Tag Archives: Higher Education

Getting started with eduMOOC 2011: Into the fray

I’m participating in the new eduMOOC: Online Learning Today…and Tomorrow,  which started on Monday. This is a Massive Open Online Class (MOOC) sponsored by the Center for Online Learning, Research and Service at the University of Illinois-Springfield (UIS). So far, well… I’m learning, listening, and looking for resources.

There’s a lot to do and read. There are study groups, discussion forums, weekly panel discussions, participant blog posts, Facebook and Moodle groups, and a host of other items to review. It seems with a group this big (2450+ people in 65 countries and counting) you can be a little selective – attend to the parts that make sense for you, seek out the resources that meet your needs and fit your interests.

The other MOOC members represent a wide range of roles in higher education and K-12 – senior leaders, administrators, faculty members, graduate students, tech specialists, advisors and counselors, and librarians. I am going at this from the perspective of an instructional designer and education writer/blogger – How is the MOOC structured and moderated? What technologies are involved? How are the logistics coordinated? What are the most popular topics? Where are people gathering and what are they discussing?

To help focus my efforts, I’m following another participant’s lead and going in search of (my own) learning objectives. Yes, these are loose and more designed to keep me going back to the site than anything else. I suppose a better phrase might be “learning and participation objectives:”

  • Attend the 8 panel discussions. (or review the recordings before the end of each week). These are panel discussions held in Elluminate, but broadcast on a UIS system that also streams the Twitter feed. Slides are provided as a PDF.
  • Try new technologies, tools, and techniques. So far I’ve posted my introduction using Google Sites discussion threads, and added my location to the Google participant map, both new to me. There is also a demo of etherpad going on.
  • Join a study group. With this many people it may make sense to find a sub-group. Hopefully one will center on instructional design…
  • Identify new resources in the form of blogs, twitter accounts, journals, and more. And add these to my PLN and Feedly.
  • Develop a list of specific ideas and concepts for further investigation, reading, and writing.
  • Exchange ideas and perspectives. So far I’ve already connected with another participant in New Zealand (Hello, @VirtualMV!) who has a cool wiki.
  • Add my voice to the mix, where I can and it makes sense to do so – hope to contribute and not just add to the fray. Began with a tweet during today’s panel discussion. Lots of description of the benefits and challenges of for-profit models, but it wasn’t apparent that anyone on the panel had worked at a for-profit. Assumptions, I think, are prevalent on both sides, for-profit and non-profit.
  • Spread the word with re-tweets, blog posts, bookmarks and the like.

Have you considered joining? There’s still time! There are also resources you might want to track, even if you decide not to register:

And in case you are wondering, “What’s a MOOC?” here’s a great explanation from Laura Pasquini.

Image credit: stock.xchng

Instructional Designer Profile – Oma Singh

The field of Instructional Design (ID) is still relatively new and professionals enter this work in a variety of ways. The possible projects, work settings, methods, job titles and descriptions are many. The goal of this planned series of posts is to introduce you to practicing instructional designers so that you can learn more about their perspectives and work.

Meet Oma Singh!

Oma is currently the Assistant Director for Assessment for a faculty support center at a large public university. Oma received her Ph.D. in Instructional Technology with a cognate in Adult Education from the University of South Florida. She has extensive experience and education in the field of Management Information Systems, and has held positions as a computer programmer, instructional designer, and instructor to name a few. Oma believes in putting theory into practice and is committed to lifelong learning and helping others learn through innovative use of technology.

Q:  How did you enter the field of instructional design/technology?

A:  I wanted to move from a business perspective of technology use to an educational perspective of technology use. I have found that an educational perspective is personally more rewarding for me.

Q:  What is the most rewarding part of your work?

A:  Actually seeing the course you developed up and running smoothly online. It felt good.

Q:  What is the most challenging part of your work?

A:  Getting the Subject Matter Experts (SME) to provide accurate content on time. Guiding the SMEs to avoid plagiarism and to keep their content authentic, to the point, and original, while avoiding fluff and fillers. This is especially true for online learning.

Q:  What do you wish you knew more about?

A:  I would like to learn more about different content development tools.

Q:  Are you currently involved in professional development activities?

A:  I attend and present at various conferences and teach myself tools that IDs are using currently. I subscribe to instructional design related blogs and journals.

Q:  What advice do you have for someone entering the instructional design field?

A:  Develop a set of skills that are considered valuable in the instructional design field – going beyond PowerPoint! Subscribe to ID blogs. Download free trials and create your own online course or a mini-course. Create an ePortfolio, putting your examples online, and make it professional for job hunting. Volunteer to develop courses or online interactions for school, home, church, community – anything that will get you some experience. If you are in school, get a part-time ID job!

