Monday, April 28, 2008

Web 2.0

Today, I'm sitting in on a webinar called Web 2.0: Making it Easy to Use New Tools. It is aimed at high school faculty, which I did not realize when I signed up. However, in just the few minutes, I've learned some great ideas that are worth sharing.
  • - YouTube for learning
  • Personal Learning Environments - tools to help students manage the huge amount of information on the internet.
  • Technopersonal skills - something we need to teach students as an important business skill (from the blog of the presenter

(30 minutes later)
This workshop has tossed out all kinds of fun ideas, but has not actually explained any of them with much depth. I guess that's what happens with a 30 minute workshop covering the dozens of different technologies that fall under the web 2.0 umbrella.

Monday, April 21, 2008

ANGEL Transition

WAOL has not yet begun negotiating the contract with ANGEL, but these are the tentative plans.
  • May - negotiating the contract with ANGEL. They have negotiated a contract with Blackboard for 1 more year and Blackboard use will end June 30, 2009. The cost will stay the same (good news) but the course cap will not rise (bad news). There is also a hope that we can stay with our current version of Blackboard, but they may be forced to change versions (also bad news if transition needed). Presidium will continue to support Blackboard and will also support ANGEL and the anticipated webinar tool.
  • June - sign a contract.
  • July - Angel up and running
  • By fall - faculty will have spaces for playing, but ANGEL will not be ready for offering courses and probably won't have any professional development up and running this summer in preparation for fall classes and maybe not even winter (this is a conservative estimate - it is entirely possible things will move faster)
What will follow is:
  • Course migration
  • Professional development for faculty, staff and administrators
  • integration between ANGEL and CIS systems - SMS (must be complete before courses can formally be offered in ANGEL).
Training - WAOL will have lots of training opportunities and they are currently revamping the WAOL training course. They've realized that the "one size fits all" model that they have followed with training, actually fits very few. I've offered my assistance in the revamping of training and I certainly lobby for on campus options that substitute for the WAOL training option.

Keep in mind that ANGEL is the presumed CMS. If the negotiations fail, the CMS Review committee can get back together and go to one of the other top competitors - Deside2Learn, Moodlerooms and (ugh!) Blackboard.

Also interesting - There is a portal project going on to integrate Sharepoint with ANGEL. Hmmm

WAOL Fee increase

Colleges pay about $200 ($40 per credit hour) to offer a WAOL shared class. This amount has not changed in 10 years and no longer generates enough revenue to make it worth it for colleges to offer classes through WAOL.

Everyone here agrees that the fee should go up. The debate is how much it should be and how rapidly the cost will go up. A tentative thought is about $10 per credit hour per year increase over the next 3 year.

How does this impact you? There are only a few people offering WAOL classes on Cascadia's campus, but we look at a higher number of students to make those classes go. Instead of 15 students to make a class go, we look at 17 or 18 students to make a WAOL class go. So, this fee adjustment would reduce the go number, making it more likely that a class would go.

Webinar Tool

Last week, a Request for Proposals went out for a webinar tool (like Elluminate). Parties have until April 30 with an expectation of the tool being available by the beginning of the next fiscal year.

A webinar tool will facilitate synchronous communication with voice, chat, video, and more. This would be fabulous for student group work, for online classes that could use synchronous activity (like a chemistry lab or a speech).

And the coolest thing is that the SBCTC is planning to share this with the colleges for free.It will be integrated into Angel. This is exciting and you can start planning this into your fall courses.

eLearning Council Meeting

I'm in Yakima today, at the eLearning committee Spring meeting. Most of it will be rather dull for most of you, but I thought I'd note any interesting things.

In this meeting, we plan the coming year, and I've volunteered to be the regional rep for our East Central Puget Sound region (this includes Seattle Central, North Seattle, South Seattle, Bellevue, Green River, Highline, Renton, Lake Washington, Cascadia).

Monday, April 14, 2008

Working with the Rubric

We're in the afternoon session now. We're going through a course, seeing if it meets the standards. On the first standard, I thought the standards were met and most of the other folks thought they were not. I guess I'm just a softy.

In real life, if the reviewers disagree, the majority rules.

$750 per course is paid by the insitution to get the review.

QM Process

1. Course is selected for the review. Can be online or hybrid (as long as most of the course resides in the platform)
2. Instructor fills out a worksheet, explaining a little bit about the course
3. The web based Quality Matters Rubric is opened. The rubric has 8 quality standard areas, 40 standards and a total possible score of 80 points.
  1. Course Overview and Introduction
  2. Learning Objectives
  3. Assessment and Measurement
  4. Resources and Materials
  5. Learner Engagement
  6. Course Technology
  7. Learner Support
  8. Accessibility

The rubric is meant to be more than just a checklist or recipe. It is meant to align the course with the learning objectives.

4. Scoring: Points are not applied on a sliding scale. Either it meets the standard or it does not. The majority rules - if two people say the standard is met, it is met. The instructor can see the comments of reviewers. The standards fall under 3 categories: 14 essential standards (which must all be met to pass), very important and important. They did not want to include any unimportant standards.

5. When the review is completed, the report is sent to the faculty member, not the institution. The score is not the most helpful outcome - the comments from the peers are the most helpful. The recommendations should be

  • constructive
  • specific
  • measurable - how will the instructor know when the recommendation has been met?
  • sensitive - avoid negative language
  • balanced - point out strenghts and weaknesses

Quality Matters

Today I am at the Quality Matters training at Green River Community College. Quality Matters is a rubric for assessing distance learning courses. It reviews the course, not the teaching or student learning.

The rubric is based on the research, designed to promote student learning and is based on the idea of continuous quality improvement. It is used at 130 institutions nationwide. Several statewide systems, like our own, have adopted Quality Matters as a way of determining course quality.

The Quality Matters rubric is generally designed for mature online courses that have been around for a while. This is because the first few times that a course is offered may not be the best. Courses should improve with time.

A team of 3 experienced and trained online instructors will apply the Quality Matters rubric to the course. If the course meets the quality expectations, it is eligible to bear the Quality Matters logo. It is logged and monitored by the Quality Matters organization.

If the course does not meet the expectations, then the course goes into a period of revision. After the period of revision, the course is reevaluated. The process is designed with the expectation that all courses will meet expectations eventually.

The feedback from the rubric review gives the instructor a detailed course plan for improvement.

About 50% for the courses meet quality expectations the first time through. The review is rigorous. It is designed to set a high bar, better than "just good enough". 85% or better.

There are many things that impact the quality of a course. Quality Matters, at this point, looks primarily at course design.

What Quality Matters is not:
  • It is not about evaluating the instructor, it is not about tenure and promotion
  • It is not about winning and losing or passing and failing. It is about continuous improvement.

It is challenging to separate design from delivery, but Quality Matters tries hard to focus on the design, not the delivery of instruction or faculty performance.

Quality Matters is part of the peer review team. There are 3 faculty peer reviewer:

  • Everyone on the team must be an experienced online instructor (insures people know what they're seeing and also prevents non teaching administrators from turning this into a faculty evaluation process)
  • Must attend quality matters training (this is what I'm doing now)
  • One of the people on the team must be external to the institution (adds objectivity, better able to reflect the interest of the student)
  • One must be a subject matter expert (the subject matter expert could also be the external reviewer)

A 4th member of the review team is the course designer/instructor.