Wednesday, December 04, 2013

DET/CHE: Cognition, Learning Theory, Backward Design: The importance of instructional design.

Hierarchy of Instructional Design
Hierarchy of Instructional Design (Photo credit: jrhode)
Jim Monaghan, AVP Academic Technologies/Associate Professor, Educational Technology, CSUSB

Instructional designers take on many roles at campuses. The perspectives of the designers combined with the organizational structure of the campus can greatly impact the results of the instructional design process. This presentation examines the importance of instructional design to the construction of high quality learning environments. Topics to be covered include fundamental principles in cognitive science, learning theories and backward design. Implications for the design of courses which range from technology-enhanced to technology-centric (e.g. fully online courses and MOOC’s) will be presented. Applications of instructional design in strategic planning for learning environments as well as practical considerations for implementation of strategies will be discussed. Advantages and disadvantages of a variety of organizational reporting structures will be explored. Specific ideas participants will take away from the session

• Importance of instructional designers to the development of high quality courses that use educational
• Importance of organizational structure in facilitating instructional design for learning
• Overview of cognitive science that applies to the instructional design process

MOOCs, the model from Thrun,

Its about design, not technology

Design Considerations
Why would online video work?
What do we lose when we record a lecture?
How do we allow for substantive interactions?

He refers to the WASC handbook for interactions online.

What can tech allow us to do that we couldn't do otherwise?

Backward Design
Start with the end in mind - quote from Stephen Covey
Could also be from McTighe

Key elements of ID

What do you want your students to know'
How will you know that students have met the objectives
Other considerations

A review of learning theories.
Behaviorism, Constructivism, Constructionism

He claims that drill and practice has its place. [I disagree with
this, I think you can learn the same with contextual learning.]

Social constructivism, situated cognition

Refers to a 1999 paper that applies cognitive science to designing
learning spaces. "Designing Learning: Cognitive science principles for
the innovative organization" Penuel & Roschelle.

What is the role of instructional designers?

CSUSB Online Learning Modules Template

1. Reading
2. Short lecture
3. Discussion
4. Student research
5. Assessment

Where are instructional designers housed in your organization?
Why does it matter?

Access to infrastructure
Access to decision makers
Strategic or operational focus
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DET/CHE: Teaching in the Digital Age

Azusa Pacific University
Azusa Pacific University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Mike Truong, Founding Executive Director, Office of Innovative Teaching and Technology, Azusa Pacific University
The demands faculty teaching in the digital age face are immense rom keeping distracted students engaged (high touch) to keeping current on the latest technologies (high tech).
This presentation will provide some proven strategies on helping faculty meet these challenges.
Specific ideas participants will take away from the session
•  Articulate the challenges of teaching in the digital age.
•  Explain how technology can meet some of these challenges.
•  Emplo best- practices for teaching with technology.

Where as other voices are overly critical of MOOCs or on the other extreme overly Utopian, Mike says he is in the middle, looking at technology pedagogically.

He gave an extensive quote from Hamlet's Blackberry.
We need space between our tasks to reflect.

He then talked about the "really cool" Domino's pizza app. "It is
amazing what you can do with ordering pizza now a days."

He is excited about the apps that allow you to buy glasses and take a
picture of a paycheck and electronically deposit it.

You can buy a house online - you can buy a house without even looking  at it.

"We are immensely better because of technology."

We can learn any time, place, and device.

Students are demanding that faculty use more and more tech in the classroom.

Pedagogy - gains, losses, and implications

The essay is a good model for learning critical thinking  - but it is too alphabetic-centric. Word processing helps us but it promotes linear thinking.

Technology - Jose Bowen - technology maximizes teachers face-to-face contact with students. Henry Jenkins says that technology encourages participation. Sugata Mitra - technology self-educates.

He makes the claim that "the internet harms our ability to engage with difficult text and complex ideas" a quote from Nicholas Carr. Clifford Nass says that "Media multitasking impairs our focus, productivity, and creativity." We are losing the ability to focus on one task at a time. He gives the argument of Sherry Turkle's Connected Alone.

He comes back to Wiliam Powers Hamlet's Blackberry.

He then talked about the story in Wired "Minimally invasive learning." - the issue that has "The Next Steve Jobs" on the cover.

Technology's proper role is to supplement the learning.
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DET/CHE: What Students Really Want

California State Student Association
California State Student Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Anthony Gibson, Chief of Staff, California State Student
Association, CSU Sacramento
James Harrison, Technology Affairs Senator, Santa Clara University
Dwayne Mason Jr., California State Student Association, CSU Fullerton
Brett Roberts, Technology Officer, California State Student Association, CSU Monterey Bay
Specific ideas participants will take away from the sessio
A broader understanding of student activism 
Student thoughts on
  • student access,
  • mobile computing and online learning initiatives 
  • Components of the student initiated CSU technology strategic planning
Online education - Anthony Gibson
        "It is not about the past, its about the future."
        The CSSA is publishing a white paper.
Required Learning - it can't be mandatory
Implementation - it is not about replacing the current system but
about giving instructors a tool to make it better.
Encouraging the flipped classroom EdX vs. Udacity
Quality - online education is more than a YouTube video
Faculty - an essential component to the solution
        No faculty member should be forced to teach online
The Platform
        Like a university campus, its what allows online education to exist.
The student showed an iPad commercial and talked about the rapid
change in technology.

