Category Archives: Good Teaching

Creating, Gathering and Using Data

It’s Tuesday morning at USLDA, and I’m attending the first session of the morning: Creating, Gathering and Using Data with Karly Good from Grand View University and Sue McDaniel from A.T. Still University.

ATSU’s College of Graduate Health Studies has 145 full time and faculty members in 34 states and two other countries offering 4 masters and 3 doctorate programs. Sharing data and communication among all these locations is challenging. Each program was keeping track of their own data. An example of an issue was a course that was cross listed with 3 prefixes – changing a textbook listing for one didn’t necessarily mean the others were changed.

Data issues included accreditation, dissertations, grades, and more.

At ATSU, they created a Access front end / mySQL backend database called IRMA: Integrated Records Management and Administration. They add 5000-6000 records a month. The instructional designers and academic advisers, associate dean, all have different front ends – Access Reports. They can access it from home via the VPN.

Course Development Via Database

All the online courses are built through the Access database. They add each little piece of a course – content, assignments, they connect all of it to the learning objectives and competencies. All the outputs are done in PDFs so that no one can change it. Faculty have to teach the course as it is, they don’t allow anyone to edit or change anything after it’s been through the development assignments.

The instructional designer’s view has Courses, reports, Term Courses, Textbooks, and Faculty as the main menu.

They build the courses in IRMA, and work through the syllabus items, core competencies, connections to learning outcomes; then a report gives them the HTML to copy & paste into the LMS. The database tracks all the pieces of the course development, the milestones, how far they’ve come etc. They can easily find a specific course that uses a particular tool, such as a wiki.

Faculty Data for Accreditation

The Associate Dean’s view has Faculty, Courses, Surveys, and more. The Faculty menu includes all the data on professional development funds, publications, demographic data on faculty and more. It has the course evaluation data that can be used to make staffing decisions for teaching the variety of courses.

It’s so fascinating to me how scaling online learning requires us to manage information at an incredibly high level. This method is also a way to have easily at hand anything needed for an accreditation report. It is work on the front end setting it up; and also regular work always entering data; but wow! What an amazing tool. 

I also find it interesting that the idea of BIG DATA makes you think of buying some amazing product from a company; where in this case, someone with good database skills can build something valuable using what data already exists in a less organized format.

Tracking 7 Core University Competencies

At Karly’s institution, Grand View, their data comes from Blackboard and a SQL. They pull assignment and assessment data (rubric) and then they pull from their Student Information System as well as Blackboard. They have 7 rubrics for 7 core outcomes that gauge graduating students. You can see 4 year growth of students using the rubric over time throughout the whole university experience. They want to in the future include these rubrics in the Blackboard shell/templates – right now the faculty get the rubric from the University Portal to add to their course assignments.

The curriculum committee on campus developed these rubrics as part of the university assessment. It’s built into core classes as well as within the majors. The rubrics are NO POINTS in Blackboard – so that the rubrics never affect the student’s grade. They are a secondary evaluation in Blackboard – you can choose not to show it to the students at all. It’s a four year rubric. Everyone is assessed on the same scale, freshmen and seniors, both. The students don’t see the results on this rubric – it’s not their grade. They use the Goals feature of Blackboard to align each criteria on the rubric to the goals.

Karly worked with IT to collect:

  • From Blackboard: student name, course, assignment, dept, rubric, faculty name, core outcome
  • From the SIS: gender, major, GPA, term

So far they have pulled the report 3 times.

The next step is to be able to restrict access so that departments can see just their departments; and that faculty can see their data.

Their 7 Essential Competencies are:

  • Critical Inquiry (CI)
  • Quantitative Communication (Q)
  • Information Literacy (IL)
  • Global Awareness (GA)
  • Written Communication (W)
  • Vocation (V)
  • Oral Communication (O)

It’s interesting to me also that you have an Instructional Designer and Instructional Technology Specialist diving into the data needs for accreditation and assessment. The merging of a variety of skills and needs across campus. 

