Distance Learning Training and Resources for Educators

Archive for April, 2008

DL Forum April 22


Carteret Community College had its first Distance Learning forum moderated by Dr. Abbie Brown and Dr. Bill Sugar both Professors in the Instructional Technology Graduate Program at East Carolina University. It was an extremely productive event, and I believe will be a catalyst for some of the initiatives we implement in the coming year. One thing continues to be very evident and was brought out by many participants in the forum. Education is evolving and changing rapidly. The tools, techniques, methods and environments are changing. However, good teaching is still good teaching, whether it’s done in the online environment or the traditional classroom environment. It goes back to the “Human Element”. The personal touch – the connection between the teacher and student. If that connection isn’t made (and nurtured) the teaching / learning, journey will be an uphill climb. Due to the rapid advances in technology and the shift to a global economy we as educators don’t truly know for sure what skills our students are going to need in 5, 10, or 15 years. That’s the scary part.


Technology is changing so fast. It’s incredibly difficult to keep abreast of it. However, if we as educators are going to remain viable, effective and competitive we MUST do everything we can to continually upgrade our skill sets, especially when it comes to technology. Our students are changing. Their backgrounds and instructional needs are very different, yet the one CONSTANT we still have in education is that we all crave connectivity and are social creatures. Whether we as educators teach in the classroom or online, teachers must make the effort to harness the new sophisticated communication tools and use them to make those connections. I don’t care what environment you teach in, if you can’t connect with your students, communicate effectively with them, empathize , relate or motivate them, you can’t get them to join you on the learning journey.
The issues (see below) brought out and identified at this forum using the SWOT approach (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) will continue to be addressed and talked about here at CCC and in High Schools and Colleges across the country. Let’s not lose sight of the fact that we are all in this together, and we must not forget that good teaching is still plain old good teaching, whether we are in the classroom or online. The traits and skills that make good students and teachers for the most part are the same as well, even though the environments may have changed, and Blackboard may have replaced the overhead projector. Change is a reality for all of us and we must all be willing to embrace it and not be intimidated by it.

STRENGTHS

Convenience
Gas Prices
Funding
Participation & Accountability
Flexibility both student & faculty
Peer Review Opportunity
Increase reading & writing skills
Instructional Tech Support
Increase administrative support for student
Richer multi-media
Access to external resources
Improved technology
WEAKNESSES

Online instruction does not meet the needs for students and faculty
Lack of student and faculty computer skills
Feelings of isolation
Danger of miscommunication
Lack of tech support (inadequate)
Extreme approaches to technology
From the student perspective, online instruction requires self-discipline & time management
Time constraints for faculty
Security & Ethical behavior
State Orientation is problematic
Human element is difficult to include

OPPORTUNITIES
Complete degree on-line
Partnership with high schools
Learn & Earn (Free)
Business & Government
Quality of life for Seniors
Increase multi-media
International (Student & Faculty)
New faculty (new skills)
Raise student skills (orientation)
Increase/Diversify social interaction
Raise & Diversify faculty skills
Marketing (expand beyond local area)
Save money on books (e-books)
Make best use of all resources

THREATS
Power failure
Rapid pace of technology change
Competition from other state institutions
Afraid of change
Computing resources for students
Student wants choices between hybrid and online course offerings

Please feel free to comment to this post. Address any issues you see that CCC must tackle in the coming months or elaborate on any of the issues raised at our DL Forum.

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DL Report April 17, 2008

Since posting my last Distance Learning Report (see link below) on February 28, 2008 the distance learning team has continued moving forward with a variety of initiatives.

Our Online Tutoring Service went LIVE this past March 17.  We are starting off slow due to the fact that we started offering the service mid-Spring semester however this has given us an opportunity to work the bugs out of the service and develop viable methodologies for assisting students with their classes.

Our Online Peer Review QAP initiative continues to make headway.  We are now into  phase III and should have these 12 courses evaluated by May 5, 2008. As we evaluate these courses we are contacting the instructors of the online classes we are evaluating and either letting them know they passed or asking them to make appointments with us to upgrade their courses in order to make the minimum grade on the QAP.

10 of of our distance learning faculty (DL Pioneers) attended the recent DL Alliance Conference in New Bern earlier this month.  Mary Walton and Laurie Freshwater co-presented with me at the conference on our Blackboard Boot Camp Certification initiative.  They both did an outstanding job presenting at the conference.

As I stated in my last report CCC received an Tech Center Grant to develop and produce a variety of resources for online instructors throughout the state.  Our first project is writing and producing a set of “Best Practices” for instructional podcasting.  I am in the process of ordering digital audio and video equipment with the grant money and paying online faculty volunteers to assist us (after work hours) with the production of a video on all aspects of podcasting. Check out the progress we have made so far at our Tech Center Blog Link – the podcast and video are linked at the bottom of the page.

We have our last BB Boot Camp scheduled for the Spring semester on May 7 and 8. As of today all three modules are close to being full.

Pre-Ah Hill is designing and gathering material (articles and pictures) for our first DL Newsletter that will be out in May.  We hope to make this a monthly newsletter on all aspects of Distance Learning at CCC.

Our DL Forum is scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, April 22nd in the upstairs of the Civic Center.  This forum is sponsored by Title III and we hope it will give us additional information to assist us with planning for new dl initiatives in the coming years.

DL Forum Title: Demystifying Distance Learning @ CCC

Date: April 22nd

Time: 1:30 – 4:00

Location: Crystal Coast Civic Center – Moderated by Dr. Abby Brown and Dr. Bill Sugar, from East Carolina University Instructional Design Program.

Overview

Faculty & students are invited to discuss all aspects of DL, voice their apprehensions and concerns, and to walk away with specific action plans to improve DL offerings, procedures and approaches at CCC.

Organization

* Divide the audience into round tables (we will pre-organize each table’s participants, based on rsvp)
* Each table will have a facilitator (a DL Pioneer)
* The facilitator will lead a discussion on SWOT of DL
* Tables will report out on the results of the discussion [each facilitator records results on form, then emails them to Don, who will project them for discussion]
* Bill & Abbie will lead debriefing session of roundtables – including panel discussion comprised of each table moderator
* Action plans will be generated from discussions
* Closing remarks and wrap-up

John Green is in the process of setting up Blackboard Templates for ALL summer online courses.  We are upgrading to Blackboard 8.  It has been a very busy and productive semester in DL and we plan to keep the momentum going into summer with the QAP process and building on what we have accomplished over the past year.