Collaboration, Higher Education, Horizon Report, K-12, Learning, report, Research

#FOECast: Ideation Week for the Future of Education

What project should we create to grasp the future of education and technology?

This is a big, bold question that is being explored and discussed in facilitated conversations via Bryan Alexander this week for:

Future of Education & Everything Community (#FOECast) IDEATION WEEK: February 26-March 2, 2018 

For those of you who know me (or are just getting to be acquainted), I am all for a grassroots initiative to discuss and dig into problems by and for a community. The idea of this week is to encourage “ideation” in an open, accessible way to explore how we’ll investigate/understand the future of learning, education, technology, and probably more. This is an exciting endeavor instigated by Bryan (and more!) to crowdsource where the Horizon report might go — or even expand into areas it did not reach. The goal (or dream) is: “to create something bold and new, a project drawing on the middle of the 21st century. This is a public and open process, through which we hope to get as broad and diverse a set of perspectives as possible.”

 

JOIN the LIVE Online Sessions to CONTRIBUTE!

During the online, synchronous meetings, these will be the four questions/prompts to guide the conversation:

  1. What needs did the Horizon report meet?

  2. What forecasting methods should we consider?

  3. What shape should a new effort take?

  4. What scope should this cover?

If you are not able to make a time/meeting, please feel free to participate in this organic and growing discussion. You can comment by tweeting and follow the #FOECast hashtag. Add your comments and responses to this open Google doc that continues to grow and be annotated (love it?).  Join and contribute to the ongoing Slack channel (find the direct URL here: https://beyondthehorizongroup.slack.com/). Additionally, you can post your own thoughts/ideas to the four questions (above) on your own blog, video, or other digital media of your choice. I have no doubt the community of futurists, instigators, designers, and then some would welcome all contributions … well, maybe not smoke signals (yet).

I expressed my sentiments about the NMC Horizon Report and the value it offered in the doc:

1) What needs did the Horizon Report meet?

I think the horizon report helps to bring together multiple stakeholders have contributed to the different entities in education come together (K-12, higher ed, and libraries) and the professional organizations/affiliations of practitioners and researchers. The horizon reports offered information, knowledge sharing, exemplars/examples, and practical experiences collected in one hub. Related to that, we started to bridge into other geographic areas and branch into the needs of industry. This cross-section of representation started to pollinate ideas and encourage people to move beyond a role or institutional focus into what is possible for the future of education. Does the horizon report need to be exclusive to technology? Should we be focused on the education landscape as a whole? This could be the changes in demographics for learners, educators, practitioners, and organizational trends/needs.

I’m stilling chewing on these questions… and thinking out loud (out blog?). I hope to join the conversations and be part of this collaborative discussion and threads on the interwebs. If you too care about the future of learning and have a thought of two — do join in. This is important and we need ideas from all around the education/learning table. What do you think about the future of learning, education, and technology?

 

An UPDATE on March 4, 2018:

After participating in a couple of conversations, watching the online discourse, and critical contributions in the shared doc/slack spaces, I thought I should finish up my own contributions to all that is shared and where this #FOEcast conversation might go. Here are my responses to the last 3 questions posed for the week:

2) What forecasting methods should we consider?

I am not sure about forecasting methods; however, I am not sure we do a decent job actually aggregating the data, research, and current practices in a comprehensive manner. There are a number interesting and creative pedagogical practices that rarely get reviewed or researched. Additionally, there is rarely many findings or research implications that are shared well with practitioners for teaching/learning/training. I would be more interesting in considering how we bring these information sources we currently have to understand the broader landscape. Perhaps this involves bringing different entities, stakeholders, organizations, etc. together to process and review learning practices in a few different pockets and industries. With criticisms of integrity withing the educational technology research and critiques of past NMC briefs, I am not sure how the past reports were developed always expressed the trends of teaching/learning/training around the globe. Who gets included or excluded with a Delphi panel? Why is there a focus on technologies and tools, rather than solving problems? How can future trend reporting truly reach and cover a broad spectrum of how learning and development is evolving with “innovative” or forward thinking pedagogical practice? Those would be the questions I would want answered for predictions and pathways forward for research methods to develop a new report.

3) What shape should a new effort take?

Perhaps going from the original Delphi model of “ask the expert” + community to curate a report of the “state of learning” (or training or development — per Stephen Downes above) to tease out the original PDF report and present it in multiple ways that interests and engages multiple audiences (e.g. educators, researchers, designers, admin, training, L&D, etc.). A digital showcase of applications beyond a webinar or webcast could include bit-sized examples of testing and experimenting with learning design, a technology in application for learning, or other via a podcast+show notes, video demonstration, testing exemplar of a concept, team blog of experimentation in progress, or a “behind the curtains” look for how to apply pedagogical practices. There is no shortage of how to share knowledge that allows it to cross into different industries, learning/educational areas, and could engage multiple professionals (not just K-12, higher ed, workplace learning, library, etc.) — this could be shared with those who are willing to test/try/experiment in learning. Perhaps focusing on the issues, concepts, and problems will help bring a broader audience and interest to the findings in these future of learning reports AND help us to connect the nodes between professions, practitioners, and a variety of industries. Let’s start encouraging play in other professional sandboxes!

4) What scope should this cover?

I think FOECast has the potential to go beyond the original Horizon Report. It could be more than a function of educational sectors or even geographic locations discussing the trends for technology + {Library, K-12 education, Higher Ed, etc.}. The new version looking at the future of education (or learning/development/training), could provide a pathway to discuss critical issues, contemplative ideas, and thoughtful pedagogical practices. Some of these trends may include technology; however, the focus could be on the issues or problems the collective wants to solve in teaching/learning/development. I would hope these reports (or open ideation events or whatever shape this takes) continues to involve an integrated community of practice to engage, question, think critically, contribute, and challenge one another to do better work (teaching, researching, designing, etc.). What are the questions we should be asking? What are the practices we could be testing or piloting? What are the nuances for teaching/learning?

I am a big fan of how Kay Oddone shared this diagram below and reflected how connected learning principles emerged out of the FOEcast week of brainstorming/ideation:

Project_FOECast_through_the_lens_of_Connected_Learning

I agree with this, and further push this idea to embrace how connected learning often drives professionals to contribute to a networked community of practice. The FOEcast week reminded me how an organic group of people can support and contribute to moving an idea forward. The community is vested in a common purpose and many want to not just talk, but also contribute to how we can shape our future practices, with regards to formal and informal learning. With formal education institutions (K-12, higher education, etc.) and professional associations/organizations there seems to be a tension of how to balance innovative ideas and approach future-oriented projects due to structural barriers or workforce constraints. This process allows for more freedom and willingness to connect the nodes to share knowledge and involve those who might be interested in a problem/issue or topic. What is great about this designed experience is the potential to move this conversation (and future actions) beyond a particular professional role/title/function, across institutional/organizational boundaries, and involve others who have not contributed their voice yet. This is critical, as sharing at the intersections of what we do in learning/training/development will help to truly advance our pedagogical practices.

There was so much thoughtful discussion and critical thinking shared on the live chats, hashtag and open Google doc (go see for yourself). Thanks for instigating this needed conversation, Bryan, and to all the contributors — it has been a real delight to read your ideas and hear your thoughts in this open dialogue.  I hope this process of thinking, talking, and doing something for the future of everything continues. I’m interested… count me in! This might be the wrap up blog post for the #FOEcast week, Final push: Create!, however; this conversation and community contribution seems to be just the beginning: https://www.foecast.net/

#LTEC6040, Online Learning, Research, SoTL

#LTEC6040 Asks, “Why Online?”

This academic semester I am fully immersed in online/digital scholarship of teaching and learning. This should not be a surprise, as I teach online and I’m often trying to figure out how distance/technology impacts learning. This year I am exploring HOW TO research digital teaching/learning practices in the courses I instruct and for the scholarship I’m drafting. According to Storify (soon to R.I.P. in May 2018), we’ve been talking about how to best define/label distributed learning for a while => here’s a Twitter thread captured from 3 years ago:  “State of ______ [insert: digital, online, etc.] Learning.” Under the umbrella term, distance education, comes a variety of ways to teach and learn. Additionally, the technological landscape in education has offered a number of ways to discuss, research, and design distributed learning. It’s complicated and challenging as the titles/labels for this type of teaching/learning hold many monikers in the empirical research: educational/learning technologies, networked learning, online education, blended learning environments, hybrid models, flipped learning, e-Learning, virtual environments, and more! Some technologies have the ability to design a flow of distributed learning that is seamless; whereas other digital facets create barriers and challenges.

Our learning spaces have a number of ways to infuse technology into distance education. With this comes even more ways to research and study these pedagogical practices for digital learning.  Regardless of the app, platform, or tool, we seem to have some aspect of “digital” infused into how we both teach and learn. As the options and variety of this online teaching/learning scholarship is broad, I am looking forward to supporting doctoral researchers who will identify one aspect of digital learning in our LTEC 6040: Theory and Practice of Distributed Learning (#LTEC6040 ) course. If you read this blog or connect with me on Twitter, you might see a few posts/shares using this hashtag to signal ideas and offer resources for these early career scholars as they work on investigating one piece of this distance/distributed learning pie.

The central focus of the #LTEC6040 course is to encourage doctoral researchers to define their own theory of online learning/teaching in context to:

  • Outlining empirical literature that supports (or refutes) their personal online learning/teaching theory
  • Identifying appropriate research methods to collect and analyze data connected to this personal online learning/teaching theory (small scale study)
  • Describing the ethical considerations and practices for this research study (e.g. IRB, recruitment, sample population, etc.)
  • Drafting an academic article manuscript for an appropriate publication outlet related to their field of inquiry in online teaching/learning

If you are so inclined, I would encourage you to join in the conversation and offer advice, resources,ideas, and readings for these scholars — as a number of you hold some invaluable expertise in a variety of areas we’ll be exploring for distributed learning this term [To see potential topics, see page 6 of the LTEC 6040 Course Syllabus]:

#LTEC6040 Blogs
https://jennie6040.blog/
https://nitiesite.wordpress.com/
https://jackimberly.wordpress.com/
https://crossingboundariesmedia.wordpress.com
https://osbornemarks.wordpress.com/
https://notlostnotyet.wordpress.com/
https://rickwoods2018.wordpress.com/
https://ltiwithme.wordpress.com/

We are just beginning to define what it means to examine online instruction/learning and unpacking distributed educational environments. In the initial conversations and class blog posts, most are still working on how they DEFINE and OUTLINE what it means to learn/teach online from their own experiences and expectations from the theories they are learning about in our program. Distance education research in higher education is fairly “young” (in comparison to other disciplines) and I am grateful I am surrounded by some fantastic colleagues and their respective departments/units/centers/teams who continue to find value in sharing digital teaching/learning scholarship resources. Here are a just a few (of many) examples:

Beyond these databases, reports, and resources, I am curating other digital learning materials and discourse to prompt discussion, debate and inquiry. Please feel free to share articles, blog posts, media, and more that might be suitable for diving into online teaching/learning research. Please feel free to leave suggestions in the comments below, if you have any. If you tweet, share what you think is critical for investigations in the digital age of learning using the course hashtag: #LTEC6040

Book Review, mentor, mentoring, Professional Development

#BookReview: Mentoring Programs That Work

One of my research projects I am currently working focuses on professional mentoring, specifically mentoring experiences for professional learning and development offered by professional organizations/associations. Over the past couple of years, I have been fortunate to speak with a number of higher education professionals who have been part of a formal mentoring program, either as a mentor or a learner (a.k. a. mentee, protege, or leader). It has been great to learn about their how mentoring has met their professional development needs, helped to meet career goals, and navigated both personal/professional situations faced in the workplace.  As I finish a few more interviews, I hope to wrap up data collection/analysis to share findings/implications of mentoring experiences later this year — I promise. Part of this research design includes understanding how professional learning organizations/associations structure and administer mentoring programs for its membership. In speaking with mentoring participants and coordinators from a variety of mentoring programs that serve higher education professionals (Thank you: NACADA ELP, ACPAgrow, OACUHO, and NASPA Candid Conversations 365), I hope to offer insights and practical implications based on these mentoring experiences.

In my literature review, I stumbled upon, Mentoring Programs That Work by Jenn Labin, which was recently published by the Association for Talent Development. Based on my own thread of scholarship, I wanted to review and learn what suggestions this author had to provide based on her experiences in mentoring programs in a variety of industries.Although each mentoring program will have its own objectives and unique needs for participants, one constant component across all programs is the need to form connections to support an effective mentoring relationship. Mentoring relationships will be the cornerstone for skill development, personalized learning, and knowledge acquisition within any professional domain. Unlike typical educational training programs or professional development/learning, mentoring programs are more uniquely tailored for talent development needs. That being said, I am not sure we put the time or effort into preparing mentors and learners who enter this type of learning and development program.  I agree with Labin’s sentiments: “Mentoring programs are important.” Mentoring is an individual, learner-driven experience where proteges work with mentors to create a learner-focused solution. Mentors can support learners to acquire a specific knowledge domain, scaffold professional work situations, and develop tacit skills required to advance in their career field. Labin (2017) believes most mentoring programs fail if their goals are not aligned to talent/professional needs, inability to scale and sustain initiatives, and/or as a result of little stakeholders involvement or championship. I am sharing this brief overview of this book, as I think it has practical solutions for managers or program coordinators who want to develop (or improve) a successful mentoring program, while also supporting the mentoring experience and empowering mentors with tools they will need for this type of professional learning.

This book presents practical ideas and examples to outline the AXLES Framework for developing mentoring programs. The AXLES approach is similar to the ADDIE model for designing learning solutions, which will be familiar to my instructional designers or training industry colleagues. Labin introduces the components of AXLES in the introduction chapter of her book (2017, p. xv-xvi):

  • A = Align to Purpose: define the intention/goals of the program; identify critical questions for program success, and establish strategic partners within the organization to support the mentoring program
  • X = Design the Experience: identify the mentoring program structure, schedule, participant matching, and expectations; what are the deliverables, outcomes, and lifecycle of the program you want to design?
  • L = Launch Your Program: this is the implementation of the mentoring program (initially or annually); Will you have an orientation meeting, agenda, or focused platform/communication method to get the program going?
  • E = Evaluate Effectiveness: What will be the types of measures or metrics for the mentoring program?; identify program success from both narratives of participants and potential data collection with milestones and participant input
  • S = Support Participants: design and develop resources, webinars, videos, or other performance support aids to scaffold mentor-learner interactions; these could be a participant playbook, monthly meeting agendas, or even conversation guides/resources for discussions to encourage connections for these mentoring relationships

Mentoring is defined in a number of different ways, and the approach for a mentoring experience will be individual and unique depending on your organization/institutions needs. Chapter 2 helps to identify both the direction and talent development gaps you would like to address within your own mentoring program. This foundational chapter requires readers to identify the purpose, success measures, and the focus of the program by examining both the learners’ (protege) benefits and mentors’ benefits for involvement. A mentoring program could be developed to meet technical needs or to transfer institutional knowledge, or it might be created for talent development/growth of professionals within your organization. Identifying the objectives, purpose statement, and the “role of mentoring” will be a critical phase for those constructing this type of training design.

Chapter 3 offers suggestions for mentoring program designs. For the practical organization of a mentoring program, you are encouraged to outline questions for planning the program structure, identify the program schedule, consider how to conduct participant matching, and describe how learners and mentors will participate in the program. The considerations for “cultural alignment” were addressed early in this chapter, as this type of professional development might be executed differently based on the organizations need and its learning culture. A mentoring program structure type could include traditional or 1:1 mentoring, reverse mentoring, mentor-led (group mentoring), peer-led (mentoring circles), or a hybrid of any of these formats.  Additionally, this section of the books helps readers to consider the schedule length, entry, and programmatic features, such as the matching process for mentoring and potential technology solutions for support. The last stages of design decisions required for planning mentoring programs involve the learner and mentor engagement, specifically participants entry and exit into the program and outlining operating directions, guidelines, and expectations to create successful mentoring experiences.

Chapter 4 and 5 offer insights and practical suggestions for launching and evaluating a mentoring program, respectively. I appreciated the potential suggestions for professional learning opportunities, such as communication preferences, setting goals and development plans, skill-building workshops, and other resources that could be curated for a mentoring program (e.g. icebreakers, readings, teambuilding activities, conversation topics, etc.). For evaluation purposes, Labin (2017) mapped the Kirkpatrick Four Levels of Evaluation for review of a sample mentoring program and offered strategies for how qualitative and quantitative data might offer measurement insights during a program review. Potential metrics for success could be conducted by observation of performance improvement/changes, case-based examination of the mentoring relationship, individual development plans/goals met, reflections or narratives shared in milestone reports, and engagement of mentors and leaders within the organization.

Regardless of the industry or occupation, I think mentoring program administrators/coordinators will find Labin’s book both informative and practical for designing a comprehensive mentoring program that supports productive mentoring experiences. There are a number of suggestions for defining effective mentoring behaviors, onboarding participants, engaging in regular skill building and/or learning activities, and considerations for how to engage participants throughout a mentoring program experience. Administrators of mentoring programs will gain a number of valuable ideas for communication planning, participant recruitment, mentor-learner pair matching, supporting mentors in their role, potential ways to report and offer metrics for program measurement, learning material development/maintenance, dealing with issues, and supporting participants throughout the mentoring program cycle. I appreciate how each chapter offers applied examples of mentoring perspectives from learners or various industry leaders, and the end of each chapter offers key insights, exercises, and questions for individual reflection and potential team discussions. Additionally, there are a number of support resources and example materials in the appendices of this book to help guide mentoring program development.

Reference:

Labin, J. (2017). Mentoring programs that work. Alexandria, VA: Association for Talent Development Press.

*Full disclosure: The book, Mentoring Programs That Work, was sent to me by @ATD Press to read and review. As this is a valuable contribution for mentoring program development to support professional learning and development, I am more than pleased to offer this review on my blog. Thank you!” 

