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What I learned at the Sloan-C Conference

November 13, 2012 Leave a comment

I attended the Sloan-C Conference on Online Learning recently and I would like to share some of the highlights. The general table talk was about MOOCS (massive open online courses) but I am not going to talk about those today. The underlying theme that I was more interested in and I agree with is that in the future higher education will not and should not look like it does now. We need to redesign our courses to take advantage of the rich resources and experiences that students have available to them outside the classroom walls. We also need to make our classrooms relevant and up to date for our students.

Faculty Development

With that being said, faculty are expected to be doing more and more so time is becoming less and less. It is important to provide relevant faculty development in a variety of ways so faculty can access it in way that suits them. I saw a great presentation by the folks at St. Petersburg College. They are choosing a theme each month that highlights some technology or technique. They start the month with a blog post that contains all the information and videos that a faculty member would need to implement that in their classroom. They also include faculty talking about their experience utilizing that technology or technique in their classroom. Next there is a workshop event for hands on instruction for the faculty. This is followed by a webinar, lunch event and open lab times for faculty. I love how the faculty have a choice as to how they receive the information and that there is a consistent schedule of activities that faculty can count on and plan for. We hope to implement a variation on this at our campuses this spring.

Online Student Orientation

The other couple presentations that were very relevant for me was about creating an effective online orientation for students. Our students come to us from so many different preparatory “places” it is important to provide them information that is useful for those that need it and not force students to do work they do not need to do. Again the advice was provide information in a variety of formats. Pdf’s with screenshots as well as screencasts were recommended. Also having students DO things in the LMS is important. Our plan is to assess them to find out where they truly are and then only make them work on the parts of the orientation they truly need.

Technology

I did learn about a new web-based technology from YouSeeU that seems useful. It allows students to do presentations online rather than in the classroom. Students video themselves and sync with their PowerPoint slides. I like it because it has some rich feedback and rubric grading options. We are looking forward to their new feature this spring which includes an asynchronous way to ask oral exam questions which will be useful in our online courses.

The reality is that students generally do not stay with the university they start with and they can take courses virtually all over the world. They expect relevant and engaging experiences that prepare them for the 21st century work force. It is time to reinvent and update.

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Categories: classroom, software Tags: ,