Blogging the 2014 AECT International Convention.
Cognitive Tools to Support Collaboration: Technology and Pedagogy at Work
The goal was to help engineering students learn collaboration and communication skills as these are needed for the workplace.
There is a perception that engineers like to work alone. Faculty struggle to create learning tasks and activities that require collaboration; and may not have the knowledge base needed to teach these skills.
They developed a tool to support engineering student collaboration in the context of doing engineering design. Used a tool called Google Drive Environment for Collaboration.
The study was really focused on whether students were able to learn collaboration skills through the use of these online tools.
The course studied had 40 students and was an Industrial Engineering Ergonomics and Workstation Design course. They worked on project where they had to consider a human factors problem and designed a solution for it. They did all of their work, and turned in final work in the GDEC environment. The environment was technology paired with pedagogy to facilitate learning.
The technology part (2012) was Google Drive. They wanted something easy to use and free for the students to use. Mind tools are like spreadsheets and databases we have talked about for years; now we are moving mind tools onto the cloud. Simultaneous editing, folder structures, and trace data were important affordances.
Instructor had global access to all folders. Folders were created for each team. Students could see their folder only.
They had tried pbwiki before and found it too hard – it wasn’t easy to produce reports and documents.
This was a face to face course, not online.
Students don’t use the affordances of the technology unless they are coached (Hsu et al 2014), used scaffolds and scripted prompts to support each part of the project.
Scaffolding is assistance from an expert that enables learners to accomplish things on their own (couldn’t see the 1976 reference). Need to eventually fade the scaffold.
When they started, partially completed google docs were already in their folders to scaffold their work.
Issues that needed to be addressed from previous sections of the course: projects read as they were bolted together; divide and conquer mentality, collaborative writing challenges, students’ in ability to provide constructive feedback to one another. They conducted in class workshops where students were walked through a constructive peer feedback experience so they could learn how to negotiate and collaborate (not just cooperate).
Interesting that many students hadn’t seen GoogleDrive before and they found it very useful. Comment: I’m not sure that time passing will make it more likely that students are just organically start using tools such as GoogleDrive to collaborate? I think it’s really unlikely – they tend to gravitate to their social media, but not voluntarily using tools that support work-like collaborative environments without a real need for it.
Faculty or Instructional Designer? Creating a Culture of Collaborative Course Design and Development
This presentation is on the pilot of a course design and development process within the College of Education. They built a handbook for course design to support the process. We have a new handbook as well, and hope to put it online as soon as editing is done. It will be online here.
Lisa worked before in a culture of open source and sharing.
Some challenges were:
- The culture emphasized cooperation over collaboration. The roles and jobs weren’t synchronized and people weren’t necessarily talking to each other and sharing resources.
- Another challenge was a very small ID team – 4 IDs for 200 courses that were new or revised. Communication processes were important – delineating workshops with distinct goals, unique cultures for accountability and sharing. Faculty needed tools to put in place to support the process. They may tend to do what they’ve seen before instead of thinking through developing outcomes and assessments. It’s important to remember everyone was working really hard and working well. The goal here was to maximize what was already working. A proactive approach was essential.
- A mix of processes and expectations, including accreditation, Quality Matters (98% of their courses are QM certified), mixed workstyles (asynchronous and semi synchronous) caused challenges as well.
- Audience challenges: purpose, goals, keeping everyone heading the same direction
- Audience challenges: role confusion, who is doing what between the faculty member and the ID
- Audience challenges in requiring faculty to go through Quality Matters for their online courses
- Other comments / tips
- It’s important to help the faculty realize that ID support is a resource, not as oversight; the positive framing is really important
How the challenges were tackled/overcome
- Course design cafe – they have the handbooks, templates, and resources to support the process. It’s a social platform for sharing content, having groups, tracking projects, etc. Resources, articles, discussions, etc. are also included to support the course design process. The Instructional Design team is active in the online cafe as well.
- “Dangerous Designers” Community of Practice. It’s grown to be university wide – there are about 75 faculty who participate every month. They bring in different stakeholders to share with faculty how they can support the course design process. It’s a growing group that supports faculty talking to each other about designing their courses and curriculum.
- Roles included in the team for course development
- Faculty developer / designer
- Program Manager
- Quality Assurance
- Assessment Analyst
- Instructional Designer
- Career Services, Library & Writing Center Liaisons
- Curriculum Coordinators/Specialists
- Curriculum Design Specialist Faculty
- Instructional Design Specialist Faculty
- One point is pulling in faculty to work as instructional design support to supplement a small team of trained IDs. They are like a lead faculty support for instructional design.
- Lisa is a professor, but doing ID work and has the skill set of an ID.
- Faculty egos are less bruised when they receive feedback because Lisa is a peer – she is also a professor.
The main point is creating structures for supporting communication and collaboration – finding ways to connect people with each other for sharing.