Archive for Pedagogy

eLearning Approach to Increase Enrollment, Retention, and Graduation Rates

My colleague, Sheri Rawls, and myself gave this presentation at the 2010 Creating Futures Through Technology Conference in March.  We spoke about the e-learning initiative The University of Southern Mississippi has undertaken to increase student and faculty satisfaction in our online programs as well as improve enrollment, retention, and graduation rates.  This is an ongoing project that will continue to improve our online programs.  The project included 5 main workstreams: Faculty Development, Course Development, Change Management, Scheduling, and Financial Model.  Through a partnership with Blackboard, we have been able to grow our online programs and ensure a satisfying experience for our online students.

To view our presentation, please click on the link below:

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Promoting the Scholarship of Teaching by Forming Connections

At the 2010 Mississippi Educational Computing Association Conference in February my colleague, Gallayannee Yaoyuneyong and I gave a presentation on “Promoting the Scholarship of Teaching by Forming Connections.”  In this presentation we discussed the experiences we have had as an instructor and instructional technologist working together to implement technology in the classroom.  We talked about the connection we have formed and how we have learned from each other and through our different experiences and backgrounds it has had a positive influence on how we use technology and work in our respective fields.  We also discussed the instructional design process used from the both the perspective of an instructor and an instructional designer. To view our presentation, click on the link below:

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Evaluating Courses for Effective Instruction

I just finished a certification course titled “Evaluating Courses for Effective Instruction”.  It was administered by Blackboard.  We were given rubrics to use to practice evaluating online courses for effective instruction and effective instructional design.  We were also given the opportunity to view courses that have been named exemplary courses through their Greenhouse Exemplary Course program.  I have been working with faculty for a few years and have seen some good and bad in the way of online course design.  By viewing some of the exemplary courses I was able to gain some new ideas on ways to make online courses even better and I found it very helpful to have access to the rubrics used to judge the exemplary course project.

At our institution we already provide an online course rubric for our faculty to help them evaluate their courses to ensure they include all of the necessary components for a quality course.  We also provide other resources for our instructors to use to help make sure their courses are quality courses including syllabus design and writing effective learning objectives.

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Alternative Assessment Techniques

I came across this great podcast that talks about ways schools are finding fun and alternative ways to assess their students.  It doesn’t have to be standardized tests.  One geometry teacher has her students create the school of 2050 using the geometry and math skills they have learned to create the layout and models of the buildings.  This activity allows them to use their creativity and see how the skills they learn in the classroom can be used in the real world. She has 2 architects who volunteer their time to help with the projects and judge the projects at the end.

Another school starts their students off by teaching them in 2 different languages. They take their language arts classes and social studies in English and take their Math and Science classes in another language (Spanish or Japanese). This means the students will be fluent in 2 languages.

I was blown away by the creativity and methods these schools are using to get to their students.  It was so awesome to see!! I hope schools will go more towards methods like these than just teaching to the test.

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What type of learner are you?

I have always considered myself a visual learner. I still think I do have a need for the visual, but after reading the article “The Art of Learning Better: 101 Tips to Find and Fit Your Learning Style” by Heather Johnson, I found myself falling even more so in the area of the kinesthetic learner. This type of learner learns best when they have the opportunity to get involved with the material, do hands-on work and develop a process for learning new information or a skill. I still need the visual, especially in classes where I don’t have the option to have a hands-on experience. I do learn much better if I can see a visual representation of what I need to learn. Videos and diagrams are my best friend.

I do try to practice becoming better at the other type of learning styles because after all we don’t always get to choose the way information is conveyed to us. The above article gives you some tips on how to do this.

So, what type of learner are you?  Or, more importantly, in teaching do you try to accommodate the different types of learning styles of your students?

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Instructional Design

I am currently taking a course to learn more about instructional design theories and how to implement techniques to make sure the learning outcomes are achieved.  I have seen so many online courses that have no rhyme or reason to how they are organized.  There are so many components to creating a good course whether face-to-face or online, but sometimes I think faculty forget to think about their audience (their students) before developing a course.  Instead of just putting content together, it is so important to evaluate what you want your students to get out of the course first.

I read a great blog post titled What Everbody Ought to Know About Instructional Design in the The Rapid eLearning Blog by Tom Kuhlmann.  If you don’t have a chance to read the whole article, watching the included video from youTube will open your eyes to how much you can miss that is right in front of you.

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Do our students know more than we do about technology?

A faculty member came to me last week who wanted to incorporate podcasting into his course and one of the questions he asked me was, should I assume that my students will already know how to use this technology (or something to that effect)? I told him that I try never to assume anything. Although we like to believe that our students are more technology savvy than the faculty, it is not always true. When speaking of traditional students, yes, they probably know how to use Facebook and download music, but do they even know what a podcast is? There are probably a lot who don’t. First of all, they don’t use the same terminology as we do, so that is something that needs to be addressed first. It is important to make sure everyone is on the same page at the beginning of the course, so that all of the students have the opportunity to be successful.

What if your student population is made up of “non-traditional” students, maybe students who are working full-time already in their field, or who just waited a little longer to go to college, choosing to have a family first…this population of students have a whole different list of concerns than your “traditional” students. Many of these students are already scared to come back to school because they feel out of place and in addition to that are intimidated by the new technology they feel they know nothing about.

Well, what did I tell this faculty member? I told him to get to know his student population, ask questions, create an environment where the students feel they can ask questions (that there are no stupid questions), and tell them up front what to expect in the class. I told him to include on his syllabus the technology requirements so they know up front what is expected to be successful. For example, he is going to require that they use iTunes to view his podcasts because he is creating enhanced podcasts with a Mac. I created an iTunes Cheat Sheet for him to put in his course and told him he should provide the link to download iTunes (which is free) in his syllabus the same as he would his required textbook.

I don’t think we can assume that our students know more about technology than we do. I think they know different things about technology, like how to use youTube and text message on their cell phone, but the types of technologies we use for education could be completely new to them.

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