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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

2013 in review

In Education on February 14, 2014 at 9:19 am

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. Nice infogram from the helper monkeys!

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Innovative Teaching and Technology’s Role

In Education, how people learn, innovation in teaching on September 17, 2013 at 4:07 pm

My thoughts about using technology in the classroom; as summarized by an interviewer: Innovative Teaching Enhances Learning

MOOCing around: Week 1 Ending

In assessment of learning, Education, how people learn, innovation in teaching, teaching, teaching with technology, technology on September 10, 2012 at 9:32 am

Group of FishIt’s so interesting to take a class in a subject I haven’t taken in a looooooooong time (statistics).

I’m in a MOOC with 74,999 other students. I’ve used the Khan Academy videos on statistics to help me (and I’m just finishing week one!). I finished the video Koala Sleeping in Treelectures and the first quiz (no score yet) and I’m working on the first assignment due tomorrow (Tuesday, 9/11).  It’s taken me at least 4 hours so far.

Fun, yet daunting. I plan to finish, even if I have to pull a few all-nighters!

According to Kevin Carey, in the article Into the Future With MOOC’s in the Chronicle of Higher Education, MOOCs represent the future of education. He refers to his own experience in a mega-sized face to face economics course as evidence that mass-produced education is not new and that it can be more cost-efficient.

I agree, but only to a certain extent. MOOCs are useful, even for credit (although I’m not taking the stats course for credit). However, the structure of MOOCs must Teacher and classchange to incorporate critical thinking and higher order skills. I think MOOCs are great for those of us who want access to learning…period. I want MOOC creators to keep expanding their subjects and use. For those who need more hands on and for those subjects that require more analysis, MOOCs will not work. Not yet. Not without a mass infusion of ….. je ne sais quoiCalculator & Math Symbolss….a more in depth relationship among  learners, instructors and the critical thinking skills/content.

How will I know whether I’ve learned from this MOOC? There are tests, assignments and (my goal) my increased comfort with and ability to read articles that include statistical analyses. And isn’t that truly what learning is about?

MOOC’ing Around with Numbers

In Education on September 7, 2012 at 11:51 am

Once again, I’m taking a MOOC (Massive Open Online Courseware) class–one which has 75,000 students enrolled.

I’m enjoying it so far. I actually recall some of the information from the last statistics course I took–one in approximately 1976. (Mind you, I was a baby then… lol) Last fall, I dropped out of a MOOC course I had enrolled in. This time, my plan is to stay in it for the long haul.

The Semester Has Officially Started….And Yet Another Cheating Scandal

In cheating, Education, institutional responsibilities, integrity, tests on September 5, 2012 at 7:56 am

What is it about learning that inspires cheating? If seems that if you make it to Harvard, you are one of the “smartest [people] in the room.” Picture from movie: Smartestguysintheroom Yet the latest from Harvard is about a number of students who cheated on a take home exam. And according to MIT behavioral economist Dr. Ariely’s blog, there were LOTS of students who (allegedly) cheated–125!! Students claim that they thought collaboration was allowed (although the exam instructions said something different) because they collaborated for other things during class, they skipped lectures and shared notes and because the student guidebook, the Q Guide,  said students in the past had collaborated with the teaching fellows (of course, that’s probably why the instructor included the statement NOT to collaborate!). (Source of this student perspective: Harvard Students Fighting Allegations of Cheating on Exam).  And these are students that educators claim are the brightest and best–that’s how they merited entry into Harvard.

How can educational institutions encourage learning without promoting cheating? I am disappointed, but not surprised, that the “smartest people in the room” remained there and graduated by cheating. Maybe we need to figure out  different ways to measure intelligence.

 

You Work Only 12 Hours Per Week, Do Not Work in the Summer & Have a Sabbatical Every 7 Years?!

In course evaluations, Education, faculty responsibilities, institutional responsibilities, teaching, universal design for learning on June 11, 2012 at 10:58 am

Consumatory Scholarship!?! Sounds like someone eating books and articles!

In the Chronicle article Just Because We’re Not Publishing Doesn’t Mean We’re Not Working, Bruce Henderson argues that faculty Eatingwork is inadequately recognized by the public and by legislators who make demands for accountability. He also notes that “teaching” as an activity in higher education, is not respected. He notes, as an example, that those who do the most teaching (adjunct faculty) receive lower pay.

I agree.

We do not honor teaching as we should. Universities usually measure and reward teaching by counting publications (research), looking for a key number on student evaluations (e.g. 4.0 on a 5 point scale or meeting the department average) and relying on peer evaluations, Publications in one’s area of expertise do not necessarily translate to good teaching, student evaluations are notoriously unreliable (see my latest post on student evaluations) and peer evaluations are only an indicator of one (or two) colleagues’ attendance at one or two classes. Adjunct faculty’s jobs are at risk if they have low student evaluations, even though the link between student evaluations and teaching is tenuous. So, let’s begin measuring teaching effectively: let’s show students, faculty and legislators how and what students learn. Let’s do that using evidence-based teaching practices, explaining how innovations can help improve learning and reward faculty who do their part (and remind others how learners must do their part).

University administration should reward faculty for their teaching accomplishments. And that means ALL teaching faculty, not only tenure-track faculty. Then, the public can begin to see that not only do many teachers work hard, that they work more than 12 hours per week but that we provide a substantial benefit to society.

I sometimes wonder whether there’s an element of classism, anti-feminism and racism in the continual demands for accountability. The University faculty and administrators were overwhelmingly middle-class white males in the 60s. Now, it’s much more diverse. The increase in diversity parallels the increased demands for accountability. And while I know correlation doesn’t mean causality (and accountability demands have complicated causes), it is frustrating to know that for years, higher education faculty faced no obligation to justify existence. During those times, faculty presented material in a way that only certain types of learners (those you might call read-write learners) could succeed. Student studyingTenure was awarded based on a handshake (at least according to some of the faculty who retired just as I came on board) or solely based on the school from which the faculty member obtained his Ph.D.  And while I was successful in that environment, I recognize that my success shouldn’t be the only measure of whether anyone else can garner educational success. I have met students and others who were just as intelligent, but who learn in different ways. So, I recognize that this system of teaching is not the only means of communicating.

I also wonder whether the accountability demands reflect an attack on intellectualism; that the demands represent an attack on those who want to explore and learn. In his blog posts, The Real Ken Jones discusses this in more depth in his “Celebrating Stupidity” series. He focuses on some of the contradictions between science and what some what to believe. Whether the attack on education is related to an attack on intellectualism in general is subject to debate, but there does continue to be a significant attack on education: justified on some grounds but not on others.

So this discussion returns to the topic line: what should we as educators do to let the public and legislators know what we do in the classroom? Regardless of the cause of the controversy, we need to figure out how to address it–how to rebuff the attacks and to go on the offensive. We provide an invaluable service to the community, yet that gets lost in the rhetoric about accountability.  Is using the term “Consumatory Scholarship” and defining it a way to address it? I think not-the essence is in the details. But to the core question I do not yet have an answer.

Do you?

Twearning: The Experience

In assessment of learning, Education, innovation in teaching, teaching with technology, technology, Uncategorized on May 18, 2012 at 9:51 am
Chart Comparing Grades

Chart Comparing Course Grades Spring 2012 to Spring 2011

The jury’s in. The verdict is: Twearning was modestly successful.

Twearning

Twearning is the use of Twitter in the classroom to promote student engagement and learning. In this post I explained how I had incorporated the use of Twitter in the Sports Marketing Law and Ethics class at my University. The class was composed of juniors and seniors at my university. It is a required course for the Sports Marketing major. Most students were Sports Marketing Major.  The class was taught as a face-to-face class. The class had 18 students. One student was female; the remainder male. Students represented a variety of ethnic backgrounds.

Use of Twitter in this Course  Follow Icon-Twitter

Students were required to do several things:

Tweet one time during class and twice weekly outside class (15/315 points)

Provide group summaries of tweets for the previous week (15/315 points)

Follow tweets of 3 professional athletes and write a social media policy based on the information (50/315 points)

Student Reaction

The following are unedited student comments.

