Access

ACCESS provides the means for all qualified, motivated students to complete courses, degrees, or programs in their disciplines of choice. The goal is to provide meaningful and effective access throughout the entire student 'life cycle.' Access starts with enabling prospective learners to become aware of available opportunities through effective marketing, branding, and basic program information. It continues with providing program access (for example, quantity and variety of available program options, clear program information), seamless access to courses (for example, readiness assessment, intuitive navigability), and appropriate learning resources. Access includes three areas of support: academic (such as tutoring, advising, and library); administrative (such as financial aid, and disability support); and technical (such as hardware reliability and uptime, and help desk). Effective practices for measuring increasing accessibility may analyze and apply the results student and provider surveys, narrative or case study description, focus groups, or other means of measuring access. Larger-scale access implementation may also result from mission-based strategic planning in a variety of institutional areas.

Effective Practice Awards Submissions Due June 30

Submitted by janetmoore on May 27, 2010 - 2:06pm
New effective practices  submitted by June 30 are eligible for awards to be presented at the July 21, 2010 Emerging Technologies for Online Learning Symposium Awards Presentation Luncheon.
Thousands visit effective practices for innovative practices supported by eviden
Award Winner: 
2014 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Author(s): 
Rick Lumadue, PhD
Author(s): 
Rusty Waller, PhD
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Texas A&M University-Commerce
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Programmatic student-learning outcomes of an online master’s degree program at a regional University in Texas were assessed in this study. An innovative use of emerging technology provided a platform for this study. The Astin Model provided the framework for the evaluation. This study has provided a model for conducting well-informed, instructional and programmatic assessments of student-learning outcomes. The results of this study demonstrated that emerging technology can provide a platform for students to both showcase and preserve their ability to meet programmatic student-learning outcomes.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

This online master’s degree program is taught using a fully interactive online format in a primarily asynchronous delivery model. Asynchronous activities used in the program included: threaded discussion, video and audio presentations, written lecture linked to video and audio presentations embedded into the course management system, Voicethreads, faculty developed MERLOT web pages created using the MERLOT Content Builder, e-Textbooks, etc.
The Astin Model (1993) provided a framework for this assessment. In the Astin Model, quality education not only reaches established benchmarks but also is founded upon the ability to transition students from where they are to reach intended competencies. An innovative use of MERLOT Content Builder combined with emerging technology provided a means for assessing the seven student-learning outcomes in an online master’s program at a regional university in Texas.
Two full-time faculty and one adjunct faculty used rubrics to evaluate each of the programmatic student-learning outcomes by assessing a random sample of student assignments from courses.
The goal of this study was to help students reach the intended learning outcomes for metacognition, digital fluency, communication, cultural fluency, global fluency, servant leadership, and commitment to life-long learning. Definitions of these learning outcomes are provided here. Students will evidence metacognition by demonstrating the knowledge and skills for designing, developing, and evaluating personal strategies for learning and leading. Students will evidence digital fluency in the adoption and integration of appropriate technologies into digital presentations. Students will be able to communicate ideas and content to actively engage participants. Students will evidence understanding of generational and cultural learning styles. Students will develop instructional materials appropriate for a global perspective. Students will practice the principles of servant leadership as espoused by Robert Greenleaf in his work titled, The Leader as Servant (1984). According to Greenleaf, “The servant-leader is servant first. It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. Students will evidence a commitment to lifelong learning in the production and evaluation of learning materials.
Digital education presents many challenges. Barnett-Queen, Blair, and Merrick (2005) identified perceived strengths and weaknesses of online discussion groups and subsequent instructional activities. Programmatic assessment is required for all institutions accredited by the Council of Higher Education Accreditation or the US Department of Education. Walvoord (2003) indicated that good assessment should focus on maximizing student performance. The following questions rise to the forefront: (1) Have graduates mastered programmatic expectations; (2) What relationships exist between student performance and other factors; and (3) How can faculty improve the program based upon the analysis of student performance. Walvoord further stresses the importance of direct assessment in determining student performance. Indirect measures may provide evidence of student-learning, but direct assessment is widely viewed as more valid and reliable.
Brandon, Young, Shavelson, Jones, Ayala, Ruiz-Primo, and Yin (2008) developed a model for embedded formative assessment. The model was collaborative and stressed embedded assessment. Their study stressed the difficulties associated with broad-based collaboration given the difficulties of formally identifying partners and spanning large geographic distances. Price and Randall (2008) demonstrated the importance of embedded direct assessment in lieu of indirect assessment. Their research revealed a lack of correlational fit between indirect and direct assessment of the same aspect of student-learning with the same course in a pre- and post-test design. They documented a difference between student perceived knowledge and actual knowledge. These findings further underscore the importance of direct assessment of student-learning. Walvoord’s (2003) findings further indicated the need for embedded direct assessment of student-learning owned and supported by those who will implement the change. Those implementing change would include program faculty and students.
Gardner (2007) found that education has long wrestled with defining and assessing life-long learning. Though loosely defined as the continued educational growth of the individual, lifelong learning is rapidly rising to the forefront of 21st century education to assume a more prominent place than that held in the 20th century. Brooner (2002) described the difficulty of assessing the intention to pursue learning beyond the completion of a program. Intention and subsequent performance are affected by many different factors including, but not limited to, normative beliefs and motivation. Educational programs have often been encouraged to avoid assessment of behavior beyond the point of graduation as such behavior as been viewed as beyond the control of program educators (Walvoord, 2003). The question arises as to the importance of future behavior as an indicator of current learning.
Astin (1993) pointed out that educators are inclined to avoid assessment of the affective domain viewing such as too value laden. Accordingly, the cognitive domain became the defacto assessment area though affective assessment more closely paralleled the stated aims and goals of most institutions of higher education. The avoidance of assessment in the affective domain is well documented by Astin. The advent of social media tools coupled with e-portfolios offers some intriguing possibilities in regard to assessment in the affective behavioral domain. Astin pointed out that a change in the affective domain should translate into changed behavior.
Secolsky and Wentland (2010) found many advantages to portfolio assessment that transcend regular assessment practices by providing a glimpse into non-structured behavioral activities. Behavior beyond the classroom can be captured and documented within a properly designed portfolio. Behavior that has not been directly observed by the teacher can be measured in light of portfolio submissions via a broad collection of relevant and targeted information. Established performance criterion can be assessed to measure student-learning and determine specific areas for programmatic improvement. Though Secolsky and Wentland point out that reliability and validity concerns still exist with portfolio measurement, they concur that portfolio assessment potentially gauges authentic student performance outside the educational environment. With the development of a portfolio transportable beyond program enrollment and across the life experience the opportunity exists to assess the impact of the instructional experience upon real time student performance. Evaluation of life-long portfolios promises to provide meaningful insight into the real life impact of the educational experience. Astin (1993) viewed changed behavior over time as the real evidence of affective enlightenment.
An interesting finding from this study was the creative manner in which some of the students layered or nested other web 2.0 technologies into their MERLOT web pages. Examples of layering or nesting included embedded student developed Voicethread presentations, embedded open-ended discussion Voicethreads used to promote participation and feedback, embedded YouTube Videos, embedded Prezis and the like.
The integration of MERLOT GRAPE Camp peer review training into this Master Degree Program has provided an additional platform for further research to be conducted relative to the assessment of all seven of the programmatic learning outcomes of the program. For example, metacognition may be assessed as it relates to MERLOT’S peer-reviewers serving as content expert in assessing materials that pertain to one’s field. Communication may be assessed through interaction with peers and peer-reviews. Digital fluency is obviously what is required to contribute to MERLOT. Cultural Fluency may be demonstrated through peer reviewing submissions of MERLOT’s international community of partners. Global Fluency may be measured through the development and contribution of appropriate content for use in a global community of learners. Servant Leadership is the motto of MERLOT, “Give a Gift not a Burden!” (Gerry Hanley, 2010). Finally, the development of students into lifelong learners will help to establish the identity of the program. Student performance outside of the program is one of the best measures of student-learning and the MERLOT Content Builder along with MERLOT peer-reviews is a tremendous platform for measuring student-learning outcomes.
Life long learning may be assessed by current and former students’ contributions of materials to MERLOT and by those providing peer reviews of materials contributed to MERLOT. As a benefit of being a MERLOT partner, the dashboard report provides information on contributions made by members of the partner organization. Contributions and/or peer reviews completed by students who have graduated from the program will be recorded in the dashboard report. This is a tremendous tool to measure the commitment to life long learning. Ultimately, this study has demonstrated that the MERLOT platform combined with emerging technology are integral in assessing student-learning outcomes in an online master’s program at a regional University in Texas. Other online degree programs should seriously consider the MERLOT Content Builder’s potential to help them assess student-learning outcomes.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

The Online Master of Science in Global eLearning equips specialists in education for practice in public education, private education, business, industry, and non-profit organizations. Learning and technology are intertwined as we develop the next generation of enhanced training, development, and teaching to engage learners with key components of instructional technology. Technology provides access to all forms of education and this program will teach educators how to implement technology across curricula and classrooms of all kinds. With a blend of theory and technical skills, this program will prepare teachers and corporate trainers alike.

Metacognition – Students will demonstrate the knowledge and skills for designing, developing, and evaluating personal strategies for learning and leading.
5 journal entries will be selected at random from a course offered in Fall 2012. These will be evaluated by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty using the Global eLearning Metacognition rubric. Scores will be deemed acceptable at an average of 4.0 or higher on a 5 point scale in each of the areas of context & meaning, personal response, personal reflection, and interpretive skills.

The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on March 6, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

Context & Meaning 4.27
Personal Response 4.13
Personal Reflection 4.40
Interpretive Skills 4.47

All standards were met.
Though all standards were met, the faculty noted that the personal response section scored the lowest at 4.13. Accordingly the course, EDUC 595 Research Methodology, was expanded to include more opportunities for students to provide self and peer-evaluation feedback on projects and assignments. Two assessments were recommended for AY 2013-2014. We will assess one course in the Fall and one course in the Spring.

Communication – Students will communicate ideas and content to actively engage participants.
5 student digital presentations will be selected at random from a course offered in Fall 2012. These will be evaluated using the Global eLearning Assessment of Digital Student Presentation Rubric by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty. Scores will be deemed acceptable with an average of 42 on a 50 point scale in each of the five areas of purpose, organization, content, language, and voice & tone. The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on March 6, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

Purpose 45.33
Organization 46.67
Content 46.00
Language 44.00
Voice & Tone 44.67
Technology 45.33

All standards were met. Though, all standards were met Faculty noted that Language scored the lowest. The faculty decided to conduct two assessments for the next cycle. One will be done in the fall and one in the spring.

The faculty modified an assignment in EDUC 515 Intercultural Education to provide students an opportunity to develop their language skills on a project to provided heightened sensitivity to language that might be offensive in other cultures.

Two assessments were recommended for AY 2013-2014.

Digital Fluency - Students will evidence digital fluency in the adoption and integration of appropriate technologies into digital presentations.
5 student digital presentations will be selected at random from a course offered in Fall 2012. These will be evaluated using the Global eLearning Assessment of Digital Student Presentation Rubric by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty. Scores will be deemed acceptable with an average of 45 on a 50 point scale in the area of technology.

The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on March 6, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

Technology 45.33

The standard was met.
The faculty noted that the students tended to use more familiar software and avoid the utilization of emerging software. Accordingly, EDUC 510 Utilizing Effective Instructional Technology was modified to include requirements for the utilization of at least one Web 2.0 software program to complete an assignment.

The faculty will conduct two evaluations in AY 2013-2014.

Cultural Fluency – Students will evidence understanding of generational and cultural learning styles.

5 student digital presentations will be selected at random from a course offered in Fall 2012. These will be evaluated using the Global eLearning Cultural Fluency Rubric by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty. Scores will be deemed acceptable with an average of 3.0 on a 4 point scale in the areas of knowledge & comprehension, analysis & synthesis, and evaluation.

The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on March 6, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

Knowledge & Comprehension 3.53
Analysis & Synthesis 3.07
Evaluation 3.67

The standard was met. The faculty noted that analysis and synthesis scored lowest. Accordingly the curriculum for EDUC 552 Global Fluency was expanded to include group projects on the education system of other cultures.

The faculty will also conduct two evaluations in AY 2013-2014.

Global Fluency – Students will develop instructional materials appropriate for a global perspective.

5 group project entries will be selected at random from a course offered in Summer 2012. These will be evaluated by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty using the Global eLearning Global Fluency Rubric. Scores will be deemed acceptable at an average of 2.8 or higher on a 4 point scale in each of the areas of knowledge & comprehension, application, and evaluation.

The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on July 22, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

Knowledge & Comprehension 2.87
Application 3.00
Evaluation 2.87

The standards were met.

Faculty found student performance in this area to be adequate. Some challenges were noted in the use of stereotypes in identifying people from other cultures. For example, a student made a comment on. EDUC 515 Intercultural Education will be expanded to include a project in which students will interview someone from a different culture to discover differing worldviews of other cultures and share these findings in a forum with classmates.

Servant Leadership – Students will practice the principles of servant leadership as espoused by Robert Greenleaf.

5 student group project self-assessment packets will be selected at random from a course offered in Fall 2012. These will be evaluated using the Global eLearning Servant Leadership Rubric by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty. Scores will be deemed acceptable with an average of 40 on a 50 point scale in each of the five areas of purpose, organization, content, language, and voice & tone.

The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on July 22, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

Servant Leadership 41.33
Strategic Insight & Agility 39.33
Building Effective Teams & Communities 44.00
Ethical Formation & Decision Making 43.33

The standard was NOT met for Strategic Insight & Agility.

Faculty noted problems in the effective feedback of peer-evaluation assignment. Accordingly, the group peer assessment process has been expanded to include MERLOT GRAPE Camp to provide training on conducting peer-evaluations. All students will be required to complete MERLOT GRAPE Camp training. These changes will be enacted in all new course sections.

Commitment to Life-Long Learning – Students will evidence a commitment to lifelong learning in the production and evaluation of learning materials. 5 portfolio entries will be selected at random from a course in Fall 2012. These will be evaluated by the fulltime bachelor’s and master’s faculty using the Global eLearning Commitment to Life-long Learning rubric. Scores will be deemed acceptable at an average of 3.0 or higher on a 4 point scale in each of the areas of production of educational materials, publications, presentations, including personal response, personal evaluation, and interpretive skills.
The assessment was conducted by two fulltime and one external faculty on July 22, 2013. The external was added to strengthen the review. Results were as follows:

MERLOT Web Pages 3.4
Presentations 3.8
Peer Evaluations 3.60

The standard was met. Though, all standards were met Faculty noted that MERLOT Web pages scored the lowest. The faculty decided to conduct two assessments for the next cycle. One will be done in the fall and one in the spring.

The faculty modified an assignment in EDUC 528 Intro. to Presentation Design to make the MERLOT Web page a requirement rather than an option

Two assessments were recommended for AY 2013-2014.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

1) Leveraging MERLOT Content Builder with emerging technology to assess programmatic student learning outcomes is scalable because it encourages more online instructors and instructional designers to consider integrating this model to measure the effectiveness of assignments in meeting the goals for Institutional effectiveness planning.

2) Increases access by providing open access using MERLOT’S Content Builder combined with emerging technology to showcase learning outcomes for students and faculty to assess regardless of location as long as they have an internet connection.

3) Improves faculty satisfaction by providing faculty with open access to evaluate student assignments to assess programmatic student learning outcomes for Institutional effectiveness planning.
Since this model was used to complete a recent Institutional Effectiveness Plan for an online master’s degree program in preparation for a regional accreditation visit other instructors can easily replicate this model to evaluate their programs.

4) Improves learning effectiveness by providing instructors with effective online strategies that are supported by empirical data from assessments of random samples of student assignments .

5) Promotes student satisfaction by providing valuable opportunities for interaction with their instructor and other students. Students work together on group projects for both synchronous and asynchronous presentations. Students are also assigned group and individual projects to evaluate the work of their peers and provide feedback. Rubrics are embedded in the grade book of the LMS to evaluate student assignments. Also, an evaluation tool of the programmatic student-learning outcome that is tied to the assignment is also included in the grade book to assess the level of student understanding. Students regularly comment about how valuable these practices are to their learning experience.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

The only aspect completely necessary is an internet connection and an LMS. In our program, the students also used Camtasia, Quicktime and Captivate for creating videos to complete some of their individual projects. Group projects were completed using Google+ Hangouts, Skype, Voice Thread and Adobe Connect. Students also created MERLOT web pages, MDL 2 Courses and digital portfolios.

Some of the tools we used have costs associated with them. Here is a list of some them:

• Synchronous tools: Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts, Google chats, Skype
• Asynchronous tools: Voicethread, MERLOT Content Builder, Prezi, MERLOT GRAPE Camp, Peer Review Workshop and Discussion Forums in LMS
• Reflective tools: Journals, self-assessments, and digital portfolios

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

The only additional cost would be optional and would involve the use of some emerging technologies that are not open source. All other resources used in this project were open source and we did not incur additional costs using them. There was essentially no budget for this project.

References, supporting documents: 

Astin, A. (1993). Assessment for Excellence. Wesport, CT: Oryx Press.

Barnett-Queen, T., Blair, R., & Merrick, M. (2005). Student perspectives of online discussions: Strengths and weaknesses. Journal of Technology in Human Services, 23(3/4), 229-244.

Brandon, P., Young, D., Shavelson, R., Jones, R. Ayala, C., Ruiz-Primo, M., & Yin, Y. (2008). Lessons learned from the process of curriculum developers’ and assessment developers’ collaboration on the development of embedded formative assessments. Applied Measurement in Education, 21, 390-402.

Gardner, P. (2007). The ‘life-long draught’: From learning to teaching and back. History of Education, 36(4-5), 465-482.

Greenleaf, R. A. (2008). The Servant as Leader. Westfield, IN: The Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership.

Price, B., & Randall, C. (2008). Assessing learning outcomes in quantitative courses: Using embedded questions for direct assessment. Journal of Education for Business, 83(5), 288-294.

Secolsky, C., & Wentland, E. (2010). Differential effect of topic: Implications for portfolio assessment. Assessment Update, 22(1), Wilmington, DE: Wiley Periodicals.

Walvoord, B. (2003). Assessment in accelerated programs: A practical guide. New Directions for Adult & Continuing Education, 97, 39-50.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Rick Lumadue
Email this contact: 
proflumadue@gmail.com
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Rusty Waller
Email contact 2: 
rusty.waller@tamuc.edu
Award Winner: 
2013 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Author(s): 
Kelvin Thompson, Ed.D.
Author(s): 
Baiyun Chen, Ph.D.
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of Central Florida
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

The faculty development programs, instructional designers, and individual teaching faculty of the University of Central Florida have found affordances in integrating into their work the online teaching practices codified in the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR). The faculty development programs, instructional designers, and individual teaching faculty of other institutions can just as readily benefit from integrating TOPR entries into their work as enhancements to existing faculty development strategies. TOPR is freely available online under the terms of a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 unported license at http://topr.online.ucf.edu.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

The University of Central Florida (UCF) is one of the fastest-growing universities in the country, currently ranked as the second-largest public institution in the US with approximately 60,000 students. To meet students’ needs, over 30% of the university's student credit hours are generated by online and blended courses and nearly three-fourths of all UCF students take one or more online courses every year. As a result, the need for faculty development for online teaching has been increasing in recent years. The Center for Distributed Learning (CDL) at UCF provides a variety of faculty development offerings to meet these needs, including semester-long training programs, webinars, individual instructional design consultations, self-directed learning objects and others. It is a challenge to keep the professional development materials updated and streamlined. Further, as the number of individual faculty teaching online and blended courses at UCF and the associated number of instructional designers serving them has grown, it has been challenging to identify and disseminate emergent effective teaching practices. One initiative, the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR), is an effort to solve these challenges: http://topr.online.ucf.edu.

The Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) is a public resource for online faculty and instructional designers seeking inspiration from online teaching strategies that have proven successful for others. We at UCF took the learning practices that we endorsed to our faculty member in our professional programs and featured them on TOPR. These strategies get updated by collaborating contributors on a regular basis and we link to these strategies in our faculty development programs. TOPR has also become a handy resource for UCF's instructional designers to use in individual consultations with faculty or email responses. After instructors hear about TOPR, they save the resource as one of their favorite bookmarks and come back to these strategies when they need new ideas for online teaching.

In the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR), each entry describes a strategy drawn from the pedagogical practice of online teaching faculty, depicts this strategy with artifacts from actual courses, and is aligned with findings from research or professional practice literature. Emphasis is placed upon practices that are impactful and replicable. TOPR entries are tagged with relevant keywords to aid discovery of relevant content. Additionally, site visitors may also find entries by searching or by browsing a topical index. The index of published teaching practices from TOPR is available at: http://topr.online.ucf.edu/index.php/Pedagogical_Practice.

The Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) is offered within a wiki which makes contribution and collaboration very easy, and all entries are provided as open resources under the terms of a Creative Commons license. Thus, faculty development programs, instructional designers, and faculty from other institutions can readily adopt and adapt TOPR entries for their needs.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Specific entries from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) are linked to from within UCF’s internal faculty development materials (e.g., LMS-based materials for UCF’s award-winning IDL6543 faculty development course) and external resources (e.g., the publicly accessible http://BlendedLearningToolkit.org site presented by UCF and the American Association of State Colleges and Universities). UCF instructional designers report sharing resources from TOPR routinely in consultations with teaching faculty. Anecdotally, some individual instructors have noted consulting TOPR for ideas. However, it is perhaps more telling to look at some of the evidence that has emerged outside of the UCF context.

The Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR) was presented to a national audience for the first time at the 2011 Sloan-C ALN Conference. The theoretical underpinning and development background were presented in that presentation and may be reviewed at: http://ofcoursesonline.com/?p=132. Since then, promotion of TOPR has continued, and an editorial board comprised of leaders in online and blended learning from the US and Canada has been formed. (See http://topr.online.ucf.edu/index.php/Board.) The following evidence of TOPR use has emerged since that time.

While the exact number of institutions and individual faculty connecting to TOPR is infeasible to determine, it is clear that TOPR is proving useful beyond UCF. For instance, some other institutions include links to TOPR in their online resources. (See http://www.wabashcenter.wabash.edu/resources/teach-web-result.aspx?pid=3..., http://teach.granite.edu/?p=8983, and http://edtech.uvic.ca/edci335/wiki.) The statistic page for one custom url for one TOPR entry reveals that this entry has been accessed hundreds of times from multiple countries. (See https://bitly.com/discussion_rubrics+.) The easily citable TOPR entries have even appeared in research articles (e.g., http://www.westga.edu/~distance/ojdla/winter154/eskey_schulte154.html) and at least one dissertation (i.e., http://ufdcimages.uflib.ufl.edu/UF/E0/04/43/67/00001/JOHNSON_M.pdf).

As of August 2013, the most popular of the 33 public TOPR entries (e.g., related to discussion rubrics, social networking, and discussion prompts) have each received tens of thousands of page views. (See http://topr.online.ucf.edu/index.php/Special:Statistics.)

The evidence above would seem to suggest that the practice of leveraging the online teaching practices codified in TOPR for use in faculty development materials, instructional designer consultations, or individual instructor inquiry is a practice that is both replicable and potentially effective in supporting the Sloan-C pillars.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Integrating practices from the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR):
1) Enables scale by allowing more online instructors and instructional designers to learn about effective online strategies.

2) Increases access by providing an open access online compendium for faculty development. Other institutions can link to TOPR in their professional development programs; instructional designers can recommend strategies to instructors with concrete examples; instructors can also use TOPR as a just-in-time resource whenever they need new strategies for their classroom.

3) Improves faculty satisfaction by providing faculty with open access to professional development resources that they can use in their daily classroom teaching. Since each strategy includes a detailed description and artifacts to support how the strategy is used in real classes, instructors can easily replicate these strategies in their own teaching.

4) Improves learning effectiveness by providing instructors with effective online strategies that are supported by literature.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

There are no extraordinary equipment costs associated with this practice. UCF maintains the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository (TOPR). Contributors offer entries under the terms of a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA 3.0 unported license. Other institutions, instructional designers, and instructors can use TOPR with computer and internet access.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Costs associated with replicating this practice are negligible and equate to the opportunity costs of one's time in searching for practices of relevance within the Teaching Online Pedagogical Repository web site and applying them to one's work.

References, supporting documents: 

See attached and the links included within the evidence section.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Kelvin Thompson, Ed.D.
Email this contact: 
kelvin@ucf.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Baiyun Chen, Ph.D.
Email contact 2: 
baiyun.chen@ucf.edu
Award Winner: 
2013 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Collection: 
Student-Generated Content
Author Information
Author(s): 
Allison P. Selby
Author(s): 
Julie Frieswyk
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Kaplan University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

A virtual internship program forged international connections between a Peace Corps volunteer, a faculty member and students at Kaplan University, School of Information Technology. Virtual internships and international partnerships provide high-impact experiential learning opportunities for students while providing means for non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to build capacity and cultural bridges. This type of program allows non-traditional adult students in particular to maintain their family responsibilities and to continue their full time jobs while working on projects overseas in an online capacity. This program has led to increased student confidence in their skillsets as they continued to develop their assigned projects for the NGO. They also gained exposure to cultural diversity and international collaboration atypical of your average IT class.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Project iNext exemplified an institutional partnership between Kaplan University, Information Technology School and a Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV), Julie Frieswyk. Julie reached out to Kaplan University on behalf of her partner non-governmental organization (NGO), Pro-Business Nord (PBN), located in the Republic of Moldova. PBN is directly funded by United States Agency for International Development (USAID). One of the key goals of PBN was to develop a new social enterprise model for a sustainable Women Career Development Program in the northern part of Moldova.

The virtual internship program of Kaplan University was implemented to connect Information Technology students with the NGO. The partnership goals were to gain expert advisory in updating the older versions of their NGO website, testing server security and help to develop a new website for PBN’s new social enterprise, ProBizNord, a regional Business Resource Center.

The partnership with Pro-Business Nord (PBN) in Moldova was led by Allison Selby, Kaplan Information Technology Faculty and Julie Frieswyk, Peace Corps Volunteer. Frieswyk ensured the internship project goals were in alignment with the priorities of PBN and Peace Corp goals. Selby ensured the weekly outcomes were being met by the students and the students were receiving the necessary assets to complete their assigned tasks. This partnership was also important for the very practical concern of language translation. While the PBN team did speak English well, Frieswyk was also able to translate Russian to English as necessary.
The project provided excellent opportunities for students to apply their knowledge, skills and abilities in an authentic context. They were exposed to negotiating schedules, timeframes, project outcomes and clearly communicating the assets needed to progress to subsequent stages of the project. Students were able to participate in conversations that quickly became a mix of Russian and English, spanning multiple time zones, and developing materials for people they discovered they had much in common with. The exposure to cultural diversity, businesses and lifestyles was greatly appreciated by the students.

At the end of the ten week experience, two students exceeded expectations and one student did not perform per expectations. Two fully functional websites were developed and met the requirements of PBN. The students were able to apply new skills for the site development and learned the process of client interaction, requests for revisions and practiced final presentation skills. The third project involved conducting security forensics, which were never fully completed. Many factors could be attributed to this outcome. Conducting security forensics as a team may be more effective, having a mentor with strong expertise and practice in forensics would be an asset and providing projections of some of the possible testing outcomes would have provided a stronger set of parameters for experimentation. The fact that one of these projects was not wholly successful was actually just as valuable to us as we continued to evaluate the program.

The overall outcome included engaged students with opportunities to gain authentic work experience and international exposure. PBN received considerable student-conducted training with the platform Wordpress, marketing skills including Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and practice in project planning and implementation. The Moldovan NGO gained exposure to more skills and up-to-date technology, building their own capacity, while continuing building cultural bridges through their experience with the Peace Corps. They also became co-educators of the students (Holland, 1997), while the students learned how to professionally interact, accept constructive criticism, and design for the clients’ aesthetic taste rather than their own.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

This international partnership resulted in a small sampling of student participation and as such, my evidence is largely anecdotal and based upon student and NGO team feedback. The students remarked this was a unique international opportunity to learn the process of web development for clients, working together with international clients reviewing risks and suggestions, and to experience real-world project management. The NGO loved to be a part of something innovative and to learn more about our school system. The skills transfer and global understanding were repeated themes that appeared in the feedback and discussions.

As a high-impact experiential activity, the student and NGO partnership provides a type of global community based opportunity for the students’ worldview and perception to transform (Cress, 2004). The NGO benefits from the partnership by gaining access to resources and networks (Ferman & Hill, 2004) while collaborating with the students to build social change. The ‘mutually beneficial agenda’ (Holland, 1997), collaborative effort and shared gains of knowledge and practice becomes a transformative relationship (Bushouse, 2005), which in turn provides a sense of purpose to motivate student engagement and learning (Colby & Sulivan, 2009).

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

It relates to pillars due to the learning gains made by the students as evidenced by implementing and customizing the Wordpress platform, participating in professional dialogues with the partners, demonstrating project management skills to stay on task, and interacting with a culturally diverse team. The student survey feedback stated this experience was not something they could experience in a typical classroom and they gained confidence and increased abilities throughout the process. They completed the program knowing they did possess professional skills in an authentic context.

Virtual internship partnerships could involve studies on social entrepreneurship, micro-finance, marketing, business administration and design. The virtual internships creates problem-solving activities with the potential to result in real-world skills such as collaboration for problem-solving, technology proficiency, presentation skills, and a greater appreciation for intercultural diversity (Humphreys, 2009). This opportunity provides students with an international experience who may otherwise be limited by finances, work responsibilities, family obligations or physical limitations. In addition, there is a considerable cost-savings when compared to studying abroad for the same amount of time. A virtual internship program incurs regular tuition fees, no additional costs are required by the student.
Students enjoyed the experience overall and loved the new addition to their resume and credentials. We learned a lot about how to support the students more efficiently. This type of project benefits tremendously by considerable advanced preparatory stages. Using project charters to outline weekly outcomes and deliverables is very important. Defining the exact scope of the deliverables, what assets may be needed and the key stakeholders were all important topics to clarify. Synchronous weekly team meetings using Skype with the clients gave the students a vested interest and motivation to succeed. And having the students train the clients for site maintenance gave them ownership of the process and pride in their proof of success. It was exciting, engaging, and could definitely be accomplished by other institutions with great success.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

The only aspect completely necessary is an internet connection and email. In our program, the students also used Captivate for creating videos to present the finished products and instructional materials for the clients. Jing would be a reasonable free alternative for short presentations under five minutes. The students also used Wordpress and installed the framework on the client server. The students used free themes for both Wordpress sites.

All other tools enhance the experience and few have costs associated with them. We recommend the following:

• Synchronous tools: Adobe Connect, Google Hangouts, Google chats, Skype
• Asynchronous tools: email, discussion board in LMS
• Reflective tools: Blog, journals, status reports

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

The only additional cost would be optional and would involve the use of Adobe Connect. All other resources were open source and we did not incur additional costs using them. The client already had server space and the students used free Wordpress themes. There was essentially no budget for the site so our costs were very minimal for this project.

References, supporting documents: 

Bushouse, B. K. (2005). Community Nonprofit Organizations and Service-Learning: Resource Constraints to Building Partnerships with Universities. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 32-40.
Colby, A., & Sulivan, W. M. (2009). Strengthening the foundations of students’ excellence, integrity, and social contribution. Liberal Education, 22-29.
Cress, C. M. (2004). Critical thinking development in service-learning activities: Pedagogical implications for critical being and action. Inquiry: Critical Thinking Across the Disciplines, 87-93.
Cuban, S., & Anderson, J. B. (2007). Where’s the Justice in Service-Learning? InstitutionalizingService-Learning from a Social Justice Perspectiveat a Jesuit University. Equity & Excellence in Education, 144-155.
Ferman, B., & Hill, T. L. (2004). The challenges of agenda conflict in higher-education-community research partnerships: Views from the community side. Journal of Urban Affairs, 241-257.
Holland, B. (1997). Analyzing institutional commitment to service: A model of key organizational factors. Michigan Journal of Community Service Learning, 30-41.
Humphreys, D. (2009). College outcomes for work, life,and citizenship: Can we really do it all? Liberal Education, 14-21.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Allison Selby
Email this contact: 
aselby@kaplan.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Julie Frieswyk
Email contact 2: 
juliefrieswyk@gmail.com
Author Information
Author(s): 
Carol A. McQuiggan, D.Ed., Manager & Senior Instructional Designer, Penn State Harrisburg
Author(s): 
Laurence B. Boggess, Ph.D., Director of Faculty Development and Support, World Campus/Academic Outreach
Author(s): 
Brett Bixler, Ph.D., Lead Instructional Designer, IT Training Services
Author(s): 
Wendy Mahan, Ph.D., Senior Instructional Designer, The College of Health and Human Development
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
The Pennsylvania State University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

The Faculty/Staff Engagement and Professional Development subcommittee is composed of faculty, faculty developers, and learning designers from throughout the University, representing multiple colleges, campuses, and support units. They collaboratively identify, complete, and disseminate projects that have the potential to promote excellence in online teaching and learning, to increase faculty interest in online teaching activities, and to pursue collaborative endeavors within and outside the university to continue to build a strong foundation for faculty engagement in online teaching. This unique, cross-campus, interdisciplinary, and multi-unit approach provides multiple perspectives and addresses common needs in providing quality online teaching and learning experiences.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

The Faculty/Staff Engagement and Professional Development subcommittee sits within a Penn State Online structure composed of the Penn State Online Steering Committee and the Penn State Online Coordinating Council. Understanding the structure is important to putting this effective practice into the context of a large multi-campus university, while also understanding that this practice could be implemented in an institution of any size.

The Penn State Online Steering Committee serves as the governing body for Penn State Online, reporting to the Provost. The Steering Committee has strategic leadership responsibility for Penn State Online, serves as the policy board for the e-Learning Cooperative and the World Campus, and as the governing board for the Penn State Online Coordinating Council, through which it encourages effective cross-unit coordination of several key functions. These key functions include the effective use of course development resources, professional development, establishment of standards, and innovation and research.

The Penn State Online Coordinating Council reports to the Steering Committee. It includes representatives of the key central University units involved in e-learning—Teaching and Learning with Technology, Undergraduate Programs, University Libraries, and the World Campus—and college-based e-learning development and support units. It meets bimonthly to develop University-wide best practices, standards, and procedures that will facilitate the growth of high-quality e-learning at Penn State.

The Coordinating Council is responsible for identifying opportunities for collaboration, promoting the effective coordination of resources across organizational units to achieve synergy and create capacity to address strategic priorities, and developing common standards to guide work across units. In some cases, the Council responds to requests from the Steering Committee; in other instances, the Council identifies issues and proposes remedies to the Steering Committee; and in other situations, the Council addresses operational issues and simply reports the results to the Steering Committee.

The Faculty/Staff Engagement and Professional Development subcommittee reports to the Coordinating Council at its bimonthly meetings. Its completely volunteer membership of faculty, faculty developers, and learning designers, includes representation from six campuses, nine colleges, and three support units, and all have some responsibility for and/or interest in online teaching and learning. It is co-chaired by the director of World Campus Faculty Development, maintaining a direct relationship with Penn State’s online campus.

Project ideas trickle down from the Steering Committee and the Coordinating Council, and also trickle up from the needs and practices of the subcommittee members and the faculty and administrators with whom they work. Using a team approach, the projects are designed for wide use and adaptability across the University and beyond.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Resources developed by the Faculty/Staff Engagement and Professional Development subcommittee include the Penn State Quality Assurance e-Learning Design Standards, Hiring Guidelines for Online Program Lead Faculty, Online Course Authors, and Online Course Instructors, the Faculty Self-Assessment for Online Teaching, Peer Review for Hybrid Courses, and Faculty Competencies for Online Teaching. All are accessed via the Weblearning site (http://weblearning.psu.edu), and selecting the “Resources” tab for “Penn State Online Resources” (http://weblearning.psu.edu/resources/penn-state-online-resources/).

Penn State Online has adopted the Quality Assurance e-Learning Design Standards (http://weblearning.psu.edu/resources/penn-state-online-resources/quality...), providing a measure of quality assurance for online courses in order to best serve the e-learning needs of our students. For each of the twelve standards there is a link to a short description of the standard, a list of the required evidence that the standard has been met, suggested best practices, and resources to learn more.

The Hiring Guidelines (http://weblearning.psu.edu/resources/penn-state-online-resources/hiring-...) are used to help guide the hiring process for online program lead faculty, course authors, and course instructors. The subcommittee is currently using these guidelines to suggest interview questions to accompany each guideline document in the near future.

The Faculty Self-Assessment for Online Teaching (https://weblearning.psu.edu/FacultySelfAssessment/) tool was packaged as open source and licensed with Creative Commons in order to share as broadly as possible. The tool was the result of a literature review, focus group input, and usability testing, and was vetted at a well-attended Sloan-C Conference presentation. To date, the tool has been shared with over thirty colleagues representing academies, community colleges, state colleges, and universities throughout the United States. It has also been shared with three doctoral students for potential use in their dissertations. We are hoping that all of our tools can be shared as broadly.

The Faculty Competencies for Online Teaching (http://weblearning.psu.edu/resources/penn-state-online-resources/faculty...) were derived from research conducted by a team at Penn State’s World Campus, which the subcommittee used to develop a document detailing those competencies alongside additional guidelines, examples, and best practices. They provide faculty and administrators with a better understanding of the instructional requirements of online teaching.

The Peer Review for Hybrid Courses (https://www.e-education.psu.edu/facdev/hybridpeerreview) is based on the “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education,” a summary of fifty years of higher education research that addressed good teaching and learning practices. This process was designed, implemented, and assessed by the subcommittee based on a need shared by the campus learning designers and faculty.

The Web Learning @ Penn State (http://weblearning.psu.edu) site continues to evolve and grow, with a newly revised site just launched on August 29th. A member of the Faculty/Staff Engagement and Professional Development subcommittee is a contact for each of the site’s webpages.

Together, these resources, collaboratively designed and shared broadly, have provided access to tools that increase the quality of our online courses. They identify and share best practices for online teaching and learning, identify and share competencies for online teaching success, and establish and share guidelines for creating quality online courses and hiring qualified instructors.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Learning Effectiveness: The effective practices supported by the subcommittee in the area of learning effectiveness are most evident in the Faculty Self-Assessment for Online Teaching, which stresses the skills needed by online instructors to be effective online teachers. This will be enhanced when the redesign of the tool is completed to align with the Faculty Competencies for Online Teaching. The Competencies also provide an opportunity for faculty professional development, as do the Peer Review tools. Two current projects, the New Instructor Orientation to Online Teaching Checklist, and the New Faculty Manual, will contribute to faculty development and the core elements of quality online learning.

Scale: Some of our newest tools contribute to the scale pillar. The Checklist for Administrator Review and Approval of Online Courses and the Course Revision Worksheet both contribute to continuous improvement. The Checklist for Administrator Review builds administrative awareness of the scope of faculty authoring of online courses, and how new courses fit within a program of study. It also addresses the need for a course to not be dependent upon one faculty member to teach, addressing the need for faculty capacity. The Course Revision Worksheet creates more awareness as to the personnel who need to be involved in a revision, and the overall scope of work required.

Access: The “Resources” (http://weblearning.psu.edu/resources/penn-state-online-resources/) the Faculty/Staff Engagement and Professional Development subcommittee have built and provided on the Web Learning @ Penn State (http://weblearning.psu.edu) site provides the Penn State University community access to resources that promote best practices in online learning and sets standards for excellence in hiring online faculty. Because it is a public site, access is also provided more broadly beyond the University. By building and providing these tools broadly, all e-learning design units at Penn State have access to the same tools which overlap in their communication of quality standards, providing students with online courses that are designed with the same quality framework. We hope to learn more about how these units are using these tools and, even more important, learn how they are impacting design considerations. Then we would like to learn how those design considerations are impacting student learning and their access to quality online courses.

Faculty Satisfaction: Our subcommittee and the broader committee structure we are nested in serves the “support” and “institutional study/research” aspects of the institutional factors related to faculty satisfaction. We provide all of the institutional supports in a unique, cross-campus, interdisciplinary, and multi-unit approach. We provide opportunities for innovation by asking online instructors to engage in self-improvement. As more and more instructors teach online and more administrators are responsible for hiring and developing them, we need a way to ensure self-learners have optimal materials at their disposal for just-in-time learning. The tools we create and disseminate do this.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

There is no special equipment necessary to implement this Effective Practice. The Faculty Engagement subcommittee uses the resources already available within their various units. The Web Learning @ Penn State (http://weblearning.psu.edu) site is used for broad dissemination.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

There are no direct costs associated with this practice. The indirect costs are the time the subcommittee members spend on specific projects, but they are offset by the opportunities they provide for their own professional development and by the tools they create that afford new efficiencies and quality processes. No one person or unit could have created these tools alone, but by collaborating across units, common needs are being met with resounding success.

References, supporting documents: 

As the transition is made to our newly designed website (http://weblearning.psu.edu), we plan to gather web analytics on its traffic. We are also planning to survey the various Penn State eLearning design units as to their use of the various tools, both to increase awareness and to learn of implementations. Within implementations, we hope to dig more deeply to learn about the effectiveness and transformative possibilities of the various tools. If possible, we would even like to link design and teaching/learning decisions made based on tool use, and improvements in student learning. We will identify research partners and submit proposals to Penn State’s Center for Online Innovation in Learning (COIL).

A number of our tools support and/or are aligned with the research-based "Competencies for Online Teaching Success" (http://sites.psu.edu/wcfacdev/2013/05/15/competencies-for-online-teachin...).

Other Comments: 

New projects marinate in the subcommittee and extend into the University and beyond just as the Faculty Self-Assessment for Online Teaching tool did. This is additional evidence that the subcommittee has a proven track record of innovation, honing to best practices, and then generous dissemination - traits Sloan-C supports.

Projects that have been completed and will be added to the Web Learning site very soon:
1. The Checklist for Administrator Review and Approval of Online Courses was created to guide an administrator through an initial review of an online course that has been developed by a faculty member from their unit in collaboration with a learning designer. It is yet another tool to ensure quality review; in this case, by program administrators. It gives the administrators a checklist of items to review, and a feedback loop with the learning designer and faculty author.
2. The Course Revision Worksheet is intended for use by course development teams to communicate the reasons for a course revision, the specific course items in need of revision, the percentage of revision needed for each course item, the personnel who need to be involved in those revisions, and the total percentage of effort that will be required. This information can then be used to assign the appropriate resources to the course revision project. This is also a learning document in that it creates an awareness of the needs for revision and the effort required by a potential team of people.

Our work continues on these current projects:
1. Asteria - This will be a decision support tool for faculty to use to match pedagogical purpose with an educational technology. Two approaches for use are planned. Users may approach this tool with an unfocused search in which they simply want to explore different tools. There will also be a focused approach available in which faculty who know what they want to do pedagogically can search for the appropriate tool. The intent is to have the focus on the user’s pedagogical purpose, and not be tool-driven.
2. An update of the Faculty Self-Assessment for Online Teaching tool to align with the Faculty Competencies for Online Teaching - The current tool will be revised to align with the Faculty Competencies for Online Teaching.
3. New Instructor Orientation to Online Teaching Checklist - A number of Penn State’s eLearning units have a new instructor orientation. They are comparing their orientations in order to develop a checklist of core elements to share as a basis for different units to use and adapt for their own use. This will also be able to be used for new units developing their own orientation. The checklist end users will most likely be learning designers and faculty developers.
4. New Faculty Manual - The Faculty Manual will provide faculty new to online teaching with a comprehensive manual to which they can refer as they are teaching online. The team will use the World Campus faculty manual to create a common manual for faculty that can be adapted by individual units.
5. Online Mentoring Program Pilot - Through a partnership with the Schreyer Institute for Teaching Excellence, a mentoring program is being developed to provide instructional support for those teaching online, and to create opportunities for networking with others teaching online. They are reading about the Community of Mentoring practices, and are putting a research lens on the project as they plan to move forward.
6. New Online Faculty Interview Questions based on the Hiring Guidelines - This will be a logical companion piece to the Hiring Guidelines already available on the Web Learning site.
7. Best Practices Examples - Listening to faculty needs, the subcommittee is collecting examples of best practices (instructor introduction, discussion rubric, team project structure, various learning activities, providing effective feedback, flipped classroom design, etc.) and plans to host them on the Web Learning site for all to access and use.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Carol A. McQuiggan
Email this contact: 
cam240@psu.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Larry Boggess
Email contact 2: 
lbb150@psu.edu
Award Winner: 
2013 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Author(s): 
Len A. Bogner, Ed.D.
Author(s): 
Bucky J. Dodd, Ph.D.
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of Central Oklahoma
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

The Blended Education Collaborative was started in the fall semester of 2011 as a one-year project for the Academic Affairs Leadership Fellows (AALF) program at the University of Central Oklahoma (UCO). The original scope of the Blended Education Collaborative was to look at the effectiveness of courses offered through the Flex-Ed program at UCO, which was a reinvention of Interactive Video Education courses and Correspondence courses. The collaborative has since developed and evolved into an innovative systems-based design process, cooperating with the Center for eLearning and Continuing Education (CeCE) at UCO. It looks into how online courses and Flex-Ed courses are purposely designed to bring humanness and flexibility in learning into the online and distance learning environment.

Blended Education (BE) is the intentional design process of planning instructional components and connections in ways that enhance flexibility and “humanness” in the learning process (Dodd & Bogner, 2013). Too often, online and distance education courses fail to support the human connections needed to support effective learning processes. In many conversations, technology is acknowledged as the reason for this challenge. BE uses systems-based design thinking to leverage technology in ways that enhance the human-centered nature of learning while increasing learners’ flexibility to personalize their learning environment to how they learn best.

During the 2012-13 school year at UCO, faculty and CeCE conducted research to examine student satisfaction with the intentional designs of BE. In the research project BE courses used multiple delivery formats such as online, interactive video, classroom, and self-paced online content to create an interconnected, multi-modal learning environment. A UCO approved online course with an interactive video component offered at a consistent time, in a university classroom, each week produced the BE format.

Results from the research data are used throughout this document as evidence of learning effectiveness, access, faculty satisfaction, and student satisfaction.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Blended Education is a systems-based design process created at UCO as a way to combine multiple delivery formats and strategies in ways that enhance learners’ flexibility and “humanness” in the learning process. Humanness describes the authenticity that exists between people within distributed learning environments. BE is designed to promote this authenticity by providing the types of communication and interactions that are supportive of dialogue in learning processes.

At the core of BE is the Blended Education Framework (see http://www.uco.edu/cece/BlendedEducation/BlendedLearningFramework_4-10-0...). This framework identifies the components and connections that are frequently present in the higher education learning environments at UCO and outlines ways they may be connected together to add flexibility and personalization for learners and faculty.

The BE framework is used as a visual guide to plan and design principles to develop online and distance learning environments. It is also used to create consistency in programs and repeatability in planning and designing other courses.

At UCO, this model was used to develop a series for teacher education courses. The student population was adult students who needed flexibility to attend and access educational opportunity. Students enrolled in an interactive video course were given the choice to attend via video, attend in a physical classroom, or complete the course online. Students enrolled in the same course offered in a self-paced online format were also encouraged to connect using a live video feed or review session recordings. A Blended Education Resource Center was created in the courses to direct students to a variety of learning content and student support services. Finally, a learning “deed” (see http://www.uco.edu/cece/BlendedEducation/BlendedEducationDeed_example.pdf) was created and used to direct students on the “rules” for learning in a Blended Education environment.

The positive results from the BE research have lead to two interesting developments. First, the University and researchers have filed for a trademark on a Blended Education Logo (see http://www.uco.edu/cece/BlendedEducation/ED_gs_h-FW.png). Second was CeCE sponsoring the “Blended Education Innovation Institute” in the summer of 2013 which was designed as a way to disseminate information on BE and to create new ideas and perspectives on the implementation of Blended Education techniques.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Research on student satisfaction with the BE format was conducted over the 2012-13 academic year. The research invited students who were enrolled in BE courses (7 courses in total) to complete an online questionnaire at the end of their course. Note: the BE courses were conducted in an 8 week block format.

The questionnaire addressed demographic information and perceptions about the students’ experience with Blended Education. Students reported a high satisfaction and appreciation for the flexibility and dialogue produced through the Blended Education format.

Research Evidence of Effectiveness:

-95% of students either agreed or strongly agreed that BE made them feel connected to the professor in the courses.
-92% of students indicated that they were either hopeful or curious about BE.
-92% of student either agreed or strongly agreed that BE provided opportunities to solve problems related to the course topic.
-89% of student either agreed or strongly agreed that BE provided opportunities to relate the course topic to their past experiences.
-88% of student either agreed or strongly agreed that BE helped them understand why the course topics were important.
-87% of student either agreed or strongly agreed that BE motivated them to continue learning about the course topic.
-85% of students either agreed or strongly agreed that BE gave them the opportunity to apply what they had learned in the course.
-80% of student either agreed or strongly agreed that BE was similar learning experience to face-to-face courses.
-64% of students cited “Interactions with my professor” as the most helpful aspect of BE.

When asked, “What was the most effective aspect of the blended education course?” answers included:

-“Being able to ask questions and listen to teacher live while others asked questions.”
-“Being able to discuss the topics with the instructor and classmates every week.”
-“Being able to interact in real time with the rest of the students and the professor.”
-“Being able to interact with professor and other distance-learning students via Internet video feed.”
-“Being able to work at my own pace and the teacher was available when I needed him.”
-“Being able to work ahead or go to class and get instruction from the professor.”
-“Feedback from the other students and the instructor.”
-“Finding the feelings and experiences of other teachers in the class.”
-“Flexibility to access course materials at any time, view progress, interact with instructor and other students when necessary.”
-“Get to interact with the instructor and work at home at the same time.”
-“I believe it's very conducive to people that have to work and take classes. I like the different aspects of learning.”
-“I could, at approx. 90 miles away, interact with the instructor and the class as if I were there.”
-“I like that I can have access to work ahead and if I need to miss class I still have all the information!”
-“I like the fact that we can interact if we want but also if we need to miss that we are not missing important information because we can still access everything online!”
-“I loved the interaction with fellow instructors across the state. It was great to hear other thoughts and opinions from different classroom experiences.”
-“I think the most effective aspect of this blended education course was being able to go to the class and talk to the instructor even though the class was on the computer.”
-“I was able to correspond with other students about the topics of the course.”
-“It helped me to learn more about technology, and it also alleviated my preconceived ideas of how interactive and online instruction would work. I view them in a more positive manner now.”
-“Opportunity to learn in class and online.”
-“That the material pertains directly to the course!”
-“The discussions.”
-“The most effective aspect of this blended course was being able to interact via webcam.”
-“This blends different types of learning, which is actually what our class is about. Most people don’t learn the same way; I think that’s the beauty of this class. It should appeal to everyone’s learning styles at some point.”

When asked, “How did this [BE] course contribute to or hinder your learning experience?” student answers included:

-“Again, it has helped me to not be so afraid of new technological methods of experiencing a learning environment. Nothing really stands out as a hindrance.”
-“Contributed greatly! Help me better understand learning styles of different people.”
-“Contributed in every way to my learning, I can connect with professor and students. I feel this way has enabled me to spend more time in research and understanding the lessons and time to do assignments.”
-“Delivery of relevant information in a readily accessible way, presented in a manner that was easily understood.”
-“Did not hinder my learning process, helped manage my time efficiently.”
-“Gave me a great avenue to learn while working.”
-“I liked the time to reflect between meeting and hearing a lot of other people opinions I think the video distance made it a little easier to talk.”
-“I would not have been able to make the drive every week and spend the extra gas money or take the class at the time it was scheduled.”
-“It allowed me to earn a credit I needed without me having to take half a day of class and drive time from my hectic schedule.”
-“It was catered to my need of working online rather than attending class every week.”

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

From the five pillars perspectives, Blended Education aims to optimize access through increasing flexibility and personalization of learning. Faculty satisfaction is addressed by allowing learning experiences to reflect the context needed to promote authentic learning. Learning effectiveness is influenced by encouraging students to match their learning experience with how they like to learn best. Blended Education allows for scaling because more students can be served and efficiencies gained through the systems-based design thinking that is required to draw connections between various delivery formats. Student satisfaction is achieved by allowing students needed flexibility and freedom to become more self-regulated learners and better connect the learning experience with their unique and personalized context.

The research conducted shows qualitative evidence of the 5 pillars within the Sloan-C Quality Framework.

Learning Effectiveness: Even though the research did not examine performance, anecdotal evidence suggested that students who participated in BE course offerings did not did show a reduction in final grades compared to students completing the course as a face-to-face course or as an online only course. However, the research would indicate that there was a great sense of student satisfaction in completing a course in the BE format. (See “Evidence of Effectiveness”)

Scale (Cost Effectiveness and Commitment): The cost to implement BE at UCO was relatively low because of the existing technology infrastructure offered to the university by both the IT department and CeCE. The BE Collaborative had reviewed and analyzed the technological options for Flex-Ed at the university and developed a plan for instructional design to blend the technologies provided. The “Blended Education Innovation Institute” has a module which looks at existing school technology to determine implementation. (See “Estimate the probable costs associated with this Practice”)

Access: BE provides students with all of the course content online. If a student understands their learning style and feels comfortable they can successfully complete the BE course only utilizing the online content. Within the online content a student will have an instructor video with sets the stage for what is expected within a given learning module. The student also has access to the classroom recording where the topic or subject of the model was discussed in a group setting. Both of these techniques increase the humanness between the student and the instructor and the student to their peers.
When asked, “How did this [BE] course contribute to or hinder your learning experience?” student answers included:

-“Being able to work from home helped tremendously.”
-“Gave me a great avenue to learn while working.”
-“It allowed me to use my time wisely.”
-“It contributed with convenience.”
-“It has greatly contributed to my education. I probably would not have done this course if I had to travel to Edmond.”
-“The biggest contributor to my learning experience was that not having to travel gave me more time for reading, homework and reviewing the previous weeks video. And believe me, with work and family, I need every extra second I can get.”
-“Working at my own pace online throughout each week and also connecting through jabber helped me finish this course effectively.”

When asked, “Explain why you selected the delivery methods chosen…?” student answers included:
-“I live 45 mins away, and also have a brand new baby, so completing the course online and watching the class video was better for me. I am thankful that was an option.”
-“Class set up and convince.”
-“Convenience”
-“Convenience. Did not want to drive 4 hours round trip to UCO.”
-“Convenience, while still allowing for instructor led lecture and discussion.”
-“I can complete part of the course from the IEV room at my workplace, and complete other parts at home.”
-“I attend class and complete homework online.”
-“I chose this method of delivery because I live so far from the campus. It was very convenient for me with my busy work schedule and kids, I am very grateful to have had this option.”
-“I did my assignments online and we had class discussions once a week.”
-“I gain most useful information in the classroom listening from other teachers on the subject. I do the work online. Short videos explaining the module. It's self-paced for one week.”
-“I have a family to take care of and I am a stay at home mom so working from home at my own pace is easiest for me.”
-“I like it this way to go at my own pace.”
-“I spent some time reading and things online, but the majority of time spent was done through interactive video / distance learning.”
-“I used the interactive video mostly to alleviate the travel time. Used the online participation because of scheduling conflicts and couldn't be at campus or where the interactive video was available.”
-“Interactive is more convenient for me and my schedule”
-“The course was very flexible and worked with my schedule very well. I liked this method of teaching.”

Faculty Satisfaction: From a faculty perspective BE provided a great sense of satisfaction. Although I have taught online courses for 9 years at two different universities I have always felt a sense of unease within the learning environment. Through some self-reflection I realized that the difficulty was in creating the instructor to student relationships that was present in a face-to-face courses. BE allows me to have face-to-face conversations with students, either through the classroom, through IVE or Jabber, or even through the instructor and classroom recordings. I can have the “humanness” that BE offers from the faculty perspective. Using BE, my students are more then names and numbers, they are faces, voices, and personalities.

Student Satisfaction: From both the quantitative and qualitative data collected in the research it would indicate that there was student satisfaction in the BE format.

When asked to “Explain your current attitude [to BE]?” student answers included:

-“I enjoy being able to interact with the instructor during class time.”
-“I am very hopeful to what I have been learning and able to apply it to my career.”
-“I love teaching, and this kind of course leaves you wanting more.”
-“I love the material in the course, even though I am not a current teacher I enjoy hearing it from their perspective.”
-“I think it's great. I understand everything, and if I don't I can ask my professor in the interactive video section. He answers all of my questions just as if I were physically there. We also get to have an open discussion with others attending the class and also those who are beamed in via webcam. I think all classes should have this option. You would have more adults in the education system, and there would be some intergenerational dialog.”
-“I think this is a great way to learn, this opens up a type of learning that allows a lot more people to take classes that would otherwise not be able to.”
-“I was unsure of this type of classroom setup originally, however, I have experienced the accommodating factors it offers a student. I see this as a very workable type setup, because of the adaptability it provides.”
-“The format of the online course is easy to follow, allows students to work at their own pace, and provides live video of instructor and other students, as well as recorded lecture from instructor and previous classes to review at any time. I'm not sure how an online class could be presented better. I have taken online courses in the past, and none of them catered to the student like this one.”
-“This course and its delivery method was perfect for the purpose of taking the Basic 15 courses required by Career-Tech teachers.”
-“This course is presented well with adequate time to complete required components. I'm optimistic to complete the course successfully.”
-“This was my first college course and it was very informative. I got more from it than expected.”

When asked, “What advice would you give to a student taking a blended education course for the first time?” student answers included:

-“Do it.”
-“Do it!! And enjoy it.”
-“Do what works best for you.”
-“Don't get stressed out, and enjoy the flexibility it offers to fit your own personal schedule.”
-“Enjoy it.”
-“Enjoy it. It is interactive but only as interactive as you want to be.”
-“Enjoy!”
-“Have an opened mind.”
-“I would advise them to take it.”
-“I would encourage the student to take blended education courses, because I believe it was and is very useful.”
-“It works very well and everyone is there to help you”
-“Participate and have fun.”
-“Take it rather than a typical classroom setting.”
-“These courses give you time to complete your assignments at your own pace.”

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

The equipment necessary to implement Blended Education will vary from organization to organization; that is why it is suggested that an institution do an environmental scan of their technology to determine a plan for implementation. The BE Innovation Institute has created a module dedicated to looking specifically at the opportunities and needs that an institution would have to offer BE.

At UCO we were fortunate to have a good technological backbone in place. In fact, we had a classroom set up specifically to deliver courses through Interactive Video Courses (IVC). It was through this classroom that we were able to add and utilize other technology to deliver the course live to Oklahoma Technology Centers, High School, and now directly to the students computer or tablet devices. Since starting the BE collaborative, two other classrooms on campus have been converted to allow for interactive video courses.

BE was implemented at UCO within a short amount of time (a semester) by first scheduling the BE courses in the dedicated IVC classroom on campus, Thatcher Hall 310. The BE courses were then submitted to and approved by CeCE for online delivery. Finally the approved online courses were converted to the Self-Paced Online Course (SPOC) format.

The equipment currently used to implement BE at UCO includes the Learning Management Tool (LMS) Desire2Learn, the IVC network including Cisco H.323 conferencing system and Cisco Jabber, and internet based software is being added including Blackboard Collaborate.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Blended Education leverages institution's existing distance education infrastructure; therefore, the costs associated with implementing a BE strategy are minimal above existing resource needs.

The equipment needed to offer BE will continue to change as the technology to deliver the content continues to advance. It is envisioned that an organization wanting to start offering BE courses can do so at a reasonable cost. Using low cost solutions like a web software like Google + or Blackboard Collaborate along with a school’s LMS may provide enough technology to start offering BE courses.

The cost may be a burden in finding resources to help with course design. To build an online course by oneself, is not a preferred method. It is better to work as a team and to have a person whom is familiar with principles of teaching and course development. Perhaps this expertise can come from a school’s Teaching and Learning center, if there is one already in place. Regardless it will take time to develop, coordinate, and pilot test the systems to offer a successful BE course.

References, supporting documents: 

Basics of Blended Education https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=f9ojUzBE2Hk

Blended Education Framework https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=IKBy_vD8h6s

Humanness https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=gtJGl7qpKDU

Connection-Design Model https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=BRtBi4_Z0ro

Dodd, B. J. & Bogner, L. (2013). Blended education: An innovation in transformative learning. Conversation session presented at the 2013 International Conference on Transformative Learning. Edmond, Oklahoma.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Len A. Bogner, Ed.D.
Email this contact: 
lbogner@uco.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Bucky Dodd, Ph. D.
Email contact 2: 
bdodd1@uco.edu
Award Winner: 
2013 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Author(s): 
Greg Ryan
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
College of the North Atlantic
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

What do you get when you combine a group of eager but geographically isolated apprentices, one innovative instructor, and a creative use of technology? A blended learning experience with a 100% success rate! College of the North Atlantic Instructor Greg Ryan has blended multiple learning spaces into one coherent learning environment using high definition videoconferencing equipment, multi‐site synchronized interactive white boards, student response clickers, and a learning management system. By using technology and innovative methods, the instructor has created an engaged class which seamlessly integrates students from two separate locations. Training culmunates in the writing of the Red Seal exam. The pass rate for apprentices in the blended classroom was 100%, versus 66% for apprentices in a traditional classroom environment with the same instructor.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Background

College of the North Atlantic’s School of Industrial Trades provides learners with the skills and knowledge they need to become apprentices and journeypersons in their chosen trade. The Heavy Duty Equipment Technician (HDET) is an Interprovincial Red Seal trade. Graduates can, upon successful completion of their apprenticeship and the Red Seal exam, work as Journeypersons anywhere in Canada. Traditionally, HDET apprentices complete five eight‐week ‘blocks’ of training (totaling 40 weeks), each followed by a mandatory number of hours spent working in their trade. They usually complete their apprenticeship training in three to four years. Apprentices are indenured to a particular employer and paid a specific percentage of the Journeyperson wage rate. Apprentices return to the college on a regular basis to receive further education in their trade while maintaining their employment.

An apprentice learns his or her trade through a combination of (traditionally) classroom‐based technical training and on the job experiential learning, all under the tutelage of a Journeyperson. The Journeyperson, as an expert in the field, actively directs and guides the apprentice in developing the knowledge, attitudes and skills necessary to succeed in the trade.

The HDET Apprenticeship Blended Learning Pilot

The CNA campus in Labrador West does not offer the HDET program, and therefore HDET apprentices in the Labrador West region of the province have had to travel outside the region to complete their blocks of training. These long‐term absences cause personal hardship for apprentices and their families, and hardship for their employers as they struggle to maintain operations without adequate staffing. A 2011 labor market survey showed that approximately 42% of the HDETs employed in Labrador West are apprentices and that more than 18% of positions remain unfilled. Therefore, any movement of existing apprentices out of the area to study, even in an eight‐week block, puts additional strain on an already overtaxed system.

To help alleviate this burden, CNA campuses in Bay St. George and Labrador West, in cooperation with industry, launched a pilot program in October 2012 to deliver a new type of blended apprenticeship training. In this new model, HDET apprentices from Labrador West remain in their community to complete all of their classroom and a portion of their practical training, under the direct supervision of an HDET program instructor at the Bay St. George campus in Stephenville, some 1600 kilometers (1000 miles) away. The Labrador West apprentices receive their training simultaneously with apprentices at the Bay St. George campus.

Apprentices at both campuses and their instructor were brought together via a state‐of‐the‐art blended learning environment which included:

  • A high‐definition two‐way Polycom™ video conferencing unit at each of the two campuses.
  • SMART Board™ interactive whiteboards with Bridgit™ conferencing software to broadcast lectures to up to 25 simultaneous screens, allowing engagement from all students.
  • A high resolution document/imaging camera so remote apprentices in Labrador West could clearly see the heavy duty equipment components being demonstrated by the instructor in Bay St. George.
  • Internet‐enabled “clickers” for student participation and response.
  • A learning management system (LMS), Desire2Learn™, which housed course notes and materials to ensure apprentices could access them on‐demand. The LMS was also used to host selfassessment quizzes which apprentices could use to check their learning, as well as summative assessments at the end of each course.

Our Approach

Students learn by doing. That is a central tenet of the apprenticeship model. Apprentices are mentored by a Journeyperson as they learn the skills of their trade. Although the apprentices in Labrador West were not in physical proximity to their instructor, they could interact with him virtually in a number of ways. The classroom portion of the training is primarily theory based, but apprentices were exposed to any number of heavy equipment components in the first eight weeks of classroom instruction. For example, the instructor dismantled a hydraulic actuator, using the video camera to zoom in on what he was doing. After he successfully modeled the activity, the apprentices at each location would duplicate his effort. The instructor closely monitored his apprentices via the video link and was quick to offer help
and suggestions as necessary. Students in one location could complete tasks while students in another watched in real time.

The instructor delivered a three hour session to the networked sites every morning (of the eight week block) from his location at Bay St. George campus. Throughout the morning sessions, at a random but constant pace, drill and practice questions appeared on the interactive whiteboard, testing the apprentices’ grasp of the basic principles they need to understand before they work with dangerous (and expensive) equipment. This enabled the instructor to continually assess the amount and depth of the learning acquired by the apprentices and provided a window into his own teaching style and delivery; correcting and modifying as the course moved forward. The instructor, Greg Ryan, describes his system as “constant assessment creating constant engagement, which often sparks great conversation on course material, igniting camaraderie between the students in various locations.”

One collaborative activity favored by the instructor was to have an apprentice at one location start a diagram on the interactive whiteboard and ask a student from another location to finish it, thus creating interaction amongst students across campuses. Another activity involved an apprentice from one campus wiring images of electrical components together using the interactive whiteboard markers. The instructor then asked an apprentice at the second campus to assess the first apprentice’s performance and make any necessary corrections.

In yet another activity, the instructor disassembled an electrical component such as an alternator, and performed an electrical test of its components while apprentices remotely controlled his video conferencing camera to zoom in to read his multimeter screen. The results of the test were then interpreted. In another scenario, the apprentices disassembled and tested a component while the instructor controlled the camera. The instructor provided coaching and mentoring throughout, until the
apprentices could correctly assess the state of the alternator sub‐components.

In addition to synchronous instruction, the instructor also provided course notes, supplementary learning materials and self‐assessment quizzes in our LMS. These asynchronous tools were accessed ondemand by apprentices to reinforce their learning.

A Flexible Community of Practice

One of the goals of this pilot was to demonstrate that CNA can provide apprentices with high‐quality learning experiences regardless of the mode of delivery. We flipped the existing paradigm on its head. Rather than adapt an existing face‐to face course to allow distance learners to participate, we used the tools and technologies of online learning to provide our local apprentices with the same opportunities and experiences as the remote learners. Ultimately, we aimed to provide both sets of apprentices with a learning environment that nurtured the mentoring relationship so crucial to trades training. The use of technology was the key to our success in bringing all participants together in a community of practice to share their experiences and insights.

The video conferencing suite, which provided the ideal ‘open window’ between the two classrooms, allowed the instructor to not only monitor the apprentices’ attempts at solving physical problems, but to monitor their demeanor for signs that they may need assistance. It allowed the students in Labrador West to zoom in on an item on the instructor’s table so they could see it in detail. It also enabled apprentices at both campuses to interact with each other to collaboratively solve problems.

The clickers used in the pilot transmit over the internet, and enabled apprentices from both locations to interact and learn from each other and the instructor. When the instructor asked a question, apprentices in each location had an equal opportunity to respond anonymously. The clickers also helped the instructor to
teach the students strategies to succeed when writing the high stakes, provincially mandated exams they must pass to enter the next phase of their training. The clickers provided a means of practicing certain skills, such as using a process of elimination to solve problems.

The Bridgit™ conferencing software was used with our SMART Board™ interactive whiteboards to ensure that each location displayed exactly the same material ‐ in real time ‐ with seamless interaction between sites. The apprentices in either location could manipulate items (graphics, hydraulics diagrams, etc.) on their
interactive whiteboard and have the results displayed on the other whiteboard. We used this ability to have the apprentices ‘try out’ behaviors or modifications before they worked with the actual piece of equipment.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

How effective was our pilot? In 2012, the provincial pass rate for HDET Block 2 (Heavy Duty Equipment Technician) was 58%. The Bay St. George campus pass rate (before our pilot) was 66%. The pass rate for apprentices in our blended classroom was 100%. All of our apprentices, from both locations, passed their block exams. We believe that this proves that the blended learning pilot, with our use of highly interactive and engaging technology, yields a higher success rate than that of a traditional style classroom. The innovative teaching methods used in this pilot supported a variety of technologies, decreasing the emphasis on a physical classroom presence without losing effective instruction.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Access
Our blended HDET program is accessible to HDET apprentices who may attend other CNA campuses. However, we’re not planning to stop there. Other apprenticeship trades can also benefit from this blended approach, and we’ve already had inquiries from instructors teaching in those trades. Additionally, our conferencing software allows users at distant locations to join us through their PC, with a webcam and microphone. We envision the day when apprentices can join us from their jobsite anywhere in Canada, or the world, alleviating both the hardship caused by lost wages and the inconvenience to their employers.

Learning Effectiveness
In 2012, the provincial pass rate for HDET Block 2 (Heavy Duty Equipment Technician) was 58%. The Bay St. George campus pass rate (before our pilot) was 66%. The pass rate for apprentices in our blended classroom was 100%. All of our apprentices, from both locations, passed their block exams. We believe that this proves that the blended learning pilot, with our use of highly interactive and engaging technology, yields a higher success rate than that of a traditional style classroom. The innovative teaching methods used in this pilot supported a variety of technologies, decreasing the emphasis on a physical classroom presence without losing effective instruction.

Student Satisfaction
A course evaluation completed by Labrador West apprentices showed 100% of them rated the courseware and technology used in the pilot project ‘good’ or ‘excellent’. One student commented, “I actually had Greg [Ryan] for my instructor in Goose Bay for the first six months and it hasn’t changed doing it over the SMART Board. It’s just like he was there”. The apprentices in our blended learning group outperformed all other HDET apprentices in their block exams.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 
  • A high‐definition two‐way Polycom™ video conferencing unit at each campus.
  • SMART Board™ interactive whiteboards with Bridgit™ conferencing software to broadcast lectures to up to 25 simultaneous screens, allowing engagement from all students.
  • A high resolution document/imaging camera.
  • Internet‐enabled “clickers” for student participation and response.
  • A learning management system (LMS) to house course notes, materials, assessments, etc.
Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Equipment costs.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Greg Ryan
Email this contact: 
greg.ryan@cna.nl.ca
Author Information
Author(s): 
Erik N. Christenen
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
South Florida State College
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Florida Keys Community College
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Requiring students at the beginning of the semester to develop a personalized backup plan in the event of computer or internet failure not only helps reduce their anxiety and stress but greatly reduces the number of requests faculty receive requesting special consideration.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

This extremely simple and no-cost practice of requiring students to develop a backup plan in the event that either their computer or internet connection fails as they are preparing to take an online quiz or exam has dramatically reduced the number of student requests I receive asking for special consideration due to a computer or internet failure. By making it part of the Orientation Assignment, all students must develop a personalized plan in advance rather than react in a crisis. By making it a discussion board assignment, they are able to view what options their peers have chosen and thus open up additional alternatives they might not have initially considered (e.g. campus resources, community resources, etc...)

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

This simple, but highly effective, student orientation assignment has resulted in a dramatic 90% reduction in the number of students requesting extensions on quizzes and exams due to computer/internet issues. This has worked extremely well for my online astronomy classes at both South Florida State College and Florida Keys Community College. Recent student comments include:

"So far during my online college career I havn't had any computer or internet issues. If something was to happen to my computer I would use my boyfriends, mothers, or sister's computer. If somehow the internet at my house stopped working I would go to my mother's or sister's house and use there wireless internet. I have many options for internet and computers so I most likely won't be using that excuse for incomplete work."

"To be completely honest, if something were to go wrong in terms of an electrical failure I am more than confident I will still be able to get the required expect work done. In this day and age it is near impossible to avoid computers, especially if you carry a smart phone. Therefore there is really no excuse to not be able to complete one's work obligations. But to answer your question, if my plan A were to fail, I would simply resort to finishing my work either at the local library- wherever that may be, or I would just turn to my smart phone and my spectacle devices and get it done from there."

" I have a work laptop if I need it, I have four grown kids that own their laptops, I have a desktop at home as well. If internet goes down I can always go to any of my kids home and/or friends home and use their WIFI. I can also stargaze or watch the moon and work on that part of the assignment. I will find a way trust me, four kids, 12 grandkids and 54 years old, there is nothing I can't find a way to do. LOL...."

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Faculty Satisfaction: a dramatic reduction in the number of students requesting extensions on assessments due computer/internet issues will be a great relief to any faculty member as it will reduce "lost time" dealing with student complaints and thus increase their overall satisfaction in teaching online.

Student Satisfaction: students will have a backup plan, in advance, should their computer or internet connection fail when the are preparing to take an online quiz or exam which will reduction in their anxiety and stress levels and thus increase their overall satisfaction in taking an online course.

Access: since student will have a backup plan ready to deploy should they run into computer/internet issues, their accessibility to course materials will be virtually uninterrupted.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

No equipment necessary, just need an online discussion board, ideally within a Learning Management System (LMS) but it could be set up on a wiki or even a blog.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

There are no costs associated with this effective practice. It can easily be set up in minutes.

References, supporting documents: 

Farber, Paul and Metro-Roland, Dini. The Promise and Limits of Online Learning: Reexamining Authority in the Classroom. Philosophy of Education Yearbook; 2011, p164-173.

Greenhalgh-Spencer, Heather. In Defense of Multiple Learning Spaces, Philosophy of Education Yearbook; 2011, p174-176.

Sansone, Carol, Fraughton, Tamra, Zachary, Joseph, Butner, Jonathan, and Heiner, Cecily. Self-regulation of motivation when learning online: the importance of who, why and how, Educational Technology Research & Development; Apr 2011, Vol. 59 Issue 2, p199-212.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Erik Christensen
Email this contact: 
erik.christensen@southflorida.edu
Collection: 
Student-Generated Content
Author Information
Author(s): 
Dr. Katey Baruth
Author(s): 
Dr. Danielle Williams
Author(s): 
Dr. Cheryl Braxton
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Post University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Key concepts which create for effective departmental practices in regard to online learning in the Master of Science in Human Services Program were explored. The concepts of 1) virtual anonymity, 2) leveling the playing field, and 3) promoting learner and faculty social networking were identified as key elements of success within the program. These practices were also examined in regard to contributing to an optimal online learning environment as compared to the Sloan-C’s Five Pillars of Quality (Moore, 2011).

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

As a fresh faced psychologist with a newly minted Ph.D., it was not uncommon for me to hear one of my new clients say to another, “That is the psychologist?” I could hear it running through their heads: “What does she know? Look at how young she is! She does not look old enough to be out of college!” While it is true that father time had been good to me in terms of the aging process, it seems to be more of a drawback in terms of “visual credibility” when it comes to being perceived as an “expert.” I had endured 10 years of higher education and been working in the helping professions for several years but my professional experience, thankfully, had not yet “shown on my face.”

As I changed hats and entered academia teaching both online and on campus, many of the students in my face-to-face courses also had the same reactions. More times than not, I was immediately viewed a peer versus the professor of the class. While as flattering as it can be, my youthful appearance also seemed to have a similar impact on my students just as it did my clients. I was often asked, “How old are you? Did you skip a few grades?” The students would start each semester with their flurry of questions.

However when logging for the first time with my virtual students, this experience was completely different. I was asked initial questions about my professional work experience, best practices, and job outlook-related questions. From the start of the course, it seemed my “virtual anonymity” alone did not provoke the same questions. As opposed to my clients and students, I was inherently and automatically viewed as the “expert” in the course in my role of professor. Due to the inherent differences in a virtual learning environment than a face-to-face, it seems that the physical first impressions of the professor do not seem to come into play in the same manner.

Equally important as recognizing my own virtual anonymity, I started to think more about my students in a virtual learning environment. The vast majority of my students have worked for years in the field of human services. Just by the nature of their role as the “student,” it is easy to think that many learners are unknowledgeable. To assume this would be to make a drastic error. In many regards, students are what bring true “life” to the course and make it fresh, creative, relevant, engaging, and insightful. In each course, I learn a tremendous amount from my students and anyone who does not recognize this phenomenon is committing a Type II error.

In keep these principles in mind, I have worked with my direct colleagues (Dr. Danielle Williams and Dr. Cheryl Braxton) in our Master of Science in Human Services program to examine and identify several key concepts which we ask our instructors to utilize when working with students in our program. We were able to surmise several key concepts which we found crucial, such as virtual anonymity, both in a review of the human serviced-based literature in addition to our student-based data. Additionally, we feel it is valuable to work with each professor under our supervision to keep these points below in mind while instructing to promote an optimal educational experience online. Here is what we determined after our meta-analysis:

Decide the level of virtual anonymity – Our courses within the department, by design of the learning management system, possess some inherent level of virtual anonymity. As stated previously, our students do not have access to a great deal of demographic information about the instructor after the professor shares a required “skeleton sketch” of professional, biographical information. However other than this basic information, and that which is provided by the student, the course is “ripe” for active, engaging, and thought provoking discussions under the guise of virtual anonymity. The hierarchy of the cyber classroom has a different dynamic and individuals who might be shy or reserved in a face-to-face course often light up the discussion boards with contributions.

In this process, the students and instructor alike are allowed the opportunity to be seen as experts in the course subject matter. For example, a discussion about alcoholism would allow for the instructor to share about his experience working in a community mental health setting and the treatment modalities which are employed. In the same regard, the students are likely to be working in other settings such as inpatient hospitals, college counseling centers, or state funded grant projects and can share more about what “works” in terms of their settings. As the name implies, preconceived notions about the instructor and learner vanish and the learning experience is heightened under the concept of virtual anonymity. This is something we as a department we truly believe is one key to success in making our program effective.

At the same time, we want to mention that virtual anonymity can also be viewed in a different light within the helping professions. Each instructor is encouraged to share relevant details with the students in the course as applicable as they are working in the field helping people each day. For example, a professor could report case studies from their private practice and talk about the clinical implications involved in regard to the topic(s) of study. However, it is not required for the professor or students to “overly disclose” information which might put him or her in a compromising situation. The field of human services has solid footing in terms of ethics and professionalism which does value confidentiality (American Psychological Association, 2002). This is important to remember as creating a safe learning environment and respecting virtual anonymity in regard to the level of disclosure by all parties involved is critically important. Both the students and instructors should be able to share real-life clinical experiences in the course but at an individualized comfort level so that privacy and integrity is kept intact.

Level the playing field – To brag again for a moment, as mentioned previously, our professors are extremely accomplished professionals in the field of human services. Their real world experience is invaluable in helping to meet the goals and objectives of instruction. At the same time, this also creates an implied learning-centered “power differential” in that they are placed in the role of the expert automatically in the course (Johnson, Chanidprapa, Seung, Berrett & La Fleur, 2002). As a result of this perceived difference, our professors actively encourage the students to share case studies, theoretical concepts, and practical skills from their clinical work experience and reinforce the expertise of student in these cases. As a result, our instructors are “leveling the playing field” which we have found leads to robust and profitable learning-related discussions. Our students are directors, supervisors, and leaders in their communities with priceless knowledge to share. The field of human services is also fast-paced and rapidly changing and our students are often “on the pulse” of current trends and practices which is crucial for up-to-date knowledge in our learning atmosphere. Additionally and more importantly, our students have reported that they feel a sense of investment and increased self esteem when the power differential in the course is restructured and the words of each person in the course are highly valued.

Learner and Faculty Networking – Networking of our students is something that is encouraged by our department. We recognize that whether we formally establish this important aspect or not, our students develop a bond that extends beyond the virtual classroom. It is not uncommon for students to report that this is one of the most important parts of their educational experience. They often have reported that their satisfaction with their learning experience is heightened if they also feel a professional (and at times even personal) connection with the faculty (Roblyer, McDaniel, Webb, Herman & Witty, 2010). Sites such as LinkedIn, Google+, Academia.edu, Twitter, Facebook, etc. are often used by our students and faculty alike to stay connected both during and after the course ends. Our students often report that there are tremendous benefits from staying connected with instructors and peers which has lead to employment and valuable advancements, etc. (Bryant, 2006).

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

In examining these ideas further, we closely reviewed the student survey results in our Master of Science in Human Services degree program. During the summer of 2013, we closely scrutinized the data of twenty five courses to evaluate the perspectives of students in regard to our professional learning environment, perceived expertise of the professor (by the students), in addition to ability of the instructor to create a positive learning atmosphere which promotes the key concepts as discussed above. Seventy four students responded to the survey (2013, N=74) and the data was evaluated in regard to Five Pillars of Quality and is explained below (Moore, 2011).

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Faculty Satisfaction - In discussing the feedback of students with our instructors, it was evident that professors also enjoyed sharing their professional experiences in a virtual environment utilizing the key concepts discussed as a critical part of the learning environment. One hundred percent of professors (2013, N=18) had accepted teaching contracts for the module in which these survey results were generated. The faculty shared that they enjoy engaging with our students and sharing their expertise online in regard to the 3 key concepts discussed (Moore & Shelton, 2013). As many instructors teach for other institutions, feedback that they provided about the 3 discussed departmental concepts was that it heightened the learning environment more so than basic learning practices encouraged at other universities. The level of engagement is something that they reported “keeps me interested in my courses and makes me truly feel like part of the department.” We value the feedback of our instructors and believe the 3 discussed concepts are extremely effective in our learning-related culture.

Learning Effectiveness - In thinking about learning effectiveness, 80% of students reported that they either “Strongly Agreed” or “Agreed” that the course expectations had been met through the approaches taken by our instructors. An overwhelming majority of students reported that they believe that the goals and objectives of the course were met which is important in becoming competent as a provider in the field of human services in addition to meeting best practices (Moore & Shelton, 2013).

Furthermore, not only did 89% of the students report that they “Strongly Agreed” or “Agreed” that the instructor promoted a professional learning environment, but also 87% reported that they “Strongly Agree” or “Agreed” that the professor was knowledgeable in the course materials. These results are of the upmost importance as we want to graduate qualified, competent professions who can make an immediate impact in their present of future roles in the field (Jones, 2012).

Access – Approximately thirty two percent (6.7 million) of higher education students have taken a course online (Allen & Seaman, 2013). This is an increase of over half a million students from the previous year (2010 to 2011) and a noted 9.3% increase in enrollment which is evidence that more and more individuals are seeking online educational experiences (Allen & Seaman, 2013). It is vitally important that all learners who wish to learn online can access a wide variety of programs and courses. As a result, further exploring the 3 key concepts employed by our program should be examined in further detail.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

As with any online learning course, the student (and faculty) should have access to technology to engage in the learning management system, etc. Those who participate in learner and faculty networking should have suitable technology which allows access to these venues.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Variable based on device preference.

References, supporting documents: 

Allen, E., & Seaman, J. (2010). Class difference: Online education in the United States. Babson Park, MA: Babson Research Group.
American Psychological Association. (2002). American Psychological Association ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct. Retrieved August 22, 2013, from http://www.apa.org/ethics/code2002.html
Bishop, T. (2006). Research highlights: Cost effectiveness of online education. Retrieved from sloanconsortium.org/publications/books/pdf/ce_summary.pdf
Bryant, T. (2006). Social software in academia. Educause Quarterly, 2, 61-64. Retrieved from http://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/EQM0627.pdf
Crawley, A., & Fetzner, M. (2013). Providing service innovation to student inside and outside the online classroom: Focusing on student success. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 7-12. Retrieved from http://sloanconsortium.org/publications/jaln_main
Johnson, S. D., Chanidprapa, S., Seung, W. Y., Berrett, J. B., & La Fleur, J. (2002). Team development and group process of virtual learning teams. Computers & Education, 39, 379–393. Retrieved from http://www.psykol.org/nos/images/4/49/Johnson_et_al_2002_team_developmen...
Jones, S. J. (2012). Reading between the lines of online course evaluations: Identifiable actions that improve student perceptions of teaching effectiveness and course value. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 16(1), Retrieved from http://sloanconsortium.org/jaln/v16n1/reading-between-lines-online-cours...
Moore, J. C. (2011, December). A synthesis of Sloan-c effective practices. Retrieved from http://sloanconsortium.org/sites/default/files/jaln_v16n1_7_A_Synthesis_...
Moore, J. C., & Shelton, K. (2013). Social and student engagement and support: The Sloan-c quality scorecard for the administration of online programs. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17(1), 53-72. Retrieved from http://sloanconsortium.org/jalnv17n1/Social_and_Student_Engagement_and_S...
Roblyer, M. D., McDaniel, M., Webb, M., Herman, J., & Witty, J. (2010). Findings on Facebook in higher education: A comparison of college faculty and student uses and perceptions of social networking sites. Internet and Higher Education, 13, 134–140. Retrieved from http://140.122.76.99/ntu/Upload/7b5c0d704eb59021e892afe5a6bd73be.pdf

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Dr. Katey Baruth
Email this contact: 
kbaruth@post.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Dr. Danielle Williams
Email contact 2: 
dwilliams@post.edu
Effective Practice Contact 3: 
Dr. Cheryl Braxton
Email contact 3: 
cbraxton@post.edu
Author Information
Author(s): 
Abbie Brown
Author(s): 
Sharon Kibbe
Author(s): 
Michael Dixon
Author(s): 
Dorothy Muller
Author(s): 
Tracy Tuten
Author(s): 
Carl Twarog
Author(s): 
Karen Vail-Smith
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
East Carolina University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

East Carolina University's Teaching Treasure Map: A Guide for Planning and Organizing Courses and Instruction in Traditional, Blended and Distance Settings is a scaffolding strategy developed to help university faculty design the most effective instruction for their unique settings and student populations. The “treasure map” is a single-page infographic that serves as a guide through the instructional design process. The map encourages discussion among faculty to analyze their own unique needs and develop instruction that is effective and appropriate for the audience and circumstances in which they teach.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Divided into three sections: Course Parameters; Instructional Options; and Delivery Options, the graphic encourages faculty members to make judicious design choices. Beginning with course parameters: class size, setting, level, duration, curriculum, and available resources, faculty members are prompted to determine their student audience, the timeframe for the instruction and the required course content.

Once the parameters are identified, faculty are guided through a consideration of their instructional options in terms of content presentation, student engagement (e.g. cooperative learning activities, problem-based learning, guided practice), assessment, and administration (e.g. proctoring, instructor contact/office hours, course evaluation).

After the parameters are identified and instructional options are considered, faculty are prompted to determine the best delivery methods for the instruction. Delivery options are divided by asynchronous and synchronous technologies ranging from traditional class meetings to social media applications.

The graphic is used as a supporting guide during presentations and faculty development workshops. It helps to avoid a potentially problematic, dogmatic approach to working with innovative strategies and technologies in which the facilitator focuses on his/her personal experience and expertise. Instead of a facilitator offering, “Here’s how I do it because it works for my unique setting,” the map encourages discussion among faculty to analyze their own unique needs and develop instruction that is effective and appropriate for the audience and circumstances in which they teach.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

The Teaching Treasure Map has proven surprisingly effective since it’s initial use in the spring of 2013. Participants at a recent, week-long workshop sponsored by the university’s Office for Faculty Excellence expressed tremendous satisfaction with the approach, and the discussions started by the graphic have developed into a number of innovative course designs that have met with increased student success and satisfaction. Similar results were achieved making use of the graphic for another university within the UNC system, where it was used as the keystone for a two-day series of workshops facilitated by an ECU faculty member.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

In terms of Learning Effectiveness, the treasure map helps faculty determine the best and highest-quality approach to instruction for the students and the setting in which they find themselves. Since it promotes analysis of the audience, setting and instructional options, the treasure map facilitates the development of instruction that does not attempt to duplicate a traditional approach, directing faculty instead to develop learning experiences that best fit the specific situation.

In terms of Scale, the treasure map encourages faculty to consider the resources available. These resources include both university-supported technologies as well as the instructor’s and students’ comfort and expertise with innovative technologies and instructional strategies.

In terms of Access, the treasure map supports a careful consideration of the instructional strategies and technologies that are supported by both the university and the instructor’s personal abilities. Furthermore the analyses conducted with the help of the treasure map create enabling environments by taking into consideration the students’ abilities and skills along with the content requirements for their programs of study.

In terms of Faculty Satisfaction, the treasure map leads to greater professional and personal satisfaction. Instead of being supplied with an instructional template, faculty members are provided with guidelines for making the best possible design decisions for their unique circumstances.

In terms of Student Satisfaction, the treasure map promotes the best possible learner interaction and content presentation strategies for a specific course. Faculty learn to identify the instructional strategies and activities that work best for their audience and the medium in which they are conducting instruction.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

The equipment necessary is a copy of East Carolina University's Teaching Treasure Map: A Guide for Planning and Organizing Courses and Instruction in Traditional, Blended and Distance Settings. This is a single-page graphic and is freely available to anyone.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

No costs beyond those involved in making the document available.

References, supporting documents: 

Allen, I.E., & Seaman, J. (2013). Changing Course: Ten Years of Tracking Online Education in the United States. Babson Survey Research Group.

Brown, A., and Green, T. (2011). The Essentials of Instructional Design: Connecting Fundamental Principles with Process and Practice, Second Edition. Pearson.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Abbie Brown
Email this contact: 
brownab@ecu.edu