Archive for the ‘Faculty Development’ Category

Summer Reading Bargains


After the workshop ended yesterday, I went to Barnes & Noble to get a cup of coffee and stroll through the old-fashioned “stacks” of information (bookshelves).

I picked up three math-oriented books out of the bargain-priced shelves, and thought I would share them with you, in case your B&N might also have them at bargain prices:

1) A New Kind of Science, by Stephen Wolfram (from Mathematica) $6.98

2) The Sacred Geometry of Washington DC, by Nicholas Mann (AMATYC will be in DC this fall) $7.98

3) Divine Proportion (Phi) in Art, Nature, and Science, by Priya Hemenway $9.98

Sometimes, being a math instructor has it’s advantages – surplus unpurchased books in your field! I was really interested in reading the Wolfram book earlier this year, but lacked time and it was pretty expensive (over $40 if I recall correctly). If there are a few of us that would like to read it, we can set up a discussion group on my new TCM Moodle site, which I hope to get all figured out this weekend. Send me an email (wyandersen at gmail dot com) if you’d like to be part of that group.

P.S. I will post more about the workshop, but right now I am exhausted and need to do something non-workshop related for a day or two. Lucky for me I have that 3rd combination book to build the files for this weekend.

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Running PowerPoints on the Internet without Hassle


A friend of mine (thanks Evert!) tipped me off to this website called AuthorStream. You can (with a username and password) upload PowerPoint presentations, and the site places them into a nice easy to navigate browser. The presentation runs pretty much as it is supposed to. To try it out I uploaded this presentation, which has a LOT of graphics and animations in it. It seems to hang up for a little bit around slides 7 through 9, but other than that, it’s not bad. This is much better than posting those Microsoft mhtl files (which require Active-X enabled browsers) and (BONUS) you can easily post the embedded html to make the presentations viewable on other webpages or blogs.

Uploaded on authorSTREAM by wyandersen

On another note, I’ve been following the Presentation Zen blog for a few weeks now, and I particularly like the idea of using minimal text and an image to provide something for the eyes to rest on while you listen to the presentation. If you have never heard of Presentation Zen, you might want to just watch Garr Reynolds’ Authors@Google presentation here for a 45-minute summary about how to do effective PowerPoint.

Let’s just say that I’m going to be revising a few of the PowerPoint presentations that I have to make them a little less distracting.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the sites for some of our professional conferences used something like AuthorStream?

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NKU Day Two


Another busy day at NKU.

I spent my first two hours this morning playing with Google Sketchup looking for backgrounds to use for the platform for the MCC Math & Technology Workshop, which will be built mostly with Adobe Flex. For those of you who are interested in coding, you may want to check Flex out. We discovered today that WizIQ (mentioned in several previous posts) runs off a Flex platform.

If you just want to look into Google Sketchup, download the free version and import files from the 3D Warehouse. I was playing with gardens, castles, scenes from Lord of the Rings, buildings from College and University campuses, and all sorts of other creations. It was fun even just to look.

Mike and I spent some time discussing Multiverse vs. Second Life. In particular, Multiverse is, as Mike put it, more “objective-oriented” (think – game-style objectives). The multiverse worlds are themed and they are obviously more designed for gaming than just a “3-D chat platform.” So here’s my thought (as we were thinking about what’s best for education). What if we put up learning modules in Multiverse (similar to the learning modules of Connexions), where the “objective” is to learn enough to earn some kind of prize at the end of the module – perhaps a “badge” that shows you have mastered some kind of content. Then you can wear your badges (or perhaps they show in your profile) so that you can easily see what kind of learning everyone has mastered. Rather than thinking in 15-week chunks, perhaps we think in concepts instead – a badge for differentiation, a badge for limits, a badge for Volumes of rotation where MASTERY is required to earn your prize.

Also this morning, I spent some time with Matt (one of the students who works in the instructional design office) working our way through iClone. In particular, we wanted to take a full-body avatar and put her on my online calculus screen and have her point to buttons and explain what they do (this is for my online orientation for a future semester). So we are working up a little demo of that – stay tuned for more tomorrow (we’re still refining!). It took a while to figure out how to create our own motions and to learn what the software was doing when it altered our added motions… so maybe Matt will post a tutorial to help me when I get home and realize I’ve unlearned this week’s worth of stuff.

At some point in the day Amanda (another ID student) showed me the platform for their Faculty Learning Community – which I may poach a lot of the code for my Math Workshop from.

After lunch I showed one of the NKU instructors (together with Mike, Amanda, and Matt) how to use WizIQ to facilitate online students participating in live classes, and then we went on from there to talking about more pedagogical issues, recording with camtasia, editing videos to make them a richer media, etc.