Classroom technology - Brett Roberts
        Cannot be outdated
        Incorporate popular technologies
        Breaks learning curve for students
Call to action:
        Keep up with popular technologies

        Technology is expensive
        Free online resources
        The students need to know!

        Computer labs, rental programs
        Most students have smartphones but not all
        Implement technology and train users

General requests - Jimmy Harrison
        Important to understand student sentiment
        Students and faculty come from different times

        Guest wifi networks
                For visiting parents
                For visiting competitors
        Student wifi
        Consolidated Internet Hub
                One portal for all online education
                Email, Files, discussions
                One log-in for students=increased participation
        Mobile Interaction
                Social Media interaction
                Connect students to various events on campus

        A lot of faculty feel that technology is an annoyance and inconvenient
        The teachers need trainin
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Tuesday, December 03, 2013

DET/CHE: Education Nation: 6 Leading Edges of Innovation

Cover of "Education Nation: Six Leading E...
Cover via Amazon
From the program:

"Milton Chen, Senior Fellow and Executive Director, emeritus at The George Lucas Educational Foundation. San Francisco Bay Area. Education Nation: Six Leading Edges of Innovation in Our Schools School systems are reinventing themselves, focusing on their growing edges of innovation in districts, states, and nations. These Edges are redefining the nature of “school” as it was known in the 20th Century and include
  1.  the Thinking Edge,
  2.  the Curriculum Edge, 
  3.  the Technology Edge, 
  4.  the Time/Place Edge, 
  5.  the Co-Teaching Edge, and
  6.  the Youth Edge. 
The Six Edges form the framework of Dr. Chen’s 2010 book, selected as one of the 10 best books of 2010 by the American School Board Journal.

The Edges address fundamental shifts to our thinking about schooling; ways in which technology is transforming when, where, and how students learn; and roles of teachers and students as teachers form teaching teams with other experts. Students are assuming more responsibility for their own learning and assembling their learning pathways from an increasing variety of educational courses and experiences. Dr. Chen will show examples of these innovative practices from, the Lucas Foundation’s multimedia Web site and its archive of documentaries, available for free download and embedding, with foreign language captions from Google Translate.

High Tech and High Touch can come together in powerful learning to 'strengthen human connections' and indeed, communities."

Français : 66ème Festival du Cinéma de Venise ...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Milton Chen was a researcher at the Sesame Workshop [Why are we calling it that instead of the Children's Television Workshop?], an assistant prof at Stanford school of education, and executive director of Edutopia. He is interested in project based learning.

He encourages us to write the gov about the 10 billion dollar surplus to send it to edu. He recounts his journey to the US from China. Kids can learn a lot more than we think they can if we give them the right media. They were told that they could not use television in the 70s for teaching. This is much like what we are going through with online learning.

He talked about George Lucas' involvement with education. Lucas not a successful student. He showed the "Academy of Achievement" website. the site tells the stories of how famous people came to do their work. Lucas went to community college and got into USC.

 *NB - If he is so smart, why does he feel like he has to keep changing his damn films?!

 Chen notes that there were these "lucky accidents" that got Lucas where he is today.

Chen moved on to the Edutopia and Lucas filming cases of project-based learning and multimodal teaching and learning. They made the film "Learn & Live" about children doing research with a "very expensive" connection to a remote high magnification microscope with video conferencing. They made a VHS tape and a book. Today we just publish to the web. A few years later, the NSF funded an online scanning electron microscope where students can schedule time and view insects that they have collected and sent in. He talked about how much money we spend on education and yet we are static with our education levels. He asks us to think about using the non-cognitive side of learning (like meditation) and the emotional side of learning - the 8 intelligences: verbal, logical, visual, musical, kinesthetic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, naturalist. We are more than the sum of our SAT scores. He is excited about the school gardens movement. Alice Waters started this in Berkeley. He then discussed his book "Education Nation" which was the best of the Edutopia website. He wants us to be an "education nation" where edu is the highest priority. "Education today is the economy tomorrow." US educational stats are grim. Other countries have a higher regard for education. Some have images of people learning.

We have a strong informal education system though. Blending formal and informal schools through universities, media, museums, companies, churches, and youth groups. Most countries have another month of learning - 200 days vs our 180. The leading edges of innovation: thinking, curriculum, technology, time/place, co-teaching, and youth. Innovation is a "must do" not a "nice to have." Google is 15 yrs old, Youtube is 8 and every minute 100hrs of new videos are uploaded. He discussed Clay Shirky's "How social media can make history." We are in a time where we can not only learn any time and place, but any path at any pace.

Thinking edge: Growth vs. a fixed mind set. Students and teachers have to change their beliefs about students being good or bad at subjects. "You get better at something by doing it." We have new roles for teachers - this is the end of the solo practitioner and the rise of the team collaborator. Teachers = mentors, team leaders and students, team members, scholars. Change the vocabulary.

We then watch "Digital Youth Portrait: Luis." - a high school senior is involved in media and online culture. He makes films and is actively engaged in his education via technology. He believes that this is the modern student. We need more flexibility in learning - students need choices. He sees badging systems, alternative, flexible ways of showing what you know.

Make learning more visible and shareable. Peer-learning is very important - a powerful teaching tool - collaborative learning. The Institute of the Future website. Every technology has a light and dark side. We need digital literacy and digital citizenship. Tech can be distracting, a medium for bullying.

 He is not concerned with corporate influence in education technology. But interestingly enough is that exactly what happened in a previous meeting - we let the corporations drive the discussion on plagiarism and "cheating."
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DET/CHE: The Art & Science of Education

Town plan of Imola
Town plan of Imola (Wikipedia)

I am at the Directors of Education Technology and California Higher Education conference in San Jose this week (DET/CHE). This is my first time here and I am presenting on MOOCs, eLearning, and Instructional Design. I am excited about the location. We are in downtown San Jose which has the Tech Museum right across from the San Jose Museum of Art. Interestingly enough, the Tech Museum is looking more like an art museum (Fritjof Capra spoke there recently on Leonardo Da Vinci) and the art museum is running an exhibit called "The Genius of Everyday Things." And this is how it should be. There is a long history of art and science working and playing together. It is only in the last few centuries when specializations and their theoretical baggage seem to have separated the two in academia. I like the Merriam-Webster definition of Art: "something that is created with imagination and skill and that is beautiful or that expresses important ideas or feelings." That should at least also be the definition of instructional design if not education itself. I have a number of postings to this blog on art because art talks about how we see and experience the world and is about expressing our connection to it. Education is an opportunity to erase those artificial boundaries and to acknowledge that we experience the world with all of our senses and not just the ones for writing papers. Like Art (with a capital "a") education is also an opportunity think about how we see and experience the world and navigating our connections to the people and ideas around us. It is not an accident that George Siemens sees the role of the teacher to be a curator and "sense-maker" rather than a subject matter expert or funnel. (See p.15 of Siemens' "Learning and Knowing in Networks.")

The Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San ...
The Tech Museum of Innovation in downtown San Jose; the white line in the sky is an airliner on approach to San Jose International Airport during the exposure time (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The Tech Museum is running a program on the movie Star Wars which really has nothing to do with actual technology. It has everything to do with how artists imagine technology. And if Star Wars was not a great story, no one would care. You would never see a tech museum do a presentation on "Plan 9 from Outer Space." It was the art of Star Wars that fired the imagination.

Lets tear down those walls. If you are here at this conference, I think it would be worthwhile to take the time to visit the art museum. I would love to see the three organizations (DET/CHE, Tech Museum, and the Art Museum) coordinate a presentation someday!
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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

eLearning 101: An Open Class for New Online Learners

Humboldt State University
Humboldt State University (Wikipedia)
Our new class is slowly taking shape. The course will be based on our old DE 101 (Distance Ed 101) which in turn was based on HIM 100 (a Health Information Management class where we introduced students to networked learning). It is also based on my experiences with CCK08 (the Connectivism and Connective Knowledge course facilitated by George Siemens and Stephen Downes) and DS 106 (Jim Groom's project-based digital storytelling class), both of which I think represent the best of the MOOC idea. I was calling our course a MOOC but I am absolutely disgusted with some of the online classes that are going under that name right now - I would not want to give my faculty the idea that we were following a model that didn't build in student support, or value engagement and interaction, and valued venture capital over learning. I believe that we can create an open course that uses the best of these classes, uses actual research into the needs of our students, and then help students learn to be independent, life-long learners, with a dynamic learning community that they can take with them through college and into their professional lives.

The structure of our course owes a lot to the excellent work of Humboldt State Universities instructional designers, like Riley Quarles who has developed the structure of the blogs for our Child Development program. Dan Fiore, another instructional designer I am working with, is putting together Wordpress and an open badge system.

The students for this course are new to online learning, but of the 1600 students who responded to our survey, 95% use Facebook. At the typical university that hosts MOOCs, there is a higher level of motivation and skill sets (Stanford for instance). What we know about this population is that we need to have modules on things like time management, online communication skills, motivation, study skills, and how to create a personal learning network. One of the key purposes of the course is to help the students figure out how to form online learning communities for academic and professional support. We do have a module called "LMS" (learning management system) and that is specific to our campus' installation of Moodle - other campuses could insert their LMS of choice there.

The MOOCs that I have participated in were made up mostly of grad students and education professionals. My work has mostly been in community colleges and state colleges, so the tools and skills we are teaching are different.

Where we are now:

1. We are using Wordpress. There will be a main course blog that will link all the topics of the course (which may be on pages or separate blogs). The facilitators will have blogs as will the students. The students will choose or create an assignment on the topic and post to their blog. This feed will be aggregated on the topic blogs.

2. We are using open badges. I know that motivation is an issue in online classes in our university system, and all the research I have read says that badges are one of the ways to address that issue. Plus, I want the students to have a

3. We are gathering data. We have sent out a survey to our students to see how they are accessing the web, where they are accessing it, and what tools they are already using. The course is based on previous courses and orientations I have created but each is different according to the needs of the student population. For instance, at Tacoma Community College, we had more students involved in virtual worlds like Ever Quest and Second Life. Humboldt State only had 6% of the respondents in online games.

4. Updating course materials. The course materials are from previous courses and orientations. All of the modules will be openly licensed with a CC-NC-SA license.

5. Getting out to the learning communities and asking people to help get out and push. I went to the Open Ed 13 conference to learn more about open badges and to meet more people who are teaching in MOOCs. I will be presenting on this at the DET/CHE conference in San Jose next week.

The illustration below is s rough sketch that is evolving - this is not meant to be a traditional hierarchical course but student driven: the student chooses which modules are important, the student chooses the assignments from the module (or creates one) and gets together online with students to complete the work.

I would love to talk to anyone who is working on a similar project. Feel free to email me or leave a comment. I will also post updates and my presentation here as things take shape. 
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Some Notes on Connectivism and Peer Review

A social network diagram
A social network diagram (Wikipedia)
I have been looking at social constructivism and the social generation of knowledge over the last week. I am interested in this line of thought because I feel that for us to really get a handle on what connectivism is, we have to be able to talk about it in the context of previous theories that talk about how we communicate and learn. Connectivism has to account for social constructivism because that is one of the prevailing theories about learning in the universities. According to Stephen Downes, "connectivism is the thesis that knowledge is distributed across a network of connections, and therefore that learning consists of the ability to construct and traverse those networks." Connectivism, if you are not yet familiar with it, is a learning theory proposed by Stephen Downes and George Siemens. It is important to note that even though this is a new theory, it is not particularly dependent on any technology: connectivism was not invented by the internet. The internet was invented because we are very interested in communicating and being connected, and connectivism is a useful theory that can describe how this happens. When I say that connectvism is nothing new, I am not saying that in a derogatory way, I mean that it is the natural evolution of our understanding of how we learn. In various postings in this blog, I have pointed out how throughout history spontaneous learning networks have arisen between groups and individuals. I am interested in in the development of communication and knowledge networks from the earliest mail routes to the "Republic of Letters," from the telegraph to the early dial-up networks, from the Minitel to the modern internet. There is a lot of concern out there about whether or not connectivism is a learning theory or not. I find this issue ironic and kind of amusing. Well, it is about learning, so that is settled. How can it not be a theory? According to Merriam-Webster, a theory is "an idea or set of ideas meant to explain facts or events" and "an idea that is suggested or presented as possibly true that is not known or proven to be true" and finally, the third definition "the general principles or ideas that relate to a subject." So yes, it is a theory, the real question is whether or not it is a strong or weak theory, or does it account for the facts? Can we make predictions with this theory? Does it explain what happened before? The irony is that the same mechanisms that educators are going to use test whether or not it is a useful theory are the same mechanisms connectivism describes, for instance, peer review.

Brent Renalli has in interesting paper called "A Pre-history of Peer Review: Religious Blueprints from the Hartlib Cycle." In it, I ran into my old friend John Cominus (1592-1670), the author of one of the first illustrated textbooks for children. He was also an early proponent of universal education, visual learning, and going beyond rote memorization in schools. All of these ideas, like connectivism, are still considered "new" and controversial in many universities - any instructional designer can tell you stories about that! I didn't go looking for Cominus, but in my research into education, I keep running into him. In a typical paper on peer review, authors tend to credit the Royal Society with its invention, but it was already a well-established system in Europe and elsewhere to ensure religious orthodoxy as a mechanism of censure. "Peer review" is generally not a good way to get new ideas out.

Connectivism has gone through its modern "Republic of Letters" stage via the blogs. Downes and Siemens both have used the blogs to write books, essays, and propose ideas. Educators in turn have responded for and against on their respective blogs - and continue to do so. And now, Siemens has published in a more formal and traditional manner with peer reviewed journals such as MERLOT's Journal of Online Learning and Teaching. Other education researchers are publishing articles about connectivism such as Dorothy Kropf in the European Journal of Open, Distance, and Elearning. Thus far, the ideas around connectivism have had more exposure and peer review than Einstein's theory of relativity had in 1905 (the "Annus Mirabilis" papers) when only Max Plank and Wilhelm Wien had read them before publication in Annalen der Physik. I wonder if the theory of connectivism could have come out of the traditional institutions. I think these ideas had to have been born in the very media the theory analyzes. In many ways, the theory flies in the face of all the accepted theories in education (behavioralism, cognitivism, and the many shades of constructivism) and probably would not have gained traction. I have seen papers get rejected from journals because there are not enough researchers publishing about idea X in refereed journals. We have to expect that. Universities rarely innovate - that is left to the lonely patent clerks of the world. Universities are where ideas go to fossilize and become the established order. Connectivism needed the internet, blogs, and Twitter to take shape.
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Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New Google Classes for Educators

English: This is Juniper Hall at Humboldt Stat...
Juniper Hall at HSU. (Wikipedia)
Even though most of what I work with here on this blog is open education resources, I often post what is happening at Google because the college I work for, Humboldt State University, made the wise choice of outsourcing their email to Google. There are so many reasons why this is such a good idea for small to medium-sized universities: reduce cost of servers and infrastructure; Google is better at redundant digital back-ups and storage and data security than we are; they include many software programs that run in the cloud that we could not afford to buy, develop, or maintain - the list goes on. Many of the students are already using Gmail, Google Drive, Google Sites and Hangouts, etc. On top of that, Google  also offer free training for instructors.

They are offering five new, free self-paced courses to introduce teachers to Google Apps: Internet 101, Google Apps for Education Overview, Gmail for Educators, Google Drive for Educators, Chrome and Chromebooks for Education:

Learn how Google apps and other web tools can help you meet your teaching and learning goals. Your educator peers have created a set of self-paced online courses to help you learn when it's convenient for you. Review videos, toolkits, and reflection questions to build your skills and confidence in using the right technology to meet students' needs for today and the future.

My one beef with them is that I would like Google to start paying more attention to ADA 508 compliance issues. In the past they rushed a lot of things out of the chute for education without paying attention to compliance. They seem to be attending to that now but I need to do more research on that.

If you have any opinions or insight on Google accessibility, feel free to post a comment or email me and I will include the info in a later post.
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Friday, November 15, 2013

Durbin, Franken Introduce Legislation to Help Make College Textbooks More Affordable

U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, of Illinois.
U.S. Senator Richard Durbin, Ill.
 The cost of new textbooks has increased 82%, three times faster than inflation, over the last decade.

[WASHINGTON, DC] – U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Al Franken (D-MN) today introduced legislation designed to help students manage costs by making high quality textbooks easily accessible to students, professors and the public for free.  This bill, known as the Affordable College Textbook Act, would create a competitive grant program for institutions of higher education, working with professors and other organizations, to create and expand the use of textbooks that can be made available online and licensed under terms that grant the public the right to freely access, customize and distribute the material, also known as “open textbooks”.

“My home state of Illinois provides an example of how the bill I am introducing with Senator Franken can be successful,” said Durbin.  “Over three years ago, I worked to secure funding for the University of Illinois to complete an open textbook project.  The University, working with faculty, identified sustainability as the topic for the project and an area of study in need of such open resources. Since 2012, the textbook that was produced from this effort – Sustainability: A Comprehensive Foundation – has been in regular use at the University of Illinois campuses. The book has been used in a Massive Open Online Course that has been sampled by at least 60,000 students.  At least a dozen schools throughout the country have either contacted the University of Illinois about the text or are using it.  This bill can replicate and build on this success and help make the cost of attending college more affordable.”

“In the fight to make college more affordable and accessible for Minnesota families we can’t overlook the rising costs of textbooks,” said Franken. “I’m proud to introduce this bill with Senator Durbin because it will help provide cheaper alternatives to traditional textbooks and keep more money in students’ pockets where it belongs.”

Textbook costs are one of the most overlooked costs of going to college, but they can be substantial and can be a barrier to attaining a college education.  According to College Board, the average student budget for college books and supplies during the 2012-2013 academic year was $1,200.

“Students can’t afford to pay $250 for a single textbook. In fact, U.S. PIRG found that seven of ten current college students have skipped buying a textbook because it was too expensive. It’s clear that the current big-publisher system isn’t working for students, and needs to change,” said U.S. PIRG Higher Education Associate Ethan Senack.  “For students, the cost-saving potential of open textbooks is massive - around 80-100% compared to published textbooks. We thank Senators Durbin and Franken for championing this innovative solution to the high cost of textbooks.”

Today’s legislation expands on the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act which contained provisions from Durbin’s College Textbook Affordability Act that aimed to make more information available to students looking to manage college textbook costs.  Durbin introduced his bill after learning of troubling practices by the publishing industry to create new textbook editions with little new content to drive up costs and bundle additional and often unwanted materials to required texts at students’ expense.  The 2008 law required textbook publishers to disclose to faculty the cost of a textbooks to their students, required schools to publish textbook information in course catalogues when practicable, and required publishers to offer unbundled supplemental materials so students had choices.  The provisions took effect on July 1, 2010.

While a June 2013 GAO Report required by the law found that students had more information and publishers and schools were generally complying with the new disclosure requirements, it also found that the price of textbooks had continued to rise.

“Textbook prices are simply unaffordable and have become a barrier to academic success for too many students,” said Nicole Allen, Open Educational Resources Program Director for the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition.  “This bill would help more colleges leverage open educational resources to make higher education more affordable and accessible for all.”

“The dirty secret about textbooks is that they don't have to be so expensive given the rise of technology. Even worse, if you put textbook debt in larger context with student debt, the affordability of college is becoming less and less tenable, and, as a result, the American dream is becoming more difficult for the next generation to attain,” said Matthew Segal, co-founder of

The limited federal investment in the creation and expanded use of a set of high-quality, introductory level college textbooks outlined in the Affordable College Textbook Act can improve learning, access, and affordability for all college students.  Making high-quality open textbooks freely available to the general public can significantly lower college textbook costs and increase accessibility to higher education.  Open textbooks can also improve learning and teaching through course materials that are more flexible, adaptable, and accessible for professors.

Specifically, the Affordable College Textbook Act:
  • Creates a grant program to support pilot programs at colleges and universities to create and expand the use of open textbooks with priority for those programs that will achieve the highest savings for students;
  • Ensures that any open textbooks or educational materials created using program funds will be freely and easily accessible to the public;
  • Requires entities who receive funds to complete a report on the effectiveness of the program in achieving savings for students;
  • Improves existing requirements for publishers to make all textbooks and other educational materials available for sale individually rather than as a bundle; and
  • Requires the Government Accountability Office to report to Congress by 2017 with an update on the price trends of college textbooks.
The Durbin-Franken Affordable College Textbook Act is supported by the following organizations: U.S. PIRG, the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition, American Association of Community Colleges, National Association of College Bookstores, National Association of Graduate and Professional Students, OUR TIME, Creative Commons and the OpenCourseWare Consortium.
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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

OER: SALSA - an open source syllabus builder

The open source, web-based SALSA (Styled & Accessible Learning Service Agreements) is a
syllabus authoring tool from Utah State University’s Center for Innovative Design & Instruction. It is based on the design of the PDF Syllabus Builder. No registration of any kind is required to use Salsa.

According to their website, Salsa generates a unique and random hyperlink for instructors. Instructors an bookmark or copy the hyperlink with the "My SALSA" button, and "use the hyperlink to return and edit their SALSA. Publish your SALSA to generate a new hyperlink to a "read-only" copy of your Salsa in PDF or HTML format."

I am interested in this because I think that this is another tool that can help instructors who have to work with learning outcomes to do it effectively and consistently. I prefer the kind of learning where the students decide what the outcomes might be around specific topics but even that kind of learning has a "meta-outcome" of being able to work with a group to develop course outcomes. And there are accrediting agencies that ask for them. SALSA uses Bloom's Taxonomy, built right into the tool, to help instructors author the outcomes.  I think it is helpful for students in a program to have some kind of consistency and connection of course outcomes with the class, the program, and the college.

This is also a way to get faculty and programs that need to work on student learning outcomes to see how they can be used in a practical way. If you have other tools for working with student learning outcomes, I would love an email or a note in the comments section.

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Thursday, November 07, 2013

Open Ed 13: The Avalanche That Hasn't Happened

This is an amazing piece of film that started the off today by David Kernohan. Totally
 punctures the hype in education with everything that has been declared "a game changer." 
Send this out! This is one of the most important take-aways from Open Ed 13.

And no, I did not think he was coming back when he left the room - I am just that thick :-)
 I am so glad he came back and answered questions.

Open Ed 13: Hacking the Syllabus in Saskatchewan

Official seal of Saskatoon
Official seal of Saskatoon
I met Jordan Epp this morning. I was looking for a place to sit down in the big hall early this morning and he was the only one still smiling while drinking the conference coffee - I had to meet him! How could you pass up such an undaunted spirit? Anyway, it was a great conversation, he is an instructional designer from the University of Saskatchewan and lives in Saskatoon, and he said something that has stuck with me all day. We were talking about open textbooks and how many students don't buy textbooks. He said that in their study of students they found students that did well in the course who did not buy the text book. They contacted the students and asked how they managed to do so well in the class without buying the textbook. One of them said that he took the outcomes from the assignment listed in the syllabus and copied them into Google. He chose the link that had the most matched words and just read articles on the internet.This hits me on two levels; first, the instructor is brilliant for having such well articulated outcomes for the assignments. That instructor knows what they are teaching. The second, is that the student is brilliant for understanding the purpose of the outcomes. This course would be low-hanging fruit for conversion to an OER-based course.

The process for converting a class to an open textbook class is to look at the course outcomes, see how the current textbook aligns with the outcomes and then either finding an open textbook that meets those outcomes or customising an open textbook with other open education resources to meet them. Sometimes this process starts with "what is a course outcome?"

Wouldn't it be great if this student does not have to play Sherlock Holmes and basically build his own textbook? A third thought would be - someone should keep an eye on that student, he will make a great teacher or instructional designer one day!

Jordan, here is that picture of the moose in Saskatoon.
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Open Ed 13: How to Make It Work for Faculty: A study of how Washington Community and Technical Colleges Use Oer

Boyoung Chae and Connie Broughton discuss the Open Course Library for Washington State's 
 Community and Technical Colleges.

"While new open educational resources are being continuously created, little data exists on how faculty in higher education actually use and perceive open educational resources, and more importantly what types of support faculty need to help them implement the open educational resources. After developing the Open Course Library, Washington State Board for Community and Technical Colleges (SBCTC) conducted a study of how faculty at the 34 system colleges use OER. The purpose of the study is to investigate
  1. how and to what extent open educational resources are being used in the college classroom, 
  2. how faculty perceive open educational resources, 
  3. what type of support is needed to help faculty embrace the open educational resources.
In this study, a mixed-method design was used incorporating both quantitative and qualitative study methodologies. We began our study by developing an extensive survey in collaboration with two faculty unions of the community and technical colleges in the state of Washington. The survey was sent to all faculty in the system. Based on the survey results, we conducted a qualitative Delphi study. Delphi is a collective human intelligence process among experts, in this case, a focus group consisting of open educational resources experts in Washington CTC system. The group discussed what constitutes the best support system for faculty's use of open educational resources.
Based on the data collected from survey, and the consensus from the qualitative Delphi study, we created a conceptual framework that informs faculty's needs, use, expectations, and most importantly the types of support in using open educational resources.

This study will provide a roadmap for anyone who organizes the future professional development plan for open educational movement in higher education. It will remind the audiences of the most crucial aspect of building and promoting open educational resources: how to make it work for faculty."

Conducted a state-wide survey of WA community and technical college teachers, they got 730 responses and will follow up with phone interviews. 

83% of the faculty had heard of OER, and follow up questions showed that they understood what OER actually were. 67% previously searched for OER for their classes. 60% had used OER in their teaching practice.

Reasons for not adopting
  • Hard to find appropriate resources
  • No quality materials available
Conclusions from the survey was tha tth faculty needed and wanted more training and professional development activities.
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Open Ed 13: A Red Hat for OER: Lumen's Journey

Kim Thanos and David Wiley talk about their business, Lumen Learning.

"After a decade and $100M US in foundation funding, an incredible amount of high quality open educational resources exist which are only rarely used in formal settings. The situation feels very much like it did with open source software a decade ago. At the turn of the century, almost everyone had heard of open source and was interested in potentially saving money and improving the stability and quality of their technology offerings, but very few institutions had either the bravery or the capacity to run systems for which there was no formal training and no technical support. Red Hat stepped into this vast pool of curiosity and caution with training, technical support, and other services that put adopting Linux within the reach of a normal institution.

Lumen is trying to do exactly same thing – step into the deep pool of curiosity and caution around open educational resources with the faculty training, academic leadership consulting, technical and pedagogical support, learning analytics services, and other pieces necessary to put adopting OER within reach of a normal institution. In the past year we've worked with dozens of secondary and post-secondary institutions and learned many - sometimes painful - lessons.

In this presentation we'll review our first year of lessons learned, including what works, what not to do, and how our business model has evolved over our first year."

Their 90/10 goal is to lower the cost by 90% and increase success by 10%. Success = C or better.

The OER are free but they charge for their time to come in and support the OER roll-out. 

60% of students do not purchase a textbook at one time because of cost.
23% never buy textbooks. 

Lumen wants 100% of the students to have access to free, digital materials from day one. They decided to go with .com like Flatworld Knowledge. It is a company because "their is not enough diversity" in the OER landscape. Their model is like MoodleRooms or rSmart. This is the "sustainability" question. 

Candela OER Services from Open Learning provide training, best practices for implementation, online and phone support, analytics, LMS integration, long term access to course data. Providing services to help institutions adopt and implement.

  • Full math sequence
  • Full dev ed
  • Gen Ed and Business
  • 65 highest enrolled courses in Gen Ed and business
Perils of the Business Model
  • Transition from studetn budget to institutional budget
  • Our absolutes, no pay wall, no raping and pillaging
  • Our preferences - one time services as needed, but focus on sustained, supported improvements
  • What is the right bundle?er enrollment? Per course? Per bundle?
Pricing models
Per course 2000k
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Opening Up Assessment: Open tools and item banks

A Wikiversity Logo for Open Educational Resour...
"One of the defining characteristics of Open Education has been the widespread sharing of course materials from OpenCourseWare to Open Textbooks to more generally open educational resources (OERs). Unfortunately many OERs are primarily content or course materials and do not include sufficient quizzes or other activities that students can use to check for understanding and that instructors can use to track engagement and performance. Research shows that embedding assessments in texts increases student completion rates and learning. Open Assessment complements existing OER efforts with tools to allow instructors to embed assessments in any OER, and to create shared collections of assessment items.

MIT and Open Tapestry are developing tools and services to allow instructors and authors to embed assessments directly in any content (e.g., in any OpenCourseWare course) thereby providing a richer learning experience. And BYU will be developing validated item banks of open assessments that can be shared (which will be developed by domain experts and psychometricians). Our approach differs from current practice because existing tools require one of two things: either a system that presents both content and assessments together as part of a dedicated system or the the learner is required to leave the content to take an assessment in a separate quiz system breaking the flow of learning. To be able to embed an assessment of your choosing in any existing OER wherever it might be presented will be truly powerful.

This panel presentation will provide conference participants the opportunity to understand how to use the tools, existing and forthcoming open assessment item banks, and how to use open assessment in their OER content regardless of where it's located right away."

Content and assessment are always separate.  Typically, you look at content and then go out and take an assessment. This might not be the best way to learn.

These assessments can be embedded anywhere. Focusing on formative assessment. Self-check of their own understanding and eliminates issues around cheating. - there are self-assessments in the materials - a "hide the answer" approach.

Examples are in of static tests. OCW Scholar focuses on self-learners has .pdf questions. has each item with an embed code much like the embed code that you will find in YouTube.

It will import test questions using QTI format.

Integrated with Open Tapestry.

Open Tapestry lets you edit versions of websites.

David Wiley talked about the creation of item banks. Faculty are sometimes loathe to adopt open textbooks because the commercial textbooks often come with testbanks. A Hewlett grant has funded the creation of openly licensed textbooks.
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Assessment and Accreditation of Learners using OER

Photo of Athabasca University
Photo of Athabasca University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Rory McGreal of Athabasca University presents on assessment of OER and OER University.

"This paper examines existing and potential scalable approaches to formal assessment and accreditation to digital learning, comparing and contrasting such uses with more traditional approaches. Unbundling of services, so that assessment & accreditation are separate from teaching and support, makes OER much easier to implement and build upon. There is little requirement for physical space, so it can grow in a similar fashion as that of many Internet platforms. This of course makes OER much more scalable than physical institutions can compete with. While international or even national accreditation & assessment services are not currently widespread or easily accessible, developing a robust system that can service thousands or even hundreds of thousands of students could change the dynamic of access to post-secondary education. All of the technology is already available, such as payment systems, content management systems, and exam taking.

Lessons learned so far from key initiatives in this area are discussed, proposing tentative guidance for policy makers and various stakeholder groups in this area.
Currently, the greatest potential and demand for OER:
  • is in non-OECD countries;
  • at non-traditional institutions;
  • at institutions with PLAR models in place.
Breaking down institutional silos is still a major issue before a large-scale OER/PLAR/RPL system is in place. In terms of cost-effective and sustainable approaches to student support, peer-to-peer learning support models were considered to be the most effective, followed by support from retired academics or other volunteers, and the design of system to enable senior students or graduates to provide support for junior students.

As for the types of assessment methods that would most likely be used in the future recognition of prior learning via portfolio assessment and course-based portfolios were both considered appropriate, as well as automated online assessments.

The greatest barriers to participation in open assessment and accreditation practices identified were the lack of availability of committed staff members to support such activities, and the potential costs of redeveloping courses as open educational resources. Lack of support for OER-based courses from senior management was a significantly greater concern for participants from traditional education institutions than for those from institutions with open policies, and was perceived to be a more significant barrier within public than private institutions. These findings suggest that institutions that already have policies that support open assessment and accreditation practices will be able to easily align the implementation of collaborative OER courses with existing policies and processes.

The key institutional success factors for the provision of open assessment and accreditation services appear to be a strong support base within institutions ? both in terms of leadership and resources, and an existing culture of openness, including policies and practices around the creation and use of OERs, as well as policies that enable either open access or recognition of prior learning via credit transfer or PLAR. Institutions that are already characterized by these features are likely to be best placed for the implementation of assessment and accreditation of OER-based learning, and could provide models for other organizations"

Creating an OER University with 30 partnering colleges. 

Coursera owns what is in your head - you cannot use what you learned in Coursera to get accreditation elsewhere. Up until Coursera, we always owned what was in our heads.

OERU will give recognition for prior learning and challenge for credit.

They also do credit transfer. North America uses the three credit system. They use the bologna Process in Europe. It is problematic in most jurisdictions. Standards are lacking and the process is labor intensive.

Fear of change - the only ones not afraid of change are wet babies
Fear of losing students and therefore teaching jobs
Copyright issues
Concerns over work load 
Conflicts with commercial publishers and SIGs
Lack of committed faculty

The Paris Declaration on OERs has helped in Canada. The US has been leading in open research.

There is too much duplication in the OER movement. Stop talking about developing courses, start talking about reusing and adapting. 

Educators are afraid of the cost but the cost to continue as we are is more expensive.

OER Benefits
A culture of openness

We need to find ways to accredit OER learners and not leave it to the status quo.

Athabasca University had to create a "bear and cougar awareness" class because they needed it. 

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