As we come into the holiday season and the challenge of choosing the right gift for someone, consider this.
What kind of ‘rewards’ do you like? Chocolates? Flowers?
What is it that really motivates people to do their best? What motivates our students and what motivates us?
Author Dan Pink explores research into human motivation in this entertaining animated video from RSA
The key motivators he has found to be autonomy, mastery and purpose.
It seems like to good time to consider: what is the value of final exams? In many institutions final exams are becoming a rarity; At Harvard in spring 2009 only 259 of 1137 courses had final exams. So is there still value in having a final exam?
Beyond the stress, anxiety and sleep deprivation they cause for students (and faculty) there are two major criticisms of final exams: first, the lack of feedback opportunities in them; second, the false sense of closure they give students.
Lack of feedback: frequently the only feedback that students receive on their final exam is the final grade; especially successful students. Unsuccessful students may have re-writes or some other form of remediation, and get feedback on their final exam performance. Generally, however, successful students don’t bother getting feedback on the final even if it’s available; they passed, so they move on. This is related to the second criticism.
False closure: one of the problems with a final exam is its…finality. Students get a sense that they are now done with the content of the course and don’t make connections to related and advanced courses they take subsequently. This disconnect can hamper student learning in later terms, and development of more holistic understandings.
What are the positives of final exams? Among the most common reasons faculty give for having final exams are: they are concerned students will have forgotten the early material and a comprehensive final insures they will review everything; and want to test students’ ability to pull everything together and “join the dots”. After 14 weeks with two or three one hour chunks of time each week, faculty want to see that student can put it altogether, and even do something with it.
One other consideration, I think, in favour of final exams is that for many college graduates the way into professional employment is by way of registration or certification exams. These can be multiple, even day-long exams that are the key to their professional future. Not giving students the experience of that kind of comprehensive, cumulative, summative evaluation (including facing the stress and anxiety) would be doing them a disservice.
So, at least while entry to practice exams exist there is a role for for the final exam.
It will soon be time of the semester again when the results of Student Feedback on Teaching Surveys will be coming out. Most faculty, no matter how long they have been teaching or how confident they are of their abilities dread them; few, if any, look forward to them with enthusiasm. So how can you read them and use them constructively?
Seems fairly obvious, but what teacher has not been tempted to not read student feedback sometime? We don’t want to read negative things about ourselves; who does? But you have to start by reading them, and not just a casual glance through them.
They will provide useful information to improve your teaching practice. Keep that in mind and start positive.
Put Them Aside
Negative comments sting, exuberant praise makes us elated (and those who leave comments are most likely to be those who hate you or love you as a teacher). You need, in the words of Kipling to “…meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same.” The best way to do that is to give yourself some distance; go for a walk, a coffee or an ice cream and come back to them later. If you can leave them for a day or two or a week, so much the better, and you can then come back to them in a more objective frame of mind.
Look for Trends and Outliers
What are the general trends in the feedback? Identify categories that they fall into; they might be related to the course structure, assessment strategies or with the teaching style. What are the positives? What are things that work well that can be used to strengthen the areas that are weaker?
Look at the outliers. It’s tempting when overall data and comments are positive to ignore the outliers, but they do provide useful information. Perhaps your teaching style is not meeting the needs of all students’ learning styles, perhaps you need to be clearer in managing student expectations. Do you have underlying assumptions about your students that are no longer true about all of them?
Use the questions in the Student Feedback survey to plan changes to your course. Not to ‘teach to the test’ or skew the course top get better ratings, but use them as a checklist for course design and teaching. For example: could you make it more explicit how the course connects to job requirements? Can you build in more opportunities for active participation?
Close the Loop
Record what you plan to do; not just to respond to specific issues that have been raised; but to improve your course and your teaching, because we can all always improve.
Links for further ideas on Interpreting student evaluations
Welcome back for another great semester at Mohawk!
As you put the finishing touches on your courses for Fall 2013, here’s a reminder of a few, new, cool tools brought to you by your CTL.
VoiceThread: Conversations in the Cloud
This newly integrated tool can boost engagement in discussions by allowing students to contribute using a variety of media. You and your students can also use it to showcase course material in a different format. Check it out!