Podcast, Professional Development, Research

The Higher Ed Podcast Project

Podcasts. This mobile, audio medium has been circling the Internet since 2004. Podcasting has evolved so much since its birth. Over the last few years, there’s been a growth of fantastic of podcasts to listen to and enjoy. If you have not heard someone talk about podcasts in the past few years, I would be very surprised. There are LOADS OF PODCASTS!!! Earlier this year, NPR podcasters spread the pod love via the #trypod campaign. The goal was to share what podcasts you listen to via the #trypod  hashtag. For just over a decade, I have enjoyed listening to a variety of podcasts on my commute, while running, on vacation, or just strolling with my pup. These portable stories, events, and news pieces have entertained and educated me on the go — it was like radio on-demand! My pod streams are filled with amazing content to enhance my personal and professional development and offer new insights about the world around me. I have learned so much from listening to podcasts – new ideas, book recommendations, or introductions to new people – there are so many takeaways pouring into my earbuds.  So many podcasts have contributed to my learning, teaching, research and practice in higher education … and I am not surprised to learn others subscribe to podcasts for their professional learning and development as well.

A growing number of higher education students, staff, and faculty are listening AND learning from podcasts. The wealth of information shared on a video/audio podcasts allows listeners to learn about resources, ideas, and information to enhance the work we do at our institutions. These mobile-friendly, portable PD resources are not only consumed, but they are also being created and produced by higher education colleagues and organizations. So what is the state of podcasting in higher ed?

To learn more about this and explore what is happing in post-secondary podcast land, let me introduce you to the Higher Ed Podcast Project.  We want to CURATE and SHARE podcasts impacting professional learning and development for higher ed peers, specifically to answer the following questions:

  • What video/audio podcasts are higher education professionals (graduate students, faculty, and staff) listening to for learning and development?

  • What podcasts are being produced/created for and in higher education (non-lecture/classroom-based)?

  • How has podcast consumption impacted or influenced the work (teaching, research, or service) you do in higher education?

Definition & Focus for Project

We are interested in exploring podcasts in higher education for professional learning and development; however, we want YOU to understand how we are defining a “podcast” as this medium has taken a number of shapes and forms over the years. For our research purposes, we are defining a podcast and our research focus as:

  • the podcast content is created and shared to support professional development, learning, and/or information distribution
  • the podcast has a target audience might include graduate learners (e.g. masters or doctoral researchers), professional school students (e.g. social work, medicine, etc.), staff/administration, and/or faculty in higher education
  • the podcast is in an audio and/or video format that can be subscribed, downloaded, and/or streamed from an electronic device (e.g. computer, laptop, tablet, or mobile)
  • the podcast is a program, show, broadcast, and/or episodes with a specific purpose or topic focussed on the higher education domain
  • the podcast includes original content development intention: it was designed for a podcast, e.g. we are not including a recorded college/university lecture, conference panel/presentation, professional learning webinars, recorded meeting, etc. (unless it was edited to fit into a podcast)
  • the podcast can be active or inactive

What podcasts are YOU listening to, Higher Ed?

To help this higher ed podcast project, we want to openly curate a LIST OF AUDIO and VIDEO PODCASTS dedicated to higher education professionals. This OPEN call for podcasts will help us understand and SHARE the current state of podcasting in higher education. This is where you come in. Please ADD to the higher education podcast list (and other podcasts on the second tab) to let us know what YOU listen to for your professional learning and development: 

http://bit.ly/higheredpodcasts

Want to learn more? Check out our research site: https://higheredpodcasts.wordpress.com/

Learning and Performance, Learning Community, PLE, PLN, Professional Development, Virtual Communities

Learning and Development on a Backchannel

Lately,  I have been thinking a lot more about backchannels for learning and development (L&D) as I chat with folks involved with networked communitiesIn education, there is no doubt you have heard about a backchannel for learning, whether it was during a conference or at a professional meeting. You’ve most likely even participated in some sort of backchannel — even BEFORE technology crept into your educational practice. Let’s return to the original meaning of the word, shall we:

Backchannel learning is a “covert” way we are sharing our educational experiences online. It’s like we’re in the back of the classroom passing notes — except now it is digital and openly shared, and (probably) more productive than it was when we were younger. Maybe.

Our digital and connected backchannels allow this note-passing to augment what is happening at a specific moment in time. Today’s backchannels offer a way to showcase professional development opportunities, disseminate scholarly research, distribute resources for practice, curate knowledge from an event, and archive the learning so that it “lives” beyond a geographic location, calendar date, etc.

Et Voila: Pull To Open image c/o Flickr user kpwerker

One popular way to participate in a backchannel during a conference is by using the designated Twitter hashtag when posting tweets [Hashtag: A symbol used in Twitter messages, the # symbol, used to identify keywords or topics in a tweet. The hashtag was an organic creation by Twitter users as a way to categorize Twitter messages and link keywords posted on Twitter.] Here is an example of a study comparing #AERA15 & #AERA16 hashtag usage (Kimmons & Veletsianos, 2016).

Increasingly, I see peers tweet quotes from keynotes, articles from scholars, ideas for practice, and I am often entertained by interactions between colleagues I know — all from the comforts of my home office. With a small travel budget and too much data to collect this summer, I appreciate the ability to jump into this type of backchannel to learn about the conversation as these are rich threads that dig into issues and upcoming trends we see in the field. Additionally, if you’re keen you dip into other types of meetings from other organizations to learn more about how their discipline/functional area could influence your own professional work.

Beyond the typical conference or professional meetings, we also see similar traces of L&D happening on a backchannel to be paired with a webinar, business meeting, streaming keynote, and campus program/initiative.

With new technological affordances, there are many other ways we can create backchannels for learning and ways to develop talent. For example, here is how I use Twitter and WordPress as a backchannel with  first-year seminar class, #ugstSTORY [ARCHIVED CLASS]:

I am impressed to see a number of my colleagues use a number of OTHER technologies that are social and connected to create backchannels for L&D online — here are just a few examples– but there are LOADS to search and discover:

  • #phdchat wiki: This is a PBworks archive is from the initiative of the all the Twitter sharing and discussions hosted with the #phdchat hashtag. This community supported me during much of my doctoral research. There is a wealth of information shared and curated on this wiki site. Although this space has not been edited in over 3-years the #phdchat community lives on. Thanks for moderating and cultivating this community, @NSRiazat.
  • Digital Storytelling 106 (#ds106): is an open, online community/course from the University of Mary Washington by instigator(s) of the domain web (ahem… @jimgroom & @cogdog). Course Requirements: a real computer, a hardy internet connection, preferably a domain of your own and some commodity web hosting, and creativity. TUNE into #ds106 radio streaming: http://ds106.us/ds106-radio/
  • Teaching In Higher Ed PodcastSlack Channel: The wealth of information shared in this podcast since June 2014 is amazing and I’m thankful for how Bonni (@bonni208) brings in various guests to support my own professional development for pedagogical planning and to support my own teaching in higher ed. Beyond this regular audio podcast, she also has a community of listeners who she connects to and with via her Slack backchannel and via Twitter.
  • Virtually Connecting (@VConnecting): The virtual buddies bring a small group of on-site and virtual folks together at professional and academic meetings via YouTube Live (formerly Google+ Hangouts) to have a “hallway conversation” about the relevant issues, conference experiences, and to host a conversation at different conference events. They welcome new virtual friends and typically have a Google form for you to complete in advance to sign-up OR you can watch the wealth of archives from previous V-Connecting sessions on their YouTube Channel. Kudos to, and for starting this initiative.

Thinking About Finding a Backchannel for L&D? Here are a few suggestions for hashtag backchannel communities on Twitter:

OR maybe you want to START your own L&D backchannel? Think about your PURPOSE/GOAL first, and then browse these digital spaces and places for initiating a learning backchannel for your professional interests and development:

What digital spaces do you use for your own learning backchannels? How do you engage in professional development via online backchannels? Let me know!

References

Kimmons, R. & Veletsianos, G. (2016). Education Scholars’ Evolving uses of Twitter as a conference backchannel and social commentary platform. British Journal of Educational Technology, 47(3), 445—464.

Muñoz, C. L., & Towner, T. (2011). Back to the “wall”: How to use Facebook in the college classroom. First Monday, 16(12).

 

Online Learning, Teaching

Advice for Teaching at Scale Online

There are a growing number of learners online. The recent report, The Changing Landscape of Online Education (CHLOE) from Quality Matters, shared that “more than 2.1 million fully distance undergraduates (12% of total) and 770,000 fully distance graduate students (26% of total) are online learners.” Over the last three years, I have been working completely online as a faculty member and with a distributed research group. I am also fortunate to collaborate remotely with scholars and practitioners to study talent development in higher ed (e.g. mentoring). Much of my work centers around how we support working and learning online in higher ed. Besides investigating how learners persist in open online environments (Veletsianos, Reich, & Pasquini, 2016) I am also concerned with how networked experiences impact/influence our higher education practice. Previously I shared how I support online learners, but many of you might not realize I instruct A LOT of students each academic term. So this post dedicated to the behind the scenes way to scaffold the LOGISTICS of teaching a LARGE ONLINE COURSE and how to support MANY DISTRIBUTED LEARNERS. This post comes with a strong caveat: I am still learning. Always.

First, identify your instructional NEEDS as you organize your large online course. You will need to establish a team of support, that might include: instructional designers, instructional technologist, graders, industry mentors, and/or teaching assistants (TA’s). Do you need help grading assignments? Is there one project you want external reviewers/peers to support, evaluate, or be a part of your lesson? Will you need aid in encouraging social learning through discussion forums, team wikis, or other group activities? Are you looking to redesign a section or project in your course? Try to set this up before the term (if available/teaching assignments are set early enough) and continue to assess the pulse of my teaching team support. I am grateful for colleagues who have joined my class to present, speak, mentor, or offer peer review of final projects. I have also been quite fortunate in working with some amazing teaching assistants/graders (repeatedly) from our doctoral program over the last few semesters. Now that these folks have to focus on their own research scholarship to Ph-inishe-D their dissertation, I am currently thinking about how I manage remote workers for distributed instructional support. Here are my “notes” for training/onboarding new online learning TA’s & graders:

  • Setting Expectations: Establish standards and norms within the instructional support team – including orientation to the course site, review of learning modules, a copy of syllabus with key points highlighted, learning outcomes, and course schedule.
  • Grading Tools & Resources: Identify the means and methods for grading and learning support — this includes division of labor into cohorts/sections, grading rubrics for all assignments, and sample feedback to give for each course activity/assignment.
  • Communication: Organize time and/or spaces to “talk.” This could be a regular meeting schedule to host a synchronous web conference/phone/Skype chat, open/online office hours on-demand for 1:1 meetings, backchannel conversation (e.g. Slack, Yammer, Google chat), and send regular reminders to the group by email for longer instructions/information.
  • Shared Digital Work Spaces: Outline virtual spaces to support the instructional team. Virtual teaming can help with grading, e.g. shared Gooogle Docs for feedback/comments/suggestions for assignments, shared file system for saving assignments/projects, and other spreadsheets/collaborative tools or platforms you might use to “work” beyond the learning management system(LMS) or course site.
  • Learner Support: Create common communication practices among the team (group email) and expectations for responding to learner messages/email is critical. To be firm and fair, we must be consistent with assignment deadlines (I hold a no late work policy, outside of health/emergency situations) and we do our best to answer messages from learners in 24-48 hours and TA’s/graders copy (“cc”) the lead instructor on email conversations with learners.  Each course has a “Peer-to-Peer Support” discussion forum where learners can ask questions, get advice, post articles or resources, work out issues from a module, etc. with their classmates. The TA’s and I will “check-in” on these to see if all questions have been answered with the correct information. Finally, we identify when and how synchronous online meetings (group advising, mini-lessons, or office hours) should occur — based on the section of the course and/or inquiries for assignments.

Second, organize your online course WITH your learners in mind, that is your direct instruction, learning objects, and engagement activities. Similar to the planning notes I shared about the instructional team management, offering similar strategies for support are key for working with my online learners (listed above).  Here are my notes for what my regular

  • Start with Orientation: Think about both pedagogical design and delivery as you structure a large online course. Consider how will orient, support, and communicate with your learners over the semester. Introduce them to sections of your syllabus, key areas to move through the course, and where to get access to help on campus and online. Also, be sure to identify the learning spaces,  support resources, and design components required to be an effective learner within your course.
  • Get to Know Your Learners: Assess who is in your class. Do you know who is in your class? Why are they taking this course? Is it required, an elective, or other?  I often have my students complete a Google form to share information about themselves and experiences with online learning, the subject matter, and to identify their own learning goals at the beginning of the term (e.g. from Spring 2017: http://bit.ly/ltec3010sp17). Understand where and how your learners are approaching this course and their motivation/goals for the semester. Keep their goals and backgrounds in mind with your learning content.
  • Share Valuable & Timely Information: Produce weekly reminders of readings, activities, and assignments help to provide multiple insights and ideas around the topic of the module or week’s lesson. Often I collect (and tweet) multiple resources on a class hashtag ( e.g. my instructional design/facilitation course hashtag #LTEC4440) and I will highlight a couple of key readings/articles/videos/podcasts in the regular weekly course announcement/email that is pushed out to my students. that might be relevant for my students.
  • Build a Community of Support: In a scaled online course, you need to set your learners up to interact with peers online to enhance their social interaction and offer assistance. If you do not set these up, then you are setting up yourself for multiple messages, open boundaries, and unrealistic expectations for all in a large, distributed course. Consider looking at your learning activities and curriculum design to see if you currently support the followings types of interactions to offer more engagement in your course (Sheridan & Kelly, 2010):
  1. Learning–content interaction: Do your students engage and interact with your course content to make dig deeper into the subject? How are you helping learners make meaning with learning objects they interact with online? Are they reflecting, curating, discussing, applying, or analyzing your course materials and not just consuming information? Learners who interact with learning content tend to get a higher grade (Zimmerman, 2012).
  2. Learner–learner interaction:. Peer support is everything in online learning. I leverage the Peer-to-Peer Support for discussion forums, team projects, research proposals on wikis, feedback on video presentations, and more! Your learners often like to collaborate and share ideas on challenging concepts with multiple platforms. How will you support this type of virtual teaming?
  3. Learner–instructor interaction: How are you “present” in your online class at the instructor? Being visible online is critical for your students learning outcomes. Learners often are motivated and enthusiastic about your course, if they see you are present online. This might be participating in discussion forums, offering video or audio feedback to assignments, summarizing modules in advance, and perhaps offering synchronous (+recorded/archived) online class meetings for feedback, questions, and more. I keep track of announcements and media files that I can utilize in the future with very little edits and related transcripts for accessibility needs.
BreakDrink, EdTech, Higher Education, Podcast

