Sunday, November 18, 2007

Working on ARQ (Asking the Right Questions)

"Asking the Right Questions" (ARQ) is a set of brief hybrid workshop materials for faculty. The goal: figure out how to improve online discussion, or your lecture slides, or your use of clickers, or your online assignments -- some kind of teaching and learning with technology in your course -- by asking your students some pointed questions about that activity.

Each workshop module is only 5-15 minutes long, short enough to insert in a faculty meeting or brownbag lunch, or to use in a brief online workshop. The ARQ workshops can be led by faculty development or IT support staff, or by faculty who have been through the workshop previously, tried what they learned, and liked the results.

A group of us (join us!) are developing and testing these materials, and the collection grows and changes almost every week. Frank Parker tells me that ARQ materials have been tried out at Johnson C. Smith University. Meanwhile I've been tweaking the materials for improving online discussions.

I'm also using Flashlight Online 2.0 to develop new survey templates (and a new ARQ workshop) on improving the use of clickers, and another ARQ workshop (with Flashlight Online 2.0 materials) for getting more out of your use of electronic portfolios. I'm working with IUPUI on the eportfolio materials; if you like this ARQ approach and want to join in that work please let me know. I don't yet have any partners for work on the clicker workshop materials. Interested?

I'm also thinking that it's time to go after some grant money to speed up the development and testing process, and to evaluate the materials: can this approach really engage more faculty and help build a culture of evidence? Maybe an institution with an accreditation a few years off, or a consortium or association, would like to go after such a grant, and use us as a contractor to help?

Personal notes: After traveling every week since late September, I'm off the road until January. Arthroscopic surgery on my left shoulder coming up, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. No heroic athletic injury involved: just a bone spur that's been making me increasingly sore. The surgery should clean that up.

Before that, however, Leslie and I are headed for New York City to celebrate Thanksgiving. Chris (our son) and Monique have invited us and also her parents to dinner. This is our first opportunity to meet Monique's parents. We're all pretty excited about this particular holiday.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The New York Times > E-Mail This > EDUCATION > Articles > Thank You

The New York Times > E-Mail This > EDUCATION > Articles > Thank You

Online version seems to omit paragraph I found esp. interesting in paper version: "Mr. Klein said that the cell-phone ban would apply to the students who received the phones: They would be expected to leave them at home during the school day."

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Asking the Right Questions (cont'd)

We ran our first subscriber and member workshop on "Asking the Right Questions" (ARQ) last week. As you may know, ARQ is a growing collection of materials for brief hybrid workshops, all aimed to show instructors new ways to gather information from their own students in order to improve teaching and learning with technology in their courses.

Last Tuesday's ARQ workshop focused on how to gather evidence that could be used to improve participation in online discussion. The workshop teaches faculty how to frame their own questions, and also how to adapt Flashlight Online model surveys to collect evidence from their own students. The workshop materials also include an eClip to help run the session, handouts, and feedback forms.

We went through the workshop and then critiqued it; the version you can see online today is the result of that critique. I'm sure it will continue to change as we get more experience with the materials. Everyone on Tuesday said they were considering offering the workshop at their home institutions.

This coming Tuesday (Oct. 16 at 3 PM ET) we'll try a workshop on personal response systems (e.g, clickers). Here too we're going to look into how asking students the right questions can show instructors and institutions how to get more value from the PRS itself. The ARQ materials include sample Flashlight Online surveys: one to do a needs assessment of faculty, and the other for faculty to adapt for use with their own students. (If you're interested in Flashlight Online 2.0, take a look -- I used the beta test version to write these surveys.)

If you're at a TLT Group subscriber institutions or are yourself a TLT Group member, I hope you can join us! Maybe you'll get interested enough to help us develop more ARQ materials. Click the link for our calendar; the ARQ workshop is at the top - click to register. It's only open for our subscribers and members but for them (you, I hope), it's free.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Lectures & Diversity: Dialogue with Ed Nuhfer 10/12/2007

Click here for info about and interview of Ed Nuhfer.

Steve Gilbert: What kinds of differences for students can be achieved by different kinds of teachers?

Ed Nuhfer: In the faculty development that I do, I usually try to get faculty to first have the necessary conversation with themselves to know what they want to do. That sometimes involves divorcing themselves from what their favorite mentor did, finding their own strengths and being themselves. The person who is more introspective and prefers working one on one with students can structure the classroom so they can move from group to group, work one on one, and teach self reflection. A really great orator who can hold a room spellbound with a lecture--and we all know they exist-- should be allowed to do this. Like Margaret Wheatley, I have a lot of faith in people and a lot of respect for true diversity--which has little to do with gender or race but more to do with the richness we bring to education by being different. We are not in a one-room schoolhouse. Teaching is a community activity, so every teacher doesn't have to mesh perfectly with every student. The diversity will assure that "perfect match" occurs whenever teachers and students work mutually in good faith. What can be achieved depends much on the ethic of teaching and learning--we use the best tools we know from both sides of the classroom. I addressed some of this in the May issue of NTLF.

Steve Gilbert: To what extent and in what ways does it matter that students and teachers in a particular course have certain complementary attitudes, abilities, cultural background, language, etc.?

Ed Nuhfer: My idea here is that so long as the ethic is one of welcoming acceptance, good things will occur. If we demand others be like us, we may reinforce common biases rather than advance learning. The knowledge survey tool is one we are finding is telling us whether we do one or the other. If pre and post correlate highly, it indicates we have reinforced preconceptions rather than changed minds. In some cases such as having senior majors, in terms of content and professional interest there is a self selection at work that brings to the class the qualities you speak of that are very in line with the professors' interests. Such is not true in general education classes. Is there really such a thing as a terrific course without a terrific teacher? This is like asking if there can be a terrific book created without a terrific author. When we look at teachers as designers of learning rather than as dispensers or entertainers, this becomes obvious.

Steve Gilbert: If someone could design a course that meets or surpasses the expectations of most instructional designers, most faculty development professionals, and most other academic support professionals, how confident could we be that some particular faculty member could teach that course very well? Independent of student background? Etc.

Ed Nuhfer: Don't we see this kind of question answered every day in theatre? The script is the same, the design set is often even the same, but is every Shakespeare play or every Broadway hit of the same quality? One could apply technology and say---well, the best is done and it's on film--let's just show that and never feature a live production again. How satisfying might that be; what would be lost?

Steve Gilbert: Do many experienced faculty and students believe that it doesn't make any difference for traditional age undergraduate students if the course meetings begin at 7am or 11am?

Ed Nuhfer: Some of Cashin's summary research showed time of day didn't matter much regarding satisfaction ratings. I think it makes a great difference with individuals, but Cashin's summary shows it doesn't on the average. Aggregate data and individual data are useful for learning different things. Now if we gave a class at 3:00 a.m. To a world on a normal biorhythm, that would be problematic.

Steve Gilbert: If the course meeting times are 15 minutes per session or 120 minutes? If the teacher has trouble speaking English? If the campus has recently experienced a major tragedy or a major athletic victory?

Ed Nuhfer: Depends on the quality of the use of time, but wouldn't it be a trip as a student to experience what one could learn in both if these were taught by equally committed teachers?! I've gained more from a rare 15 minute presentation at a professional meeting than I've gained in many two hour seminars. What if I could count on one of these AHA moments every fifteen minute period? If you focused on "What if I had only fifteen minutes to teach my course--what would I teach?", I bet most would walk away with something more valuable from that fifteen minute session than if you rambled for two hours without any clear goal in mind for the students or yourself. On the other hand, we think--"I have two hours! What can I do in that which I could not do in fifteen minutes?", I think we have an equal commitment. Now would that yield with the 15 minute course a richer CURRICULUM than everything done in a ritual 50 minutes. Beyond those examples, there are some generally optimal limits set simply by physiology that makes it unwise to go far below (like 30 seconds?) or above those times (15 hours?). What if the instructor was simply dumb--could not speak at all--would there be a way that instructor could teach well? With the right accommodation and equipment, why not? She/he doesn't have to teach like everyone else. So, if a teacher has an accent, is the latter more limited? If an institution has a disruption of either type, isn't optimal teaching seizing that teachable moment for what it can offer rather than for what we planned otherwise to do?

