Blended learning ideas for Faculty Development from OLC

Just got back from the very sunny, blue sky, Sunshine state of Florida after attending the OLC (Online Learning Consortium) there in Orlando with over 2000 participants from around the world.

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Disney Dolphin Hotel – Where the conference is every year

With Floridian friendship and many new colleagues in the field of online and blended learning there were some juicy bits to be had, experiences from the field and hopefully ideas for our future strategies.

First up was a panel discussion on ”Blended Learning from Design to Evaluation” led by the charismatic Dr. Norm Vaughan from Mount Royal University Canada (who is by the way going to be here at KTH for a few seminars in the spring, watch this space…..)

The panel discussed and highlighted the benefits, challenges, strategies and lessons learned from their own faculty development initiatives for blended learning.
Here is a summary of what was said by each University.

Benefits

  • Positive feelings in creating new ideas to redesign teaching & learning
  • Some acquired more positive attitudes towards technology
  • The Faculty felt that the professional development has an impact on students learning
  • Flexible learning opportunities
  • Creating smaller communities of practice
  • Getting students engaged

Challenges

  • Faculty motivation
  • Sustainability
  • Resource requirement
  • Time
  • Misconceptions of Blended Learning
  • Change Management – Institution readiness

Lessons Learned

  • Set realistic targets
  • Always remember all stakeholders
  • Get some examples of best practices
  • Provide variation of support offered
  • Patience
  • Time
  • And Listen

Ron Bleed, the former Vice Chancellor of Information Technologies at Maricopa College, argues that the definition “Blended learning is often defined as the combination of face-to-face and online learning (Sharpe et al., 2006; Williams, 2002)” is not actually a sufficient definition for blended learning as it simply implies “bolting” technology onto a traditional course, using technology as an add-on to teach a difficult concept, or adding supplemental information.  He suggests that blended learning should be viewed as an opportunity to redesign how courses are developed, scheduled, and delivered through a combination of physical and virtual instruction: “bricks and clicks” (Bleed, 2001).  Joining the best features of in-class teaching with the best features of online learning that promote active, self-directed learning opportunities with added flexibility should be the goal of this redesigned approach (Garnham & Kaleta, 2002; Littlejohn & Pegler, 2007; Norberg, Dziuban, Moskal, 2011).

Another session I attended was called “Reviewing our Digital Pedagogy Workshop for faculty: success & future improvements”. Dr Kelly Keane was the presenter and is an assistant professor of Educational Technology at Loyola University Maryland. She teaches graduate level educational technology courses to practicing teachers and her teaching style is based in active and collaborative learning.

Their Institution offered a 2-week digital pedagogy workshop for faculty who were interested in converting a traditional course to the hybrid/blended or online environment.  The faculty that were chosen each received a $2500 stipend, which obviously helped along the way, from the University’s Office of Academic Affairs and Technology Services. The workshop occurred over two weeks and support was provided by instructional designers (A role that is not recognised yet in Swedish Universities) and faculty experienced with instructional technologies.

Workshop sessions occurred on campus as well as in a synchronous online environment, where participants received experience in the live sessions from both a student and teacher perspective. Daily instruction was organized around the Understanding by Design process (Wiggins & McTighe, 2005) and the Community of Inquiry framework (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000)

Their Success stories of the 2 week workshop:

  • Pedagogy driving tool selection – Instead of saying this how to use the blog, the questions were more in the lines of what do you want to do? And what do you want your students to be able to do?
  • Asynchronous and synchronous sessions for the workshop – A good balance of face to face & Online workshops over the 2-week period.
  • The participants connected with many “experts” – Experienced Faculty, Instructional designers, Instructional video developers
  • Flexibility of the workshops – Prior to the workshop they had asked the participants about their technical skills so they could choose which grouping they wanted to be in according to their experiences.
  • Providing them with the student perspective of learning by being a student themselves
  • After the workshop a formation of a professional learning community was built, to me a very important aspect in Blended Learning course development

Their lessons learned and future improvements was that they wanted to have more examples of courses that were already built by other faculty that they could look at and more time to develop more modules as they only had time to redevelop one module during the whole 2 week workshop.

 So if we are to move forward in helping our faculty and initiate strategies for Blended Learning course development, then we have to really have a good plan in place, a group of resources that can support in many different aspects not only technological support but also instructional support, time & motivation for the faculty to do this and last but by no mean least (and probably the most complex and challenging in our Swedish Universities), communicating to the leaders the importance of Change Management.

It’s that simple…..

