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Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Future of Undergraduate Teaching

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May 29, 2012, 1:44 pm

Many a university president has felt a frisson on reading the news that various consortia are intent on forging an online teaching presence that will reach out in what might seem to some like a quasi-imperial way (not just MIT and Stanford but also Embanet/Compass, 2tor, Coursera and the Minerva Project). No one I know thinks that these online consortia will have immediate effects in the manner of the raft of books that are direct descendants from the dot.com days, with all their corporate techno-hype (see the recent piece by Hiltzik on this agenda). But no one I know thinks that things will just stay the same either.

So what might happen?

Here is one possible scenario. First, most teaching in the early years of an undergraduate degree will gradually cease to be via lectures and will instead take the form of online presentations produced by professionally trained presenters backed up by teams of academics. This online content will be paralleled by peer tuition (or teaching by questioning) which, when done well, is clearly effective (see here and here), and the associated growth of so-called learning analytics. Lectures may well become special occasions in which the best-known academics make their presence felt. Meanwhile, small group teaching will make a come-back in all years, especially in the best universities. In other words, a new hybrid will take the place of the old, one in which I suspect that face-to-face experience and other forms of direct experience (like international experience) will actually become more valued.

Second, both learning and assessment will increasingly be peer to peer via social networks with academics acting as moderators and sources of advice. This has been happening anyway in many institutions but it may well become a normal model of learning interaction, combining with face to face in various ways.

Third, the spaces of teaching will multiply. Of course, there will still be lecture rooms and tutorial spaces. But more spaces will become adaptable and more spaces will become possible points of learning. Again, these things have been happening anyway. Now they may well become general.

Such a scenario might well unbalance the higher-education system. Most older academics, at least, will be more than a little concerned by them. But there is no reason to think that they will become the equivalent of the 19th century hand loom weavers. Certainly they will need to acquire a battery of skills that they may not yet have. Certainly, there are real issues over workloads (no one I know thinks that the growth of online will necessarily produce a decline in workloads). But, at the same time, many of these academics will be pleased to see the return of more intimate teaching styles wherein they can be certain that knowledge is being imparted and worked with creatively.

These events disturb one other delicate balance, too. In the past, there was a very definite compact in U.S. higher education so far as teaching was concerned. The elite ‘one percenter’ universities were well off and populated by staff who lived comfortably. These universities taught very few students but, obviously, given their wealth and consequent ability to buy excellent staff and small staff-student ratios, taught them well. The state universities and community colleges taught the bulk of students, often very well indeed but obviously in larger classes on the whole. Now that balance is being disturbed and the elite universities can seem like they want it all. This is going to be a real tension in U.S. higher education which, I suspect, will be mirrored all around the world as elite universities indulge in what might seem like the IT equivalent of a land grab in pursuit of further boosts to their reputation. In other words, we may be about to recreate the Wild West. I won’t extend the analogy!

[Creative Commons licensed Flickr photo by Brett Jordan]

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Posted by on May 30, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

What is the role of anytime, anywhere learning in higher education?

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Reposted from Campus Technology by: Matt Morton, Security Project Consultant, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Kyle Bowen, Director of Informatics for Information Technology, Purdue; Joy Hatch Vice Chancellor, Information Technology Services Virginia Community College System; Dr. Richard Sebastian, Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies, Virginia Community College System

 http://campustechnology.com/whitepapers/2012/sonicwall_12a/thought-leadership-full-version-report/asset.aspx?tc=assetpg&returnkey=Lr0rsOIAiYXxN7E7KC2sZbcLt4ixMI58

Matt Morton: Being able to access the content required for learning at any time shifts the student from a synchronous environment to an asynchronous one. As students move towards this convenience of anytime, anywhere content, faculty will need to adapt their styles to meet the demand. There is still a place for synchronous education. However, as incoming students rely more heavily on asynchronous methods due to time restrictions, it becomes more of a “learn at your own pace”model. With that said though, in my opinion, the time for “knowledge activation” on a particular subject will still take the same amount of time for the individual no matter what method is applied.

