Wednesday, August 12, 2015

14-year-old Scholar Writes (and Rights) History

This! The Teen Who Exposed a Professor's Myth is a fascinating read and brings up all sorts of uncomfortable issues for traditional academics. But for new millennial academics, it's exhilarating! (Big thanks to Stephen Downes, who finds the best stuff out there and delivers it through the OLDaily!)
Now, Rebecca says she might continue along this same path, “exploring other areas where digitized newspaper evidence might supply new historical insights.” She thinks there “might still be some low-hanging fruit for researchers.”

Monday, July 27, 2015

NOOCs are here!

Ever gotten excited and registered for a MOOC only to lose interest or get distracted and never complete it? Happens to me ... from time to time. But I don't feel badly about it, I just have very focused needs for some of the MOOCs that I find interesting. I don't NEED to complete every MOOC I start, but it would be great if the content I'm after were available in less comprehensive, exhaustive contexts. NOOCs to the rescue (opens in new window)!

Nano Open Online Courses are going to special relevance in training/performance support but have plenty of applications in higher education too. I'm thinking "Learning Objects" for more comprehensive, academic course work.

I'll keep you posted on any that I find especially helpful!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

"Explore the Beyond" (MOOC! Register now!)

From the email I received from Dr. Myk Garn:
This online collaboration is open to anyone who attends, works in or works with higher education in the United States. The “Explore the Beyond” online collaboration will use crowd-sourcing and future scenarios developed in the “Invent the Beyond” course (delivered Sept-Nov 2014) to explore and describe the factors critical to the success of student, faculty and postsecondary institutions in 2030. Through successive interactive and discursive sessions participants will identify and quantify the critical success factors and potential new business models in play for higher education stakeholders.
The “Explore the Beyond” sessions will see participants establishing and exploring how three stakeholder groups – students, faculty and institutions – would fare, what factors would be critical to the success of those communities, in the previously identified scenarios. The final session will recap and consolidate the learnings and implications of the complete process to Invent the Beyond resulting in a set of critical success factors and a framework for informing institutions and individuals as they build their future plans.

PLEASE DISTRIBUTE this invitation widely to students, faculty, administrators and other higher education stakeholders!
The BIGGER the Crowd—the SMARTER the Future!
Are you going to help engineer our future? REGISTER HERE! It starts January 26th!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Competency Based Hiring

From Stephen Downes at the OLDaily:

Get ready for this. The days of the transcript (if it was used at all) as a basis for hiring is about to change. Competencies, rather than transcripts or credentials, will become the hiring standard of the future (or - I should add - something like competencies (for a variety of reasons)). Stacey Clawson, writing for the Gates Foundation, writes, "Competency-based programs offer the potential to go beyond a limited view of higher education, giving students the opportunity to develop and practice the skills needed for a meaningful career, life, and citizenship." We can see the writing on the wall: "An easy-to-adopt, integrated infrastructure designed for institutions that serve the new student majority - older, part-time, lower income, and distance learners - is needed to help scale competency-based programs." She is thinking of the institutions, but my focus is on learners and employers. How will they access their competency definitions? How will these be presented in hiring decisions? An institutional infrastructure served or hosted by providers will be insufficient. I'm not sure the Gates Foundation understands this, though.
HERE's the scoop. No one said it was going to happen overnight. But it is the wave of the future nonetheless. Let's wave back!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Technology Tools for Teachers

I have had quite the whirlwind few months getting adapted to my new position and have loads of information and perspective to share! I will be posting again regularly from here on out.

Today, I culled THIS COOL TECH TOOLS PDF GUIDE (from Stephen Downes list, of course!) to technology tools available to teachers and wanted to share it here just as my way of saying, "Hey, I'm back! And sorry it's been so long!"

Saturday, September 20, 2014

MOOCs: Completion Not Important (Forbes)

Wow! Exactly. How true, how true. I have actually been known to say the exact same thing myself but now it feels less like rationalization and more like keen insights. Of course, I've also been known to say that the cool thing about rationalization is that ... it's rational! *snicker*
Completion rates are not, and should not be the goal of MOOCs, and we shouldn’t write them off because students don’t finish. MOOCs can be taken for the knowledge they offer, to supplement other courses, or even for the sheer enjoyment of learning.  Unlike university-offered courses, MOOCs offer significant gains to their students even if they are not completed.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Growth Mindsets are Contagious!

