Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Open Education Resources

Open Education Resources (OER) have been defined by the Hewlett Foundation as teaching, learning, and research resources that reside in the public domain or have been released under an intellectual property license that permits their free use and re-purposing by others. Open education resources include full courses, course materials, modules, textbooks, streaming videos, tests, software, any other tools, materials, or techniques used to support access to knowledge. Hewlett.org

In the recent report, Growing the Curriculum: Open Education Resources in the U.S. Higher Education compiled by the Babson Survey Research Group the following information is provided with regard to faculty opinions about OER:
  • In 2011, most surveyed academic leaders report that open education resources will have value for their campus; 57% agree that they have value and less than 5% disagree.
  • Nearly two-thirds of all chief academic officers agree that OER have the potential to reduce costs for their institution.
  • There is wide agreement among academic leaders that OER will save time in the development of new courses.
  • Over one-half of academic leaders agree or strongly agree that open education resources would be more useful if there was a single clearinghouse.
  • Among faculty, cost and ease of use are most important for selecting online resources.
  • The time and effort to find and evaluate are consistently listed as the most important barriers by faculty to the adoption of OER.
  • Older faculty have a greater level of concern with all potential barriers to OER adoption than do younger faculty.
Don't let your materials stay hidden under a rock--facilitate access by learning to be proactive with open access. For more information on making your materials open education resources plan to attend the webinar "Open Access and Your Publications: What's Copyright Got to Do with It?" on December 13, 2012 at 1:00pm in the Bear River Room in the Student Union Building of ISU.

Monday, November 19, 2012

No Signficant Difference Phenomenon

What is the "No Significant Difference Phenomenon?

In the early 1900's, as correspondence courses came into vogue, there was a question that weighed on the minds of educators: could students learn as well at a distance as they could face to face? As with most controversial issues, there were proponents on both sides: traditionalists held face to face as the gold standard, while innovators held that distance courses could deliver equivalent, if not improved, learning outcomes. Both sides were eager to gather evidence to substantiate their claims - and thus began the movement in media comparison studies (MCS) in education. In these studies, researchers looked to compare student outcomes for two courses that were delivered through two different methods, thereby identifying the "superior" method for teaching effectiveness. The "No Significant Difference" phenomenon refers to a body of literature consisting of a particular type of MCS - those comparing student outcomes between face to face and distance delivery courses. An overwhelming number of studies have shown that when the course materials and teaching methodology were held constant, there was no significant differences (NSD) between student outcomes in distance delivery courses as compared to a face to face course. The student outcomes were neither worse nor better in either delivery method. Thomas Russell has compiled a collection of the results of these studies and coined the now common identifier phrase "No Significant Difference Phenomenon" for this body of literature.

Just when we thought it was safe to move beyond the “no significant difference” phenomenon, knowing that scarcely any college class today is untouched by technology – we find ourselves in 2012 still engaged in debates about “online” versus “traditional” instruction. In September 2012, the Colorado Department of Higher Education released a comparison study of Colorado Community College System students who took science courses online versus in traditional classrooms, and then tracked those students who transferred into four-year institutions in Colorado. The study suggests that students who took online science courses at the community college level perform just as well in science classes at four-year institutions as students who took traditional on-campus science classes.

As the Colorado study has shown, research once again supports the efficacy of online delivery, even in science courses.  Now we must work together to ensure that the online education we are delivering is relevant, high quality, and accessible.

Click here for more information about the No Significant Difference Phenomenon and Thomas Russell's research.

Click here for more information about the Colorado Study.

Epper, R. (2012, June). Colorado study finds "no significant difference" in online science courses. WCETblog. Retrieved from http://wcetblog.wordpress.com/2012/10/18/co_nsd/

Thomas L. Russell, “The No Significant Difference Phenomenon.” 2001, IDECC, fifth edition.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Supporting Students with Learning Disabilities

Not all students are forthcoming about letting others know that they have learning disabilities which makes supporting these students difficult for online instructors. 

Some suggestions for ways online instructors can support students with disabilities:

  • Open and constant communication

o   Feedback on assignments – an opportunity to maintain communication
o   Contacting a student that is not participating in the discussions/forums and asking if they understood the assignment or had any questions
o   Making it clear when the instructor is available for questions and/or help

  • Compassion and a willingness to bend the rules

o   Extension of deadlines for those who need extra time to complete
o   Working with disabilities services to help students get access to assistive software
o   Working individually with the struggling student
o   Refer a struggling student to support services such as tutoring

  •   Pay attention to course elements that might be problematic for some students

o   Make sure the text is distinguishable from the background colors
o   Provide closed captioning or a transcript for videos

  •  Ask the disabilities services department to look at your course for accessibility issues in order to prevent problems before they happen
Kelly, R. (2009). How to handle learning disabilities in the online classroom. Online Cl@ssroom: Ideas for Effective Online Instruction, 1-3. Retrieved from http://www.magnapubs.com/newsletter/online-classroom/issue/1050/