Wow! Inspiration for a lot of work to be done!

Jazz Up Student Engagement in Your Online Courses

This afternoon I presented at the USDLA national conference. Here I am sharing my handout and the URLs that either I shared or attendees shared in the discussion.

finktaxonomyandtools

 

Note that I have deliberately not included tons of sites and ideas because I wanted this to be simple and not too overwhelming. To pique interest.

Learn about Designing Significant Learning Experiences

Learning How to Learn

Caring

Human Dimension

  • Blog or discuss ways in which one’s personal life affects and is affected by the subject. Sample student blog.
  • Be an ethical, responsible member of a team serving others; tools to support groups: GoogleDrive and similar tools to support collaborative learning.

Integration

Application

  • Analyze and critique an issue or case study.
  • Apply the skills in context; document ability with video.
  • Create a recommendation for a corporation in a real-world problem/situation – build on wikispaces.

Foundational Knowledge

  • Create and share/narrate a mental map or conceptual structure of major concepts. Bubbl.us or Mindly the app.
  • Create a presentation: Explain & predict concepts and ideas. i.e. Prezi
  • Have students access and interact with primary sources of content – i.e. TedEd and more.

Fink Taxonomy and Tools PDF Handout – Permission granted to reprint freely. Please share any adaptations.

What would you add? Feel free to comment and share. 

Faculty Presence

While you focus on building your online course, keep in mind how you will be “present” in your online course. How will students feel that you are “there” in the course? Creating a sense of instructor presence is an important aspect to student satisfaction in online courses.So what are some ways to be “present” and visible to students?

Faculty Initiated Interaction

  • Send a weekly email to students. Consider it your “housekeeping” message to students at the beginning of class. Include:
    • Overall feedback to the class on the previous week
    • A teaser to hook them into the next week’s content
    • Reminders
    • Updates on grading
    • A suggested schedule to help students organize their work for the week
  • Be present in the discussion forum. Don’t overpower, but let students know you are there.
  • 5-4-3-2-1: Countdown to Course Management (see pages 2,8): Tips for how often to interact with students in various ways in your online course.
  • Live interactive sessions and video lectures also increase your presence in the course.
  • Be yourself! Use humor, self-disclosure, and personal interaction to help students feel that you are human and really “there” in the class.

Feedback

Another crucial and often overlooked area of presence and teaching in an online course is feedback.

Talk to your Instructional Facilitator for more ideas or assistance with applying these ideas to your course.  Find these tips and more online in the Online Course Development Support Site.

 

Web Design Quality

As you continue building your course, keep in mind a few principles to make your course easy to navigate for students.

Organization

  • Does your course have an organization pattern that is easy to follow?
  • Is your course organized by weeks or modules?
  • Do you have an introduction to the course?
  • Are assignments and activities labelled consistently within the syllabus, the schedule, and the layout online?
  • Structure and routine in your course can make learning easier for your students.

Universal Design Principles

  • Is content presented more than one way? Reading? Watching? Hearing?
  • Is the text large enough or can it be enlarged? Can students increase or decrease the sound on media?
  • Have you provided scaffolding to assist students in learning the content material? Do they need any background knowledge? Could additional resources assist them? Are the important points and big ideas highlighted? Read more

Visual Appeal

  • Is your course more than just lots of text? Does it have visual appeal as well?
  • Are photos used appropriately throughout content?
  • Do you have video clips, either from online or of your own lectures?
  • Are image and media sources properly cited?
  • Do students get to “see” you in the course? A friendly instructor photo provides a sense of instructor presence.

Talk to your Instructional Facilitator for more ideas or assistance with applying these ideas to your course.  Find these tips and more online in the Online Course Development Support Site.

The Future of Instructional Design Programs

Blogging the 2014 AECT International Convention.