"The Internet is a dream for someone with a growth mindset. Between Khan Academy, MOOCs, and others, there is unprecedented access to endless content to help you grow your mind. However, society isn’t going to fully take advantage of this without growth mindsets being more prevalent. So what if we actively tried to change that? What if we began using whatever means are at our disposal to start performing growth mindset interventions on everyone we cared about? This is much bigger than Khan Academy or algebra — it applies to how you communicate with your children, how you manage your team at work, how you learn a new language or instrument. If society as a whole begins to embrace the struggle of learning, there is no end to what that could mean for global human potential." (S. Khan)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Funny & we have a winner!

Congratulations to Dr. Barbara Bush, who found the Easter egg in my last post and claimed her prize with a touching letter of farewell. But the thing is ... this isn't goodbye! We HAVE the technology to stay in touch! I am not leaving this community of friends and colleagues, I am just expanding the territory of our growing network of academics passionate about e-learning!

That said, let's have a laugh! Happy Friday!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It's like this ...

I often slow the pace during summer, knowing that faculty are distracted by areas of their lives other than teaching. But lately, I've also been busy shifting gears in my life. I have accepted a position with the Tennessee Board of Regents in Nashville, Tennessee (just about 100 miles north of where I am now). TBR is the agency that governs most of the higher education system in Tennessee (the sixth largest in the nation!), except the University of Tennessee system which currently includes five of the state's fifty-two institutions of higher education (the other forty-five being TBR's six universities, thirteen community colleges and twenty-six colleges of applied technology). The student population is split between the two systems at about 80% TBR (~200,000) and 20% UT (~49,000) across the state.

TBR's Regents Online Degree Program is an initiative of the Regents Online Campus Collaborative, established in 2001. I became aware of the RODP/ROCC during my employment at East Tennessee State University a few years back. I am honored to be joining the RODP/ROCC training team and hope to be meeting all of our hundreds of course developers, faculty and e-learning staff across the state very soon.

I hope that my good friends and colleagues at Alabama A&M University will remain readers! I know that I will be watching all of them and learning from their ranks as I have for the past three years. I grew tremendously while at AAMU and was afforded many opportunities to create and guide something significant with the first several of their dozens-to-come online degree programs. I am honored to have worked there as well.

I am feeling blessed for the many opportunities I am being granted to expand my knowledge and my network of friends and colleagues. There are very exciting times ahead! I hope all will stay tuned!

(A parting gift to AAMU faculty and staff! The first AAMU employee who emails me with the words "Au Revoir" in the subject line wins a high-definition web cam that can plug into any computer! "Easter eggs" like these prizes hidden in my blog are a GREAT way to entice learners to read your syllabus! Become known for leaving little surprises here and there [extra credit points?] and you'd be surprised how much more attentive your learners might become!) 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

FREE WEBINAR: Designing & Assessing Discussion Questions

The Online Learning Consortium (OLC, formerly Sloan Consortium) is offering a free webinar called, "Best Practices for Designing and Assessing Online Discussion Questions" for both OLC members AND nonmembers.

Discussion boards are arguably the most critical component of an online teaching and learning strategy and can be tricky to designmanage and assess when learner participation is evaluated for final grade. And how does an instructor ideally give/receive the integral FEEDBACK that is critical to sound assessment strategies? (Because effective feedback assesses both learning AND teaching!)

Let's attend and find out!  Sign up HERE!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

A Moment to Reflect

A new feature of the blog! In addition to Moments in Meme and Funny Fridays, we'll start sharing some moments of reflection meant to inspire us to look inward to renew our spirits and freshen our outlook on the challenges we face. Great way to get conversation going with your own learners and to help ground them for the challenges they will face in your teaching environment. An introductory discussion about teamwork and personal commitment can be time well spent when you have built a course around collaborative exploration of your topic!
I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.

(Dawna Markova)

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Word Crimes

Now who wouldn't love an English grammar lesson set to the tune of a top-40 hit?

(Don't forget that you can view full screen by clicking the tiny cornered box icon in the lower right of the video frame!)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

"Every Kid Needs a Champion"

I was immediately disheartened when this headline caught my eye:

But with a thorough read of the article linked, I discovered that while the headline erroneously blamed educational technology for growing achievement gaps, the article itself clearly described the value of human interaction in complement to educational technology access. The academic technology did not impede nor damage outcomes for either group. It was the lack (or presence) of human engagement that should have been highlighted as the key difference in learning outcomes for the learner groups being discussed.

More and more often, we find research like this that supports the importance of human relationships with instructors, mentors and peers in supporting teaching and learning with technology. So many institutions believe in blind faith that merely acquiring technology will shift learning outcomes. But those who have tried that approach and been left with unchanged or declining outcomes are left scratching their heads and wondering where they went wrong.

Simply put: to be successfully implemented, academic technology must be used to enhance engagement, not replace it. Just ask Rita Pierson, TED-talker who asserts in this talk that, "Every kid needs a champion." For those of us in higher education, that applies to every learner, regardless of age.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Introducing Nanodegrees

Of all the e-newsletters I get, I always rip through Stephen Downes' OLDaily first and most thoroughly. Once again, he puts his finger on what promises to be the newest innovation in higher education since the MOOC: the nanodegree.

In a New York Times editorial, Eduardo Porter poses the question, "Could an online degree earned in six to 12 months bring a revolution to higher education?"

And the answer is a resounding YES! Yes, it could. And I'm betting it will! These highly personalized, focused mini-degrees are tempting not only learners, but employers too. And what's not to love?

This movement will give those of us in traditional higher education a chance to think about our academic and continuing education programs—and their relationship to each other—in a new light.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

21 Interesting Conferences Educators Should Check Out

I get excited about conferences! While the travel logistics can be daunting, I've never regretted the effort made to get to a conference. I always come back full of new ideas and renewed energies!

Edudemic's 21 Interesting Conferences Educators Should Check Out holds many interesting possibilities with lots of promise! I'm hoping to attend the Sloan Consortium's 20th Annual International Conference this fall and am excited to mention that its 1st Annual Historically Black Colleges & Universities (HBCU) Leadership Summit for Online Learning will precede the main conference in the same location.

Hope to see you there!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

OPINION: MOOCs Disruption is Only Beginning (Christensen/Weise)

For those following the issue of MOOCs and their impact on higher education, this Boston Globe editorial does a really good job of evaluating the current landscape and predicting the future of MOOCs in higher education.

In late 2013, several naysayers declared the MOOC dead in the water. Naysayers, however, are often very short-sighted. Just ask Cliff Stoll, who declared the Internet basically dead at the end of the last millennium, and e-commerce a fantasy that would never materialize. Ahem.

While it's certainly true that MOOCs will evolve continuously, there is no doubt in my mind that their impact on higher education is just beginning. Those high dropout rates are more indicative of the importance of incentive (grade/credit/degree) than the tenacity or potential for success (or lack thereof) by those students who are casually sampling the wares offered through current MOOCs. Nor the quality of the potential MOOC experience itself, for that matter. I myself have casually sampled MOOCs as a learner, knowing that I would not complete the course in the expected sense, but still gleaning very valuable information, professional and personal connections and perspective from each I visited, however briefly or sporadically.

Once we resolve the issue of course credit (institutions' willingness to apply credits earned in MOOCs and to accept them in lieu of more traditional classroom credit hours), I am speculating that we will shift focus to an entirely different brand of learner and a much more impressive dataset regarding outcomes. Not because their academic caliber will be so different, although it will certainly become more mainstream as degree seekers flow into the open education movement. The stakes simply aren't high enough right now to impact learners' decisions to stay or to go, to participate fully or to simply observe. And the nature of higher education is changing as it becomes more widely accessible. The increased diversity of learners will shape its future design by necessity and by market demand. We really have no choice but to work side-by-side our colleagues in the open education movement, accepting graciously what they're offering to share with us. We should not forget that the tuition-free University of the People gained national accreditation just a few months ago.

In fact, we would do well to remember that all legitimate educational pursuits are not necessarily academic credit-bearing endeavors and that more casual, personalized and ongoing learning opportunities are of great interest to a population already degreed and working in professional circles—as well as those seeking accredited degrees. The value of the MOOC goes well beyond degree attainment, or even post-graduate professional development. MOOCs release "learning" from the ivory towers and ancient floorboards and chalkboards of formal, traditional academia and open up learning for the sake of learning to a global population hungry for such opportunities as well. In terms of bolstering higher education accessibility and viability, this late-coming disruptive innovation couldn't come soon enough! Many in traditional higher education are trying to apply last-millennium classroom teaching/learning models to online learning experiences and it's just not working out so well. (See the Serious e-Learning Manifesto for what we're doing about it!) 

