Creating Community in an Online Classroom: Part 1 – Getting to Know You

Judith_McDaniel2_80By Judith McDaniel with Tim Fraser-Bumatay, Daniel Herrera, and Ryan Kelly1

Is it possible to get a “real education” from an online class? Several years ago a professor from the University of Virginia published an opinion piece about online education in the New York Times and insisted that it was impossible. “You can get knowledge,” he continued, “from an Internet course if you’re highly motivated to learn. But in real courses the students and teachers come together and create an immediate and vital community of learning.”2

I teach literature in a fully online Master’s program. My students enroll from all over the United States and from overseas. Our asynchronous discussion forums give students an opportunity to interact, to be thoughtful in their responses to my discussion prompts and to one another. I find the online classroom to be stimulating, diverse, and creative. It is different from a face-to-face class experience, but it can be different in ways that enhance student learning through the creation of an online community.

Herrera Kelly Bumatay

Daniel Herrera, Ryan Kelly, and Tim Fraser-Bumatay

I am joined in writing this article by three of the students who have just completed their Masters degree in Literature and Writing in this online program. We have created an article that has two parts. In the first we talk about building community and how that happens, how students from very different backgrounds begin to interact, enjoy one another, challenge one another. In the second part of the article, we recreate some of the conversations we had about difficult subjects and difficult texts. We talked about race extensively when we read Othello and Heart of DarknessContinue reading

CFE 2015 Faculty Showcase at UNC: ‘Teaching Less in More Depth’

By Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education

Last week, I had the pleasure of attending the 5th annual Center for Faculty Excellence (CFE) Faculty Showcase at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. This event is indispensible for those who want to gain a concise overview of emerging trends, proven approaches, best practices and innovative experiments in Carolina. CFE organizes the gathering to offer faculty an opportunity to learn more about specific instructional techniques or technology from their peers. For many attendees, showcase talks are the spark that ignites interest in considering changes for courses they teach. It also serves as a reminder for faculty to make use of the many instructional design and pedagogical consulting services the campus has to offer.

The day provided a chance to hear firsthand about the capabilities of the University’s Makerspaces, how teachers use Google Earth’s Liquid Galaxy display and Lightboard, which is currently being built on campus. What makes the showcase an exceptional learning opportunity for instructional designers is the mix of cutting edge technological innovation and low- or no-tech tips and tricks – be it gender neutral language, better writing assignments, role-play or reflective teaching practices and course evaluation. The showcase event closed with a presentation format I particularly enjoyed: Five-minute-long introductions to a variety of topics and projects with the explicit invitation, “Steal my idea!”

mary-huber 2The keynote speaker, Mary Taylor Huber, consultant at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, characterized the CFE event as the “greatest illustration possible” for the theme of her talk, “Building an Academic Commons Through SoTL.” Huber stated that the relationship between teaching and the institutional environment has changed noticeably over the past decade. Teaching is increasingly recognized as a valued academic activity in both general public debates and in the scientific communities. “Teaching is on a fast train,” explained Huber, and pointed out several catalysts for change: diversity, technology, new pedagogies (i.e., undergraduate research, service learning), authentic participation and educational research. Throughout the day, many examples of exceptional teaching brought these concepts to life.  Continue reading

New Instructional Design Association in Higher Ed: An Interview with Camille Funk

By Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education

The newly founded Higher Education eDesign Association (HEeD) targets higher education instructional designers, multimedia teams and administrators. The group’s vision is to foster networking and collaboration, offer professional development opportunities, support research, and create publication opportunities. On April 7-8, 2016, the first annual HEeD conference will be hosted by George Washington University in Washington.

I spoke to Camille Funk, founder and president of HEeD, about the niche that the organization is trying to fill, the idea behind it and its current initiatives.

Camille Funk, founder and president of Higher Education eDesign Association (HEeD)

Camille Funk, founder and president of Higher Education eDesign Association (HEeD)

Camille, you are director of eDesign Shop at George Washington University. Please describe your current work environment as an instructional designer.

We are a newly organized course production shop. The team consists of four instructional designers, a video producer, videographer, animator, and a team of five student employees. Currently, our shop has two production cycles (six months each) and produces an average of 30 courses a year.

What was your personal journey to the instructional design profession?

I came into the field, as many do, by happenstance. I received a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education and master’s in International Educational Development. My intent was to pursue educational administration with a global reach. I chose to teach elementary school for a few years in preparation for an administrative role. I then took a position with Brigham Young University, Independent Study, as an administrator. In this role, I was introduced to instructional design. BYU Independent Study had a team of about ten instructional designers and a large multimedia shop to facilitate high-level course design.  Continue reading

Trigger Warnings, English Grammar and Style, Ed Tech and K-12 Teachers

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

warns us that “Students no longer receive their education directly from a person standing in the front of a lectern and the learning experience may now take place virtually or across augmented realities…. Faculty should take proactive steps to address potentially triggering material that they set students to watch or read online, prior to a meltdown occurring.”1 She provides insights into how to integrate trigger warnings into assignments and lectures, e.g., via eblasts and in-line messages.

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If you’re a teacher concerned about your students’ writing or a student searching for a way to upgrade your basic writing skills, here’s a MOOC that might address your needs. English Grammar and Style is an “eight-week course… starting on July 26 [on] how to apply grammar and syntax to ‘produce coherent, economical, and compelling writing.'”2 It’s being offered by the University of Queensland via edX. Last year, it attracted 50,000 students. Thus far, it has attracted 10,000. MOOCs are free, and students can take them in conjunction with their regular classes. They can log in at a time and from a place that’s convenient for them.