Steve Gilbert: And finally, if education is as complex and profound as implied by my list of questions and my own commitment, how do we reach some conclusions simple enough and reasonable enough and plausible enough to enable us to move forward without going crazy or feeling overwhelmed by the complexity?

Ed Nuhfer: My answer is that if we anticipate that the experience is complex and profound, we can decide (see Ros Zander's Art of Possibility) first that we are going to be happy anyway, and second, that if we are not going to be happy in this, then we should be doing something else that makes us happy. We can enjoy the roller coaster ride for what it is. One conclusion that's simple in education--try to leave each person just a little better after the encounter than before.

Best,
Ed

Ed Nuhfer
Director of Faculty Development and Professor of Geoscience
California State University Channel Islands
ed.nuhfer@csuci.edu

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

"So far as I know, no one else has ever done this."

I can remember when I was in my 20s, writing my first grant proposal. I was writing to the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE). Somehow I knew that it was important to be able to write in my proposal, “So far as I know, no one else has ever done this before.”
  1. Writing “so far as I know” was important, because I didn’t want anyone to be able to say my magical sentence was false. And, in fact, writing ‘so far as I know’ helped me justify not doing any search for existing practice. Because, if I looked hard enough, I might discover that my idea wasn’t unique.
  2. It was important to write, “No one else has ever done this before,” because that’s what funders value, I assumed: uniqueness, newness, innovation. If someone else is doing this, I shouldn’t be wasting my time with a proposal.
My proposal was turned down.

A year later, I’d crossed to the other side of the desk, to become a FIPSE program officer, and soon realized how silly my assumptions had been. In fact, my claim might even have been a reason that my proposal had been turned down.
  1. An idea that is truly unique is probably responding to a problem or opportunity that no one else has ever faced. Few foundations are interested in supporting such tiny problems or opportunities.
  2. Someone who is as isolated as I was (or, worse, as isolated as I was pretending to be), has no opportunity to learn from the achievements and mistakes of others.
  3. Someone that isolated is also unlikely to find it easy to disseminate the results of their work. Dissemination generally is part of what funders consider to be the payoff to their gifts or investments: wider impact and visibility for their work. That was certainly true for FIPSE.
So, the paragraph I came to look for as a funder was, "We're one of a number of pioneers in this area. Here' s what we've learned from the achievements and problems of others. Here's how we're connected with them. Here's what we want to do. And here's how those connections will help us share our experience with those pioneers, and with others who will want to adapt what we do with your money."

Can Online Activities HELP Colleges Deal with Racial Incidents?

What are some examples of using information technology in colleges and universities that help the academic community respond constructively to racial problems?
What are some examples of using information technology in colleges and universities that increase racial problems within the academic community?

"U-Md. has had two forums for students and others to talk about race since the noose was found, with about 50 to 70 people at each forum. A student group is asking people on campus to submit stories online about their experiences with discrimination."

"Either way, the incidents shock in part because many people expect colleges to be oases of tolerance and understanding. But school officials and scholars say it's natural that racial tensions sometimes flare on campuses because colleges reflect what's happening in the world around them; they're not isolated from economic and social rifts. And for many students, college is the first time they've met so many different types of people.

"Some students arrive with prejudices and stereotypes they don't even know they have, said William B. Harvey, vice president and chief officer for diversity and equity at the University of Virginia.

""the power is in the silence that surrounds these symbols," said Sherrilyn Ifill, professor of law at the University of Maryland. "We don't talk openly about why a noose is such a provocative symbol because we don't talk much about our history of lynching.""

"Schools aren't doing well at this, said Harvey, who came to U-Va. from the American Council on Education. "I don't know of a single place that's doing as well as it could be, or should be, doing.""

"Still, several professors said college is the perfect place to challenge people to talk about difficult subjects and learn about the unfamiliar. Studies have shown that students are more tolerant after they graduate, Moore said."


Colleges See Flare In Racial Incidents - washingtonpost.com, by Susan Kinzie , p. B1, B2, 9/26/2007

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Downloading MP3s from Gabcast (3.5 min YouTube video)

Test of using YouTube to add a video to this blog 9/27/2007 12:46pm EDT

Monday, September 24, 2007

"The Lecture is Dead. Long Live the Lecture."

"The Lecture is Dead. Long Live the Lecture."

Role of Note-Taking

Response to previous postings "The best 'lecture' ever"

Excerpt from posting to POD listserv by Steve Gilbert Aug 29 2007.

"The Lecture is Dead. Long Live the Lecture."
That's the new title that emerged yesterday during a conversation I was privileged to have with Paul A. Lacey in preparation for a free online Webcast next Friday (Sept 7) about pedagogy.
Click here for full digital recording of this event:


Paul often referred to his experiences as the first Director of a Lilly Endowment project to support young faculty members. He described the rapidly growing movement to oppose lecturing in college courses, the over-zealous advocates of eliminating all lectures who claimed that students could learn more efficiently from textbooks, etc., and, eventually, the evaporation of this issue. All in the 1970s.

Paul noted the disappearance of note-taking by students during lectures as one of many important changes since then. He described some of his work with a variety of faculty colleagues over many years to help them improve the effectiveness of their lecture-dominated courses. He often focused on helping the faculty members to shape the students' purposes and practices in note-taking.

I want to suggest that student note-taking may be viewed as a valuable lens for focusing more clearly on the intersection of new technology options, changing educational practices, and common misconceptions about "engagement" and "active learning."

First, do you agree that most students do not arrive in most lecture-based courses prepared to take notes effectively? Is that quite different from a few years or decades ago?

Second, technology as culprit. Many teachers and learners have been seduced by the capability of recording and publishing live events in various ways, as the relevant technology has become so easy to use, available, and inexpensive. They have leapt to the conclusion that a full audio recording or full video recording of the entire event is superior to and removes the need for note-taking by individual students.

Third, the practice of a faculty member or student or other authorized person serving as official note-taker for a course is also seen as superior to and removing the need for note-taking by individual students.

The Misconceptions
I learned rather painfully by trial and error over many years that if I do not take notes myself during a lecture, presentation, or meeting I do not focus as sharply on what is being said and I do not engage as actively as when I am constantly trying to rephrase, summarize, identify main points, and jot notes - including my own questions, ideas for further actions, etc. Even if I never review those notes again, the process of writing them (by hand or by computer) makes a big difference for me. I don't think this need of mine is especially unusual. I also don't believe that everyone needs to take notes in the same way that I do. Nor do I believe that taking notes oneself is incompatible with making use of notes, guidelines, or recordings prepared by others.

Many students CAN entirely avoid engaging with what is being "delivered" in a lecture, and that is the beginning of a legitimate complaint about lecture-based courses. However, if the students are helped to take notes in an effective way or to participate using other structured activities and devices (many already described in this series of email messages), lectures can be quite effective. Students can be "actively engaged" without having to speak aloud to anyone.

Many college and university faculty members still begin their teaching careers with the tacit beliefs that all their students have career goals, enthusiasm for the discipline, and study/learning habits similar to the teacher's own. Overcoming that predilection has always been an important step on the path to becoming a good teacher for undergraduates who are not destined for graduate school or majoring in the teacher's field. With the increasing numbers and variety of backgrounds of undergraduate students, this step becomes even more important. And so does a faculty member's acceptance of responsibility for guiding students' efforts to learn in a course.

If a teacher includes lectures, the teacher may need to offer some suggestions about how and why to take notes. If the teacher decides to make some kinds of recordings or approved notes available that practice should be explained carefully. Students should be encouraged to use the other resources effectively in conjunction with their own note-taking. And, of course, students may need to know about the increasing variety of effective ways to take notes so that each students can determine which kinds of note-taking are most useful for that individual student in which kinds of courses. [Some examples of useful note-taking methods: outlining, concept mapping, drawings, verbatim phrases, indications of priority, follow-up goals, … etc.]

I'm looking forward to learning more from Paul Lacey next Friday and hope that some of you will join us. Oh, I personally prefer to include some kinds of visible interaction with students/audience/participants at least once every 10 or 15 minutes even in a "lecture" - whether that happens to be with a group of hundreds of people in a single room or in an online session.

Steve Gilbert
President, The TLT Group

SOME REFERENCES/INFO FROM /ABOUT PAUL LACEY:


Paul A. Lacey,
Emeritus Prof. of English, Earlham College
Clerk [Board Chair], American Friends Service Committee

"Boundaries in Academia: Personal, Professional, Political, Spiritual?"


"Terror and Other Threats to Humanity"

Fifth World Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates, Rome, November 2004



Is the lecture dying? Should it?

"There are some students that are upset that I do not lecture. Some students say, "I'm not paying Harvard $45,000 a year to learn it all myself." At the end of each semester, students fill out a questionnaire, and a few students will write: "Professor Mazur is not teaching us anything. I have to learn it all myself.""

"Once, all professors spent entire classes talking nearly nonstop while students furiously scribbled notes. Today, a growing number of professors are abandoning that tradition, saying there are better ways to keep students focused and learning."

"time-honored college lecture course, which is undergoing significant change at some universities because of technological innovations and the desire to hold the attentions of the highly structured 21st-century student.

""If the old traditional lecture is dying, it is because we are relying so much on the template of technology to make up for the lack of content," said Michael Bugeja, director of the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication at Iowa State University. "PowerPoint has done more to kill the lecture than people really are aware of.""

" clicker, ... allows professors to determine almost instantly what percentage of students have the right answer." [implies that there always is a "right answer" in a class?]

""Physics is about data. Our first intuition is not quite right. We have to modify our intuition."" - Quote from Edward Redish

"Of course, there are still some professors who can galvanize a class by using dramatic storytelling, internal structure, movement and a strong voice." [and what about thoughtful insights? impressive breadth of knowledge? caring about students? deep commitment to the topic?...]

"The problem, some educators say, is that few teachers can bring a lecture to life.

""Far too many lecturers tend to read aloud material students could readily read on their own," " Coleen Grisson

"poll of college courses would find that many professors still rely on traditional lecturing as a primary mode of instruction.

"Professors often spend their adult lives researching a particular topic and feel they have a unique synthesis and understanding of the research. ... And although the process of putting together the lectures is a creative, intense experience for professors, it doesn't always translate to students who have to sit and listen,..." Julie Reuben

SIDEBAR (Q&A with Harvard University physics professor Eric Mazur, author of "Peer Instruction" )
"...We should teach everybody to develop problem-solving skills. Lecturing is an inefficient way of doing it.

"You said that some teachers spoon-feed their students but you force them to learn the material on their own. How do your students like it?

"There are some students that are upset that I do not lecture. Some students say, "I'm not paying Harvard $45,000 a year to learn it all myself." At the end of each semester, students fill out a questionnaire, and a few students will write: "Professor Mazur is not teaching us anything. I have to learn it all myself.""

Breathing Life Into the Lecture Hall - washingtonpost.com, by Valerie Strauss
pp. B1, B2, Sept 24, 2007

Facebook culture? YouTube ethos? Cell phone cameras? Citizen journalism?

TLT Group FridayLive will extend our "friend or foe" examinations of academic uses of Instant Messaging, Cell Phones, Handheld devices to Facebook - Oct 5, 2007. We'll continue to exchange ideas about beneficial and harmful uses, timely references, and tough questions. We look for constructive answers to this question: "Can't we do something more academically useful about [insert controversial tech apps here] than try to forbid and prevent their use in our classrooms and courses?"

Consider these excerpts:

"...citizen journalism is firmly entrenched, thanks to the spread of digital and cellphone cameras and the rise of an interactive culture."


"Some stories might not exist without cellphone cameras, ...

"...citizen newsgathering is changing

"... an extension of the Facebook culture, ... and the YouTube ethos, ... sends a signal that anyone ... can be a journalist.

Howard Kurtz - Got a Camera? You, Too, Can Be A Network Reporter - washingtonpost.com
pp. c1, c7, Sept 24, 2007

Click here to register in advance (free but required) for FridayLive sessions.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Four pieces of advice on writing persuasive grant proposals

I spent 19 years reviewing grant proposals for the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE) and Annenberg/CPB at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Here are four pieces of advice about writing proposals to grant competitions (internal or external) where the goal is to improve learning and where the competition is intense.

First and most important, grant proposal is an exercise in teaching at a distance. The desired learning outcome of your distance teaching is for two reviewers to meet, a day or two after they’ve each read the proposal, perhaps shortly before their review panel meets to discuss your proposal.

One panelist says to the other, “I don’t remember this proposal. What’s it about?” Panelist #2 replies, “Oh this is a good one. It’s about X and here’s why I think we should support it.” Panelist #2’s comments are no more than 60 seconds long, typically.

So what should panelist #2 remember to say about your proposal, a day or two after reading a stack of proposals of which yours was just one? That’s your challenge: teach these reviewers a few memorable things about your proposal, things that are important enough to excite the reader. If the reviewer thinks to herself, "I could borrow a couple of those ideas!" so much the better. Don't hide the good stuff.

Second, avoid passive verbs. Don’t be shy about saying “I” or “we.” It helps you use your own experience to a) explain why this is important, b) help educate the reader about whether and how much to trust your skill and insight (because you’re exposing more of your self and your experience.) Proposal reviewing is a confidence game.

Third avoid the current jargon, especially if the grant competition has an explicit goal– if everyone uses the same jargon, all the proposals sound alike.

Put those three things together, and you have the beginnings of a proposal that can persuade reviewers that you’ll be good at educating the world about what you’ve achieved with their money.

That's the fourth, and final, point. Whether far-reaching impact is an explicit goal or not, funders generally like it when other people can learn from the experience they’re paying you to gain. If you’re good at explaining (across disciplines and institutions) what you’ve learned, and being credible in the process, you’re a more valuable person/institution to fund.

Good luck, and please let us know if we can help with your proposal: evaluation planning? help you disseminate to other institutions? help plan faculty development? If you'd like to chat about grants, especially those having to do with improving teaching and learning with technology, please e-mail us at info@tltgroup.org.

PS Here's a chapter from the Flashlight Evaluation Handbook on how (not) to evaluate grant-funded technology projects.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Using Flashlight Online as a Tool for Shared Governance and Community Engagement

“Flashlight Online is one of the four or five most important collaborative technologies we use at the College,” Sandy Shugart told me. He’s President of Valencia Community College, one of the biggest users of our web-based survey system. President Shugart went on to say that Valencia’s Faculty Council frequently solicits feedback and opinions from all faculty (and he stressed the importance of including adjuncts) on policy questions. Flashlight Online, he told me, was a key way of keeping all faculty involved in shared governance.

You can understand why this was great for us to hear. Most of the ways The TLT Group serves subscribers involve helping people collaborate with one another: in improving faculty support, assessment, planning, learning space design, meditating ‘dangerous discussions,’ etc.. Flashlight Online is a web-based system shared by about a hundred subscribing institutions. It’s easy for authors from different institutions to see one another’s surveys, use one another’s items, co-author surveys, analyze data together. (Of course, authors can also keep a survey and data private, if they choose.) Previously we’d thought of Flashlight supporting collaboration by helping survey authors work together. So President Shugart’s observation was a delightful new way to see Flashlight Online.

At that moment, I realized I’d already seen another, quite different example at Valencia of using Flashlight Online to promote democracy, shared governance and collaboration. As we’ve already described in our blog, Prof. Pat Nellis has developed a Flashlight Online survey for students to vote on class rules. Pat uses public debate and secret ballots to help assure that, if there’s a rule, students follow it. This kind of practice teaches students about the strengths and weaknesses of democracy in ways that go beyond what high school civics can teach. (Click here to see a Nellis survey.)

At other institutions, Flashlight Online has already been used in a faculty union election and other forms of voting.

We can imagine using Flashlight Online as a tool to engage a whole institution's worth of students (including commuting students and 'distant learners') in governance. On what questions of policy and practice would be useful to uncover student preferences, opinions, and activities? On questions where the institution could use student input, work with student government and make it a regular practice to
a) ask students, then
b) report back to students about how their input has reshaped policy, services, etc.
Over time, I predict you'll see an increase in response rates to your surveys, student involvement, student identification with the university, and perhaps even, over the long haul, alumni giving. Over time, I predict you'll see an increase in response rates to your surveys, student involvement, student identification with the university, and perhaps even, over the long haul, alumni giving. (I admit I'm an optimist, but I believe that if you ask people questions whose answers are important to them, they'll invest a bit of themselves in responding.)

Is anyone at your institution using Flashlight Online or some other survey tool to support collaboration, shared governance, or voting? Want to know more about any of the cases mentioned above? Please let us know by posing a comment on this blog or emailing me.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Accessibility Guidelines for eClips & Brief Hybrid Workshops

Are these simple accessibility guidelines for Brief Hybrid Workshops clear, adequate, reasonable, useful? Too simple? Pls respond via Email gilbert@tltgroup.org or (preferably) comment to this post, below.

My emerging conviction is that our work with 5-Minute eClips and Brief Hybrid Workshops
(for definitions, see below) can be served best by embedding each one in a Web page that includes at least these options or versions for users:

1. Includes enough text that is manageable by screen readers for those who have vision needs or prefer to use screen readers to get enough of the information.

2. Includes enough visible text so that those with hearing needs or preferences can get enough information.

3. Accessible to people who use computers (Macs or PCs) configured in the ways most common during the most recent 3 years.

4. Accessible to people who have Internet connections of most commonly available speeds.

5. Not yet? Accessible to people who use handheld devices (smart cell phones) configured in the ways most common during the most recent 18 months?

The good news is that we now have tools that make all of the above possible more easily, quickly, and inexpensively than ever before - even for those who do not have the resources of major institutions available to them.

If you have suggestions for improving them or other comments, send via Email gilbert@tltgroup.org or, preferably, add a comment at the end of this blog posting (you can do so anonymously or, preferably, with an indication of your name and contact info so that others can respond to your contribution).

For more comprehensive information about Web accessibility, see:

http://www.w3.org/WAI/

http://easi.cc/

Definitions (from www.tltgroup.org/tlt5.htm):

A "brief hybrid workshop" (BTW)
is an activity of less than 15 minutes (preferably closer to 5!) for participants that includes the use of one or more Internet-accessible media clips AND some other files, instructions, activities, documents, plans, guidelines, etc. It is intended to help a group of people produce or learn how to do something useful to them. Participants usually interact with each other and with a leader/presenter/facilitator during the activity. (When run without interruption, all the pre-recorded media elements - the eClips - require less than 5 minutes total. Of course, some groups may find the materials so fascinating that they extend the entire sessions well beyond 15 minutes!)

A "brief hybrid teaching/learning module" (BHTLM)
is the same as a "brief hybrid workshop" EXCEPT for purpose and audience. These modules are intended to help students to learn something in a course (usually undergraduate).

Low-Threshold Approach
The TLT Group is committed to finding, developing, sharing, and publishing Brief Hybrid Workshops that reflect our longstanding work with LTAs - applications and activities that are reliable, accessible, easy to learn, non-intimidating and (incrementally) inexpensive. And we are committed to advocating and demonstrating how to use low-threshold Brief Hybrid Workshops to help others design, produce, use, and improve BTWs.

Steve Gilbert

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Finding an Important Topic to Study

I'm working on workshop materials for our "Asking the Right Questions" (ARQ) program - locally facilitated, brief workshops to help academic staff at our subscribing institutions learn how to collect focused feedback from their students in order to improve teaching and learning with technology in their courses. When I say "brief," I mean that each module is only 5-20 minutes long: short enough to be an agenda item in a faculty meeting, a brownbag lunch activity, or a short online event. the workshop materials are designed so that local staff or peer mentors will have an easy time running them. We'll also offer our subscribers free online workshops to train their facilitators: staff in information technology units, faculty development units, teaching&learning centers, libraries and, of course, faculty members who would lead a peer group through a few of these workshops.

This blog entry is a draft for a workshop to help academic staff take a second step in focusing their inquiries. This workshop builds on the work participants would have done in ARQ Workshop #1.

The goal of this workshop is to learn more about identifying research questions that are most worth the effort to answer. (It takes just as much work to answer a trivial question as to answer an important one.)

In ARQ Workshop #1, participants identified a technology used persistently in their courses, a technology that seemed valuable yet in some way problematic. Then they identified an activity -- a pattern of action that was enabled or supported by that technology - that was also of obvious importance and yet somehow problematic.

What additional characteristics make an activity important to study? After we list a few criteria, we ask participants to identify an activity worth studying in their own courses. And, if they like, they can modify or add to this list of criteria. (If you have such improvements, please e-mail me! We'll improve these materials and acknowledge your contribution.)
  • Focus on an activity that 's pervasive, important, and capable of being significantly improved through adroit use of technology. For example, it's important for faculty to understand what students are thinking, in order to adjust teaching on the fly and improve learning. Personal response systems (a.k.a. 'clickers', 'classroom voting systems,' 'online surveys') are spreading, and can help instructors get a more precise sense of what all their students are thinking.
  • Focus on an activity that can be improved incrementally so that, as you learn more, you can keep improving the activity and its outcomes. That improvement usually comes from learning more and more about how to exploit the activity. For example, over time faculty might learn how to ask more powerful questions using a personal response systems, and how to use the PRS to facilitate Peer Instruction.
  • Focus on an activity that is defined enough that you can actually study and improve it without making that research into a career. "Studying how to moderate online discussions" is a broader and more challenging topic than "studying how to get students to pay attention to one another's comments before they post a new comment online."
  • Focus on an activity that is also important to other courses that these students take. Your study about how to improve that activity are more likely to be of interest to your colleagues: they could use your methods to improve their own teaching, for example. And, these kinds of incremental improvements in an activity become more accepted and effective when the change occurs 'across the curriculum.' Students learn to expect the changed activity and, as they engage in its repeatedly, they become more skilled. So faculty who teach them later on can try more ambitious improvements.
Your task: identify at least one such activity, one that's very important for you to illuminate by gathering student feedback.

HINT: List lots of such technology-supported activities - ten or more. Imagine asking your students questions that address your concerns as well as your hopes. Which potential study scares and excites you the most? Is there a potential inquiry that makes you think, "Now that I've thought about this, I can't not learn more about what's really going on here!" (For more on this hint, see this short essay in the Flashlight Evaluation Handbook.)

PS The outcomes of that activity, the activity itself, and the technology are what we call a "triad." 'Triads' are a simple grammar for conceptualizing some important things that go on in a course: technology, activities, and outcomes.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

IM pros & cons

For more ideas, comments, resources (pros and cons) about academic uses of Instant Messaging, see our FridayLive! Google Planning Doc for September 14, 2007.

"I would say that at least half the IMs I get I'm always thinking, 'Why did you use IM for this?'" he says. "To me, it's kind of like opening someone's door and barging in and asking them a question." ...
"Just because instant messages vanish from a computer screen doesn't mean they aren't being saved somewhere. "

Above 2 excerpts are from "Instant Hit: IM Spreads in the Workplace, but Choose Your Words Carefully," Jan 2005, The Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition; Found online as of 9/13/2007 at:

http://www.wsjclassroomedition.com/
archive/05jan/care_instantmessage.htm

Info Lit Pre-College - via local newspaper?

How can colleges and universities use or influence information literacy efforts in K-12 schools and public media?

How do/can/should college and university information literacy programs build on what is being accomplished (attempted?) in pre-college information literacy activities? How do/can/should college and university information literacy programs influence pre-college information literacy activities?

How do/can/should college and university information literacy programs build on what is being accomplished (attempted?) in public media - e.g., Washington Post newspaper? How do/can/should college and university information literacy programs influence public media (e.g., Washington Post newspaper) information literacy activities?

Following is full text of brief inset excerpt from today's Wash. Post article How Can I Find Reliable Information on the Internet? - washingtonpost.com (p. c14 9/13/2007):

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Just Where are Institutions Going with eLearning - Note from ALT-C

I'm at ALT-C 2007 in Nottingham, England. The panel is discussing strategies for making eLearning (i.e., use of computer/Internet related technologies in ways that help improve and even transform learning) an important part of the fabric of higher education.

I make several working assumptions about any such strategy:
  • An effective strategy needs to reach, influence and support "early majority" and "late majority" adapters, not just innovators and early adopters.
  • Any strategy needs to be based largely on incremental, evolutionary patterns of change (with little or no funding for each little step in each course). Strategies that are based mainly on external funds going to good proposal writers are unlikely to create across the board change in a department or across an institution.
  • One limiting factor on any strategy such as this is the degree to which the academic staff, department, and institution see tangible, continuing rewards coming from this approach to teaching and learning. Those rewards need to provide the 'investment' to keep the change progressing. If the change isn't viral (capable of spreading from one instructor to others without any external support), then the rewards also need to be sufficient to justify support staff, materials, etc.
If those assumptions are sound, solving this problem, as framed, seems unlikely (other than viral uses of eLearning, which are likely to focus on time-saving if they're to appeal to the early and late majority).

Perhaps the answer is to change the question.

For example, instead of 'eLearning," pick a (subject-specific) challenge that is so compelling that a program meeting the goal would be substantially rewarded by the environment (increased enrollment and prestige, for example) while failure to keep up would be implicitly penalized. Pick a challenge for which eLearning is crucial.

Not all challenges meet that criterion, to say the least! How about improving the ability of graduating engineers to apply scientific concepts to design problems? educating students who can apply skills of digital writing to the challenges of their profession? The biggest win would be to identify such a challenge which also could be met by incremental, time-saving changes by the academic staff. That's the kind of challenge that could leverage quite a lot of change.

To repeat, the kind of challenge I'm talking about must be one which, if met, would produce significant, continuing rewards for the department (and institution), rewards not totally dependent on some temporary government funding program. The individual instructor needs to be rewarded too, either directly (e.g., by publications or time-saving) or by transfer of some of the rewards that initially come to the program.

Such a challenge might be identified by a particular academic program or institution on its own. Meanwhile, I hope, people in national funding programs might give some thought to dealing with national challenges, using eLearning as a means to some specific ends.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

eLearning as a confusor

A speaker at ALT-C, the conference I'm attending in Nottingham, England, mentioned the omni-present term, "eLearning." It's a confusor, and I've just added it to our list of confusors (http://www.tltgroup.org/resources/confusors.htm). [If people don't realize they're using the same word or phrase to mean different things, the result can be an unnecessary argument. My term for such linguistic traps is "confusors." For example, two people might argue about whether lecturing is a good way to teach, but if they don't start by agreeing what 'lecturing' is...]

eLearning is a confusor. "eLearning" can be used to mean any use of technology to support learning. Or distance learning. Or distance learning or hybrid learning. (and "hybrid learning" is another confusor).

In short, I need to remember to define terms like "learning" "technology" and "eLearning" each time I use them in conversation or a talk. With so many confusors, that's a tough order. But I don't see any shortcuts.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

Too often, lack of conclusive evidence about a product, practice, or principle is prematurely interpreted as proof of lack of value or validity. This pattern of fallacious reasoning can be applied equally inappropriately by opponents of long-standing practices in education (such as lectures) or by opponents of new practices which are perceived as threatening (use of cell phones).
The quotation, excerpts, and article referenced below provide a better explanation of this fallacy and how to avoid it.

"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence."Carl Sagan,US astronomer & popularizer of astronomy (1934 - 1996) - found on "The Quotations Page" 2007-08-15 at http://www.quotationspage.com/quote/37901.html

"dangers of misinterpretation of non-significant results"

"…we must question whether the absence of evidence is a valid enough justification for inaction."

"…we should first ask whether absence of evidence means simply that there is no information at all."

"While it is usually reasonable not to accept a new treatment unless there is positive evidence in its favour, when issues of public health are concerned we must question whether the absence of evidence is a valid enough justification for inaction. ... Can we be comfortable that the absence of clear evidence in such cases means that there is no risk or only a negligible one?"

Above 4 excerpts from:

"Statistics notes: Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" [Link works as of 2007-08-15]
Douglas G Altman, J Martin Bland, BMJ (British Medical Journal) 1995; 311:485 (19 August). "BMJ is published by BMJ Publishing Group Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of the British Medical Association"

Volunteer Work New Orleans MERLOT Conf Aug 6 2007

The annual MERLOT conference last week in New Orleans was even more useful and enjoyable than previous ones. Thanks to Diane Didier from the Louisiana Board of Regents. With the support of the MERLOT Conference Program Committee, she organized a volunteer work day on August 6.

So Sally [Gilbert] and I had the privilege of joining about 30 others last Monday for a half-day of "recovery" painting on the third floor of the John Dibert Elementary School in New Orleans - which had been under water for 28 days following Hurricane Katrina.

We learned a lot about what has been happening in the public schools and other parts of New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina.

The people who are have returned to New Orleans and stayed are still working hard. They face extraordinary challenges. They are truly inspiring.

I
t is truly shameful that so much more remains to be done to repair and reclaim this historically important and culturally unique American city.

[I've talked with many of you about the worsening "Support Service Crisis" about educational uses of information technology for years, but post-Katrina New Orleans has a REAL "Support Service Crisis" beyond anything we have ever feared.]



This volunteer activity was available to all registrants the day before the conference opened.
For more about this school, See: http://ed.uno.edu/Faculty/rspeaker/
Dibert/DibertNet/About.html.




Our excellent, amusing and conscientious leader was Troy Peloquin, a New Orleans 9th grade science teacher.




Some stalwarts did a full day, and the most stalwart of all worked outdoors scraping and sanding in the extreme heat and humidity. [ANYONE HAVE MORE PHOTOS WE CAN SHOW?]

Has anyone already produced an eClip or BHW [Brief Hybrid Workshop] about this? A BHW is an eClip + other resources. The included eClip is less than 5 minutes and the total BHW is less than 15 minutes. More about eClips & BHWs

Seems like a wonderful idea to offer volunteer options the day before or after ANY conference in any city! Great way to learn more about the city and to develop constructive relations between visitors and locals.

------------------------------------------------------

THANKS, BEE!
Additional photos BELOW were selected from postings by Barbara "Bee" Dieu in Technorati posts and Flickr posts with the tag "merlot2007onlap" [with her "Warm regards from Brazil"]























For more about MERLOT Int'l Conf 2007, see D. W. Proctor's blog: "ProEd Portal"

Monday, July 30, 2007

Does What You Learn in Second Life Transfer to Real Life?

"Second Life" is an example of an immersive environment, a simulated world in which participants can move around a landscape, communicate, create things, etc. On EDUCAUSE Connect I have been listening to an excellent podcast:
http://www.educause.edu/ELI072/Program/
12402?PRODUCT_CODE=ELI072/GS07

The moderator, Alan Levine of the New Media Consortium, asked participants at one point the question in the title of this posting. I think participants' responses are quite interesting, diverse, and all to the point.

I'd echo one of the participants in asking, "Does what you learn on campus transfer to real life?" The two questions are parallel. Their common answer, "Learning often transfers less than students and faculty assume. 'What is learned in the classroom stays in the classroom (if it stays at all.)'

I especially like some of the educational lessons that are bundled under the heading, "teaching for understanding." For example, if you learn about something in context A and are only tested on that knowledge or skill in Context A, you're not real likely to be able to apply what you learned, months or years later, to context B. You're more likely to be able to apply what you've learned in some unfamiliar context later on if you were taught about the idea in more than one context, and then tested on your ability to apply it in familiar and unfamiliar contexts.

In short, students benefit when they're given practice and feedback as they 'transfer' learning from one sphere to another. The same is almost certainly true of learning in Second Life. We may look at a student designing jewelry in Second Life and hope that the lessons transfer to real life. But if that transfer is an explicit agenda, and if the learning and assessment are based on transfer, transfer is more likely to happen. A virtual world is a different sort of world, but its still a world and what we know about learning in other spheres applies to humans in virtual worlds, too.

PS If your institution is a TLT Group subscriber, you want to take a look at the chapter in the Flashlight Evaluation Handbook on evaluating educational activities in Second Life; it's Section VI.W. It's still primitive, but it's developing, and we even have a little item bank on this topic in Flashlight Online. We'd love to work with a subscriber or two on studies in this arena, and use the work to develop this further.

Friday, July 27, 2007

"change often happens most easily if it can be shown to be embedded in long-held beliefs, values, traditions"

"At Radcliffe, she responds, she immersed herself in the archives, rediscovering the institution’s roots and envisioning how to capture and fulfill its founders’ desires 'in a way that’s appropriate for a new era.' More broadly, she explains, this suggests that 'change often happens most easily if it can be shown to be embedded in long-held beliefs, values, traditions, rather than being just a total assault on everything everybody thought they were and wanted.

'So it seems to me that part of moving through change effectively is making it seem seamless, or as seamless as possible, with what has gone before—of identifying continuities that can serve as bridges over the chasm of differences, building understanding and transparency about purpose and shared commitments, and using those as the fuel of change. And then saying, ‘Hope you’ll come, too, but this is where we’re going.’ So it begins with persuasion and collaboration and building a case, but I think ultimately it becomes a gesture of decisive movement.'"

Above excerpt is from p. 30 of "A Scholar in the House - President Drew Gilpin Faust," by John S. Rosenberg, Harvard Magazine, July-August 2007, pp. 24-30

Available online as of July 27, 2007 at

http://www.harvardmagazine.com/
2007/07/p4-a-scholar-in-the-house.html



Thursday, July 19, 2007

Why do good people get bad email?

Do good people get bad email? Do good people send bad email?

See also, Overloaditorium. Overloaditorium Motto: "If working 24 hours a day isn't enough, you have to work nights." - James Moss, ca. 1985, USNA

And,
see one of our previous "Dangerous Discussions" about the boundaries between professional and personal lives… Whitman College policy discussion:
“An undergraduate who sends email to a faculty member between midnight and 6am may not expect a response in that same period.” Click here for more resources for/from that discussion.


Dimensions of Overload - How Many Online Persona Can You Sustain?

I already have trouble remembering all my usernames and passwords. Now I have to remember my online identities. I have to decide how much factual info about myself to divulge for which purposes, to which groups. And how truthful should I be? How should I choose what to include? What to exclude? What to exaggerate?

When I first opened a MySpace account - more than a year ago - just to see what it was like, I gave the minimum factual info - which included no more than my gender, age, and name. I immediately began to receive unsolicited solicitations, one of which began by explaining how attractive she found "more mature" men and offering me some photos of herself. Now I realize I had no way of knowing whether that individual was a desperate Lolita or an online sales rep for a popular pharmaceutical company prospecting for potential purchasers of a well-known product that many of us would have been embarrassed to discuss in any public venue ten years ago. If the latter, he might have been older and at least as masculine as myself - no matter whose photo was attached.

Second Life and other virtual worlds and online gaming systems permit (encourage? require?) participants to be represented by "avatars" with imaginary names and appearances and other characteristics.

Social networking Web sites permit (encourage?) us to present different descriptions of ourselves to different audiences. Rob Pegoraro of the Washington Post concludes his editorial today with "… the best option may be to avoid the temptation to put all your information at any one site. Put your work credentials at one place, but present the party photos at another, less public location and schedule the potluck dinners at yet another.

"Should you find it easier to center your online life at one place, though, remember this: Good social-networking sites help you meet other people, but great ones also help you avoid other people."
Excerpts above from "Friend? Not? It's One or the Other," By Rob Pegoraro, Thursday, July 19, 2007; D01; Washington Post, washingtonpost.com
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content
/article/2007/07/18/AR2007071802460.html


How does this relate to good or bad email?

It's all part of the burgeoning overload of messages thrown at us every second and the still-accelerating growth in information accessible to us.

Tomorrow we'll commiserate about the overload, especially email, and exchange ideas for coping. We can help each other feel less guilty about ignoring each others' email when we know that we share the same burdens.

We could even declare a moratorium on sending, scanning, or reading email DURING our weekly FridayLive! sessions. Could YOU ignore your email for 1 hour? Me neither.

So, how did you have time to read this far? Will you have time to join us tomorrow?

Click here for FREE but REQUIRED advance registration!

-------------------------------------------------------------------
MORE EXCERPTS from Pegoraro's Column:

"Social-networking sites like the big three -- MySpace, Facebook and LinkedIn -- act as a sort of shared address book, letting people post profiles, leave notes for one another and find out whom they know in common.

"…when the private and professional overlap at these sites, you can spend more time worrying about your image than building your network.

"...my co-workers started becoming Facebook friends too. It would have been rude to decline their requests, not least since some were my bosses. My Facebook exposure kept increasing, and my Facebook social life started getting broader and shallower than the real thing.

"For those who find their work and home worlds merging, Facebook provides a long list of customizable privacy settings. (MySpace and LinkedIn offer much less flexibility. MySpace only permits three levels of profile visibility: public, over-18 users only or friends only.)

"But Facebook also lets users fine-tune dozens of other aspects of your online identity, including which parts of your profile are visible to whom and what sort of communication you'll welcome from others. You can also hide applications you've added that, for example, map your travels or graph your political leanings, if you prefer to keep those private.

"Most Facebook users, however, don't touch those options."

"Living with technology, or trying to? E-mail Rob Pegoraro atrobp@washpost.com. Read more at:
http://blog.washingtonpost.com/fasterforward/ "

Sunday, July 15, 2007

On Pedagogy 15 Minute (Non?)Workshop

Lowest-Threshold Intro to Pedagogy for Higher Education
Apologies for Over-Simplification

I. How views of society and education shape each other

  • John Dewey: Democratic society needs well-educated citizens who can think critically and solve problems. Memorization is not enough.
  • Paolo Freire, et al., Critical Pedagogy: "...go beneath surface of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience,
    text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse."


II. How views of human nature can/should influence decisions about teaching and learning

  • Authentic Teaching: Spirituality, Humanity, Existentialism: Parker Palmer, Art Chickering, et al.
  • Constructivism: "1. Knowledge is actively constructed by the learner, not passively received from the environment. and 2. Coming to know is a process of adaptation based on and constantly modified by a learner's experience of the world." - Excerpts from "Constructivism and Teaching...," Barbara Jaworski, available as of 7/9/2007 at: http://www.grout.demon.co.uk/Barbara/chreods.htm


III. How to structure teaching and learning - for large numbers of teachers, learners

  • Bloom's Taxonomy: A hierarchical classification of different objectives and skills that educators set for students (learning objectives) in three "Domains": Affective, Psychomotor, and Cognitive.

  • Instructional Design & Learning Objects
  • Assessment

IV. How to use findings from some sciences and educational research

  • Educational Psychology, Cognitive Science, Learning Sciences [e.g., Bransford]
  • Multiple Intelligences: "human beings have ... different kinds of intelligence that reflect different ways of interacting with the world. Each person has a unique combination, or profile." - Howard Gardner
  • Findings from educational research - Ehrmann

V. How to improve "classroom" teaching [without much theory]

  • "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Higher Education": Teachers can learn specific instructional principles and related techniques to guide the incremental improvement of their own teaching and their students' learning. [See also Cooperative and Collaborative Learning; Team-Learning/Teaching/Work: Barbara Millis, et al.]

  • Classroom Assessment Techniques (CATs): Teachers elicit feedback from students 'during a class meeting that can be used by the teacher to improve teaching and learning

  • Low-Threshold Applications/Activities (LTAs): Enable faculty members to begin using some new ways of improving teaching and learning with low anxiety, quick and easy initial mastery, and high expectations of success.

  • "3 Ways to Reach 3 Quarters": Offer the information in three different ways to get some information through to at least 75% of a group

  • POD, NISOD





Guidelines for 15 Minute Modules
Content Outline for this 15-Min Pedagogy Workshop
Script for this 15-Min Pedagogy Workshop
Technology to be used in this 15-Min Pedagogy Workshop

Setting Expectations
Presentation
Intro
5-Minute eClip
Interaction
Assessment
Follow-Through

Optional: Play "Father Guido Sarducci's Five Minute University" - Just under 5 minutes

More...
  • Why I care, why you care
  • Main Pedagogical Theories
  • Before, during, after class meeting
    • Tools and technology built into classrooms
    • Tools and technology brought into classroom by faculty, students
    • Tools and technology used within classroom that are located elsewhere (e.g., online)

More...
Hand-Out - 1-Pager with URL for this Google Doc and possibly a Web page - includes acknowledgement of list of References and Resources included here (below)

Speak1
Intro, orientation, why I care, why you should care, how this is only a bare-bones, minimal intro with options for learning more if and when you're ready; working definition of "pedagogy"; why focus on theories here (instead of techniques, technologies)

Play eClip
- 5-Minute Course on Theories of Education

Activity
dkdkdkd

Assessment
dkdkdkdkd

Follow-Through
dkdkdkdk


To be done...

  • Desk arrangement
  • SmartBoard + Speakers
  • YouTube
  • 5-Minute eClips
  • PowerPoint
  • Microphone
  • LecShare Pro
  • Brief Hybrid Workshops
  • Flashlight Online
  • FridayLive!
  • Adobe Connect
  • Google Docs
  • Google Pages
  • Thumb drive [$19 for 2 gigabytes with key ring 7/6/07]


  • More...






Pedagogy: Educational Theories, Models, Ideas

Introduction
Many faculty members and academic support professionals find that teaching and learning can be improved significantly by using some of the following ideas. However,
teaching or learning well does not depend on understanding or accepting any one of these theories - consciously or explicitly. Many highly regarded teachers use them - sometimes brilliantly - without conscious effort or awareness. And a few other faculty members seem highly successful in ways that don't fit well in any of these categories.

Here are brief introductions (perhaps oversimplifications) of some of the best known educational theories, models.

Each of these theories or models seems helpful to some faculty members and to some who support faculty members' instructional work. It is beyond the scope of this brief introduction to offer these in any particular order or with any great clarify about when and for whom they might be most useful. No one has proven that any one of these theories or models is superior to most others for most purposes in most situations. No one who embraces one of these has convinced many proponents of the other theories to change their minds. In fact, it often seems that the advocates of any one of the following are either unaware of the others or don't take them very seriously.

One view is to place these theories/models on a very crude scale that runs from delivery to engagement. Delivery models reflect beliefs that the essential activity of education in some areas is to move information from one person to others. Engagement models reflect beliefs that the essential activity of education in some areas is to establish meaningful relationships among teachers, learners, and whatever is to be taught and learned.

There are two valid reasons for ignoring all of these pedagogies entirely:
1. You are so overloaded with other work that you cannot spare the time to learn about these ideas and the techniques and technologies that are available to implement them.
2. You are one of the few truly gifted teachers - having a rare combination of skills, personality, and depth of knowledge about your subject that fits remarkably well with the nature of your institution and the characteristics of your students.

Otherwise, you might benefit from learning more about some of the following pedagogies that seem best-suited to your own views about teaching and learning, about human nature, about the needs and goals of your students, and about the kinds of resources available to you and your colleagues.

Specific Educational Theories, Models [Pedagogies]
(Some have a flavor of faith in a particular view of human nature, of values, of the universe... Psychology? Anthropology? Cosmology? Theology?)

Low (Not Lowest) Threshold Intro to Pedagogy for Higher Education


John Dewey "
...greater emphasis should be placed on the broadening of intellect and development of problem solving and critical thinking skills, rather than simply on the memorization of lessons" - from Wikipedia entry (see below). "...one's present experience is a function of the interaction between one's past experiences and the present situation. For example, my experience of a lesson, will depend on how the teacher arranges and facilitates the lesson, as well my past experience of similar lessons and teachers." - from "500 Word Summary of Dewey’s 'Experience & Education'" - See ref below. by James Thomas Neill, Centre for Applied Psychology, University of Canberra
So what? Who, why, when? Who might use approaches (why? when?) based on Dewey's ideas of progressive education and democracy: When establishing, confirming or revising institutional mission; reviewing and revising general education requirements and curricula.

Faculty Development: "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Higher Education," Classroom Assessment Techniques, LTAs (Low-Threshold Applications and Activities), and "3 Ways to Reach 3 Quarters"

"Seven Principles" was the best-known, most widely respected meta-study of educational research in the past three decades. The results offered seven principles for improving the kind of teaching and learning that moves beyond traditional lecture/delivery. From the original article (see below for ref.), here are the "Seven Principles:

"Good practice in undergraduate education:

1. encourages contact between students and faculty,
2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
3. encourages active learning,
4. gives prompt feedback,
5. emphasizes time on task,
6. communicates high expectations, and
7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning."

"Classroom Assessment Techniques" are among the best-known and widely respected collections of very specific activities designed for use by teachers in a wide variety of courses - especially to elicit feedback from students 'during a class meeting that can be used by the teacher to improve teaching and learning almost immediately and quite visibly. See reference below to work of Cross & Angelo.
The POD Network and NISOD are two well-known professional organizations for academic support professionals and faculty members who help faculty colleagues improve their teaching and their students' learning. POD focuses more on 4-year colleges and universities while NISOD focuses more community colleges.

Low-Threshold Applications and Activities (LTAs) is both an approach and a growing collection of resources designed to enable faculty members to begin using some new ways of improving teaching and learning with low anxiety, quick and easy initial mastery, and high expectations of success. The LTA approach is intended to help those who work with overloaded faculty members who are on the threshold of first-time use of some new approach to teaching and learning. Those thresholds often appear formidable - too time-consuming and risky. The LTA approach identifies specific small improvements that have low incremental cost in money, time, and stress. Developed originally by Steven W. Gilbert of the TLT Group.

"3 Ways to Reach 3 Quarters" - Given current conditions of too much information, too many options, and too little time (TMI/TMO/TLT), if a trainer, leader, teacher, or communicator needs to get some information through to at least 75% of a group, then it is a good idea to offer the information in three different ways. [Under construction July, 2007: Todd Zakrajsek of Central Michigan University and Steven W. Gilbert of the TLT Group]


So what? Who, why, when? Who might use approaches (why? when?) based on "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Higher Education," Classroom Assessment Techniques, LTAs (Low-Threshold Applications and Activities), and "3 Ways to Reach 3 Quarters": When helping new or experienced teachers who want to make some improvements but who are not yet interested in more nuanced or elaborate theories to go along with new teaching practices. When helping experienced teachers who are ready to build on their lecture/presentation skills to improve their students' learning and engagement.





Bloom's Taxonomy, is a hierarchical classification of different objectives and skills that educators set for students (learning objectives). 3 "Domains": Affective, Psychomotor, and Cognitive. Implies both a holistic approach (include all 3 domains) and very structured ordering of learning activities - building on "lower level" prerequisites. Related to developmental views that some kinds of human learning depend on the learner having already achieved a certain stage of development (see, e.g., work of Piaget).
So what? Who, why, when? Who might use approaches (why? when?) based on Bloom's Taxonomy and developmental approaches:
Clarify goals for learners on 3 dimensions (affective, psychomotor, cognitive). Structure information and activities so that learners will master pre-requisite lower level activities before encountering higher level ones. Views differ on whether or not learners must progress through developmental stages in order and which kinds of development might be accelerated or slowed by educational activities.


Instructional Design & Learning Objects. Instructional Design is the practice of developing and arranging media to facilitate the delivery of knowledge most effectively: determining the current state of learner understanding, defining the end goal of instruction, and creating some media-based "intervention" to assist. "Learning Objects" are characteristic of an approach that believes that small chunks of instructional resources can be developed, cataloged, and made available for effective re-use - perhaps with some adaptation - by other teachers and learners under somewhat similar circumstances. Very little attention to possible differences among teachers or learners other than narrowly intellectual. Also see "First Exposure" approach by Tom Laughner of Smith College and Barbara Walvoord- (both formerly of Notre Dame University)
So what? Who, why, when? Who might use approaches (why? when?) based on Instructional Design & Learning Objects:

Educators and publishers who focus on developing and promoting the use of instructional materials that take advantage of various interactive media options beyond books and that can be shared among and used by a wide variety of teachers and a wide variety of students.


Educational Psychology, Cognitive Science, Learning Sciences
- Applying research about how humans learn individually or in groups - including classrooms - to planning, developing, and using instructional resources and strategies. See below for reference to Bransford book that attempts to bring many research strands together and draw some inferences for guiding future educational activities.
So what? Who, why, when? Who might use approaches (why? when?) based on Educational Psychology, Cognitive Science, Learning Sciences:

Critical Pedagogy "Habits of thought, reading, writing, and speaking which go beneath surface meaning, first impressions, dominant myths, official pronouncements, traditional clich├ęs, received wisdom, and mere opinions, to understand the deep meaning, root causes, social context, ideology, and personal consequences of any action, event, object, process, organization, experience, text, subject matter, policy, mass media, or discourse." (Ira Shor, Empowering Education, 1992, p. 129) - also see work of Paolo Freire
So what? Who, why, when? Who might use approaches (why? when?) based on Critical Pedagogy:

Multiple Intelligences - "human beings have ... different kinds of intelligence that reflect different ways of interacting with the world. Each person has a unique combination, or profile." - Howard Gardner


Howard Gardner


recognizes many different kinds of intelligences.

Dr. Howard Gardner, a psychologist and professor of neuroscience from Harvard University, developed the theory of Multiple Intelligences (MI) in 1983. The theory challenged traditional beliefs in the fields of education and cognitive science. Unlike the established understanding of intelligence -- people are born with a uniform cognitive capacity that can be easily measured by short-answer tests -- MI reconsiders our educational practice of the last century and provides an alternative.

According to Howard Gardner, :


"human beings have ... different kinds of intelligence that reflect different ways of interacting with the world. Each person has a unique combination, or profile."Although we each have all nine intelligences, no two individuals have them in the same exact configuration -- similar to our fingerprints. To read about the benefits of MI and for tips on implementing MI in your classroom, visit the Tips section. For additional MI resources, visit the Resources section.

Above from "Great Performances, Multiple Intelligences, Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences Theory"

http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/education/ed_mi_overview.html

So what? Who, why, when? Who might use approaches (why? when?) based on fkjfkldsljkfdjkld:

Constructivism
"
The constructivist view involves two principles:

1. Knowledge is actively constructed by the learner, not passively received from the environment.

2. Coming to know is a process of adaptation based on and constantly modified by a learner's experience of the world." "… constructivism is not about teaching at all. It is about knowledge and learning. So I believe it makes sense to talk about a constructivist view of learning. And we might ask about the teaching which results from such a view of learning. …" Excerpts from "Constructivism and Teaching - The socio-cultural context," Barbara Jaworski, available as of 7/9/2007 at: http://www.grout.demon.co.uk/Barbara/chreods.htm

So what? Who, why, when? Who might use approaches (why? when?) based on Constructivism:

Authentic Teaching: Spirituality, Humanity, Existentialism
- Focus on deeper values, deeper connections among teachers and learners, more profound goals for individuals, courses, and educational institution. Parker Palmer, Art Chickering, ....
So what? Who, why, when? Who might use approaches (why? when?) based on Authentic Teaching: Spirituality, Humanity, Existentialism approaches:



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Resources, References

  1. Constructivism
    Constructivism Web site: Martin Ryder, University of Colorado at Denver, School of Education, see:
    http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~mryder/itc/constructivism.html
    http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~mryder/reflect/constructivism.html
    "Social Constructivists embrace a distributed view of knowledge. Knowledge is located neither in the mind nor in any representation of the mind. All of our understandings are situated in complex webs of experience, action, and interaction. Knowledge is a dynamic, evolving phenomenon, a fabric of relations in which one individual is fundamentally entwined with all others in a community. This [Web] page illustrates that woven fabric of knowledge. Each of the following sites links to the Constructivism site here at U.C. Denver. The UCD page serves, not as a hub, presuming some privileged position within the discourse, but as a conductive thread, one of many fibers which transforms a collection of unique sites into a common woven text. This Corollary page returns a thread to each of the common sites, strengthening possibilities for subsequent queries within this collective fabric.
  2. Seven Principles & Classroom Assessment Techniques & POD Network & NISOD
    "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Higher Education," by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson (1986); original article and related resources from the TLT Group.
    Classroom Assessment Techniques, by Tom Angelo and Patricia Cross, Jossey-Bass Publishers, 1993. Click here for excerpts
    Low-Threshold Activities and Applications (LTAs), http://www.tltgroup.org/LTAs/Home.htm
  3. Cognitive Science Applied
    How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School
    , Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, by John D. Bransford, Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking, editors; With additional materials from The Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice, M. Suzanne Donovan, John D. Bransford, and James W. Pellegrino, editors; Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Research Council; National Academy Press, 2000, ISBN: 0-309-07036-8 - Informative summary/review from New Horizons for Learning
  4. Bloom's Taxonomy
    Bloom B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc. ;
    Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1973). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, the Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Co., Inc.;
    Also see Wikipedia entry (as of 7/7/2007) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_Taxonomy
  5. Technology and Teaching - Learners'' First Encounters with Content, Focus on Assignments
    "Teaching Well Using Technology: A Faculty Member’s Guide to Time-Efficient Choices That Enhance Learning," Created by: Barbara Walvoord, Kevin Barry, Assistant Director and Thomas Laughner, The John A. Kaneb Center for Teaching & Learning, University of Notre Dame ca. 2004
  6. Dewey: Progressivism, Pragmatism, Democracy
    "500 Word Summary of Dewey’s 'Experience & Education'", James Thomas Neill, Centre for Applied Psychology, University of Canberra;
    John Dewey, Experience and Education, 1938; also see Wikipedia entry (as of 7/07/2007) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dewey
  7. Instructional Design - Wikipedia Entry (as of 7/7/2007) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instructional_design
  8. Encouraging Authenticity & Spirituality in Higher Education, by Art Chickering et al. - same Chickering as developed 7 Principles
    Parker Palmer, various books.


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Resources, References

  1. "Seven Principles for Good Practice in Higher Education," by Arthur W. Chickering and Zelda F. Gamson (1986); original article and related resources from the TLT Group.
  2. How People Learn: Brain, Mind, Experience, and School, Committee on Developments in the Science of Learning, by John D. Bransford, Ann L. Brown, and Rodney R. Cocking, editors; With additional materials from The Committee on Learning Research and Educational Practice, M. Suzanne Donovan, John D. Bransford, and James W. Pellegrino, editors; Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education of the National Research Council; National Academy Press, 2000, ISBN: 0-309-07036-8 - Informative summary/review from New Horizons for Learning
  3. Bloom B. S. (1956). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, Handbook I: The Cognitive Domain. New York: David McKay Co Inc.
  4. Krathwohl, D. R., Bloom, B. S., & Masia, B. B. (1973). Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, the Classification of Educational Goals. Handbook II: Affective Domain. New York: David McKay Co., Inc.
  5. "Teaching Well Using Technology: A Faculty Member’s Guide to Time-Efficient Choices That Enhance Learning," Created by: Barbara Walvoord, Kevin Barry, Assistant Director and Thomas Laughner, The John A. Kaneb Center for Teaching & Learning, University of Notre Dame ca. 2004
  6. Also see Wikipedia entry (as of 7/7/2007) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloom%27s_Taxonomy
  7. "500 Word Summary of Dewey’s 'Experience & Education'", James Thomas Neill, Centre for Applied Psychology, University of Canberra
  8. John Dewey, Experience and Education, 1938; also see Wikipedia entry (as of 7/07/2007) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Dewey
  9. Instructional Design - Wikipedia Entry (as of 7/7/2007) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instructional_design
  10. "Constructivism" Web site, University of Colorado at Denver, School of Education, On this page: "All links verified July 02, 2007"
    http://carbon.cudenver.edu/~mryder/reflect/constructivism.html