The human learning communities being formed around MOOCs are where the real gold is hidden and the source of the brightest light of hope in this movement. The peer-to-peer learning so central to the MOOC-style classroom not only models a more realistic teaching/learning strategy for those participating, but creates relationships and communities (however virtual) that are real and can sustain learners well beyond the formal educational experience itself. MOOCs have the potential to do a much better job of preparing learners for real workforce conditions than the 1950s classroom model that relies almost solely on summative assessment, rote memorization and tortured one-way lectures for teaching/learning.

Stay tuned! MOOCs are just beginning to warm up the landscape!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

4 Simple Steps for Lesson Planning

Break is over and summer session has officially begun! It's time to bring us back together with fledgling and veteran course designers in our Power Through Series (e-course development workshops) beginning next week. We'll talk about course design and redesign, about the powerful course infrastructure built with effective learning objectives.

This quick lesson in mapping out the design of lesson plans includes a cool infographic and lists important decisions to be made to determine the direction of your teaching and subsequent learning outcomes.

Stay tuned! The summer is just getting started!

Thursday, April 17, 2014


In the world of assessment, there are few tools with as much power and mutual benefit to both teachers and learners as the rubric!

Does the idea of using a rubric leave you a little mystified? Puzzle no more! HERE is a fabulous guide that will have you up and running in no time!

Of course, that's not ALL there is to say about great rubric design and how they impact learning outcomes. Anyone wanting to take a deeper look is encouraged to read Introduction to Rubrics: An Assessment tool to Save Grading Time, Convey Effective Feedback and Promote Student Learning.

We'll be hosting workshops this summer and fall that cover both great design AND cool tools for rubric design. Stay tuned!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Staggering Literacy Data Infographic

Infographics are a great way to present data. This one is sobering; the presentation really helps bring home the story told by the numbers, don't you think?

We can help you make infographics! Email me if you're interested!

Friday, April 11, 2014

APP Mania: Workflowy

Every once in awhile, an app floats along that changes your life. Changes EVERYTHING! Picks you up by the feet, rattles upside down until everything falls out and then puts everything neatly back together better than it ever was before. Most recently, that app was Workflowy.

It's difficult to articulate but with Workflowy, it's simplicity is its power. It's easily the most accessible and easily learned app I've seen yet. And yet its power to contain, organize and SERVE every single detail of your life is frankly breathaking.

You begin your (free) account with a blank page. Then you make lists, which become category headers in function. Mine began with WORK  and PERSONAL but I later added SCHOOL rather than wrap in under my personal heading. Within each list, I can sublist ... and sublist and sublist. So within each, I have a TO DO list and several lists within each of those. Then WORKSHOP IDEAS, BOOKS TO READ and a quickly growing LIST of everything relevant to every aspect of my life. If I taught several courses, I  can easily see having a list for each course that included content links, organization, notes, design structure and records as well as lists for research projects, service projects and writing endeavors. There is literally nothing that can't be fit into one of these lists. So finally, a centralized repository of information related to your life in an easily accessed (phone, tablet, laptop, desktop) format and free to lightweight users.

And it works like a calendar! Because you can tag each item for later recall by search, I tag deadlines with the date in this format #041114 (for April 11, 2014). Then each morning, I can recall my day's deadlines by tag search on that date and suddenly everything I need to do for work, home OR school are all combined into one easy list for me to review and work through. As I complete tasks they can disappear (or be brought back). And I can set reminders by adding multiple date tags. So if I want to be reminded of a deadline a week in advance, I can tag #041114 #040414 and get a reminder on the 4th of April about the deadline on the 11th.

You can also share individual lists (by section, keeping the entirety of your list private) via link for viewing and/or editing by collaborators. And the new capabilities are being added all the time! I can easily see that I won't be able to function without Workflowy to keep me organized from now on.

I am also using Workflowy to organize my curriculum design by course, by module and by activity. Imagine how many ways that this tool could help in both teaching and learning in every subject area! Perhaps we should begin a list ...

(This is an authentic user review for which I receive absolutely no compensation or acknowledgement of any kind. The APPMania series will feature apps that enhance productivity, the teaching and learning process—or BOTH!)

Friday, April 4, 2014

Thursday, April 3, 2014

I Will Not Die an Unlived Life

I am just finishing up the last week of this semester's Power Through Series, an experience I have grown to love and savor. Each semester for the past year (and for the foreseeable future), the Power Through Series gathers faculty from across our university community into a computer lab for an eight-week series of workshops geared toward online course development. By the end of the series, I always feel I have made new friends as well as deepened my relationships with the faculty and staff I serve.

This semester, we had a strong turnout from the English Department! And they graciously hosted our series in their own Writing Center computer lab. So in homage to our beloved English Department and in honor of National Poetry Month, I share this:
“I will not die an unlived life.
I will not live in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open me,
to make me less afraid,
more accessible;
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance,
to live so that which came to me as seed
goes to the next as blossom,
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.”  (Dawna Markova)

And to celebrate the month, I am going to award the FIRST AAMU employee to contact me via EMAIL a $25 Amazon gift card, just for reading my blog! In order to qualify, please mention this offer in your email!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Creating a Climate of Possibility

Prepare to be inspired! Spread the word!

Scale (How you can help!)

In my personal studies, I have developed a keen interest in the issue of scale within the context of our e-learning mission within traditional institutions of education. I read in one source (I have tried to find it again to cite it, but to no avail) that the educational sector is the slo-o-owest of all sectors to adopt and integrate technology. Everyone who works in education would likely agree.

The challenge of helping to increase that momentum and move technology further and more deeply into the educational experience is the source of both my greatest excitement and my greatest fear. 

I recently decided to pursue my doctoral degree. As I am more interested in program administration than classroom teaching or research, I decided on an EdD with a specialization in higher education leadership. I have been thinking long and hard about what focus I would like to apply to my studies. I didn't have to think long to realize that the issue of scale is the one that is calling my name. 

I know that there are administrators who read my blog as well as faculty, students and other stakeholders in the e-learning revolution. For those of us who are involved in developing programs and scaling them into larger integrated functionality, I have added a section of resources labeled simply "Scale" and will be adding valuable resources there for your consideration and review. I welcome any conversation or insights on the topic as well. 

Of particular challenge to those struggling with the issue of scale is the proper assessment and evaluation of the current state of affairs in a given educational ecosystem or community. It's not enough to know what we want to happen next, we have to first do the hard and uncomfortable work of developing (and fixing broken or outdated) infrastructures with a thoughtful consideration of the future.

Taking those first steps in a way that doesn't frighten or intimidate stakeholders (colleagues, primarily) —while still demanding the full extent of forthright change that is required—is a very delicate and complicated problem to solve. We'll be exploring those issues in our conversations here as well. 

What's most important to say at this juncture is that the conversation around innovating our learning communities to keep up with our new millennial learners is one that must take place with all of us in the room. Where traditional management practices have had closed door meetings and decisions made for stakeholders by those who are signing the checks for goods and services, the successful scale strategy keeps the conversation open and interactive with every stakeholder, including the end learner. 

In a successful design, there will be layers of learning and teaching. Administrators willing to learn and to teach, e-learning staff willing to learn and to teach, faculty willing to learn and to teach, and end learners willing to both learn and teach (the value of peer teaching and learning becomes very apparent in the outcomes). 

So where do we start? We start by talking to each other. By adopting the tools and letting them sink into our daily living. By participating in faculty advisory opportunities presented by our institutions' administrations, quite frankly. Institutions have adopted that filled-room come-one-come-all policy of seeking stakeholder input, but often those stakeholders don't show up to actively participate. Apathy is a common theme across the many fields, not just education. But, as educators—we're different, aren't we?

The time is nigh! Are you coming?

Why MOOCs (Still) Matter

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Mind maps!

We'll be creating Mind Maps on a Hangout soon! (Click the graphic to enlarge!)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday Funny!

Tip: Just click on the cartoon image for a larger view and more legible caption! Happy Friday!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

RoboPhot: It's in the Details!

You need to CLICK HERE and then zoom in. Zoom way in. And then zoom way out. And then think about how this type of photo could be used in online education.

This detail is achieved by taking 600 shots over 30 minutes and then tiling the image together in a supersized graphic file. The effect is breathtaking! And our favorite e-word: engaging!

Be warned: RoboPhot is addictive!

Watch to learn more!

