Questions

X

SCOL Blog

SCOL Welcomes Dr. David Pacifico

 Permanent link

We are happy to announce that David Pacifico has joined our team. David brings to SCOL extensive experience in the field and classroom at home and abroad. Here at SCOL he’ll be taking the reins as our Research, Policy, and Evaluation Coordinator as we expand SCOL’s academic programming and community partnerships. Check out David’s bio page for more information about his teaching, research, and expertise.

pacifico in paracas

SMORE –Web Platform for Creating Interactive Flyers

(Technology and Learning) Permanent link

Recently I needed to create some technical help documentation around a change within our LMS. The change involved our plagiarism tool, Turnitin, which had sunsetted the API version of the tool and was launching the new LTI version.  The change was to take place on January 1st. The timing was perfect as the date for the implementation would allow our faculty three weeks to make the adjustment to the new Turnitin LTI tool prior to the start of the spring semester.

In the past I’ve used the content pages within Canvas as the method to communicate training or to create help documentation. While searching for something to jazz up my method for communicating training to our faculty, I found the tool smore.

Smore is a free web service that allows a user to create interactive web flyers.  After creating my account on the website https://www.smore.com/ I was able to begin making flyers for my training documentation. Here is a sample of a document I created: https://www.smore.com/ng3jh

There are several reasons I really enjoyed using this tool:

  • It allowed me to select the layout I needed which contains interactive drag and drop templates for dropping in the content, images, links and video.
  • I was able to move the content around on the flyer.
  • I was able to bring in images quickly and easily.
  • I was able to pick a standard font and color for the header and body of the flyer.
  • I was able to select a background look for the flyer.
  • The flyer allowed me to import in Thinglink images I had created. Here is a sample of one of my flyers that shows how I used Thinglink. https://www.smore.com/pw690
  • Thinglink is another free web service that allows a user to annotate images and videos which is very helpful when creating training document. You can learn more about Thinglink at https://www.thinglink.com/.
  • The flyer allowed me to control my sharing options which included all the normal social media solutions including Pinterest.
  • The flyer provided me with an embed code for dropping in my content into a Canvas content page.
  • Any edits I complete on my flyer in smore are instantly updated within Canvas.
  • I am able to preview and print my flyer if necessary.
  • Best of all, once I had 30 hits on my flyer, I received an email from smore telling me I can view the analytics for my flyer.
  • The analytics included how many visitors had seen my flyer, a Google map showing the location of the visitors, and the amount of time visitors spent reading the flyer. I can also see how many other sites are linked to my flyer which tells me how much traffic my flyer is receiving. How amazing is that! The analytics are included with the free account.

As you can tell I’m very satisfied with my approach to creating my technical documentation.  To evaluate the success of my new method for delivering help documentation, I am going to survey the faculty and ask for feedback on the training materials I developed using smore.

Happy Thanksgiving from SCOL!

(Teaching and Learning) Permanent link

 As we pause this week to enjoy family, friends, food, and a bit of football, let us also remember and be thankful for those educators in our lives who have made a difference.  At the School of Continuing and Online Learning, our goal is to create excellent, meaningful, and relevant educational experiences for our learners, whoever and wherever they are.

We have written extensively about rigor, design, and facilitation.  We have discussed our ongoing initiative to encourage the use of the Quality Matters rubric.  We have talked about integrating active teaching and learning strategies into our pedagogy.  And we have highlighted why all of that matters.

As this holiday week rolls along, you will undoubtedly spend some time reflecting on the year you have had, the company you keep, and the future -- your future, your family's future, the country's future, the world's future.  Reflection is a powerful tool that helps us take stock of where we have been, where we want to go, and how we might be able to get there.  

As we teach and learn, we must also remember to tap into the powers of reflection.  For students, reflection is an indispensable component of learner-centered instructional design.  The act of reflecting demands critical self-evaluation:  it forces us to confront what we think we know or can do, what we want to know or to be able to do, what we don't know or cannot do.  For teachers, reflection opens up an opportunity for us to examine our own pedagogy and instruction.  Are we designing curriculum, instruction, and assessment in a way that promotes student learning?  Are we demanding quality and excellence from our students?  Are we demanding it from ourselves?

Without reflection, improvement is elusive, because improvement requires introspection and critique.  That process has to be both external and internal, from our superiors, from our peers, and from ourselves.  So, as you take time to give thanks and reflect on your 2016, think about how you can carve out space in your own educational practice for the same sort of deep, honest thought. 

Post author: Eric Ludwig 

Creating Standards for Online Course Delivery

(Teaching and Learning) Permanent link

No one would argue with establishing a list of standards that should be accomplished in order to complete a certain process. Standards are very helpful as they are used to set the bar for how a task or process should be completed and to what degree. Standards give individuals a target to reach and explicitly state expectations. However, by stating that there are online standards does that imply individuals feel compelled to meet those standards even if they are identified as a best practice? For example, suppose you were given a list of standards on how you are expected to facilitate an online course.  What would your reaction be to the following standards? 

Online instructors should be: 

  • well versed in effective communication and the learning tools within the LMS 

  • student-centered and flexible while maintaining and communicating high standards 

  • promote online dialogue to deepen the learning experience 

  • able to foster community virtually and facilitate collaborative learning among the students 

  • able to collaborate with students and the support systems at the university to further student success and participation 

  • able to project their personality through developing an online voice 

  • committed to the use of active learning within the online course 

  • committed to providing appropriate and timely feedback  

  • able to adjust the online course when needed by adding additional support to the instruction via the use of multimedia tools, including asynchronous and synchronous learning events, simulations, social media and other online instructional tools  

  • committed to helping students become successful no matter who they are or what experience they have 

The standards state what should happen in an online course around facilitation. So, how do you encourage faculty to adopt such standards? How should they learn about the standards and realize the importance the standards have for the success of our online students? Is the best course of action to be collaborative or punitive for establishing compliance with a set of standards? Where does training come into play when establishing standards? Who should communicate these standards as expectations to be followed?  

At the heart of all these questions lies the fact that the adoption of standards requires change and change is difficult. Change requires awareness that there is a need for the standards if things are to improve, communication on how we intend to improve, and buy-in from leadership to support the change. Change requires faculty commitment to attend training and apply the training to their online course.  

During our early adopter phase of implementing Canvas, we debated minimum standards on the requirements for creating a course homepage; after several months of discussion a minimum standard was approved. While no one was advocating that all courses look alike, it was agreed that certain information should be listed on the course homepage.  Yet, no one was in charge of ensuring this minimum standard was applied in all courses.  

Now that the School of Continuing Online Learning is in existence, there can exist monitoring for online courses to ensure quality.  To what degree is the university ready for this change? At this moment the School is ready to begin collaborating with the Colleges to define our work processes and standards. We welcome the opportunity to begin these conversations around online quality as we are committed to improving online learning at Stritch.  


Post author: Christine Dereberry


A Change Would Do You Good

(Teaching and Learning) Permanent link

As we look forward to the official launch of the School of Continuing and Online Learning here at Cardinal Stritch, I keep hearing the chorus from the Sheryl Crow song, “A Change Would Do You Good,” play over and over in my head. As we move closer and closer to this work becoming a reality, there are always mixed feelings when you are preparing for change.

It seems like there two “camps” or types of people in how they react to change. One group seems to embrace change and sees it as a necessity to evolve and grow, and the other group seems to want to keep the status quo, leave things as they are, and not rock the boat. As Rick Godwin said, “One reason people resist change is that they focus on what they have to give up, rather than what they have to gain.” There are multiple other reasons people appear to resist change, particularly when change is complex, such as starting starting a new school.  Managing change correctly can lead to success.  If not managed well, it can lead participants to false starts, frustration, resistance, anxiety, and confusion. As you can see in the Knoster's (1991) model for managing complex change, there are many things to consider. Missing steps along the path to success will cause problems, and in the end will endanger long-term goals and outcomes. 

Vision - Creates the big picture and is needed by everyone so they have a sense of where the change is leading them. Without vision, there will be confusion and a lack of direction will take over. 

Skills - The need to identify knowledge, expertise, and training to move forward. Without the needed skills, the participant’s anxiety levels will rise and they will have less faith in the process.

Incentives - These can be intrinsic or extrinsic, but people always want to know, “what is in it for me.” These incentives may be additional payments, self-esteem, advancements in the organization, etc. Without participants having some incentive, they will see no reason to change and might become resistant to the process. 

Resources - Will extra staffing be needed, new physical resources, support networks, equipment and time given? If the resources are not in place, participants will become frustrated they are not able to make positive change. 

Action Plan - When the process is shared and understood, participants know what needs to be done to gain success. Leadership is committed, participants are energized, and everyone is moving forward. Without an action plan, participants feel they are on a treadmill, repeating behavior and wasting time. 

Success - Change is successful when a new culture is created. A new way of doing things, and a new way of operating takes place and becomes the norm. 


Change is difficult for people. As you can see, there are a lot of factors to consider when managing complex change. Missing any of these factors will cause issues. If you understand what causes these issues and plan for change, you can increase your chances of success greatly.  When you manage change successfully, people will call it growth. And after all, wouldn’t a little change do you good?



