Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Hour of Code Week: Engaging Students in Coding

In addition to textual, numeric, and graphic literacies for today's world, technology is another. But it isn't just about playing with or using devices, it's about being able to design sequences to operate them.

Hour of Code is a December 9 - 15th campaign to encourage students to try coding, and a number of sites are available to coach students through coding processes. 

The Computer Science in Education site provides terrific resources for learners and teachers:

Khan Academy introduces learners to  tutorials with this brief intro:

Welcome to our Hour of Code!
Pamela welcomes you to our programming community here. If YouTube is blocked for you and this video doesn't load, just keep going!

In addition, startups like Play-i are hosting live events that allow students to program two of their toys, Bow andYana, two programmable toys very successfully funded by crowdsourcing:

While the following brief video is a product promo, the method of embedding learning into play comes across, and it is a very old idea--in the past, children were often given toys to model activities they would do as adults.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Why I Have Not Been Blogging

I know there is a relationship between blog content and other social media. My excuse? I've been reading and writing offline this summer and fall.

To that end, I read and reviewed a book on scenario based e-learning, and am about to revise a co-authored chapter on competency-based instructional design. 

The review is out online (paper to follow) and is available here:

So glad to have had the chance to read and review Ruth Colvin Clark's Scenario-Based e-Learning:

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Many Ways of Knowing, Connecting

Some days are overwhelming in the gifts and insights they provide. I have this life partner who serves and supports other people, and has a zany humor. I know great minds that work to serve learning, and I belong to such a creative arts group, that knits shawls to provide support and comfort to people undergoing medical treatment. I sense and cherish that there are many words in our universe that express gratitude and community. Thanks for all of this.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Key to Models for Completion--Institutional Urgency

Back in the news is the national charge to support post-secondary degree completion, led by President Obama. And the post from the Chronicle of Higher Ed ( reminds us these are existing efforts re-visited.

Reminders are not a bad thing, necessarily. Financial aid policy and tying institutional funding to awards are more carrot than stick incentives, though there is no shortage of arguments to be made for  cutting awards that don't move a student toward some meaningful learning achievement.

There is promise in freeing the tyranny of the credit hour with several mechanisms: competency-based course and degree models, the acceptance of ACE determined credit for successful MOOC completion, PLA (credit awarded for prior training or other learning as demonstrated by exam or portfolios submitted by learners). 

A colleague of mine remarked "that higher ed culture functions on urgency," such as at the beginning or the end of the term, or in the year before the accreditation review.

Like climate disbelievers, we seem to be in a state of denial about the urgency for shifting the model. Included in the shift is the need to advise and orient students to the expectations that go with the opportunity (study skills, and decision-making), to make the college experience more goal-oriented (which we as faculty might consider both limiting and painful). Required advising, "intrusive advising" and the development of degree-maps to help students move from point A to certificate or degree most efficiently, are example of those efforts. (The FIPSE Project Maps-to-Credentials is one such effort on behalf of US military.)

In order to become conversant in the models, and competent negotiators of alternative learning models, various contingents of institutions need training and need to move beyond, "if it isn't ours, it isn't worthy." I can remember sitting in meetings in the nineties where institutions proudly proclaimed they would not accept any credit in transfer for distance delivery. Also in evidence, is how scores on AP and IB exams can be used to limit or undermine the transfer of those credits by incoming students. And the same goes for ACE credit wards. Because though trained faculty come together from various institutions to evaluate the award for a training or military experience, for example, it is still up to the local institution to decide if and how many of the recommended credit will be accepted, and whether they will be applied to a particular degree requirement, or only as an elective.

Are fear of loss of control, lack of knowledge in other instructional models, loss of teaching opportunity some of the equation? Yes. Like other curricular changes in the past, addressing these are part of the way forward. 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Sessions for Another School Year and Life Generally

Tomorrow I’m going to visit Upward Bound students and share a couple strategies I’ve shared past in academic success courses. I was impressed with how many colleges listed one of the two, SQ4R on the web.

The Session Descriptions
SQ4R for Reading and Study: SQ4R is a reading and study method for informational or textbook reading. It can be expecially helpful when we are faced with reading in a topic we aren’t very excited about or find challenging to get through.

Making Decisions You Can Live With: Sometimes a person can have a tough time making a decision. We may know we have more than one choice, but still aren’t sure about it once we’ve made a choice. This model helps us see beyond the solution to the result of that choice. And that is where we might just see which choice is a better fit for us.

SQ4R Resources
This short video (less than 6 minutes) explains the elements of the SQ4R method.
The link which immediately follows contains a text-based explanation of SQ4R, a worksheet to guide a learner through using the method, the link to the video, and an additional resource for note taking:

Resources for Making Decisions You Can Live With 
Here is the link for a worksheet for the decision-making model. I started using this model with academic success students after reading a technical writing article using this model many years ago. My apologies as I no longer have the source citation.

As the title of this post suggests, given our life-long learning challenges, both of these strategies have use well beyond the sessions for which they were prepared.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The Significance of Heritage Seeds and Questions about Genetically Modified Food

This is a cross-post from my food blog with some added thoughts. My friend Cherry has been giving me plants for my yard and garden for many years. In the past three years I've been thrilled to receive vegetables she has started from heirloom seeds. Heirloom or heritage plants bring back variety to our gardens in flavor and appearance.

Cherry has been gifting me with such cult tomato favorites as the Paul Robison and a plant from one of my favorite chile sources, Chimayo, NM. Here's the list of plants she provided for her local museum and garden at their plant sale: ""

Chimayo Chile Plant
Chimayo Chile Plant

My additional commentary here is the recommendation to examine the implications of genetic modifications to our food sources. To ask whether the engineering affects our food quality or safety in critical ways, and to know how companies might use these techniques to control food production.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Back from Elearning Consortium of Colorado: MOOC Panel and PLE Session

This year marks the 24th conference for Elearning Consortium of Colorado (formerly TELECOOP). It is a small conference in Colorado, kept small on purpose (usually about 200 attendees, max). The great enjoyment is that this is a real peer-teaching and learning conference. Reconnecting with friends and colleagues is truly a highlight.

With Some Great Help from Friends--A MOOC Panel 
MOOC is big buzz this year, so a group of us put together a panel to share experiences and report on publications and issues to date.

MOOC Panel: Survivors, Thrivers, and Skeptics

The room was full of faculty and one of our high points seemed to be our sharing that when we met our learning needs in MOOCs, some of us just left the MOOC. No guilt, no lost tuition, unless a person had paid a certification fee to be awarded upon successful completion. Someone shared she was refreshed by that opportunity, and immediately signed up for a MOOC after the session to expand her knowledge of statistics.

Presenting on Personal Learning Environments 
A personal learning topic is how to support the need for continuous learning and our own knowledge about how we learn(metacogntion). I'd already created an assignment and rubric for a class, so the conference was an opportunity to push the topic further by presenting on it. 

 Defining Your Personal Learning Environment
Three follow-up questions from this session: Have I seen PLE's created related to the subjects of marketing, computer sciences, natural sciences? An additional takeaway: Peter Jeschofnig mentioned how we have overlooked museums as a rich source of learning--note to self: add that to PLE list of potential sources.

There's more to write about. It's challenging to return from such a rich experience and immediately articulate all a person has gained in a short time-frame.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Thank you, Brainpickings for posting this video on productivity. I did wake up with a to-do list for today, but it has been hard going. So I am going to post this video, then get back to it, using some of the tips here. Then I can take a break before making more progress.


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Helping Learners Cite for Different Contexts

Here's to another term and working with adult learners in an academic setting. In addition a papers, these classes prepare PPT presentations delivered in Adobe Connect. There is great emphasis on documentation as an intellectual property-right issue with both images and text sources. We go to links to determine ways to properly attribute and then work with the academic style requirement. I want the process to be clearer and simpler and less stress-producing. I would like the writing center to prepare a guide to citing for presentation purposes.

Apparently I'm not alone. I so appreciate Dr. Liz Kleinfeld's presentation here that calls for writing centers to help learners with models that are context appropriate--a provision for understanding when academic style might work, and when another is more appropriate.


Monday, February 25, 2013

Study finds some groups fare worse than others in online courses | Inside Higher Ed

I was glad to see this item from Inside Higher Ed this morning, but it contained few surprises for me--students of  all groups fared quite equally in face-to-face and hybrid deliveries, but sectors fared noticeably worse in online courses.

Study finds some groups fare worse than others in online courses | Inside Higher Ed

The article calls for increased examination of how student services fit in and also questions quality of the course experience itself. It does give pause for Bill Gates; funding for Dev Ed MOOCs which would include a number of at-risk learning groups. As long-time online faculty member and a researcher in a study of online algebra, (Shorter-Term Success: Learner Characteristics, Preparedness, and Performance in Ten- and Fifteen-Week Online College Algebra. October 2006), here are some areas that continue to stand out:

1) Preparation for learning in an online environment: Have students been oriented to the environment and expectations like time-investment, participation, why some subjects are a better match for the delivery? For institutions that offer student orientations/academic success, learning in different environments be part of such a course. Students who have taken courses with different deliveries
could be great resources.

Can students view sample courses?

2) Preparation of those supporting students and faculty: Have administration, advising, and staff taken any online, graded learning? Have they seen what the online courses from their institutions look like? Is
there training for advisers? (Badrul Khan's e-learning model continues to provide a systems approach to e-learning additions:

3) Is there training and design support for faculty? Is there an budgetary investment in the design of courses?

5) What type of quality review is in place regarding design, access, and various opportunities for engagement. While Web2.0, simulations, and live-conferencing tools are more readily available, are courses still heavily dependent on text-based interaction and demonstrations of learning? (See opportunities provided by Churches' "Digital Taxonomy:

6) What type of academic and technical support are available for students and faculty?

7) Is there a communication protocol among the various college departments that serve online students? (A prime example is students with declared needs for accommodation.)

There is great deal of work yet to be done, and there is great opportunity to learn from colleagues and
institutions who are supporting rigor, persistence and learning success. The article concludes with the call for evaluation and improvement, not mere labeling of deliveries as good or bad. I agree. Which brings me back to Dev Ed MOOCs. Could one answer to improved content, support and persistence be  MOOC plus model--quality curriculum and activities at no cost, with added on-the-ground support, required or not?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Gardner's Five Minds for the Future--Bridges Between Emotional IQ and Cognitive Science

Aa I consider the last few topics for a course this term, I am reminded of Gardner's Five Minds for the Future. As learners are reading about emotional resiliency for this week, I would recommend viewing minutes 18 - 22 (approximately).

Monday, February 4, 2013

MOOC Credentials You Can Earn and A Learner Review Site

Open Culture is such a fabulous source for free diversion and learning—films, interviews, reads. And courses.

In addition to the 650 free courses listed there, on Friday they shared a list of 200 more courses known as as MOOCS, with information about types of credentials offered as part of the learning experience:

Free Courses Credential Key
CC = Certificate of Completion

SA  = Statement of Accomplishment

CM = Certificate of Mastery

C-VA = Certificate, with Varied Levels of Accomplishment

NI – No Information About Certificate Available

NC = No Certificate

Also helpful was the list of course that have start dates, and those that don’t. So the list can be viewed 
by month, with ongoing enrollments to the “evergreen” courses appearing at the bottom. While these completion credentials are not college credits, such credentials may offer a bridge for those evaluating courses for the assignment of college credit.

After looking at the Open Culture list, I went off in search of MOOC review sites and found Platform, number of reviews, ratings, and individual remarks about the course experience are included. In testing the site, I took a title on statistics from the Open Culture list and popped it into the search window of coursetalk—here are the results for this course to date: I also looked at one on business operations from the business category of courstalk; this one had 73 very-satisfied reviewers:

In looking at ratings in the review site, we see the value of the courses for learners in the workplace as well as learners who might have a more academic reason for enrolling in the courses.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Responding to Another Article About MOOCS

My Friend and Colleague Bob Cartelli sent this item about MOOCS over this morning from the Harvard Business Review: "Eight Brilliant Minds on the Future of Online Education"

 We are just discussing commenting on blogs in one of the online courses I teach this term. Though I tend to stay on the low-profile side, today I stepped into the comment area of that particular blog. I keep looking for some key questions to surface in the discussion about who will accept successful MOOC completion as course credit, what will be the cost of higher level assessment activities, and how students will be oriented and supported for MOOC success.

Probably what I might have established was how long I've been in online education and that some of these questions are certainly not new, they just haven't been addressed with MOOCS yet.
And if I'm uninformed, I hope to hear differently :).

 Cross-Posted Comment:

People attend higher ed for the sake of learning, to acquire social networks, and to gain employment skills. Self-directed learners have had mechanisms available to them under Credit for Prior Learning Assessments that translate the learning to credits at a given institution: Standardized tests like CLEP, challenge exams, and portfolio documentation.

 With MOOC as a viable addition, it remains to be seen which institutions will take a successful MOOC completion in transfer. Yes, I could gain the knowledge from MOOC and use that with one of the other PLA mechanisms, but the outright acceptance for credit is a different question. So beyond the learning, transfer, transcripts and credentialing are important issues. Additionally, some learning outcomes need more sophisticated assessment measures--who will provide that service at an institution and at what cost? Yes, we have TA's and yes, we have graders, and MOOC may well need those too.

 I understand that some higher models are currently in play and under study. I hope they will also look at who is successful, and how students are oriented and supported with such a model.

 PS. I have participated in two MOOCs and was mildly successful in one one them :).

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Conference Proposals: Curation or Personal Learning Environment

As we think about conferences we plan to attend, it's not uncommon to think about what you will propose based on the themes listed in the call.

I'm looking at my favorite E-Learning conference right now and thinking about two topics, constructing personal learning environments and tools for curation.  Tools for the pedagogy is the emphasis at the ELCC conference.

I think a session on Personal Learning Environments would be a lot of fun and have significance because metacognition continues to be so important.I am thinking I could define PLE's formal and informal elements, mention how a particular learning goal defines the PLE, give examples and let participants create his or her own PLE diagram in the session. I recently created this as an assignment for a course and created a rubric as well, so I've done some of the background work already.

As for curation, I'm interested in the tools but also the best practices for curation. This stems from my long engagement with teaching academic citation skills and citation for presentations. So my own question is how do we teach students about attribution with the new curation tools.

Sharing with peers is the opportunity to learn more about the topic you're picking. As I think about my ideas about curation, I did a search on the terms "best apps for curation in higher ed" and found this very nice presentation--so, for starters, I'm sharing that here, and want to say thanks to Dr. Amy Antonio, Neil Martin, and Adrian Stagg who presented this at an Australian conference: