From DSC:
I’ve heard many people mention that what we did throughout K-16 in the spring of 2020 was remote teaching — an emergency response to the Coronavirus. And I would agree with that assessment and verbiage — that was/is very true. It wasn’t online-based learning as many of us have come to know it over the last 20+ years. It didn’t offer a lot of the things that organizations like the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) and Quality Matters have been trying to promote and get us to achieve for years.

But then I hear the expectation that everything has been vastly improved over the summer and suddenly, almost overnight, all teachers, professors, trainers, adjunct faculty members, etc. have become highly proficient in matters involving online-based teaching and learning. In other words, the expectations say that:

  • Students should expect a top-notch experience now that summer is over.
  • Suddenly, Rome was built in a day!

But it wasn’t, and it isn’t.

It takes time and practice to become proficient in how to teach online. That’s the truth. It also takes a great deal of time and investments in hardware, software, tools, training/education/professional development, networking and telecommunications infrastructure, and more. It takes numerous skillsets to do it well. (By the way, that’s why I like to think in terms of team-based content creation and delivery.)

Also, often times, it takes MORE time to teach online than it does to teach in a face-to-face classroom. That is certainly the case for the first time that you will be teaching online. You need to know that going into it. You have to put your course together PLUS learn how to deliver it effectively in an online-based format. You need to learn a variety of tools and related ecosystems. Not a simple, overnight kind of task, I can assure you.

So students, don’t expect your faculty members to become professional online-based teachers overnight Again, it takes time and practice…just like anything we set out to do.

And for you student teachers and Education Departments/Programs out there, keep at it. Don’t dismiss this time as a brief period/phenomenon that will simply go away and we’ll get back to “normal.” Make the necessary adjustments to your curriculum, toolsets, “teacher placements,” and more. Let’s get prepared for the future, come what may.

For higher ed, if you want to continue to use adjunct faculty members to handle a significant amount of the teaching load out there, you will need to better address the training and the $$/reimbursements that you provide to them.

And for all of the teachers, trainers, faculty members — and now even parents and/or guardians — out there, cut yourself some slack, give yourself some grace, and keep trying. One step at a time. Don’t get discouraged.

Also relevant/see:

Build and accelerate beyond the pandemic: Consciously deliver a great online experience for lifelong learners — from evoLLLution.com by Philip Regier

Excerpt:

Today’s learners have high expectations as expert consumers in all aspects of their lives. Higher education needs to create an infrastructure that meets the needs of this tech-savvy demographic. Institutions need to recognize that the online environment is here to stay and is in need of a rebuild in order to deliver the best student experience possible, even post-pandemic. In this interview, Phil Regier discusses the today’s learners’ expectations, scaling a high-quality online environment, and how to build the right infrastructure to support learners in this new and digitized normal.

 

Watch out for these 3 mistakes you’re making during distance teaching — from edsurge.com by Paul Emerich France

Excerpt:

Distance teaching also shone a light on problematic practices that were never effective in person, either. And trying to re-create them in a virtual environment didn’t make them any better. As many schools resume remote instruction this fall, watch out for these three mistakes you may be making. More importantly, give yourself the liberty to try out some of the alternative approaches that can help make distance teaching more sustainable and effective.

 

 

From Beth McMurtrie in this week’s “Teaching” over at The Chronicle:

  • Examples of innovative assessment strategies
  • An instructor’s request to help students engage with digital textbooks
  • Some resources for effective online, equitable, & antiracist teaching

Teaching -- over at The Chronicle

From DSC:
I especially appreciated the item re: the creation/use of multimedia-based content in place of a more traditional assessment. This type of assignment/assessment allows more choice and it opens up opportunities for more creativity and expression.

 

From edsurge.com today:

THOROUGHLY MODERN MEDIA: This spring, a college theater course about women’s voting rights aimed to produce a new play about the suffrage struggle. When the pandemic scuttled those plans, professors devised a new way to share suffragist stories by creating an interactive, online performance set in a virtual Victorian mansion. And their students were not the only ones exploring women’s voting rights as the country marks the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment.