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, reporting from ISTE 2015, shared results from a study “released… by the Education Technology Industry Network of the Software & Information Industry Association.” Molnar says, “In general, the study found that the most critical unmet needs for K-12 educators are: Continuous access to adequate bandwidth[;] Access to the level of technology resources common to other professionals[;] Training in technology that is available to other professionals.”3 The dirty little secret in K-12 schooling is that precious little of our education technology dollars trickle down to teachers, who are asked to do more with less every year as the gap between technology and the profession widens. The question everyone ought to be asking is, Where are the tech dollars going?

__________
1As Learning Moves Online, Trigger Warnings Must Too,” The Conversation, 3 July 2015.
2Tim Dodd, “MOOC Watch: Users Flock to Online Grammar Course from the University of Queensland,” AFR, 3 July 2015.
3Educators Report on Uses, Wish List for Student Data in K-12,” Education Week, 1 July 2015.

Cyberlearning Summit 2014: A Quick Recap

VicSutton80By Vic Sutton

[Note: See Bonnie Bracey Sutton’s report. -Editor]

There is reportedly a wealth of research being conducted unto cyberlearning, but there are no clear views about how to translate research results into action in the community context, in particular for schools or informal education.

This emerged from the recent Cyberlearning Summit held in Madison, Wisconsin, on 9-10 June 2014, which brought together some 200 participants — mostly academics, plus some educators, industry representatives and grant makers — to highlight “advances in the design of technology-mediated learning environments, how people learn with technology, and how to use cyberlearning technologies to effectively shed light on learning.”

Bonnie's photos

There was no discussion about quite what cyberlearning is, but it appears to be a fancy name for on-line learning.

The meeting was organized by the Center for Innovative Research in Cyberlearning (CIRCL), funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), and featured a number of eminently qualified speakers.

Yasmin Kafai, from the University of Pennsylvania, reminded participants of the remark by the late Steve Jobs that “everybody in this country should learn to program a computer, because it teaches you how to think.”  Continue reading

An Interview with Tom Preskett: The Evolving Role of a Learning Technologist

Jim ShimabukuroBy Jim Shimabukuro
Editor

Updated 11/6/13, 5:40am HST.

Introduction: Tom Preskett was a staff writer with ETCJ from 2008-2011, and we make it a point to touch bases with him from time to time. For example, in 2012, he wrote A Londoner’s View of the 2012 Olympics: Live Feed of All Sports at Any Time!. He brings a reflective insider’s view of what it means to be a learning technologist in the most exciting period in the history of the field. The following interview, conducted via email over the last few days, is prompted by his recent move from the London Centre for Leadership in Learning, Institute of Education, to Nord Anglia Education, Oxford.

JS: Tell us about Nord Anglia Education.

TP: Nord Anglia Education is a premium schools organisation. We own 27 schools located in South East Asia, China, Europe, North America and the Middle East. Most of our schools follow a curriculum based on the National Curriculum of England, adapted country by country to meet local culture and conditions.

Tom Preskett

Tom Preskett, Learning Technologist, Nord Anglia Education.

To support these schools are two online environments. One aimed at the students, the Global Classroom, and one aimed at the teachers, Nord Anglia University. Both are moodle environments although they don’t act like traditional virtual learning environments. Our online environments tie together as each school has a moodle, and authentication carries across the Global Classroom and Nord Anglia University. The ethos is one of High Performance Learning as created by our educational director, Professor Deborah Eyre. You can read all about this in her paper “Room at the Top.”

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A Conversation with Curtis Ho: AACE E-Learn SIG on Designing, Developing and Assessing E-Learning

By Stefanie Panke
Editor, Social Software in Education

Dr. Curtis P. Ho is professor and former chair of the Educational Technology department at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa. His research interests comprise collaborative learning through distance education, instructional design strategies for teaching online, instructional technology standards in teacher education and the integration of technology into the curriculum. Dr. Ho serves on the executive committee for the AACE E-Learn conference (forthcoming in October 2013), where we co-chair a new Special Interest Group on Designing, Developing and Assessing E-Learning. Since we have never met in person (yet), I asked Curtis to comment on six statements related to assessment.

Curtis P. Ho

Curtis P. Ho

Statement 1: Authentic assessment is the “silver bullet” for deep, transfer-oriented learning – if only we knew how to do it right.

Curtis: Yes, I like the term “transfer-oriented learning” to define how we need to shape assessment. This is the gold standard for learning outcomes. After all, this is Robert Gagne’s 9th event of his Nine Events of Instruction. The challenge will be to create and implement authentic learning in an online course. How authentic can learning be if we are confining it to a 15-week semester at a distance?

Stefanie: I find David Jonassen’s work on problem solving (i.e., Jonassen 2011) a great starting point to think about the instructional design of assessment.

I am particularly interested in the design of assessment that fosters mastery orientation and offers gratification to performance-oriented learners. How can we make students want to improve and push themselves, and give them opportunities to shine and prove what they can do?

Statement 2: Assessment in online learning needs to move beyond multiple-choice quizzes in PowerPoint modules.

Curtis: I would generally agree. The ideal is to have authentic assessment at all times. However, multiple-choice quizzes may be useful in reinforcing short-term learning, and I see using this for self-check or practice. It may be used to scaffold lower level learning.

Continue reading