Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pinterest anyone?

Have you heard about Pinterest yet? It's the latest in Web trends!

Basically, having a Pinterest account allows you to store Web links (like Favorites or Bookmarks) in an account that uses a visual form of indexing --- photos! Whether it's a recipe you want to keep, instruction manual for your printer or a news article you want to digitally "clip," Pinterest allows you to bookmark the site to your account with a big photo in your album to represent the page. When you choose to "pin" a page (via a browser tool you install by drag and drop), the site checks the page for all available photos and allows you to choose which will represent the link. It always stores the link to allow proper credit, but the link can also provide valuable archived information and reference material.

After using the account for a week or so, I'm getting a clear idea of how it could be leveraged in an online class as a resource for group projects/assessments. Imagine a class in which the students themselves go out and vet reference material on a given topic into a usable online resource for fellows in their field as well as themselves. They would be in charge of researching, locating, reading/watching, evaluating and organizing the material in a way that would make sense to a novice in their field as well as meet traditional academic standards and the standards set forth by the instructor.

The process itself would have inherent learning opportunities in real-life professional skill development such as collegial collaboration, effective information evaluation skills (this is all done under the supervision via engaged collaboration with faculty teaching the course) and information literacy in digital environments.
I am going to put together an informal session at the LRC for anyone interested in seeing how this works. If you let me know you're interested, I'll try to coordinate it so that everyone interested can attend.

Let me know if you need an invitation to Pinterest!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tech-Happy Prof Reboots ...

This article was forwarded to me by one my most inspired (AND inspirational!) colleagues. I am posting the article link from Wesch's blog because I think the conversation that follows it in the comments is as valuable as the article, and provides a lot of context for all perspectives.

I would love to gather with anyone interested to discuss this article and the ideas it puts forth --- and many others! Whether formally or informally, we can start a series of serious discussions about the role of technology in learning and decide where our own teaching fits into the paradigms, both old and new.

Please contact me if you're interested in participating in such a discussion, even if you're reading from outside the AAMU campus community. Whether we do this face-to-face, online or some hybrid of the two --- we should be talking!

Let me know what you think!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Exemplary Course Program

What does a great course LOOK LIKE in Blackboard?

HERE is a list of exemplary courses delivered via the Blackboard Learning Management System (LMS) currently in use at AAMU. You can browse through past winners as well. Be sure to take a "course tour" of the courses via the "click here" link in the last column of the table. They each look quite different from each other, but ALL are deemed exemplary!

Although their designs are part of what makes these courses great, you'll notice that each expresses an individual style. This list illustrates that there is no SINGULAR formula for success in Blackboard. You just have to roll up your sleeves, design the course you would want to take for yourself if you were the learner --- and go for it!

The ODEeL is happy to announce that we now have fully functioning MAC and PC workstations set up for faculty course developers to use in course development. They run the latest and greatest Adobe software (e-Learning Suite and Creative Suite) on screaming fast hardware and will help you take your course development to the next level!

Digital media guru Everett Alexander is here to help train faculty course developers in the use of the computers and software, and/or to assist in the production of more complex projects. Contact us at the ODEeL to schedule your introductory session to the workstations --- and imagine your course taking off with all the tools and training you need to make it happen!

Saturday, February 18, 2012


The master of the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which; he simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both. (Buddha)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

7 Misconceptions About How Students Learn

I'm just going to leave this here. (What do YOU think?)

And, this quote from Will Rogers --- from the article:

“It isn’t what people don’t know that hurts them. It’s what they do know that just ain’t so.”

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

ODEeL 2012 Training Schedule

HERE is the newest schedule for workshops for the ODEeL through the end of the fiscal year.

A few things you need to know:

1) Mouse over the workshop topic for more details/learning objectives. 
2) The schedule is subject to change. Anyone preregistered will be notified in advance. 
3) You may register for as many as you wish, but need to resubmit the form for each one. If you hit the back button after submitting, you won't have to refill the contact information fields.


Please join us!

Monday, February 6, 2012

"But where do I START?"

I have found that the overwhelming majority of faculty are very enthusiastic about and interested in e-learning. But because academicians are trained and educated primarily in their field of expertise, and not in the pedagogy (the art and science of teaching), they are often bewildered about where exactly to START the process of developing e-instruction.