Knoster, T. (1991). Managing complex change. Proceedings from: TASH Conference. Washington, DC.

Post author: Ed Price

The School of Continuing and Online Learning

 Permanent link

Welcome to the School of Continuing and Online Learning at Cardinal Stritch University!

In June 2016, the Board of Trustees approved the proposal to create a School of Continuing and Online Learning. The proposal was over a year in the making. Initially drafted by the Office of Instructional Design, the proposal underwent many revisions based on feedback by many at the University. We are very excited to see the proposal come to life.

What are we doing to do differently? Well, not a whole lot actually. We will still continue to support the Colleges as they explore online possibilities. We will still work with Faculty to support their use of technology or other active teaching strategies in their classes. We will still continue to blog (because we know you'd miss us if we didn't!). We'll still produce the free courses that you love. But, we will also be overseeing more strategic online efforts at the University, doing a lot more work with our friends in Marketing, and exploring continuing education online.We'll be working more across the community we live in, but also across the nation as we seek partners for some of these efforts. We welcome your involvement!

Clearly we are still working out some of the nuts and bolts of the new School, but first - a celebration!

Please join us on October 13, 2016 from 5:30pm-7:00pm and learn how the School plans to tackle the "Unfinished Business of Education."Click the link to learn more and register!

http://go.stritch.edu/events/private-college-week-cardinal-stritch-university-milwaukee-wisconsin-0

Can't come in person, leave us a note telling us you love us anyway: https://padlet.com/cldereberry/d0n52icmev1g

UPDATE:

We had a wonderful launch event and thanks friends, colleagues and supporters from around the United States for all the warm wishes and congratulations! If you missed it, here is the video of the presentations





 


Persistence & Persistent Assessment

(Teaching and Learning) Permanent link

In previous posts we have talked extensively about the importance of building in formative assessment and opportunities for instructor and peer feedback to improve learning outcomes.  As a corollary, we might also argue that increased formative assessment and consistent feedback can drive retention and student persistence efforts. It stands to reason that students failing to complete work and falling behind in a course (regardless of modality) would ultimately presage course-level attrition and poor performance.  Students who fall behind may do so for a number of reasons:  dissatisfaction with the course, poor individual preparation or time management, unexpected life events, or expected life events.

These are fairly broad categories (and do not capture all possible factors influencing a student’s decision to persist), so let’s take each of them in turn and examine what we can do to build courses and learning experiences that encourage engagement and persistence.

  • Dissatisfaction with the learning experience:  Here is where we can have the most influence as instructional designers and curriculum specialists.  How are designing courses and programs to keep learners interested and invested in their learning from start to finish?  We know that student satisfaction with the online learning experience is a good predictor of persistence (see e.g., Levy, 2004).  How do we ensure that our learners are satisfied?  And how do we do that while maintaining rigor and quality?  We can start by creating learning environments that build meaningful community, that encourage consistent and timely feedback from instructors and peers, and that utilize formative assessment to gauge learner progress and achievement.  We can look to social presence theory to help us encourage robust, interactive learning communities (see Tu & McIsaac, 2002 for a primer).

  • Preparation & time management:  As instructors and instructional designers, we cannot control individual learner characteristics, but we can engage our students with clear course design, ongoing assessment, and timely feedback.  We need to make sure that students understand two things: what they will learn and how they will learn it (or how they will display their learning).  At each level (program, course, and module), we should highlight learning objectives, list important tasks and assessments, and outline our expectations.  We should also stress time:  how much time should you expect to spend each day, each week?  And then we need to remain diligent: be prepared to communicate with students who might be at risk of falling behind. Incorporating regular formative assessment will also aid in keeping students accountable for their own learning, while opening up opportunities for feedback.

  • Life!: Sometimes life gets in the way and it can be hard to keep up!  As a father of a two-week old, I know this feeling quite well.  Whether expected or unexpected, learners might struggle to manage the responsibilities and time demands of work, school, and personal life.  How we interact with our students during their stressful times can impact their decision to persist.  We should work to cultivate a genuine learning community and authentic relationships.  Reach out to your students regularly, provide constant feedback and encouragement, and work to build personal relationships.  When something unexpected occurs, work with those students directly to come up with an alternative solution.   Consider alternatives to a traditional week-to-week schedule wedded to the academic calendar. Be flexible, but outcome-oriented.

Post author: Eric Ludwig


References

Levy, Y. (2007). Comparing dropouts and persistence in e-learning courses.Computers & Education48 (2), 185-204.

Tu, C. H., & McIsaac, M. (2002). The relationship of social presence and interaction in online classes. The American Journal of Distance Education16(3), 131-150.