References

  • Allen, I. E., & Seaman, J. (2010). Class differences: Online education in the United States, 2010,
  • Babson Survey Research Group, The Sloan Consortium. Available online at: http://olc.onlinelearningconsortium.org/publications/survey/class_differences
  • Arabasz, P., Boggs, R. & Baker, M. B. (2003). Highlights of E-Learning Support Practices.Educause Center for Applied Research Bulletin, 9.
  • Bleed, R. (2001). A Hybrid Campus for a New Millennium. Educause Review, 36 (1). 16-24.
  • Clark, D. (2003). Blend it like Beckham. Epic Group PLC.
  • Dziuban, C. D., Moskal, P. D., & Hartman, J. (2013). Blended learning: A dangerous idea?. Internet and Higher Education, 18(7), 15-23.
  • Garnham, C. & Kaleta, R. (2002). Introduction to Hybrid Courses. Teaching with Technology Today, 8 (6).
  • Garrison, D.R. & Vaughan, N.D. (2008). Blended Learning in Higher Education. Jossey-Bass: San Francisco, CA .
  • Graham, C. R. (2006). Blended learning systems: Definitions, current trends, and future directions. In Bonk, C. & Graham, C. (Eds), The handbook of blended learning: Global perspectives, local designs (pp. 3-21). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.
  • Halverson, L. R., Graham, C. R., Spring, K. J., Drysdale, J. S., &  Henrie, C. R. (2014). A thematic analysis of the most highly cited scholarship in the first decade of blended learning research.  Internet and Higher Education, 20, 20–34.
  • Laumakis, M., Graham, C., & Dziuban, C. (2009). The Sloan-C pillars and boundary objects as a framework for evaluating blended learning. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 13(1), 75-87.
  • Littlejohn, A., & Pegler, C. (2007). Preparing for blended e-Learning: Understanding blended and online learning (Connecting with E-learning). London, UK: Routledge.
  • Mayadas, F. A. & Picciano, A. G. (2007). Blended learning and localness: The means and the end. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 11(1), 3-7.
  • Norberg, A., Dziuban, C. D., & Moskal, P. D. (2011). A time-based blended learning model. On the Horizon19(3), 207-216.
  • Sharpe, R., Benfield, G., Roberts, G., & Francis, R. (2006). The undergraduate experience of blended e-learning: A review of UK literature and practice. London: Higher Education Academy.
  • Vaughan, N.D., Cleveland-Innes, M. & Garrison, D.R. (2013). Teaching in blended learning environments: Creating and sustaining communities of inquiry. Athabasca: Athabasca University Press. Available online at: http://www.aupress.ca/index.php/books/120229
  • Vaughan , N.D. (2007). Perspectives on Blended Learning in Higher EducationInternational Journal on E-Learning, 6(1), 81-94.
  • Williams, J. (2003). Blending into the Background. E-Learning Age Magazine, 1.
  • Williams, C. (2002).  Learning on-line:  A review of recent literature in a rapidly expanding field. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 26(3), 263-272.
  • Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher educationmodelThe Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.
  • Wiggins, G., & McTighe, J. (2005).  Understanding by Design (expanded 2nd edition).  Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

 

 

The beginning of a new Faculty role

So after the summer break, students have arrived on mass to be introduced to the new city, the university, the various student associations, the student culture by the older students dressed up in some colourful boiler suit covered with patches from various interests and activities the student has accomplished over their time at the University. The woop… wooping has died down, the different types of music blaring out in different locations at campus are replaced by doors shutting and the learning begins.

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I can’t help but reflect on the different leadership roles they will be meeting whilst learning in their different learning styles and wonder how they will perform, conform or quite simply leave and pursue another direction all together.

They will most likely meet a Hierarchical Individual leader, some one who makes sure they focus on clear performance targets, bringing the external requirements from Academia into the work & practice of their teaching, they will also meet many that are a Hierarchical collective leader who will add values and norms to their lessons building relationships with their students so that they build a strong community together based on trust (but only the trust that does not require input from all the students), before a decision can be made.
But there are 2 other leader types they will meet if they are lucky, (though I am biased of course) which are very few and far between:
The Distributed individual leader, a leader that responds to learner needs, who is not afraid to embark on new entrepreneurial ways of teaching and who likes to inspire a team of collaborators with diverse knowledge and skill-sets.
And the Distributed Collective leader, someone who inspires individuals to operate in networked relationships, motivating the students to share resources they have found and create a community of practice.