Kyle Bowen: The pervasiveness of mobile devices offers new capabilities for changing when and where the moment of learning takes place. For many students, mobile devices and social networks are their native environment—where they live their digital lives. The benefits of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, go well beyond access to digital content in the classroom, laboratory, or field. Mobile devices enable connections between students both inside and outside of the classroom. Within the classroom, they can create a backchannel of discussion between students—adding additional layers of interaction where learning was already happening. This same technology can also enable students to reach out beyond the classroom and the class to find new ideas that can further extend the classroom discussion. This virtual discussion medium also makes it possible to ask stupid questions, comment on taboo topics, or help introverted students find their voice in a larger group.

Mobile technology also enables students and instructors alike to easily create new digital media in the way of video, audio, or still images that can be used for learning and assessment. Rich media is found in nearly every part of our everyday lives. Instructors are weaving media creation into their course assignments—for some students, the first time they create a digital video for someone other than themselves may be for an assignment in their Science, Personal Finance, or American Sign Language class.

Joy Hatch / Richard Seb astian: Thanks to the growing ubiquity of“always-on” broadband connections as well as smartphones and tablets, and an increase in informal and open learning, learners now expect to be able to login to their classes and communicate with their instructors and classmates whenever they want. Institutions of higher education are feeling the pressure to offer more online courses and programs, as well as develop and implement robust mobile learning solutions. The campus is moving away from being the location of learning, to being a place that provides the services that mediate the act of learning.

This is of significant importance to higher education because these new demands from learners suggest a need to retrofit some of the traditional structures of higher education for the digital age: the college semester, the classroom, seat time, and the college degree, to name just a few. Institutions slow to adapt to these changes are going to find their students looking elsewhere for an education.

 

 


 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

What is the role of anytime, anywhere learning in higher education?


Matt Morton: Being able to access the content required for learning at any time shifts the student from a synchronous environment to an asynchronous one. As students move towards this convenience of anytime, anywhere content, faculty will need to adapt their styles to meet the demand. There is still a place for synchronous education. However, as incoming students rely more heavily on asynchronous methods due to time restrictions, it becomes more of a “learn at your own pace”model. With that said though, in my opinion, the time for “knowledge activation” on a particular subject will still take the same amount of time for the individual no matter what method is applied.

Kyle Bowen: The pervasiveness of mobile devices offers new capabilities for changing when and where the moment of learning takes place. For many students, mobile devices and social networks are their native environment—where they live their digital lives. The benefits of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, go well beyond access to digital content in the classroom, laboratory, or field. Mobile devices enable connections between students both inside and outside of the classroom. Within the classroom, they can create a backchannel of discussion between students—adding additional layers of interaction where learning was already happening. This same technology can also enable students to reach out beyond the classroom and the class to find new ideas that can further extend the classroom discussion. This virtual discussion medium also makes it possible to ask stupid questions, comment on taboo topics, or help introverted students find their voice in a larger group.

Mobile technology also enables students and instructors alike to easily create new digital media in the way of video, audio, or still images that can be used for learning and assessment. Rich media is found in nearly every part of our everyday lives. Instructors are weaving media creation into their course assignments—for some students, the first time they create a digital video for someone other than themselves may be for an assignment in their Science, Personal Finance, or American Sign Language class.

Joy Hatch / Richard Seb astian: Thanks to the growing ubiquity of“always-on” broadband connections as well as smartphones and tablets, and an increase in informal and open learning, learners now expect to be able tologin to their classes and communicate with their instructors and classmates whenever they want. Institutions of higher education are feeling the pressure to offer more online courses and programs, as well as develop and implement robust mobile learning solutions. The campus is moving away from being the location of learning, to being a place that provides the services that mediate the act of learning.

 This is of significant importance to higher education because these new demands from learners suggest a need to retrofit some of the traditional structures of higher education for the digital age: the college semester, the classroom, seat time, and the college degree, to name just a few. Institutions slow to adapt to these changes are going to find their students looking elsewhere for an education.

 

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

CWhat is the role of anytime, anywhere learning in higher education? here to set a title.


Matt Morton: Being able to access the content required for learning at any time shifts the student from a synchronous environment to an asynchronous one. As students move towards this convenience of anytime, anywhere content, faculty will need to adapt their styles to meet the demand. There is still a place for synchronous education. However, as incoming students rely more heavily on asynchronous methods due to time restrictions, it becomes more of a “learn at your own pace”model. With that said though, in my opinion, the time for “knowledge activation” on a particular subject will still take the same amount of time for the individual no matter what method is applied.