Let's Get Critical!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Serious eLearning Manifesto

From the venerable Stephen Downes' OLDaily, the Serious eLearning Manifesto:
We believe that learning technology offers the possibility for creating uniquely valuable learning experiences. 
We also believe, with a sense of sadness and profound frustration, that most elearning fails to live up to its promise. 
We further believe that current trends evoke a future of only negligible improvement in elearning design—unless something radical is done to bend the curve. 
Finally, we have concluded that in order to elevate elearning to the height of its promise, we need to begin with a personal commitment to a new set of standards. 
Through continuous assessment of learner performance, the elearning experience can optimize use of the learner’s time, individualize the experience for full engagement, address needs, optimize practice, and prepare for transfer of learning to performance proficiency. 
Through our work in developing elearning experiences and helping others do the same, we believe that we need to go beyond typical elearning to the values and characteristics of Serious eLearning ...
Please watch this insightful and inspiring hour-long Google Hangout with the Manifesto team:

Read it in full HERE. And then, please—go sign!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Critical Thinking!

In honor of Alabama A&M University's 2014 QEP theme of "Critical Thinking" ... a little humor!

And one of our QEP flyers! (I designed this one!)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Tuition Net Increases to Poorest Students Threaten Access to Higher Ed

I read with great interest Jon Marcus and Holly K. Hacker's Colleges Are Quietly Shifting The Burden Of Tuition Increases To Poor Families from the Hechinger Report on Huffington Post. I don't want to editorialize the issues raised specifically in the article in the context discussed, but want to point out that this entire issue—the evolving landscape of access to higher education as impacted by issues discussed herein—provides profound context for the unfolding discussions regarding MOOCs and their role in higher education.

I believe that the most imminent threat MOOCs present to traditional higher education is the allure of high-quality free/low-cost degrees for the highest achieving, most independent and self-motivated learners. In addition to potentially losing them out of enrollment and retention data sets, we stand to lose their power as peer learners to enhance learning outcomes for everyone enrolled.

Invasion of the MOOCs: The Promise and Perils of Massive Open Online Courses

Invasion of the MOOCs: The Promise and Perils of Massive Open Online Courses is one of the first collections of essays about the phenomenon of “Massive Online Open Courses.” Unlike accounts in the mainstream media and educational press, Invasion of the MOOCs is not written from the perspective of removed administrators, would-be education entrepreneurs/venture capitalists, or political pundits. Rather, this collection of essays comes from faculty who developed and taught MOOCs in 2012 and 2013, students who participated in those MOOCs, and academics and observers who have first hand experience with MOOCs and higher education. These twenty-one essays reflect the complexity of the very definition of what is (and what might in the near future be) a “MOOC,” along with perspectives and opinions that move far beyond the polarizing debate about MOOCs that has occupied the media in previous accounts. Toward that end, Invasion of the MOOCs reflects a wide variety of impressions about MOOCs from the most recent past and projects possibilities about MOOCs for the not so distant future.
You can buy the print copy (or download the free PDF version) HERE.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Engagement and Feedback

We're always looking for ways to engage the learner in content and to gain feedback on how they are progressing with their learning. Check out Edudemic's great short list of practical tips for accomplishing both in your brick-and-mortar or online classroom!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Sloan-C e-Teaching Certificate

While the Instructional Design certificate programs I discussed in my last post are academic programs comprised of credit-bearing courses, there are also e-teaching certificates that are less rigorous, less costly and a lot easier to acquire.

Sloan Consortium offers two such certificates with their Teaching and Advanced Teaching Certificates. Each is comprised of a series of workshops (as opposed to more academically rigorous credit-bearing academic courses) that include a required foundation course and a handful of elective workshops.

The cost of these certificates is an allowable use of Title III funding for professional development! If you or your faculty are interested in acquiring credentialed high quality education in the area of e-teaching, these certificates are a powerful addition to both your professional toolbox and your vitae, as well as a sound first step in the direction becoming a fully credentialed e-learning professional!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

ID Hunter: Instructional Design Graduate certificates

Today, I received an email from the creator of ID Hunter promoting this great resource for comparing graduate certificates in instructional design, e-learning and related topics. Clearly, its author spent considerable time compiling the most critical data for a side-by-side comparison of options.

Any educator who wants to take their course development and delivery to the next level would be well served by a certificate's inherent opportunities for in-depth study, research and practice, even if not teaching fully online. The best classroom courses also incorporate technology and a blended or hybrid approach to teaching and learning. A certificate can also formalize your credentials as an e-learning professional!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Rubrics Made Even Easier!