The beginning of the new leadership/faculty roles in education has begun. I am facilitating the course at KTH I took last spring, we have 12 enthusiastic faculty members that will be starting a new Open networked learning course in collaboration with Karolinska Institutet, Lund University, Linnaeus University, (Sweden) and Independent Institute of Education (IIE) (South Africa).
This course is to teach our faculty to involve inquiry into their own practice, give them an opportunity to explore and try collaborative learning in an open online learning environment with colleagues from different universities, disciplines and cultures (nationally as well as internationally).

It’s a matter of choice of what type of organisation we want to work in, what type of learning environment we want to work in, but also as a leader we need to be responsible in shaping that environment.

As EdX Rob Lue Faculty director quoted in Leaders of Learning
“I’m quite convinced that leading in digital education does require a taste for uncertainty. That ultimately, actually, I think leading in general requires a taste for uncertainty.There’s nothing I can think of where everything is certain. I do think what’s important, or exciting, in fact, about the space that we’re in right now in terms of digital education, is that the landscape is changing. So that we need to build an organisation and a leadership style that allows for a process of learning, a process of deep adaptation, as the environment changes very dramatically”.

References

 

The future of Higher Ed

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The last 6 weeks ONL course has turned out to be enlightening, provocative, fascinating and engaging on how to pedagogically use technology in the classroom. We went through the benefits and advantages of using technology and also the conceivable risks and pitfalls. I really enjoyed every week, writing my personal reflections on a blog, reading what my worldwide colleagues had to say and commenting on their views of the topic.

We have read articles by famous educational developers, watched films, attended webinars, learnt about new tools, collaborated and discussed our learning’s within our groups. We have also created presentations using various tools about our findings to the whole community and giving and taking feedback. Before I went on this course I already knew a lot about technologies & tools in both business and institutions but what I learned from this course was the “why” we should use them and the “how” we can use them especially for deeper learning.

We know that today’s students are pretty much the same as yesterday’s students but the only difference is that they know more about technology than we do right now, but what they haven’t learnt yet, is how to do the thinking part.

This is where the teacher role comes in; a lot of teachers still need to learn about how to use the technology to promote the “thinking process” in students. The one topic that sticks out in my mind and one that I do have a bit of a passion for is blended/flexible learning: today in 2016, I believe that it is still important to have the social face-to-face interaction for the students to reflect & think, alongside with other colleagues of learners and of course a teacher that is a good leader or mentor.

How do we get there?
I work at a Swedish university and can only reflect on what I see here in Sweden but what I do see is that there needs to be a huge change in these institutions and sooner rather than later because the waves of the new generation of students are knocking on the doors (or in todays terms searching on the web) already wanting to learn about facts, figures and how to think so that they can get a good job.
Institutions are lagging behind and are in need of a new teacher role definition, a new support structure to help them move into 21st century education, not just support on the tools provided, but also learning design support. Some more importance and investment is needed on the value of teachers & pedagogy in higher education whether online or blended, so the teachers are motivated to make the design changes in their classrooms.

If we move now not only will the Institutions see the ROI (Return on Investment) by increased student pass rates but also the new target group of Millennial students will also see their ROI and how they can shape the future of human civilisation.

Some thoughts on the future of education:

 

 

A sustainable future with Flexible learning

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The education system is in need of a complete face-lift. We really have to start believing that there are students with different learning styles just as we know today in our every day lives that people have different cultures, religions and backgrounds.

Much of the heavy lifting will need to be done by governments reinvesting more money in higher education, as universities and colleges have already done much of what they can do to become cost-effective. In the view of many colleges and university presidents, the three main factors in higher education—cost, quality, and access—exist in what is called an iron triangle.

To improve the student success and throughput rates = flexible learning.

Dr Martha Cleveland Innes, Professor and Chair of Centre for Distance Education at Athabasca University and a guest professor at our university KTH (Royal Institute of technology) held a webinar on Flexible learning. Here are some of her reflections and experiences on how to move forward.

What does flexible learning look like?
“There is no commonly accepted meaning globally; rather flexibility is a wide range of responses to different situations, to different needs, underpinned by different discourses. Therefore, “flexibility” needs to be clearly defined and articulated institutionally, or it can lead to division, multiple contesting discourse and the duplication of efforts and resources…” (Jones & Walters, 2015: 65)

Flexible Learning in a Flexible Society
Boland H. G. (2005) “Whatever happened to postmodernism in higher education? No requiem in the new millennium” The Journal of Higher Education 76 (2): 121-150.