Facilitator: Anne Mendenhall, University of Nevada Las Vegas
Presenters: M.David Merrill, Retired Utah State University; Vanessa Dennen, Florida State University; Joel Gardner, Franklin University; Charles Morgan Reigeluth, Indiana University; Wilhelmina Savenye, Arizona State University

Opening Comments

David Merrill:  Instructional design needs to move to undergraduate. If you have a Masters, you’ll be a manager and you’ll manage people who aren’t trained in instrucitonal design – you need to create templates and tools to support the people under you.

Vanessa Dennen: Everything new is old; and everything old can be new again; a new label is added to something – we panic; but actually we have foundational knowledge that still applies to the new tools. We have a challenge with accreditors looking for those classes on social media on your transcript, and of course they aren’t there; need to show how we apply foundational knowledge. I resonate with this; where my social media and videoconferencing expertise is not represented on my academic transcript, but instead via my digital footprint.

 

Charles Reigeluth:  Transfer from teacher-center to learner-centered systems. The implications for instructional theory; implications for what graduates will do when they finish.

Joel Gardner:  What are instructional designers actually going to be doing when they are working; what is the context in which they will be working; working with people, managing projects, using interdisciplinary knowledge; direct people to do instructional design; being a leader or manager – those with Masters or PhDs will be leaders or managers and may need skills in that area.

Wilhelmina Savenye: Where are these degrees within our colleges; are we ed tech? we aren’t just that? how do our institutions see what we do?; tension on proving our value; graduates are going into corporate, non-profit, government; there’s a lot of opportunity to prove our worth.

Online Boom = Boom for Instructional Design?

Audience question: Will the online boom transfer into a continued boom for instructional design and instructional technology? (Noticing – it seems some in the audience are using instructional technology and instructional design interchangeably)

Merrill: Putting things online is getting easier and easier and the quality of the instruction is getting worse and worse; MOOCs the ultimate level of “shovelware” – put stuff online; study of 175 MOOCs to see if any of them have the First Five Principles of Instruction; a lot of stuff out there without quality; our contribution is not just HTML but that we have something to add in terms of instruction. We definitely need to continue to sell ourselves. Instructional design is an underappreciated academic discipline, and so is education in general. The way to sell, is to work with a few, the ones who are willing, and use those as examples to show what instructional design can bring to the quality of online courses.

Gardner: In higher ed, a greater push to show accreditation that we have outcomes connected to what we are doing, instructional designers are especially able to do this.

Reigeluth: We need more tools created that help SMEs create high quality instruction – when we have those tools, we won’t need as many instructional designers; the tools can support the design in the future

Dennen: The issue of how many instructional design programs that we need; at the moment we probably need more instructional designers than we have; to put more students through our programs – what will they do? maybe we will have more faculty development jobs – doing workshops for faculty, for example; how do we evangelize for ourselves

Instructional Design or Learning Design?

Question: What about names – change from Instructional Design to Learning, Design, and Technology; or Learning Design and Technology; the word instruction or instructional is seen as pejorative. Should we be changing names?

Dennen: If names are changed, does anything else change?

Reiguluth: Learning is what happens inside your head; instruction happens outside your head. Instruction facilitates learning.

Thinking. How does this conversation connect with the strands of behaviorism, cognitivism, and constructivism in AECT thinking? Pegi Flynt’s dissertation.

Advice for Young Instructional Designers

Question: What ideas or rules do you have for young instructional designers?

Dennen: Know your learners, your context, your objectives. Don’t let the technology drive the instructional design process. Instead of following a shiny object; start with what I know about supporting the learning process. Media selection is an important part of instructional design models and it always has been. What is happening now is that tools come out so quickly and are so accessible to everyone so quickly.

Merrill: First Principles of Instruction – those principles are critical for whatever delivery mode you have – online, MOOC, face to face, blended, with ipads, etc. etc. Story: How to select the media. Put on a blindfold and go to your media closet and pick something. It’s not the media that matters. It’s the principles of instruction that matter.

