Monday, February 23, 2009

Live Blog - Brian Lamb Keynote at ITC09

Brian Lamb is the early morning keynote in Portland for the eLearning 2009, the ITC annual conference. Session title: The Urgency of Open Education

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Innovations in e-Education

The ITC eLearning 2009 annual conference begins in a few days in Portland, OR. At this event, we are running an advertisement in the conference program for the new service being offered by my employer, Lake Superior College. It is called Innovations in e-Education and it is all about customizing e-learning conference experiences by bringing presenters and a full schedule of sessions to your entire campus, rather than a few people traveling to the next tech conference.

The website is not nearly fully developed, but you can start to get a sense of the offerings for workshops, conferences, and consulting.

The basic idea is that you can bring in 2 or 3 key presenters, for 2 or 3 days at a time, add in some of your local presenters if desired, and have a fully immersive professional development opportunity right at your campus or in your local area. Most of the time it costs about $10,000 to send 3 to 5 people out of state to a conference. For the same cost you can bring a 2-day conference to you and engage 100 or more of your faculty and staff in a similar learning experience.

Contact me for more information. b dot dahl at lsc dot edu


Monday, February 16, 2009

ITC09 - eLearning Conference in Portland

The annual ITC eLearning 2009 Conference conference begins this Saturday at the Portland Hilton and Executive Tower in Portland, Oregon. From the conference website: "eLearning 2009 is the friendliest and most comprehensive annual distance learning conference you will find for eLearning practitioners. It is the one place where you will learn who is doing what, what technologies they are using, what works, and what doesn't." This is always my favorite conference of the year, which I certainly hope is true again in 2009.

I'm busy working on presentation materials for all of the following sessions:

The Basics of Blogs, Wikis, and RSS - Saturday morning: 1/2 day pre-conference workshop.
  • This workshop will start at the very beginning, with no prior knowledge assumed. We will look at how blogs and wikis can be effectively be used in education. You'll create a blog, and see how you can use a blog to effectively communicate with your students as well as how you can have your students use blogs as a significant part of their learning experience. You'll also learn how RSS feeds make it very simple for you to follow the entries that your students make to their blogs.
  • We'll also look at the many effective uses of a wiki in education. You'll create one and learn how to edit the pages, as well as how to share access to the wiki for others to collaborate with you. They can be especially effective for student group projects and other academic work such as committee work and college planning. All materials will be available online for your continued use after the workshop.
Using Web 2.0 Tools inside your Virtual Learning Environment - Saturday afternoon: 1/2 day pre-conference workshop
  • Social networking and collaboration are enabled by many free Web 2.0 applications that are useful in education and can help enhance student creativity. They can augment and make slide presentations and other forms of course content unique. Barry Dahl will demonstrate the use of these applications inside various virtual learning environments (VLEs), such as Desire2Learn, Blackboard, Angel, and Moodle.
  • Each participant will receive access to an online course they can continue to visit after the workshop ends. You will use examples of many free Web-based tools, including SlideShare, Zoho, Flickr, UStream, Wet Paint, Toondoo, Blip, iMeem, Delicious, various Google tools, Twitter, and Netvibes, and learn how to integrate these tools within your VLE for added convenience for your students.
Grand Debate: Virtual Worlds are the Second Life for Online Learning - Sunday luncheon: where my far-too-worthy opponent will be Chris Collins of the University of Cincinnati. I'm the Con Man.
  • Pro position: Online simulation and role playing in virtual worlds are leading to new forms, methods, and modes of communication, collaboration, and creation that will enhance the educational process. Web-based multi-user 3D virtual worlds continue to attract educators from all over the world by offering a variety of opportunities for interactive learning experiences, developing a rich sense of community, and allowing students a greater freedom of self expression. Well over 100 educational institutions have established a presence in Second Life or other virtual worlds and are actively developing a significant virtual experience for their constituents
  • Con position: But how much of this is hype and how much is truly useful? How many of these virtual world efforts are simply duplicating things that can be done (better) in real life or using other, less complicated and demanding technologies? Trolling around a virtual world and not finding anyone else to interact with can be discouraging to say the least. Then when you do run into someone in world, they are either a virtual porn star or someone trying to pull some sort of financial scam. Not exactly the environment that we usually send our students into. Maybe there is a great deal of HOPE for the future of virtual worlds in education, but right now it’s mainly HYPE.
It's NOT My Job to Entertain Students!! Sunday 3:30 breakout session with Kim Goudy of Central Ohio Technical College.
  • Some faculty say it is not their job to entertain students. Yet, to be entertained is to be engaged. Would they also say it is not their job to engage students? Probably not.
  • The presenters will look at ways you can engage students with technology, in the virtual and face-to-face classroom. Every idea will be something your students can do for free, and many can be used to facilitate student collaborations. One example is a creative writing project where students create an electronic comic strip rather than the same old word processing paper.
  • The presenters will demonstrate several additional ideas using new social technologies. Participants will walk away with resources that provide access to a large number of free, Web-based tools that they can use in their teaching to engage students in new ways.
Sunday evening 6:30 ITC Regional Event: Rock Bottom Brewery. Fun competitions in various games includeing Wii Sports, Wii Guitar Hero, pool, poker, and speed Scrabble.

Web Conferencing 2.0: The Old, the New, and the Difference; Tuesday 10:00 breakout session with Ronda Edwards of the Michigan Community College Virtual Learning Collaborative.
  • The proliferation of online meeting tools makes it easier and cheaper to collaborate across distances. However, to get started you must choose from among all those tools. Some are free, some are cheap, and some are expensive. Some are Web-based and some need an install.
  • The presenters will compare several tools you can use to share documents, make presentations, troubleshoot problems, and collaborate like never before via video and audio conferencing, instant messaging, application/desktop sharing, and interactive whiteboards. Participants will learn which Web conferencing tools work well for various educational applications.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Online Student Mentors

I've been asked to do a couple of webinars after winning a 2008 Desire2Excel award for our Online Student Mentor program at the July Desire2Learn conference in Memphis. The slides used for these webinars are shown below. There's a sufficient amount of explanatory text on these slides so I didn't feel the need to narrate then as well. You can also view the slides at SlideShare.

Although I've never actually made a list of my Top 5 accomplishments in my career (nor even thought about it), this program would most likely be on that list. Not because of having the idea of the program, not because we've won a couple of awards for the program, but because this program has had a profound positive impact on so many of the students who have served as online student mentors.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

New Scheduling Options for Online Students

As part of our AQIP Action Project dealing with Flexible Learning Options for students, we are proposing a new opportunity for online students who are interested in completing the Associate in Arts degree from LSC through the Lake Superior Connect e-campus. AQIP is our alternative approach to accreditation through the Higher Learning Commission and focuses on continuous quality improvement for the institution.

The marketing plan for these offerings is still in development, so I can’t yet tell you what we will call this, but it will have something to do with the option of taking 2 classes at a time, 8 weeks at a time, and completing the AA degree within two years. (Those are 2-by-8 LEGO blocks in the photo - build your degree using 2-by-8s? Too lame?) There will be five start dates for courses during each academic year, which includes the three normal start dates (summer, fall, spring) and additional start dates in the middle of both the fall term and the spring term.

  • Summer 2009 – 8 week session (dates: May 27 – July 21)
  • Fall 2009 – 1st 8 weeks – (tentative dates: Aug 23 – Oct 8)
  • Fall 2009 – 2nd 8 weeks – (tentative dates: Oct 11 – Dec 10)
  • Spring 2010 – 1st 8 weeks – (tentative dates: Jan 10 – Mar 4)
  • Spring 2010 – 2nd 8 weeks – (tentative dates: Mar 14 – May 11)
During the Fall and Spring semesters we are looking at offering about seven course sections in each 8-week session. If student demand warrants, we can easily add more sections with the 8-week time length. This will still give students about many course selection options for completing their AA degree requirements using the 8-week courses.

Just for clarification:

1) In MnSCU, students don't actually declare an online program as their intention. They become online program students simply by the courses that they register for. Our student record system does not include a field that indicates whether a student is an on-ground or online program student.

2) Because of the above item, students who start taking these 8-week online courses are still free to mix and match their classes with any delivery method (on-ground, hybrid, or online) and any length of class (typically either 16- or 8-week classes, or any other). This truly does allow the student greater flexibility in their enrollment options.

3) These 8-week offerings are not intended to reduce the number of available courses for students seeking to complete their online AA degree by taking courses that last the full length of the semester. We expect that a majority of our students will continue to select the full-length courses, but we will be monitoring that situation closely. The online A.A. degree is definitely our most popular online offering. We hope this will help build additional capacity.

4) Students who need developmental coursework will be encouraged to complete their developmental courses prior to starting the 8-week course sequences. Developmental courses are offered during the summer session, but we are not currently scheduling them for the other 8-week sessions during the fall and spring terms. We might decide to do so in the future, but at this time we are taking small steps to start this learning opportunity.

CC photo by oskay