

You may already have a LinkedIn profile. And perhaps you’ve joined a couple of groups. There are thousands of options right now that cover a wide range of professional and personal interests. Your employer may sponsor a group as well as your alma mater. With this post, I would like to introduce you to LinkedIn Groups focusing on instructional design.

Why join a group?

These groups are made up primarily of online discussion forums and so far I’ve found the to be helpful in multiple ways. Use LinkedIn Groups to:

  •  Stay current – With so many voices contributing to the conversation you’ll hear about new approaches, tools, and resources worth considering for your own projects. You’ll also find that a lot of others have questions similar to yours. The groups also allow for a kind of reality check.
  •  Find out about jobs – Many of the groups have an area to post job opportunities. These are particularly prevalent in the groups related to freelance work. You’ll see a range of part-time, full-time, contract, and teaching positions posted here.
  •  Increase your network – Your profile hopefully includes a solid summary of your experience and interests. You can extend the reach of  your profile by joining group discussions. Your profile will be linked to your posts encouraging others to take a look and possibly connect.
  • ???? – There is also an unknown factor to consider. By engaging in this kind of activity, you never know what new door may be opened or opportunity considered. One example – my most popular post so far, Tools for Freelance Instructional Designers, was the result of a LinkedIn discussion that was then picked up as a cross-post by Open Sesame.

There are different conversations going on in each group, some more active than others. Find the groups that are most relevant to you and your questions, and think about where you can contribute expertise as well.

Instructional Design Groups

The list below includes the instructional design groups I am currently following. You can use the LinkedIn group search page to find others related to your specialization – online, higher education, K-12, workforce training, social media…

Can’t find the conversations you are looking for? If you aren’t having the discussions you would like to be having, want to address a niche area, etc., consider starting a new discussion thread. You can also start your own group and send out invitations for others in your contact list to join. Check out LinkedIn’s Group Guide [PDF]. 

One note: I have found that the email can get a little overwhelming depending on how many groups you join, but you can alter the notification settings to better suit your needs.

I know there are more of these groups out there! Which ones do you recommend? Please add to the list.

Image credit: Coletivo Mambembe, Flickr

Managing the Flow of Information (or Not)

Information and advice about instructional design and technology is everywhere. And it’s being generated everyday, 24/7 – on websites, at conferences, in journals and magazines, in email newsletters, in social networking communities, and on blogs. Much of what I find sits in my Delicious bookmarks account – neatly tagged, but unread.

How do we manage the constant flow of information? And perhaps more importantly, how do we attend to it?

At the end of a recent keynote presentation titled Say it in Photos (which was apparently presented from bed), Alan Levine (@CogDog) was asked: how do you keep up with the stream of information? Alan’s answer was quick and to the point: you can’t. I think he even laughed a little bit when he said it. His advice was to focus on the things that “give you energy” and “empower the work you do.”

This advice is both permission to step off of the information treadmill and a challenge to identify those sources that can make a difference. There’s also a hint here that it’s personal. What energizes and empowers you may be different from what energizes and empowers me.

Read on…

What do you rely on for instructional design and technology news and information? What and/or who energizes your work?

Photo credit: stock.xchng

Build Your Instructional Design Network

One of the cool things about instructional design work is that you can find it in a lot of different places. We tend to look to education and workplace training offices first, but related work is found in universities, private organizations, government agencies, and non-profits. You can work online or in an office, and sometimes there is the opportunity to travel. Joining a community or network made up of other instructional design professionals can help reveal some of these opportunities.  This kind of group can also assist with exploration of the field and provide specific advice on work related questions. As a member of these groups you can also be the one to provide advice and answer questions based on your experiences. At its best, this networking involves sharing across the board.

Professional Organizations

There are a number of professional organizations that focus on instructional design and instructional technology in education and training. Membership usually comes with a fee (but there are a few that offer free options with limited services and/or discounts for full-time students).  Previous posts have listed some of these organizations and conferences – check out Professional Conferences – ID, IT, Distance Ed and Jobs in Instructional Design and Technology.

LinkedIn

Online communities can be good sources of networking. LinkedIn offers a Group feature. You can join groups that focus on your areas of interest. Since this is primarily a professional networking site, you’ll see job listings as well as information, resources, and advice. A few groups you might consider:

  • Instructional Systems Design Professionals – this group requires that you “be an instructional systems designer (ISD) or training specialist with at least 1 year experience; or have a degree in Instructional Design or a similar field.” Recent discussion topics include communities of practice, job leads, and conference updates.
  • Instructional Design and eLearning Professionals – focuses on online education and training. Recent discussions include a debate about the importance of instructional design certificates and degrees, storyboarding templates, and research and multimedia.
  • eLearning Guild – other associations have LinkedIn presence as well.  This group uses the space to advertise upcoming events and foster discussion and exchange of ideas. Recent discussions also include the future of the LMS and “must have” development tools.

Don’t limit yourself to groups or organizations with instructional design in the title. These are a great place to start, but then consider branching out – there are also groups focused on Project Management, Social Media… where is your niche? What do you want to learn more about? Where could you offer your expertise to others?  A recent post on Twitter suggested that the future of education will come from outside traditional education circles, suggesting the need to look beyond our own groups, conferences, etc.

[If you are already active in LinkedIn –  I’m interested in connecting with you out there! http://www.linkedin.com/in/melissavenable – use linkedin at design-doc dot com]

Twitter

A lot of education and training professionals are active on Twitter! They provide information, links to resources, and general observations about their experiences in instructional design and technology and the realities of getting the work done. Add these folks to your Twitter feed and join in the conversations. A few to get you started:

Share Your Networks

What networks are your favorites? Where are the good discussions and connections taking place? Who are your favorites on Twitter? Please consider sharing those places and people you recommend.

Image credit: ciro@tokyo, Flickr

Getting Ready for Conference Season

We are in the midst of what might be described as eLearning conference season. There are conferences happening throughout the year, but a number of them seem to be concentrated in the August to November timeframe. I am involved in four events (how did that happen?!) in the next nine weeks, so now is the time to get ready. It’s a personal goal of mine to attend two professional conferences per year. In some years the budget, location, and timing stars align and more are added to the schedule, but two is a reasonable goal with some purposeful planning.

Choose

The conference opportunities for instructional designers and technologists are many to say the very least. (Take a look at the sites provided on this previous post: Professional Conferences in ID, IT, Distance Ed… includes several conference search sites in the Updates). We can’t attend them all so we have to choose carefully.

  • Niche – Conferences range from large and broad to quite small with very specific topics.  What is your professional focus now (K-12, business and industry, higher ed)? What would you like to learn more about (virtual worlds, technology resources and decisions, course development, a specific content area)? Conferences can also be a great way to branch out and explore something new.
  • Budget – Funding is an issue for all of us these days. Look for registration options that allow you to attend part of an event, pay by-the-day, or just expo/vendor rooms. Consider what the conference fee covers in terms of receptions and meals. There are more online conferences these days – the registration fees for these seem to be significantly less and there’s no cost for travel and lodging. Many traditional conferences are also now offering virtual tracks taking place simultaneously with the face-to-face schedule. (You can present virtually, too!)
  • Location – You will find interesting events all over the country and in a lot of international locations. You can also look specifically in your area. This can be a budget or time driven decision. You might be surprised at some of the smaller events taking place at the regional level, at local campuses, and within the local business/industry sector.  Smaller events also lend themselves to an easier networking process.
  • Timing – Scheduling conference attendance around your workload can be tricky. Look for events that take place over a weekend and/or holiday. It’s not unusual to work a conference into a vacation, especially if the event is held in a resort-type location.

Prepare

Conferences can be significant investments in terms of time and resources, so get a game plan together before you go. Here are several posts with tips on preparation. Some targeting specific events, but all offer great advice no matter the conference.

Dan McCarthy – How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

  • Dan suggests taking time to see the local area if you are traveling to the event. My dissertation advisor was a fan of this, too. Otherwise it’s just hotels and airports. And they all look pretty much the same. Take advantage of the location.

Chris Brogan – 9 Ways to Rock the BlogWorld Expo

  • I particularly like the recommendation to “bring three good questions.” Make them specific and work on seeking out the answers through sessions and conversations.

Inc. –  How to Get the Most Out of a Conference

  • Among Inc.’s tips: start networking before the event begins. This is getting easier with social networking tools like Twitter.

Participate

You’ve gone to the trouble to get to the dance, so… dance! Attend the sessions, ask questions, network between sessions and at receptions. Networking is often a major reason to attend a conference, and depending on your goals, may be a more important use of your time than the sessions. Think about your goals for the event. What do you want to take-away?

  • Present – Consider submitting a proposal to be on the schedule. This process usually takes place well in advance, but can provide you with additional experience, exposure, etc. And it doesn’t have to be just you up there. Think about projects you are working on with others and collaborate on a session. Presenters often get a reduced registration rate as well.
  • Volunteer – Look for opportunities to help with registration, introduce sessions, moderate panels. Students often get a discount for this kind of thing. It’s also a good way to meet people, especially the conference organizers.
  • Share – Tweet from the sessions! Share links, insights, your observations. Others in your circle will be interested, too. Blog about what you learned and keep the conversations going. Share your notes with colleagues. Take a look at this post from Michael Gray on how to use Evernote to document your conference experience.

Never been to a conference?

As with most things, it’s about taking the first step – create a short list of events you would like to attend in the next year. Then check out the websites, review last year’s program, look for proposal and registration deadlines, and put your plan together to attend. Get it on your calendar.

Experienced conference attendee?

Please share your tips here! What are your favorite ways to choose, prepare, and participate?

Photo credit: Leo Reynolds, Flickr