Book Review: Creating Significant Learning Experiences: An Integrated Approach to Designing College Courses
Check It Out: Teaching & Learning Center Collection
The author poses the question, “How can I create courses that will provide significant learning experiences for my students?” A question, or possibly a riddle, that I feel the author does an excellent job of addressing with a practical research-based paradigm shift from “content-centered” to “learning-centered” course design and delivery. A tweaking (not to be confused with twerking) of Bloom’s Taxonomy could be considered blasphemous amongst educators, but I found the author’s “Taxonomy of Significant Learning” to be “Aha!” inducing.
Applicable Knowledge / Skills
Concepts I’ll be implementing from this book:
- The use of a “learning portfolio” to “simultaneously integrate and promote significant learning goals, active learning activities, and educative feedback and assessment.”
- Using the “Taxonomy of Significant Learning” as a general guide to enhance course design, delivery, and assessment.
Useful information abounds. Read it, and/or swing by my office for a chinwag.
Book Review Club
If you’re interested in writing reviews of the books in the TLC Collection, contact Josh Ellis (firstname.lastname@example.org), who is facilitating the Book Review Club through the TLC in 2016-2017. As you peruse the shelves for a book to read, review, and share, keep P. J. O’Rourke’s insightful suggestion in mind: “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”
In early August, the Teaching & Learning Center hosted a 2-day Summer Institute with professional development sessions aimed at tuning up online courses. Elizabeth Ledbetter, Dr. Tracy Nobiling, Dr. Nathaniel Gallegos, and Sam Ballard delivered event sessions featuring tips for making online courses accessible, exploring ways to make a syllabus more learner-centered, delving into copyright, and providing a hands-on introductory experience with Virtual Reality. Aaron Johnson, author of Excellent Online Teaching: Effective Strategies for a Successful Semester Online, facilitated several sessions highlighting strategies for developing robust online discussions, tips for time management, and top ingredients for effective lecturettes.
Faculty members offered these comments to describe what they liked most about the event:
- The VR (Virtual Reality) tutorial hands down…. it gave me a potential idea about directions that VR may go in relation to (my discipline) in particular, which I may propose as a panel topic for a future conference.
- ….learning more about learner-centered syllabi!
- I really liked the part about online discussions. It has changed the way I’m going to participate, grade, and present them to my students.
- …..bringing in Aaron (Johnson) was great!
- I really appreciated the new technology and resources! (The institute was) a great way to get started for a new year —so much great information as well as support.
In this digital age of inbox-filling emails and pocket-buzzing instant messages, the human voice is often silent behind walls of text displayed on a screen. In an online course, a student’s individual contribution may be weighed more in terms of paragraphs typed rather than the depth of ideas discussed. As an instructor assesses student work, finding the best balance between number of words typed versus concepts the student absorbs can become a challenge. In these cases, encouraging asynchronous voice conversations through audio feedback may provide an element of warmth, sometimes missing in online course interactions. Fortunately, an easy-to-use tool for these tasks is ready to use in CSC Online-Sakai.
The Record Audio Clip function is found in the WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get), or rich text editor anywhere the option to type text is available in course sites. A microphone button is nestled in the text editor toolbar. Hover over the button to reveal a tool-tip displaying “Record Audio Clip.”
The first time you use the Record Audio Clip function, your browser may prompt for permission to use the computer’s microphone. This access must be allowed before you will be able to use the Record Audio feature. Below is an example of this permission alert in the Chrome browser.
Once permission is granted, click the Start Recording button to begin recording your audio message. When finished, click Stop Recording. Once your audio is recorded the Preview Recording and Post Recording options are displayed. A posted recording appears as a large placeholder in the WYSIWYG editor and as a small audio player in the published text. Continue editing your post by typing text around the recording and previewing to see how the audio clip will appear to others. Listen to an audio clip recorded by another user by clicking the Play button in the audio player displayed.
