Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Berkeley Joins 'EdX' Effort to Offer Free Open Courses

It's happening fast. Faster every day. HERE is another example of a traditional university joining the FREE and OPEN COURSEWARE movement. According to the article from The Chronicle, another 120 colleges and universities are queued up to join the EdX effort. In fact,
George Siemens, a pioneer of offering free open courses ... said he has been surprised by how rapidly major universities are moving ... “I can’t recall a time when universities at one moment have responded en masse as aggressively and as collaboratively,” he said.

For more information about the EdX movement, check out the project site as well as THIS ARTICLE on Wikipedia. And be sure to read the last few blog posts on this subject (scroll through the past few or do a search on the blog).

Stay tuned!

Sunday, July 22, 2012


It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Harvard & MIT Launch Revolution

It is a logical next step in the incredible revolution to which we are all bearing witness. You owe it to yourself, whatever your level of enthusiasm for e-learning, to READ THIS.

This article is not conjecture, wishful thinking nor strategic planning. It has happened! It's happening around us. There are already programs granting credits (via CLEP) and certificates for free online offerings, which are promising some major impacts on higher education with rippling effects yet incalculable.
“Online education is not an enemy of residential education,” Hockfield said, “but rather an inspiring and liberating ally.”
Is it surprising that there could be hundreds of thousands of learners eager to participate who otherwise would not have the time, money and/or confidence to enroll in traditional academic programs? What incredible discoveries, breakthroughs, inventions and intellectual adventures await the expansive class, the institution, the academic community ... the greater culture as a whole? I believe that we are going to witness the unearthing of a vast intellectual power otherwise left untapped by mere logistical obstacles! This is incredibly exciting news!
She added that in facing the dramatic changes brought about by technology, “You can choose to view this era as one of threatening change and unsettling volatility, or you can see it as a moment charged with the most exciting possibilities presented to educators in our lifetimes.”
We need not be threatened by this revolution. It's time to embrace it. It's time to see that by opening the doors of our programs even wider, we are exposing more minds and hearts to education, and enhancing the richness of human potential, the depth and breadth of human knowledge and the texture of human experience.

At the present time, the courses are limited in number and entire degree programs are not yet attainable in this approach. Yet. I can't imagine that the movement will stop here. So why would a learner choose to enroll in a "traditional online program" (did you think we'd be saying THAT so soon?) rather than avail themselves of the free curriculum being offered online? What will differentiate us in the pool of global choices for an online degree?

In a word? Engagement. Engagement with an instructor or professor who personifies intellectual curiosity, wisdom, experience, dynamic breadth of knowledge, great communication skills and an insatiable desire to learn themselves. Ideally.

Wait! And assessment. How well can an automated computer program assess knowledge and learning, especially learning that is more qualitative than quantitative in nature?

But that begs the question: how well are we assessing learning NOW? Our commitment to innovative and comprehensive assessment strategies has never been more important if we want to distinguish ourselves to learners and distinguish our learners to the professional world that awaits them. Assessment presents a prime opportunity to personalize our expertise, our energy, our passion and our commitment to learning. And since the most valuable assessment strategies are interwoven deeply into the learning experience, rather than being an afterthought logistic that "seals the deal" on a grade and credit hours, we have a unique opportunity here to lead our own revolution/s.

So what is your place in this revolution? Are you pushing ahead at the front of the movement or lingering in the back to see what happens next before you decide? What are you doing today that will enhance your teaching tomorrow? How can I help?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Fair Use/Copyright Decisions in Federal Court Affect e-Learning

Just a few months ago, a federal court in Georgia handed down a 350-page ruling that adds a lot of clarification—as well as some new confusion—to the application of copyright laws in terms of fair use in educational contexts (with heavy implications for e-learning).

The blog Scholarly Communications @ Duke (dedicated to news and analysis on subjects of copyright and publication issues in higher education) does a great job of summarizing the court's findings in THIS POST. In addition to a concise, salient analysis of Judge Evans' decision, the blog offers wonderful resources on issues of copyright, fair use and publication. I'll be adding it to our resource links at the right, but take a look!

I am especially interested in (and grateful for) Duke University sharing its policy on electronic course content with us via this resource in the blog's side bar:
For help deciding whether course content in Blackboard or some other digital form is fair use or requires copyright permission, consult this policy document adopted by the Academic Council in February 2008.
The document contains a handy, clear checklist for use by faculty to ensure that they are operating within legal frameworks when using the work of others. We'll be developing similar resources for AAMU in the near future and look forward to announcing their availability right here!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Blackboard course templates

Check them out HERE! Missouri State University offers three templates you can download and use with Blackboard 9.1. As they mentioned, these are not meant to constrict your creativity or flexibility with your curriculum, just to give you a starting point.

Let us know if you use them and how it goes! Is there a template you'd like for us to make available to you or your team? Let us know!

Come the Revolution

There's no doubting it. The revolution is here and it's not slowing down for anyone!

“I normally teach 400 students,” Ng explained, but last semester he taught 100,000 in an online course on machine learning. “To reach that many students before,” he said, “I would have had to teach my normal Stanford class for 250 years.”

Andrew Ng and colleagues have now created Coursera, a means of getting free and VERY low cost educational credits that will actually link successful learners to job and educational opportunities.

Anyone who works in traditional higher education and has been asking themselves, "Why do I need to be e-teaching and e-learning?" can read THIS and wonder no more. What are you doing to prepare yourself for the inevitable changes that are coming to—indeed, have ARRIVED in!—higher education?

How can we make the experience of an online education with a university steeped in brick-and-mortar tradition the path that a learner will choose in a global educational marketplace? The answer isn't simple, but it's clear; QUALITY INTERACTION with instructors/faculty in a personalized learning environment will be our calling card, and the experience of having taken our classes will be the legacy that learners talk about long after they're gone (a great form of marketing).

In order to make an impression on the world of e-learning (and its dynamic markets), we have to impress its learners with who we are, what we stand for and how we teach/learn. What is our brand? What do we stand for? What do we offer and what do we promise learners? Are we keeping that promise?

What is the thing your learners will remember most about your course/s? Are your skills and methods keeping up with Web technologies and e-learning trends?