How Tech is Changing Colleges :Infographic

An interesting infographic from Mashable and Presta Electronics shows the prevalence of technology on US colleges.

Main points are:

  • More than 90% use email to communicate with professors and 73% say they cannot study without technology.
  • Seven in 10 take notes on keyboards instead of paper, virtually all students who own an ereader read textbooks on it and most use digital tools when preparing a presentation.
  • Community college students are less digitally connected than students at four-year schools, but more and more people are making the Internet their education gateway.
  • Twelve million students take at least one class online today — in five years, that number is projected to exceed 22 million. By 2014, analysts say, more than 3.5 million students will take all of their classes online.
  • In 2009 students in the US spent $13 Billion on technology.

You Can view the infrographic HERE
Leslie Marshall CTL

Add comment April 11th, 2014

Learning Portfolios Day: McMaster University

Members of your ePortfolio teams were lucky enough to attend McMaster’s day-long exploration of its Learning Portfolio initiative. There were many interesting aspects – a panel of faculty, spotlight on how it used out of the Student Success office, panel of employers, and a student showcase. I think capturing the experiences will take two posts. For this first one, I will concentrate on connections to Mohawk’s ePortfolio project from the keynote speaker, Dr. Randy Bass, an impressive educator and scholar from Georgetown University. I will lay out a few of his interesting statements and pose some questions. Let’s start a conversation around his spotlights by using the “Comments” section.

New division of labor: How computers are creating the next job market posits that there will be three kinds of work in the future:

1. solving unstructured problems
2. working with new information
3. carrying out non-routine, manual tasks

Meeting current vocational standards likely prepares students for the third type of work. However, to meet the first two kinds of work will require the skills better aligned to our Institutional Learning Outcomes. Do you agree that the ILOs appear to be a better embodiment of attributes and skills required to meet the unknown careers of the future or are there other initiatives that capture the future better? Perhaps an even better question might pose, what kind of education is required for these conditions?


Dr. Bass also challenged that the real tension in teaching and learning today is not f2f versus online, but integration versus disintegration. Stopping to consider how many companies and people are now in the “learning business” drove this idea. Consider the number of companies promising to improve retention, boost engagement, and solidify satisfaction. Most of them did not exist a few, short years ago; the “learning business” was primarily in the hands of educators.

DISINTEGRATIVE = granular; measurable e.g. outcomes, competencies
INTEGRATIVE = holistic and coherent

Dr. Bass and his like-minded colleagues see definite changes and challenges when the locus of knowledge moves from disintegrative to integrative. The locus moves from skills, abilities, and competencies to those of dispositions and character traits such as empathy, grit | resilience, curiosity, risk taking. What likely jumps out is that these dispositions or character traits cannot be taught as skill can. Instead, opportunities need to be provided that cultivate character and grow these positive dispositions. How do you see this changing  how we educate our students? If this move of the locus of knowledge is more than a positive hypothesis, what things need to happen within our educational structures?

I promise part two post on our eP Day will include information actually on ePortfolios! There was a plethora of wonderful, eP-specific information shared among the panels and participants.

Add comment March 31st, 2014

Education Technology Strategies 2014: Summit in Toronto (March 4th & 5th)

A small, but mighty contingent of Mohawk educators - including support staff, administration, and faculty attended this fourth annual conference. From across the country, contributors to K-12 and post-secondary education met to:

Unlock technology to enrich and personalize learning. Reform your organization as part of a progressive ecosystem to nurture engaged students and catalyze innovation.

At this unique forum, obtain strategic insights from education leaders on how to improve student achievements with meaningful use of technology. Acquire cost-effective deployment solutions and incorporate sound pedagogical practices into your curriculum design and delivery.

Benefit from first-hand experience to implement blended, mobile, and BYOD initiatives at your institution and classes. Empower educators with practical tools and techniques to prepare your students for the 21st century knowledge economy.