  1. The learner is empowered and can assist in the customisation of learning.
  2. Flexible learning needs to be wrapped around the students’ needs
  3. Flexible learning that can fit around students’ complex lives
  4. Flexible curriculum design with flexible assessment (offered through choice)
  5. Flexible admission criteria
  6. Flexible delivery options (on-line/on-campus; accelerating and decelerating)

At Athabasca University they are already one of the forerunners in using flexible learning in the classroom and have an open course called Learning to learn online
to help their teachers through this process, they even have instructional designers to help them with the course design to including flexible ideas, how fabulous is that? Something I believe all Universities need to invest in so the teachers can get up and running into flexible learning.

Some of the challenges she mentions in flexible learning were:

  • Getting faculty on board to Identify these new ways of teaching,
  • Lack of time to redesign courses
  • Leadership investment, we need to know about leadership so we are ready for the changes that are coming.
  • The need for Instructional designers

I like the way Jones, B., & Walters, S. (2015)  describe the delivery of learning in their article:

  • Pace, includes accelerated and decelerated programmes and degrees; learning part-time; arrangements that allow learners to ‘roll on/roll off’ (‘stop in/stop out’);
    Place, can relate to work-based learning with employer engagement; learning at home, on campus, while travelling or in any other place, often aided by technology which can enable the flexibility of learning across geographical boundaries and at convenient times.
  • Mode’ includes the use of learning technologies to enhance flexibility and enrich the quality of learning experiences, in blended or distance learning and in synchronous and asynchronous modes of learning (Tallantyne, 2012: 4; Gordon, 2014).

In a previous blog post on  Designing courses to facilitate meaningful learning I wrote here on how we need to think about what the Intended learning outcomes are and which teaching and learning activities we could use with technology enhanced learning. It was written last year but now after this ONL course I can see many more new ways of being flexible with IL’s & TLA’s.

References:

History of Blended Learning

When I was trying to rebuild my qualifications after my son was born, not one for sitting around in the sand pits talking about nappies, I took a course in Digital Pedagogy. The course was created in collaboration with a Finnish University and was a vocational degree (which was a form of post-secondary education designed to meet current competence needs in working life) and was organised in close collaboration with companies.

I had 2 industry placements during the course in Elearning companies and was sure that this would be my next career move, alas, the dot com crash arrived just as I graduated and the Elearning companies that I had worked for could offer me no work.

When I saw this article from elearning Industry newsletter:
http://elearningindustry.com/history-of-blended-learning I realised that not a lot has happened in the university I am working in and all the other universities in Sweden for the past 15 years.

  • 1840’s: First Distance Course.
    Sir Isaac Pitman launches the first distance education course.
    Pitman sent shorthand texts to his students via mailed postcards and they were required to send them back to be graded and corrected. Even though computers and mobile devices weren’t involved, and wouldn’t even be invented for roughly a century, effective feedback and assessments were still an integral part of the process.
  • 1960’s & 1970’s: Mainframe Computer-Based Training.
    It was the first time that training could be deployed to countless workers within an organisation without having to rely on printed materials and face-to-face instruction.
  • 1970’s to 1980’s: TV-Based Technology to Support Live Training.
    At this stage in the blended learning timeline, companies began using video networks to train their employees. Learners were able to communicate with their peers, watch the instructor on TV, and even address any questions or concerns sending them by mail.
  • 1980’s & 1990’s: CD-ROM Training and Rise of LMS.
    As technology evolved, so did blended training strategies and applications. Schools and organizations began using CD-ROMs to deliver more interactive learning experiences, This is also when the first learning management systems (LMS) were introduced, though they didn’t offer the same functionality as the solutions available today.
  • 1998: First Generation of Web-Based Instruction.
    Computers were no longer just for organisations and the wealthy few, but for the masses. More and more households began purchasing personal computers for their families to enjoy, other than having to distribute CD-ROMs to learners, organisations could simply upload material, eLearning assessments, and assignments via the web, and learners could access them with a click of a mouse button.
  • 2000 until today: Blended Learning Integration.
    Technology is rapidly changing and an increasing number oKONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERAf organisations and private learning institutions are beginning to see the benefits of a blended learning approach. Gradually, the union between face-to-face instruction and technology-based learning is producing new and creative ways to enrich the
    educational experience and make learning fun, exciting, and even more beneficial.

 

The revolution had started 15 years ago; blended learning or “Hybrid Learning” is what they call it today, will I believe be the defining education philosophy for the next 20 years as well, because blended learning helps student to achieve deep learning and to be better learners.
Reference:
[Gar04] D.R. Garrrison, and H. Kanuka, “Blended learning: Uncovering its transformative potential in higher education”, The Internet and Higher Education, 7(2), 2004, pp 95—105.