In the world of assessment, there is no greater tool than the rubric! Well-constructed rubrics both qualify and quantify the assessment criteria and are a key communication tool between teachers and learners.

Do you need some help streamlining your grading rubric? Edudemic is here to help with no less than SIX online rubric creation tools!

Check them out HERE!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

The Power of Graphics in Learning

Can a picture paint a thousand words? Can a photo impart instruction, procedure or information?

What do you think about this graphical recipe? Food for thought! (Yes, I admit it! Pun intended!)

You can engage learners with their content by using carefully chosen graphics to supplement your reading and viewing assignments, lectures and discussions. There are lots of free images out there that do NOT hold a copyright ... but a copyleft! That's a kind of license that allows you free use of some content! Also, there's the Creative Commons, public domain, and the old-fashioned thrill of designing your own graphics, with or without the help of expert digital media support!

There are lots of libraries to peruse linked in my LORs (Learning Object Repositories) section of links. Check them out!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Personalized Professional Learning: A Google Hang-out Roundtable

I attended this Google Hangout roundtable hosted by Ben Wilkoff just today and can't resist sharing it here!

How are you managing your own professional learning? And how can I help? Check out the Learning Remodeled Web site too!


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Grade Change: Sloan-C's 2013 Report on Online Learning in U.S. Higher Ed

Sloan Consortium has released its 2013 annual survey of higher education administrators and is making it available for free download.

This 38-page report is titled Grade Change: Tracking Online Education in the United States, 2013 and surveys administrators specifically in the realm of higher education.

I found this snippet from the summary especially interesting: (bold emphasis is mine in last paragraph)

Are Learning Outcomes in Online Comparable to Face-to-Face?  
Background: The reports in this series have consistently found a growing majority of chief academic officers rate the learning outcomes for online education “as good as
or better” than those for face-to-face instruction.  
The evidence: The 2013 results show a small decrease in the percentage of academic leaders who view the learning outcomes for online instruction as the same of better than face-to-face instruction. 
  • The percent of academic leaders rating the learning outcomes in online education as the same or superior to those in face-to-face instruction had grown from 57 in 2003 to 77 percent in 2012. The upward trend was reversed this year, with a dip to 74 percent.
  • The proportion of academic leaders who believe the learning outcomes for online education are inferior to those of face-to-face instruction increased from 23 percent last year to 26 percent this year. 
  • Academic leaders at institutions with online offerings remain positive about the relative learning outcomes for online courses; all of the decrease can be attributed to leaders at institutions without online offerings becoming more negative
Happy reading!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What We're Learning from Online Education

"Daphne Koller is enticing top universities to put their most intriguing courses online for free -- not just as a service, but as a way to research how people learn. With Coursera (cofounded by Andrew Ng), each keystroke, quiz, peer-to-peer discussion and self-graded assignment builds an unprecedented pool of data on how knowledge is processed."

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Assessment: Telling Our Stories

I am in the process of preparing a presentation for an assessment conference in June to be held at Alabama A&M University. I am very excited about the opportunities to both attend and present at this annual event.

I am speaking on the subject of MOOCs, and whether they can or should be incorporated into our own curricula. The idea of marrying two seemingly disparate entities (MOOCs and traditional higher education) is not unlike struggling with the relationship of qualitative and quantitative assessment strategies.

And it has me thinking about the nature of assessment. It has me wondering how I can convey to the audience my concern for the over-reliance on data that I observe, without giving the impression that I don't value the data at all. Quite the contrary! I'm a scientist, a mathematician every bit as much as I am an artist and a writer. I just don't think that the data tells the entire story when it comes to the important role of assessment.

What kind of assessment, though? Are we talking institutional assessment? Program assessment? Or the assessment of teaching and learning that occurs within our institutions? So often it seems that teaching and learning are segregated in the planning and assessment processes in ways that make both more difficult to both assess and address.

But I think we're really talking about all forms of assessment here. The assessment design is so critical to the analysis of perceived outcomes that there are have to be standards of compliance on all levels. But establishing those standards doesn't have to abolish the narrative that must necessarily accompany the data.

How many of us want to be assessed on any level based purely on data? As institutions, we don't want our accrediting agencies looking only at our numbers with no consideration of the stories, efforts and the context supporting those numbers. Numbers tell a story, but it's not always the whole or even near truth. We all know that.