Improve engagement, maximize learning outcomes and increase retention. Capitalize on emerging innovations to make a dramatic difference to the quality of your education. Adapt to the new paradigm and strive for excellence”

~ Source: Conference site

I thought I would start by adding my Glog or interactive poster that can act as a springboard to more conversation and community building. I am hopeful other attendees will add their takeaways and Mohawk’s community will pose questions and comments.

Here’s my GLOG!

Add comment March 10th, 2014

Five ways 21st and 20th Century Learning will Differ

In an article on Inside Higher Ed Steve Mintz identifies 5 ways in which he believes education in the 21st century will be radically different from the 20th century.

  1. A 21st century education will be geared toward 100 percent proficiency.

  2. Education will be come more competence focused. with increasing emphasis of learning outcomes, explicit standards of performance, and aligned assessment.

  3. It will rest on the science of learning.

  4. Our understanding of learning will be driven by discoveries in neuroscience, developmental and cognitive psychology.
    Concepts such as Cognitive Flexibility, Grounded Cognition, Mental Modelling, Narrative Learning and Spaced Learning will deeper our understanding of learning and shape how we teach.

  5. It will be data-driven.

  6. Online courses and courses ‘taught at scale’ will give access to unprecedented data on how learners navigate through course materials and their learning experiences.

    We will learn more than we ever have about the differences between successful and unsuccessful students, and what successful learners do to master a specific skills or concept.

  7. It will be personalized.

  8. Following the trend of marketing, retail and entertainment industries, education will be come more personalized. Not only will learners be able to customize their own learning pathways, but advanced tools will also allow for customized support

    Courses with embedded diagnostics will offer just-in-time remediation and enrichment activities to students, while learning dashboards will allow instructors, coaches, and advisers to intervene with real-time data.

  9. It will take advantage of technology in ways that truly enhance the learning experience.

  10. The narrated Powerpoint with multiple choice quizzes will give way to interactive, collaborative tools that will open up new possibilities for active learning.

Read more:
Inside Higher Ed

Add comment March 7th, 2014

Student Feedback - How am I doing

It’s just after break week, so; if you haven’t already; now might be a good time to collect some fast feedback from the students in your course(s) about how well you are managing their expectations as learners. Click HERE to download a copy of the “Start-Stop-Continue” form. You may want to distribute a copy of this form to your class or post it on your elearning space.

Option 2: during the last 5-10 minutes of a class and ask students to take a piece of blank paper and answer two questions about their learning environment:
1) Which practices most help you to learn? 2) Which practices could be improved? Collect the anonymous papers.

Ideally, you will want to respond to the students’ feedback in the next class. It is helpful for students to hear that they have different perspectives and learning preferences. What one person likes another dislikes. You are attempting to satisfy different learning styles. Do let students know what, if anything will change as a result of the feedback.

Peter Seldin, in Evaluating Faculty Performance, believes gathering data and taking action to address any problems that arise virtually guarantees higher ratings when the formal feedback process takes place.

Add comment March 3rd, 2014

Online Video - Is Shorter Better?

If you are creating online videos or doing lecture capture the following may give you pause.

Philip Guo, an assistant professor of Computer Science at the University of Rochester, recently published preliminary findings on research he is doing for edX, a major MOOC provider.

Guo reports two finding on video usage in online courses.
First: the attention span for a video lecture is shorter than for a face-to-face class; “the optimum video length is 6 minutes or shorter”
Second: while the average viewing time maxes out a 6 minutes, if the video is longer than 12 minutes the average time spent watching goes down.


For a 30-40 minute video, the average viewing time is 3 minutes or 10% or less of the content.

It’s not hard to imagine someone watching an online video for a few minutes and then moving the cursor to the bottom to see where that progress line is. If it’s past half way, they are likely to watch it to the end, if it’s still close to the left edge, they may give up then and there.

Short videos keep students engaged and may also give them an incentive to use short windows of time that might be available; in breaks between classes. for example; to watch when they couldn’t commit to watching a longer video.

