Rhizo15, Teaching

Being Content Without Content {#Rhizo15 Week 3 Catch Up}

The irony from my last #Rhizo15 post = having to grade multiple assignments for the end of the semester. I should have seen that one coming. I set it up that way. Lesson learned. That being said, I have put a great more thought on my curriculum, with regards to evaluation, assessment, and, #Rhizo15 week three’s topic, CONTENT.

Dave’s prompt for Week 3: The Myth of Content and “Content is People” first made me think of Soylent Green is People, and then how most educators (myself included) tend to drive our students to learn based on the content over any other approach.

infographic_content_with_content

We create learning modules, assign specific readings, designate topics for lectures, and require discussion posts with specific content in mind. If a course was just a textbook or a course pack to read, then why teach? What would it be like to focus a class on a general topic? How can you offer a structure of learning for participation, inclusion, and knowledge sharing?

“We are all so much bigger than the content we teach. Perhaps that would go on our subjective portfolios and resumes – the place where all the really important things are listed and never realized.”  {Well said, Ron!}

It’s great to see how content can come “from the people” and present itself in a democratic way. I like the resources, references, and ideas shared from the #rhizo15 community. This is how we are modeling content by the learners. I suppose #Rhizo15 is a solid example of this, but can we do this within our disciplines and for our own courses? I would like to think so… and this summer, I might just have to test out the #rhizo15 waters with a new course I am picking up to teach:

LTEC 4000: Principles of Training and Development:. This course investigates the design, delivery and evaluation of training and development programs, specifically with regards to the relationship of modern technology and training theories.

In considering this strategy, I know I’ll need to create a framework for sharing, outline the purpose of the course, consider effective evaluation strategies, and offer a type of learning structure for my online students. My program typically has a wide-range of adult learners who share fantastic experiences and get to apply strategies from class to the workplace. Every semester, I learn a great deal when my learners to talk in discussion threads, blog posts, journal entries and on Twitter. I really am looking for my learners to embrace continuous learning in the workforce through discovery, curiosity, and inquiry.

I do have the same sentiments/questions shared by Mr. Misterovich:

  • Is critical thinking truly cognitive development or is it more socially guided?
  • In other words, should we not expect certain age groups to easily think critically because their brain development is not ready for it?
  • Or is critical thinking more of a cultural/social development?
  • If we choose to do so, could we introduce critical thinking earlier and start students stepping up the developmental stages earlier?

I look forward to the contributions my students will provide for training and development, and my own challenges/developments as I work on a “content-less” course. To be blogged about…

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Learning, Reflections, Rhizo15, Teaching

Measure This, #Rhizo15!

If you are teaching a course or conducting a training, those providing and taking ALWAYS want to know how you will measure success, learning, and performance. ALWAYS. What’s the bottom line? What’s the ROI? What’s the learning outcome? How will we know our learners have learned or our training participants “get it”? GRADES. SCORES. NUMBERS. STATISTICS.

This week Dave reminds #Rhizo15: “Learning is a not a counting noun.”

I am tardy in this post for a number of reasons (#et4online and #Fiachra40Fest, I’m looking at you). Without even knowing it, we actually had a late night discussion post-fire pit sing-song at the #et4online conference. {How did you get in our heads, Dave? Well done, sir.} Let me share a bit of that post-ukulele, harmonizing chat for you here.

FireSide

If you think about it, our learners are programmed to believe a grade informs their knowledge but is this actually the case? Grades evaluate an outcome; however it might not really mean learning. Do you know if your learners make meaning, identify value, or apply their knowledge beyond the assignment or specific course requirement? Grades have been there to offer benchmarks, set standards of evaluation, and help instructors measure FOREVER.

