BreakDrink, Collaboration, CTCX, Higher Education

Collaboration Required: #CTCX Discuss How Tech Can Support the Evolution of #HigherEd

In a recent broadcast on NPR, Don Tapscott shared his ideas on Rethinking How We Teach the ‘Net Generation’. Education models in higher education to meet the needs of today’s learner. A chapter in his latest book, Macrowikinomics, is dedicated to how higher education institutions need to change, specifically with regards to learning pedagogy and content creation. 

Flickr photo c/o kjiersten

In thinking about how the future of higher education will evolve beyond the classroom, I was wondering how Student Affairs and other Higher Education professionals can best support today’s learner. Higher education has been recently challenged with economic crisis, accountability questions and increased demands the employment market. It is important that higher education professionals consider the new dimensions and requirements to support our students, distribute information and organize services on campus. In a recent BreakDrink Snackable Session, @suebecks presented an idea on collaborating on a global level to swap ideas, share resources, answer questions and engage in a broad conversation that needs to occur in #HigherEd:

After this mini presentation, there was a thoughtful online dialogue with participants who shared their thoughts and perspectives on the issue. Many agreed that higher education could be better supported and improve through a global network for collaboration. There are many easy and accessible tools to drive this momentum and manage knowledge. After this session BreakDrink created a wiki to continue the conversation and collaboration of ideas:

HE Wiki 

“With such a networked approach to work and leisure time, traditional university classroom is starting to feel less appropriate.” ~Don Tapscott

  • What does this mean for #StudentAffairs & #HigherEd professionals who support student development?
  • How can SA & HE consider a collaborative approach for student development & student services?
  • Is it the evolution of the #StudentAffairs or #HigherEd professional or the student that needs to change for effective campus engagement?
  • Are there any examples of institutions and campus environments who best support students online or digitally?

Join us on Monday (7/18) at 7 pm CT as the BreakDrink Campus Tech Connection (#CTCX) talks LIVE about collaboration in higher education & how tech tools can support this evolution. We will also welcome @KMcCarthy8185 onto the show to discuss her #52in52 project for our NEW show segment called, The 15 Minute #SAtech Share.

Join the #CTCX gang with your thoughts, questions & ideas:

  • Listen to the show LIVE 
  • Tweet your thoughts using the hashtag #CTCX 
  • Call or Skype during the show: (646) 652-2342 or breakdrink
This post is cross-posted at BreakDrink.com
eduMOOC, Learning Community

#eduMOOC2 – What The Research Tells Us #eduMOOC

I’m just catching up with the #eduMOOC course modules this weekend, as my own local scholastic/work deadlines got the best of me over the last couple of weeks. During the second week, #eduMOOC2 – What The Research Tells Us was the topic for the #eduMOOC panelists: Dr. Karen Swan from the University of Illinois, Dr. Phil Ice from the American Public University System and Dr. Ben Arbaugh from the University of of Wisconsin.

The panel’s #eduMOOC 2 conversation focus for online learning research were guided by the following questions:

  1. What do we know?: 
    What are the most important findings to date coming out of online learning research?
  2. How do we know it?:
    What methodologies have been most commonly used in online learning research and what promising methodologies are emerging?
  3. What do we still need to know?:
    What are the most pressing questions that still remain unanswered?  Where is online learning research headed in the near term?

As a student, I currently participate in course work through a variety of models: in-class, online and blended learning environments. Many of my online Management classes for my minor, are online,”in a can” course format that are typically asynchronous, i.e. discussion board questions/replies, multiple choice exams, online submissions and team project assignments. This mode of learning works well for full-time professionals who work 40-60 hours/week while in graudate school. In thinking about my learning preferences, my engagement increases when course materials are interesting and require collaboration/synchronous participation (Skype conference calls, group planning in Wiigo, team writing projects in Google Docs). As an adult learner and busy professional, I can also appreciate the autonomy and self-direction an asynchronous course format provides during the semester.

Learner needs and effectiveness can be impacted with the implementation of emerging technologies. There is the Clark vs. Kozma debate between the media and the message as instructors test the waters with social web and open educational resources for learning environments. Social engagement and social presence can lend to greater online learning retention – depending on the course content and the intended learner audience. From my experiences with online learning/instruction, it has been great to see learner-driven course participation and the growth of peer-to-peer learning networks to support communities of inquiry for learning.

The measurement of social presence in online learning environments could be further reviewed to help educators prepare for the future of elearning. There is definitely a need to create greater educational research repositories to further validate online learning and online course assessment. Data mining and content analysis models are just a few suggested ways that educational institutions can utilize business models for measuring course design and development.
The panel also suggested a need to increase the pool of educational scholars who are researching online learning and teaching. I was surprised to learn that learning analytics and data-driven academic positions are not being filled. As a PhD student in an integrated program ATPI (learning technology, organizational management, educational psychology/research), I am often exposed to a variety of disciplines, researchers, publications and ideas that span across the fields. As a professional in higher education, I have held a variety of positions within student and academic affairs (residence life, career services, academic advising, first year programs, instruction) I get a different cross-pollination of ideas and resources.
 
More scholars need to consider collaborative efforts and cross-disciplinary research to move online learning investigation and development forward specifically in the suggested future research area listed by this #eduMOOC2 panel:
  • Repositories of institutional/educational research
  • Federation of large data sets for educational research
  • Quantitative assessment & measurement
  • Increased research in online learning
  • Globalization & cultures in online
  • Quality of learning
  • Linking outcomes to specific courses/institutional goals
  • Open Education Resources (OER) role in online learning
BreakDrink, CTCX, Higher Education, Learning Technologies, Social Media

Will Google+ Be a Plus for Our Learners?

At the end of June, the @BreakDrink Campus Tech Connection (#CTCX) discussed Google’s new Chromebook hardware and some of it’s applications on our show. Here is a great as walk-through of the Samsung 5 Chromebook c/o our listener @brifanning and his co-worker Vlad.

As a student who primarily reads, researches, writes and works online for both classes and in Google applications – the Samsung 5 Chromebook is a good fit for my needs. I like the portability, access to both 3G/Wifi and most of my content is stored online which requires me to have little to no memory space. I still have a my MacBook Pro to support final manuscript edits, listen to my iTunes library, Skype with far away family/friends and so on. This means that my Chromebook is NOT replacing my current computing needs entirely; however it does help me as a full time professional and student as I work on a Mac at home, PC at my office and fulfill my lightweight need for classes/research on campus. A ReadWriteWeb article said it best: It’s not the device itself that matters, it’s how you use it. 

In considering the value of either a Chromebook or netbook for higher education, I can see why some institutions might head for the clouds. Many organizations are finding it far easier, less expensive and more efficient to access resources in the cloud. As budgets are cut and resources shrink, many institutions will consider integrated systems that support the changing IT needs for education.

Here are a few ways higher education professionals could put a Google Chromebook to work on campus:

All things Google (Chromebook, OS, Apps & Plus) is becoming more appealing to educators. Although many features are still in beta mode and integration has been limited between Google products and now Google+ – there is potential to connect and share with learners in this new social space. 
What impact will Google+ have on education and learning? I doubt that Google Plus will replace the enterprise or LMS systems supported by your higher ed institutions just yet; however it could be a great solution for instructors who are searching for alternative learning environments/platforms. Although it is fun to speculate the learning possibilities of Google+, I would be more interested in piloting a course or training program using this social web first. I plan to explore the features it has to offer & find out what new additions are ahead before identifying Google+ as a learning and training tool. Google+ has the potential to support groups for training, development and on-going learning initiatives. There is much to be said about a connected community of online learners who are interested in sharing and engaging. It will be interesting to see what updates Google+ is working on and what happens as otheres flock to the social network to explore.
In the meantime, here are some preliminary thoughts we recently shared on the #CTCX Google+ Preview Show from last week, and the BreakDrink Google+ Overview & Resources Guide for those of you just exploring the Google+ realm.  Please share any resources & links you find about Google+ In the LIVE Google Doc. Thanks!

