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Engaged or Not?

The common view is to think of students as either engaged or not, however that is not the case. Fredricks writes, that it “can be short term and situation specific or long term and stable.” (Fredricks, et. al., p. 61) The Teaching Professor issued a newsletter, exploring the participation-engagement relationship. The two-study design with most of its eight hypotheses and three research questions confirming this conclusion: “oral participation is not a good indicator of engagement.” (Frymier and Houser, p. 99).

The research team indicated engagement as something they call “nonverbal attentiveness”. It is associated with behaviors, such as frequent eye contact, upright posture, seat location (closer to the front than the back), note taking, and positive facial expressions.

Most of the research focused on three aspects: behavioral engagement, emotional engagement, and cognitive engagement.

Behaviorally engaged students follow classroom rules and norms. Their behaviors demonstrate concentration and attention, by asking questions and contributing during discussions.

Emotional engagement reveals student attitudes toward learning. Attitudes can range from simply liking what they’re doing to deeply valuing the knowledge and skills they gain.

Cognitive engagement involves students wanting to understand something and being willing to go beyond what’s required in order to accomplish learning goals.

Yes, these parts of engagement work differently, but are “dynamically interrelated within the individual.” (Fredricks, et. al., p. 61) We need to also think about how engagement interacts with other aspects of learning, such as motivation and self-efficacy. We need to think about other aspects in order to help students succeed because engagement is an essential part of learning.

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Instructure and Microsoft add Integration between Canvas and Office 365

Having a connection between Office 365 and Canvas will greatly impact the lives of students and teachers. Not only will it be easier to submit assignments and such, but all of these applications are created in the cloud, therefore minimizing the use of personal storage.

If you don’t know what Office 365 is, it’s quite similar to Google Doc’s however it is created by Microsoft and boasts their current Microsoft Office applications, all using web browsers and all data stored is in the cloud (also quite similar to Google Docs).

The new integrations that users will be able to use are:

* Submitting files directly from Office 365 to specific Canvas assignments

* Access Office 365 through canvas SpeedGrader to add feedback (This is important for teachers as there was a bit of a disconnect for specific comments at certain spots of a paper)

* You can link Office 365 documents anywhere on Canvas

* Directly connect Office 365 documents in course modules

* Collaborate with other peers in class using any type of Office documents

* Grade and create assignments in OneNote and push those grades to canvas

* Signing into one, means signing into Office 365 as well

This integration will make using Canvas and Office 365 easier in terms of collaborating both programs together.

The Majority of Institutions Offer Other Forms of Credentials


According to a new study done by University Professional and Continuing Education Association (UPCEA), Pennsylvania State University and Pearson, millennial students tend to lean towards badging and certificate programs as opposed to the traditional bachelor’s degree.

The study, titled “Demographic Shifts in Educational Demand and the Rise of Alternative Credentials” includes research conducted from 190 institutions, including community colleges (11 percent), baccalaureate colleges (12 percent), master’s colleges or universities (27 percent), and doctorate-granting universities (50 percent). Of those surveyed, 61 percent of them were public institutions. Overall, the research revealed that offering alternative credentials, such as digital badges, certificates, and micro credentials, have become popular, with 94 percent of institutions reporting that they offer this.

Digital badges are online representations of skills learned by students, typically with visual iconography; certificates are usually issued by educational institutions to students who have completed significant programs of study that do not culminate in a specific degree; while micro credentials are digitally presented certifications providing evidence that an individual has mastered a specific skill or area of knowledge that demonstrates their learning.

Director of UPCEA’s Center for Research Marketing Strategy, Jim Fong; director of the Center for Online Innovation in Learning and a professor at Penn State, Kyle Peck; and senior director of business development at Pearson’s Acclaim, Peter Janzow all conducted the study. They have also found that:

* One in five institutions offers digital badges

* Digital badges are most commonly offered in business-related domains

* Institutions with corporate engagement value alternative credentialing more than institutions that did not

* Sixty-four percent of those surveyed agree that their institution sees alternative credentialing as an important strategy for its future

According to Fong, “The degree will always be an important credential, but it won’t always be the gold standard. As millennials enter the prime years of their career and move into positions of greater power, we’ll see more alternative credentials for specific industries and possibly across the board. Higher education institutions, especially those in our survey, are showing that they are being progressive with workforce needs.” For more information, please visit UPCEA’s website for more information.

Twitter in Higher ED

Institutions are finding new ways to use social media in the classroom. Twitter helps connect faculty and staff with students on a new level. Millennials use technology on a daily basis. Twitter helps students do what they enjoy while building their education. Students are using technology as a tool to broadcast safety messages across campus and promote collaboration among peers. For example, Kansas State University has a LiveSafe app, which allows students to quickly report crimes from a drop-down menu.

Joshua Kim. the director of digital learning initiatives at the Dartmouth Center for the Advancement of Learning, shared that having a successful higher ed use of Twitter is not reflected in the amount of Twitter followers the account has. Kim shared three best practices for getting the most out of Twitter:

* Make sure tweets fit into large conversations and don’t read like a monologue

* Share information your network will find useful: links, data and commentary

* Write in a voice that followers will find authentic and well informed

Kim also shared how helpful hashtags can be. For example, higher ed leaders attending August’s Campus Technology Conference in Boston used #campustech. The conference brings leaders from the fields of higher education and technology together to explore campus administration, and teaching and learning. The hashtag, #campustech, was used to catch all the activity going on. Thus, helping their audience find conference content through a simple search.

If you follow these practices, you will be able to make the most of higher ed while using Twitter. Helpings students, faculty and staff learn.

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For Students Taking Online Courses, a Completion Paradox

Although community-college students are much more likely to fail a class taken online then in a traditional face-to-face course, and grades in online courses are often lower, online courses are actually contributing to better completion rates in degree programs.

There’s a national study that was published 2014, that found that students who took at least one online course, are 25 percent more likely to earn a degree than those who study in a traditional lecture. This could be because the convenience of online course could be the difference between staying in a degree program and dropping out.

They call this “online paradox”. This is due to the contrasting statistics that are for and against online courses. One student has earned mostly A’s but the one B he has so far is in an online course. This is due to it being difficult to juggle and keep track of an online course. This also might be due to the lower pass rates that are a longstanding problem in online course. A study done in California’s Community-college system found that students are 10 to 14 percent less likely to pass an online course than face-to-face course.

Online courses are a long way from being perfected. Educators need to identify successful practices in online learning so more students are successful in the course themselves. There seems to be an inconsistent quality that is contributing to the problem. Many colleges are already taking steps to warn students about the level of self-discipline and access to technology needed to succeed in an online course. That being said, online courses are a two-way street, it needs to be created and simple enough for students to understand what they’re getting from it and what their expected to do, and also students need to make sure that although it’s online the amount of coursework and time for the class still matches up a traditional face-to-face course. What that means is, if you’re taking a 5 credit course you should be spending 10 hours outside of class a week for that class, that is the same for online course.