That’s when Mike realized he should’ve had me speak to the whole Faculty Learning Community in addition to the math department. So I was sent over to my seminar today trailing two students armed with a video camera and tripod (and I hear they are coming back tomorrow too). Thus begins my own version of “MARIA talks” – I am about to crash here, so maybe someone can think of a clever “TED”-like acronym for MARIA.

Lessons learned from the talk:

  • When you can’t get your laptop to project properly, you should consider it an opportunity to free up your mind from the nervousness about the presentation, and apply it to nervousness about the technology instead.
  • Make sure you enable the SOUND on the laptop if you plan to play sound.
  • Make sure to plug your portable speakers into the HEADPHONE jack (not the mic jack)
  • Keep a clock or timer in sight so that you don’t run out of time!
  • I thought I would be nervous about the video recording – didn’t bother me in the least bit. Totally forgot about it – except that I occasionally wondered why the girl in the back of the room was standing up (Amanda was recording). Probably I am more nervous about SEEING the recording.

I saw a former student, Meg, who goes by “Mighty Meg” in the blogging world and is often commenting on this blog. Meg’s now a math PhD student in Lexington (she says she was tricked). It was fun to see her and Steve, and their two dogs Gator and Katie.

My most useful bit of the knowledge for the day comes in this useful little tip that Andy, my host here at NKU, passed along – this is one of those tips that seems obvious (now that I know it)…

I like to use Windows Journal during live class recordings because the interface is simple to use and it doesn’t get flickery when it is being projected and recorded simultaneously. I had been snagging images from my other files (like parts of Word or pdf files) and pasting them into Windows Journal.

Andy pointed out that in the “Print Options” in Word, Adobe, etc. there is a Print option for Journal Note Writer. Using this option dumps the file into Windows Journal and then you can write on it with all the functionality of the Windows Journal palette. Wow! I was totally doing that one the hard way!

As for Robert (who asked about ICTCM presentations on Casting Out Nines)… I’m giving three and I am planning to bravely hope the Internet works. I have ONE backup plan. For the hour-long talk, I have asked a friend with a wireless Internet card in his PC to attend the session. If worst comes to worst, I will use his laptop to run the presentation. If a conference on technology can’t get their technology to work then … well … it’s probably not worth coming back to next year!

And for Jason (who is probably watching for the post on the elaboration technique)… I have not forgotten about it – I’m probably looking at next week at the earliest to get that posted.

I’m looking forward to all my plane flights as a time of rest and relaxation …. um … maybe to get some papers graded too.

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NKU Day One


So, here I am in Cincinnati and I’ve been hanging out with Mike Lively all day trading tricks and tips. Here’s what that conversation revolved around …

WizIQ
Yugma
CrossTalk
Flex
ColdFusion
Flash
iClone
Daz
Dreamweaver
Frontpage
Google Code
Youtube
Teachertube
Google Video
Google Bookmarks
SEGA blog
Second Life
Multiverse
Croquet
Google Reader
Jing
Camtasia

Anyone tired yet? : )

Major accomplishment for the day:

  1. Finally getting a tour of 2nd life … although neither of us has major work done in 2nd life and we’re wondering if we should just start in Multiverse now.
  2. Building a website using Adobe Flex 3.
  3. Having a decent discussion about Avatar software and the capabilities of iClone vs. Daz. I want to build an orientation to online calculus using an avatar that poses on a screenshot of the Bb platforma and points to buttons as she talks.
  4. Convinced Mike that he needs to put his bookmarks online instead of searching for them on Google all the time. : )

Need your own professional development fix? Check out Mike’s myriad of video tutorials on the mikenku Youtube channel.

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Academia 2.0


I stumbled across this great video tonight – a follow-up to Michael Wesch’s A Vision of Students Today. The video is documentory/mashup-style and is suprisingly insightful – called Academia 2.0. Sit back and enjoy a thought-provoking 10 minutes.

Is it a problem of attention-span and multi-tasking? Or is it a problem of relevance?

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Implications of the 2006 ECAR Survey


In a previous post, I referred to the 2006 ECAR survey, which can be found here. The full name for the survey is “The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology, 2006.”


Here are ECAR’s summarized findings at the end of the survey report, each one followed by my opinion on the implications for the math education profession:

    1. Overall, undergraduates like IT and use it in their social, recreational, working, and academic lives. Mobility is perhaps an enabler of this integration of social, recreational, and instrumental integration of IT. For instructors to ignore IT means that they are not even on the radar screen of social networking for these students. Wonder why many of your students don’t come to office hours? Maybe you need a web presence instead!

