Tuesday, November 13. 2012
Do you agree with D'Arcy Norman?
Actually, I know a lot of educators who agree. So what does he think are the important technologies? Personal computer, Internet, software and tools that let students create & explore & collaborate & share. And "Waaaaaay down the list… MOOCs."
Wednesday, August 1. 2012
I read online that 34 Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges had migrated to a cloud-based LMS from their legacy learning management systems. This followed a consortium-wide faculty review process. All of the institutions had been using Angel, which was acquired by Blackboard back in 2009.
I feel like I have spent every year since 2000 in higher education evaluating learning management systems. I am quite tired of it. And I am convinced that a good teacher can teach well using almost any LMS they are given. It's more important that a school use one and stick to it. If that means going open source to avoid takeovers and companies disappearing after a few years, then so be it.
Those colleges are moving to Instructure Canvas, an LMS available in both proprietary and open source editions.
The proprietary version is a cloud-based LMS hosted by Instructure in partnership with Amazon Web Services that includes "premium" features not found in the open source edition. Otherwise, it offers the tools common to almost any learning management systems: discussion, outcomes management, a rubric tool, automated grading, groups, a test generator, chat and video, and mobile tools.
The company is looking to K-12 as well as higher education.
Cloud services (certainly a big buzz topic the past year or two) has advantages: automated provisioning that can bring new servers into play as needed; no dedicated IT resources on campus to maintain the software or to setting up and configuring your own servers.
Of course, for a price, that has always been offered by the big commercial LMS companies that offered hosted services.
Online reviews of Canvas have generally been positive and, according to Instruction, Canvas has been adopted by more than 200 organizations since January 2011.
Wednesday, June 13. 2012
Friday, May 25. 2012
The Technologies in Education Forum was held on May 22, 2012 sponsored by The Atlantic Magazine. The forum focused mainly on the ways in which technology is affecting primary and secondary age students, but there was a discussion on job training for the future.
4 info bits presented at the forum:
- A 2011 poll showed that 50% of individuals prefer a less effective in-person teacher compared to a more effective online teacher.
- 40% of US children between the ages of 3-5 (important developmental ages) do not attend pre-school or kindergarten.
- The state of California decides the number of new jail beds to create based on the reading scores of its 3rd grade students.
- Almost every job that pays a livable wage requires STEM knowledge.
- Microsoft (a panel participant) has 5,000 job openings; of which ½ require STEM skills. The STEM related jobs have a starting salary of $100,000.
Technologies in Education Forum: http://events.theatlantic.com/technologies-education/2012/
Change the Equation: http://www.changetheequation.org/sites/default/files/CTEq_VitalSigns_Supply%20%282%29.pdf
American Graduate: Let’s Make It Happen: http://www.americangraduate.org/
Saturday, March 17. 2012
This is query to all of you reading this blog. Are any of you dealing with anything like this at your school?
We have a professor using video files in his online Biology class (mp4 files). He has a student who has received an accommodation from our disabilities services to have text provided for any audio content in his online classes. Apparently, just having a printed audio transcript is not enough. He needs to provide synchronized text as with closed captioning.
The prof is locked into using these videos as an essential part of the class. We are looking for software which takes pre-recorded audio (in a video file) recognizes speech and transcribes it to text automatically and embeds it into a audio/video file in the same or another format. It’s not just transcription, but it would need to combine voice recognition together with captioning/subtitling features.
We have looked at the usual speech to text software (such as Dragon Dictate) and although that can be tricked into transcribing pre-recorded audio rather than live speech, it doesn't embed the transcriptions into the video at the correct frame locations.
Third party transcription/captioning services (such as tech-synergy.com ) are cost-prohibitive.
Suggestions from other technologists have included using Articulate which provides a transcript but it works through PowerPoint. A colleague at another college suggested Cogi which they said they use for both video and audio, although the website only says audio.
Any suggestions? We can't be the only ones dealing with providing accessible files in this way.
Friday, March 16. 2012
I am doing a presentation today on measuring faculty buy-in to instructional iechnology at the NJEDge Best Practices Faculty Showcase. It covers the assessments that we have done for the 5-year grant that I have been directing at Passaic County Community College. In October 2007, PCCC was awarded a $2.5 million grant through the Department of Education’s Strengthening Hispanic Serving Institutions Program (Title V) aimed at increasing achievement and program completion rates of Hispanic and other students by integrating critical thinking, information literacy and technology into college-level writing.
In our annual review, the Dept. of Education asks us: “What were any unintended consequences (positive & negative) of the program?” It is an interesting question to ask about any initiative or course we teach, and it became the idea for my presentation.
Some people question the idea of phrases like “faculty resistance,” or a “lack of faculty buy-in.” One article I read claims that they are "empty and lead nowhere; they are phatic, having a social purpose (bonding among technology advocates) but they contain no useful information." That's not my own feeling, because I do find there are reasons for and against faculty buying into using any piece of or approach to technology.
I have found a number of articles that list ways to get faculty to accept technology. Typical advice includes: 1) Start with champions - a few faculty who are willing to use the tech and who will then serve as models. 2) Don’t “require” the technology - a good approach, unless you're working on a project that requires the technology (like introducing a new LMS) 3) Make the tech the reward - typical of a "carrot and stick" approach. Use iPads in your class, get an iPad. If you want the new LMS, go through the training. 4) Use multi-faceted training - 1:1, group, peer-to-peer, self-paced, online, face to face etc.).
Though in our grant initiative we have touched on all of those, using multi-faceted training is the one that we have focused on.
Here are some of our lessons learned that I'll address in today's session.
