Distance Learning Training and Resources for Educators

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CCC DL Team Present at ECU Think-IN

CCC Instructional Technologist Pre-Ah Hill and I participated in the annual Think-In at East Carolina University yesterday. “Think-In 2008 showcased faculty from around the state utilizing technology to educate students in the classroom – both face-to-face and distance education classes. Participants made presentations via laptop poster sessions and included course and instructional technology demonstrations.”

think-in3 This event was an excellent opportunity to see what other institutions are doing in the realm of instructional technology, in addition to sharing what we are doing at our college and the Community College System. The great thing about the Think-In is being able to get new ideas from other innovative faculty and instructional design staff from around the state. Each booth showcased a specific innovative application of technology such as the virtual hospital, using video to give feedback to online students, second life for educational purposes and a variety of other creative uses of technologies in the classroom both online and in the traditional class setting.

think-in

Pre-Ah Hill explains how we incorporate Blogging, YouTube and Itunes U at Carteret Community College and demonstrates how these technologies can be applied to the online class environment. You can scroll down to the bottom of the ECU Think-In page and watch the web cast of yesterday’s event. Click Here for ECU Think-In and Web Cast – Scroll Down Page.

Project Coordinator, Ginny Sconiers from Academic Outreach at ECU does a great job every year coordinating this unique event. I always come back with new ideas and contacts and that’s what the Think-In is all about!

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DL Accomplishments At CCC Fall 2006 – Fall 2008

The Distance Learning Department has made great strides in a variety of key areas over the past two years because of funding and resources made available through Title III Grant. The following is what I consider our major accomplishments. I hope to build on what we have done and start taking Distance Learning to a whole new level in the coming year.

Blackboard Boot Camp



• A comprehensive Professional Development initiative was initiated for all online faculty in both the technical aspects of teaching online and in instructional design strategies and methodology. Every full time and part time adjunct (120 +) have been certified by attending our 6 hour Blackboard Boot Camps over the past 2 years.

Training college faculty in the latest distance learning methodology and instructional technologies has been a huge but imperative undertaking. The demand for online courses is growing annually and students are arriving in these courses with more advanced and sophisticated technological skills (awareness) than ever before due to the cyber / media culture they have grown up in. That is why we initiated a series of Blackboard Boot Camps in order to get all our online faculty trained in online course management systems and instructional design theory.

QAP “Peer Review” Process

• A QAP Online Course “Peer Review” process has been implemented campus wide. Before the QAP was initiated there was a lack of visual and instructional continuity in our online course offerings. Over the past year a team of veteran online faculty and instructional design staff have been in the process of reviewing every online course at Carteret Community College using a comprehensive check-sheet that addresses a variety of technical and instructional design best practices.

The purpose of the QAP peer review process is to establish and maintain ensured quality for all CCC Distances Learning courses. Our goal is to be able to provide a minimum standard of quality for all CCC Distance Education Courses and move our courses into higher standards through a process of continuous improvement. Objective, peer review allows for us to offer online the highest quality, and more “learner friendly” courses in an ever- increasing competitive online teaching environment.

Distance Learning Pioneer’s

We are into the third phase (year) of our Distance Learning Pioneer program. Dl Pioneers represent a cross section of Carteret Community College faculty and staff that have committed to either completely upgrading and retooling their online classes (adding content specific visuals, producing audio instructional podcasts and enhancing course content) they are already teaching or developing new online courses (or innovative online work environments for staff) for the college. These distance learning pioneers are also participating in a variety of professional development activities (paid for by Title III) such as, workshops, conferences and seminars in order to not only upgrade their courses technically, but are upgrading their online teaching methods as well. Twenty faculty have successfully gone through this intense training and we now have 5 staff and 5 faculty participating in this Pioneer project at this time. Those DL Pioneers that have already been through the program mentoring other online faculty who have not.

Online Tutoring Service

We’re blazing into a new realm of student support here at CCC. The power of distance learning at our College is dramatic, and undeniable. As our DL program turns 10 this semester, we have reached some dramatic milestones:
* 169 online (web-based, hybrid, and full) courses are being taught this semester;
* 72% of students enrolled this semester are taking at least one online course;
* 47% of courses offered are being taught online

With this backdrop, it is critical to understand that we MUST provide all of our support services online. We currently have advising online and we have recently implemented an online tutoring service. After reviewing the field of proprietary online tutoring services, we determined that, at this time, it may be more cost-effective (and more effective overall) to develop our own in-house tutoring service. Online tutoring is available for English, Math, Biology and Anatomy & Physiology and as more and more faculty and students learn of the benefits of this service it is beginning to grow and become part of the fabric of the learning process at CCC. The service is in its infancy as we continue to learn what does and does not work, but in the meantime, we continue to move forward with this exciting initiative.

“One on One” Distance Learning Training

Any faculty member at CCC can contact the Distance Learning Lab and make an appointment with our Instructional Technologist Pre-Ah Hill or a distance learning intern for one on one intensive and focused course specific training. This begins with an initial consultation that identifies the types of technical and/or instructional design upgrades that the faculty member wants to make to his or her online course. This also includes training our faculty in all aspects of Blackboard (CMS) and new software such as audacity and movie maker in order to produce innovative instructional podcasts, enhanced podcasts and videos to be uploaded into the faculty members blackboard.

Distance Learning Campus Wide DL Forum

Carteret Community College held 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. The issues brought out and identified at this forum using the SWOT approach (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) will continue to be addressed as we develop and structure new professional development activities for our faculty and staff at CCC.

Applying and Receiving other Grants

Due to the great strides our Distance Learning Department have made in the areas of professional development and instructional media production over the past 2 years thanks to the funding and resources made available through Title III. We’ve been recognized at the state level for our work and in turn have applied for and received additional state grants to produce online instructional design resources for the state Community College System. Last year we received $7,400 to produce a comprehensive training package on all aspects of Podcasting and this year we were granted $10,700 to produce instructor resources for Blogging, YouTube and ITunes University. (See Below)

Technical Grant I

General information will be provided giving a description of podcasting, some of the benefits for students, the equipment (hardware and software) needed for podcasting, and information on where to obtain software.

The project participants will tell the benefits of using Podcasting, including some statistical information that relates to student retention in classes where podcasting is available. The list of resources will include names to contact for assistance as well as web sites where software can be downloaded, along with directions on how to proceed. The goal is to provide all of the information that a college will need to get started on podcasting.

Tech Grant #2

General information will be provided giving a description of instructional uses for Blogging, YouTube and ITunes University. Our team will describe some of the benefits of these web based tools for students, the equipment (hardware and software) needed for them, and information on where to obtain software needed use them effectively.

The project participants will tell the benefits of using Blogging, YouTube and ITunes U including some statistical information that relates to student retention in classes where these tools are available. They will also produce new instructional content in a variety of discipline areas as examples of these tools can be applied to any online course. The list of resources will include names to contact for assistance as well as web sites where software can be downloaded, along with directions on how to proceed. The goal is to provide all of the information that a college will need to get started on Blogging, YouTube and ITunes U.

Assessment

All of these initiatives are at different phases of progress and implementation at CCC. We plan to continue building on our success (and efforts) in these various areas and hopefully will be able to start gathering viable data as to how these campus wide initiatives are effecting and impacting student success and retention at Carteret Community College. Title III has been a primary catalyst for faculty and staff upgrading, online course evaluations, generating additional grant funding, self study through our forums and adding new services like online tutoring for our students.

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.

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.