So when we think of student learning, we must even-handedly afford them the same opportunity for a narrative. Our numbers don't TELL our story, their merely support and document its narrative. There's no doubt that the data, the grades, the statistics all matter. But without the story, they can lead us astray. Data might make us think that a student has learned something that they really have not learned. Or that they haven't learned something that has in fact taken hold inside of them and begun to transform the way they think and process information for the rest of their lives.

One of the worst grades I ever received was on a written exam from a philosophy professor I had in freshman year. The course was all about logic. We were being taught to think logically in philosophical terms. None of us fared well on paper (luckily, that was just an exercise in compliance and those grades were dismissed in the end), but the impact of the professor's teaching on me was so profound that over 30 years later, I still remembered his name, his face and many of the things he said verbatim from our classes that semester. He was one of two professors that I remember vividly even three decades later who had profound life-long impact on my relationship to the world. Neither ever asked me a multiple choice question; one never even gave a test or quiz. They based our final grades on the conversations that they had held with each of us, the narrative that contextualized our performance data.

I was student teaching one semester. My internship grade was based on how many times I had written in my journal that semester. I don't think it was even read, as I received no feedback on its content. The entries were counted and my grade was finalized. I got a B because I had missed a week in the journal due to illness/stress. I was not allowed to retroactively journal. And all I had to show for that internship was this grade on a transcript that was the only physical record of my college experience. Even though my journal told the story of several personal breakthroughs with at-risk youth in my classes.

I want us all to remember that data without a narrative is, at best, dangerous to the mission and its objectives. At its worst, it leads us in circles or down the entirely wrong roads with our efforts.

The Web, in its infinite power, has the ability to help us deliver  BOTH our data AND our stories in ways that have increasing meaning to—and impact upon—not only the learners we serve, but ourselves as teachers. Teaching and learning can no more easily be separated than the wax and wane of the moon, or high and low tides of the ocean. You cannot measure (or assess, which is not synonymous with measurement!) one without measuring and assessing the other. Because for every measurement, there is a deeper story to tell of connection, engagement, risk, effort and ultimately, outcome.

How will we tell our own stories? How will we tell the stories of our teaching and learning? How will we support our students telling theirs? With a transcript? Or an e-portfolio? A body of work (research, art, etc.) ... ?

Because when they tell their stories, they are telling ours, too.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Fun Friday! Time for a Little Levity

Check out this hilarious story of how a learner and instructor engaged through—of all things—a question and response on a written exam!

Thursday, January 9, 2014

TED redesign!

It's true! TED is redesigning its Web site and you can sign up for early access! Track the progress and sign up for updates and a sneak peek here.

If you're not familiar with TED yet, you're missing out! Check out the best and most inspiring talks on technology, entertainment and design at Many of these talks make great content for online courses and they are always inspiring!

Passing Fads: A Retrospective View

I just received an email update from a source that I will refrain from naming out of professional courtesy because of my reaction to it. This update contained a "paper" which made some pretty bold claims about the nature of MOOCs and other "passing fads" like Khan Academy.

The source alleged incorrectly that Khan Academy is a for-profit institution trying to pass itself off as a degree-bearing academy of higher education. Anyone who knows Khan Academy well knows how inherently misled (I'm going to avoid the allegation of it being intentionally misleading and assume that intentions were good, albeit misinformed and hastily formed) the author of that paper was in making the assertion.

What worries me, though, is that there are folks new to e-learning who read this type of assertion and accept it on face value. And who has the time to dig through the background on every issue in every article we read coming through our email inbox?

Gentle reader, please know that whether MOOCs stay in their current form or whether they morph into something we will not recognize over the next decade, their impact on the higher education landscape is both irrefutable and immutable. If you find speculations (or if those speculations find you) that disparage or minimize the value, the impact or the potential of MOOCs, of LORs (Learning Object Repositories) like Khan, or of any other Web-based technological advancement that impacts our teaching and learning culture, please remember and consider this interview from scientist Clifford Stoll, who claimed in 1995 that the Internet is "not that important," "grossly oversold" and had "so little of value" that it would never take hold. Please review this post by the same fellow.

And stay tuned.

Postscript: Interestingly, Clifford Stoll presented this TED talk in 2006 titled The Call to Learn.