“You actually believe in grades?” asked Pete (a.k.a. @allistelling)

Great question. I thought about it. My response: Not really. As a faculty member, I have to provide an outcome or a grade for my students – but that is the university requirement and standard for our department. Our academic institutions require a numbered measurement to move forward in degree programs; however it is really the process of development, fine-tuning, and involvement where I see my students “learn” the most. For our students, a number is easy. It places them in a particular level or understanding of “how am I doing in the course?” Often they look at their learning in comparison to one another, and to figure out if they are “measuring” up to the learning standards. We could do better to “show you know” in other ways beyond a numbered evaluation. Really.

I am thinking more about the grades or non-grades in a couple of my courses. Two of my online courses are very much project/portfolio based, where the final product is built throughout the whole semester. My presentation class #LTEC4121 has a “TED” talk and short demonstration video, and my instructional design/facilitation #LTEC4440 class is building a 5-week online training proposal. Both of these assignments are very applied and relevant for my students; however a number of my learners are being pushed outside the comfort zone for their projects. Although most of the course evaluation (the numbers) are weighted towards the final projects, a few students will leave this course or give up based on early grade assignments. They are concerned about their GPA in this course, their cumulative GPA, etc. Those who stick past the first few weeks actually stop asking me about the numbers. Which is great! They want to know more about shooting film and editing, or considerations for putting media into their training course program. At the end of the course, I am impressed by their projects and final videos they deliver, here are a few examples of technical demonstration created last Fall 2014 :

In our fireside conversation, we talked about the value of developing artifacts, engaging in the peer-review process, how collaborative input matters, and working through revisions leads to understanding. With grades or marks (I’ll be inclusive to my Canadian & US colleagues), educators (myself included) often forget to model learning as a process. Learning should be developmental. As instructors, we need to remember to have our learners build upon previous knowledge and apply their learning beyond our course. There should be an opportunity for our learners to take risks, make mistakes, and pick up the pieces for the course and beyond. Making learning as not a number is not easy – for both the instructor and the students. There will be confusion and possibly frustration; however you have to be willing to work through the learning process with your students. I am thinking of just grading early items as complete or not, and providing feedback for their final projects. I am also considering what really needs to be accounted for in a letter or percentage grade, with regards to their final project developments. Finally, I do want to give credit for my students who have collaborated and learned on a local level. I have witnessed a number of connections thrive beyond a semester or course, as they support one another in work, life, and then some. Perhaps it is time to get rid of a few numbers to meaure what matters for learning for my next term… it would help with all the grading that I am now going to work on now.

p.s. If you are into learning about learning, it’s not too late to join the #Rhizo15 conversation… better late than never.

G*STEP

Using Verbs for Specific Learning Outcomes

Verb Wheel

Student learning outcomes is a very common term in education. For many of my k-12 colleagues we have used this term from graduate course work, to teaching practicum, and for curriculum planning. The challenge in writing student learning outcomes happens when you have to find actionable items and SPECIFIC methods for learning assessment.

Last week I attended “Writing student learning outcomes and the GSTEP teaching template:  How they inform your teachingfor the G*STEP program presented by Shana Cole & Nancy Fire from CLEAR.

We talked about components of a teaching strategy, which included:

A. Context for your teaching strategy
B. Selecting learning challenges to address with your teaching strategy
C. Objectives for this experience
D. Foundational knowledge necessary for students to participate in teaching strategy
E. Step by step planning
F. Ground rules (if needed for you strategy)
G. Assessment: How do you plan to assess the effectiveness of your learning strategy?
H. Anticipated Challenges: Indicate how you plan to deal with any of these challenges that may apply. Describe.
I. Journal Reflection

The three level model for student learning outcome development, which included the following levels:

  1. Goal
  2. General Learning Outcomes (GLOs)
  3. Specific Learning Outcomes (SLOs)

The last step – Specific Learning Outcomes (SLOs) – is where we focused our attention. Specific learning outcomes are highly measurable and possess detailed requirements. As an instructional designer who is often involved in program evaluation or course design, I appreciated the cross-disciplinary conversations on how to meet various subject matter content issues with the needs of the learner. A helpful resource to keep us on the same page and to guide our SLOs discussion was the Bloom’s Taxonomy verb wheel. This was a practical tool that helped to focus our planning and here were some of the key points I gleaned from the overall workshop:

  • be clear, specific & measurable
  • identify what the students should be able to do as a result of a learning experience
  • display evidence that learning has occurred at a specified competency level
  • focus shifts from what “I will teach” to “what students will learn”
  • define content, expectations, assessments & creates constructive data i.e. data, percentage, and understanding of student learning

For student learning outcomes to work they have to connect to the learning. A great way to assess your expectations of your SLOs is to share these with other educators,  both inside and outside your discipline or subject matter expertise. Student learning outcomes need to be written at a general level to ensure clear communication, and limit subjective language. By using SLOs you are able to modify course objectives, assess curriculum design, and measure how your instruction impacts learners. By creating 3-7 overall goals in your course, you will want to consider at least 3-5 specific learning outcomes to measure each goal. These goals will help address your teaching strategy and how you assess your learner’s progress.

How do your specific learning outcomes (SLOs) fit into your entire course planning and content delivery?

Higher Education, Learning Technologies, Web Design

Backward Design with TED-Ed

Beginning with the end in mind. This is the philosophy of instructional design method backward(s) design.  A few weeks back Kevin Guidry shared his thoughts on backwards design, and it got me thinking about how I approach my curriculum and lesson plans.

Image c/o <http://www.recordholders.org/images/backwards-cycling1.jpg>

For the Office for Exploring Majors, I am currently reviewing/updating modules for our first-year seminar class – UGST 1000. The goal is to offer an “engaged” format (we cannot use the term blended or hybrid, but there will be mixed components of online, in-class and active requirements) for Fall 2012.  Last semester our department offered a couple of sections of the NextGen course; however, the class focus was on “well-being.” Since our office t works with undecided students, the engaged sections for Fall 2012 will need to be directed towards major/career exploration and academic success.

Image c/o <http://kids.esc13.net/curriculum/3stages.gif>

In reviewing the current curriculum, it was apparent that a backward design approach would be the most effective method for this instructional design project. In Understanding by Design, Wiggins and McTighe (2005) identify three key stages for  backward design:

  1. Identify desired results (learning outcomes) – What should your learners know, understand, and be able to do?
  2. Determine Acceptable Evidence (means to assess if learners have learned) – How will you know if learners have achieved the desired results, achieved those learning outcomes, or met the standards? What is the evidence of learner understanding and proficiency?
  3. Plan learning experiences and instruction – What will be the procedures or methods to reach these outcomes? This includes a definition of knowledge; definition of skills and procedures learners need to master; definition of materials; and definition of learning or instructional activities.

Here is an example of an engaged learning module that I will include for the Time Management unit. This session will have the backward design steps and one of three classes that students will be required to complete outside of the in-class meeting time.

1. Learning Outcome(s)

Learners will be able to:

(a) identify the differences between tasks, objectives, and goals.

(b) create a smart and effective to-do list of tasks.

(b) assess their weekly schedule to identify how time is being utilized.

(c) select priorities, understand where time is lost, and accurately adjust for effective time management.

2. Evidence of Learning

Learners will demonstrate their understanding of learning by:

(a) drafting a to-do list of tasks for the day/week and identify 5 top priorities.

(b) mapping out a one week schedule of their activities to identify where their 168 hours are allocated.

(c) creating a visual representation of how the 1 week period time is accounted for in terms of activities and responsibilities.

 (d) writing a 250 word minimum blog post/online journal about their 168 hours and weekly schedule. This reflection will include the visual representation of 168 hours, account for time wasted, and offer ideas how to effectively manage time to balance their schedule.

3. Learning Experiences & Instruction

This section of the time management unit will be housed online. We have some modules created on Blackboard Learn; however, I thought I would also create a mock up on the new TED-Ed website. This is a rough draft of a module (to be edited) I designed by “flipping the video” from YouTube into a lesson. [Side note: there are already a number of lessons available for educators to use for the experience section of lessons. Instructors can use the same module or “flip” it.]