Q:  If you had to name/predict the most important trends for the future, what would they be?

A:  More learning interventions that are similar to apps developed for the iPad. More 3D type simulations. Interactive eBooks.

Oma’s responses provide us with a quick look at the work of an instructional designer in higher education administration supporting faculty with the development of online educational experiences. Did any of her responses surprise you? What else would you like to know?

Photo credit: Stock.Xchng

A New Kind of Scholarship?

Professors, administrators, researchers, and graduate students are increasingly using social media to:

  • communicate with their students,
  • collaborate with peers, and
  • publish their work.

Blogging in particular seems like an effective delivery format. Some academics are using blogs as a way to establish expertise and authority outside of an association with a specific institution. Others are requiring students to establish their own blogs and craft posts as course assignments, adding comments to classmates’ posts to increase interaction with each other and with course content.

Blogs and Publishing

Through blogging a new kind of scholarship is emerging allowing academics to report on their research, recommend possible courses of action, and ask questions that spark discussion.

The time required to publish in the traditional ways, e.g. textbooks and peer reviewed academic journals, can be lengthy. This presents a problem, especially in fields that involve technology, education, and communication. Research study conclusions and recommendations can be obsolete before they are published in print. Blogging provides a venue to make this information available to the public in less time.

What concerns should academic bloggers have about using this kind of venue to foster the exchange of information? Copyright? Acceptance? A system of peer review to ensure rigor?

Academic Bloggers and Social Media Experts

Academic blogging is not for everyone; at least not yet. Those who are out there challenging the academic status quo in open forums may be those who already have tenure or those not on the tenure track.  And while many institutions may be encouraging the use of social media in coursework, they may not necessarily encourage the production of social media by those among their academic ranks.

How can social media experts and academics work together? Do you see a benefit in collaboration here? I gave a presentation on blogging at a recent educational technology conference and one of the attendees commented that it all “sounds like marketing”. Could a strategic, marketing-type approach be appropriate for these authors and their audiences?

Read on…

If you decide to cite a blog post in your next academic paper…

The latest (6th ed) APA Publication Manual includes instructions for citing blog posts, posted comments, and video blog posts. APA also maintains a blog called “APA Style”.

Photo Credit: timtom.ch, Flickr

Generation Next: Pew Report on Millennials

How Generation GapMillennial are You? This week the Pew Research Center released a report titled Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next – Confident. Connected. Open to Change. This group conducted a phone survey of 2,020 adults across the U.S. and then compared their responses to questions covering everything from age to tattoos. The respondents were grouped into four generations.

  • Millennials – born after 1980
  • Generation X – born 1965 through 1980
  • Baby Boomers – born 1946 through 1964
  • Silent Generation – born 1928 though 1945

In the context of education Millennials are in high school and college and are young professionals, while Gen Xers are teachers and faculty members at schools and universities. Millenials are also supervised on their jobs by Gen Xers. Millennials are on their way to becoming the most educated generation, but are also perhaps the most affected by the current economic recession in terms of employment.

My focus in graduate school was on millennial college students (their preferences and experiences with technology and career services) so I was interested in reading more. A lot of interesting comparisons are made and some not so surprising. Millennial students are more likely to be involved with social networking sites online, more likely to have piercings, and perhaps less likely to vote Republican.

Participants who thought that their generation was unique in some way were asked to be more specific.  The top five responses for Millennials were: 1) technology use, 2) pop culture, 3) liberal values, 4) smarter/more educated, and 5) clothing/manner of dress. Compare that to GenX where the top five responses were 1) technology, 2) work ethic, 3) conservative values, 4) smarter/more educated, and 5) respectfulness. Some similarities and differences there.

How much do you have in common with the Millennial Generation? The Pew Research Center also posted an online quiz “How Millennial are You” that allows you to compare yourself (characteristics, preferences, etc.) I scored a 65/100.

For more information…

Follow @Pew_Internet, @PewResearch,  #millennials

Additional reading:

photo credit: Joi, Flickr

Marketability of Graduates

I attended the Sloan-C Conference on Online Learning last week and three themes surfaced as I attended sessions and talked with other participants:

ImReady-greenforall.orgPart 3: Marketability of Graduates

Maybe it’s the career counselor in me that tuned in to this theme. In a session on Corporate Partnerships, Phil Ice of APUS posed the question: What is the college experience today? He pointed out that his experience and expectations were different than what you would find today enrolling as a Freshman/First-Year student. I instantly remembered the groan I heard over the phone as I told my parents I had finally declared a major (on the last possible day in my sophomore year at a private liberal arts college). It was Psychology. I think one of them actually said “oh no”. What was I going to do with that? I wasn’t at all sure.

Conversations and presentations addressed the preparation of graduates for the eventual job search.

  • Program and degree advisory panels that include local employers. Why shouldn’t they weigh in on coursework and internship requirements? They are the ones that will eventually receive the resumes from these students and apparently they aren’t as willing to train new employees as they used to be. University as vocational-technical? No, there’s more to it than that, but there is also a practical application side to what students need from the college experience of the early 21st century.
  • Online identities created using web 2.0 and social networking tools. And then marketing oneself professionally by documenting education, experience, and providing examples of work.
  • Vendor/Exhibitor products addressed “helping students reach their career goals”, e-portfolio systems to enhance “career advancement”, and skills and cultural training options offering “virtual business trip” scenarios.

How does online education play into all of this? Are online students different than on-campus students? The market for online students seems to be the working adult who needs to continue education in order to prepare for a career change or advancement while still on-the-job. At least, this is what you see in the commercials. Could the market be changing to include new high school graduates as well? Employability and job stability may be concerns, and motives for enrolling in online education, across the board.

photo credit: greenforall.org, Flickr

Speed and Agility in Higher Education

I attended the Sloan-C Conference on Online Learning last week and three themes surfaced as I attended sessions and talked with other participants:

NeedForSpeed-AmnemonaPart 2: Speed

The opening session with Frank Mayadas started this theme in motion. He stated that those of us involved in the development and delivery of online learning are moving at a frenetic pace and achieving success. That is in spite of the fact that words like “speed and agility are rarely used to describe higher education.”

How fast can we go? How fast should we go?

The concurrent sessions covered issues related to technology and how it allows us to manipulate data at a faster pace that we would ever be able to do on our own. These technologies have the potential to impact how learning takes place and how networked learning changes the way we design and deliver formal courses.  It occurred to me that while technology can make our work easier, it also adds to our to-do lists.

The closing session with Stephen Laster included this statement: “What I did yesterday isn’t good enough for tomorrow.” The speed at which we must move to keep up with the need seems a little daunting. Keeping up with not only what is new, but what is also useful will be a constant challenge as we move forward in the fields of instructional design and instructional technology.

How do we balance careful decision-making and development of effective online courses as our budgets, bottom lines, and student demands push us forward?

photo credit: Amnemona, Flickr

Unapologetic Openness and Transparency

I attended the Sloan-C Conference on Online Learning last week and three themes surfaced as I attended sessions and talked with other participants: Unapologetic Openness and Transparency, Speed, and Marketability of Graduates.

Bubbles-by_Jeff-Kubina

Part 1: Unapologetic openness and transparency

There is a tendency, maybe even a tradition, in higher education to keep things to yourself. It’s a highly competitive atmosphere both among and within institutions. While many of my posts address “openness” in terms of software and content, in this post I am referring to something a little different.

Online education and entrepreneurship

Institutions should not feel that there is a conflict in offering online programs. It was pointed out several times that these programs are a business in and of themselves and a potential source of income, especially in the current economy. However you want to define your market, look at the research, and craft your programs and courses carefully to deliver the learning opportunities and outcomes potential students are looking for. If you are going to do it, do it well and you’ll be that much more competitive and thus sought out by students.

Working with corporate partners

Few schools have the in-house infrastructure and human resources to fully back a cutting edge online offering. Past conferences I have attended, even some of my own presentations, have downplayed the use of a specific product (such as an LMS or virtual classroom). But wouldn’t this be helpful information for others? A corporate partner may have the ability to take your program to the next level, resulting in student retention and recruiting success.

Faculty use of the Internet

There is an opportunity to say what you want to say and disseminate your work in addition to academic journals. I’ve written before about the need, particularly in the field of instructional technology, to get the word out about successes and failures in less time than it takes to go to print in a journal or book. Self-publishing is an opportunity to do this (and blogging is an example). This is not yet an accepted, scholarly practice, doesn’t count toward tenure, etc., but could provide an outlet for faculty and a source for learners.

For Profit/Not For Profit/Public/Private

At the level of the instructor, instructional designer, etc. aren’t we all doing something similar? That is, preparing online programs and courses that are high quality, focused on learning objectives and student needs. There is something to be learned from the ways in which different types of institutions approach the common problems. From a business standpoint, there are areas that are certainly proprietary, but a sharing of experiences has the potential to make us all better at what we do.

All of these approaches to sharing have academic integrity at their core. That’s what has to drive the initiative and what in the end will likely contribute most to a program’s success and longevity. What is your experience with openness and transparency in higher education?

photo credit: Jeff Kubina, Flickr