All this learning has really had me reflecting on learning. More specifically, the love of learning. We are natural learners. We are naturally curious. When we are young we want to learn about every and anything. Yet, as we get older – something happens. School becomes a place not where we learn – but where we are educated. And for many, it is at this point that the love of learning is lost.
In a recent blog post, I wrote about how classroom furniture should be seen as an instructional technology. And it should be invested in. I obviously still believe that. But it also has me wondering how we ever got to the point where education overtook learning. When rows became the norm. When we needed to call out ‘active learning’ as revolutionary, rather than it being the norm – as it was in preschool.
I think in it all, it makes me realize (again) that while space and furniture and wall color matter – what matters most is a teacher that can find ways to instill or rejuvenate a love of learning in our students. How amazing would it be if we could create a culture where students came to us ready to be ‘educated’ and ‘job ready’ – but left us as curious, engaged lifelong learners (to be totally cliché). I truly believe that this type of learning can happen literally anywhere. In a fixed classroom. In a flexible classroom. In a classroom with nothing but 4 white walls and a clock.
Just think of what could happen if students walked into a classroom not to be educated, but to learn.
When teaching online first started in colleges, people mused that competition for college students would one day be global. A student would be able to sit down at a computer and take a course literally from anywhere. This may have seemed crazy at the time, however now it’s become a reality. A global competition for higher education is here, and some of the more famous universities were the last to get into the act.
Although MOOC’s feel somewhat similar to an entire different entity to a University, educators actually believe that online learning does not explicitly mean just MOOC’s. There is a broad range of digital opportunities besides MOOC’s.
Although, not all universities believe that converting to online learning is a good thing. Specifically, universities that are deemed higher levels of education, don’t have to worry about their traditional schooling to be affected. They own a certain level of significance and awarded for their traditional education. They have a certain reputation that will help their traditional way of educating to thrive and be consistent. However, schools that are lower or middle-level tiers are more nervous. They don’t necessarily want to take away from the traditional aspect.
They now have to put more effort into this digital side in order to run with the pack, will the traditional side suffer? This all depends on the university and the course of actions they put in. However, this stigma can make universities falter in putting more resources into online learning as they are still attempting to make themselves known among the bigger schools.
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A professor at the Sam Houston State University, Rebecca Bustamante, says students have a tendency to shut down when talking about race during class discussions. This can pose a challenge when teaching a course about diversity issues. It gets even more difficult when the course is then taught online.
Courses in diversity are nothing new, they are a standard in education and educational-leadership programs. Although professors who teach them haven’t had many problems, they understand that personal attacks and conflicts are a possibility. It is a critical to build an online community and establish trust to keep the course on track.
Professors also say that students are much more open and honest about their thoughts and experiences, and this could be from the online environment. It also frees students from the awkwardness of confronting difficult topics in person.
Although there are pros to the situation, there are also cons. Teaching diversity through an online format is not ideal. An assistant professor at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln believes that, “Being face-to-face, you are actually able to hear and see the passion, not having that face-to-face connection inhibits the class a little bit.”.
Although another assistant professor at the Sam Houston State says it is doable. The general consensus is, that although online learning can pose a challenge, it’s up to the professor to create innovative ideas to properly teach students.
In this case some professors turn to using video to bring body language into the online classroom. One professor at West Virginia University, says that she requires students to all gather at the same time over an online video conference system, which allows them to have a real-time discussion and get to know one another.
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Last week I spoke to some of the Masters of Nursing faculty about the various ways video content can be used in a classroom. As I am new here to UW, I do not have a lot of openly available videos created by faculty to share. So I used some from faculty at Yavapai College. They show a variety of purposes a video may have. Instructional, an introduction, a useful aside, or an assessment of some work. I think it is a good representation of the types of videos we might create.
We created a single page handout trying to capture in a consumable format just the basic rational for creating video content for courses. It does matter what delivery is used. Face to face or online, there are many reasons that a short video can be something students can use to learn, or perhaps be inspired.
For the many who are already engaged in creating videos, we know the tools. Tegrity, Panotpto, YouTube, Jing, your phone, or your friends phone, or some app on a tablet. Lots of options and none of the tools require a doctorate in bioengineering.
Later this month I am headed down to Portland to attend a Quality Matters conference where I am to present about the value of faculty sharing their strategies for meeting the standards using short videos. We did that at Yavapai College and called it the March for Best Practice. I made a fancy website for the presentation. It looks like this. It was pretty successful. The vision was a wall of short videos that faculty could watch as other faculty described how they met the standards. Seems easy enough, right?
I thought it would be a good idea for me to gather some other videos made by anyone willing to share before the conference so I could point to them and say, look, we can do this! But, I am having a heck of a time getting conference participants to share their strategies. Maybe as the conference draws closer I’ll get more involvement. On a slightly sad note, I am reminded again of the challenges of getting people to make videos of anything other than their cats. If you want to share how you meet a standard, you can by clicking here.
Some colleges have the wonderful service of providing laptops or a tablet for students who don’t have access to one, or who have simply forgot theirs. It is a service that students value and use quite often. But in a recent survey by Campus Technology’s Teaching with Tech survey, about a quarter of the faculty (23 percent) support the institution providing devices to their students. 30 percent like the idea of having devices available, but only for those who reserve it. Still, the majority of instructors are favoring the idea of providing devices to an extent, making the overall count of those in favor, to 85 percent. A third of the instructors (33 percent) are leaning more towards the “bring your own device” model or BYOD; while another third (34 percent) will go with this approach with some uncertainties. While this may be an issues at colleges and universities that require a computer device in class, there are those that do not have to worry, as six in ten, or 56 percent of colleges or universities do not require students to bring a laptop or another computing device with them to class.
Another survey was done regarding a student’s access to internet. On average, according to Campus Technology’s research, about 82 percent of students have access to internet at home. It was found though, that 69 percent of faculty believe that between 51 and 100 percent of students have access to the internet. They have the presumption that students in college or a university are able to use the campus resources to get their school work done.
According to a professor from a New York college, this is not sufficient for those students who do not have internet access. He suggests that institutions should start including an “internet access package” along with the tuition.
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