Tag Archives: usdla14

Harnessing the Leadership Potential of Online Adjunct Faculty

USDLA 2014 session by Jennifer Varney and Amie Ader-Beeler from Southern New Hampshire University

At Southern New Hampshire University, they have a standardized curriculum, where the online faculty are teaching. They have 8 week courses for undergraduate, and 11 week courses for graduate. They have about 600 adjuncts, and 30% of them in any semester are on their first time teaching the course.

The challenges they were trying to address are similar to many of us:

  • Providing a consistency of experience
  • Consistency of grading
  • Having key performance indicators
  • Measuring faculty performance
  • The bandwidth of administration, i.e. scaling measuring, monitoring and coaching

They started with organizational goals and recommend we do the same: what is important to measure? What are we promising to students? What is important to our university?

From that, you can get key behaviors – things that the faculty have control on. This is what you want to focus on.

They use Blackboard – and some main areas they are concerned about are:

  • The welcome to the student. The orientation, the personality of the class. The instructor paints the classroom space in the students’ head. Nice visual!
  • Discussion & dialogue between faculty and students.
  • Announcement area – where the faculty give real-world connections for the content
  • Grade center / gradebook / feedback

Need to define the areas in the course that the faculty should be working.

From defining the key behaviors, you can move to creating expections for those key behaviors.

For example, in discussion, they should bring in their own ideas, they should recognize student strengths. In feedback, they need to work on timeliness.

They gave their good instructors an opportunity to be a lead instructor. They get access to their assigned 25 instructor’s courses, they they interact, coach, and support them. The team leads are organized by discipline. This makes them feel more invested in the institution, and makes all the adjuncts feel more connected to the institution.

In the team space, they are sharing best practices, providing ongoing faculty training, discipline specific coaching, and recognizing successes.

This was an amazing session full of concepts and suggestions that we can use to improve our online faculty support.

Game Based Lessons: An Adult Education Experiment

By Henrietta Irizarry-Ortiz and Kimberly Gates from the Sheridan Technical Center.

In this session at USDLA 2014, Henrietta and Kimberly shared some background on game based learning, and then told the story of how they collaborated to experiment with game based education for adult learners.

They talked about why gaming gets a bad rap – violence, immersion, cocooning. However, video games can increase student engagement in real world problems. One interesting study shared was by Constance Steinkuehler on the differences in student reading for games and school reading. Watch more about it here. The main point is that interest highly influences performance. Another point was that we should use school to meet kids’ goals instead of to meet “our” goals. CHOICE: Using student interest as the main driver for their education.

Advice to parents is to pay attention to what games your kids are playing – and to help them reflect on the process and what they are learning from the experience. Self-correcting, persistence, how they are thinking.

The experiment was to have high school students design game based learning for the adult education students. They used Game Maker software and Blender.

First Course Success: Using Data to Predict Program Success

This action research at USDLA 2014 was presented by Karen Ferguson & Renee Aitken from Northcentral University. They were looking at students’ first course success as a potential predictor for their overall program success. They are serving working adults, and they start a set of classes every Monday.

They took an interesting presentation approach by first having the audience discuss in small groups whether we thought the first course success could predict program success or not. In that discussion, other potential factors were suggested, including the important of how the student liked the teacher, how they liked the LMS, their completion of a previous course, etc. We also discussed what factors might influence attrition, including a non-responsive instructor, life factors, the amount of work/rigor, self-directed ability.

In their study, they looked at the student’s occupation, students’ grade in the Foundations in Graduate Studies course, their introduction to online and higher ed for adult students, and if that GPA might be a predictor of persistence.

This presentation was very interesting to me as we are looking at various variables for student successful completion of courses, with our greatest registrations from students who are filling in the gaps in their schedule or required general education courses.

Why Thurgood Marshall College Fund is Building Blended Lab Schools

Presented at USDLA 2014 by Mickey Revenaugh from Connections Learning and Juontonio Pinckney from the Thurgood Marshall College Fund.

I attended this session because I’m very interested in other partnerships between higher ed and K12. It’s something we are trying to strengthen within our system, so it’s always nice to hear what others are doing. The Thurgood Marshall College Fund is looking to create partnerships to increase the success rates of black males in particular. They are starting by partnering with the high school that is in the same town or affiliated with an HBCU in that town. In addition, they are partnering with Connections Learning to add a blended learning space – that is way beyond the traditional lab of computers for taking online classes. It’s a space to inspire students – that is attractively organized, includes space to collaborate, discuss, access online resources, and even has a fitness center! I am very intrigued by the convergence of whole person education, personalization, online, face-to-face, and reaching an underserved population. Inspiring!

Creating and Implementing Faculty Online Teaching Standards: Our Journey

This is the USDLA 2014 session that I presented yesterday. I shared our three year journey of merging two universities, revising existing standards, and rebuilding an online course approval process into an online course review process. I told our story – and invited participants to share their stories as well.

I found three points interesting from our conversations:

  1. We are not the only ones creating our own standards, but comparing them to other standard systems to improve, evaluate, and reaffirm our choices. That was interesting and energizing for me to learn.
  2. Participants most appreciated our concept of the 20% survey that just checks how things are going about 3 weeks into a semester long class. We use it as feedback for the instructor, but also for our team to intervene if there are major unreported technical difficulties.
  3. Several people also commented that they appreciated how we are collecting data and making connections (alignment and data collection) between our standards and student evaluations of teaching. No one else in the room was doing that. I want to investigate further what other research is being done on online teaching standards and student evaluations of teaching.

Since we are now reviewing our process, it might be good to present on this topic again next year and share what happened with our revisions.

Game Rush – Motivation and Engagement Strategies for Gamification

Thanks YouTopia.

This USDLA 2014 session was presented by Katharine Hixson and David Small from Pearson.

One helpful concept clarification was the difference between games and gamification. Gamification is all about using the principles of games.

On the games side, there are simple games such as hangman or crossword puzzles. More advanced like using Jeopardy in your class, and then the complex such as immersive learning environments.

Gamification is using points, badges, levels, timers, bonuses and narrative.

Narrative: Show, don’t tell. Why is this important? Create a scenario around the assignment to make it engaging.

The part that really catches me is the idea of narrative. What’s the story or back story for this assignment or project. David reminded us of WebQuests. Haven’t heard anyone talk about that in a while – but a well designed WebQuest sets up a narrative background for an interesting and engaging task.

They shared a taxonomy of gamification based on Bloom’s, but I couldn’t find it on the Internet, so I won’t replicate it here.

This was a good introduction to the concept of gamification and what it could possibly look like in an online course.

Blogging USDLA 2014: Accessibility vs. Usability – Designing Beyond the 508 Requirements

I dedicate my blog posts at the USDLA 2014 Conference to Kimberly, the fast runner who let me borrow her Dell power cord!

The first session I attended was on Accessibility, which was presented by someone in place of the main presenter, and I didn’t catch the name.

He shared three myths about accessibility:

  • I can put the video transcript in when a student requests it.
  • Because of ADA I can’t do cool things in my course. He said, almost anything can be made accessible, and anything online is already cool.
  • Captioning video is beyond the financial resources of my school. A librarian in the audience shared how she created videos with the scripts embedded. He shared that at his university the department that does transcripts are two years backlogged. He suggested YouTube and other software programs automatically add captures, but it requires clean-up.

He also shared the main principles of UDL and discussion of how to do that online:

  • Provide multiple means of presentation
    • Including multiple means of navigation
  • Provide multiple means of expression
  • Provide multiple means of engagement (i.e. choice & collaboration)
    • Some asked about choice vs. learning outcomes. He suggested having core objectives that have to be covered, but then to give students choice in the application. I.e. you could have 5 core modules, and then have optional modules where students can choose different tracks, and they can also decide what level / grade to participate.
    • Reflection – expand their metacognitive skills

Finally: Good practices:

  • Check applications end-to-end (including the login page – can they tab between fields)
  • Look at every course with a checklist
  • Involve your disabilities office; hire students with disabilities to test
  • Revise courses every year