What do YOU think about Google+so far? Is is a plus for you or for learners?

eduMOOC, Learning Community, Open Education, PLN, Virtual Communities

Online Learning Today with #eduMOOC

Last week, the #eduMOOC course with over 2, 500 participants located in over 60 countries participated in the first session topic Online Learning Today for the Online Learning Today… and Tomorrow course.
I will be honest – the massive, open and online courses format will not be taking first year undergraduate courses by storm. Many of my incoming students are concerned with transition from high school to higher education, and often stay clear of online courses in their first semester. In contrast, as a graduate student and self-proclaimed life-long learner, I like the autonomy and independence a MOOC has to offer. I like to connect, share and learn informally with others, so this is probably why I signed up for the course.  The first week’s session (Thursday 1-2 pm CT) was recorded and the PDF slides were archived for those who could not attend the live session. Here are a few key questions and ideas discussed from the panel:

Who do we serve in online learning today?

Online learning has typically met the needs of our non-traditional learners; however with the impacts and growth in emerging technology for education online learning is becoming a staple at most higher education institutions. As we are encouraged to “do more with less,” online learning is now required to meet the continuum of learners and learning pedagogues are not quite developed for many campus learning environments. Although online learning is just another dimension of learning, more higher education technology leaders need to identify methods for effective design and high-quality curriculum delivery.

Is the nature of how we learn changing? How? Why?

Both the learners and learner environments have evolved over the past 30 years. The delivery, medium, and evaluation of learning has impacted today’s higher education classroom. Emerging methods of curriculum execution and faculty instruction are beginning to increase learner engagement beyond our campuses. Online learning allows for fluid participation and continuous experiences. Learning has always been social; however new mediums now increase our learning networks across the globe and enhanced how learning objectives are reached.  

In order to meet the needs of global learners in higher education, more institutions will have to move forward with technology or be left behind. Other questions that were discussed by the panel include: 

  • How do for-profit vs. not for profit higher education institutions impact online learning? 
  • We may have one the access war, but have we won the accessibility war with online learning?
  • Are we considering universal design for learning
  • Is there still cannibalization of online learning? Disrupting College http://t.co/Jg8egj0 via @amprog
  • How are faculty, instruction & evaluations designed to review impacts for online learning?
  • What are the challenges for online learning today in 2011?
Captain Obvious point: Online learning is growing and many institutions are behind in their development and support for this type of learning. This fact is apparent. Take a look at most higher education course offerings online and how these courses are designed. Online learning IS growing, in terms of, demand, quality, global reach, resources, and access. What I am more interested is HOW higher education institutions will meet the demand of online learning? Institutions are currently struggling with decreased budgets, low enrollment numbers and maintaining staffing needs to support our student populations – just to name a few challenges.
 
In reflecting about the session, I can not say that I came away from it learning a whole lot of new ideas – more these questions will shape what lies ahead in this course for the weeks to come. I was sort of disappointed that the panel did not represent any global educational leaders in the #edtech field as planned – but hopefully this will change in future sessions. And I did take note of the debates around the actual value of this #eduMOOC and other MOOCs for education and learning in a few blogs, Twitter and other online entities of the social web – which also has contributed to my learning. 

It’s this sort of discourse that most challenges me to think and really, a MOOC is similar to a personal learning network and what you decide to make of it. As a seasoned-learner, I find great value in on-going discourse that occurs on the #eduMOOC backchannel on Twitter, on the eduMOOC Fb group or just reading blog posts that share ideas and resources about the course topics. I encourage others to engage by following a few key hashtags [#onlinelearning #eduMOOC #elearning] and start a dialogue with your classmates. I still think the best types of learning from MOOCs comes from the community of learners and those participating in the learning network. As it was said best: