MITx Adds Instructor Grading in MOOC

Starting August 29, MIT will be offering “Introduction to Philosophy: God, Knowledge and Consciousness,” through its edX portal with a new twist.  Students who pay $300 for the “verified certificate” program will have their work reviewed by “professional philosophers.”  Without a “verified certificate,” the course is free.

“Listening to lectures and reading books is great, but philosophy is all about taking complex ideas and organizing them in a simple way. You learn by writing, specifically writing to someone,” said Caspar Hare, an MIT philosophy teacher who will lead the MOOC for its third iteration.

Source: Campus Technology

Campus Technology: Interview with New Blackboard CEO Bill Ballhaus

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When Bill Ballhaus took over the helm at Blackboard many were openly willing to give him some advice.  Michael Feldstein said Blackboard was facing issues with customers who were “increasingly unhappy with the support they are getting on the current platform,” who were “unclear about how they will be affected by future development plans,” and who are “unconvinced that Blackboard will deliver a next-generation product in the near future that will be a compelling alternative to the competitors in the market.”  While Joshua Kim at Inside Higher Ed said he should “bet the company on analytics.”

Now Campus Technology has set down with Ballhaus for an interview.  The interview is available here.

Online Report Card: Tracking Online Education In the United States

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The 2015 Survey of Online Learning conducted by Babson Survey Research Group has been released.  This is their 13th annual report on online learning.  This year’s survey and report was co-sponsored by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), Pearson, StudyPortals, WCET, and Tyton Partners.  Babson’s reports have become known as the “leading barometer of online learning in the United States.” (Previous reports are available here for 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007)

The key findings of the report include: Continue reading

Pugliese, A Post-LMS World

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Lou Pugliese, Founding CEO of Blackboard and currently Chairman and CEO of Moodlerooms, recently published an article  at EDUCAUSE.edu on the future of the Learning Management  System (LMS).  The article is about LMS 3.0 or the Demand Design LMS.  This represents the move from avendor supply-side orientation to a user demand-side focus.  As Pugliese puts it:

In an LMS 3.0 world, driving more effective, pervasive, and consistent academic achievement will be accomplished by transforming LMS platforms into learning solutions ecosystems. In this new LMS environment, a faculty member is a learning architect (the future) as opposed to a learning manager (the present). The LMS 3.0 world will adapt to the art of teaching as opposed to faculty having to adapt to a particular technology. Content used for enrichment as well as remediation can be subscribed and syndicated to student learning profiles in ways we cannot accomplish today. In the new LMS world, institutions will be able to shape the component architecture to the individual needs of the program, course, or learner. The new LMS world will flip the traditional equation, transforming the LMS from a vendor supply-side orientation to a user demand-side focus.

Pugliese writes that the LMS 3.0 would have several “essential components” including:

  • Learning Grids: “organized communities in specific subject and learning objective groups that encourage creation, sharing, and interdependencies”
  • E-Learning Intelligence: “LMS 3.0 design transforms static data reporting into a learning transaction system, transitioning from a management system to a source for real-time data about academic activity, student behavior, and engagement.”
  • Content Clouds: “LMS 3.0 design expands functionality to include open, flexible digital repositories with components that add context through outcomes measurement, social curation, reporting, analytics, and extensive sharing capabilities.”
  • Open Architecture: “LMS 3.0 is built on a foundation of openness. In a world where “open” is a term that of late has been used with wide creative license, LMS open architecture is built with and broadly supports widely usable interoperability protocols and standards, open-source applications, open identification, and open digital rights.”

Pugliese provides an interesting look at the future of the LMS from someone who has been deeply involved in it from the start.

The full article is available here.

Bigatel and Williams, Measuring Student Engagement In An Online Program

Bigatel, Paula, and Vicki Williams, “Measuring Student Engagement In An Online Program.” In Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration, vol. 18, no. 2 (Summer 2015).

Abstract: In an effort to measure the effectiveness of faculty development courses promoting student engagement, the faculty development unit of Penn State’s Online Campus conducted a pilot study within a large online Bachelor of Science in Business (BSB) program. In all, 2,296 students were surveyed in the spring and summer semesters of 2014 in order to seek their perspectives on (1) the extent of their engagement in the courses and (2) the degree to which their instructors promoted their engagement. The survey comprised three sub-scales: the first and third sub-scales addressed instructional design aspects of the course, and the second sub-scale addressed attitudes and behaviors whereby the instructors promoted student engagement. The results showed a significant difference on the second sub-scale (sig = 0.003) at the .05 level, indicating that students rated instructors with professional development higher on instructor behaviors that engaged them in their courses than those instructors who received no professional development. There were no significant differences found for the first and third sub-scales indicating that the instructional design aspects of the courses under investigation were not influenced by instructors’ professional development. Qualitative data showed that three quarters of the students who had instructors whose background included professional development geared to encouraging student engagement felt that their courses had engaged them. Future research will focus on increasing the response rate and exploring in more depth both the instructional design and qualitative aspects of student engagement.