As Guo writes “The take-home message for instructors is that, to maximize student engagement, they should work with instructional designers and video producers to break up their lectures into small, bite-sized pieces.”

Add comment February 6th, 2014

How Do Students Prefer to Learn?

What are the preferred modes of learning in 2014?

Everest College and HarrisDecima just published a new poll of over 1000 adults learners aged 18-65+ in the US.
The details can be found at this link.

The most preferred ways of learning were “Active participation through hands-on learning” (52%) and “Visual demonstrations shown by an instructor” (28%).

The Least preferred ways of learning were “Learning by teaching other students”, “Listening to a lecture” (16% each) and Watching videos” (15%)

“Reading a text book” (23%) was rated higher than “using the internet” (19%)

Men (56%) were significantly more likely than women (47%) to say hands-on training works best for them.

Women (32%) were significantly more likely than men (25%) to say visual demonstrations work best for them.

This poll would suggest that those things that were traditionally regarded as the strengths of our colleges; hands-on, applied learning, with skilled instructors who are knowledgeable and experienced in their fields; are still what adult learners want and what works best for them.

Add comment January 30th, 2014

Are You Teaching in ‘The Zone’?

Do students complain that learning activities are too easy and they are bored; or too hard and they confused and frustrated? Then you might ask yourself are you teaching “in the zone”?

Educational theorist Lev Vygotski proposed that learning occurs in what he called the “Zone of Proximal Development” (ZPD). For a particular area of skill or knowledge, this zone lies between what the student can currently do independently and what the student cannot do even with assistance. The ZPD represents what the student can do with assistance from a teacher or “more capable peers”.

Vygotsky believed that when a student is at the zone of proximal development for a particular task, providing the appropriate assistance (scaffolding) will give the student enough of a “boost” to achieve the task. Once the student, with the benefit of scaffolding, masters the task, the scaffolding can then be removed and the student will then be able to complete the task again on his own.

So what does that mean to teachers?

Effective learning happens “in the zone”: outside the zone students either become bored and disengaged because they “know this stuff already”; or they become frustrated and confused because they cannot grasp the task and it goes over their heads.

Teaching “in the zone” means starting from where the students are, and understanding what their abilities are so that existing knowledge and skills can be built on. The teacher’s role is provide the appropriate scaffolding support; lots of guidance and direction to begin with, then less as the learner’s skill and understanding develops and they become more independent in the task. As the task is mastered and moves into the zone of what can be done without assistance, new related tasks that were previously beyond the student’s grasp now fall within the Zone of Proximal Development.

For more on this check out this link. where Marc Andre Lalande where explains how the ZPD can relate to Bloom’s Taxomomy in the classroom.

Leslie Marshall - Centre for Teaching and Learning

Add comment January 24th, 2014

e-Portfolios as Boundary Objects

Among the challenges of thinking about e-Portfolios are the ambiguity of who they are for and what functions do they serve. Is an e-Portfolio for the person who creates it or for those who will view it? Is it a Test (an summative assessment tool) or is it a Story (a formative record of a learning journey)? One possible way of looking at an e-Portfolio that might help is to consider it as a Boundary Object.

What is a Boundary Object?

Originally described by Star & Griesemer(1989), and developed by Wenger (2001), the concept of a Boundary Object is an object which is developed in one context or community for a particular purpose, but which is useful to others in other contexts or communities, and so forms a bridge between them – a common use object on the boundary of both communities.

Boundary objects are both plastic enough to adapt to local needs and constraints of the several parties employing them, yet robust enough to maintain a common identity across sites. They are weakly structured in common use, and become strongly structured in individual-site use. They may be abstract or concrete. They have different meanings in different social worlds but their structure is common enough to more than one world to make them recognizable means of translation. The creation and management of boundary objects is key in developing and maintaining coherence across intersecting social worlds. (Star & Griesemer, 1989, p. 393)

An e-Portfolio initially developed as an assessment tool in school, might be viewed from many perspectives and serve different purposes after graduation; for potential employers, credentialing agencies, or as a tool for reflection and self-development of the graduate.

So is an e-Portfolio a Boundary Object?

What are the characteristics of a Boundary Object. And does e-Portfolio fit?

Wenger proposes a number of characteristics “enabling artefacts to act as boundary objects” (Wenger, 2001, 107):

  1. Modularity: each perspective can attend to one specific portion of the boundary object (e.g., a newspaper is a heterogeneous collection of articles that has something for each reader).
  2. Abstraction: all perspectives are served at once by deletion of features that are specific for each perspective (e.g., a map abstracts from the terrain only certain features, such as distance and elevation).
  3. Accommodation: the boundary object lends itself to various activities (e.g., the office building can accommodate the various practices of its tenants, its caretakers, its owners, and so forth).
  4. Standardization: the information contained in a boundary object is in a prespecified form so that each constituency knows how to deal with it locally (for example, a questionnaire that specified how to provide some information by answering certain questions).

Those characteristics are useful to view what enables e-Portfolios to serve as bridges between various perspectives.
Modularity and standardization are inherent to E-portfolios: artifacts selected for inclusion in an e-Portfolio are connected within and across portfolios by standardized structure and requirements for the assessments or learning activities at the course level and Program Learning Outcomes and Institutional Learning outcomes at higher levels. Viewers who are familiar with other forms of webpages can quickly grasp how to navigate an e-Portfolio; using tabs and links to access content folders in various categories of information. Using links in social media (for example, a Linkedin profile), specific categories of information, or particular artifacts can be accessed without the rest of the portfolio. This allows the information in the e-Portfolio to travel far outside of the original context where it was created.

The potential of an e-Portfolio to accommodate various activities is easy to see. For a teacher it is an assessment tool for learning activities or projects; for the student it is a record of a range of experiences and a tool for reflection; for a potential employer it is evidence of skills and competence. In a community of practice it is a means of developing connections and networking as a new member: of creating a profile within the professional community.

Finally, since artifacts are selected for a wide array of possible items of work, the e-Portfolio also shows abstraction. Not every piece of work done in a course or program is included. When specific details are selected for inclusion or presentation, others are left out. The portfolio creator is assuming that those “who know” can read between the lines and fill in the gaps for themselves.

The notion of e-Portfolios as Boundary Objects is a useful reminder that whatever the initial objectives of the e-Portfolio, once it begins to cross into other contexts it will be viewed from different perspectives and be used for different functions, and that is when it will become really useful.

Star, Susan; Griesemer, James (1989). “Institutional Ecology, ‘Translations’ and Boundary Objects: Amateurs and Professionals in Berkeley’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology, 1907-39″
Wenger, Etienne (2001). Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning, and Identity

Add comment January 16th, 2014

Are You Present in Your Online Courses - Part 2

Continuing from last week’s post on Social Presence online based on the paper from Inter American University of Puerto Rico . As previously mentioned, Social Presence is defined as “the degree to which a person is perceived as a ‘real person’ in a mediated communication context” - the sense that there is someone there at the other end of the computer.

The second component of Social presence online is the cohesive element.

The Cohesive indicators of Social Presence include:

  • Using inclusive pronouns to address or refer
    to the group.
  • Using phatic communication, or communication that serves a purely social function

Cohesive communication builds the sense of community, and can establish ground rules for social interaction. Things like a welcome message, acknowledging individual’s contributions by name, such as: “John makes an interesting point”, and thanking participants - “thanks to everyone who contributed to that discussion”. These serve no other purpose but are purely social courtesies, in the same way as you would knowledge or thank someone face to face.
One way to encourage social cohesion between students is to provide them with a social space within the course, such as a discussion board for non-course-related posts that functions as a virtual “Student Lounge”. This allows them to interact in the same way as they would, for example, in the hallway outside the classroom.

Thanks to those who responded to last week’s post.
(cohesive communication!) - (using aside comment with exclamation mark - affective communication!)

What social cohesion strategies do you use online to develop Social Presence?

Add comment January 11th, 2014

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