Penn students use digital platform Gather to imitate in-person office hours — from by Isaac Lee; with thanks to Professor Sue Ellen Christian for this resource

Excerpt:

As students yearn for in-person interaction and the familiarity of their school buildings, platforms like Gather are filling the void — virtually.

Gather, also known as Gather.town, simulates buildings and classrooms on campus where students, professors, and teaching assistants can interact with one another through personal avatars during office hours. Its main feature, “Interaction Distance,” launches a video call between users whose avatars are within five steps from each other in the virtual space. As the users’ avatars walk away from each other, their video and audio quality decrease, simulating an in-person interaction.

Also see:

Image shows how people can gather around at the office, in a conference room, at a university, other -- https://gather.town/

From DSC:
Now picture this in VR.

 

 

Improving Digital Inclusion & Accessibility for Those With Learning Disabilities — from by Meredith Kreisa
Learning disabilities must be taken into account during the digital design process to ensure digital inclusion and accessibility for the community. This comprehensive guide outlines common learning disabilities, associated difficulties, accessibility barriers and best practices, and more.

“Learning shouldn’t be something only those without disabilities get to do,” explains Seren Davies, a full stack software engineer and accessibility advocate who is dyslexic. “It should be for everyone. By thinking about digital accessibility, we are making sure that everyone who wants to learn can.”

“Learning disability” is a broad term used to describe several specific diagnoses. Dyslexia, dyscalculia, dysgraphia, nonverbal learning disorder, and oral/written language disorder and specific reading comprehension deficit are among the most prevalent.

 
An image of a barrier being torn down -- revealing a human mind behind it. This signifies the need to tear down any existing barriers that might hinder someone's learning experience.

 

What If Students Didn’t Have to Leave Community Colleges to Earn Bachelor’s Degrees?
— from edsurge.com by Rebecca Koenig

Excerpt:

“The question I got most was, ‘When will Indian River offer baccalaureate-level programs?’” Massey says.

It’s a query fielded by community college leaders across the country. And over the past three decades, they’ve answered the call for increased access to bachelor’s-degree pathways by creating them on their own campuses. In fact, some community colleges in Florida have been offering bachelor’s programs for 20 years, and now nearly two dozen states permit so-called two-year colleges to offer four-year degrees.

And the pace of adoption is speeding up, with half a dozen states signing on since 2018, according to the Community College Baccalaureate Association.

 

Flipped Learning Can Be a Key to Transforming Teaching and Learning Post-Pandemic — from edsurge.com by Robert Talbert

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

What is flipped learning? A common and oversimplified answer is that it is an approach that asks students to watch lecture videos at home before class so that class time can be used for more interactive activities.

But the best way to describe it is to contrast it with traditional teaching frameworks. In the traditional framework, students get first contact with new concepts in class (the “group space” as I call it in my book on flipped learning) and then higher-level interactions are all on the student side through homework and so on (in the “individual space”). Flipped learning puts first contact with new ideas before group space activities, then uses the group space for active learning on mid- and upper-level tasks.

It’s worthwhile to compare flipped and traditional frameworks by contrasting the assumptions that each framework makes…

We can no longer assume that a pure lecture pedagogy is an acceptable teaching model or that banning technology is an acceptable practice.

 

21 Ways to Structure an Online Discussion, Part 1 — from facultyfocus.com by Annie Prud’homme-Généreux
*This is a five-part series. Each Monday, we will be publishing the next consecutive part of the article series.  

Excerpt:

I searched for ways to structure online discussions, and my findings are described in this series of five articles. This first article explores ways to structure a discussion to encourage learners to apply the concepts they have learned. Articles two and three describe discussion structures that help learners explore concepts in greater depth. Article four looks at ways to use discussions for reflection, evaluation, and critique of concepts. The final article investigates ways to foster a greater sense of community by using multimedia and proposes resources for developing new discussion structures.

Below are five ideas where learners search for, recognize, and share concrete examples of a concept, or where they create examples to illustrate a concept. I am sure there are more ways to do it, and I welcome your additions in the comments below.

21 Ways to Structure an Online Discussion, Part Two — from facultyfocus.com by Annie Prud’homme-Généreux

Excerpt:

In this and the next article, I will describe ideas for structuring an online discussion when the goal is for learners to further explore a concept studied in class. I subdivided the ideas into two categories: Some are useful when the goal is for learners to engage in divergent thinking, in other words, when they are generating ideas and expanding the range of solutions or brainstorming (this article).