Best of Using Twitter

  • it helped me with my classmates easier. If I had a comment or curiosity, it was easy to get a response and the information i needed.
  • Seeing how it can be used both professionally and casually as well.  As well as quick communication with a very wide

    variety of people.

  • Best thing was the social interaction in and out of the class. If someone needed to ask a quick question, they could easily send a tweet or direct message to someone and get a response back, fairly quickly.
  • Made me stay up to date with the course material, made sure that I was engaged during class time as well.
  • Following athletes (2 students)
  • That every chapter was summed up with the use of twitter and in our own words which helps us learn because most students can relate to the way we learn information.
  • That it made everyone post something about the course in their own words.
  • I got to communicate with my class mates and view the most popular topics and it helped me review and memorize course material
  • The best thing about using twitter was that it kept me active in the class and out of class.
  • learning new social media
  • I appreciated using twitter in class because it allowed us to read material and summarize what our findings. It also helped keep us up to date with a world of technology that is evolving very fast.

Worst of Using Twitter

  • It the hard was remembering to tweet all the time. it was not bad to use at all.
  • Sometimes the character limit.  But that forced me to be concise.
  • Having to tweet twice outside of class was probably the worst thing. Students would wait till the last minute to tweet and it would consist of some random fact in the book. I feel that tweeting during in class is more effective.
  • It was another thing to have to remember to do outside of class, also finding the tweets of my classmates for the group summaries was time consuming.
  • Posting 2 tweets outside of class
  • Saving the tweets and having to read through them for possible legal issues.
  • On the learning aspect nothing was wrong, just making every tweet count and worth giving the right information.

  • It kind of became too much after using it over and over again
  • I did not have any problems
  • I have nothing bad to say about twitter. It was fun to use for class.
  • use was unrealistic
  • I found that using twitter sometimes took away from personal interaction with classmates and professor. However, it seems that technology is taking us that way everywhere we look.

Preliminary Conclusions

Student performance, as measured by exam results and course grades, was better. An implication from the exam results (noted in earlier posts) and the course grades was that students in the middle performed better. Students at the top tended to perform well no matter what the format.  Note that I’ve only included raw, unedited student comments here. I have not yet conducted an analysis of the pre and post exam results nor have I compared the pre and post surveys of student perceptions of Twitter use and student engagement.

The following are first-blush comments. The student comments summarized here indicate:

  • It was a useful tool to communicate with each other
  • It was a useful method of learning by summarizing and seeing their classmates’ summaries of the material

Students liked least tweeting outside of class. That’s an interesting point because  the students also seemed to find the summaries of those tweets one of the best things about using Twitter in this course. One thing which I noted in a previous

post, is that permitting students to use their laptops and, gasp, cell phones, did not hurt students’ performance in the class. This was contrary to what I expected when  decided to, for the first time, drop the no cell phone rule.

This may seem like the end of the road. The exciting part is to conduct more analysis to determine what worked, what didn’t and why.

I’m considering this for one of my online classes in the fall; it may help foster more student engagement. Also, the withdrawal rates tend to be high in the particular class I’m thinking about and Twitter use might help reduce that rate. I’m also considering other uses.

This has been an interesting journey. More to come…..

The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

In assessment of learning, Education, faculty responsibilities, information literacy, innovation in teaching, institutional responsibilities, teaching with technology, technology on April 28, 2012 at 2:47 pm

All around us, the world is changing. From digital information everywhere to mashups, the landscape is changing.

Yet in higher education, we’ve been extremely slow to change. Holding to tradition can be beneficial, but educational institutions face a changing landscape that other institutions have faced. Medicine has changed with the advent of digital information. One study concluded that more than half the patients of a primary care internal medicine group used the internet for information, including information they did not share with their doctors (2002). The music industry has changed drastically; purchases of CDs has reduced y 50% with the advent of illegal file sharing and access to purchase individual songs. (See: Music’s Lost Decade) Yet in higher education we teach as though nothing has changed.

Lecturing has its benefits, but there are far more options available to teach. However, institutions and regulatory bodies do not make it easy to change. Classes are structured so that students are expected to spend 150 minutes per week “seat time” in their courses. Any changes to that structure require compliance with University regulations–and under faculty governance that means that the changes must be submitted to several faculty committees to be reviewed. At my institution, such changes generally take a year to progress through committees and sometimes longer. Clearly processes need to be changed to permit “pilots” or fast-paced changes.

In addition, the “a” word (assessment) requires that work must be evaluated to determine its effectiveness. Assessment can be complicated, since different factors may determine whether a technique has been effective. One factor is student effort-and that is difficult to measure. In addition, we tend to focus on short term (semester) but there can be long term implications that are not easily measured.

Why can’t we adopt a process that makes it easy for faculty to test new approaches, with a quick turnaround time and ample assistance to assess effectiveness?

Twearning + Motivation

In Education, faculty responsibilities, how people learn, institutional responsibilities, Motivation, teaching on April 17, 2012 at 12:53 pm

JumpingMotivation to learn, to explore, to engage, seems to be less prevalent in my classes. I seem to have more questions about whether something will be on the test, than curiosity about what a theory means and its implications for individual or business conduct.

Yet according the article Can Colleges Manufacture Motivation, by Dan Barrett, posted in the Chronicle of Higher Education, it seems that motivation is a key factor for student success. According to the article, as students continue with their college careers, motivation declines.  And it seems to be faculty rather than institution-inspired. According to one of the studies cited in the article, there were wider disparities in motivation generated within universities rather than between universities. Recommended ways to motivate included multiple opportunities to review assignments and re-submit, permitting students to choose topics and permitting students options on formats. Institutions can motivate students by determining which faculty motivate students most and assigning them to teach the introductory courses. At the same time, different people are motivated by different things and what inspires one can sound a death knell for another.

Can motivation also explain the success of the Twearning exercises where I’ve combined Twitter with Learning? I’m going to add a few questions about motivation to the post-survey about Twitter use; I wish I’d thought to add them to the pre-survey. Perhaps motivation is part of the explanation for the success of Twearning to date. So far, no students have dropped the class, altho there have been varying degrees of participation. If all stay until the end of the course, that itself will be a first during the five years I’ve taught this particular course.

Fair Use, Smair Use….If It’s on the Web or Digital, It’s Free, Especially to Educators, Isn’t It?!

In Education, technology, using videos in teaching on April 16, 2012 at 12:42 pm

Information on the web is free for anyone to use. That’s what I’ve heard students say from time to time. It is relatively easy to debunk that myth by discussing creator’s rights under copyright law.

What’s more challenging is helping faculty identify that same principle: we know there’s a a copyright law. We know there’s an exception to that law called fair use. What is more difficult is to determine whether our conduct fits within the definition of fair use.In the article Have College Professors Become Digital Pirates?, Andrew Chow, J.D., discusses this very issue. Universities and faculty have been sued for including copyrighted material in e-reserves, for copying videos from film to digital format (UCLA won that one) and for digitizing books. As the article notes, there are several factors courts consider in determining whether a use constitutes fair use, including the purpose and  type of use,  the amount of use and the potential impact copying would have on the market. Many Universities devote websites to assisting faculty (and students) determine fair use (see e.g. the Copyright Clearance Center’s Checklist).

This does raise a question I’ve raised before: shouldn’t copyright law be changed to address the new ways information is made available? Shouldn’t videos, as digital information, be priced differently? Should copyright law be changed to make it easier for educators to use copyrighted information in the interests of furthering knowledge? I consider it a great compliment if someone uses what I’ve created (it’s still a rare occurrence, though!). I would like acknowledgement, so others can find and use it, but feel no obligation to chase after someone who used what I created.

Would I feel differently if that someone was not an educator, but a corporation that made money from my work? Probably-I’d Giantexpect that corporation to provide me some compensation, that way we could both share in the profit made. More importantly, though, my work, my words, what I’ve developed, has not been developed in isolation. I have stood on the shoulders of giants to get where I am today. So, I am happy to share and help others learn.

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