THIS ARTICLE ("Harvard Conference Seeks to Jolt University Teaching") describes succinctly the ways that we can begin to rethink the educational process. It's important to remember that the challenges and weaknesses of higher education are shared across the spectrum of schools and universities.
In large part, the problem is that graduate students pursuing their doctorates get little or no training in how students learn. When these graduate students become faculty members, he said, they might think about the content they want students to learn, but not the cognitive capabilities they want them to develop. 
"It really requires someone to be doubly expert," Mr. Wieman said. As sometimes happens in some disciplines and departments, a few people develop deeper knowledge of pedagogy. These doubly expert faculty members, he said, can show colleagues how to apply new approaches to teaching the discipline.
It's not just YOUR institution or your TYPE of institution that struggles with training/teaching the methodology of sound instruction---we all do! The ODEeL is addressing faculty development from both technological and pedagogical perspectives. Effective e-learning requires that both are viewed as intertwined, as the digital pedagogy is far different in both theory AND practice. But we're here to help! And to learn together, inspiring each other and our learners to join us in the "sandbox."

If I had to give just three short pieces of advice to those just beginning the e-learning journey it would be these:

1) Don't be afraid of "failure." It takes experimentation with your content, your personality and your resources to find just the right combination of technology, content, instructor input and learner feedback to get the right mix, and that may change from semester to semester with emerging knowledge in your content area as well as changes in the personalities of learner groups. There is not a singular "best course design" and as long as you're engaged in the delivery of the course, you CAN'T GO WRONG! Keep your course design flexible and dynamic, and you'll be able to keep up with the constant changes!

Role play! Put yourself in the position of the learner in your class and try to see your course design with what Buddhists call "beginner's mind." A blank slate, not yet painted with the assumptions of prior knowledge or experience. If you have a hard time "forgetting" all that wisdom and expertise you have accumulated over the years, perhaps you can test drive your e-curriculum on peers or students who can give you a more objective perspective of your course design. It's important to think of the experience from others' perspectives in order to identify and address their unique and ever-changing needs. 
3) Engage! By that, I suggest that you engage yourself in the study and practice of the field of e-learning---as an engaged LEARNER! Take advantage of all the research, practice, resources available out there for you to form your own path of lifelong learning. As you learn, you will also teach. By becoming (and/or staying) the learner, you add a valuable tool to your toolbox --- experience as an e-learner! Nothing teaches you to be a more effective instructor better than being a learner under others' instruction for awhile. Keep notes! Compare notes! Share notes! And if you simply don't have time for all that study, just keep coming HERE to my blog where I will continue to point you in the direction of the greatest tools, resources, research and support available today. I don't know even a fraction of what's out there, so your contributions to my posts will help make it a better blog for ALL readers and learners!

The Internet and e-learning have made the field of education more dynamic and collaborative than ever. Not only can you share the benefit of your experiences and expertise, but you can benefit from that of others every day that you spend in pursuit of academic excellence. The "sandbox" is a place to meet and experiment, play and learn in a freeform manner that allows new discovery and the occasional "failure." You'll see SANDBOX used throughout the field of e-learning in both noun and verb forms, the same way that GOOGLING has become its own phenomenon.

What advice would you give? And what do you need to move forward?

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Free & Open Textbooks: They're HERE!

It's important to remember that there are a LOT of quality textbooks out there for your use in designing online instruction. You are NOT bound to expensive textbooks! (And could that affect enrollment, retention and academic outcomes in your class if every student could have instant and free access to the text? I think, YES! and in very positive ways!) Check out Flatworld, a huge repository of free and open textbooks --- and rethink your course design! From their site:
We are the world's largest publisher of free and open college textbooks. With our ever-expanding catalog of top quality books by expert authors, now is your chance to be a hero and help your students save thousands of dollars. Get started today and join the textbook affordability movement.
Let me know if you find something you can use!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Social Media for Universities: Best Practices for Attracting Students, Employees, and Donors

This excellent and succinct advice is good for any university or college struggling to attract students, donors, faculty and staff. The most key point, in my opinion, is the importance of integration of social media into every department, both academic and administrative. The tools listed on these resource pages aren't just for certain age or grade levels---they can be the social channels by which you reach the audience you want to attract to your course, your program, your institution. How are YOU using social media to enhance education?