Although not new, it continues to improve its integration with eLearn@Mohawk. Build and share your rubrics and comment sets to make feedback and assessment more seamless. Your colleagues are already making great use of comment sets - Language Studies instructors created and shared their own unique set. Students will receive comprehensive and consistent feedback and assessment and instructors will shave time!
Click on the graphic for the full lowdown.
Respondus Lockdown Browser
This is a customized browser that increases the security of online testing in eLearn. You as an Instructor can choose to require students to use the LockDown Browser when taking your quizzes. When students use LockDown Browser during a quiz, they are unable to print, copy, go to another URL, or access other applications until the quiz is submitted. Read more about it!
WISC Online Gamebuilder
Contact CTL to access this tool to change up your activities for diagnostic and formative assessment. There are a number of game templates to add more interest to quiz material. Here’s just one example:
This free tool is another great way to reinforce understanding of basic course concepts. Rather than a quiz on terminology, try Quizlet’s options. Your CTL has the paid version in case you want to use images and other affordances. Contact your Instructional Technologist. Here’s academic integrity terminology turned into a Scatter game: Play now!
Had issues loading large, homemade video to eLearn@Mohawk? We have the solution - Kaltura. The new Kaltura/eLearn integration allows you to easily upload large video files directly within eLearn to the Kaltura system, and easily publish and stream videos in eLearn courses.In addition, Kaltura allows you to easily create original recordings using your webcam, and integrate them in to your courses. Access the Info Sheet here.
There are many more interesting things afoot in CTL (Fennell A227). Make sure to check in with your eLearning contact for the latest and greatest teaching tools and learning support.
Wow - Mohawk was buzzing this past week. Unfortunately, I couldn’t participate in everything, but CEDP and Apps for Health were very worthwhile. Kudos to Roberta Burke, Christy Taberner and their crews and to Valerie Mitanoff and Jenna Pettit for keeping the the communication flowing.
At CEDP, it was great to meet faculty from multiple colleges who were eager and/or willing to overcome fear to experiment with educational technology to meet students’ need for differentiated instruction as well as align to their institutions’ strategies. Their questions and concerns were similar to those at Mohawk. They were a good reminder to double check understanding on a top concern.
A colleague at a sister college had to undergo an audit from Access Copyright. A good reminder that Copyright Law and attribution | academic integrity apply in online learning environments. Before, you would submit your courseware through the Book Store | Media Services where adherence to copyright was confirmed. But with many course resources living in eLearn@Mohawk, there is no process. To assist, the new templates for eLearn@Mohawk added a Resources sub-heading on its Module Overview page. Tracking the resources you use in each module will help cover you if copyright questions arise. And why not model proper citing for students and populate the Resources section in APA format! Check out Mohawk’s updated Copyright policy and connect with your Library with any questions or concerns.
Apps for Health’s panel presentation on Gamification sparked some thinking - the very idea that ‘gamification’ may be ephemeral. The three panelists of game designers proposed as sound instructional design is better understood, the reference to gaming will fall away. Structured activities that engage, challenge, and assess progress define the current buzzword, gamification, and have always defined sound instructional design.
A great observation by Andrea Bielecki (Invivo and Spongelab) highlighted further merging or more holistic thinking. A few years ago, a company may have considered its marketing strategy and then how a web presence might be factored into the mix. Nowadays, strategies would include all media - a company wouldn’t dream of excluding online in its initial strategy and budgeting.
I wonder how far are we from experiencing all players in education, considering the online requirements in teaching and learning and planning accordingly from the start? Rather than designing and developing a course and then figuring out what to put online, considering that online learning and the use of educational technology is just now part of our learning ecology. With this realization, the necessary players - SMEs, technologists, and designers - can come to the table and be given the time to collaborate and build (education’s strategy and budget) the best teaching and learning experiences.
Plagiarism appears rampant at secondary and post-secondary institutions. TurnItIn has recently released interesting research on a number of facets relating to academic integrity. Here’s an example:
The Sources in Student Writing: Post-secondary: Captures information and feedback from 900 institutions worldwide, it presents a comprehensive perspective on the top sites used in students’ writing. From this infographic, you can connect to the full white paper.
