Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What I Learned at the Online Learning Consortium in Orlando, Florida October 12-16, 2015

Tiffani did a GREAT job telling us about FlipCon! It was a wonderful resource, especially for those of us exploring more about blended/hybrid learning. And it was very interesting to hear what high school teachers are doing across the disciplines.

I attended the Institute for Emerging Leadership in Online Learning ( master class before the Online Learning Consortium conference began.

I learned quite a bit in that day-long workshop--

One element that got a lot of discussion was a faculty member's charisma in teaching an online class. I was surprised to learn a few tips to increase a faculty member's online charisma:
1. Write like you talk--implement short videos of yourself teaching/lecturing with the first "take." That is, let students see your mistakes and see the "real" professor.
2. Talk "off script." Fellow faculty sharing this information said that talking "off script" (that is, not reading a prepared sheet of paper onto a camera but rather lecturing more like you would in front of a class) increases faculty charisma, which in turn increases student retention.

Another very interesting ideas had to do with student-student interaction outside of online classes. One institution with a lot of online students said that online students had set up clubs based on identity such as students who are parents, returning students who are military, etc. The students used Yammer, but the faculty member sharing the information said Facebook would also work.

Another topic that was discussed was standardization of online courses. On the one hand, it might make sense to standardize the course look across an institution. However, one institution experimented with standardizing an entire program--with the look and feel of every course, right down to the same number and type of  assignments in every course in the program. The institution found that overstandardization can negatively impact critical thinking skill development of students.

An additional idea that was discussed had to do with improving online courses--and doing so mid-semester. One institution has formal, early-semester evaluations. After the evaluations are completed, the institution's center for teaching excellence reads all the evaluations, looks for patterns, and approaches faculty and offers assistance to improve elements of the course that seemed to be an issue for multiple students. If the faculty member agrees, improvements are implemented mid course to improve the student experience. Pretty bold!

The Online Learning Consortium Conference itself is an amazing whirl of technology, instructional design, pedagogy, and faculty development strategies.

Many of the panels I attended addressed best practices in faculty development. Highlights included ideas like making sure that your institution appreciates scholarship of teaching and learning if you want your faculty to ask for/participate in faculty development. Also, if you want your institution to appreciate and support faculty development, you want to make sure you measure the success of your faculty development efforts in ways that administrators can understand and appreciate. Another panel addressed ways of collaborating faculty development and online program administration efforts across multiple campuses--15 multiple campuses to be exact! I also attended a panel on gaming that used SoftChalk to create gamified online classroom scenarios to engage students and increase student success.  Another panel explained the task of translating the QM Rubric into Chinese! And I learned about software tools such as GoReact, Educannon, and Zaption.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

FlipCon Atlanta 2015 - KSU Social Sciences Building - 10/9/2015

Tammy Powell and I (Tiffani Reardon) attended FlipCon Atlanta last Friday to learn about the flipped classroom, and we found a lot of information that applies well to hybrid classes and some cool technologies that we can use in online and hybrid classes. So here is what we learned at FlipCon Atlanta 2015:

The Why and How of Flipped Learning

There are four "T" hurdles of flipped learning:
  • Thinking - we have to convince people of what class time should look like
  • Training - there is no one way to flip, but there are wrong ways. Here are some best practices in flipped learning:
    • Don't make videos too long.
    • Replace things, don't add - that is, if you add a video for students to take home, get rid of something in the classroom, like the traditional lecture.
    • Don't rescue students who don't do homework. Hold your guns. 
    • Plan for students who don't do homework - this doesn't mean rescue. This means have a plan. A lot of people said that they will have them sit in the corner and do the reading or watch the video while the rest of the class gets the practice and application time that they are missing out on.
    • Don't give up too early.
    • Don't make content too difficult to access - that is, don't put videos or readings in a different place every night or make them have to sign in to too many places to access it. With D2L, we don't really have this problem. But it's a good rule of thumb that applies to Quality Matters, too. 
    • Plan for kids who don't understand the videos - some people at the conference said that they would set aside 10 min or so to go over information with the students who didn't understand while others get started on practice work. 
    • Build in interactivity - don't just make them watch a lecture video with no accountability. Build in question, make them take notes, anything that keeps them awake and alert. 
    • Teach them how. Don't just send them home with homework and not show them how to access it or what to do with it. For online classes, we already do this by using a course tour or navigational instructions in our courses to meet QM. But in a hybrid or face-to-face course, you can show them in class how to find their information in D2L or you can post a course tour like we do in online classes. 
    • Get stakeholders involved - this one applied more to elementary/middle/high school because in higher ed our stakeholders are our students, but essentially it means get the parents involved. Tell them what you are doing in class and even be as bold as to give them homework too. 
    • Make good use of class time. This is the whole point of flipped learning. If you are going to have them watch videos and do the less engaging stuff at home, make it worth it. Have discussions in class, have practice time in class, do labs in class. 
  • Time - it's a lot of work. You have to find the time to flip your class.
  • Technology - find the right technology for you. 


We learned about some cool technologies! Here are a few:
13 tips for making a good video:
  • keep it short
  • animate your voice
  • work with a partner
  • less text, more pics
  • video clips
  • callouts/zooms
  • copyright friendly
  • add humor
  • audio matters
  • don't waste students' time
  • annotations
  • PIP
  • quizzing/interaction

 Other Miscellaneous Stuff We Learned About

  • Student Choice Boards - where you give a few options for learning the content and a few options for showing that you learned it. Basically, I don't care how you learned it, I care that you learned it.
  • Siri-proof your quizzes! - if Siri knows the answer (or Cortana on Windows), your students can look it up too
  • Project-based learning is more than just doing a project - form the whole learning experience around a project 
  • Studies have shown that students respond better to content that you created yourself rather than videos and content made by other people!