@BreakDrink Podcast, Episode No. 5: Digital Redlining with @hypervisible

In @BreakDrink episode no. 5, we chatted about LOADS of things related to our assumptions about access, policies, and practices in have higher education, specifically with regards to technology and learning. Last year for 2016 #OLCInnovate, I invited Chris Gilliard to share his work on Digital Redlining for a short “Ignite-like” talk. Why do we assume everyone has access to the Internet? Or a device? Or access to the same digital learning resources? What do we know or care about privacy and our data? Thanks for joining us to podcast on the topic, Chris. We suspect you’ll be back to chat more with us sometime about similar issues… and anime, of course

Here are a few show notes, ideas, and resources shared in @BreakDrink episode no. 5 with Chris:

Information Literacy, Filtering & Access

Online Access & Web Architecture

Do you KNOW what limitations to your search or access to your knowledge is like at your institution? Understanding Google Search Algorithms & SEO

Journal Access & Journal Databases: What are your resources or limitations? What can you not find that is not accessible on Google Scholar?

  1. Scholar Buddy Search – Find a friend at a larger university/college + ask them to search a topic (or borrow a password) to compare search results
  2. #icanhazpdf hashtag – Ask a friend on Twitter to email you the closed or pay-for-play publication
  3. Alternative creative ways to search: Find a romantic partner at a larger institution; academic citizenship acquisition? Or other ways to search for journal articles and here.

Searching Online & Information Literacy

The process of how information is shared needs to be explained. There are issues with walling-off information, the privatization of knowledge, and those who are moving towards a blockchain in higher ed. – explain what this means for limitations to information/knowledge.Do we teach our students to go beyond the first page hits on the Google search page? Do you know How Google Search Works? Much of our civic online literacy skills could be developed in order to hold ed tech & technology companies more accountable

Technologies in higher ed have many inequalities and technology is not neutral. Want to get more political for higher ed & #edtech? I’ll let Audrey Watters take this one: The Politics of Ed Tech Issues in higher ed are real for all of our campus stakeholders — students, staff, and faculty. These issues are around privacy, cyberbullying, trolling data security, and more. We need to be asking more about the technologies to learn what is ethically right and the limitations to these platforms, applications, and digital resources.

For a start, why don’t we learn more about privacy. Perhaps, it’s time we take a “short course” on privacy and what it means to be online, connected now. Check out the Privacy Paradox created by Note To Self. There are 5 podcasts and actions you do to take back your privacy & data. BONUS LISTEN: Privacy, Data Survivalism and a New Tech Ethics

We Need To Ask More About…

  • Do we really care about privacy online? Are we putting thoughts into the spaces and places online we are working with our learners?
  • Pew Research – State of Privacy in America  & Online Privacy & Safety articles
  • Do we know how our learners access educational materials and resources at our colleges/universities?
  • Cell-phone dependent students: the learners’ main access for Internet is their mobile device which is problematic as this is their main way to complete coursework, assignments, projects, etc.. (e.g. Educause 2015 mobile study & Case Study from Australia)
  • Do we think about the digital divide when considering our practices in higher ed for teaching, service & support?
  • Are we thinking about the platforms & apps we’re requiring our learners to use and how these technologies might be “sucking up their data”? We should.

@BreakDrink Books for Recommended Reading:

Here’s how to connect with Chris Gilliard to learn more about his work and this topic:

@BreakDrink Podcasts Shoutouts/Recommendations:

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