21 Ways to Structure an Online Discussion, Part Three — from facultyfocus.com by Annie Prud’homme-Généreux

Excerpt:

In this third article, we will explore structures to help learners explore concepts when the goal is convergent thinking, so each learner gains a deeper, richer understanding of a concept and aligns with a common understanding.

In this article, the ideas for structuring an online discussion when the goal is for learners to explore a concept through convergent thinking are:

 

Supporting Students Where They Are: Bentley’s CIS Sandbox — from campustechnology.com by Mary Grush and Mark Frydenberg

Excerpt:

Frydenberg: …So, we started offering tutoring services in four ways: drop-in hours online; drop-in hours in person (following safety guidelines); online review sessions with a tutor assigned to each class; and tutoring on demand by appointment, which I like to call “Uber” tutoring.

Grush: Tutoring that follows an “Uber” model?

Frydenberg: Sure. When you reserve an Uber, you ask for a driver to pick you up at a specific place at a designated time. The same model applies here: Students complete an online form to request a tutor on a given topic and indicate when they want to meet with a tutor. Through a software application, the request is automatically routed to all tutors capable of tutoring in that subject. The first tutor who claims the request may contact the student to set up an appointment on Zoom. This creates an incentive for tutors to accept appointments, and offers flexibility as to when they choose to work. They don’t have to set aside a block of hours to be available and wait for someone to show up to meet with them. This model of reserving a tutor is available for students in 17 sections of upper level and graduate courses.

 

Rebooting the final exam — from roberttalbert.medium.com by Robert Talbert

Excerpts: 

It’s probably better not to give final exams at all, but if you must, then here are some alternative approaches that do more to help students.

Here are some ideas for what your students might do on a final exam like this.

  • Create a mind map of the course or a portion of it.  
  • Write a new catalog description for the course.  
  • Write a letter to an incoming high school student who will be taking the course next semester.  
  • Write a short essay about: What are the main ideas of this subject, and how do they all connect together?  
  • Write about their metacognition.  
  • Leave one piece of advice to the next round of students taking this course. 
 

5 Ways to Marry Higher Ed to Work — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpts:

  1. Treat employers as customers.
  2. Move beyond the idea of the bachelor degree as the end-all.
  3. Link coursework with competences.
  4. Develop a “shared vocabulary of skills” that can be used by employers and peer institutions.
  5. Design for equity and inclusion.

From DSC:
It’s great to see more articles like this that promote further collaboration — and less siloing — between the worlds of higher education and the workplace.

My guess is that those traditional institutions of higher education who change/adapt quickly enough have a much greater chance at surviving (and even thriving). Those that don’t will have a very rough road ahead. They will be shadows of  what they once were — if they are even able to keep their doors open.

Disruption is likely ahead — especially if more doors to credentialing continue to open up and employers hire based on those skills/credentials. One can feel the changing momentums at play. The tide has been turning for the last several years now (history may show the seeds of change were planted in times that occurred much longer ago).

 

Pro:

AI-powered chatbots automate IT help at Dartmouth — from edscoop.com by Ryan Johnston

Excerpt:

To prevent a backlog of IT requests and consultations during the coronavirus pandemic, Dartmouth College has started relying on AI-powered chatbots to act as an online service desk for students and faculty alike, the school said Wednesday.

Since last fall, the Hanover, New Hampshire, university’s roughly 6,600 students and 900 faculty have been able to consult with “Dart” — the virtual assistant’s name — to ask IT or service-related questions related to the school’s technology. More than 70% of the time, their question is resolved by the chatbot, said Muddu Sudhakar, the co-founder and CEO of Aisera, the company behind the software.

Con:

The Foundations of AI Are Riddled With Errors — from wired.com by Will Knight
The labels attached to images used to train machine-vision systems are often wrong. That could mean bad decisions by self-driving cars and medical algorithms.

Excerpt:

“What this work is telling the world is that you need to clean the errors out,”says Curtis Northcutt, a PhD student at MIT who led the new work.“Otherwise the models that you think are the best for your real-world business problem could actually be wrong.”

 

 

Nearly Half of Faculty Say Pandemic Changes to Teaching Are Here to Stay — from campustechnology.com by Rhea Kelly

Among the findings:

  • Fifty-one percent of faculty said they feel more positive about online learning today than pre-pandemic. Faculty were most satisfied with how efficiently they were able to communicate with students — but across the board, a majority of faculty were also satisfied with how efficiently the technology worked, how well students learned and how well students engaged in class.
  • Fifty-seven percent of faculty said they feel more positive about digital learning materials than pre-pandemic.
  • Seventy-one percent of faculty reported they make considerable use of digital materials today, compared to 25 percent pre-pandemic. And 81 percent said they expect digital material use to remain the same or increase post-pandemic.
  • Fifty-eight percent reported considerable use of online homework and courseware systems, more than doubling the pre-pandemic share of 22 percent. Seventy-four percent expected the use of those systems to remain the same or increase post-pandemic.
  • Only 8 percent of faculty said they would revert to their pre-pandemic teaching practices after the pandemic is over.

Also see:

Two-thirds of people in the education sector expect to see a continuation of remote work post-pandemic. Sixty-five percent of respondents in education agreed that due to the success of remote collaboration, facilitated by videoconferencing, their organizations are considering a flexible remote working model.

 

DC: Yet another reason for Universal Design for Learning’s multiple means of presentation/media:

Encourage faculty to presume students are under-connected. Asynchronous, low-bandwidth approaches help give students more flexibility in accessing course content in the face of connectivity challenges.

— as excerpted from campustechnology.com’s article entitled, “4 Ways Institutions Can Meet Students’ Connectivity and Technology Needs

 

 

In 2019, 2 in 5 instructors had not consulted with an Instructional Designer in the last year -- from Educause

Also see:

EDUCAUSE QuickPoll Results: Assessment and Learning Design — by Mark McCormack

Excerpt:

Respondents expressed confidence that recent increases in faculty engagement with instructional design and technology will continue in future academic years, as will institutions’ adoption of hybrid/online education. Respondents are less confident that larger changes in institutional policy and practice will persist, and they do not anticipate that institutions will be investing in key instructional needs in the future. Increases in cross-department collaboration hold great promise for leaders seeking to engage faculty and make wider and more lasting strategic changes. Long-term success for new approaches to teaching and learning may rely at least in part on clear and consistent policies and practices across the institution, as well as a shift in institutional narrative from “short-term crisis mitigation” to “innovation for the future.”

 

How to Mitigate Accessibility & Digital Inclusion Obstacles for the d/Deaf Community — from inclusionhub.com by Christina Claus
To mitigate accessibility and digital inclusion obstacles for the d/Deaf and hard of hearing, developers must conduct critical research to understand these ongoing hurdles. This guide outlines the many challenges facing this community, shares useful insights, and provides meaningful inclusion solutions.

Excerpt:

Several commonly accepted characterizations include:

  • Deaf: When using the capital D, the individual conveys they communicate with sign language and have either been deaf since birth or shortly after.
  • deaf: The lowercase d is often utilized by those who do not identify as part of Deaf culture and typically become deaf later in life.
  • Hard of Hearing (HoH): Individuals who don’t experience total hearing loss or deafness often identify as hard of hearing.
  • Late-Deafened: This indicates the individual became deaf later in life.
  • Deaf-Blind: In addition to being deaf or hard of hearing, this individual also has a degree of vision loss.

These diversities can impact the individual’s ability to experience digital and online services. To create an inclusive experience for the entire community, developers must understand the obstacles each faces.

 

Over 27,000 students share how colleges and universities could improve digital learning — from jisc.ac.uk

Excerpt:

A Jisc survey of 27,069 higher and further education students reveals that most are pleased with their digital learning, but areas such as wellbeing, mental health and staff digital skills need more attention.

Between October and December 2020, 21,697 higher education (HE) students and 5,372 in further education (FE) took part in Jisc’s digital experience insights student survey. The surveys seek to support the sector in adapting and responding to the changing situation as a result of COVID–19 policies.

 

Adjunct college faculty taking the biggest hit from pandemic job losses — from highereddive.com by Hallie Busta

Dive Brief:

  • Higher education institutions employed 5% fewer adjunct faculty during the current academic year compared to the year before, according to the latest annual data from the College and University Professional Association for Human Resources.
  • All faculty groups experienced job losses during the year, though adjuncts were hit the hardest. The cuts didn’t affect the share of women and people from racial and ethnic minority groups among tenure-track faculty.
  • Salaries for full-time faculty posted the lowest median annual increase since 2010, at less than 1%, as colleges grappled with budget cuts and revenue loss.

From DSC:
And a potentially-relevant item for the future if these trends continue:

How To Pre-Sell Your Online Course And Make Money Before You Launch It — from elearningindustry.com Kathy Alameda
In this article, I’m going to explain why pre-selling your online course is important as an online course creator.

 
© 2021 | Daniel Christian