If at all possible, have faculty involved in the planning stages of your project. You shouldn't expect buy-in to something that was decided for you rather than by you.
On the plus side, we found buy-in for some technologies. Faculty liked using LibGuides to create websites to supplement their courses. The tool allowed them to do something that is not easy otherwise at the college - create "official" webpages and have collaborators (other faculty, librarians, staff) contribute. The technology filled an already perceived need. We intended those LibGuides to be created for the 25 courses we were focused on, but over 200 guides have been created for a varirty of purposes well beyond the scope of the grant.
Faculty did not see a need for e-portfolios that were a part of the initiative. We saw a need for them as a tool to assess student writing. We saw them as a tool that could help students reflect on their writing and monitor their own improvement. But, unfortunately, OUR needs or the possible positive aspects for students was not enough to get faculty to use the tool. Not that the effort was a total failure. 70% of the students in our initiative cohort did use the portfolios. But that average comes from classes where there was 100% use and classes where there was 0% use - and that zero percent was in classes where the instructor simply did not even try to use the portfolio or made it a total option to do so.
Oddly enough, we did have buy-in from faculty on the overall writing goals. 80% of faculty responded that they were using elements of the initiative in course sections that did not require using them. That is buy-in.
We were disappointed that faculty resisted using technology in general. Some faculty commented that they saw the tech as getting in the way of the writing. Some of that perception was also seen on the student side. We use an online software package to allow students to make appointments in the writing center at any time, but students often preferred to come in person to make appointments.
One aspect that is decidedly low-tech that was widely accepted was creating reusable learning objects (RLO) like templates and rubrics and making them available in an online repository. Need + Ease (of use).
We also made a push for faculty to create their own streaming video (using ECHO360). Creating media had limited buy-in, probably because of the steeper learning curve and time commitment. And we also encouraged using commercial streaming services like Intelecom and FMG which we purchased rights to use. Those services had almost no use at all, but free services like YouTube and TED had wider acceptance.
As far as training, going 1:1 with a faculty member was definitely the best method. Unfortunately, in many cases that is just not feasible.
What is "buy-in" anyway? In management and decision making, buy-in (as a verb or noun) signifies the commitment of interested or affected parties to a decision (often called stakeholders) to buy in to the decision, that is, to agree to give it support, often by having been involved in its formulation. As an investment, would you be willing to put your own money into a venture?
My concluding Big Ideas that I take away from our experiences are:
- Just because you build it, doesn't mean they will come and play on your "field of dreams."
- You have to be willing to let things go when they don't work.
- Faculty will use a new technology (or pedagogy) when they see how it will help THEM - not just because it will help students.
- Be careful about offering solutions to problems that are not seen as problems by faculty. ("I'm fine with the old version of the software. Why do I have to upgrade?")
- Cultivate relationships with faculty - especially 1:1.
- And, whether or not you are on a grant, plan early on how you will sustain and institutionalize your initiative after the funding and the initial energy starts to fade.
Friday, February 3. 2012
Via the Huffington Post: "Obama Administration's Challenge To Schools: Embrace Digital Textbooks Within 5 Years"
Wednesday, November 9. 2011
I posted last about Google Plus possibilities and my final thought was that when Plus connects to all the other Google Apps, there might be more push to use it in schools. Today I read that Google has launched Google+ for Google Apps. (Google+ accounts could only be activated with a Gmail address before.)
The article says that already a few dozen Google Apps for Education universities have enabled Google+ for their students, faculty, and staff.
As I thought, using Google+ hangouts to meet classes in multiple locations via virtual meetings is a feature that should be attractive. It's not that this couldn't already be done using existing services, but most of those are for a fee.
Along with Apps integration, Google also added 3 new features: what's hot, ripples, and creative kit, for Google+. What's hot, accessible at the end of new posts in a user's stream or in their list of circles, allows users to see posts about topics trending on the network. Ripples gives users the ability to see how posts spread publicly throughout the network. Creative kit is a tool for editing images uploaded to Google+.
Wednesday, November 2. 2011
I keep hearing that Google Plus will change things. It will give Facebook a run for its money. It will change education. And maybe it will, but I don't see that happening yet.
At a recent NJEDge EATF meeting, a colleague talked about using Google+’s Hangout feature. The group is investigating synchronous collaboration and communication tools. There are a plethora of option$ - Adobe Connect, Skype, Collaborate, WebEx et al. But that FREE flag flying over Google services is very attractive to educators.
I found a post on wikihow.comabout using G+ for teaching.
Google Plus's Hangouts is a tool that takes the traveling strain out of the teaching process. Teachers can use that time to conduct more virtual classrooms at a greater number of places. This enables institutions to teach more students with a lower number of teachers, thereby saving costs and placing institutions in a position to reward teachers in better ways. The biggest advantage is that the Google Hangouts allows a teacher to teach to ten classrooms at a time. In case there are more, each of the receiving classrooms can relay it to ten more classrooms in turn.
So, you might use the subgroup concept within G+ known as Circles to create a class/group online. That is something we are used to from learning management systems.
I would like to see Google Apps have a G+ level.
The article suggests that you integrate your You Tube and Picasa accounts with your Google+ account so that you can transmit videos and photos and use Power Point presentations,or any file from your screen by clicking the option "share your screen."
And that is what makes Google Plus attractive - the possibilities that arise from connecting it to all the other free Google goodness.
It's not quite there yet. And there certainly aren't enough people (in education especially) using it to really make an impact. Let's hope it doesn't become another Buzz...
(Page 1 of 8, totaling 65 entries) » next page
Original content in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons License