Two Exciting Master’s Degree Topics in Learning Sciences

Be a Leader in the Digital Age!

You are invited to join us in the Master of Education program, Leading and Learning in a Digital Age. Digital innovation and learning in multimodal contexts are a global focus. Explore the complexities of inclusive and high-quality digital learning environments using online pedagogies. This four-course topic in Learning Sciences is fully online and designed with flexibility for working professionals. You will: (i) examine the implications for designing and leading interdisciplinary and technology-rich learning; (ii) strengthen your competencies in technological literacies; (iii) explore ethics in technology-enhanced learning environments; and (iv) plan for leading and empowering citizenry in a participatory and digital age. Learn alongside instructors and invited guests who are internationally recognized in the educational technology field and experience a highly interactive online learning experience.

Take risks and learn how to use innovative technologies, develop your social learning network, and critically examine the literature and research in the field. Plan to make a difference in your work context to help others navigate the complexities of living and working a digital world. This topic attracts teachers and professionals in educational environments as well as professionals in other fields and disciplinary areas, world-wide.

Apply by March 1, 2021

For more information, contact Academic Coordinator, Dr. Barb Brown, Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning, Werklund School of Education – babrown@ucalgary.ca

Be a Changemaker!

Become a cohort member of this four-course graduate program in education  for those wishing to develop collaborative cultures of creativity in their professional workplaces, classrooms, and across connected networks. Learn to engage in interactivity and empathetic and generative  communication in a way to achieve high levels of collaboration that leverages the strengths of each group and community member to achieve what would be difficult or near impossible as individuals. This program is fully online and designed with flexibility for working professionals. Develop and empower your creative and collaborative potentials and of those around you.

A central feature of this program is continual collaborative engagement in contextual personal and professional creative problem solving across a wide range of real world contexts from the United Nations Sustainable Global Goals to the classroom or professional workplace. This is supported against a backdrop of both action and literature-based research into the fields of creativity, collaboration, and human-centred design. The Collaborative Creativity for Social Innovation and Human-Centred Design program attracts those from diverse educational and  professional backgrounds wishing to engage in a truly unique, transformative experience in a  highly interactive, virtual educational space.

Apply by March 1 , 2021

For more information, contact Academic Coordinator, Dr. Robert Kelly, Associate Professor, Faculty of Arts, University of Calgary – rkelly@ucalgary.ca

NOTE: The  two programs can be taken sequentially and then stacked with a third year (4 research courses) to complete an MEd degree. Alternatively, participants can take any one of the two programs for professional learning purposes (and receive a certificate). Both are offered fully online and completed over one year while working full-time. There are also numerous other program options that can be stacked with these ones if you are looking for a different topic.

Applications are open until March 1, 2021 for programs commencing in July 2021. Visit the MEd Interdisciplinary site for more information and Apply Now through to March 1, 2021!

 

Ethical use of technology in digital learning environments

Brown, B., Roberts, V., Jacobsen, M., Hurrell, C. (Eds.). (2020). Ethical use of technology in digital learning environments: Graduate student perspectives. University of Calgary. https://doi.org/10.11575/ant1-kb38

This open access book is the result of a co-design project in a class in the Masters of Education program at the University of Calgary, Leading and Learning in a Digital Age – https://werklund.ucalgary.ca/graduate-programs/leading-learning-in-digital-age

The course, and the resulting book, focus primarily on the safe and ethical use of technology in digital learning environments. The course was organized according to four topics based on Farrow’s (2016) Framework for the Ethics of Open Education. Students were invited to contribute a chapter and co-design the chapter with their instructor and peers. Behind the scenes, there was a team of editors and research assistants who worked to create the book and publish in the open access format. As a result, there are ten chapters in the book, including nine chapters written by students in the program and an introductory chapter written by the team of editors. It took one full year to complete the book from start to finish. The chapters were drafted during the early part of 2020 and the team of editors carefully reviewed each chapter and continued to work with the chapter authors throughout the year to make revisions and refine each chapter. Finally, the chapters were reviewed by a professional copyeditor prior to publishing the book. It was impressive to see the high level of student engagement and level of commitment demonstrated by the students even after they completed their course work and the program.

If you are interested in learning more about the MEd program in the Werklund School of Education at the University of Calgary, consider Leading and Learning in a Digital Age – https://werklund.ucalgary.ca/graduate-programs/leading-learning-in-digital-age

Applications for programs starting in July 2021 are now open and close on March 1, 2021.

Exploring the Promise of Online and Blended Pedagogy (Jacobsen & Brown, Nov 30, 2020)

Interactive Technology Demos, Resources and References from our Synchronous Session in the WSE Professional Learning Series: https://werklund.ucalgary.ca/professional-learning-series

Overview:  Good teaching is good teaching whether it occurs online or in blended contexts. One of the myths of online learning is that it is inferior to meeting in person. In this session, we explore how teachers can cultivate strong relationships with students and create the conditions for learning in digital spaces. This session focuses on ways teachers can engage with networked learning communities and access expertise and resources for teaching in diverse contexts. Session slides: Nov30-2020 Slides

Connect with us:

babrown@ucalgary.ca and dmjacobs@ucalgary.ca 

Twitter: @barbbrown @dmichelej

 

Interactive Technology Demos

  • Google slides, Google forms & Google jamboards
  • Zoom videoconferencing
  • Zoom polls, Zoom chat, Zoom annotations, Zoom breakout rooms
  • Using Zoom to Create Messages

Using Zoom to Create a Weekly Video Message for Students

Resources & Networks

  • EdCan Network – https://www.edcan.ca
    • National Educational Association that amplifies how teachers, principals, superintendents, researchers and other education leaders are boldly challenging the status quo.
    • Open access to Education Canada Magazine

References & Readings

Brown, B., & Jacobsen, M. (2020, September 3). Underlying Messages and Myths about Online Learning. Blog:  http://girlprof.blogspot.com/2020/09/underlying-messages-and-myths-about.html

Underlying Messages and Myths about Online Learning

Brown, B., Alonso-Yanez, G., Friesen, S., & Jacobsen, M. (2020). High school redesign: Carnegie unit as a catalyst for change. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy (CJEAP), 193, 97-114. https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/cjeap/article/view/68066

Brown, B. & Eaton, S. E. (2020). Using a community of inquiry lens to examine synchronous online discussions in graduate courses. In L. Wilton, & Brett C. (Eds.) Handbook of Research on Online Discussion-Based Teaching Methods (pp. 229-262), IGI Global. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-7998-3292-8

Brown, B. (2019). One-Take Productions for Student Feedback. Education Canada Magazine, 59(2). https://www.edcan.ca/articles/student-feedback/

Brown, B., Jacobsen, M., & Lambert, D. (2014, May 9-10). Learning technologies in higher education [Paper presentation]. In P. Preciado Babb (Ed.). Proceedings of the IDEAS: Rising to the Challenge Conference, (pp. 25-43). Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, AB, Canada.http://hdl.handle.net/1880/50588

Ferdig, R. E., Baumgartner, E., Hartshorne, R., Kaplan-Rakowski, R., & Mouza, C. (2020). Teaching, Technology & Teacher Education during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Stories from the Field. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education eBook: https://www.learntechlib.org/p/216903/

Friesen, S., Saar, C., Park, A., Marcotte, C., Hampshire, T., Martin, B., Brown, B., & Martin, J. (2015). Focus on Inquiry. [eBook] http://inquiry.galileo.org/

Friesen, S. (2009). What did you do in school today? Teaching Effectiveness: A Framework and Rubric. Canadian Education Association. https://galileo.org/publication/what-did-you-do-in-school-today-teaching-effectiveness-a-framework-and-rubric/

Friesen, S. (2015). “An Inquiry Stance on Practice: How the Process of Inquiry Produces Knowledge”. Focus on Inquiry.  https://inquiry.galileo.org/ch5/an-inquiry-stance-on-practice/

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education model. The Internet and Higher Education, 2(2-3), 87-105.

Community of Inquiry (CoI) Framework – https://coi.athabascau.ca/coi-model/

Graham, C. R., Woodfield, W., & Harrison, J. B. (2013). A framework for institutional adoption and implementation of blended learning in higher education. Internet and Higher Education, 18, 4-14. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.iheduc.2012.09.003

Irvine, V. (2020, Oct 26). The Landscape of Merging Modalities. Educause Review, 4. https://er.educause.edu/articles/2020/10/the-landscape-of-merging-modalities

Jacobsen, M., Friesen, S., & Lock, J. (2013). Strategies for Engagement: Knowledge building and intellectual engagement in participatory learning environments. Education Canada, https://www.edcan.ca/articles/strategies-for-engagement/ 

Jacobsen, M., Brown, B., & Lambert, D. (2013). Technology-enhanced learning environments in higher education: A review of the literature. Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary, (80 pages).http://hdl.handle.net/1880/52244

Martin, J. (2019). Building Relationships and Increasing Engagement in the Virtual Classroom. Journal of Educators Online, 16(1), 9-13. https://www.thejeo.com/archive/2019_16_1/martin

Mazur, A. D., Brown, B., & Jacobsen, M. (2015). Learning Designs using Flipped Classroom Instruction. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 41(2), 1-26. https://doi.org/10.21432/T2PG7P

Minero, E. (2020, August). Educators turn to Bitmoji to build community and engagement. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/educators-turn-bitmoji-build-community-and-engagement

Stelmach, B. M., Hunter, D. M., Brown, B., O’Connor, B., & Brandon, J. (2019). Optimum Learning for All Students: Highlights from the Research Literature. http://hdl.handle.net/1880/110447

Tucker, C. (2020, August 19). Asynchronous vs. Synchronous: How to Design for Each Type of Learning. https://catlintucker.com/2020/08/asynchronous-vs-synchronous/

Werklund School of Education Research Partnership. Optimum Learning for All Students: Implementing Alberta’s 2018 Professional Practice Standards. Online: https://werklund.ucalgary.ca/community-engagement/partner-research-schools/research-partnerships/optimum-learning-all

 

This post is also available on Dr. Jacobsen’s site –http://girlprof.blogspot.com/2020/11/exploring-promise-of-online-and-blended.html

 

Technology Used to Support Learning in Groups

 

Brown, B., & Thomas, C. (2020). Technology used to support learning in groups. International Journal of E-Learning and Distance Education, 35(1), 1-26. http://www.ijede.ca/index.php/jde/article/view/1158/1802

Abstract: Across disciplines, researchers recognize that working together in a small group can be a challenging learning activity, particularly in an online course where group members meet remotely. This 2-year, design-based research study focused on improving group work in both online and blended sections of an undergraduate course for pre-service teachers. Surveys were completed by instructors (N=15) and students (N=361) at three different junctures during the course to learn about how technologies were used by students and instructors to support group work. Interviews were also conducted at the end of the term to gather in-depth descriptions about the types of technologies and how they were used by students and instructors to support group work. Findings indicated that students and instructors selected a combination of technologies, including institutionally supported and mainstream applications such as shared workspaces to coordinate, track, and monitor group progress. Students and instructors also described using communication technologies to manage group challenges related to scheduling, communicating, and integrating tasks into the project. Findings contribute to our understanding about how technologies were used to support process and product when working on a group assignment

Underlying Messages and Myths about Online Learning

Barbara Brown and Michele Jacobsen

There are many underlying messages about online learning that we have been noting in the communications and decisions related to school re-entry plans. We thought it might be helpful to provide some trustworthy information and research citations to help counter some of these myths:

 

  • Myth#1: Online learning is less effective than in-person learning
  • Myth #2: Online learning implies less interaction than in-person
  • Myth #3: More time should be spent on synchronous activities in online learning

 

Myth#1: Online learning is less effective than in-person learning

Online learning designs have been proven to be effective for learning. In fact, research occurring during the pandemic demonstrated that even during a crisis-response and rapid transition to remote teaching, this mode of learning online can be effective for a diverse range of learners. The promise and possibilities for robust online learning designs increase when instructors have ample lead time to collaborate and design digital learning plans and strategies for their students.

 

  • According to Donovan et al. (2019), blended and hybrid learning have been proven to be an important part of Canadian post-secondary education prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • Online learning is accepted (e.g., online credentials are as respected as face-to-face credentials)
    • Demonstrated Student Satisfaction (e.g., Students are as satisfied with online courses as they are with face-to-face course)
    • Online learning designs often promote innovations in teaching
  • Barbour et al. (2019) indicated that approximately 300,000 K-12 students in Canada were engaged in distance and/or online learning in 2018-19. In March 2020, educators and students across Canada pivoted from in-person classrooms to educating over 5 million students remotely in less than two weeks.
  • During the pandemic, researchers shared many examples of effective teaching, technology and teacher education during the pandemic (Ferding et al., 2020). Some key findings that help support the notion that even a rapid transition to online can be effective:
    • 50 – research shows eLearning presents challenges for parents, teachers and administrators, argues for field placements online, professional development for teachers, and additional research is needed for a thoughtful digital learning plan
    • 67 – a blend of synchronous and asynchronous learning activities, collaborative tools, can be supportive for students with diverse learning need and can provide equitable access when approaches are grounded in patience and flexibility
    • 78 – classes that were using technologies pre-COVID found it a seamless transition to fully online and using the same technologies
    • 94 – social interactions are important and this can be achieved online
    • 132 – relationships and professional collaboration can be achieved online

 

Myth #2: Online learning implies less interaction than in-person

Some presume there is less interaction in online courses when compared to in-class, face-to-face teaching and learning (Watts, 2016). However, it has been proven that interactivity, engagement and strong social and community presence can be fostered in online courses for students and instructors (Garrison, 2017; Young & Bruce, 2011). Contemporary learning technologies enable teachers and learners to connect, collaborate and communicate effectively in diverse ways using an intentional blend of “live” (synchronous) and teacher or self-directed (asynchronous) learning designs (Jacobsen, et al., 2013; Tucker, 2020). For example, a teacher can collect, curate and assign relevant podcasts, videos, and textual resources to be accessed and viewed by learners prior to a real-time or live modelling session the teacher leads with the entire class. Known as flipped instruction, this approach to blending asynchronous and synchronous learning experiences and opportunities is an effective pedagogical approach teachers are using to design online learning experiences that are highly interactive (Mazur, et al., 2015).

 

Myth #3: More time should be spent on synchronous activities in online classes

  • Both self-directed asynchronous learning tasks and activities, and scheduled synchronous activities and interactions, are important for learning in online courses.
  • Asynchronous activities provide students with time to reflect and think before interacting with their peers in discussion groups. Students can view multi-media educational resources at their own pace with accessibility options. These are important elements of active and engaged learning in online courses (Lee & Brett, 2015; Watts, 2016)
  • Synchronous activities, such seminars, webinars and conversations with instructors, peers and expert guest speakers, are also important for learning in online courses (Martin et al., 2017; Watts, 2016).
  • Live interaction matters but relying on too many synchronous activities can promote inequities for those unable to connect/attend scheduled events (Banna et al., 2015)
  • An appropriate range and blend of asynchronous and synchronous activities using communication applications for collaborative knowledge building (Brown et al., 2013; Brown & Eaton, 2020; Watts, 2016) are ideal with flexibility for individual student needs, circumstances, and access to reliable technology.

 

References:

 

Banna, J., Grace Lin, M., Stewart, M., & Fialkowski, M. (2015). Interaction matters: Strategies to promote engaged learning in online introductory nutrition course. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 11(2), 249-261.

 

Barbour, M., & LaBonte, R. (2019). State of the Nation: K-12 E-Learning in Canada.

https://k12sotn.ca/reports/

 

Brown, B. & Eaton, S. E. (2020). Using a community of inquiry lens to examine synchronous online discussions in graduate courses (Chapter 10). In L. Wilton, & Brett C. (Eds.) Handbook of Research on Online Discussion-Based Teaching Methods (pp. 229-262), IGI Global. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-7998-3292-8

 

Brown, B., Eaton, S. E., Jacobsen, M., & Roy, S. (2013). Instructional design collaboration: A professional learning and growth experience. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9(3). http://jolt.merlot.org/vol9no3/brown_0913.htm

 

Donovan, T., Bates, T., Seaman, J., Mayer, D., Martel, E., Paul, R., . . . Poulin, R. (2019). Tracking online and distance education in Canadian universities and colleges: 2018. Canadian National Survey of Online and Distance Education, Public Report. Canadian Digital Learning Research Association. https://onlinelearningsurveycanada.ca/

 

Ferding, R. E., Baumgartner, E., Hartshorne, R., Kaplan-Rakowski, R., & Mouza, C. (2020), Teaching, technology, and teacher education during the COVID-19 pandemic: Stories from the field. Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education (AACE). https://www.learntechlib.org/p/216903/

 

Garrison, D. R. (2017). E-learning in the 21st century: A community of inquiry framework for research and practice (3rd ed.). Routledge.

 

Jacobsen, M., Brown, B., & Lambert, D. (2013). Technology-Enhanced Learning Environments in Higher Education: A Review of the Literature. Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary. November, 80 pages. URL:  http://hdl.handle.net/1880/52244

 

Lee, K. & Brett, C. (2015). Dialogic understanding of teachers’ online transformative learning: A qualitative case study of teacher discussions in a graduate-level online course. Teaching and Teacher Education, 46, 72-83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2014.11.001

 

Martin, F., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., & Budhrani, K. (2017). Systematic review of two decades (1995 to 2014) of research on synchronous online learning. American Journal of Distance Education, 31(1), 3-19. https://doi.org/10.1080/08923647.2017.1264807

 

Mazur, A. D., Brown, B., & Jacobsen, M. (2015). Learning designs using flipped classroom instruction. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 41(2), 1-26. DOI: https://doi.org/10.21432/T2PG7P

 

Tucker, C. (2020). Asynchronous vs. Synchronous: How to Design for Each Type of Learning. https://catlintucker.com/2020/08/asynchronous-vs-synchronous/

 

Watts, L. (2016). Synchronous and asynchronous communication in distance learning: a review of the literature. Quarterly Review of Distance Education, 17(1), 23–32. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1142962

 

Young, S., & Bruce, M. A. (2011). Classroom community and student engagement in online courses. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(2). http://jolt.merlot.org/vol7no2/young_0611.htm

 

 

This co-authored blog post has been cross published by both authors; please access Dr. Michele Jacobsen’s post here:

http://girlprof.blogspot.com/2020/09/underlying-messages-and-myths-about.html 

Back to School: In-Person or Online?

Today I was interviewed by Angela Kokott on 770 CHQR Global News Radio and discussed back to school for Fall 2020. Here’s my reflections about today’s discussion and some suggestions to help parents  prepare for a new school.

Going back to school will not look like it did last year or the year before. Many families are faced with making a difficult decision about the mode of schooling to select for Fall 2020. Making a decision is difficult with limited information and so many unknowns.

  • What will school look like if we choose to go back to school in-person and in the building?
  • What will school like if we select online learning?

Each option will be different from any past experiences. Learning in the classroom will have many health restrictions and this will change the ways students will be grouped and will move and interact throughout their day. Parents will need to consider back-up plans for days when a child has an elevated temperature or sniffles. There will need to be plans for when a child or adult has a positive COVID-19 test result. A typical day at school will look and feel different.

Online learning in the Spring 2020 was a crisis response and was not a model of what quality online learning can be when it is planned and intentional. Families might wonder if online learning is a good option for their family. Families will need to consider if they have supports in place to accommodate online learning? Some of these supports might include, a workspace for the child, adequate technology, adult supervision as well as other specialized supports to accommodate individual learning needs. Parents might wonder if online learning might involve excessive screen time and live webinar style sessions with the teacher and the class. How might this impact Internet access at home if sharing connections or technology with siblings or parents also working from home? How will students interact with peers? Will the teacher assign group work or will all the work be independent and self-directed? How will online teachers accommodate students and families when they are not feeling well? Will the school provide curb-side pick-up service for text books and other school-issued resources or will they deliver to the home? Can parents volunteer and help in online classes? There are so many questions.

Parents could use more information about what to expect with each option. It would be great to have an orientation or video-tour to help parents learn more about what a typical day might look like if choosing in-person classes and how families might prepare for periods of school closure.

It would also be great to have a video tour of a typical day in the online environment to reassure parents that class sizes will remain manageable in online, screen time will not be excessive, that there will be a balance of synchronous and asynchronous learning, and that students will be working closely with peers and developing relationships with their teachers and classmates.

From a research perspective, I can reassure parents that online can be just as effective as in-person learning. Online credentials are as respected as face-to-face credentials (Donovan et al., 2019). Online learning can be highly interactive and you can develop strong relationships online (Garrison, 2017; Young & Bruce, 2011). Online learning is best with a range of activities that are whole group and all together as well as activities that can be done independently or collaboratively in small groups (Brown et al., 2013; Brown & Eaton, 2020).

 

Brown, B. & Eaton, S. E. (2020). Using a community of inquiry lens to examine synchronous online discussions in graduate courses (Chapter 10). In L. Wilton, & Brett C. (Eds.) Handbook of Research on Online Discussion-Based Teaching Methods (pp. 229-262), IGI Global. https://doi.org/10.4018/978-1-7998-3292-8

Brown, B., Eaton, S. E., Jacobsen, M., & Roy, S. (2013). Instructional design collaboration: A professional learning and growth experience. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 9(3). http://jolt.merlot.org/vol9no3/brown_0913.htm

Donovan, T., Bates, T., Seaman, J., Mayer, D., Martel, E., Paul, R., . . . Poulin, R. (2019). Tracking online and distance education in Canadian universities and colleges: 2018. Canadian National Survey of Online and Distance Education, Public Report. Canadian Digital Learning Research Association. https://onlinelearningsurveycanada.ca/

Garrison, D. R. (2017). E-learning in the 21st century: A community of inquiry framework for research and practice (3rd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Young, S., & Bruce, M. A. (2011). Classroom community and student engagement in online courses. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 7(2). Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol7no2/young_0611.htm

High School Redesign

Abstract: Researchers examined seven schools in Alberta undergoing high school redesign and removing the Carnegie Unit, a time-based metric for awarding course credits. A mixed methods convergent parallel design was used to gather data from leadership teams in the schools and to examine evidence of impact on student learning. Qualitative and quantitative data were analyzed concurrently and then merged for the analysis. Findings illustrate that removing the Carnegie Unit was a catalyst for redesign and learning improvements.  Five constitutive factors enable high school redesign, including a collective disposition as a learning community, a focus on relationship building, obtaining student input, collaboration, and making changes to learning tasks and assessment practices.  The findings provide insight into the ways in which leadership teams formed complex adaptive systems to enable change and may serve to inform practitioners and school leaders, schools and systems, and those who study policy changes in schools.

Brown, B., Alonso-Yanez, G., Friesen, S., & Jacobsen, M. (2020). High school redesign: Carnegie unit as a catalyst for change. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy (CJEAP), 193, 97-114. https://journalhosting.ucalgary.ca/index.php/cjeap/article/view/68066

Using Zoom to Create a Weekly Video Message for Students

I like to send out messages to my students at the start of the week to describe the assignments for the week and provide any other important messages and reminders.

Here’s a summary of my steps:

  1. First, I create a script and decide what I plan to discuss.
  2. Next, I select visuals that can support my points. If I’m discussing a reading, then I open website in a new tab in web browser. Likewise, if I’m using my own visuals or slides, then I have those ready and open on my desktop.
  3. Once I have all the text and visuals ready and open on my desktop, I start Zoom. I open a new meeting, but I don’t invite anyone else. I’m the only participant in the meeting.
  4. I turn on my video and start recording. I usually start my video for the first part of my video message so I can wave to my students as part of the introduction. After saying hello, I generally turn off my video. This keeps the file size a bit smaller.
  5. I pause the recording at any point when I need a break to move between visuals. Once I have the visual in place, I resume recording and continue with the video. I repeat this process as many times as needed. I also find it helpful to pause the recording when I need to slow down and take a breath.
  6. Once I’m finished the message, I stop the recording and end the meeting.
  7. Ending the Zoom meeting will then render the video. The output will be in audio (audio_only.m4a) and video format (zoom.mp4). Another format is also offered (playback.m3u) – for single entry playlists. If my presentation incorporated visuals, then I select the video output (mp4) to share with students as a screencast. If my presentation did not have visuals, then I select the audio output (m4a) and share with my students as a podcast.
  8. I use the learning management system provided by my school to share the file with my students. I can post a news item for students and add my video message. I can also send out a note via email and provide the link to the message as well as a copy of my script. Some students may prefer to review the script and the video. The script also allows students to check over any words they may not have understood. The video can be watched more than one time if needed and provides a personalized way of communicating with students regularly.
  9. My final tips for creating a weekly video message for students is to aim for “one-take production.” I wrote about how I use one-take productions to provide students with video feedback. Similarly, I advocate for one-take productions when creating weekly video messages. This means, I usually record the video one time and I don’t worry about stumbling over words or any background noises, or other interruptions. It shouldn’t take hours to create a video message. Be yourself, don’t worry about creating a polished or theatre ready production, and most importantly have fun!

Neutral Chair for Online Oral Defense

I served as a neutral chair for an online doctoral defense recently and thought it might be helpful to share my experience. This may be helpful to others who serve as neutral chairs or for graduate students or examiners who are wondering about the process for an online oral defense. I also want to note that this may not be the process for all examining committees, but this may provide some ideas.

 

I connected to the meeting room (using Zoom) about 15 minutes prior to the start of the exam. When I arrived, the student and their supervisor were already in the virtual room and having a conversation. There was also a graduate program administrator who was there to make sure everyone could connect properly, and the student could share a slide presentation. Next, we discussed what would happen during the deliberation part of the exam and decided the student would go into a breakout room and then return to the main room after the deliberations. We tested this out to make sure the student could easily move to and from the breakout room. By this time all the examiners were present, and we were ready to begin the exam. The graduate program administrator logged out of the session and provided me with a contact number for any issues during the exam. I also provided my contact number to everyone in the event of any connectivity issues.

 

Example of an Oral Exam Sequence:

  1. Description of Process for Exam – I described the sequence of events that would take place during the exam (e.g., introductions, student presentation, two rounds of questioning, followed by a third optional round and then our deliberations).
  2. Introductions – I called on each person, one-at-a-time to provide an introduction. Each of the examiners, the student, and myself (neutral chair) provided a brief introduction with name and role. This was a good opportunity to make sure all examiners and students were turning their microphones on/ off properly. I also intentionally made sure the student was not the last one to provide an introduction as I wanted to give the student a break between providing the introduction and then moving the presentation.
  3. Student Presentation – The student started by providing a presentation up to 15 min. in length. The student shared the presentation screen so we could all see the slides. I asked the examiners to mute their mic during the presentation and with the option to turn off their video as well.
  4. First Round of Questioning – Following the presentation, we started the first round of questioning. Each examiner, starting with the most external first, asked a question. The students had up to 10 min. to respond to the question and during that time frame the examiner could also ask follow-up questions. During the questioning I asked the examiner asking the question and student to leave their video ON. However, during the questioning, I suggested the other examiners could turn OFF their video. This way, the student could focus on looking at one person on the screen instead of a gallery when answering the questions. I also indicated that I would turn my camera back ON closer to the 10 min. point as a visual cue, so the examiner would know it’s time to wrap up their questioning for this round and reserve additional questions for the next round. This visual cue seemed to work quite well and kept the exam timeline on track.
  5. Break – after the first round of questioning, we took a five-minute break. I asked all the examiners and student to mute their microphone and turn off their video. We agreed on the return time. I asked everyone to turn ON their camera to indicate they were ready to start the second round.
  6. Second Round of Questioning – We repeated the same process as the first round of questioning. Once this round was complete, I offered the examiners an opportunity to ask any additional questions. I asked the examiners to let me know if they had any further questions so I could allocate the remaining time appropriately for the third round.
  7. Deliberation – After the rounds of question were complete, I explained that I would open the breakout room for the student. I explained to everyone that we would have deliberations and when we finish, there would be a message in the breakout room indicating the room would be closing. I set the breakout room to provide a 15 second time for transition back to the main room.  When the student was ready and understood what would be happening, I opened the breakout room. The student then moved into the room. Visually, I could see the student was now in the room and only the examiners and myself (neutral chair) remained in the main room. During the deliberations, the examiners turned ON their videos and microphone. I explained the voting process and how the examiners could privately send me their examination results. At the conclusion and when all the examiners were ready, I explained the student would be returning in about 15 seconds.
  8. Closing – The student returned back to the main room and all the examiners turned on their Videos/microphones and provided commentary and feedback. Once this was complete, I thanked everyone and closed the meeting room.

 

 

Students Provide Teachers with Valuable Feedback

There is generally a formal process for gathering student ratings of instruction at the end of a course. However, as an instructor I do not receive this feedback until months after the course is complete and it is too late to make any changes. Student feedback is valuable while the course is underway, so I ask students for their feedback at the mid-point of the course. I have used various methods to gather feedback, such as:

 

Invitation for Mid-Point Feedback

  1. Email request – invite students to send me an email with suggestions for improvement that can be implemented for the prior to the end of the course.

 

  1. Anonymous Online Form/Questionnaire – invite students to rate different aspects of their course work (e.g., access to relevant resources, timely formative feedback, opportunities for asking questions, peer feedback loops, synchronous activities, asynchronous activities, etc.); and respond to open-ended questions with their suggestions for improvement.

 

This is an example of an invitation to provide mid-course feedback:

“I would like to invite you to provide me with mid-course feedback to help me make improvements during the remainder of the course.  I created a brief questionnaire that is anonymous.  I welcome constructive and anonymous feedback on achieving my instructional goals in this course. Let me know if there are areas that I can improve before the end of the course. Also add any comments about areas of strength, so I know what to make sure I continue to do to support your learning.”

 

  1. Drop-in Session – invite students to attend an informal synchronous session to provide verbal feedback about the course individually or with small groups.

 

Synthesize the Feedback

The important part about asking for feedback is to synthesize and use the feedback. Provide students with a few days or week to provide you with feedback, so you can consolidate the responses and generate a synthesis. Then, share the synthesis with all of the students. Here’s some examples of ways you can share a synthesis of the responses received:

 

  1. Word cloud – this is a great way to capture the most frequent words used for responses. Example of word cloud representing challenges with technology enhanced learning:

(This visual was also provided for the chapter –  “Designing Group Work in Blended Learning Environments” Brown & Vaughan, 2018 – http://www.drbarbbrown.com/2018/07/06/designing-group-work-in-blended-learning-environments/).

 

  1. Summary with Themes and quotes – capture common themes and offer some sample quotes to help illustrate the feedback provided.

 

This is an example of summary posted for students to review (could also be sent via email):

Thank you to those students who provided mid-course feedback!  I put the feedback together and thought I would share the aggregate responses and my action items. 

My action plan (top 3) based on your feedback:

  • I tried to extend the class time for working on units and minimized other activities over this past week. This will continue over the next couple of weeks.
  • I’m also planning to implement more formal group check-in events. 
  • As I work with the instructor team over the next year, we will continue to review and refine the readings selected for this course and support materials.

Sample of positive comments I appreciated:

  • The time and effort you have given to this class in order to maintain a safe and caring classroom environment is very much appreciated!
  • I have loved this course so far. It has brought light some very important issues that I love exploring as a group. Overall, Thank you for your care and dedication to our learning
  • The support for our group projects has been great and instructional time has felt meaningful and relevant towards our final projects, which is great as there is a lot of work to be done in such a short amount of time.

Thank you again for taking time to provide your feedback and to help make improvements!

 

Another example of synthesis:

I would like to thank you for providing me with mid-course feedback and would like to share my synthesis of the feedback with you.  The comments provided me with ideas about things I should continue to do and also ideas for improvement.  I appreciate all of your input!  I will start with the positive aspects:

  1. Feedback is valued.  Responses indicated the feedback and weekly messages provide guidance. This is something I will continue to provide and plan to provide each group with feedback about the cases analysis to help as you move forward with LT#2.
  2. Organization and pace is just right.  Responses indicated the course is well organized including the structure, content and pacing.

Areas for improvement:

  1. Discussion threads could be more organized. I added a discussion thread to each of your studio groups to help with weeks 8, 9 and 10.  If your group would like additional threads, please do not hesitate to contact me and I can add as needed. 
  2. Weekly check-in via online sessions suggested.  If your group would like to meet more often, let me know and I can set up a virtual space for your group.  You may notice that two groups already requested this and have a virtual room set-up for their use at any time during the course.  Also, if you wish to meet with me or feel a weekly check-in with me would be helpful, I can also meet with you in my virtual office at a time convenient for you.  Instead of keeping office hours, I find it easier for students to arrange a specific time with me.  Often, I can also meet in the evening or weekend when students are also available.  

How are you gathering feedback from your students?