 

Kyle Bowen: The pervasiveness of mobile devices offers new capabilities for changing when and where the moment of learning takes place. For many students, mobile devices and social networks are their native environment—where they live their digital lives. The benefits of mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, go well beyond access to digital content in the classroom, laboratory, or field. Mobile devices enable connections between students both inside and outside of the classroom. Within the classroom, they can create a backchannel of discussion between students—adding additional layers of interaction where learning was already happening. This same technology can also enable students to reach out beyond the classroom and the class to find new ideas that can further extend the classroom discussion. This virtual discussion medium also makes it possible to ask stupid questions, comment on taboo topics, or help introverted students find their voice in a larger group.

Mobile technology also enables students and instructors alike to easily create new digital media in the way of video, audio, or still images that can be used for learning and assessment. Rich media is found in nearly every part of our everyday lives. Instructors are weaving media creation into their course assignments—for some students, the first time they create a digital video for someone other than themselves may be for an assignment in their Science, Personal Finance, or American Sign Language class.

Joy Hatch / Richard Seb astian: Thanks to the growing ubiquity of“always-on” broadband connections as well as smartphones and tablets, and an increase in informal and open learning, learners now expect to be able to login to their classes and communicate with their instructors and classmates whenever they want. Institutions of higher education are feeling the pressure to offer more online courses and programs, as well as develop and implement robust mobile learning solutions. The campus is moving away from being the location of learning, to being a place that provides the services that mediate the act of learning.

 This is of significant importance to higher education because these new demands from learners suggest a need to retrofit some of the traditional structures of higher education for the digital age: the college semester, the classroom, seat time, and the college degree, to name just a few. Institutions slow to adapt to these changes are going to find their students looking elsewhere for an education.

 

 
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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

And Now For Something Different…

Instructables-robot

ProfHacker: Projects with Instructables

May 18, 2012, 11:00 am

So. How are you going to spend your summer?  Writing that book?  Finishing the article?  Recreating that course?  Spending hours upon hours in the stacks at your university library?   Sounds like fun.  How about activities that are less-than academic?  Remodeling the kitchen?  Canning vegetables from your garden?  Finishing that quilt?  Making your own backpacking food?  Building a heavy-duty sling shot?  Learning basic break dancing moves and freezes?  Throughout the year, we spend most of our time working.  We even work during our vacations.  Yet to have a balanced life, we must make plans to play and have some fun.

Building a heavy-duty sling shot is fun.  So is building an inexpensive terrarium or making strawberry and banana whoopie pies.  We just have to make plans to do them.  We also, at least for most of us, need know how to do these things.

Instructables to the rescue.  According to its website, Instructables is “the Biggest How To and DIY community” on the Internet.  Instructables allows users to “make and share inspiring, entertaining, and useful projects, recipes, and hacks.”  Instructables is similar to Pinterest, a website we’ve written about before here at ProfHacker.  Where Pinterest allows users to save, or “pin,” their possible DIY projects and ideas to pinboards for later use, Instructables takes these idea further; users actually show other users how to do construct and create these projects.

Peruse the website and you’ll find DIY projects related to technology, furniture, duct tape, gardening, fashion, parenting, pets or a myriad of other subjects.

There’s a terrarium in my future.  A terrarium and some whoopie pies.  A terrarium, some whoopie pies, and other fun activities I’ve found on Instructables.

So. How about you?  Certainly you will probably need to accomplish work this summer.  But what else can you do?  What DIY projects do you think you might tackle this summer?  Please leave comments or suggestions below.

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Posted by on May 21, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

What does collaboration mean for today?s digital learner and why is it important?

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Reposted from Campus Technology 
by: Matt Morton, Security Project Consultant, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Kyle Bowen, Director of Informatics for Information Technology, Purdue; Joy Hatch Vice Chancellor, Information Technology Services Virginia Community College System; Dr. Richard Sebastian, Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies, Virginia Community College System
http://campustechnology.com/whitepapers/2012/sonicwall_12a/thought-leadership-full-version-report/asset.aspx?tc=assetpg&returnkey=Lr0rsOIAiYXxN7E7KC2sZbcLt4ixMI58

Matt Morton: Today’s learners, more than ever, use collaboration tools to complete assignments and work on projects. This is also a key skill required for the workforce. Being able to understand the tools and use them is part of the digital literacy that is sorely needed. Tools like web conferencing, Skype, IM, and e-mail are all key technologies that today’s learners should be coming to college with. Collaboration is one of the three C’s of digital literacy, content, convenience, and collaboration.