 

  • The Net Gen characterization of technophile students born in the Internet era applies to a substantial minority of undergraduates but not to the whole. In fact, an important minority of undergraduates do not appear enamored of IT, and some appear even to avoid it. Understanding the needs of leading-edge and trailing-edge undergraduate IT users is important for higher education administrators. Colleges should provide opportunities for these technophile students to increase their skills and encourage students and instructors to do so.

 

 

  • College or university is a place where people mature as IT users as well as in other ways. While younger students can boast an arsenal of IT skills to underpin their social lives (such as e-mail, instant messaging, and social networking) and their recreational lives (such as computer gaming), they are less skilled or confident users of instrumentally useful technologies. The undergraduate’s choice of and progress toward an academic major are closely associated with his or her preferences for, use and ownership of, and outcomes with IT. Math departments cannot continue to ignore the use of online math platforms like MyMathLab and WebAssign by using the excuse that “some” students (really, some instructors) can’t be expected to use IT. One mission of the college should be to ensure that all of our students are IT-savvy when they leave us.

 

 

  • Respondents — across the spectrum of demographic or user profile — agree with a series of positive outcome statements about IT. These responses suggest that IT is helping students communicate, collaborate, learn, engage, conduct research, gain academic feedback, and control their course activities. Students who find a subject matter enjoyable, will make more of an effort to learn. If our math classes have no IT, then our 55 minutes with those students are basically the most boring 55 minutes of their day.

 

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Entering the Global Freeway


My friend Mike Lively (from Northern Kentucky University) just gave a presentation in Washington DC about the Globalization of Higher Education. Mike is the Director of Instructional Design at Northern Kentucky University. I’m visiting NKU the first week of March and for those of you in the Cincinatti area, I’ll be giving two presentations to the math department at NKU on March 4 and 5 (more information to come).
After the presentation, Mike recorded the text of the presentation and produced it (in five parts) to YouTube. The presentation is called “Exiting the Educational Silo, Entering the Global Freeway.” It will take you 30-40 minutes to watch all five parts – mostly you just need to listen (but pay attention when he demos some of their latest innovations!) Part 1 is not very exciting (sorry Mike), but it is necessary to set up the latter parts of the presentation.
Mike advocates that educational institutions aim to position themselves to gain the center-stage of the global arena. The goal is not necessarily to maintain that center-stage position, but have a leadership structure and organizational model that allows enough innovation to find your school periodically in that center-stage position. Although any institution would love to “hog” center stage, it is probably not reasonable to expect to be there for long.

Mike expressed concern that the existing model for technological innovation at most schools is the creation of “uber-instructors” – instructors that have content knowledge, are pedagogical starts, and become extreme technofiles. He argues that we don’t have to create uber-instructors as long as instructors have a solid design team supporting their technological desires for improving pedagogy. In fact, Mike goes as far as claiming that some of the best pedagogical innovations involving technologies have been from instructors that DON’T have a good understanding of technology.

I feel consistently hampered by our chosen LMS (which shall remain nameless). By the time it integrates the latest Web 2.0 tools, I’ve moved on to a version on the Internet with more features and greater flexibility. While the synchronous communication tools in our LMS crash and burn (especially the whiteboard function), the latest Internet-based platforms (like WizIQ) are extremely stable and have been delightful to use.
So I was delighted to see Mike take a shot at the present day LMS leaders with this slide”Why Present Day Learning Management Systems will fail.” His take? They have simply become to large to innovate. Any change to the system causes so many errors and fractured links down the structure of the pyramid that rapid change is simply not possible. Mike predicts small companies with the ability to innovate rapidly will be able to surpass large companies in the global arena. Parallel this to the higher education arena, and we could conclude that small colleges with quality online design and flexible, innovative, capabilities, will be able to outpace and out-innovate large behemoth universities with standardized systems.
Community colleges are uniquely situated to rapidly change to meet the needs of their surrounding community. If they can translate their success in the rapidly adapt to community needs to being successful in innovation of technology and pedagogy, then I think instructional design departments at CC’s could be the “small organizations” that often capture the center-stage of the global arena.
Schools like University of Pheonix may be the big players in online education now, but I don’t see any evidence that their scaled-up ODE model includes the ability to innovate – and so, their online success might be just a blip on the timeline of online education. Colleges with some vision and courage to allow innovation could launch themselves to the front of the online pack with a few creative faculty, design staff, student know-how, and little financial cost.
Every college that is participating in ODE planning should watch Mike’s presentation prior to their next meeting. Even if you don’t agree with everything that Mike outlines in the presentation, it could lead to some important and necessary conversations on your campus.
P.S. Mike – I don’t know where you got the uber-instructor graphic, but it’s GREAT! Got a female version?

