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Colleges to Drop Traditional Textbooks for Open Educational Resources

The national reform network for community colleges, Achieving the Dream (ATD), has announced that they will be taking the initiative to develop degree programs that will use open educational resources (OER). The OER Degree Initiative makes it so that programs will use openly licensed learning materials as opposed to purchasing expensive textbooks, saving their students thousands of dollars.

Currently, the cost of textbooks averages to about $1,300 for a full-time community college student. For the millions of students, the cost of textbooks alone prevents students from completing their education. The OER Degree Initiative will be implemented to save students money and improve the rate of college completion. According to a press release, “…there are enough open educational materials to replace textbooks in required courses in four two-year programs: business administration, general education, natural or general science, and social science. But only a few colleges are using those resources.”

“Through the OER Degree Initiative, these community colleges are simultaneously addressing two important challenges faced by educators and students: Not only will they provide their faculty the flexibility and academic freedom to align their open educational resources to curriculum objectives, but also, by lowering textbook costs, they will make it far more likely that their students will achieve the goal of attaining a degree,” said Barbara Chow, education program director at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

For this initiative, ATD will be in charge of assisting colleges in making the OER degree an important factor in their student’s efforts for success. Upon the initial implementation, the OER courses will be available on an online platform.

The OER Degree Initiative is backed by grants from foundations totaling $9.8 million. Participating colleges and systems were selected through a competitive grant process “based on their ability and capacity to implement OER degree programs, offer the full complement of degree courses quickly, or quickly scale the number of selections offered,” according to a news release.

For more information, please visit the article here or the Achieving the Dream site

Open for Learning: OER Materials Continue to Rise

There is a large and growing number of works released with open licenses, which encourage sharing and remixing. These works (both creative and academic) can be used extensively within classrooms for little to no money. Over a billion such works were created under Creative Commons licenses alone. Yet for many, open educational resources (OER) are a yet-unknown element. A recent study found that about 3 out of 4 higher-ed faculty members could not name what OER was, despite making access to textbooks and other learning materials easier than ever for students. The common trope of professors writing textbooks that they require students to buy doesn’t quite hold up: few professors make money from textbooks, even if they do write and require their own textbooks, and the process systematically locks students out of learning.

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Photo Credit: premieradmissions.com

Combining pedagogy with open learning materials is the subject of multiple websites and conferences, including the Open Education Global Conference in Krakow, and oerstrategy.org. OER advocates say that campuses save almost as much time and expense by adopting these resources as their students do. Cable Green of the Creative Commons points to OER efforts in British Columbia and the University of Minnesota, which snowballed into an effort that Washington, Oregon, and California have since joined. Green hopes the efforts will lead to more efficient usage of faculty time and more uniform, less redundant learning materials: “They said, ‘Let’s not duplicate efforts and let’s not waste money’ — butwe can actually do better than that. We can set plans together. We can divide the labor, so everybody doesn’t have to work so hard. We can share the expenses on projects.”

For more info, visit the article here.

 

Video Observation is helping Professors Grade Themselves

Video observation is not a new concept on a college campus; though typically, it’s used for athletes, rather than professors. But this could be changing, according to a study done at Harvard University that suggests that this same tactic could benefit educators. In an article by Erin McIntyre, in Harvard’s two-year study, video observation was found to improve a teacher’s evaluation in several ways. Additionally, video-recorded performances were found to be more productive rather than on an in-person review. Feedback was more specific and educators got the chance to watch themselves interact with students. While Harvard’s studies focused only on the educators of K-12, there are several colleges and universities that already offer video observations to their faculty in order to improve their teaching.

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At the University of Michigan, the Center for Research on Learning and Teaching (CRLT) encourages faculty members to obtain feedback in several ways.  These include student questionnaires, self-reflection and peer observation, as well as video observation and confidential reviews with its staff to faculty throughout the university.

At Harvard, through their Derek Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, any educator can request a video recording that they can then review it with a trained consultant.

At the University of Colorado at Boulder, they consider video observations so important that students are required to do two in order to complete the Graduate Teacher Program. Students use the videos as a basis for a self-assessment and an improvement plan.

As research continues to strongly support the value observations, a video camera in the classroom may be just as common as a camera on the football field.

For more information, please visit the article here

Virtual Reality Facilitates Higher ED Research and Teaches High-Risks Skills

Developers coded the earliest simulation for aerospace and medical uses in the late 1970s, now online learning has given virtual learning new importance. DiVE, allows users to enter a virtual environment. The upgraded DiVE features six Dell T7400 workstations. Now students can learn with 3D effects and high quality graphics. Multiple people can experience high-fidelity simulators.  DiVE allows instructors to bring the world to their students.

Duke University built the Duke immersive Virtual Environment in 2005 and recently upgraded it in 2015. The University of South Alabama (USA) also has a Simulation Program similar to Duke’s. Researchers or students who want to use DiVE at USA need to through a certification process. The certification includes an hour training course and then an assessment.

DiVE opens new possibilities to researchers. At USA, Kopper, an assistant research professor of mechanical engineering and materials science, shared the example of a neuroscience research project that uses simulated Olympic trap shooting to explore how people improve at the precise task. The participant performs the task in the DiVE while neuroscientists monitor the brain activity with an electroencephalogram.

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Photo by Vanderbilt University

The DiVE lets researchers gather detailed data that would be difficult and risky to capture otherwise. Simulators like the DiVE can help students majoring risk-intensive and high-pressure conditions fields learn through a virtual reality. Whether you plan to use the DIVE or any other type simulation institutions desire it is important to use the simulation for service learning, teaching and research. When colleges and universities use simulators well they develop graduates what are prepared for the adversity that awaits them in their careers.

Click here to read more.

UCI Wireless Accessibility

WiFi is quickly becoming an expected standard for higher ed campuses. The University of California Irvine is one of 10 University of California schools, however Irvine was the only UC campus that didn’t have end-to-end wireless. UCI has 30,000 students, 9,000 of whom live on campus. These students need wireless connection for all their academic needs.

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(Photo Credit: Campus Technology)

When UCI was finally ready to roll out WiFi for student housing, the university partnered with CDW-G and Cisco for the project. Cisco provided the equipment while CDW-G organized the whole installation. Over a period of several months the UCI installed the needed wiring to support wireless access for four different undergrad communities, geographically located in four different areas of the campus, with an estimate installation of 1,300 access points. The goal was to locate the access points so that each student would have the best connectivity.

The IT team at UCI provides students with advice on how to remove viruses and malware from students’ devices and how to install the proper antivirus software and security tools. Funding the UCI project came from the campus Student Housing department. The campus is 50 years old this year.

“Listen to your students. They’ll tell you what services they need, the latest trends, and whatever other services they desire,” said Kevin Ansel, director of student affairs IT. By making wireless connection available throughout the school and campus housing students are able to stay connected with their academic work anywhere on campus.

For more information, visit the article here.