Long Beach , California
Let me start with ITC’s mission:
“The Instructional Technology Council, ITC, provides exceptional leadership and professional development to its network of eLearning experts by advocating, collaborating, researching, and sharing exemplary, innovative practices and potential in learning technologies
Although I’ve been coordinating and viewing ITC’s webinars, I really had no idea what this organization does, but now that I do, I am so excited to be a part of their community. The annual conference is primarily focused on two year colleges and looking at urgent issues in eLearning, in emerging technology, in best practices for instructors, administrators, and technologists. Like another of my favorite conferences (TYCA-Midwest, the Two Year College English Association), this conference is focused on practical ideas and sessions that give participants ideas to actually implement right away. I judge a good workshop or conference in my enthusiasm when I get home. If I want to start working on an idea that I learned about right away, I know the conference was valuable. In this case, I want to work on at least four ideas right away. Just the fact that I am blogging about the conference after traveling for 12 hours yesterday (arriving on a snow blown airport tarmac at 11 p.m.) is evidence of this conference’s value. I also have at least three new Facebook “friends” who, besides being extraordinary people, will be important resources for exploring these and other new ideas in eLearning.
Ok, so I loved the conference. What did I learn?
Here are some of the highlights:
Lake Superior College English Instructor Amy Jo Swing received a 2012 Distinguished eLearning Educator Award.
Sunday morning’s keynote was by Gardner Campbell called; The First Step in Transforming High Education: Awakening the Digital Imagination
One book he recommended was: What you really need to know about the internet from Gutenberg to Zuckerberg. Naughton 2012. (Here’s an interview with the author: http://youtu.be/FCklVenEuXU )
Campbell talked much about complexity being the new reality. As educators, we need to do more about stimulating learning and not managing learning. Currently our learning systems are like skinner boxes—on-ground classroom and instructional learning systems. He had some fun graphics showing a classroom looking pretty much like an operant conditioning chamber. He kind of has a point. Grades are the reward. Papers are the task.
Campbell also talked about how we need to move toward double-loop learning—not just meeting outcomes. We need to ask “What might I want my students to learn that I don’t even know I know yet?” which is, as he said, like “building an airplane in flight.” These ideas are similar to others I kept hearing at the conference—that we need to move more to individual learning experiences, to modular learning, and not one-size-box-fits-all.
When he talked about this idea of “digital imagination,” I was intrigued. The best example he gave was Eric Whitacre’s virtual choir: http://youtu.be/D7o7BrlbaDs (If you haven’t seen this, stop everything and go there now!). It’s using the power of easy technology to create art in new ways and connecting people worldwide. As an artist, I love the possibilities here. He talks about how technology can “knit minds together” (which reminded me of the Borg but in a less creepy way). He actually did compare the complexity of digital imagination with poetry (How could I not love that?). When I teach beginning writers poetry, I talk about density, about layers, how poetry is not linear, but overlapping (but not “deep” –that’s also linear, just vertical instead of horizontal). Digital complexity is that way too. An iPhone is not built to be linear, but to be layered. It is a thing, though, like a computer or the Internet; it is a complex (noun) as well as being (an adjective) complex (my idea, not Campbell’s).
More references and resources:
“Paradox of the Active User.” Carroll and Rosson 1987 essay.
“As we may think”—Vannevar Bush 1945
reddit.com : IWTL: I want to learn, TodayI learned
BLOG: from memex to youtube: cognition, learning, and internet
Google: What do you love?
The second exceptional session I went to was called: Teaching Online: A Transformative Course by Alice Renner from Sinclair Community College.
I took a zillion notes at this one because she was talking about a course that was created at her institution to train new faculty on how to teach online, not to design a course, but just how to teach one. In fact, it was created especially for faculty to teach courses that were already designed (which may be the future of much online education). The focus is on pedagogy and best practices.
Since I am getting ready to design a faculty training this summer, I did get some practical and useful information.
The course is five weeks and centered around these topics:
- Getting started online
- Engaging students online
- Facilitating discussions
- Working in groups (how, why, how to deal with problems, etc)
- Assessing student learning
Participants are given a “dummy” IMS shell so they can complete assignments and practice ideas in the course and there are also assignments and discussion in the online course itself.