To assist you in communicating plagiarism issues to your students, TurnItIn has re-crafted the spectrum of the 10 most common cases into student-friendly language and graphics. With a Creative Commons license to re-use freely for educational purposes, consider adding it to eLearn as a springboard to discussion or individual review. You can also read the entire 19 page report here.
A final aid in your efforts to teach students academic integrity is an interactive rubric to assist with your assessment of their understanding of resource evaluation. The SEER rubric, developed in collaboration with educators, has 5 criteria and 5 levels of performance ready to go! Because of its Creative Commons license, I was able to re-build it in eLearn@Mohawk. If you would like to associate this rubric with your Dropbox folder(s), please let me know (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you are keen to inject more academic integrity activities and safeguards into your courses, stay tuned to the CTL PD calendar. There will be sessions targeting plagiarism and academic integrity during June and August - months the college’s focus turns to quality and innovation.
A main consideration for instructors designing and developing courses for blended delivery is resources. A secondary concern is resources. A tertiary concern is resources. I think you get the idea!
In the age of information overload, it is not a question of finding resources, but sifting through the fog to find relevant and appropriate resources for your students.
And the challenge isn’t over once you find resources! Another area of concern that creeps into our consciousness: do I have permission to use this resource? When you are not only consuming resources for your personal knowledge entertainment, but also wishing to distribute to a larger audience, there are additional considerations. Copyright comes into play. Now, the recently revised Copyright Act does provide wriggle and wiggle room for educators’ and students’ use. But the basic notion of copyright as locking down rights still applies. It is only the exemptions that allow wide use. The Library has compiled a handy Subject Guide with the most common questions and concerns.
An alternative is Creative Commons or Copyleft. It turns Copyright on its head. The creator chooses who and how his/her creations are used. Take three minutes to watch the Creative Commons take on information and creations:
Flickr may be the first, famous example of Creative Commons initiatives, but CC is gaining an impressive foothold and following. It stems from the open source software | free software movement and the work of Richard Stallman and his GNU Project. When speaking in terms of free, the quote from GNU is often used, “think free speech, not free beer”. (I also add this to keep Crib Sheet 2 aligned with Crib Sheet 1’s reference to gin and tonic!)
Creative Commons is coming into its own in education. OER (Open Education Resources) abound. From edX and Coursera to TEDTalks and iTunesU, examples of high quality resources shared by reputable institutions are becoming common. The Library@Mohawk’s own catalogue went open source, adopting Evergreen and its open source principles rather than pay dearly for a provider.
Consider accepting the challenge to design, develop, and deliver college courses using Creative Commons resources.
Reasonings and rationales for exploring Creative Commons
Student focus: Ever-increasing cost of education for students
Community of Practice focus: Support growing of a body of knowledge rather than licensees’ and publishers’ pocketbooks
Context, not content, is king and it is the curation and facilitation of provided data and information that grows it into knowledge and wisdom
Information wants to be free and has a habit of leaking and seeping to make it so - If you are not convinced, talk to a Librarian
You focus: Avoid the decisions and questions around the Copyright Act and subsequent issues with printing and/or production
Connect with your Access Librarian, Cynthia Williamson, to chat copyright and/or Peggy French to talk copyleft.
Emerging EdTech’s Free2013 Edition of the Education Technology Resources eBook - Get Your Copy Today.
I downloaded my free copy of the Education Technology Resource Book and was quite impressed with the way it was organized and the links to areas I wanted to investigate further, like the free educational game sites in Chapter 4.It helped me to explore specific tools that might be suitable to enhance learning in this digital society.
To give you an overview the chapters are listed below, but you really need to click on the link and have a look at the tools and resources to determine how teaching and learning might be enhanced by various technologies.
Momentum is building with blended learning and CTL supports this momentum in many ways. Add a series of blog posts providing useful distinctions for Mohawk on the terminology surrounding blended learning to the support. Communication and collaboration require we come to the table with common understanding
This week’s crib sheet focuses on two communication points:
1. communicating blended learning in your course(s)
2. eLearning versus eLearn@Mohawk
Communicating blended learning in your courses
Mohawk faculty provide engaging and interactive learning environments in both physical and virtual spaces. But how are we communicating the difference to peers and most importantly to students?
Perhaps a post-work analogy works best. You decide to have a mixed drink after a long week of work e.g. gin and tonic. You pour the gin and add the tonic to create your libation or blended drink.
You decided to mix your course delivery. You design and develop f2f activities for the physical classroom. You design and develop virtual | online activities for the virtual classroom. Combining them creates your blended or hybrid course. Ideally the f2f and virtual complement similarly to the gin and tonic and are equally refreshing to the consumer!
Consider how this analogy differs from the following: “We meet f2f (gin) on Tuesdays, but Friday is your blended class | learning”. Friday is actually the virtual or online learning (tonic) for your blended course.
eLearning versus eLearn@Mohawk
With CTL as your go-to spot for assistance with both eLearning and eLearn@Mohawk, understanding the differences between these two terms really helps us to help you. We can direct you more efficiently to the right CTL contact or team.
Mohamed Ally from Athabasca University, in Theory and Practice of Online Learning, provides a helpful definition:
“the use of the Internet to access learning materials; to interact with the content, instructor, and other learners; and to obtain support during the learning process, in order to acquire knowledge, to construct personal meaning, and to grow from the learning experience” (2008, p. 3).
This builds on the earlier explanation by Bonk and Reynolds (1997) stating eLearning:
“must create challenging activities that enable learners to link new information to old, acquire meaningful knowledge, and use their metacognitive abilities; hence, it is the instructional strategy and not the technology that influences the quality of learning” (p. 171).
This is Mohawk’s branding of Desire2Learn’s learning management system (LMS). It is the college-wide platform supporting your teaching and your students’ learning. For more information on D2L’s learning suite, check out this info page.
Ally, M. (2008). Foundations of educational theory for online learning. In T. Anderson (Ed.) Theory and practice of online learning. Edmonton: AU Press.
Bonk, C. J., & Reynolds, T. H. (1997). Learner-centered web instruction for higher-order thinking, teamwork, and apprenticeship. In B. H. Khan (Ed.), Web-based instruction (pp. 167-178). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Educational Technology Publications.
We know from learning style theory that there is no one best way for students to learn. The “Four Stages of Learning a New Skill” initially developed by Noel Burch provides a model for learning. This model of moving from incompetence to competence helps us to identify the instructional supports required to assist someone with learning a new skill and building confidence.
1. Unconscious Incompetence – One doesn’t know what they don’t know.
Inability to see the usefulness or value of the skill is characteristic of the first stage of learning a new skill. The individual doesn’t know how to do something and does not necessarily recognize the deficit. The individual must understand the value of the new skill before he/she will be able to move onto the next stage.
Teaching Strategy: One of the first principles of adult learning theory is to demonstrate the relevance of this skill in the real world. Build interest and understanding. You might use a case study, scenario or recent article that depicts why this skill is important in their field of study.
2. Conscious Incompetence – feels overwhelmed by learning the new skill and lacks confidence. Oh my, now they know what they don’t know.
Though the individual does not understand or know how to do something, he or she does recognize the deficit, as well as the value of a new skill in overcoming the deficit. The individual may feel overwhelmed by the learning of the new skill.
Teaching Strategy: Connect new learning to something they already know. Build confidence. Make learning appealing: gaming strategies may make learning fun. Sequence the learning, break it down, and outline the steps or parts. Will you move from simple to complex or from unified picture to specific parts? Provide support: use study partners or collaborative learning projects, and discussion groups.
3. Conscious Competence – the new skill requires effort and concentration.
The individual understands or knows how to do something. However, demonstrating the skill requires effort and concentration. There is heavy conscious involvement in executing the new skill.
Teaching Strategy: The skill may be learned incrementally. Provide opportunities for practice, reflection and continuous feedback. What worked well? What might I do differently next time? Give feedback to others.
4. Unconscious Competence – the new skill is done with ease - mastery!The individual has had so much practice with a skill that it has become “second nature” and can be performed easily. As a result, the skill can be performed while executing another task.
Teaching Strategy: Provide opportunities to apply this learning in new situations, to teach others; present on a panel, make a poster, or create an occasion to apply learning in an authentic situation that would benefit others. Reward and celebrate excellence.