Thursday, January 31, 2008

Spanning the Digital Divide

This chart indicates how many of our online students access their courses from a high-speed connection rather than a dial-up connection. The results to this question have shown a steady increase over the years away from dial-up, with only 6.5% of the students indicating that they do NOT have a high-speed connection. (Click to view in more detail)

I realize that this doesn't exactly prove that we are bridging the digital divide in the U.S. (after all we are ranked something like 24th in broadband penetration), but it does at least indicate that most of the students who are choosing to take online courses understand the importance of having a high-speed connection.

In this second chart you see how the answers to this question have changed over time.

Obviously, it is not exactly the same chart as above, but it uses the data from the same question asked over six different survey submissions with the answers aggregated as to whether the student indicated use of a high-speed connection or a dial-up connection.

I'm not saying that we can forget about those 6.5% of the students that don't have access to broadband, but I am saying that we can concentrate on more and more rich media content and at the same time have fewer and fewer stuents who need special assistance to not be at a disadvantage because of their connection speed.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Web 2.0 Inside D2L - Google Reader

This video shows the use of Google Reader inside Desire2Learn as an easy way for an instructor to share specific items from their RSS feeds from their own Google Reader account. Using this technique, rather than having all feeds appear inside the online course, the instructor can select only those posts that are particularly germane to the course. In the example it shows me sharing an item from OLDaily by Stephen Downes that links to a blog post by Julie Lindsay. Julie's blog post with an embedded video then appears inside the D2L course for all to enjoy. None of this content actually lives insides D2L, but it looks like it does.

I'd very much like to hear how others are using Web 2.0 tools inside their VLE, even you Blackboard users. ;)

Follow this link to view the video directly at
, which also gives you a full screen option.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Student Technology Survey - #2

Here's more data from the survey given to the students enrolled at LSC Online for the spring semester of 2008. There were a total of 823 responses. These two are interesting to me, and really show a shift over just a couple of years ago. (Click graphics to view more detail.)

Question 3 indicates that about 35% of our online students regularly use 3 or more email accounts. This is a percentage that has grown over the past couple of years. Of course they have an email account from LSC which is where all their official course communications come to, and they may have one or more email accounts that are job-related. My guess is that many of the students are starting to have more than one personal email accounts as well.

Question 18 is probably not all that surprising, but still somewhat disappointing. Apparently about 30% of the online students do NOT consistently maintain up-to-date virus protection. The next question should be "Why not?" My guess is that it is a combination of factors including the cost of the software, the fact that Norton and probably other AV programs seem to take control over your machine so that it becomes difficult to use at times, and a little bit related to not understanding how serious the threats are (we do have some computer newbies taking online classes).

Friday, January 18, 2008

e-Learning Data Tidbits

Just a few quick pieces of data about our online students here at LSC. We are collecting data at the beginning of the term about our students' uses of technology. So far 700 students (each taking at least one online course) have submitted the survey. (NOTE: this post was updated 1/23 with the final numbers after the survey was closed with 823 submissions.) Click below to view larger screenshot.

About 81% of them have a digital camera, 62% have an iPod or similar, and 95% have a cell phone with almost 1/3 of them having Internet access on the phone. This same question was asked two years ago when only 66% had a digital camera, and 28% had an iPod.

I'm a little surprised that only 24% have a webcam (up from 15% in '06) and also that video game system ownership is almost exactly the same as it was in '06. How typical are the LSC students? Good question. I guess I'll be looking for some answers.

Another piece of data came from our system office with details about the online learners from all 37 of our schools in MnSCU. They were primarily looking at how many of our online learners are ONLY taking online courses and how many are blending a schedule of both online and on-ground courses.

During the 2006-2007 academic year, LSC had 3,398 students take at least one online course and a total of 8,084 students took at least one credit-bearing college course. Therefore, 42% of our student population took at least one online course. Of those 3,398 online students at LSC, 1,418 took online courses ONLY, or about 42% of the 42%. It is likely, in my estimation, that those 1,418 students wouldn't have had a connection to LSC without online learning.

Our 42% online course participation rate is almost exactly double the rate of online course participation for the colleges and universities in the Twin Cities Metro area.

Finally, one more piece of info from the survey about student technology. Inside our VLE we have a tutorial about academic honesty, the Student Code of Conduct, and the perils of plagiarism and cheating. All students are encouraged to read the tutorial when beginning their online coursework at LSC and some instructors require students to read the materials and report back or answer some quiz questions or something like that. On the survey, I ask the students to indicate whether they have used the tutorial or whether they plan to use it or ignore it. Here are the responses (n=700 at time of writing).

42% - I have already entered and used this academic honesty tutorial.
21% - I was already aware of this and I plan to enter and use the academic honesty tutorial.
11% - I was already aware of this and I do NOT plan to enter and use the academic honesty tutorial.
19% - I was NOT already aware of this, but I now plan to enter and use the academic honesty tutorial.
7% - I was NOT already aware of this and I do NOT plan to enter and use the academic honesty tutorial.

I find it surprising that 82% of the students say that they have already used it or are planning to use it. I realize that this self-attribution is not completely accurate, however I am heartened by the fact that such a high number are willing to at least say that they find the information important enough to look at and that 42% have already done so.

Monday, January 14, 2008

A Black Day for Connect-Ed

This just dropped into my inbox. In one fell swoop, we are now (or soon to be) Blackboard clients. Oh the humanity!!!

MnSCU has been working with the NTI Group with their Connect-Ed emergency notification system. My college is one of the schools using the system during this pilot phase that has just been extended by 6 months.

I had great hope for Connect-Ed and our vendor-client relationship. Those hopes are dashed. I expect nothing good to happen as we look forward with this lousy corporate citizen. Cheese-us, you just can't make this stuff up.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Proposal Deadline Nears

The deadline for presentation proposals is quickly approaching for the 2008 DesireLearn Users Conference. The conference will be held in Memphis and is being hosted by the Tennessee Board of Regents. TBR is one of the most recent large systems to have adopted D2L.

Download the Presentation Proposal Form. This is a PDF with interactive form fields. Instructions regarding the completion and submission of the proposal are detailed in the form.

Friday, January 18th, 2008 is the proposal deadline. The conference planning committee (that includes me) is working hard to score the submissions very quickly so that presenters will be notified by email of selection results by Monday, January 28th, 2008.

The proposals will indicate whether the session is targeted at novice, intermediate, or advanced users of D2L. Furthermore, there are four different tracks:

  • Teaching and Learning
  • Support and Training
  • Program Management
  • Technical System Administration
There are rumors of a keynote address by Elvis. Reports of his death have been greatly exaggerated. At the very least, side trips to Graceland might be available.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

2007 Desire2Blog Recap

During the past year: