This year the annual EDUCAUSE conference was held at Anaheim in sunny California. “EDUCAUSE helps those who lead, manage, and use information technology to shape strategic IT decisions at every level within higher education. IT is more than technology to EDUCAUSE members. It is a system of people, processes, organizations, and challenges that are constantly evolving.” http://www.educause.edu/about
There were 3 excellent keynote speakers. Sir Ken Robinson opened the conference with an amusing keynote looking at the broader view of education about creativity and innovation in his talk on “Leading a Culture of Innovation.” Jane McGonigal spoke on “Higher Education Is a Massively Multiplayer Game” focusing on the positive aspects of gaming and large scale innovative gaming projects. Paul LeBlanc’s talk on “Disaggregation and Innovation in Higher Education: Charting a Course through Turbulent Times” gave a fascinating insight into the future of HE focusing on high quality affordable education. Using the terms of buying and selling he identified the different markets for HE. The number of students studying full-time on campus is decreasing and these students do not want shorter degrees. For other students his university has disaggregated education and developed a new business model based on competences instead of the credit hour. Southern New Hampshire has rapidly become “the fourth-largest nonprofit provider of online degrees and its launch of College for America, the first competency-based degree program approved by the Department of Education” in the States. http://www.educause.edu/annual-conference/2013/disaggregation-and-innovation-higher-education-charting-course-through-turbulent-times-sponsored-vital It provides low cost education for up skilling workers. Competences are assessed through rubrics and the turnaround is 48 hours.
Disaggregation, new models of HE and affordability
The model of HE in the States already makes it much easier to take modules at different universities to gain a degree.
Paul LeBlanc gave one example of the disaggregation of HE and the development of a new model. Another example was given at Northern Arizona by Frederick Hurst where there has been major investment to deconstruct courses and rebuild them. Students have a personalized learning experience to match their learning preference, goals and experience. There is a flat fee subscription for 6 months and in that time students can study for as many credits as they want. There are no extra costs for books or technology. Students can start at any time with a pre-test and complete at their own pace. They can gain qualifications plus a competency report. Academics are responsible for developing the curriculum and assessment. They hope to use analytics more in the future and are a member of the PAR project.
California State University has developed CSU Affordable solutions csuaffordablelearningsolutions.org. The focus is on reducing the cost of textbooks for students through online editions and renting. Also on using Open Educational Resources from repositories such as MERLOT http://www.merlot.org/merlot/index.htm. Academics who made their courses more affordable received recognition for their effort.
ECAR study on the “State of E-Learning in Higher Education” – http://www.educause.edu/library/resources/state-e-learning-higher-education-eye-toward-growth-and-increased-access
It is interesting to compare ECAR study with the UCISA one. It found that despite the interest in eLearning most HEs were understaffed in this area.
The most important factors in the selection of eLearning technologies are:
- Security of student data
- Ease of use for faculty and students
- Contribution to learning objectives
- Ease of integration
- Specific features/functionality
Challenges are financial and cultural:
- Faculty skepticism and reluctance to participate are still viewed as barriers.
- Some faculty still question the quality of online courses.
- Some do not want to take the time to learn new technology.
- Important to address faculty skepticism (and reasons for it) before embarking on or expanding e-learning initiatives.
There is a lack of investment in staff and lack of incentives for academics to engage. There is an interesting eLearing maturity index at https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1298256/E-Learning-Maturity-Index
With my Mathematics background I found Kirk Trigsted’s talk on the Polya Mathematics Center in Idaho very interesting. A large number of students are required to spend 2.5 hours a week in the Mathematics lab. To manage the logistics of the large numbers there are rolling deadlines. The students are given very guided ways to work through the material and when they are stuck they put a red cup up and someone comes to help them. The students must try the work before they are helped. There are also some optional live lectures but these have very low attendance. A database keeps track of their work and there are 5 levels of effort. Students had better results not only on this course but on a subsequent one as well. Some student groups were scheduled for the same time and this could lead to peer supported learning.
The sessions on flipped learning focussed on the benefits of this approach but also the amount of work it involves. Academics need to find or create resources for students to study before the face-to-face time and also re-think the lecture time. Students need to undertake the independent study, engage in the F2F session and know how to work in teams. The VLE is important in enabling the integration of the independent and F2F. Short 5 minute videos with quizzes are recommended. Mobile access is vital.
Anne Minenko, University of Minnesota, talked about the strengths and weaknesses behind the move to flipped learning. Strengths eg VLE and recording software, committed academics
Weaknesses eg academic time and steep learning curve, student lack of preparation, lack of seminar rooms for team work. Applying Bloom’s Taxonony to flipped ensure there is linkage between the pre-class lower order thinking and the in-class higher order. A recording is available at https://umconnect.umn.edu/p93043338/
Student expectations of mobile agility from a study at 4 universities with over 1850 responses – http://www.educause.edu/annual-conference/2013/study-results-students-perspectives-and-their-expectations-mobile-agility-higher-education
60% had laptop with 25% tablet and 89% smartphone with 34% spend more than 40 hours per week on mobile devices
- 62% more than 20 hours on mobile device
- More third use for course work frequently
- Lecture interactive – 68% polls kept them engaged
- 15% for high stakes exams
- 52% used etext – convenience and cost, which could be low because of American focus on text based courses. Liked bookmark and search functionality.
Types eg podcasts tedx, YouTube
52% videos of class lectures with 74% at research institutions
50% listened to less than 25% but 17% listened to it all
View in niche moments, mostly on laptop and desktop
50% video is remedial materials so could explain why not look at it
60% said supplemental
75% said positive impact but not watch them
53% get by with little help from friend
Micro learning moments eg short videos
- Most important – wifi, emergency alert and course information
- Least important – kiosks, social media and athletics
Green App to let students help with overloaded bins ie green
MIT mobile device support
Let students make apps
Mobile as single pane of glass
Secure e-assessments are undertaken in Zurich using an open-source Safe Exam Browser which integrates with Moodle and other VLEs. Tobias Halbherr and Daniet Schneider talked about high stakes exams undertaken in Zurich. The exams can be taken on any computer onto which is downloaded the secure lockdown and a connection with the VLE. It is also possible to allow access to 3rd party applications eg calculator, Word docs, lecture slides. The exams are invigilated in a room and there are spare computers in case of computer problems.
This information is mainly from my conference notes so there could be inaccuracies with the data. I recommend checking the source before using it.