Best practices for engaging students online — from edtechmagazine.com by Amelia Pang
Norma I. Scagnoli, a higher education instructional design expert, shares her advice on how to humanize online learning.

Excerpt:

EDTECH: How do your instructors strengthen student engagement in entirely online courses?

Scagnoli: We built that engagement by following the Community of Inquiry Framework. This model was created by online learning experts such as Dr. Randy Garrison and Dr. Norm Vaughan, who research distance education and blended learning. This model focuses on cognitive presence, teaching presence and social presence to keep students engaged with online content.

You want to use every opportunity to promote critical thinking and trigger more class interactions and discussions. 

 

A new affordance of a 100%-online-based learning environment: A visual & audible “Table of Contents of the Key Points Made” [Christian]

What new affordances might a 100%-online-based learning environment offer us?

 

From DSC:
As I’ve been listening to some sermons on my iPhone, I end up taking visual snapshots of the times that they emphasize something. Here are some examples:

A snapshot of one of the key points made during a sermon

 

Another snapshot of one of the key points made during a sermon

 

Another snapshot of one of the key points made during a sermon

 

Which got me to thinking…while tools like Panopto* give us something along these lines, they don’t present to the student what the KEY POINTS were in any given class session.

So professors — in addition to teachers, trainers, pastors, presenters, etc. — should be able to quickly and easily instruct the software to create a visual table of contents of key points based upon which items the professor favorited or assigned a time signature to. I’m talking about a ONE keystroke or ONE click of the mouse type of thing to instruct the software to take a visual snapshot of that point in time (AI could even be used to grab the closest image without someone’s eyes shut). At the end of the class, there are then just a handful of key points that were made, with links to those time signatures.

At the end of a course, a student could easily review the KEY POINTS that were made throughout the last ___ weeks.

****

But this concept falls apart if there are too many things to remember. So when a professor presents the KEY POINTs to any given class, they must CURATE the content.  (And by the way, that’s exactly why pastors normally focus on only 3-4 key points…otherwise, it gets too hard to walk away with what the sermon was about.)

****

One could even build upon the table of contents. For example…for any given class within a law school’s offerings, the professor (or another team member at the instructions of the professor) could insert links to:

  • Relevant chapters or sections of a chapter in the textbook
  • Journal articles
  • Cases
  • Rules of law
  • Courts’ decisions
  • Other

****

And maybe even:

  • That’s the kind of “textbook” — or learning modules — that we’ll move towards creating in the first place.
    .
  • That’s the form of learning we’ll see more of when we present streams of up-to-date content to folks using a next-generation learning platform.
    .
  • Future webinars could piggyback off of this concept as well. Dive as deep as you want to into something…or just take away the main points (i.e., the Cliff notes/summaries) of a presentation.

At the end of the day, if your communication isn’t in a digital format, there is no playback available. What’s said is said…and gone.


* The functionality discussed here would take a day’s worth of work for a developer at Panopto (i.e., give a presenter a way to favorite existing TOC items and/or to assign a time signature to slots of time in a recording) — but it would save people and students sooooo much time. Such functionality would help us stay up-to-date — at least at a basic level of understanding — on a variety of topics.


 

 

A new guide helps faculty plan equitable online courses for fall — from diverseeducation.com by Sara Weissman; guide from Every Learner Everywhere, the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) & the Association of Public & Land-grant Universities (APLU). With thanks to Ray Schroeder for the resource.

Excerpt:

A new guide for faculty, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, aims to help professors plan their online courses for fall as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

The faculty playbook, called “Delivering High-Quality Instruction Online in Response to COVID-19,” came out of a collaboration between Every Learner Everywhere, a network of non-profits focused on student outcomes, and two of its member organizations, the Online Learning Consortium and the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). Their aim is to offer equity-minded online education strategies, especially for faculty who made their first foray into online education this year.

[Dr. Karen Vignare] sees the guide as a “concise” way to bring best practices together and to offer tools for “optimized online instruction,” she said.

The playbook is designed so that “you can really just dive in and get what you need,” she said. “You don’t have to read the whole thing from start to finish.”

Faculty playbook for online instruction -- concise, and meant to deliver education equitably

Faculty Playbook's Table of Contents -- Summer 2020

 

Also see:

Time For Class: COVID-19 Edition

 

Turns out you can build community in a Zoom classroom — from chronicle.com by Rachel Toor
A professor finds that personal essays are surprisingly effective in building relationships in a synchronous virtual classroom

Excerpt:

Over the course of the quarter, they got to know one another by reading those sandbox essays. The writing became more vulnerable, more authentic, and, frankly, a whole lot better. That was a function of learning tools and tricks from published writing, but also of getting more comfortable using their own voices.

Next fall I will continue to use the sandbox. The spring semester taught me other lessons, too, about how to help students adjust to one another in a synchronous classroom, and to a professor they’ve never met in person. Here are some other things I want to remember to do when we are once again online.

 

To survive the pandemic, American colleges need a revolution — from linkedin.com by Jeff Selingo

Excerpts:

Moreover, the American higher education system is built largely for full-time students pursuing degrees that might take two or four years to finish. Unemployed workers want a new job in the next few weeks or months, not two years from now when they complete a degree. The newly unemployed also are accustomed to the cadence of regular work and can’t easily pivot to class schedules at colleges constructed for the convenience of faculty members, not students.

Higher education needs to reinvent itself for continual learning if it is going to remain relevant and expand opportunity for tens of millions of adults who find themselves unemployed in a fast-changing economy.  

 

 

Colleges face rising revolt by professors — from nytimes.com by Anemona Hartocollis
Most universities plan to bring students back to campus. But many of their teachers are concerned about joining them.

Excerpt:

College students across the country have been warned that campus life will look drastically different in the fall, with temperature checks at academic buildings, masks in half-empty lecture halls and maybe no football games.

What they might not expect: a lack of professors in the classroom.

Thousands of instructors at American colleges and universities have told administrators in recent days that they are unwilling to resume in-person classes because of the pandemic.

More than three-quarters of colleges and universities have decided students can return to campus this fall. But they face a growing faculty revolt.

In an indication of how fluid the situation is, the University of Southern California said late Wednesday that “an alarming spike in coronavirus cases” had prompted it to reverse an earlier decision to encourage attending classes in person.

 

Fully Explain Concepts with The Frayer Model — from byrdseed.com

Excerpt:

Four Pieces
There are four pieces to the Frayer Model. When we introduce a concept to students, we will include:

  • Definition
  • Essential Characteristics
  • Examples.
  • Non-Examples are things that this term or concept do not apply to. I love non-examples and they’re such an underutilized way to clear up a definition!

 

 

Mounting faculty concerns about the fall semester — from insidehighered.com by Colleen Flaherty
Professors across institutions are increasingly waving red flags about the private and public health implications of default face-to-face instruction come fall, along with a lack of shared decision making in staffing and teaching decisions.

Excerpt:

Many professors are worried about the private and public health implications of having students return to campus and expectations about who will teach them face-to-face. If there is any consensus, it is that instructors should not be forced to teach in person, and that teaching remotely shouldn’t require any special medical exemption.

From DSC:
Solid article…though I wish there were more quotes from staff members. Staff who have to report to campuses this fall should also have a voice — as they are also concerned about their health. After all, staff members are equally susceptible to getting the Coronavirus. 

 

What NOT to do when putting your classes online — from evolllution.com by
Ted Cross & Sunil Ramlall (Western Governors University)

Excerpt:
For example, a study by Ramlall & Ramlall (2016) identified the following factors in helping maximize success and satisfaction in a course.

  1. Faculty are visible in the discussions and respond to each student at least once.
  2. Feedback on assignments should be given within three or four days after the assignment’s due date.
  3. Faculty challenge students’ thinking and comments in class discussions.
  4. They provide individual feedback and specific, personalized comments.
  5. They provide qualitative and quantitative feedback.
  6. They share personal experiences and examples.
  7. They reflect on the literature or at least share a relevant citation from which students can gain deeper insights.
  8. They provide weekly announcements on what will be covered for the week and highlight the transition from the previous week

Put yourself in the student’s shoes and walk through every aspect of the course from their perspective. Ask yourself what a student would need to know to be successful.