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Scaling online education (and a bit of exponential growth)


I am reading something like 5 scholarly articles a day between the lit search for my dissertation and the online course I am taking/helping with on Higher Education and the Tech Frontier. As you were warned, you are likely going to see a lot of “musings” on my latest readings as it helps me to organize my thoughts – I hope you find some of it interesting/helpful.

The following are my musings after reading Scaling Online Education: Increasing Access to Higher Eduction (Moloney, J. & Oakley, B, 2006). The article can be found here.

An example of exponential growth: During 2003-04, approximately two million learners were engaged in higher education via Asynchronous Learning Networks (ALN). Online enrollments are expected to grow 20% annually during the next few years (according to this report).

Eponential growth graph from SUNY Learning Network:
(go to the paper on the Sloan-C website if you want the data)

Interesting facts from the paper:

    • More than one-half of all the online enrollments were from community colleges (although community colleges provide almost half of the total higher ed enrollments in the U.S. too…)

 

  • UIS (University of Illinois at Springfield): In developing online programs, one of the obstacles that UIS had to overcome was that faculty who did not understand “online” were unwilling to “accept a vision of teaching and learning outside of a physical classroom.” (Personally, I think this has been a particular problem in mathematics – which has been heavily tied to the use of chalkboards and then whiteboards, for a long time. The particular difficulty of putting equations online, has fueled the resistance to “online” as a legitimate learning platform. I think it would help for math instructors to participate in some kind of online learning experience themselves, to see what is actually possible in online education today. Our campus has two faculty “seminar days” before the beginning of the fall and winter semesters – maybe, this next year, one of the days of seminars should be done online… hmm) UIS does have a nice variety of online math courses.

 

 

  • UMass Lowell: Pays careful attention to “strategic planning done in tandem with academic departments.” In each case where they have an online degree or certificate, the program was developed to address a problem identified by the department, like, for example, low-enrollment programs. By moving the programs online, the programs gained an infusion from students who would have otherwise not been able to participate.

 

 

  • Stevens Institute of Technology: Their online programs emphasize engineering and technology. (If you read through of their online Master’s Programs and certificate programs… notice that math is not on the list)

 

 

  • Washington State University: WSU listed “changes in faculty perceptions about teaching” as one of the important issues it had to deal with as it scaled-up its online program. They met the challeng by helping faculty to focus on student learning rather than faculty teaching.

 

The paper lists many characteristics of successful implementations in “scale-up” of online programs, but I’m focusing in on #7, the one about faculty development:

7. High quality training and support for online faculty. Faculty professional development programs are critical to overcoming faculty skepticism and resistance to online education. Successful online initiatives have required faculty to participate in extensive training programs and created related professional development opportunities for the faculty. At many institutions, the best online faculty have been recruited to assist with the development of new online faculty, thereby building a community of engaged faculty working to improve the quality of their online courses.

Obstacles to scaling at non-profit institutions? Among other things, like a lack of institutional mission to serve off-campus students, was, of course, “faculty resistance to change.”

What kind of faculty development programs or incentives does your campus provide? Do they work? Inquiring minds want to know… at least, this one does!

(do you suppose I can earn the distinction as the first person to blog my way to a dissertation?)

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Motivating math faculty to adopt new technologies


Well, I’d like to say I know exactly how to do this, but I’m still researching the theory behind this one and experimenting a bit myself.
I would like to send you to a recent issue of the Educause Review called “Back to School: It’s All About the Faculty” This issue contains several articles about the difficulty of getting faculty to adopt technology in their teaching and the challenges faced by faculty who try to learn new technologies.

There are three articles that I’d recommend reading here:

 

  • My Computer Romance (Campbell, G., 2007) is a meandering story about how the author finally “fell in love” with technology. What I found to ring true about this one was his idea that for every faculty member, there is some “hook” that will get them to finally bring technology into their classroom and use it in their teaching. The real trick is finding the requisite hook, and everyone will have a different one.

 

 

  • Faculty 2.0 (Hartman, J. L., Dziuban, C., and Brophy-Ellison, J., 2007) outlines the impact of technology on faculty in particular.

 

All of the articles are available free as pdf files. So… curl up in your favorite comfy chair with your laptop (or old-fashioned printout) and do some reading!

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AMATYC: Willing and Wary


Here is our presentation as a PowerPoint embedded in a webpage. It is an MHT file, which means it will require Active-X control to play it. Just make sure your computer doesn’t block it as you open the file and it should be fine. It is a fairly big file (5 MB), so give it a minute or two to load! Play the slide show by clicking in the lower right corner.

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