Mar 05 2014

Students Find Online Courses Boring

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Students find online learning boring. Other adjectives like dry, unimaginative, and unorganized have been tossed out there in casual conversations with students about their courses. The real problem is many of these students don’t finish their courses, or they collect the units with a fraction of the knowledge/effort expended for an on-campus class. Why? Because online courses are for people who try to wedge education between life and work. It’s a matter of convenience for these non-traditional students. Many online courses also follow the same paradigm of teaching; reading assignments, instructional videos, homework, and tests over the course of a 16 week semester. An LA Times article last year illustrates a professor’s frustration with getting students to read the textbook.

An article in Quartz last year, “The dirty little secret of online learning: Students are bored and dropping out” points out a distinct difference in learning styles of successful online learners; they like to be motivated, and like instruction that is interactive, engaging, and relevant to their lives. The article states, “digital learning needs to become much more mobile, personal and social.” “Mobile education needs to be tailored for smaller, more limited, more intimate mobile devices,” perhaps using short videos and short assessments. The article goes on to discuss personalizing instruction to a student’s needs and leveraging the technology of a learning management system to make this happen.

Interested to learn what your options are for delivering mobile content and engaging students in non-traditional ways. Stop by the TLC for a chat, or join fellow online instructors during fall flex week for a roundtable discussion.

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Feb 22 2014

Is this the beginning of the end?

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In the Chronicle of Higher Education’s January article, doubt about MOOCs is starting to gain momentum and research results for the Babson Survey Group indicate this may be the beginning of the end for these massive open online courses.

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Dec 12 2013

3C Media Now Offers Video Archive Services

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3C Media offers video archive services for free for all California Community College faculty and staff. It’s even easy as pie to move your YouTube videos over to 3C Media. These folks have been part of the California Community Colleges for a long time and host CCC Confer, the web-conferencing service. Now they are merged and you get two services in one.

Videos are streamed for use on many computers and mobile devices. Stream instructional, informational or orientation videos using 3C Media Streaming services and enrich the online learning experience of students and staff.


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Oct 14 2013

CCC Confer: Webconferencing Options

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Webconferencing software is also known as webinar, videoconferencing, online meetings, or the virtual classroom. It’s a technology that allows groups to meet in real time over an internet connection that includes video, a whiteboard, chat, and screen-sharing. Documents can also be transferred from instructor to student. Cabrillo often uses Blackboard Collaborate, a webconferencing application funded by a grant from the Chancellor’s Office, CCC Confer.

Who uses CCC Confer? Well, just about every administrator who has to communicate regularly with the Chancellor’s Office components uses it for monthly meetings. Faculty use it for online office hours, teaching online, and meeting with colleagues across the state to work on projects. When you conduct a session in CCC Confer, you can also record the session for viewing at a later time. It’s as simple as copy/pasting a link to share with students.

The CCC Confer folks will tell you, this software “allows you to meet with your colleagues or students at a distance without worrying about a travel budget. CCC Confer can accommodate a multitude of uses, including training opportunities, grant collaboration, meetings at a distance, online classes, office hours or anything else necessary to support the business of education.”

Contact the Teaching and Learning Center to set up a demonstration and training.

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Sep 12 2013

Why Comic Sans is a Poor Font Choice

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Last year the Digital Media faculty decided to impose a penalty on student projects that use Comic Sans font. Not really, but we thought it was a good idea at the time, and it generated laughter in our department meeting. The main reason why you don’t want to use Comic Sans font: because all fonts have a personality and purpose, and using a comical font intended for children under 11 just isn’t cool for serious work.

Are you a Comic Sans Criminal?

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Sep 03 2013

California Puts MOOC Bill on Ice

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By Steve Kolowich

Legislation in California originally aimed at getting state colleges to award credit for massive open online courses and other offerings from nonuniversity providers has been shelved for at least a year.The bill, SB 520, caused a stir when it was introduced, in March, by State Sen. Darrell Steinberg, a powerful Democrat in the California Legislature. Faculty unions strongly opposed it, and later drafts of the bill would give faculty-governance bodies more oversight of what outside courses could count for credit.Now Mr. Steinberg has shelved the bill. The senator will re-evaluate next summer whether the legislation is still necessary, said Rhys Williams, a spokesman.

via California Puts MOOC Bill on Ice – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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Jul 17 2013

West Virginia U. Provides ‘Super Wi-Fi’ Through Unused TV Channels

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West Virginia U. Provides ‘Super Wi-Fi’ Through Unused TV Channels – Wired Campus – The Chronicle of Higher Education.

I can think of a million reasons to remove programming on TV channels in favor of broader wi-fi access. Consumers are paying far too much money for cable/satellite services, only viewing a small percentage of stations.  TV channels should be “a la carte” and you pay for only the stations you want. I would give up Duck Dynasty for better wi-fi!

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May 22 2013

Wish young people would apply themselves? Well, here you go!

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18-Year Old Invents Supercapacitor that Charges Cell Phone Batteries

Well done Eesha Khare, of Saratoga, Calif.!

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Apr 29 2013

Online Education (MOOCs) on PBS

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Interesting discussion about MOOCs on the Charlie Rose show (PBS) last week. Thomas Friedman of the NY Times, one of my favorite journalists, was a guest along with edX’s Anant Agarwal, and Amy Gutmann, President of the University of Pennsylvania .

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Mar 19 2013

MOOC Fetish

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Public awareness of Massive Open Online Courses can be traced back to Khan Academy and those snazzy videos produced by Salman Khan to help tutor his cousin in math. Khan Academy was featured on 60 MInutes a year ago, but Khan’s non-profit educational website has been around since 2006 and has delivered over 240 million lessons. MOOCs are online courses aimed at the masses. They use open education resources and are generally free and do not offer academic credit. Faculty have access to materials created by experts in their discipline and can “mash them up” for their own courses. Millions of people have “enrolled” in these courses offered by distinguished colleges and universities. Coursera, a for-profit online education platform developed by two professors at Stanford University, hosts courses from a consortium of 62 universities and enrollment per class can be in the thousands. Their first three computer science courses had over 100,000 enrollment for each course.

There is minimal instructor-student interaction, and feedback is automated. Most MOOC participation can be characterized as “lurking.” The emergence of MOOCs has been associated with well-financed providers and top universities. Monetizing open education through licensing fees is starting to occur in Coursera, and transfer credit is a hot topic. Additionally, faculty are beginning to wonder why MOOCs are so celebrated in light of poor completion rates, increased incidents of plagiarism, and inconsistent quality. The University of California, Irvine offered a microeconomics class with 37,000 enrolled and fewer than 2% were actively engaged in the class. The instructor quit half-way through the 10 week session, “bothered by uninformed or superfluous responses to the questions posed in the discussion forums hobbled the serious students in their learning.”

The MOOC worshippers are excited about the learn-by-doing nature of highly interactive courses; those taught by industry experts and passionate educators, and the various instructional methods used to engage peers. The Gates Foundation has funded some MOOCs in the California Community College system, including a basic skills math and writing fundamentals MOOC. San Jose State University is offering three $150 courses on engineering via Udacity.

So what is the impact on higher education? According to Dr. Judy Baker, Foothill College, it feels like we are moving toward a competency-based model and credit-by-examination. MOOCs provide access to college level courses, but at what price? We need to look closely at their Terms of Use, quality criteria, student identity authentication and verification, tech support, accessibility, and intellectual property. Where do MOOCs fit into Cabrillo’s distance education strategy? One model currently under development at Mt. San Jacinto College, is a basic skills writing course using Coursera. Mostly content mastering and automatic grading, the course currently hosts 2,000 students. It provides students an opportunity to refresh their knowledge before they take the English assessment test. As a condition of their grant funding for development of the course, the content is all creative commons licensed. This means the content is reusable by other colleges.

Many students have no idea what they are in for when they commit to an online course. And many faculty have no idea the enormous amount of time it takes to develop and teach an online course. The online frontier promises many new innovations and MOOCs are indeed an exciting option. What remains to be seen is how our students and faculty may benefit from flipping the classroom. I still strongly believe it’s about how teachers teach that influences student achievement. Stanford’s emeritus Larry Cuban said it best in his Washington Post article about MOOCs, “personal computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones—and here I would add online instruction–are vehicles for transporting instruction. They are not teaching methods. By teaching methods, I mean practices such as asking questions, giving examples, lecture, recitation, guided discussion, drill, cooperative learning, individualized instruction, simulations, tutoring, project-based learning, and innumerable variations and combinations of pedagogies.”

So how would YOU characterize MOOCs—fetish, fantasy, or our future?

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