Thursday, February 28, 2008

Archive of Webcast now available

An email from conference organizers:

"Please note that the description and links to the videostream for "The Strategic Case for OnLine Learning" broadcast is now further down on the Washington State University's videostreaming webpage under "Recent Videostreams." It's the first entry under that heading. The page is the same one you've been accessing at:

We are working with WSU to edit the entire videoconference into modular form so that it will be easier for secondary use. This may take a week or two."

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Academic Continuity

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, the Sloan-C foundation stepped in and formed a consortium of universities which provided courses for students impacted by the hurricane. They talked about how many institutions have plans for business continuity in a disaster, but not so much for academic continuity.

This ties in interestingly with a survey of students done by the SBCTC.That survey noted that students expected ALL faculty to use course management systems (like Blackboard) in their instruction and that they expected them to use it competently. If we were to rely on online instruction as a means of academic continuity, we would have to reach this goal. After all, the aftermath of a disaster is not the time to train faculty on how to use Blackboard and to get new course sites set up. All of this needs to be in place BEFORE the disaster strikes. Interesting stuff, that we should talk about in relation to our strategic and disaster plans.

REducing time to degree completion for campus students - a case study

As distance learning became more popular, presidents and chancellors saw that DL might be an option for addressing an intractable problem - time to degree completion. If done right, online courses can provide greater access to instruction and permits students to have improved time to degree.

Case study at Perdue University. They have seen a correlation between on time degree completion and expanded access to online courses - up 4%. The connection was not intended, but became evident over time. They asked about it in student satisfaction surveys. 65% of students said the online courses
50% + taking required courses
40% taking required electives

Perdue also noted that the number of credit hours has increased 4.5% (makes sense, given the 4% improvement in on time degree completion). Teaching contact hours only increased 2.3% - aided by online instruction.

Comment from HBCU president - results at Perdue show how essential support will be for faculty and students engaged in online education, particularly media and technology support.

Virtual Student Government at WSU

Campus activities aimed at traditional students not very effective for distant students
  • online student government - a model of how to include distant students
  • students very creative in coming up with activities and programs designed to meet the needs of virtual students
  • students can serve as officers no matter where they are located
  • Students improve leadership
  • Students feel more connected to the school
WSU virtual student meeting area

Questions begin. . .

They are starting to take questions. I'll note the ones that I think are interesting and that are relevant to us here at Cascadia.

Historically Black Colleges and Universities & tribal colleges

Interview with a University president, saying that HBCUs have limited resources as far as programs and as far as technology. Distance learning help them to offer a broader variety of programs. HBCU faculty and administrators also are not getting the training needed to do this kind of instruction since they historically did not have the enrollments in distance learning needed to justify it.

Sloan-C has started giving scholarships to conferences for HBCU participants. They are also giving workshops at HBCUs to expand awareness and alert them to available resources.

Tribal Colleges have similar issues, although there are unique problems. Many Tribal colleges have connectivity issues, including limited cell phone reception. Tribal colleges have had to look at innovative ways to deliver distance education, especially given limited resources.

Reasons that presidents believe distance learning is important to their institutions

Reasons that presidents believe distance learning is important to their institutions.

  • student access
  • attracting students regardless of location
  • increase in diversity
  • increased rate of degree completion
  • strategic partnerships
  • academic continuity in disasters (especially following Katrina)
  • increase student retention and success (more student centered than face to face, since people are so concerned with retention)
No good figures about how much it costs to engage in online education. Likwise, there are no good figures on how much it costs to put on a face to face class.

James Milken - University of Nebraska

University of Nebraska has to reach a diverse group of people across a sparsely populated state. Distance learning is essential to meeting the needs of students and the state.

(side note - I am a doctoral student at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. As a SEattleite, there obviously is no way that I would be able to take advantage of the program in Higher Education Leadership and Distance Education if I had to go to Nebraska to do it.)

Survey results

There was an online survey done by the Sloan-C consortium

Interesting stats
  • 18% of traditional students enrolled in at least 1 online course
  • growth rate of 20% a year

Survey wanted to look at implications of this.. Surveyed institutional presidents and chancellors after interviewing the person on campus in charge of distance learning. The survey results are here

interesting comment - if as much review of quality of online learning happened with in class learning, both methods would be improved.


I'm attending a National Webcast Discussion on this interesting topic. I thought you might enjoy hearing a little bit about it. So, I'll blog the interesting points as the 2 hour event progresses. The Introduction is going on and the event is being hosted at WSU.

