April BITS: A frank discussion
Why can they print?? A conversation about the online testing.
Join Corrie Bergeron from Lakeland Community College and Kevin Lowey from the University of Saskatchewan as they discuss the complications of assessing students in an online environment and provide strategies which can help address your concerns and give you creative solutions to the authentic assessment problem.
When: Thursday, April 21 2:00 pm Eastern
By David Backer
Are online discussions really discussions? I’ve been wondering this since I started teaching online. Many of my students, friends, and colleagues get a sour look on their face when it comes to discussion online, whether it be synchronous or asynchronous. They express, sometimes implicitly and others explicitly, a common sentiment that online discussion is not as good as the real thing, implying that — like the initial question asks — online discussion is not really discussion. Hybrid Pedagogy authors and participants have also taken up this question. Stommel and Harris claim that “wonders” can occur during online discussion, and online teachers can provide “fertile ground for brilliant and lively conversation.” They observe however that most online discussions “go to seed,” and consist of “monotone interjections by its participants.” A recent #digped chat opened these issues up to the wider Hybrid Pedagogy community as well. In many of the ideas articulated in these posts and chats, there is a presumption that online discussions are meaningfully similar to discussions which happen in brick-and-mortar classrooms. Is that presumption accurate? What is online discussion, and is it a lesser version of “the real thing”?
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For those who teach online or are interested in online instruction for the future, the TLETC pays for an online subscription to Online Classroom: Ideas for Effective Online Instruction.
The newest issue of Online Classroom has articles on the following topics:
Synchronous Activities for an Online Class
Synchronous meetings can be a valuable addition to otherwise asynchronous online courses. They build community and combat a student’s sense of isolation. There are a number of ways to use synchronous sessions to add value to a course.
Student Performance with Learning Logs
It is easy to forget that learning is not a simple transfer of information from the head of the teacher to the head of the student. Students build knowledge in their own heads through a combination of external cues and reflection.
Using Instagram in the Online Classroom
In today’s selfie world, photo and video sites such as Instagram have become one of the most popular ways for young people to communicate. This makes Instagram an ideal platform for increasing student understanding and engagement in online courses by having students share what they know with one another.
Create Student Engagement with your Videos
The traditional online course structure violates a fundamental principle of learning by separating the process of getting information from the process of engaging it. The student is asked to go through some sort of resource in its entirety—be it a video, website, or reading—and then reflect on it later with an essay or discussion post.
Tips from the Pros: Using Air Sketch in Hybrid and Online Courses
The flipped classroom reverses the traditional teaching formula by putting the “lecture” online and using class time for engagement with the material. But many faculty trip up when trying to find activities for the face-to-face component of the class, and often end up reverting to lecturing.
The Online Learning Year in Review
The online learning field is constantly changing, with new ideas appearing all the time. Here we look at the major trends in online education over the past year.
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Attend an Upcoming Webinar
"Instructor Training for Respondus 4.0: Create & Manage Exam Content"
Learn how to save time by creating and managing your online exams with Respondus 4, including importing test questions from Word files, using official publisher test banks, and more. The session is 45 minutes, plus a Q&A period at the end.
Thursday, August 13th at 1 pm ET (10 am PT)
For many online students, the flexibility of an online degree or certification program outweighs the possibility of a less immersive student experience.
But without having to physically walk into a classroom, an adviser’s office or a study session, experts say students who are struggling to keep up or stay interested in course work are sometimes more difficult to recognize and easier to ignore.
As a result, some programs are using innovative methods to foster an online educational experience that is more supportive, engaging, and responsive to student demands.
Among those tactics are the use of big, integrated data and analytics to help identify and support struggling students, the creation of research bodies devoted to studying online learning methods, and the development of collaborative relationships with virtual student clubs and associations.
Read it Here
Richard Hoffman is the senior member of the history faculty, and for as long as anyone can remember, he has taught a course on the wars in Korea and Vietnam. Since its inception, the course used a traditional lecture format with a midterm and a final, but Hoffman has decided to redesign it as a blended course. Not knowing how to begin, he turns to Abigail Carson, head of the instructional design group. She begins by giving Hoffman a guide she developed that includes readings about pedagogical theories. They discuss the principles at work and how they apply to Hoffman’s course.
Carson asks Hoffman to identify the intended learning outcomes, and she shows him how to work backwards from those goals to learning activities that effectively support them. For example, one of the outcomes is an understanding of the differences in the social climate between the two wars. Carson helps Hoffman design activities that investigate media coverage of the wars, including news stories, music, TV, and poetry. To demonstrate their understanding, students will create multimedia resources—with considerable latitude in what they can include—that feature examples of social responses to current or historical events. Such a structure opens the door to using online resources and technology devices to collect material and craft it into a video, a song, an interactive graphic, or some other artifact. It also requires Hoffman to rethink how he assesses student learning. Carson suggests collaboration with the statistics and theater departments to highlight both the quantifiable nature of social response and various forms of that expression.
Carson and Hoffman discuss the implications of moving certain class sessions and activities into online venues. Carson describes what a student-centered design looks like and recommends open educational resources that are easy to reuse and often more current than printed texts. She shows Hoffman how the course design can accommodate a wider range of student skills and interests while meeting the learning goals. And she assures him that after the course is implemented, she will continue to provide support and help make adjustments along the way.
Read it Here
Students more likely to fail online classes, but finish their degrees if they take them.
Column by Jill Barshay
May 11, 2015
Two weeks ago I wrote about the overwhelming research evidence that community college students aren’t doing as well in online classes as they are in face-to-face traditional classes. Students are failing in higher numbers and getting lower grades. That remains true, but it isn’t the whole story.
Peter Shea, who is the associate provost of online learning at the University of Albany SUNY, contacted me to share his research findings. Community college students who take online courses are more likely — 25 percent more likely to be exact — to complete their two-year associate’s degree or some sort of certificate than students who didn’t take any online classes. Not only are online course takers more likely to graduate, they’re more likely to graduate sooner than students who don’t take any online classes, Shea also found. He presented this research in a working paper at the American Education Research Association conference in Chicago in April 2015.
May 4, 2015 - 9:00pm
By Joshua Kim
I have this theory that if you are effective on social media then you stand a good chance of being effective in online teaching. How do these two activities go together?
Two words: presence and community.
The people who seem to get the most out of social media are those who dedicate themselves to being present on their platform of choice. Presence does not necessarily mean contribution. You can be present in the IHE community if you show up daily to read the articles and opinion pieces. You can also be present if you regularly provide your opinions in a comment, even if your commenting is on every 1-in-50 articles. The power of IHE is that we are a community that is informed by both a common set of interests, and a common pool of content. We are all reading, thinking about, and commenting on the same articles and opinion pieces.
On Twitter, being present means actively (on a daily basis), committing to interact with the platform. This may mean writing your own tweets, using Twitter to link to other things that you’ve read or seen on the Web, or simply using Twitter to filter what you consume. Presence on Twitter means that the people who follow you will reliably learn things from you. You build a community around the people you follow. We should always be suspicious of anyone who follows too many Twitter feeds, as above a certain number (maybe 500 follows at most), Twitter moves from a community to a promotional platform.
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April 27, 2015 - 8:48pm
Textbooks evoke a great deal of ambivalence among instructors. Their expense and back-breaking heft are two sources of concern. More troubling is their tone – too often bland and tedious; their use of language – generally dreary and uninspired; and their content – frequently generic and excessively detailed. These are not books to be read for pleasure. They do not provoke, delight, or inspire.
One unsettling fact about textbooks is that they often structure the course that they are supposed to supplement. Instructors often feel compelled to follow the textbook’s organization. At the same time, textbooks force students to learn along a single, prescribed pathway.
And yet, textbooks serve a function. They reinforce lessons taught in class. They provide practice questions. Students rely on textbooks for reference as they study for exams.
What, then, is the alternative? What might the textbook of the future be like?
One possibility is a digitized version of existing textbooks, supplemented with a wide array of ancillaries – videos, glossaries, quizzes, and links to web resources. These e-textbooks feature highlighting and note-taking tools.
Another possibility is the customized textbook in which instructors draw content from a publisher’s asset vault. A growing number of publishers are unbundling their preexisting textbooks to create self-contained modules.
But there is another possibility, offering far greater potential for enhancing outside the classroom learning: A next generation digital learning experience. It is a learning ecosystem rather than an e-book plus supplements. It will offer:
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The TLETC Blog is a great way to find out what is going on with regard to teaching, pedagogy, and educational technology.