Monday, November 9, 2009

Faculty Development in Distance Education

A colleague of mine here at DePaul (Kelly Richmond Pope) alerted me to a Faculty Focus special report - Faculty Development in Distance Education: Issues, Trends and Tips. The 21-page guide is freely published by Magnapubs and can be downloaded here.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Intelligent Agents in D2L

I have been teaching a class in Desire2Learn (MKT 595: Internet Marketing) as part of long-term study and comparison of Learning Management Systems (teaching in Blackboard, D2L and Moodle to explore the respective advantages and disadvantages of each system). My colleagues in SNL, SoE and SPS are doing the same. I had not posted about my experiments here, but have decided that I should.

This week I decided to see how well Intelligent Agents could be put to use. Intelligent Agents are scriptable events that send out e-mails based upon a set of criteria. You could use them to send a gentle nudge to students who had not logged into the course for several days, or who had not completed an assignment before the deadline.

This is a great feature, but I did not want to send students automated e-mails until I had tested things for myself. What I did instead was to create an intelligent agent that sent me e-mail as each of students completed milestone tasks. This highlighted some issues that I would have to work through:

  1. I received some spurious messages with this text:

    {term not found: IntelligentAgents.Shared.emailConfirmationBody}

    I am assuming that this is a mis-configuration on my part. I will investigate further…..
  2. My spam/junk filter quarantined some of the e-mail messages. This happened at two stages; externally from our Postini service, internally from Entourage/Outlook. I had to manually recover the messages.

Based upon this information, I would use this procedure with Intelligent Agents:

  1. Create agents from a tested template.
  2. Ask students to add the Intelligent Agent e-mail address to their whitelist or address book (so that the e-mails would not be stopped by spam filtering).
  3. CC myself on the student e-mail.

Overall, I am impressed with the feature. I just need to experiment with it more.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Twitter in Higher Education: Usage Habits and Trends of Today’s College Faculty

Faculty Focus has published a free report that provides some perspective on Twitter use in Higher Education. The PDF can be downloaded here:

The 20-page report used survey data conducted between July and August of this year. About 2,000 respondents completed they survey. The majority of the faculty who responded do not use Twitter in Higher Education (for varying reasons.). The report is well worth a look.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Social Media: Trends and Implications for Learning

I was able to tune into the AACE Global U Social Media: Trends and Implications for Learning webinar today. Some excellent links were shared, which I would like to repeat here. Participants were also frantically Twittering - you can search for appropriate tweets with the #SMTI hashtag as well. Notable links (for me) were:

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Thursday, December 18, 2008

An Instrument to Assess Online Facilitation

Things are (relatively) quieter in the office. I am using the time to go through e-mails and organize some projects.  Every so often I come across something I meant to do…. Here is one.

Humboldt State University has an instrument to assess online facilitation. The tool can be used for self- or peer-assessment.

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Friday, November 21, 2008

Have Joined Classroom 2.0

I have joined Classroom 2.0. At the moment my profile there is somewhat undeveloped. I hope to post something of significance over the weekend.

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

American Youth & Social Media

An excellent piece of research on how American (U.S.) youth use social media has just been published. The research should be used to inform the development of online learning courses and programs. I highly recommend reading the study (or at least the two-page summary). 

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

December DOTS now open

The December iteration of DOTS (DePaul Online Teaching Series) is now open for applications. This is a great opportunity for Commerce faculty to develop materials for amazing online and blended courses.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

CAP and Livescribe

Tuesday and Wednesday of this week I attended the CAP (Commission for Accelerated Programs) Accelerated Online and Blended Learning Workshop in Denver. I used the opportunity to test a new gadget I had picked up – the Livescribe Pulse. The pulse is a ‘smart pen.” One of those devices that digitizes and stores what you write. The pulse also manages to record audio and link these recordings to what you have written or doodled on paper. Tapping text with your pen on paper plays back what was recorded at that specific time. The technology is pretty impressive.

Unfortunately the Mac client for the Pulse is not out just yet but development seems to be taking place and there is the promise of rich third-party applications (OCR would be nice).

Anyway, I used the Pulse to record everything. I have started to upload and share (with permission). Moving forward I think this will change how I make notes in meetings and presentations.

Plenary Presentation From R2D2 to the Matrix: A Galaxy of Online Learning Style, Motivational, Blended Learning, and Learner-Centered Examples Curt Bonk Professor of Instructional Systems Technology in the School of Education & Adjunct in the School of Informatics, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN President of CourseShare and SurveyShareNOTE: Other/older presentations can be found here
Concurrent Small Group Session Best Practices of Blended Learning: Situations, Solutions, and Several Surprises! Curt Bonk
Faculty Training and Development for Online/Hybrid Courses and Programs Lisa M. Bunkowski Assistant Professor, Online Evaluator & Mentor, Park University
Transitioning Ground-based Curriculum to Online/Hybrid Curriculum - Best Practices in Quality, Innovation, and Assessment Deborah O’Reilly Assistant Professor & Department Chair, National-Louis University
Student Panel Student Expectations when Taking Online/Hybrid Courses  
Plenary Presentation Active Learning with Technology: Myths, Magic, and Mucho Motivation Curt Bonk
Concurrent Small Group Session Student Learning in Online/Hybrid Accelerated Courses and Programs - Data Sharing & Research Carrie E. Buri Center Director, School of Adult Education, Concordia University, Madison, WI
Administrative and Technical Considerations, Recommendations, and Innovation when Implementing an Online/Hybrid Accelerated Course or Program Ellen Waterman Associate Dean, Distance Education, Regis University College for Professional Studies, Denver, CO
Online/Hybrid Accelerated Courses: Examples that Work Marti Garlett Vice President for Academic Programs and Professional Licensure, Division of Institutional Oversight and Academic Integrity at the Laureate Higher Education Group, Los Angeles, CA
Interactive Full Group Session Bridging the Skill Set Gap Among Online Start-Up Faculty: Perspectives from A Course Designer and Facilitator Adam Samhouri Associate Director for Partnership Services, Course Designer, New Ventures of Regis University, Denver, CO

The manufacturer of the Pulse have indicated that they will allow users to print their own “smart paper” – this opens up the option of creating Pulse-enabled handouts for lectures. That would be pretty interesting…

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Friday, June 22, 2007

Secure Online Exams

One the frequent concerns I hear about distance learning is that of how to deal with high-stakes testing (mid-terms, finals, etc.). People always ask

"how do you know students aren't cheating?"
"how do you know the student is taking the exam and not a ringer?"

The typical way we get round this is by creating exercises and projects in which we get to know our students' "voices." We get to know how they write. We get to know how they think. Subsequently, when we come across material in another voice we know something is up. Secure Software is in the (academic) news this week because they have a series of products that are designed to secure the online testing environment. I am going to take a look at what they have and see if their product range could be used here.

For those of you who are interested in what Secure Software is doing at Troy University you can follow these two links:

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