TED-Ed | Time Management: How to Write a To-Do List & Know Where Your Time Goes

College Success – Chapter 2: 2.3 Organizing Your Time

References:

Beiderwell, B., Tse, L., Lochhaas, T.J., & deKanter, N.B. (2010, August). College success. Flatworld Knowledge. Retrieved from http://catalog.flatworldknowledge.com/catalog/editions/54

Wiggins, G. & McTighe, J. (2005). Understanding by design (2nd ed). NJ: Prentice Hall.

EC&I831, Learning Community

Open, Connected & Social With EC&I 831

The next online, open education course I am involved with this semester is EC&I 831: Social Media & Open Education from the University of Regina with Dr. Alec Couros that meets only every Tuesday evening (8-10pm CST). I first learned about this course through a few online networks in the ed tech arena, and I thought it may be an interesting lens to review curriculum and content development for learning. Here’s the 5 minute elevator pitch for the course:

The Tuesday evening elluminate session provided the basic introduction to the course schedule and outline. I am looking forward to connecting to other students to further explore the role of the educator/learner in terms of media literacy, knowledge and social networks.

It was great to hear the parallels between my personal philosophy of education, and how it ties into the learning objectives of this course.  Dr. Couros’ believes that there are great strengths in learning relationships and connectiveness amongst students, rather than just the specific content or knowledge.  It will be interesting to see how this sentiment is interpretted by the various weekly session speakers and participants throughout the course of the semester.

Although this course is similar to CCK09, I think that EC&I 831 will challenge me to:

  • get perspectives of social media education – history, ideas & development
  • expand my social learning theories & applications
  • experiment & play with NEW social learning & open educational tools/resources
  • provide a critical lens for curriculum development with social media & open education
  • build up my learning network – connect & enage with new online peers
CCK09, Learning Community

Connecting to CCK09

Last night was the first meeting for the open course Connectivism & Connective Knowledge (CCK09) facilitated by George Siemens and Stephen Downes. Approximately 708 students have signed up for either credit or non-credit learning to share ideas around connected learning and knowledge at any given time. In the live elluminate room, there were about 50 or so active & engaged students ranging from a wide field of interests and professional backgrounds.

mechano

Photo c/o http://londonskyline.blogspot.com


I decided to join this course for a few reasons:

  1. Connect with other like-minded individuals online.
  2. Join a learning community interested in sharing ideas around connected knowledge and online learning.
  3. To further explore the ideas around the pedagogy of connectivism – a term coined by George & utilized in an early research/pilot project at the University of Toronto.
  4. Ponder some theories and developments for learning/performance technology to enhance my doctoral research & studies @ UNT.

The meeting last night was more around the structure of the course and expectations for the participants. The opening session introduced a myriad of methods for continual connection throughout the semester, and encouraged networking and collaboration amongst our online peers.

Although there are few structured sessions and a CCK09 schedule, this does not limit anyones means for connections beyond the confines of the course. I think it is amazing to see the connections of a few of our peers flourish immediately on Twitter, through sharing of the blogs and more.  I’m looking forward to connecting further and engaging with the numerous resources and ideas that everyone is bringing to the digital table

TO DO List:

(before next class – September 17, 4:00 pm CST “What is Connectivism”)

Readings

What connectivism is

What is the Unique Idea in Connectivism?

Optional Readings/References:

http://ltc.umanitoba.ca/connectivism/?p=101

Little Boxes, Glocalization and Networked Individualism (.pdf)

http://it.coe.uga.edu/itforum/Paper105/Siemens.pdf


If you are interested in staying “connected” to CCK09, feel free to jump into the course as a non-credit student and/or use CCK09 tag to search on Twitter, Google Alerts, Diigo, Delicious and more! You are bound to connect to one of the members of the online learning community and perhaps take away an idea or two.

Hello to all my new online friends. Feel free to stay connected to me on this blog or via various ways I engage online –  HERE. See ya’ll on Thursday!