Some of the features I really like were:
- Use of video interviews with experienced online faculty about their practices and views such as how often to log into the class, how to deal with student conflicts, how to communicate effectively, etc.)
- Student perspectives at the end of each unit
- A group project
- An assignment that has participants take one of their own assignments and elevate it to a higher level in Bloom’s taxonomy
Although this course was designed with the help of 2 graphic artists, a video production group, five Instructional Designers, 3 technical production staff, and 2 flash developers, I think Val and I can still incorporate some of the ideas and use them in our own course.
Another interesting session I attended was called: Using Video and Facebook for Student Engagement by Kathryn Rhodes from Roane State Community College.
Although this topic isn’t new, the presenter talked about using more immediate videos in the class to engage students in current material. She tapes her video lectures only a week or so before the class sees them so that she can include the most current examples and events in her lectures instead of creating more professional and permanent videos that can be used multiple times. Although some students complain that they aren’t able to access the lectures ahead of time, most students appreciate the current events and stories and feel more connected to the instructor. Also she uploads the videos both to the IMS and to iTunes because rural students can access the videos more easily from iTunes and other students can view them on mobile devices.
Rhodes also uses Facebook but not as a group or “friends.” She creates a separate page for her class and posts supplemental resources there that students can read if and when they like. Again, she says this is the kind of thing she does in the on-ground classroom and so offers the same resources for her online students.
Overall, as we learn that making connections is what keeps students engaged and in school, instructors need to make connections and build community as much as possible even online. I like the ways this instructor is doing that.
I might try creating a separate Facebook page in my Creative Writing class for additional resources, for students to post their work, etc.
The best session I attended was called: eLearning DigiStory-Slam (with seven presenters including Barry Dahl, Audrey Williams, Howard Beattie, Kyle Mackie, and Michael Amick)
All the resources and instructions can be found here:
These seven presenters had seven minutes each to show a short digital story that they created using different technologies and for different purposes. Some of the stories were more like audio PowerPoint lectures but snazzier while some really used multimedia in ways I had not seen before like using Google maps to create a geographical story and using iMovies or an iPad to create unique explanations of concepts and ideas. I see so many possibilities in digital storytelling from creating a digital babybook for my two children (including Google maps of their birthplaces, pictures, songs, a video clips as well as audio stories of their births and major events, especially the embarrassing ones) to creating a short introduction for my online courses, both for the course and me (including pictures of places I’ve lived, songs, audio, maybe video too) to using digital stories in lectures as I would in the classroom. I’m a bit concerned about the time, but I think once I do it a couple of times, it will get easier.
I would love to have some hands-on workshops at LSC on this topic and get some local examples.
Check out the presenters’ Google page to see all the resources used and step-by-step directions in how to create digital stories:
The last session I attended was: Think Globally, Act Openly: Multiple Approaches to Open Educational Resources
Here are some great resources for open education and textbooks:
Community College’s Consortium for Open Educational Resources; http://oerconsortium.org/
Has webinars and online communities
we should join ($350/year and a whole state or system can join for that
Why openness? To reduce costs, collaborate, improve learning, save taxpayer money, and scale education
Some OER resources:
MIT OpenCourseware: http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm
Carnegie Mellon Open Learning Initiative: http://oli.web.cmu.edu/openlearning/
San Diego Community College Online Learning Pathways: http://www.sdccdonline.net/
Florida’s digital repository, The Orange Grove: http://www.theorangegrove.org/
US Department of Labor has dedicated two billions dollars over the next few years to retaining workers, but the education must be open!
College of the Canyons FIPSE grant: playlists, common voice, transitions between learning objectives
Community College Open Textbook: http://collegeopentextbooks.org
Modifiable by the instructor
Digital and modular
Creative commons licensed
Low cost or free (students can print them for $10-$60)
Overall, this is the best IT conference I have ever attended and one of the best conferences overall too. I hope to be able to make it to next year’s conference.
Oh yes, Hanna Erpestad and I also gave a presentation titled: Teaching Evaluations Online? It can be Done! We had over 60 participants and our ideas and resources were well received.