 

What NOT to do when designing and building your online-based course

 

Team-based content creation/delivery | We need this & other paradigm shifts to help people survive & thrive [Christian]

From DSC:
If the first wave of the Coronavirus continues — and is joined by a second wave later this year or early next year — I think a more permanent, game-changing situation is inevitable. As such, now’s the time to change the paradigms that we’ve been operating under.

It’s time to move to *a team-based approach.* To build up the set of skills an organization needs to pivot and adapt — regardless of what comes their way.

Let’s stop asking one faculty member to do it all! Consider this:

  • Would you fly in a plane that was engineered/designed/built by one person?
  • Would you drive a car that was engineered/designed/built by one person?
  • Would you go into brain surgery with only one other person in the operating room?
  • Are you, like me, amazed at the long list of people (and their specialties) who contributed to a major motion picture?!? The credits go on for several minutes — even when moving at a fast pace! Would you watch a major motion picture that was written, acted, produced, directed by — and had all of the music, special effects, and audio-related work done by — only one person? 

With the move to online learning, one person can’t do it all anymore — at least not at the level that the newer generations are coming to expect. They have grown accustomed to amazing, team-based/built content and products.

Plus, newer generations are going to know and experience much more telehealth-related services…then much more telelegal-related services. They will come to experience/expect high-quality learning-related products and services that way as well. Going forward, there are too many skillsets required by the creation and production of high-quality, online-based learning — not to mention the continued hard work of staying up-to-date on the main subject matter expertise at hand.

So if the kind of perspective continues as found in this piece — SURVEY: Students say they shouldn’t have to pay full price for online classes — then colleges and universities would do well to invest money in new Research & Development efforts, in team-based content creation, and in reimagining what online-learning could act/be like. Same for the vendors out there. And faculty members would be wise to invest the time and energy it takes to be able to teach online as well as in a face-to-face setting. Not only are they more marketable once they’ve done this, but they are then also more prepared to find their place within an uncertain future.

All of this will likely be an expensive process. Also, greater collaboration will be needed within a department (as we can’t be building a course per professor) as well as between organizations.  Perhaps the use of consortiums will increase…I’m not sure.

Perhaps a new platform will develop — similar to what’s contained in this vision. Such a platform will feature content that was designed and built by a team. Such a learning-related platform will offer streams of highly-relevant content — while providing continuous, affordable, up-to-date, convenient, and very well done means of staying marketable/employed. 

We will likely be seeing this vision come to reality in the future.

For another paradigm shift, accreditation bodies/practices are going to have to also change, adapt, pivot, and help innovative ideas come to fruition. But that’s another posting for another day.

 

What will learning look like this fall? — excerpt and resources below are from Instructure’s Canvas CSM June 2020 Newsletter

Institutions across the world are preparing for the upcoming school year with the “new normal.” Educators have been sharing their successes, lessons learned, and new initiatives. Explore these resources on bringing the classroom environment online:

 

To provide the best learning environment while keeping everyone safe, WMU-Cooley Law School made the decision to continue teaching classes ONLINE for the Fall 2020 semester.

 

From DSC:
We at the WMU-Cooley Law School are working hard to enhance and expand our teaching toolboxes, so that we can pivot as necessary in the future. 

DanielChristian-EnhancingOurTeachingToolboxes.jpg

Whether we need to deliver our cognitive-science based, modern legal education via 100% online-based means, or whether it’s a blended/hybrid approach, or whether it’s 100% face-to-face again at some point in the future, we need to be ready for multiple methods and modes of teaching and learning. 

 

 

But I have to say, the work is hard. There are more and different kinds of people on the front lines of this Covid-19 situation than just the wonderful folks in healthcare. Many Instructional Designers (IDs), Information Technology (IT)-related staff, faculty members, and members of administration and are working overtime, all-the-time. It’s not easy. That said, I do believe that there will be some silver linings in this situation. Many faculty members are coming to appreciate the teaching and learning power of some of these tools — and will likely integrate several of these new tools/methods even if and when they return to our face-to-face-based classrooms.

 

Colleges cut academic programs in the face of budget shortfalls due to Covid-19 — from cnbc.com by Jessica Dickler

Key points:

  • As colleges face extreme budget shortfalls, some institutions are cutting academic programs that were once central to a liberal arts education.
  • The University of Alaska system announced it will cut 39 academic departments in all, including sociology, creative writing, chemistry and environmental science.

 

Even before the global pandemic caused craters in the economy, some institutions were facing financial hardship after years of declines in state funding for higher education. A number of private schools had already made wrenching budget cuts, from curriculum changes to complete overhauls of their liberal arts programs.

 

From DSC:
A screenshot from the video (below) shows a new type of liberal arts program at Hiram College.

It could very well be that online-based learning turns out to save the liberal arts!!!!! How ironic is that!?!!

That is, many college presidents, provost, and faculty members — especially from smaller liberal arts types of schools — have disdained online-based learning for decades now. It was always viewed as “less than” in their minds…they didn’t want to go that route, as doing so would dilute their precious (and often overpriced) brands. (To be clear, this is not my view…but it was, and still is in many cases, their view.)

Anyway, it looks like more of these same folks will be losing their jobs in the next few years (if they haven’t already). At that point, we may see some of these same folks encounter a sudden paradigm shift. (A shift many of their colleagues have already gone through in prior years.) These same folks may come to appreciate that people will be willing to pay them for their knowledge — but only willing to do so at a much more affordable price…which will likely mean online.

Fewer people — especially when 47 million people in the U.S. alone have filed for unemployment over the last 14 weeks — can afford the cost of getting a degree. They are looking for inexpensive, convenient, efficient, effective means of reinventing themselves.

 

Huh…another potential irony here…it appears that colleges and universities are coming to know what many of us have known and experienced for years…and that is, the struggle to:

  • Reinvent oneself
  • Stay relevant
  • Survive
 

COVID-19 Intensifies Need to Tackle Digital Accessibility — from campustechnology.com by By Glenda Sims
More learning content than ever before has migrated online, bringing accessibility concerns to the forefront. Here’s how higher ed institutions are making progress toward equitable access.

Excerpt:

Accessibility lawsuits in education are not new. However, with colleges and universities undertaking their own digital transformations (moving more content and services online), lawsuits targeted at equitable access to physical facilities (like bathrooms) have logically expanded to digital offerings for students relying on assistive technologies to access them. The current COVID-19 crisis is likely to exacerbate this, as more learning content than ever before has migrated online in these unprecedented times. Persons with disabilities will demand nothing less than completely equitable access, particularly when it comes to their safety. While many higher ed institutions still have much to do for their accessibility initiatives, there have been many promising developments…

 

 


Below is a snapshot from a video that
Kim O’Leary, Professor at the WMU-Cooley Law School did regarding the topic of giving (and receiving) individualized feedback.

As a relevant aside here, I want to send a shout out to Kim, as she is incredibly devoted to the craft of teaching and learning and to developing solid, competent learners and lawyers. She is a fantastic professor, as well as a caring, hard-working person — an excellent colleague whom I’m very grateful to have the privilege of working alongside.

Daniel: Do our learning environments and systems promote our students' self-motivation? I don't think so. No way.

When I saw this quote from Thomas Friedman, I wondered…

  • Are our school systems creating students who are self-motivated?

Sorry…but my answer (based on what my own learning experiences in K-16 were like as well as from having observed the learning experiences of our three kids) was, “No way…at least not yet.” And the ramifications of this are getting increasingly serious as our kids need to be able to navigate an often chaotic, quickly-changing world from here on out.

  • We don’t offer nearly enough learner agency.
  • We create gameplayers who only focus on grades.
  • We tell students what to learn.
  • We don’t offer nearly enough choice and control to students.

 

 

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