Technology and Mathematics: Who Knew?

Barb Wilkins and Angie Hammons submitted a poster session for the recent SLOAN-C Blended Learning conference and workshop, held in Oak Brook, Illinois. Everyone from the “Ed” side of EdTech attended, leaving only the “Tech” part at home in Rolla, large and in charge.

Here is a brief overview of the poster session we presented, along with some pictures of the other poster presentations. Ours was the only one (out of many) that used an actual display board. The conference organizers tried to encourage everyone who attended to go “green” this year. Ours is definitely “green”, but not in the way they intended.

Using Mediated Reflective Writing in Online and Blended Courses

Presenters from University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee:

Matt Russell
Dylan Barth
Gerald Bergstrom

[ SLOAN-C Proceedings Web Site ]

Reflective writing is ideally suited for experiential learning.

Dylan’s part focused on using reflective writing in a blended English composition course. His course is a blended course with 24 students. It is focused on research writing and consists of two seven-week modules. There is a final portfolio that has two revised essays: a ten-page research essay and a reflective letter.

The reflective essay was only at the end of the semester and consequently wasn’t very good as it was the only reflective exercise assigned to the students. However, Dylan revised the journal a bit and made students do one journal entry in the middle of each module. They received prompts for all entries. Students were required to consider what they’d done, what they were doing, and what they were going to do. This was all done electronically using D2L’s ePortfolio feature.

All told, there were 5 journal prompts, looking at all aspects of the research essay (the major project for the course) from start to finish.

Dylan’s reflective pedagogy records what works and what doesn’t, as well as what might change in future semesters. He uses his own reflective journal through the form of a blog to record his own insights. It is public, so students can see an insider’s view of the course and get a better understanding of Dylan’s decisions for the course (and post comments and feedback if Dylan so desires). In other words, it serves as a good model for the students (Dylan is practicing what he preaches).

[Read more…]

Blended General Education Mathematics – Been There, Done That!

Presenter: Jan Costenbader (Depaul University)

[ SLOAN-C Proceedings Web Site ]

He is a senior instructional technology consultant at DePaul University. His objectives for the presentation are to share the design process for moving to a blended course, how lessons learned during the process were applied to a rework.

Math 101, the course Jan teaches, is general education mathematics, started as a small lecture (35-40 students). Eventually, it grew into a large lecture with up to 350 students. Mostly this increase was driven by economics–Cal State Chico, where he taught at the time needed much more revenue. Blended learning addressed room space issues and allowed for increased enrollment.

Jan did all the large lecture portion of the teaching while 5-6 other instructors taught the online portion.

The course was mostly about basic quantitative literacy (computation, statistics, financials, and modeling).

[Read more…]

Understanding What Students are Doing: An Internal Combustion Engine of eLearning

Presenter:John Kaliski (Minnesota State University)

John’s purpose of his research is to capture some student behavior from their Learning Management System (LMS).

  • How often and for how long students log into the system
  • When students access reading material and notes
  • When students start online assignments
  • How long students take to complete assignments
  • How productive discussion forums are.

John proposes to dramatically expand monitoring of student learning behaviors online. He wants to offer a huge suite of tools to make raw data more useful (statistics, data mining, business intelligence). Two systems are already commercially available.

He wants a learning environment that is adaptive, but doesn’t have to adapt to all 200+ students at the same time.

Why “Internal Combustion Engine” as the title of the presentation? It is a somewhat loaded term that has both positive and negative implications for society. Likewise, introducing new architecture and technology for student behavior monitoring has both positives and negatives. Positives include mass customization, adaptive learning environments, large classes, improved retention, and assured learning reporting automation. Negatives include perceived (and actual) invasions of privacy–students find it creepy–as well as the fact that there are unintended consequences. Ethics of using such a tool are somewhat unclear.

LMS systems today give a core dump of raw data with no real analysis built in.

John’s new tool includes the same raw material found in LMS data. However, he also borrows ideas from Google Analytics and other tools. Data is collected at the event level–keystrokes and mouse activity. It also tracks hyperlink activity and how much of the content is viewable on the screen as well as how long it is on the screen. Huge amounts of data are collected–200,000+ records from 400 users in one month.

Raw data by itself is meaningless without context. The instructor communicates with the system what the expectation of the learner is. It measures for the alignment of learner activity and instructor expectations. For instance, when the instructor is working on a course objective, student traffic patterns on the online course components should increase. This system refines itself over time, especially for instructors that teach the same course repeatedly over time.

Preparing the Teachers of Tomorrow Today in Large Blended Classes

Presenter: George Morrison (University of North Texas)

[ SLOAN-C Proceedings Web Site ]

George defines “large” as 100+, which also fits the definition of large classes at S&T. Most classes fall well below this definition.

We engaged with each other in an experiential learning exercise–first we described a picture of an orange, then he gave us the real thing and we had to describe that (in small group collaboration). George showed a video of this same exercise with a group of 116 students.

George has taught large classes for 10 years, and in that time (under the old model), he sometimes had significant failure rates (nearly 17 out of 110 enrolled in Fall 2010). Students often didn’t come to class and they were largely indifferent to achievement. George saw a disconnect between how he was teaching and how he wanted to teach. He had to find some sort of balance to resolve the “disequilibrium” he was experiencing. Disequilibrium is the driver which promotes change–so it is incumbent on us to promote disequilibrium in our faculty so they seek out the change that will lead to better course design and better student learning outcomes.

Disrupting Class by Clayton Christensen has three things that stand out

  1. Customize different online learning paths for students.
  2. Transition from computer-based to student-centric technology.
  3. Teachers act as learning coaches and tutors to help students find the approach that makes sense for them.

George’s old teaching methods were not engaging students and weren’t working.

[Read more…]

ADDIE plus Bloom’s Taxonomy Equals Optimal Blended Teaching and Learning

Presenter: Celina Byers (University of Minnesota)

[ SLOAN-C Proceedings Web Site ]

Celina’s goal was to take Master-level students from “declarative knowledge” to a “procedural level” to full fluency of the information.

ADDIE is a very common course development method. We introduce it and use it in our own CyberEd course.

ADDIE – Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, Evaluation. For Celina, Evaluation is the center of the model upon which all other components are based.

Analysis – Needs, Content, Learner, Environment (i.e. audience, purpose, context).

Design – Write objectives, create assessments, organize lesson units, devise course strategies, and determine strategies for delivery method.

Development – Produce the media resources needed, create all lessons, prepare course packages. This often involves a modular approach to development–units, chapters, lessons. This can be done in a “rolling” fashion such that you can teach fully developed units while continuing to develop future units.

Implementation – Schedule time, location, equipment, and personnel. Make the course packages available (e.g. Adaptive Release in Blackboard). Deliver the lessons to the students.

Evaluation – Check the content, learner performance, and course instructional strategy to make sure the goals are being met for all three components. As with all of the steps in the ADDIE model, this can be–and should be–an iterative process, always looking for improvement. Evaluation can be used at each step within the process as well.

[Read more…]

EdTech Travels to SLOAN-C Conference on March 28-29, 2001

The Educational Technology group (at least the “Ed” side consisting of Meg Brady, Angie Hammons, Julie Phelps, Barb Wilkins, and Malcolm Hays) are traveling to the 8th Annual Sloan Consortium Conference in Chicago on March 28-29, 2001. This conference is primarily about blended learning strategies.

Over the next few days, we hope to bring you some ideas discussed at the conference through the medium of this blog. Stay tuned for continuous updates!

SLOAN CONSORTIUM Blended Learning Conference & Workshop

sloan-c.png EdTech recently had the opportunity to attend the Sloan Consortium’s (SLOAN-C) 7th Annual Blended Learning Conference & Workshop in Oak Brook, Illinois on April 19-20, 2010.

This was a great opportunity to meet other educators who are also engaged in providing blended learning opportunities to their respective campuses. Blended learning is a hybrid of face-to-face (F2F) and online learning, providing instances of both teaching modalities.

The Sloan Consortium is an “institutional and professional leadership organization dedicated to integrating online education into the mainstream of higher education, helping institutions and individual educators improve the quality, scale, and breadth of education.”

Summaries and commentary on the different sessions attended by EdTech are provided in the blog entries below. Please feel free to comment on any entry that interests you. We are also willing to engage in further discussion on any of the topics below. Contact EdTech for more information.

SLOAN-C: The Promise and Practice of Blended Learning

sloan-c.png Presenter: Dr. Joel Hartman, University of Central Florida

Dr. Hartman was our opening keynote speaker for the recent Teaching and Learning Technology Conference at Missouri S&T. Now he is the plenary speaker for the SLOAN-C Blended Learning Conference & Workshop in Oak Brook, IL, just outside of Chicago.

Blended learning has been going on for centuries. Chalk technology is just one form of blended learning. Why do we think blended learning is different? The web is interactive, engaging, ubiquitous, asynchronous, rich in multimedia resources and constructivist. To this, we have added deeper institutional engagement, instructional design, faculty development, assessment, and communities of practice. The web is just one platform upon which blended learning activities are built.

How do we define blended learning? Blended learning courses combine online and classroom learning activities and resources in an optimal way to improve student learning outcomes and to address important institutional issues. In other words, blended learning is the space between fully face-to-face and fully online courses. There is a continuum between the extremes, within which blended learning fits.

It has the potential to impact any and every student, any and every instructor. It is both outward and inward facing. It also involves student-centered technologies which requires an institutional approach in order to apply the techniques effectively for maximum benefit to the students. Blended learning can also improve the efficiency of classroom space. However, it is sometimes not possible to recapture the classroom space for other classes. Final exam times may also conflict the classroom utilization.

One way of blending is to divide a large class into smaller groups so that only a small subset of students meet face to face at any one time. Online activities provide the additional resources to meet the needs of the larger group. This can also go in reverse where several small groups may be combined into one large blended course.

Blended courses may meet online and face-to-face for specific course content. They may meet F2F early in term, moving to online later in semester (or vice versa).

Blended programs need to address the fact the some courses (e.g. labs) are difficult to deliver fully online.

For faculty, there are many possible benefits: Blended is a first step into online learning. It is an opportunity for meaningful faculty development to dive deeper into pedagogy. Many students are somewhat ambivalent about technology in classroom because it is often not used well by instructors. Faculty can develop information literacy skills for themselves and for the students. Blended can offer “the best of both worlds” for faculty and students.

Blended and online provide an environment of pedagogical diversity and experimentation. It is a platform for integrating other technologies (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.). There are often more assessment options (though this does bring some significant challenges as well). Students have an environment for constructivist learning where they can build their own knowledge (with guidance). Blended impacts teaching practices both in and out of classroom.

New pedagogical approaches — from active faculty to active students; from transferring knowledge to creating knowledge; from learning as an individual activity to learning as a collaborative activity

Student expectations don’t align well with traditional F2F teaching. Blended gives students a good match for the NetGen expectations with visual, exploratory, participatory activities. Students can succeed very well in these environments.

Students also appreciate convenience and flexibilty of online/blended learning. It can reduse time to degree and increase their information literacy.

Ten keys to success — Institutional strategy; systemic approach; faculty development; course design and development support; online student support; online academic services; robust and reliant infrastructure; effective organizational model; pro-active policy development; data collection and assessment.

Sloan-C pillars — Access; learning effectiveness; student satisfaction; faculty satisfaction; cost effectiveness

Access — Blended increases convenience and flexibility for students. It reduces the disruptions in students’ lives. Blended learning reduces opportunity costs for student learning. At UCF, face-to-face enrollments are shrinking, while online/blended enrollments are growing rapidly. 19% of students are in online/blended courses.

How is student success measured? Grades divided into two groups — success (A, B, C) and not success (lower than C). At UCF, blended shows a slightly higher success rate than fully online.

According to Department of Education online is moderately more effective than traditional F2F. Blended is not necessarily more effective by itself, but the combination of tools that are employed has the most positive effect on students. In other words, what you do with the technology is more important than the technology itself.

Students really like blended learning. They like the improved interaction between students/instructors. They appreciate reduction in interruptions in their lives. They like the increased response times, better feedback.They feel performance is more fairly assessed and they like having more opportunities for collaboration. Anytime/anywhere communication with peers and instructors. More individual empowerment. Increased freedom to manage their own learning environments.

Students rate 48.9% of blended courses as “Excellent”.

Faculty satisfaction is more of a campus/cultural issue instead of a blended/online learning issue. Faculty rate structure and time of blended learning as a net positive. They like the convenience of delivering a blended course. More F2F tends to give more satisfaction than blended, but even blended only yields 12% dissatisfied overall. The quality and amount of interaction seem to be the driving factors of faculty satisfaction with blended courses.

The keys to faculty satisfaction include operating within the faculty culture; recognition and reward for blended teaching; incentives and support; and don’t put careers at risk.

Cost effectiveness — producing optimum results for expenditure (ROI). Blended learning will have a financial impact on an institution in both direct and indirect costs. “Making money” is NOT a good reason for engaging in blended learning — create the environment first; revenues will come with delivering a great product (just like it works in the real world). Successful implementation will make blended learning sustainable over the long term. UCF has a 16.6:1 ROI based on their own experiences in creating a blended learning environment over the past ten years.

There is declining state support (in all states). There are fewer funds for new construction, but there is increased student demand for teaching. Tuition and fees are also going up. Therefore, blended learning may be the only hope for many institutions.

To sum up — Access and cost-effectiveness are the easiest to accomplish. Faculty/student satisfaction and learning effectiveness are the more difficult pillars to achieve.

SLOAN-C: Faculty Development for Blended Learning

sloan-c.png Lead Presenter: Tova Duby; Babson College

Babson is a small private college in Wellsley, MA. Babson has been working on blended learning for the past 10 years.

Babson offered its firts blended course back in 2001. Faculty would not have stood a fully online course, so a blended course was the best compromise. Especially at a small college (2000 students) that values the personal touch. At first, Babson started partnering with private companies. But they were “in it for the money”, which, according to Dr. Joel Hartman is not the way to begin a blended learning program. Babson bled money for some time before they finally found a partnership that worked (Intel).

In 2006 they started an Innovation in Blended Learning Faculty Fellows Program. So far 50 faculty fellows have completed the program. There are currently 60+ faculty fellows. These are qualified to design and deliver online education.

Phase 1 of developing blended courses is to find faculty pioneers. Faculty don’t like to be told what to do by external contractors, so it is important to find faculty on campus who are really keen on doing blended learning on their own. This is true on our campus just as it was at Babson college. In other words, it is important to build the on-campus relationships with faculty who are already doing what needs to be done. Then the campus can begin structuring solutions that leverage the work of the pioneering faculty and expand the resources to support both those faculty and the faculty “fast followers”.

Phase 2 is to encourage “faculty fast followers” to adopt some of the tools and techniques the faculty pioneers have developed. This is where a group like EdTech can really help by putting the fast followers in touch with the pioneers. We can also provide guidance and resources to implement blended learning strategies. EdTech and CERTI working together can highlight new technologies for the fast followers and spread the word amongst the faculty on what tools work (and which don’t).

Phase 3 is the full campus-wide implementation on blended learning with full institutional support from all administrative offices on campus (Registrar, Vice Provosts, Provost, Chancellor, etc.). The eLearning Initiative sponsored by UM-System is laying the groundwork to go from Phase 2 into Phase 3.

Key components of program design include faculty (students/designers/teachers); one-on-one consultations; debriefings & revisions; regular programs offered; and flexibility of options. EdTech is currently working to improve the level of support available for each of these components. The blended course this blog shows up in is a perfect example as this is an area where the community of practice for blended learning can share ideas.

Faculty should play different roles within a blended learning development program. First they should be a student, learning what blended learning means and the different tools that are available. This is, in fact, then purpose of the CyberEd course in Blackboard. Then they progress to the design stage where they begin to apply everything they have learned for one or more of their courses. Finally, they get to teach the course they created. As with anything newly created, this can be a period of trial and error. However, EdTech and CERTI can offer support and resources to ensure success with their course.

One-on-one support with both technologists and instructional designers is important for success. EdTech is currently in the process of hiring for these positions within our group. The designers supports the pedagogy used in a blended course while the technologist provides more technical support for the tools used to enhance the blended course.

Throughout the process, the instructor needs to go through constant debriefing and revision of their course so it turns out as expected.

A formal program should be structured to take into account the needs of the campus community. In our case, we are trying to structure the program so that the faculty use one semester to go through the training process and then the next semester is used to teach the course they created. As we move forward, we will adjust as needed to account for the needs of our faculty.

Babson’s program was successful. They eased faculty through the transition to online/blended learning. New faculty hires participated in the program. They found a dedicated group of adjunct faculty. They established connections between learning technologists and faculty. They also created and used more self-learning modules online.

Babson had to meet several challenges, some of which are ongoing. Their program is not totally embedded in the faculty review system. It is a stand alone program, not tied to any other faculty development program. One of the reasons EdTech works so closely with CERTI is to give faculty a good path forward in professional development. As always, limited resources are a major challenge to meet all of the increased demands. As more faculty become interested, the demands will continue to increase, while the resources may decrease. Their program is also only focused on their fast-track MBA program and they don’t have as much support for other programs. However, their success in one program demonstrates that their is significant potential for other programs. Finally, it is difficult to disseminate new techniques. EdTech and CERTI use our faculty learning communities to address this challenge.

Babson’s next steps include going global, establishing quality control assurances, and more network development & faculty mentoring.