10 ideas to begin the sharing of student engagement strategies in online courses. Some low to no-tech ideas are included in this episode. And while we mention online courses specifically (we work in the distance learning department), many of the techniques apply to on-ground and blended courses as well. Join in the conversation and post a comment with your own thoughts on engaging students.
Bill Gates offers his thoughts on innovation in education and helping students learn through technology. Online lectures, interactive teaching, and customized learning approaches are pointing the way to improved schools.
The 2010 Sloan Survey of Online Learning reveals that web-based enrollments have risen by almost 1 million students from last year. Furthermore, nearly 30% of all college and university students now take at least one course online. As more students engage in nontraditional higher education, schools are increasing their web-based offerings. For example, three state Board of Regents’ universities in Iowa announced that they plan on sharing at least nine courses among the institutions this fall, the Daily Iowan reports.
UTPA mobile provides access to campus maps, faculty directories, and course catalogs and will, in the future, let users monitor campus shuttle locations. The University of Texas-Pan American in Edinburg has launched campus iPhone and Android smart phone apps after doing a survey among students that concluded that half of them own a smart phone. The process of designing and developing UTPA mobile and having the apps reviewed and approved by Apple and Google’s online stores has taken about seven months, according to Kumar Raman, the university’s director of Internet Services within the IT organization. The university has about 17,000 students.
Discussions of technology strategy and planning for new media at colleges and universities are informed by many factors of higher education culture and the way its core constituents–faculty and students–work and learn. One rapidly evolving area is online assessment, whether for fully online programs or for blended learning environments. Here, learning designer Judith Boettcher examines online assessment strategies beyond the traditional end-of-term paper.
“Let’s leverage web-based instruction, innovative teaching techniques and aggressive efficiency measures to reach that goal,” he said. Texas Governor Perry is not the first Republican governor to turn heads by suggesting that colleges could use technology to vastly reduce the cost of degree programmes without sacrificing quality. Last summer, Tim Pawlenty, then the governor of Minnesota, suggested that students should be able to pay $199 per course for “iCollege”. (While Pawlenty was inspired by Steve Jobs, Perry’s muse was rival technology cynosure Bill Gates. At a conference in San Francisco last August, Gates said that a four-year bachelor’s programme should cost $2,000 per year, not $20,000. Accounting for textbooks, Perry’s maths roughly matches Gates’.) But while Pawlenty appeared to be speaking rhetorically and perhaps a bit in jest – he proposed the idea on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart not from the bully pulpit – Perry is deadly serious. “He wouldn’t be challenging universities to implement it if he didn’t think it could happen,” said the spokeswoman. So, can it be done?
Just as colleges and universities have adopted online classes over the past decade, students can expect free open courseware of some kind at every campus in the U.S. in the next five years, a University of California-Irvine official said during a recent forum on open courseware. Open textbook advocates from the publishing industry, online learning organizations, and academia met at the UC Irvine campus Jan. 26 to discuss trends in free course material and how making textbooks, lectures, and other course materials available online free of charge has changed higher education. Gary Matkin, dean of distance education and continuing learning at UC Irvine—which has one of the country’s premiere open courseware sites—predicted that open courseware would become standard at small community colleges and research universities alike.
Chris Knox had a full and busy life — a professional job that required a lot of travel, a wife and three young children. But Knox, 38, wanted a bachelor’s degree. The only way he could fit earning such a degree into his packed schedule was to complete it online. Knox, who already had two associate’s degrees, enrolled in the online Bachelor of Management Arts program at Charleston Southern University two years ago. Now, when he gets home from work at his job as an operations manager at an engineering firm, he spends some time with his children, who range in age from 3 to 7 years old, then he retreats to his home office to work on his degree. He’ll be done with it in May. “I would not have been able to complete my bachelor’s degree without the distance learning option,” he said.
Utah is on the verge of having the best K-12 online learning policy in the country. SB65 makes provision for multiple statewide providers and student choice to the course level. While high schools around the country are cutting expensive courses, students in Utah high schools this fall may have access to every AP course, any foreign language, and high level STEM courses rich with computer simulations. Assuming bill passage, students that are struggling will have several personalized options that will allow them to catch up.
Collaborize Classroom is a free service that host websites for teachers. The fundamental purpose of Collaborize Classroom is to provide a discussion forum for teachers and students. On Collaborize Classroom teachers can post assignments, notes, and media for students. Students can reply to the teacher and to each other. To help teachers keep track of student use of their sites, Collaborize Classroom provides teachers participation and activity reports about each registered user of their sites. Collaborize Classroom doesn’t offer a lot of options in the aesthetics department, but it makes up for it by offering an easy-to-use service for teachers and students. The participation and activity reports could prove to be very helpful and time-saving for teachers.
For the first year, students at C.M.R High School have two options when it comes to online learning. Classes from Montana Government to Spanish are now being offered through the school district and through the Montana Digital Academy. The Great Falls School District currently has about 75 students enrolled in their online system, and around 70 high school students at C.M.R. have enrolled with the Montana Digital Academy. And using the online options has allowed students to adjust course loads to fit their needs.
For conversationally driven web-based live online learning programs, Terrence Gargiulo recommends “telling stories, listening to stories and triggering stories,” the “Triple Threat of Storytelling,” as he calls it. Last week, Terrence whetted my appetite by posting on Facebook a link to a short blog post by Lenn Millbower that mentioned an article Terrence wrote for the ASTD newsletter — available only to ASTD members. Terrence was kind enough to share the article with me. Terrence absolutely knows how to design and deliver conversationally driven web-based live online learning programs; his webinars are stellar learning experiences.
Sara Halcomb and Amanda Kieffer don’t get to skip tests just because there’s a few inches of snow on the ground. Even though Warren County Public Schools were closed Thursday and today, the Greenwood High School sophomores were preparing to take quizzes.Jones and other AP teachers are trying to complete their lessons before the AP test – a national exam that has a set date this spring and does not take into account missed class time. Students take the AP exam to get college credit for their classes, and they must pay to take the test. So most of those students want to get as much instruction as possible, even if it means doing class work on snow days. Amanda, 16, is trying to get the Commonwealth Diploma, which means she must complete a certain number of AP courses. “The AP exam is at the end of the year in May and it has a set date, so we have to stay on track,” said Amanda, who’s taking an AP world civilization class. The online work “is usually pretty easy, but it does make you think.”
Taif University is to offer from next year e-learning courses as the ministries of Education and Higher Education and the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation seek to promote distance learning as a means of raising university admission numbers and tackling unemployment. King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah was the first Saudi university to set up a Deanship for Distance Learning, which traditionally involved correspondence courses but has developed with technology into various forms of online and electronic learning, allowing the student to study according to a flexible schedule and balance professional and family obligations.
It’s second period at Notus Junior/Senior High School, and students in Trish Shelden’s room are learning everything from psychology to digital photography. Eighteen students sit at computers, and one bounces nearby on a small platform, taking PE via Wii. Similar scenes take place all day every day, as most of Notus’ 113 high school students spend one of their daily class periods taking an online course under Shelden’s watchful eye. With a slate of around 130 such courses available from the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, students can take electives little Notus can’t offer, make up for a class they failed or get a coveted course at a time that works for them.
Sir John Daniel, who has led the British government’s efforts to encourage online learning and open educational resources, once made what is perhaps the most incisive comment about the condition of higher education regulation in the United States. A few months after announcing the end of an effort to create a U.S. Open University modeled on the pioneering Open University he headed in the U.K., Sir John made the following statement to governors of the 50 states: “When I brought the OU to America I thought I would be dealing with one country,” he said. “I was mistaken.”
Across the country, a growing number of postsecondary schools are reporting record enrollment numbers for the spring 2011 semester. For example, the University of Texas (UT) at Arlington recently announced in a press release that it reached an all-time high this year, with 33,788 students. Officials note that this boost is due in part to improved recruiting and retention as well as expansion of online degree programs. Campus-Based Universities Report Record Growth of Online Degree Programs students and families are aware of UT Arlington’s reputation as a comprehensive university with a strong research program, a vibrant campus life and an exceptional education at a reasonable price,” said James D. Spaniolo, president of the school. “We remain committed to improving the quality of our academic programs, both in traditional classroom settings and through an array of online courses designed to deliver education where people live and work.”
Most of the 100 advisors that contributed to the 10 Digital Learning Now (DLN) recommendations mentioned an interest in quality education and actively debated measures to ensure it as online learning continues to expand. However, creating the ideal policy set that encourages both innovation and quality is no small feat. Neither likely state policy environment is attractive–a free-for-all or a web of bureaucratic barriers. It will be hard to strike the right balance between encouraging innovation and ensuring quality. “Without rigorous oversight, a thousand flowers blooming will also yield a lot of weeds,” warned Erin Dillon and Bill Tucker in Education Next.
In his State of the Union address, President Obama urged the country to out-innovate the rest of the world. If we want to bolster America’s competitiveness now and for the future, there’s no better place to start than education, where Obama also said we need to out-educate the rest of the world. Fortunately, we are well on our way. Online learning is sweeping across America, as more than 3 million K-12 students took an online course in 2009. And it is no longer just a distance-learning phenomenon. Most of the growth in online learning is occurring in blended-learning environments, in which students learn online in an adult-supervised environment.
Texas schools will soon have a bigger course catalogue to offer middle and high school students, from those struggling to catch up on credits needed to graduate to those looking for college-level classes. Pearson is providing rigorous online courses to help schools across Texas prepare students for graduation, college, and careers. From Biology and AP Microeconomics to Chinese and Marine Science, school districts have an extensive selection of courses aligned with the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills and the state’s College and Career Readiness standards available for their students with Pearson Virtual Learning powered by Florida Virtual Schools.
Blackboard Inc. announced the launch of CourseSites by Blackboard, a free, fully hosted and supported online course system featuring the Company’s latest teaching and learning technologies. The offering gives individual K-12 and higher education instructors an innovative, high quality cloud-based option to host online courses or add a Web-based component to traditional ones. The simple, easy to use system gives educators greater choice and flexibility for online courses in a system with cutting edge features that encourage experimentation. CourseSites is designed to support instructors who may not have access to a learning management system at their institution or school, or who may have access to an older platform system from Blackboard or a competing course management provider. There is no license fee, no hosting fee and no additional setup required for instructors to get started.