Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Top 10 Assessment Objections [5 min audio attached, slides available]

Top 10 Objections to Assessment in Higher Education
And how to think about and respond to them! March 30, 2007

Join 2 Steves of the TLT Group 2pm EDT FRIDAY March 30

Any of these sound familiar?

• Just tell me the least I can do to keep the assessment advocates off my back.
I've never seen an assessment that was worth the time and money.
• Outsiders use assessment to grab power - to control people, programs or budgets
• Studies are a waste of time. The findings don't change anyone's conclusions.
• Setting assessment-oriented objectives will distort what we do best in this program
• It's too soon for assessment. Let's wait until things are running well
• Assessment may be OK in theory but I don't have time.
• Assessing costs? Just an excuse to cut budgets and jobs!
• More assessment? We already grade students and have a student course evaluation system.
• By the time we get any results from an assessment, they'll be obsolete.
• I already know more about my courses and students than any 'assessment' can tell me.

For free-but-required advance registration, go to:
http://www.tltgroup.org/Registration/Registration/Frid aylive.htm

For an EXCELLENT introduction, examples, and some additional resources, click here.

Direct link to 5-minute preparatory, introductory "workshop" - QuickTime

To help us plan a more successful session this Friday, please take 2-3 minutes to fill out this survey. Tell us which objections should be the focus of our session!

To take a BRIEF survey, click here

What We Will Do on March 30

We'll offer a variety of resources to help people working on activities where "assessment" can trigger a dangerous discussion, e.g., assessment training, accreditation, student course evaluation, testing programs, personnel evaluation, cost analyses... This FridayLive! session will discuss several techniques for avoiding needless controversy (arguments that can happen even when people actually agree with one another) and for shining a flashlight on real disagreements.

For free-but-required advance registration, go to:
http://www.tltgroup.org/Registration/Registration/Frid aylive.htm

Friday, March 23, 2007

Educational Uses of Second Life (Notes from FridayLive!)

We just had a fascinating online discussion about Second Life and its educational uses in our free FridayLive! webcast series. The session was led by Ilene Frank and Drew Smith of the University of South Florida, and there were tremendous contributions in the chat room by many of the 75 participants.

Here are a few notes I took about educational applications of Second Life that were mentioned in the discussion. I've tried to emphasize functions where Second Life might have an educational advantage over other online formats as well as over feasible face-to-face interactions. Under each item, I've listed a potential concerns that occur to me, concerns that a feedback survey should address.

Each of these items would lead to a cluster of items for use in evaluative or feedback surveys or interview guides that I'm designing for the Flashlight Program. We'll put the survey items into Flashlight Online as a template, once it's ready. (If you post a comment here or send me an e-mail, it would encourage me to finish this up and share it with our subscribing institutions).

1. Lectures (e.g., people who couldn't attend a face-to-face lecture; might be centered in Second Life, or streaming video from a f2f lecture)

  • Compared with a f2f lecture, are listeners more or less likely to be distracted by their immediate environment?

2. Student projects that involve building or creating something

3. Faculty or students creating something that people can walk through or manipulate: something where learning benefits from happening in a simulated three dimensional environment.

  • For various participants, is the simulation real enough and engaging enough to create lasting memories and insights?

4. Both #2 and #3 create an occasion for comparing simulation and reality: that activity has its own educational value. (This might or might not happen in Second Life, but it's an educational opportunity created by these uses of Second Life.)

5. Activities that benefit from the participant's sense of being part of a group or crowd. A sense of "presence" can be an important part of engagement for learning, working meetings, perhaps even lectures.

  • Any down side to this sense of presence, when compared to a competing way of holding the gathering? (more or less group think?)

6. Using setting, physical design, furniture to create a mood that's useful for the particular function

7. Learning a new language and culture by interacting with people from that other culture, perhaps in a simulated environment that mirrors their environment. For learning another language both chat (a slower pace of interaction, where novices don't need to worry about their accents as they learn to think in a new language) and voice chat have advantages.

A question common to all of these uses, especially those that involve student creation of artifacts (buildings, laboratory experiments, garments, devices, etc.): Time and effort are needed to learn to use Second Life to build things. Is there enough payoff from the activity to justify the effort (not just payoff from this project but from other projects that students might create)? Was the initial experience with the activity sufficiently motivating for the learners and leaders to keep doing this sort of thing (and thus get more payoff from the initial experience with Second Life.)

Thursday, March 08, 2007

FridayLive! Google Docs & Spreadsheets [5 min. audio attached; slides also avail]

Join us for FridayLive! Demo/Discussion of Educational Uses of Google Docs & Spreadsheets 2pm EST Friday, March 9, 2007. For free-but-required advance registration,
click here.

For more info, including several alternative versions of the 5-minute intro/prep workshop, and some additional resources and guidelines for using Google Docs,
click here
Recommendation: Try Google Docs!! Watch/listen/use the 5-minute intro [preparatory] workshop created by Cindy Russell esp. for this event!

Why bother? Easy to use. Reliable, accessible. Good for joint planning, collaborative work. Many potential educational uses - esp. well-suited for student collaborative projects.

The following lists of features are intended to help you decide how to use this free resource most effectively. Please suggest additional items for these lists of Advantages, Educational Uses, or Disadvantages by clicking on "comments" or "post a comment" just below this posting.

Advantages: Free and relatively easy Web-based tool for creating and collaboratively editing documents online. Resulting documents are similar to wikis, blogs, but easier to edit and share, publish or hide. With Google Docs, previous versions of the document are always accessible and it is easy to see who made which changes. However, the most easily visible version is the aggregation of all previous changes, completely hiding the process by which it was developed. First time users can be assured that they do not need to worry about making mistakes - no matter what they do, the favorite contributions of each collaborator are always still accessible and can be retrieved and displayed elsewhere or re-integrated into the document. It is relatively painless to establish the online account required for active participation. There seems to be no inappropriate use of the info that must be given to obtain the account. Google's financial success makes it likely that documents created by using this service will not disappear and neither will the service.

Educational uses: Many. Especially nice for student teams in which someone is likely to worry that his/her contributions will not be matched by comparable work done by each team member. At any time, anyone who has permission, can easily view previous versions and see who has made which contributions.

Disadvantages: This tool keeps improving but some functions still work with unpredictable delays. The results of some kinds of attempts to change formatting can also be difficult to predict. Many people who begin working on a Google Docs document for the very first time find it a little more challenging than ideal to understand and follow the directions that are automatically sent as part of an invitation to become a "collaborator" on a Google Docs document. Establishing another online account - with user name and password - is required for active participation.

To be sure we receive your comment, click on one of the options below the box in which you entered your comment. Then type in the letters that you see in the weird script in the most obvious place - the "word verification" box. THEN CLICK ON "LOG IN AND PUBLISH" - DON'T WORRY ABOUT THE "LOG-IN" PART. You do NOT need to have a Blogger account to leave a comment. If you wish to comment anonymously, click in the circle to the left of that option. If you want to avoid getting a Blogger account, but want to indicate who you are, add your name and contact info WITHIN your "comment" and then choose the "anonymous" option.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Hybrid (Blended) Faculty Development & Professional Development

How can we use some of the new technologies to help meet the increasing need for faculty development and professional development that those technologies are also creating? How can we improve undergraduate teaching and learning?

Hybrid professional development, hybrid faculty development, and hybrid undergraduate courses can be part of the answer.

NOTE: The terms "hybrid" and "blended" are used almost interchangeably. I prefer "hybrid" because the other term implies more complete integration of the parts than is often possible - or desirable.

Hybrid Education: Synchronous and Asynchronous; Face-to-Face and Distance; Virtual and Tangible; Local and (Inter)National; Mixing Media; Using Web 2.0 Options AND older asynchronous options!

Goal: Provide something BETTER than was possible via any of the components ALONE.


We know we can't keep up separately. How can we do better together? How can we use some of the new technologies to help meet the increasing demand for faculty development and professional development that those technologies are also creating?

Hybrid-Hybrid Professional Development is part of the answer.

The accelerating pace of development and access to new technologies with educational potential keeps

1. increasing the need and expectation for professional development

2. increasing workload and decreasing discretionary time for faculty and other academic professionals

3. increasing availability of tools and resources that seem likely to help cope with this overload

This collaborative approach to professional and faculty development is based on ten years of work by the TLT Group which began with a focus on intra-institutional multi-role collaboration (TLT Roundtables) and has shifted more recently to focus on inter-institutional collaboration and greater reliance on WebCasts, Web 2.0 and other Internet-based resources. The TLT Group has learned to develop and offer hybrid professional development by working collaboratively with a variety of professionals from a variety of institutions, because, more than ever, no one can keep up with everything.

The heart of the current model is learning to match what can be done best in face-to-face settings run by local campus professionals with what can be added by providing access to experts and activities who are located elsewhere via online synchronous and asynchronous activities. In particular, we design and support online synchronous live Webcasts including multi-directional audio and a variety of visual displays and interaction options IN CONJUNCTION WITH local gatherings of small groups.

Some of the small groups are linked to the "outside" via a single computer in their meeting room; some participate co-located but with each participant individually logged in within a computer lab; some participate with individual computer connections from their own offices or other campus locations. The success of these ventures depends on effective communication and collaboration among the local leaders and the online presenters. Some of the local leaders can share skills and knowledge that is valuable not only on their own campus but elsewhere too.

Importance or relevance to other institutions: There are so many platforms, operating systems, and software applications available to educators that finding a way through the maze individually can often interfere with the basic need to communicate and work together. The TLT Group has worked over the last ten years to use new technologies and new pedagogies to support, not undermine, communication and collaboration in pursuit of the improvement of teaching and learning. This "hybrid" collaborative professional development has been largely facilitated by offering moderated synchronous, multidirectional, voice, text, and visual applications using web conference interfaces. The synchronous environment is then complimented by asynchronous resources such as blogs, RSS feeds, web pages, and wikis - and whatever other options have emerged recently from Web 2.0, etc.