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Nicknames in Moodle ISU 2

Moodle ISU 2 receives nickname information from Banner - BengalWeb. Therefore display names in Moodle ISU 2 will not always be the same as your legal name. Names can be changed in Banner by contacting the appropriate department:

  • If you are a faculty or staff at ISU and want to change your display name in Moodle ISU contact the Office of Human Resources at: (208) 282-2517 or hr@isu.edu
  • If you are a student contact the Office of the Registrar at: (208) 282-2661 or reginfo@isu.edu

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tips for Designing an Effective Online Course

Tips for designing an effective online course

  1. Always include a navigation block at the start, even if you think the learners have done eLearning before. The navigation block should have clear and simple instructions so any learner can easily progress through the course. By making navigation easy, learners can focus on the course content.
  1. Provide clear contact information for the instructor. If the learners do have questions, how do they contact you and what is your response time?
  1. Pay attention to the layout of each and every section. Avoid cluttering sections with too much information. The course should be pleasing to the eye and designed to draw the learner’s eye to the most important information.
  1. Include a glossary. Never assume that the learners will understand jargon, technical terms or acronyms. The glossary should be comprehensive and explain key terms in plain English.
  1. Include regular quizzes or case studies to check the learners’ understanding of the content. Instead of having one huge test at the end of a course, it is better to have shorter tests at regular intervals throughout the course. Regular tests and quizzes are a good way for learners to measure their own understanding and build their confidence.
  1. Give learners the option of finding out more information if they need to. You could include a box on some blocks saying “Want to know more? Click on this link to learn more about …..”
  1. Ask another person to check the course to see if it makes sense and to look for any content that is unclear.
  1. Engage in continuous improvement. Even when you have published and released your course to learners, there is still the opportunity to gather feedback and make improvements to the course. You could include a survey asking learners if there was anything they found unclear. This is a great way for you to keep learning about the learners’ perspective and to remind yourself that you are designing courses for real people.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Exciting feature enhancements in Moodle ISU 2!

Check out the following enhancements to Moodle ISU 2:

Drag and Drop for adding files and resources:
  • To add a file, simply drag and drop it from your desktop or other file location onto the course section where you'd like it to appear and it will be added to your page as a resource.
  • To add a folder of files, simply zip the folder then drag and drop it onto the course section where you'd like it to appear, answer 'Unzip files and create folder' to the popup dialogue, then click the upload button. 
  • To add a SCORM package, simply drag and drop it onto the course section where you'd like it to appear, answer 'Add a SCORM package' to the popup dialogue, then click the upload button.
Course Page:

  • quickrename.png - the pencil icon allows you to rename your item directly on the course page without entering into the settings for that item.
  •   A new popup "Activity chooser" for adding resources and activities has been added that provides a full introduction, examples and links about each activity or resource module. Select an activity or resource then click the Add button, or simply double-click on the activity or resource name.
File picker:
  • Images now display as true thumbnails in the file picker and file manager. 
  •  Other files have pretty icons for most file types.
  • Files view can be easily toggled between icons view or a table view with sizes and dates, or a hierarchical list view. 
  •  File info (eg license information, sizes, dates) can be easily edited and viewed in a popup dialogue. 
  •  Files can be uploaded from your existing Google Docs, Dropbox and Wikimedia accounts (additional repositories to be added later).

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How Often Should Faculty Post in Online Forums?

In the Faculty Focus article How Many Faculty Discussion Posts Each Week? A Simply Delicious Answer Cheryl Hayek, EdD uses a dinner party analogy to help instructors understand how to successfully participate without dominating online discussions.

Here's the dinner party break down:

The Dinner Party: The Host’s Actions….

  • Welcome EVERYONE personally at the door. (Online forum)
  • Make sure every person feels comfortable in the new environment. (Tone)
  • Don’t ignore anyone. (Reply to each student throughout the course)
  • Disagreements are phrased professionally.
  • No one should be silent, including the host! (Be present in forums)
  • Serve them something delicious. (Content!)
  • Invite them back! (To weekly forums, to the next assignment even if they’ve faltered on the previous one, to the university if they’ve finished your course)
  • Proportionate time with every guest. (Don’t reply to the same students every time)
  • Spend extra time with needy guests. (Struggling students)
  • Don’t talk all at once, spread the conversation throughout the party. (Post on various days, keeping the volume consistent)
  • Start up a new conversation when one is stale! (Add a relevant link to a current event to discuss)
  • Hosts are visible, immediately attend to guests’ needs, personable, and proactively plan for a great evening!
Just as each dinner party is as unique as both the host and the participants, so too will discussions change and adapt to the individuals in the course. With a little planning and getting to know the "dinner guests" each faculty member can "host" amazing online discussions.