…which linked to:

The Pandemic Made Their Women’s Suffrage Play Impossible. But the Show Went on— Virtually — from edsurge.com by Rebecca Koenig

Excerpts:

Then the pandemic hit. Students left Radford and Virginia Tech. Live theater was canceled.

But the class wasn’t.

“Neither of us ever said, ‘Forget it,’” Hood says. “Our students, they all wanted to know, ‘What are we doing?’ We came to them with this insane idea.”

They would create an interactive, online production staged in a virtual Victorian mansion.

“Stage performance is different than film or audio. If you just have audio, you only have your voice. Clarity, landing sentences, really paying attention to the structure of a sentence, becomes important,” Nelson says. “Students got a broader sense of the skills and approaches to different mediums—a crash course.”

 

From DSC:
Talk about opportunities for interdisciplinary learning/projects!!!  Playwrights, directors, actors/actresses, set designers, graphic designers, fine artists, web designers and developers, interactivity/interface designers, audio designers, video editors, 3D animators, and more!!!

 

The performance website, “Women and the Vote,” premiered on May 18, 2020

 

Here’s how colleges should help close the digital divide in the COVID-Era — from edsurge.com by Dr. Mordecai I. Brownlee

Excerpt:

One key problem prevalent in many low-socioeconomic communities around the nation—like San Antonio, which now has the highest poverty rate of the country’s 25 largest metro areas—is the digital divide. Digital divide is a term used to describe the gap present in society between those who have access to the internet and technology and those who don’t.

It speaks directly to a primary challenge facing our education system in this COVID-era: Some students and families have the means to succeed in a remote learning environment, and others do not.

 

Meet the new face of Webex Assistant — from blog.webex.com by Kacy Kizer

Excerpt:

You may be familiar with Webex Assistant, the AI-powered voice assistant for work. Now known as Webex Assistant for Webex Rooms, our original digital assistant allows you to control compatible Webex Rooms devices with your voice, making it easy to join a meeting with just a few words, manage your meetings and devices from anywhere in the room, and much more.

  • A voice-activated assistant allows you to easily control the meeting through a set of voice commands.
  • Simply ask your AI-powered Webex Assistant to do things like create actions items, take notes, and even set up future meetings—with just your voice.
  • Your Webex Assistant will automatically transcribe the entire meeting in real-time.
  • With visual animation, your virtual AI assistant interacts with you and your meeting attendees during the meeting and when called upon.

The Cisco Webex Digital Assistant -- how might AI impact the online-based learning experience?

From DSC:

  • How might these types of technologies impact online-based learning?
  • What new affordances might they bring to the learner’s experience?
  • For example, what if a listening assistant (AI) could identify some key issues/topics and then go out and grab/present some URL’s of relevant journal articles, chapters from a given textbook, blog postings, etc.? What if each student’s AI could be directed to do so independently?

#IntelligentTutoring | #IntelligentSystems |  #AI |  #EmergingTechnologies | #Collaboration | #Productivity | #PersonalizedEducation

Also see:

Cisco Webex Desk Pro -- AI integrated into Webex Meetings

 

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:

 

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
 

Surviving the Third Wave of COVID and Beyond — from eliterate.us by Michael Feldstein

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

If such an idyll ever existed, its heyday coincided with an age when universities were bastions of race-, gender-, and class-based privilege, with a minute fraction of the population enrolled in higher education. — Gabriel Paquette

Rather, I am suggesting—and I believe Paquette is suggesting—that we take a good hard look at how much our standards may be influenced by hidden assumptions of privilege. Why should a “quality education” for the 21st-Century masses look identical to the “quality education” of the 19th-Century elites? Where do these ideas of quality come from? Whose goals do they serve? And what trade-offs do they entail?

Just as literacy is about more than employing the technology of the printed word, e-literacy is about more than EdTech. It’s about culture. It’s about understanding how we change ourselves—consciously or not—when we choose to depend on certain tools in certain ways. And it’s about making mindful choices. — Michael Feldstein

 

From DSC:
Some interesting reflections here:

Summer gigs for students are scarce. Think like an entrepreneur and build your own. — from edsurge.com by Dan Murphy

Excerpt:

If you are a student looking for new ways to continue along your trajectory during the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to share what I’ve learned with you. Students from any background can use these ambiguous times to do something beneficial. Here are my recommendations for how to spend your summer.

If there is a personal project or business opportunity you’ve been interested in trying out, there’s no better time than the present to dive into something new and challenging, acquaint yourself with failure, pick yourself back up again, and build the muscle needed for high-growth, lifelong learning. Find that one thing that is meaningful to you and relentlessly chase the goals associated with it.

 

Dawn of the Age of Digital Learning [Moe & Rajendran]

Dawn of the Age of Digital Learning — from medium.com by Michael Moe and Vignesh Rajendran
An Acceleration of Trends That Have Been Building for Years

Excerpts:

Some of these new online learners will sink. Some will crawl out of the pool and never go back in. But we believe most will get the hang of it, like it, and will no longer be confined to the shore. Effectively, the genie is not going back in the bottle… digital learning has come of age. We have a B.C. (Before Coronavirus) world transitioning to A.D. (After Disease).

The Coronavirus has brought forth the Dawn of the Age of Digital Learning — a time for builders to create the platforms, tools, and technology to propel society forward.

We now believe Digital Learning will reach 11% of the education market by 2026, representing a ~$1 Trillion market and a 30% CAGR, close to double the rate of growth projected in Before Covid-19

 

From DSC:
So many of the things in this article reminded me of the things, developments, trends, needs, and possibilities that I have been tracking for years in this vision of a next-generation, global learning platform that I have entitled:

We need a next gen learning platform -- I call this vision Learning from the Living Class Room

My guess is that the large, primarily online institutions/organizations will come out of this ordeal in much better shape than the majority of the traditional institutions of higher education. It won’t matter what faculty members at liberal arts institutions think about online learning. And as much as some faculty members won’t like to see or hear about it, students will no longer need for such faculty members to be sold on it. Students will come to realize that it was under those faculty members watch that their own enormous gorillas of debt were created. And they are beginning to witness and hear that it’s taking (or will take) older family members decades to pay down their debt.

So, I think that the market will decide the fate of many traditional institutions of higher education. Lifelong learners will vote with their feet — and fingers actually, by typing in a new URL — and simply move to the SNHU’s, ASU’s, UMass Online’s, WGU’s, and Liberty University’s of the world. After 5-10 years of investments in online learning, there will likely be some pretty amazing learning experiences out there.

 

From DSC:
On the positive side…

What I appreciate about ‘s article is that it’s asking us to think about future scenarios in regards to higher education. Then, it’s proposing some potential action steps to take now to address those potential scenarios if they come to fruition. It isn’t looking at the hood when we’re traveling 180 mph. Rather, it’s looking out into the horizon to see what’s coming down the pike. 

6 Steps to Prepare for an Online Fall Semester — from chronicle.com b

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Plan for a multiyear impact. If colleges are forced to maintain online-only instruction in the fall and to defer reopening their campuses to in-person instruction to January 2021, the impact will be felt for years. College leaders should start thinking now about how to manage and potentially adjust spring-2021 (and beyond) course offerings, course sequencing, and degree requirements to avoid saddling students with graduation delays and the accompanying direct and indirect financial costs. In addition, colleges should anticipate a smaller-than-normal entering first-year class in fall 2020 (and thus a larger-than-normal enrollment a year later) and devise strategies to help mitigate the resulting stresses on admission rates and classroom and dorm capacity for first-year students entering in fall 2021 and beyond.

If instruction remains online-only in the fall, colleges won’t be able to afford that sort of inefficiency. College departments should start now to identify opportunities for collaborations that would draw on the collective wisdom and labor of faculty members from multiple institutions who are teaching similar courses. This would lessen the burden of migrating teaching materials and techniques to an online format.

From DSC:
I’ve often wondered about the place of consortiums within higher ed…i.e., pooling resources. Will the impacts of the Coronavirus change this area of higher ed? Not sure. Perhaps.

On the negative side…

I take issue with some of John’s perspectives, which are so common amongst the writers and academics out there. For example:

Conversely, an entire generation of current college students is now learning that it can be pretty boring to be one of several hundred people simultaneously watching a Zoom lecture.

You know what? I did that very same thingover and over again — at Northwestern University (NU), but in a face-to-face format. And quite frankly, it’s a better view on videoconferencing. It’s far more close up, more intimate online. I agree it’s a different experience. But our auditoriums were large and having 100-200+ students in a classroom was common. There was no interaction amongst the students. There were no breakout groups. The faculty members didn’t know most of our names and I highly doubt that the well-paid researchers at Northwestern — who were never taught how to teach in the first place nor did they or NU regard the practice of teaching and learning highly anyway — gave a rat’s ass about body language. Reading the confusion in the auditorium? Really? I highly doubt it. And those TA’s that we paid good money for? Most likely, they were never taught how to teach either. The well-paid researchers often offloaded much of the teaching responsibilities onto the teacher assistants’ backs. 

Bottom line:
Face-to-face learning is getting waaaay more credit than it sometimes deserves — though sometimes it IS warranted. And online-based learning — especially when it’s done right — isn’t getting nearly enough credit. 


Addendum: Another example of practicing futures thinking in higher ed:

 

From DSC:
The article below is meant as fodder for thought for us now…until we get back to holding class in physical learning spaces again. But it caught my attention because I’d like to see us give students “More choice. More Control.” in all areas of their learning — whether that be in the physical realm or in the digital/virtual realm.

 

 

4 reasons to build choice into classroom design — and how to make it work for students — from spaces4learning.com by Deanna Marie Lock
A look at the key elements of a modern and highly engaging learning space

 

providing more choice and more control to students within the physcial classroom

 

From DSC:
By not listening/taking action nearly enough through the last several decades, the backlash continues to build against colleges and universities — institutions of traditional higher education who didn’t take the rise in tuition seriously. Students graduated and left campus, and the invisible gorillas of debt being placed on students’ backs weren’t acknowledged — nor were they fought against — nearly enough. Instead, the gorillas just kept getting bigger and bigger. 

Year after year, I tried to fight this trend and raise awareness of it…only to see the majority of institutions of traditional higher education do absolutely nothing. Then, as the backlash started to build, the boards and the administrations across the country began priding themselves on how their percentage increases were amongst the smallest in the area/state/nation. They should have found ways to decrease their tuition, but they didn’t. Instead, they resorted to playing games with discounts while their “retail values” kept going up and up.

The time’s coming when they will pay the piper for having done this. Just like what happened to the oil companies and to the car/truck manufactures who made megabucks (for the time being) when their vehicles kept getting bigger and bigger and when the price of oil was high. What happened? The end result was that they shot themselves in the foot. These days, Tesla — with their electric cars — is now the most valuable car company in America.

Within the realm of education…when effective, cheaper alternatives come along that still get people hired, you better look out traditional institutions of higher education. You didn’t listen. It happened on your watch. And speaking of watches, the next major one could be you watching more of your institutions close while watching your students walk out the door to pursue other, far less expensive alternatives.


Follow up comments:
I realize this is a broad swath and isn’t true for several institutions who have been fighting the fight. For example, my current employer — the WMU-Cooley Law School is reducing their tuition by 21% this fall and other institutions have reduced their tuition as well or found ways to honor “Promise” types of programs. Other institutions have done the market research and are offering more relevant, up-to-date curricula. (Don’t worry those of you who work within the liberal arts, I still support and believe in you. But we didn’t do a good enough balancing act between offering liberal arts programs and developing the needed skillsets to help students pay off those ever-growing gorillas of debt.)

The fact was that too often, those invisible gorillas of debt went unnoticed by many within higher education. And it wasn’t just the boards, administrators, presidents, and provosts out there. In fact, the full-time, tenured faculty members taught what they wanted to teach and were furious at those who dared assert that higher education was a business. (Watch a college football game on the major networks last fall? Have you seen the size of research institutions’ intellectual property-based revenues? We could go on and on.) 

Anyway, what tenured faculty members offered didn’t align with what the market needed and was calling for. They offered what was in their best interests, not the students’ best interests.

 

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