All members of a CSC Online-Sakai site, including students, have the ability to quickly record and post audio. This convenience makes audio recording a useful teaching tool in all areas of an online or blended class. Course forum discussions can become asynchronous voice conversations, allowing students to explain ideas, demonstrate their learning, and share thoughts in a more nuanced manner than typed posts may convey. Students may also benefit from the warm audio feedback from their instructors on graded assignments, test answers, and/or forum conversations.
Once the Record Audio function has been mastered, take a look at the Meetings tool, a class-contained option for face-to-face communication.
For more assistance with CSC Online-Sakai or any of the technologies highlighted in this article, contact the Teaching & Learning Center staff at email@example.com.
The Teaching and Learning Center continues to be involved with several technology updates and upgrades across campus. The summer months have provided an opportunity to upgrade and improve instructional technologies both in classrooms and online. The CSC Online-Sakai Meetings tool, Vidyo, “Stick” PCs, and JTouch touchscreens are a few of the technologies recently introduced and/or updated around campus.
CSC Online-Sakai Meetings tool
The CSC Online-Sakai Meetings tool provides a rich multimedia component that can be activated inside CSC Online-Sakai courses. Improvements to the Meetings tool continue to be implemented to expand the tool’s capabilities and reliability. This fall the Teaching and Learning Center will conduct a Meetings Tool workshop to introduce and explore features and functionality of the tool.
The Vidyo Platform has been providing enterprise-grade desktop, mobile, classroom, and conference room videoconferencing capabilities including lecture-capture and streaming functionality to campus since 2011. This summer the Vidyo platform has been fully “virtualized” providing an avenue for continued improvement of multi-function videoconferencing services and additional integration opportunities.
Touchscreens and Micro-sized Computers
Touchscreens and “stick” or micro-sized computers are being piloted in several classroom and collaborative spaces around campus. Modern 65” touchscreens provide an updated experience to Smart Board and similar Interactive White Board (IWB) instructional technologies. Stick PC’s and other Internet of Things (IoT) platforms integrate economical full-featured computer capabilities discreetly into displays and projectors.
I strongly encourage all faculty and staff to examine and experiment with classroom and collaborative technologies updated in various areas across campus. Addressing technology questions, support issues, and familiarizing yourself with equipment before classes begin will make your fall semester classes more successful!
Increasingly, the TLC is focused on reporting emerging technologies and identifying professional development opportunities that enhance teaching and learning on our campus. As the TLC staff reviews technologies, we will hold informational seminars and invite faculty to participate in a testing and review process. To discuss training opportunities and/or suggest “new arrival” gadgets, please stop in for a visit or contact the TLC’s IT Analyst, Jereme Patterson (firstname.lastname@example.org or 308.432.6234).
Updated – 5/6/16
We’ve been made aware of some confusion or concern regarding this article. Please allow me to help clarify some of the major points. I will continue to update the article as new questions are raised.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Wait, what’s happening?!
- The Modules tool will eventually be removed from Sakai. It has not been actively supported by the community since 2014. We want to get started training people on Lessons and moving content away from Modules before it goes away completely.
- What is Lessons and Modules? The titles are confusing and were changed recently.
- Modules is a Sakai tool that was called Lessons prior to the Sakai 10 upgrade in March. The majority of courses taught in Sakai still use Modules to display course lesson plans.
- Lessons is the tool that was previously called Lessons Builder prior to the upgrade. In other words, before March 2016, you were calling the Modules tool “Lessons” and the Lessons tool was called “Lessons Builder”.
- This was a confusing, but very necessary change, to upgrade CSC Online to the community supported version of Sakai.
- What will faculty (course owners) need to do?
- All content that is currently in Modules will eventually need to be moved to the Lessons tool. Faculty will be responsible for moving their content, however, we will release a conversion tool and support documents to make this easier.
- How long do we have?
- We are hoping to accomplish this before August 2017.
- What happens after August 2017?
- After August 2017, the Lessons tool will be completely used in place of Modules. The Modules tool will still remain in the system for the time-being (for archival purposes), however it will be removed when CSC Online is upgraded to Sakai 11.
- Is this another name change?
- No, we are abandoning Modules and moving to Lessons, these are two separate tools.
- How do we transfer content before course shells are created?
- Fall course shells are planned to be created in June each year, Spring shells in October.
- For courses taught on rotation or other non-active sites, instructors may need to work in the most recent version of the course to move content from Modules to Lessons. This way, Lessons will be ready to import into the active shell when the time comes.
— Original Article —
The next critical step in our on-going initiative to improve CSC Online is abandoning the Modules tool. We are turning our attention to the Lessons tool (formerly known as Lessons Builder) which is actively supported by the Sakai developer community. Lessons provides a much-improved student learning experience and allows instructors to present course content in a more organized way. Currently, several faculty and adjunct instructors are successfully using this tool to teach courses in CSC Online-Sakai.
By August 1, 2017, all CSC Online courses must exclusively use the Lessons tool. On this date, the Modules tool will no longer be available. CSC faculty members play an important part in this transition, and we request their assistance to successfully make this change.
In the coming weeks, the TLC will provide tools and resources to help course owners and instructors migrate content from Modules to Lessons and archive all other vital content. Watch for several announcements regarding tools and resources for migrating/archiving Modules content as well as training on the new Lessons tool features. Many of these tools and resources are courtesy of the past hard work contributed by Sakai community members.
Listed below are three resources to help get started using Lessons (links open in new tab):
- Longsight: Sakai Instructor Guide – Lessons
- Duke University: Getting started with the Lessons tool
- Sakai Project Confluence: Lessons features and specifications
The timeline for completing the migration from Modules to Lessons follows:
|Description of Goal||
|Training and consultations on the Lessons tool (Lessons Builder) and migrating course content from the Modules tool||
Offered Continuously (TBA)
May 2016 – July 2017
|Active term courses are using Lessons||
|Lessons will replace Modules as the default tool in Sakai shells (but will continue to work in past term courses)||
Prior to Summer 2017
|Modules content archived in all courses (past and current terms)||
|Modules tool no longer available as a tool option in Sakai sites||
|Modules is removed from the system||
Prior to Sakai 11 Upgrade (TBA)
For questions about the migration away from Modules, or other CSC Online – Sakai topics, contact the Teaching and Learning Center IT specialist Sam Ballard at email@example.com or 432-7089.
New faculty gathered at the Bean Broker for the final meeting of the New Faculty Orientation (NFO). Tracy Nobiling, NFO facilitator, led a discussion with the now not-so-new faculty to identify what they considered most useful and least useful aspects of this year’s program experience. The new faculty members shared their perspectives and offered suggestions for ways to improve the program for next year’s new faculty cohort.
The discussion expanded upon feedback the NFO participants submitted via an anonymous, online evaluation of the program’s full-day orientation held prior to the start of fall semester and the hour-length, bi-monthly meetings scheduled during the fall and spring semesters. Points taken from the survey framed the candid discussion.
Survey responses and the subsequent conversation suggest that new faculty have many things in common, that they appreciate and benefit from having structured, collegial opportunities to meet with each other, and that the program is not perceived as overly time-consuming.
Faculty expressed general agreement that the most useful meetings are those focused on explaining college planning, policies, processes, and
procedures as well as those which identify resources (individuals and offices) that support students.
Opinion was split on the value of meetings focused on teaching-related topics. Given the varied levels of new faculty teaching experience, these meetings were considered greatly beneficial to some, but less valuable to others.
The informal discussion underscored the challenges of providing the right balance of topics relevant to all new faculty while coordinating perfectly timed delivery of information just when faculty need it.
The group discussion prompted several suggestions to enhance future NFO experiences and/or CSC teaching overall. Some ideas proposed are:
- Add an agenda item to every meeting to increase time allotted to unstructured discussion and sharing of challenges and successes faculty are experiencing at the moment.
- Add a meeting or event in which a panel of experienced CSC faculty members address what to expect when teaching CSC students and how best to engage them.
- Schedule and promote a regularly scheduled “Teaching Table” to support both new and experienced faculty informal discussions regarding teaching strategies, ideas, and conundrums.
The NFO Program is designed to assist incoming faculty who are new to teaching and/or new to campus with just-in-time guidance and resources for getting settled on campus. Meeting topics aim to introduce new faculty to CSC and support them in navigating college processes, developing a support network, and fostering plans for improving teaching, scholarly and creative activities, and professional service.
One new faculty member expressed that the NFO experience was very helpful and provided some great information that could be used throughout the semesters.
“It was refreshing to be part of a group of faculty that was in the same boat as me, being in the first year of teaching here at CSC, and it helped provide a non-biased look at happenings around the campus. Often times, our views can be distorted and we can get cliqued into our own department and not have to travel outside of it. This was a nice way to branch out and meet new individuals and learn about campus.”
This year, the TLC did something new. In its first year sans director, it took a page out of Plato’s Apology, and decided to examine a slice of life (2015-2016) – both to get a sense of what it does well and what it could do better. At the core of this self-examination is an important principle: utilization. As a service unit of Academic Affairs, TLC staff want to understand how their services are being used. Simple tracking strategies are able to tell us how often services are used and for what reasons. It’s assessment at its most basic, but it does give us some basis for extrapolating on faculty interests in pedagogical strategies and instructional technologies.
This year the TLC facilitated five mostly faculty-led seminars, with an overall attendance of 40 faculty and staff. There were a variety of topics, including verbal Judo, RSS, active learning, the science of student mindsets, and academic study tables. The nine faculty who led the seminars included Jamie Wada, Ann Buchmann, Joyce Hardy, Wendy Jamison, Beth Wentworth, Jesse Sealey, Josh Ellis, Susan Schaeffer, and Kurt Kinbacher. We were pleased to see participants from so many different disciplines with such a broad range of teaching experience (assistant professors to full professors).
Additionally, six multi-session workshops (some of which ran encore performances) provided hands-on and technology-infused instruction. Topics included Turnitin, high-impact practices, Sakai’s Lesson Builder tool, screencasting, object-based learning, and academic blogging. A total of 30 faculty and staff attended these sessions, while seven staff members from the TLC, LLC, and Sandoz Center facilitated and assisted with the sessions: Matthew Perrie, Susan Hines, Elizabeth Ledbetter, Jereme Patterson, Sarah Polak, Christine Fullerton, and Sam Ballard. The workshops – even the under-enrolled ones – have clearly elevated the skillsets of some faculty, but, more importantly, they have spurred closer connections between faculty and staff, which, we hope, will lead to more productive partnerships.
This August, the TLC will launch its first Summer Institute, a two-day event that focuses on online course revision and e-pedagogy. The author of Excellent Online Teaching: Effective Strategies for a Successful Semester, Aaron Johnson, will be on hand for “Tuning Up Your Online Courses.” The institute (which is limited to six participants, due to space and workstation restrictions) is currently full, but we’re already considering an encore. If you’re interested, contact the TLC’s ID Specialist, Elizabeth Ledbetter (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Like any sports enthusiast with a Fitbit, the numbers say something about overall health at a given point in time. Now that the TLC knows its numbers for the academic year (a grand total of 16 facilitators and 70 participants), the goal in 2016-2017 is simply to increase them and to expand its multiuse, presentation, media-development, and training spaces so that more faculty and staff can be accommodated. We are also very keen to keep the quality high and are experimenting with seminars that dovetail into publishing, such as Kurt Kinbacher’s “Academic Study Table,” and publishing that dovetails into book-club gatherings, such as the academic Book Review Club recently proposed by Josh Ellis.
While the TLC has been more focused than usual on its program offerings, which in addition to seminars, workshops, and institutes, include New Faculty Orientation and, beginning this summer, a Faculty Fellows program, it checks in on a number of its other numbers as well. These include data on:
- LMS (Sakai) stability and utilization
- LMS (Sakai) support utilization
- instructional design support utilization
- mediated-classroom support utilization
- mediated-classroom utilization
- web-conferencing and lecture-capture utilization
- academic web utilization
- TLC Blog & Website utilization
- subscription service utilization (Quality Matters & Lynda.com)
- TLC Library utilization (books and, beginning this summer, equipment circulation).
Currently, our utilization reports are monthly, but data will be aggregated into semester and annual reports. So, if you’ve ever been curious about Sakai’s uptime vs downtime or would like to know more about LMS user and ticket statistics, the reports are now available on the Reports page of the TLC Blog. There’s a bevy of other interesting facts to glean, such as how many people use Vidyo and how often or what MAP sub-priorities are advanced through TLC seminars, workshops, and institutes. You can even find out about hot-ticket TLC Blog posts or learn what percentage of faculty have received basic training in Quality Matters.
Check It Out: Teaching & Learning Center Collection
The authors draw on “research from a breadth of perspectives to identify a set of key principles underlying learning” and provide guidance for applying those principles to college students through thoughtful course design and instruction. I found the book to be a bit overwritten in parts and oversimplified in others, but all-in-all a good read that offered some thought-provoking concepts and ideas in regard to designing a course and presenting material with “how learning works” in mind.
Applicable Knowledge / Skills
Some of the concepts that I found particularly interesting and applicable are as follows:
- Course improvement should follow a process of “progressive refinement” with continuous incremental changes and reflection.
- Increase student learning through “goal-directed practice” and “targeted feedback.”
- Increase student motivation by making the “value” and “expectancy” of the course evident to them.
- To increase “expectancy” and “mastery” establish student learning outcomes and course goals that help students see “component parts” of a “complex task.”
- Prior knowledge can help or hinder student and teacher course performance so it is necessary to determine what your and your students’ beliefs are regarding intelligence, ability, and learning.
“Numerophobic” safe. Useful research-based information presented in a readable manner.
Book Review Club
If you’re interested in writing reviews of the books in the TLC Collection, contact Josh Ellis (email@example.com), who will be starting and facilitating a Book Review Club through the TLC in 2016-2017. As you peruse the shelves for a book to read, review, and share, keep P. J. O’Rourke’s insightful suggestion in mind: “Always read something that will make you look good if you die in the middle of it.”
Thanks to a recent upgrade, CSC Online-Sakai is now powered by one of the most actively developed open-source learning management system (LMS) platforms available. On March 7th, between 6am and 2pm, CSC’s LMS hosting partner, Longsight, successfully moved the CSC Online codebase to the community version of Sakai v10.5. As online programs grow at CSC, the technology supporting them must also grow. This upgrade was an important step in providing a stable and economically sustainable online learning platform. A huge thanks to all faculty, staff, and students for bearing with us as we completed this major upgrade and for providing valuable feedback.
Moving a heavily used, hosted application to a new codebase and software version is no small feat. The project requires many hours of planning and testing. The goal in any major application platform update is to identify and fix all major issues before the new software instance is launched to end users. In this regard, the March 7th upgrade was a resounding success. However, there were several minor issues; these were reported and swiftly resolved (within 12-48 hours in almost all cases) in the days immediately following the upgrade.
With application updates come new opportunities to make the experience better for all users. This experience is extended to the CSC Online-Sakai students in the form of building more engaging courses with better tools. Some of the new features offered in Sakai 10 were discussed in a previous blog post. Additionally, Longsight offers extensive documentation and tutorials covering all features and tools available for instructors to use in Sakai. All faculty are encouraged to read the Sakai 10 Instructor Guide.
The TLC will continue to coordinate rolling updates and improvements to CSC Online-Sakai in a timely manner. A rolling (non-disruptive) incremental update to Sakai 10.6 is planned for the near future and will provide approximately 100 bug fixes and enhancements. Since this is an incremental update, users will not experience downtime. For more details about Sakai 10.6 and a list of all improvements visit the Apereo Sakai 10.6 release webpage.
As an added benefit to aligning CSC Online’s Sakai instance with the community codebase, we are able to track changes and find out about current developments within the Sakai community. For example, see what’s planned for Sakai 10.7.
Thanks to the update, the TLC is actively working to include several commonly requested vendor integrations including EBSCO Curriculum Builder, McGraw Hill Campus/Connect, and Cengage products. Additional details on these integrations are forthcoming.
As always, contact Sam Ballard in the TLC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 308-432-7089 with any questions about CSC Online.