Brain-based Learning

Question: Connections with brain-based learning?

Reigeluth: It’s important to understand learning theory and instructional theory. Brain-based learning theory isn’t as practical of what specifically to do in the instruction. Learning and instructional theory can help bridge to when to use different methods of instruction.

Leadership and Management in Instructional Design Programs

Question: Let’s connect back to leadership and management. My instructional design taught me about courses and modules; but I didn’t learn about selecting an LMS for my institution, for making decisions on personnel and resources, how to meet the requirements for programmatic and institutional accreditation. The accrediting bodies are now focusing on measurable student outcomes for the programs. The accreditors are parroting what we’ve said on instructional design, but they don’t know it as well as we do. Studies of ID programs found only 11% had leadership or management training. Are our programs able to provide this, or are we stuck too much at the course and learning outcomes level? Are we capable within our structure with meeting the higher leadership needs? or do we have to teach others what we know?

Gardner: Our program is Instructional Design and Performance Systems – this helps students to see the big picture and the bigger system. We teach them how to see the process; but not how to lead people. What are the skills for leading in a knowledge society? Critical thinking skills, leading others, etc.

Reigeluth: Our graduates go into so many different lines of work: museums, corporate, many different types of jobs. This makes it a challenge to provide what they need to be successful in their work.

Audience Comment/Question: This is an instructional design problem we are looking at. We could use an instructional design approach to offer the right level of training – and to realize that a successful graduate will not be able to rely on just what they learned. It seems we should work on minors, even ID as a minor. Another possibility would be to consider how to work across the university to have various specialties – instead of competing with one other. It’s the beauty of our field that it is applicable to so many areas. Instructional design could be a stealth component of any kind of design out there. We need to train our people with an eye towards
what market they want to go into – and what do they need to work in that area?

Dennen: There is also a right moment for training; and some of our young students aren’t ready for leadership because they haven’t yet had very many years of experience. As junior instructional designers they may not be ready to take advantage of leadership training. It may be the job of employers or organizations to provide leadership training.

Merrill: Moving ID to undergraduate level will allow for more credits and more opportunity. If we did that, then we could add some of these other skills to the masters level. A class example of having students work in groups to create a proposal for a real client addressing a real instruction problem. Then he’d mix up the groups and choose the team leaders by, for example, having a woman or international student be the team leader with a couple of
chauvanistic men. Lots of leadership learning happened as they tried to sell their proposal to the client while working within a group. In this class they learned to meet deadlines and work with others.

Gardner: So far our comments are around we use instruction to help people learn. Embedded in this discussion is the idea that we need to help people learn. We need to help our students learn how to be independent learners. I’ve learned by continuing to read after my PhD. We have to help people become independent problem solvers.

AGILE vs. ADDIE

Question: I vote against teaching instructional design at the undergraduate level because they aren’t interested in learning. At the undergraduate level, you have to have classes at 40-50 students. How can you teach higher order thinking skills with such large class sizes? You need to have a certain amount of life experience in order to learn how to be an instructional designer. … We are starting to run into people in the field who are using SAM or AGILE and moving away from ADDIE. How do we address that?

Gardner: At our institution, the dean said we are going to be agile now and we’re going to do SAM instead; but our IDs don’t like it. It does seem the same as ADDIE, but there are more iterations.

Merrill: He’ll be debating SAM in an upcoming TechTrends. After 50 years in the field, it is fun to see the same ideas keep coming around and around. It’s possible to teach undergraduates and international students First Principles of Instruction at the undergrad level. There are ways to use technology to deal with 40-50 students.

Merrill: Don’t just design a bit; design a shell so that you give designers assignments to fill in the shell. Create an interaction template in PowerPoint; and then you can plug in other content. Teach masters students how to design a shell. You don’t need expensive authoring tools.

Rabbit Trails I Followed

Getting to Know AECT Thought Leaders

Blogging the 2014 AECT International Convention.

I’m new to AECT, and some colleagues recommended that I attend the Breakfast with Champions on Thursday morning. I’m also new to higher ed educational technology. AECT seems to consider itself THE organization for educational technology and instructional design for higher education. My take is that it is much more research-based and less cool-tool-based than ISTE; more like AERA in it’s research and theory focus.

Because my training is in K12 ed tech, online learning, and leadership, I’m not yet familiar with the big names at this convention. So, I’m doing my own little investigation here to get a feel for the conversations that happen via AECT events.

So I’m listing here the names for the Champions Breakfast, and then linking to info about them, and what their main field/area of research seems to be at a quick glance. I welcome comments and corrections!

Top Professionals

Games-based learning for exploration and discovery

Blogging the 2014 AECT International Convention.

Preconference Workshop: Games-based learning for exploration and discovery

PresentersHannah R. Gerber, Sam Houston State University; Dodie J. Niemeyer, Sam Houston State University; Carolyn Stufft, Stephen F. Austin State University

Interesting Notes and Ideas

  • Minecraft snapshot

    Universities are starting to give scholarships for esports; the U.S. is starting to give visas to pro-gamers.

  • Watch out for gaming as a reward; students who could benefit most from this type of learning may not get to experience it
  • One way to gamify a whole course is to create role play throughout the whole course. I would love to do that!
  • Terms: Affinity space (as opposed to community of practice), paratext, metagame, ludology vs. narratology, makerspaces, machinima, fan fiction, walkthroughs, gamification, modding, edutainment, novice, feedback loop (assessment engine)
  • James Paul Gee
    • A video game is just a set of problems – you have to solve them in order to win. Connect that to problem based learning; problem posing learning – students learn to pose problems or forecast them.
    • The theory of learning behind games is quite different than regular learning. It’s much more complex than in school. If games couldn’t teach you, they would go broke. We teach the way we do because of the tests. We have to change the assessment, because it drives the teaching system. You wouldn’t be tempted to give a gamer a Halo test; if he finished the game, he already knows it. The learning system should be so immersive that the assessment is built in. Situated and embodied learning – can you DO stuff with your learning?
    • Learning – you need to be able to USE and ARTICULATE your knowledge.
  • Adaptive learning – you can’t move on until you are expert at that level. That’s a gaming concept also.
  • Games are one-on-one – the gamer is learning at their own level. It’s individualized instruction.
  • The differences of a game where the concepts are all connected in the game vs. where you answer a math problem and then get to move a car forward – but those two are connected.
  • One thing to watch out for with using off the shelf games is that students can be frustrated that the fun is taken out of the game because it’s been “school-ified”.
  • Game mechanics for gamification – feedback loops, iterative sequences for learning, levelling up with a reward system, may have real-life ramifications. Immediate feedback and self-reflection.
  • Issue of extrinsic motivation vs. intrinsic motivation. There aren’t enough studies to really say that extrinsic motivation are a detriment to intrinsic motivation.
  • The trick is really designing the curriculum around the game – and the creativity of the teacher.
  • Affinity space is the location, metagaming is the activity there, and paratext is the product of the collaboration/community.
  • There are communities around this – virtual communities, or playing with family, brothers, parents, uncles, in a real human interaction around the game. Well, of course! We have human interactions around Scrabble too! 
  • Types of writing around gaming: fan fiction, machinima, walkthrough, maker spaces.
  • How to gamify assessment:
    • health bar – to show how healthy your character is
    • a map to show where you are compared to everything else in the course
    • leaderboards?? maybe
    • XP – experience points
    • Present more challenges and opportunities to earn points
    • Quests and missions – students can choose these different goals and customize based on their interest
  • The idea of in course workshops (in the form of writing workshops) to support learning needed to be successful in the course game
  • How to do modification / modding – students can recreate parts of the class based on their interest

Resources and Links

References

Best Practice Workshop Presentation Tips

Things I noticed that worked well in how they ran the workshop.

  • Access prior knowledge by asking for a personal definition
  • Pass out terms related to the concept on an index card and have participants in pairs write down what they know already and what they want to know about the term (tactile KWL)
  • Silent reading time adds variety to an all day workshop

Student Reflection

Student reflection is designed to assist students in thinking about their learning processes, their learning experiences, and their metacognition. Reflection is a critical component for teaching students to be self-directed learners. Students should reflect on the course content and it’s application to their personal and professional lives.

Dee Fink’s Guide to Designing Courses for Significant Learning includes a series of questions for including reflection in course design (p 19-20).

Students reflect with:

    • oneself through journaling or learning portfolios
    • others through class discussion or others outside of class
  • Students reflect about:
    • the subject of the course: what is an appropriate and full understanding of this topic?
    • the learning process:
      • What am I learning?
      • Of what value is this?
      • How did I learn?
      • What else do I need to learn?
  • Students reflect via:
    • one-minute papers
      • i.e. What is the most important thing you learned in this module?
      • What was the “muddiest point” from this module?
    • weekly journal writing
    • learning portfolios

Need more ideas for designing reflection?

Talk to your Instructional Facilitator for more ideas or assistance with applying these ideas to your course.  Find these tips and more online in the Online Course Development Support Site.

Faith Integration

Andrews University is a Christian school; and therefore faith integration in online learning is an important value and task. Among other statements, the Andrews University Mission Statement includes this: Andrews University students will seek knowledge as they understand life, learning, and civic responsibility from a Christian point of view. How this is done makes for interesting discussion and research. There are certainly many viewpoints on the best way to integrate faith and learning; as well as different views on what it really means.

Some core issues for online course development and teaching online at Andrews are:

  • How does your own faith experience intersect with your teaching and learning?
  • In what ways do you encourage students to consider the course content & discipline’s philosophy from a Christian point of view?
  • What can students learn or experience regarding civic responsibility from a Christian point of view?
  • What are the Biblical foundations that intersect with your course content (as applicable and appropriate)?

What could this look like in an online course? The evidence may come in instructor-student interaction, in discussion on how the Christian worldview intersects with the content knowledge, in how students are viewed and treated as whole persons made in the image of God, in the instructor’s teaching presence. Here are some examples:

Instructor Presence

  • Hosting and encouraging student participation in an online chapel
  • Tone of your interactions with students
  • Ways that you show students you care – praying for them, helping struggling students, etc.

Writing Assignments

Another common way to explore the intersection of a Christian worldview and course content is through discussion forums, essays, and/or writing assignments.

Teaching Civic Responsibility

Biblical Foundations

Are there any natural connections between Biblical perspectives and your course content? Here are a few examples to challenge your thinking:

Note that it is important that these connections be appropriate, thoughful, integrated, and respectful of other faiths represented in your classroom.

Hopefully these ideas provide some background to help you consider how a Christian worldview intersects with your course content – and how best to assist students in their own growth and understanding throughout the process.

Talk to your Instructional Facilitator for more ideas or assistance with applying these ideas to your course.  Find these tips and more online in the Online Course Development Support Site.

 

Critical Thinking

Last week as we considered creating a Learning Community, we briefly shared some ways to encourage critical thinking in an online course. This week, let’s examine some specific instructional strategies that can be used in the online classroom.

To learn more about critical thinking, explore What is Critical Thinking? and the Critical Thinking Toolkit.

Group Work

The following examples are designed for group work, which can be supported by the discussion forum and collaborative tools such as a wiki, Dropbox, or GoogleDocs.

Writing Assignments

These writing assignment examples can be submitted directly to the teacher via the Assignment tool or TurnItIn, or shared with the class to stimulate further discussion.

Need some more examples? Browse the Reusable Learning Objects for Critical Thinking.

Ready to assess critical thinking in your class? Try the Critical Thinking VALUE rubric.