Full article is available here.

Peer Facilitation Techniques

Here are some examples of different kinds of peer facilitation prompts that can be used for online discussions.  (Obviously these prompts can be used by the instructor as well.)

Questioning

Example: What is the name of this theory . . .?

Giving Direct Instruction

Example: I think in class we mentioned that . . .

Giving Examples

Example: I was once able to solve this sort of problem once when I . . .

Praising

Example: Wow, I’m impressed . . .

Providing cognitive task structuring

Example: You know, the task asks you to do . . .

Asking for cognitive elaborations

 Example: Provide more information here that explains your rationale.

Pushing exploration

Example: You might want to write to professor Smith for . . .

Fostering reflection

Example: Restate again what the scientist did here.

Encouraging articulation

Example: What was the problem-solving process the professor faced here?

Giving general advice

Example: If I was faced with this situation, I would . . .

These examples were adapted from Bonk, Curtis J., and K. A. Kim. “Extending Sociocultural Theory to Adult Learning.” In Smith, M. C.,  and T. Pourchot, eds., Adult Learning and Development: Perspectives from Educational Psychology, pp. 67-88.  Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates, 1998.

Dunlap, “Protocols for Online Discussions”

Dunlap, Joanne C. “Protocols for Online Discussions.” In Lowenthal, Patrick R., et al., The CU Online Handbook, 101-105.

Joanna C. Dunlap outlines 9 different ways in which you can utilize discussion forums in an online course.  Some of formats are designed for asynchronous communication while others are designed for synchronous session.  The 9 ways she addresses are:

  • The Final Post
  • The Last Post
  • Posting the Crux of the Matter
  • Designated Readers
  • Rotating Threads
  • Snowball Threads
  • Jigsaw Threads
  • Chatroom of Voices
  • Chatroom Full of Voices

Dunlap bases these formats on the work of Brookfield and Preskill (Discussion As A Way of Teaching) and McDonald, et al. (The Power of Protocols: An Educator’s Guide to Better Practice).

The chapter is available here: http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/CUOnline/FacultySupport/Handbook/Documents/DiscussionProtocols.pdf

Dunlap, “Down-and-dirty Guidelines for Effective Discussions in Online Courses”

Dunlap, Joanne C. “Down-and-dirty Guidelines for Effective Discussions in Online Courses.” In Lowenthal, Patrick R., et al., The CU Online Handbook, 93-99.

Joanne C. Dunlap provides 29 useful points to consider when using online discussion divided into these categories:

  • Setting Participation Expectations
  • Setting the Tone for Social Sharing and Community
  • Launching and Structuring Discussions
  • Giving Learners a Role
  • Engaging Quieter Learners

The chapter is available here: http://www.ucdenver.edu/academics/CUOnline/FacultySupport/Handbook/Documents/GuidelinesEffectiveDiscussions.pdf

Some Applications for Chickering and Gamson’s 7 Priciples In the Online Classroom

 

In 1987, Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson published their classic work entitled “Seven principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.”  A. W. Bangert opined in a 2004 article that “The Seven Principles framework (Chickering and Gamson) offers solid, research guidance for the design and delivery of Internet courses.”

Principle 01: Encourages contacts between students and faculty.

  • Email response policy sets expectations for both student and instructor
  • Electronic office hours
  • Use a variety of communication tools in course (announcements, email, discussion, etc.)
  • Synchronous communication (chat, text, Skype, etc.)
  • Pictures or avatars for faculty and students

Continue reading

Crews, Wilkinson, and Neill: Principles for Good Practice In Undergraduate Education: Effective Online Course Design to Assist Students’ Success

Crews, Tena B., Kelly Wilkinson, and Jason K. Neill.  “Principles for Good Practice In Undergraduate Education: Effective Online Course Design to Assist Students’ Success.” MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, vol. 11, no. 1 (March 2015): 87-103.

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to apply the Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (Chickering & Gamson, 1991) to online course design to enhance students’ success in an online course. A survey was created to determine students’ perception of strategies and skills they perceived as important to complete an online course. The survey was created based on behavioral learning, cognitive learning, and social learning frameworks. The responses of the 179 students in this study in an undergraduate Computer Applications in Business course at a large southeastern university were categorized by the Seven Principles. Results of the survey showed the course design strategies and what students valued matched well with the Seven Principles Implications of the study provide evidence that good course design embeds the seven principles to ensure students are successful in the online learning environment.

The journal article is available here: http://jolt.merlot.org/vol11no1/Crews_0315.pdf

Or, here: Crews_0315.