Here is the blub on the webcast:

Beginning in 2007, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation made possible a national initiative focused on the strategic importance of online learning and distance education in higher education. This live national videoconference coming from Washington State University is an opportunity for individuals (at their computers) and in groups participating locally together to:

  • interact with university presidents and other national leaders involved in the NASULGC/SLOAN National Online Learning Commission;
  • experience real case examples from universities where online learning, distance education and rapid internet interaction made a difference (time to graduation, business and financial strength, disaster recovery, mentoring, etc.);
  • see how some universities are incorporating this strategic asset in their master plans;
  • discuss and raise questions about what works, what doesn't and what leadership in this area requires for the future.

Opportunities for pre-conference interaction, local group discussion formation and online learning resources will be made available shortly.

The American Distance Education Consortium (ADEC) is collaborating with Washington State University and Oregon State University in producing the event. The NASULGC Commission, Sloan-C, The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, The Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, Colorado State University, the Southern Educational Regional Education Board (SREB) and others are participating in marketing, case study development and program planning.

Friday, February 8, 2008

Wrapping up

Folks are encouraged to return to the wiki to share and reflect.

Noreen and Bill got a good sense of what people want to do and where we want to go in the coming year. They are planning to have a session at the conference to continue this conversation. They'll have some tentative drafts of ideas. Folks suggested having the workshops at breakfast or after the other workshops.

Todd suggests using Wiki as a repository for the documents that folks have mentioned.

Continuing the Around the State

Kim from TCC - Visit in october - actual got a commendation on assessment. Kim will be doing a workshop at the Teaching and Learning conference on their practices. Some key points -
  • One focus was continued classroom assessment even though it is not required.
  • Questions about program level outcomes link to institutional outcomes.
  • Questions about assessment projects and how they improve student learning
TCC now struggling with replacing the faculty assessment liaison - no one wants to take that job and wants to hear any feedback to see what others are doing.

- South - Offering a bachelors degree, impacts 30 student of 7000, but has new accreditation requirements as a result. These community colleges are being considered baccalaureate institutions and the people evaluating them are baccalaureate institutions. South wonders :what does this mean? How will we tell our story? What is our story? How do we tell it to a different audience? If anyone has an answer, let her know.

Roger - South - South has gotten commendations on institutional effectiveness, has educational goals tied to money. The transfer programs have never dealt with student learning outcomes and no one has ever noticed. So they have a lot of work. It is a big change, but a good one. Why hasn't it been done? Think it infringes on academic freedom, lack of leadership, no one made faculty do it. Also, many students at the college involved in prof tech courses which had more formal outcomes build into programs.

Also, faculty learning communities - tecn writing + pronounciation + ESL + physics. Also doing lab report writing across the curriculum, happening over 1 year.

Jane at North - 10 year accreditation in April - got several commendations on assessment. Have formed faculty groups around student outcomes, reviewing master course outlines, looking at the individual classes. Surveyed faculty and they are revieiwng the data. They are finding that few faculty are willing to share evidence that the learning is happening in thier classes

Surveyed professional development for adjuncts and for probationary faculty. Doing a 3 year cycle of professional development. Two tiers - community connections. 1st year is using Parker Palmer's courage to teach. The first hour is seminar on the book and the second hour is on some piece of pedagogy

Evaluation of faculty. Faculty have contractualized peer observation. Now training faulty mentors who will be paid to observe and support faculty. NOT evaluation, but observation and support. This is a district wide effort. Someone will observe the faculty and the faculty member is the one who is submitting the support. Contact Tom Drummond at South for the process.

Spokane CC - does not know what is going on, but will find out and post it on the wiki

Highline - Classroom based assessment model. Groups have formed around institutional. Student responsibility one is the only one that has managed to survive. Have created some listserves, but only critical thinking has generated any discussion.

Cover Park - in between accreditation visits. Transition from clock hour to credit hour. Trying to revive teaching and learning center which used to have 1 part time person, is now distributed among 4 faculty. 2 years ago had a student speaking forum. Last year they expanded it to a communications festival which also featured student writing. This year, math faculty are thinking of expanding it to critical thinking and problem solving. The eventual goal is to have an annual event that showcases all of the

Grays harbor - All divisions assessed all 5 student abilities. Faculty are reevaluating syllabi for student abilities and ranking them. Decreased enrollment - trying to address it through the addition of more hybrid courses, faculty being paid to transition

Frank - Green River - Working on tracking college outcomes and competencies. Committies are reviewing syllabi to see if there is alignment between the syllabus and what the instructor is claiming to do based on competencies. Also working on the assessment of online learning. Part of it is union related. Having a hard time finding an instrument. One faculty member is studying the difference between . I suggested Quality Matters - focuses on design rather than instruction. Chico State has a good rubric, as does Gulf Coast University in Florida. They all work with either fully online or hybrid.

Colene - Everett - looking at learning communities to see if the learning is improvement. Trying to improve retention with an SOS program for individual student alerts. Union negotiations coming up, special consideration of part time issues. Struggling over evaluation vs. observation.

Training on instructional technology

Thinking about having a multi-day event, something where there is enough time to get the hands on thing.

Train the trainer idea in the summer, where faculty development leads do it. Introduce the technologies (ie. second life, wikis, etc), use them, as well as work around different topics (cultural competency, etc). Trying to get to traveling once to get different kinds of training.

Also have time to work in small groups with people in geographical areas close to you for better collaboration that can be ongoing beyond the event. Goal towards more regional training in instructional technology.

Roger from South said the Seattle Community Colleges had a 3 day event on Rich Media one summer and it was really valuable (click on the link - there is some cool stuff).

Desire to have more training on video taping of lectures.

Todd L. - have an RFP to get money to actually do these tasks, to move it beyond wonderful ideas to stuff that is actually happening.

David O.- notes that one important tool he uses is the telephone - having someone talking on speakerphone sharing ideas. Wants to have faculty showcase how they are using technologies - driven by the faculty, not by venders. Faculty get overwhelmed by so many kinds of media, wants a space to try things out so he can make the best decisions for his classroom.

Jennifer planning to do something like that at Bellingham tech - Play to Learn. Will have a brief presentation followed by "play time". Will probably have it streaming live, if folks want to attend virtually.

Someone comments that it would be useful to have a chart with the colleges and various technologies and checks of who is doing what and who the point people are.

Noreen announcements

We've returned from the break. Noreen expresses that this group is good about stepping up, which is nice since there is a lot of stuff coming up that people will need to step up.

Teaching and Learning Spring conference is coming up: April 30 - May 2. Noreen is promoting the pre-conference workshops. Proposals being accepted through February 19. May try to incorporate the idea of using a wiki pre and post conference conversations. The keynote speaker - George Siemens - is also good about conference blogging.

Anna Sue McNeil Teaching and Learning Award - Actually two awards - one from disability educators and one from the state board. Nominations are being accepted through Feb 29. A nomination letter, max 2 pages.

Communication efforts - has not been producing a formal newsletter, but instead are sending more frequent, small kinds of information. Jennifer asks about getting an RSS feed that can be subscribed to so the information can be more easily referenced. Noreen confesses that she does not know how to do RSS and Jennifer Jones volunteers to help. she also explains it for those who are unfamiliar with it. (here is a favorite article of mine on RSS. It is aimed at lawyers (a team I belong to in my other life), but gets the point across). One person commented about the Online Northwest conference.

Events coming up:
  • Sleeping Lady in August
  • New Faculty Institute - coming up the 1st two weeks in September
  • College Readiness Retreat - in October

Winter Retreat Wiki

There is a wiki for this retreat. It captures the conversations of the small groups from Thursday afternoon.

What's going on around the state

Robin - BCC - going through accreditation (outside of the cycle, which she is upset about). They are finding that the outcomes are infused through the curriculum. One area - responsibility - does not map into the transfer degree. They made a claim in the self study that by 2006, they could show that students would meet 1 aspect of responsibility and by 2007 meet the second one. That has not happened. Robin lead the drive to either do this or drop the criteria. The health/PE people have come up with a way to get the 1st aspect of responsibility and the president is pushing a global citizenship initiative to meet the second one.

Skagit - accreditation coming next year, people becoming a bit frantic. Trying to incorporate student learning outcomes into introductory classes. Have new general education requirements that need to

Jennifer Jones - Bellingham Tech - major initiatives to increase technology in learning, but still in its infancy. Still looking at a 5 year plan, possible moving programs online. Looking at related budgetary issues.

Barry - Centralia College - is relatively new, but has been on the assessment committee for 3 months. Accreditation coming in 2010. "arfing" - collecting data on instructional programs to document student learning. Also trying to create more knowledge about information literacy.

David - Cascadia - we're running out of room - moving towards hybrid and online. Trying to be more intentional than just scheduling. How do we re-tool assessment measures to capture that transision.

Green River - Teaching and Learning Center issues. Have had a good 18 months getting the physical space into shape, good faculty participation. Have an enrollment crunch. trying to create some professional development around recruitment and retention. participation in the workshops have gone down, as faculty are pressured by enrollment concerns.

Todd L. - Cascadia - concern about time and professional development. How can it be an essential thing rather than a luxury. How can it get to everyone - part time and full time. Struggling with institutional assessment and how it works with actual student learning. How can we focus on institutional assessment that actually influences student learning. Working to follow a couple of cycles of assignments that lots of students do - the cycle of giving the assignment, student feedback, faculty response to student feedback, new assignment, etc.
comment - faculty role is changing and the work load is increasing so much. Assessment falls into "other duties as assigned" and is being too much. Some instructors are experiencing failing health and burn out. Noreen notes that we might want to have a more detailed explanation of what faculty should be doing.
Jennifer Jones mentioned challenges of union contract expectations and how can does that work. Raymond, an airplane faculty member explains how there needs to be more support for new faculty, particularly for professional technical folks who might not have the "academic" background and information on pedagogy. He's been teaching for 1 1/2 years and is only just getting information about how to engage in classroom management. He (and other tradespeople) do not have the technology information either. Noreen mentioned that there is a BootCamp for new technical instructors. For non tech instructors, there is a new faculty training every September. Builds a support network for new faculty. Even bigger problem for adjuncts.

Noreen gets us back on track - college by college check in

BCC - grappling with same problems. Faculty Resource Center has evolved (or devolved) into an online teaching and learning center. They have now split into curriculum design and instructional technology. Technology is now "divorced" from the technology. reinvesting the wheel in a lot of ways.

RuthAnn Michaelson - TCC biology instructor - teaching and learning in the sciences - is doing some seminaring in her teaching. Has a supplemental text called "readings in nature" with essays about biology, presents a non-threatening way of exploring the topic. Gives the students permission to embrace their own voices. She sees a lot of value in it.
Other exciting stuff - members of the curriculum for the biospace learning; play space learning; she encourages visiting their website. Jean McGregor at Evergreen. TCC just joined the Green Tacoma partnership - preservation and restoration of remaining urban open spaces, including 18 acres on the TCC campus.

Seminar based learning

Presentation by Jane Lister Reis - North Seattle Community College

Students arrived "dullarized" - only wanting to know what hoops they have to jump through, rather than excited about learning. It takes about 6 weeks to get students through rote learning methods to being able to co-create knowledge. They decided to create a video to show faculty how to teach in learning community and to show students what co-learning looks like.

They made the video with funding from the state board and committed to sharing it with everyone in the state.

The video includes students and faculty explaining how a seminar differs from traditional learning.
Seminar is about exploring a text together - this definition is shown on the screen several times.
  • "seminaring" is distinct from traditional lecture or discussion
  • seminar is about students
  • camaraderie around the material
  • one student explained her discomfort with the process, she wasn't familiar with what it was nor did she know her colleagues. Once she got comfortable with it, she understood its value and appreciated it.
(the video stopped working about 10 minutes into its 18 minute length)

North is now in the process of creating a rubric for seminar. They are deeply exploring seminar and how it relates to individual classes, retention, disciplines, etc. There is a focus on interdisciplinary interaction.

Bill noted that he has a lot of videos/resources like this in his office and they sit on his shelf. He hopes that this group can give some feedback on how it can be really used. North is creating materials around how to do this.

One can hear "student voices" on seminaring on the North Seattle website.

Bill notes that it is important to also explore how this works outside the humanities. The language may be different, but he things similar processes are happening in the sciences. It helps to have disciplinary direction - a math person needs to see a math person seminaring.

After learning how to learn this way, students can become impatient with old ways of learning. They may push other faculty to doing more communal learning.

Second Life

Here we are in the second day of the Assessment, Teaching and Learning retreat. Our first session is talking more about second life.

First, you select a name

Then, you select an avatar. One person mentioned that the word avatar means the embodiment of of the divine. You can select male, female or an animal. The skin can be of any color. We spoke briefly about the

Why should people care? Kayeri

Sara "intellegirl" Robbins - the leading authority on Second LIfe in education. She is at Ball State. She gave a brilliant seminar at Educause. She teaches rhetoric and she wanted to teach about the "other". She had a hard time getting them to really internalize the other. She got 5 students to go into second life and got them to take on the skin of giant Kool-aid men and had them go into a dance bar. Students understood, finally, what it was like to be other - understanding what it was like to be fat, big, outcast.

What works is to give the students a project to build in second life. It can be a bonding experience for the students and creates community that students don't want to give up at the end of the term.

David mentioned that there was recently a good article in about Second Life and how it is transitioning. He noted that it would be important for campuses having protocols around how to "be" in second life. I noted that there are two worlds in Second Life and adults can't go into teen Second Life and teens can't go into adult second life.

Cable talked about Evergreen Island on second life. Between the time that interest started to build about it, within 3 weeks the SBCTC responded and bought Evergreen Island (very quick turn around time). There is an open house next week on Evergreen Island - Wednesday at 3PM. Kayeri mentioned that it is still very experimental, that we still don't really know how to use it.

Stephanie cautioned that if people are planning to attend the open house, be sure to set aside about 3 hours before the meeting to get off of orientation island. You can't go anywhere in Second Life until after you get off of Orientation Island. Robin noted that she was not willing to set that time aside, but might be willing to if there were meetings around it, where someone would lead her through the process. Todd L. noted that maybe it is not about Second Life, but about people coming together.