Kyle Bowen: Collaboration is a key aspect of any student’s academic success. Activities such as discussing coursework outside of class and working with other students on projects are correlated with academic performance. Nearly every student uses social networking websites as a way to engage and communicate with their friends, and increasingly they have been turning to these tools as a means to communicate with classmates about course related topics. In many ways the same tools students use to manage their social life are used to administer their own learning experience.

Because students come to social tools on their own, they are left to find creative ways to bridge the divide between their own personal learning environment and the institution. The widespread adoption and use of social networks creates an opportunity to improve student success by establishing learning environments that help students build a support network, allowing people to connect and share content from their courses, learning communities, and friends.

Joy Hatch / Richard Sebastian: Collaboration is vitally important for today’s “digital learners,” a term that now applies to all learners. Learning is slowly making a fundamental shift away from the “content delivery” model—still found in college lecture halls—to one that engages learners more deeply with content by asking them to solve messy problems, work on teams, and develop their own firsthand understanding of course material. This shift has been caused by rapid innovations in technology; especially the Internet and more recently social media networks, with these same technologies also providing the solutions.

Now, learners can not only read an important text, but also discuss it with the author via Skype. They can group-author a paper using Google Docs anywhere an Internet connection is accessible. And, after writing the paper, they can share it publicly by posting it to a blog or wiki, annotated with images and videos they created with the sophisticated digital media tools they carry around in their pockets. A learner’s understanding can now be easily demonstrated through the creation and sharing of digital artifacts, as

 

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

What does collaboration mean for today?s digital learner and why is it important?

What does collaboration mean for today’s digital learner and why is it important?

6976096234_844aa62a29_n

Reposted from Campus Technology
by: Matt Morton, Security Project Consultant, University of Nebraska at Omaha; Kyle Bowen, Director of Informatics for Information Technology, Purdue; Joy Hatch Vice Chancellor, Information Technology Services Virginia Community College System; Dr. Richard Sebastian, Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies, Virginia Community College System

 (http://campustechnology.com/whitepapers/2012/sonicwall_12a/thought-leadership-full-version-report/asset.aspx?tc=assetpg&returnkey=Lr0rsOIAiYXxN7E7KC2sZbcLt4ixMI58)  

Matt Morton: Today’s learners, more than ever, use collaboration tools to complete assignments and work on projects. This is also a key skill required for the workforce. Being able to understand the tools and use them is part of the digital literacy that is sorely needed. Tools like web conferencing, Skype, IM, and e-mail are all key technologies that today’s learners should be coming to college with. Collaboration is one of the three C’s of digital literacy, content, convenience, and collaboration.

Kyle Bowen: Collaboration is a key aspect of any student’s academic success. Activities such as discussing coursework outside of class and working with other students on projects are correlated with academic performance. Nearly every student uses social networking websites as a way to engage and communicate with their friends, and increasingly they have been turning to these tools as a means to communicate with classmates about course related topics. In many ways the same tools students use to manage their social life are used to administer their own learning experience. Because students come to social tools on their own, they are left to find creative ways to bridge the divide between their own personal learning environment and the institution. The widespread adoption and use of social networks creates an opportunity to improve student success by establishing learning environments that help students build a support network, allowing people to connect and share content from their courses, learning communities, and friends.

Joy Hatch / Richard Sebastian: Collaboration is vitally important for today’s “digital learners,” a term that now applies to all learners. Learning is slowly making a fundamental shift away from the “content delivery” model—still found in college lecture halls—to one that engages learners more deeply with content by asking them to solve messy problems, work on teams, and develop their own firsthand understanding of course material. This shift has been caused by rapid innovations in technology; especially the Internet and more recently social media networks, with these same technologies also providing the solutions. Now, learners can not only read an important text, but also discuss it with the author via Skype. They can group-author a paper using Google Docs anywhere an Internet connection is accessible. And, after writing the paper, they can share it publicly by posting it to a blog or wiki, annotated with images and videos they created with the sophisticated digital media tools they carry around in their pockets. A learner’s understanding can now be easily demonstrated through the creation and sharing of digital artifacts, as

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2012 in Uncategorized