And just like that, it's fall! (or Autumn, same deal)03-09-2020, 12:27 Conference, dissertation, FOMO, instructionalDesign, learning, online, onlineLearning, synchronous conferencing, teaching
It's hard to believe, but the summer is in the rearview mirror. Next week the fall semester begins and as I look back over the summer I see some things I learned (or observed) in these coronatimes:
The FoMo is still strong!
I thought I had beaten back FoMo (fear of missing out) but I guess not :-). This summer many conferences made the switch to online this summer due to the ongoing pandemic and their registration was free. This made them accessible both in terms of place (online) and cost (free) for me. So I registered. I might have registered for far too many because there weren't enough hours to participate synchronously and attend everything I wanted to. Luckily most sessions were recorded, so I was able to go back and review recordings of things I missed. Between the Connected Learning Conference, IABL Conference, OLC Ideate, Bb World, HR.com's conference (and a few more that I can't remember at the moment), I got more Professional Development done this summer than any other summer. By the end of this week, I'll also have caught up with all recordings. The "AHA!!!" moment for me was this: About 10-12 years ago when I was first starting out (as a starry-eyed designer) all this stuff would have been mindblowing. I think online conferences for me are more about filling holes and making me think differently rather than building new knowledge in mind. And that's OK. I discovered a lot of resources that I forwarded to friends and colleagues who would find them more useful than I did because they are at a different phase in their PD. Just like a garage sale (maybe a bad analogy) can yield nothing at all, it can yield a treasure you never thought existed, or it can yield something for your friends and colleagues. You never know what you will find until you start looking.
Quick startups are possible (darn it!)
This summer I was invited by a friend to co-facilitate a couple of weeks of a bootcamp course for teaching online (Virtual Learning Pedagogy). The learner demographic are educators in Nigeria (the course might have been open to other countries as well). The course was offered through Coderina. I think from the time we were all invited to the first week of the course we only had 2 weeks. Last week was the last week of the course. I am not sure how much John slept these 6 weeks, but I think that the course was a success. We talk about agile instructional design in our courses, and I think this was a good example of different teams working on different weeks, checking in with one another, and putting together a course while the course is being taught. Could it be done better? Yes, everything can improve, but I am proud to have been part of such an agile multinational collaboration. I also got to meet a lot of new colleagues that I didn't know before. I think this was a good case study for agile ID. I can't wait to see what the next iteration of the course will look like :-)
Back into 601!
This summer I taught Intro to Instructional Design and Learning Technologies (it's got another title formally, but that's basically it). I had taken several semesters off from teaching in order to focus on my dissertation proposal (which needed a major rewrite - perhaps more on that after I graduate), and I've been looking forward to getting back into teaching. This summer I used the version of the course that Rebecca designed and uses, opting to not use what I had created a few summers back. Part of the reason for using her course was that she had baked into the course consideration for synchronous sessions. I tend to be more asynchronous in my designs (so that people can have flexibility), but I wanted to be experimental this summer with sync-sessions. Another reason I wanted to use someone else's design is to extend my thinking and collaborate with others. I've got my own version of what an intro course can look like, but looking at another designer's design can add to your own toolkit and thinking, Additionally, if there is one version of the course that many people contribute to the design of, I think differing student cohorts benefit both from the stability of the curriculum and from the process of collaborative design in the course. This way if cohort A takes the course taught by professor A, they won't get radically different core content than Cohort B taking the course with professor B. Your learning experience may differ, but core knowledge required down the road by other courses should be more or less similar. I really enjoyed teaching this summer. My students were awesome, and we had good exchanges both via synchronous and asynchronous means. I also loved that I was able to invite friends and colleagues who work in ID to have some candid chats with our learning community. I think this was much more effective than reading articles about what an ID does. If I could hop into a DeLorean and go back to June: This summer I only had 6 students. Such a small number of students can make for a nice seminar-style course, but the course was designed with a class size of 10-15. The dynamics are definitely different with such a smaller cohort. I think that if I could go back in time I'd give students an option: We could have asynchronous forums each week for discussing ideas and topics of the course, or we could forego (most of) the forums and meet synchronously each to accomplish similar means. I think a smaller number of students makes the forum feel a little like an empty playground. It's got a lot of potential but it's only actualized when many kids go play.
Finally, a little bit about this doctoral journey thing. In May I successfully defended my proposal (yay) which allowed me to apply for IRB/REB clearance (yay!). At the end of June, I got that clearance (yay!) so I could start reaching out to study participants. It's hard to believe that a (somewhat) random MOOC I signed up for while waiting to hear back about my application to the EdD program ended up becoming my dissertation topic. I may have bitten off more than I can chew in terms of story (data) collection but Narrative Inquiry is all about the story through someone's position in that metaphorical parade. The parade keeps on moving, and so do participants in it, so I am OK with presenting a sliver of that experience (knowing that it's a sliver of it). It's not possible (for a dissertation anyway) to be a completionist when exploring an experience (which I guess pushes back on my FoMo mentioned above). Hopefully I'll have a good draft of this thing by the end of the semester in December.
So...what was your summer like?
Image credit: "Zen stones" by rikpiks is licensed with CC BY-NC-ND 2.0. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/
Synchronous, online learning, and "remote" learning01-05-2020, 11:32 distanceLearning, MOOC, onlineLearning, remoteLearning, soapBox, studentServices, synchronous conferencing
First of all, I guess I should explain my aversion to the term "remote" instruction. Our field, distance education, has many terms to describe learning at a distance that actually mean something, and have actually had decades of research behind them! Because the existing terms mean something, and usually have legalistic implications, it's like administrators are using a synonym for "distance" in order to avoid any sorts of contractual agreements that they have made. For instance, at my institution, if a faculty member develops an online course from scratch (for the first time), they are entitled to a development stipend. There is a process behind this stipend, which includes working with an instructional designer and getting a Bootcamp version of the skills one needs to teach online, but it exists, and it takes time. In the times of COVID19, timelines are compacted, and such processes are too long, and money is often too short. So, instead of calling these classes online, they euphemistically call them "remote" in order to avoid paying any stipend. The "right" course of action would be to negotiate with the faculty union about this.
The second issue that I have with the designation "remote" is that it seems to denote a "less-than" term for distance education. It's OK that this course stinks because it's a "remote" course. I wholeheartedly disagree. I think the correct term for a rushed course is an emergency online course, not a remote course. Online courses can stink. And, some do! But to claim that we don't want to call what we do classify what we do in an emergency online learning context as online learning because that's not what online learning is,...well, that's just silly IMO. We did start off with emergency remote teaching when this started, and why we picked the wrong word - picking remote over emergency - is beyond me. The word emergency should be enough to denote that what's happening is not necessarily the most fully fleshed out, but it is the best we can do in with the time and resources we have at hand. Furthermore, emergency remote/online/distance learning is perfectly fine when you have one week to make the pivot. Come September, if we're all still quarantined in place, distance learning should not be emergency anything! We should use the summer to plan for good online learning and to build out student supports that may be lacking at the moment!
Finally, there is an aspect of synchronous often tied with the affinity of using the term remote learning. Many people decided to just move their lectures into zoom. Hey, a 45-minute live session might be OK three-times per week for one class; multiply that by 4 courses for a full-time student. However, sitting in front of a computer for 9 hours per week on zoom sessions that might not be needed, and then being in front of your computer for all assignment (plus all the distractions and poor internet that you might have at home) and it doesn't make for a conducive learning environment. That said, we do have the option for synchronous online meetings. Online courses aren't designed to be strictly asynchronous or self-paced. Furthermore, just because mixed-mode institutions have ignored their online learners for the past decade doesn't mean that online or distance learning is inflexible and doesn't adapt to the changing needs of learners. It doesn't mean that there is a lack of community, and it doesn't mean that distance education cannot create co-curricular opportunities. Just because you have ignored some or all of these possibilities doesn't mean that they don't exist, and it doesn't require that you create a new term to describe them.
In the end, what I am seeing with remote learning is the same thing we saw in the 2012-2014 MOOC Craze years, where what we knew about online and distance education was summarily ignored due to the new shiny. Did we not learn anything from that experience? ❓
Missing...but not missing OLC this year21-04-2016, 09:53 #et4online, #OLCinnovate, #vconnecting, Conference, OLC, SocialMedia, synchronous conferencing, twitter, virtual
A couple of years ago I was not able to participate in #et4online (now #OLCinnovate) because the school I work for didn't have the funds to "send" me virtually. I have to say that I really missed the opportunity to participate, even remotely, at this professional development conference. I kept an eye on the twitter stream but things didn't make as much sense. The reaction, and #OLCsnark didn't connect with me because I was missing a piece of the puzzle. I wanted in!
Flash forward to this year, through a fluke (well financial issues which came up this year at the university) I was not able to register for the conference as a virtual. My colleagues did get a day-pass that we have projected in a conference room so many of us can attend with one virtual pass, but it's not as convenient (although I may crash that party today ;-) ). Even though I am not signed up to attend the vast majority of the recorded and virtual sessions at OLC Innovate, I find that I am not missing it as much this year, and that's thanks to friends and colleagues over at virtually connecting, and presenters who are virtually-connecting friendly.
We had a blast yesterday during the Hybridity presentation. The on-site buddies (and fellow co-presenters) did such an amazing job at including us virtuals (Alan, Maha, and I) that I really felt that I was part of the conversations (big thanks goes to my on-site buddy Autumm who was awesome!). At my table there were a total of 8-10 discussants (including me and Autumm). Due to the narrowness of the field of view of the camera I was only able to see 2 people at a time, and every time Autumm turned the laptop my reaction was "OMG! There are more people at this table interested in talking! Awesome!").
There are, of course, logistical issues with this approach (i.e. how does this scale to 100 or more registrants? Do you 'dual-layer' a conference to make it more manageable? etc.), but it was a pretty fantastic experience. The funny thing is that I was on Google Hangouts on my Mac, which was positioned in one part of the room and I could see the room from the podium, and I was on skype, on my ubuntu box, participating at the table discussion. Initially I would glance over at my Mac and try to compare where Autumm, Andrea, and Rebecca were talking to and from in order to ascertain my "position" in the room. Which table was I at? How close was it to the podium? Who was at other tables? It was an interesting experience.
The other way of being included is in Matt Crosslin's presentation on Dual Layer MOOCs. It seemed that Virtually Connecting was integrated into this (again, thanks Autumm for being my legs in the room! :-) ) and not only did we see the presentation, we participated as well, along with the in-room participants.
While I do "miss" not registering for OLC innovate, these 2 sessions yesterday were more fulfilling and satisfying than any other virtual conference participation experience to date. It's not the quantity that matters, but the quality of interaction.
sidenote: for the people at the table during the hybridity session - feel free to connect on twitter and linkedin :)
Virtually Connecting at #digPed 2015 (Day 5)26-08-2015, 04:30 Conference, ProfDev, synchronous conferencing, vconnecting
Week 1 Recording of BonkOpen viewed - interesting08-05-2012, 17:30 #bonkopen, MOOC, motivation, onlineLearning, synchronous conferencing
In any case, with the help of a piece of software called Elluminate Publish (thank you Blackboard person on Twitter!) I was able to download the recording in video format (just a bit over 130MB if I recall correctly) for the entirety of the two hours. It was a nice presentation, nothing good, nothing bad - just nice. It added a little more dimension to the TEC-VARIETY model readings we had in the MOOC. I saw some people on the discussion boards complaining that Curtis Bonk tried too hard at being entertaining, making a fool of himself (really paraphrasing here) with all those cow sounds when he talked about Moooooodle and MooooooCs.
OK, I honestly didn't mind, I thought it was funny. A two hour webcast would be boring if it were a straight lecture. You need to break these things up. Also, the fact that Curtis Bonk looks like Zaphod Beeblebrox (see photo; from Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) sort of helped solidify the somewhat whacky persona. The session was a bit long, but with so many people attending, it would make sense that there is a 45-60 minute "lecture" and a discussion around Q&As from the participants, so not such a big deal.
Elluminate publisher offered me an MP3 audio-only version of the session. I am wondering if next time I should just go with the audio, since the video didn't offer me much more than the audio would.