Thursday, June 19, 2008

HBCUs and Online Learning

I have decided that I want my population for my dissertation to be 4-year, liberal arts HBCUs--I'm thinking in Georgia and/or South Carolina. I had been tossing that around last year when I took my qualitative class. I went to Academic Search Premier and ProQuest Dissertations to start. I typed in variations of HBCU, technology, adoption, online learning, distance education, course management system, Blackboard, WebCT. I found very few empirical studies utilizing HBCUs. In fact, I found very few discussions period. I did a Google search and search in Questia also. With similar results. Therefore, I sensed a gap in the literature.

In one blog (HBCU-Levers) I found the discussion of DLL (Digital Learning Lab) sponsored by Howard University. Among other things, DLL tracks HBCU participation in distance education. I found a report (2007) where they compared information from HBCU websites to the data gathered by Sloan-C surveys (which I used in my literature review to discuss the development of online learning over the past five years). I added the information about HBCUs to my lit review. In general HBCUs have been slower to adopt. In 2007, 40/103 HBCUs offered online courses—39%. However, I wonder at the penetration. How many courses are offered? How many online programs are offered? DLL did note that too many HBCUs still tend to ask their faculties build too many components themselves—even though all of the institutions employed a course management system (usually Blackboard or WebCT).

One thing that I had not paid attention to originally was that the Sloan-C surveys (and the DLL report) only looked at totally online courses. They didn't measure the level of adoption of web-based technologies (i.e. hybrid/blended learning or web-facilitated courses). I tried to see if there was information on this but ran into a semantic problem. What keywords would be used?

One of the questions I'm thinking of looking at is how the course management systems are used. That would deal with what features are used as well as what teaching practices are incorporated into their usage. I'd like to know whether the CMSs are simply used as document repositories (and essentially duplicating the in-class lecture format) or whether instructors are taking advantage of the various technologies to facilitate the class and then going the next step to integrating the technology into their assessments, etc. Several articles I've read decry the rigidity of course management systems. How does the integrated approach impact instructor's pedagogy? Limited research has been done on the influence of online learning on teaching practices in general. This takes it one step further.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Faculty Adoption of Course Management Systems

I am been working on motivations and barriers to higher education faculty adoption of online teaching--and found several gaps in the literature. However, I've decided to narrow my focus a little more to faculty adoption of course management systems. Below is my "working" rationale for the study.

Rationale for Study

Previous literature regarding faculty perceptions (i.e. motivations and barriers) to teaching online, have conceived of online teaching as a single innovation. However, as Hall and Hord note, some innovations, such as online teaching, are actually a bundle of innovations. Course Management Systems (CMS) provide an integrated approach to developing courses and teaching using web-based technologies. Furthermore, the integration of CMS in higher education has become an important issue recently (Eighth Annual EDUCAUSE Current Issues Survey, 2007); therefore it is essential to study faculty perceptions because faculty attitudes about the use of instructional technology influence its successful adoption and implementation. Due to scarcity of university resources, efforts should be made to focus resources on those elements that deliver the greatest return on investment (ROI) of instructor time and effort. The findings from this study can assist administrators in determining educational costs and value in terms of the effectiveness of the CMS in teaching and learning. In addition, the data can provide information on how institutions can reduce, minimize, or overcome perceived barriers to online teaching. Hoskins and van Hooff (2005) noted that as web-based approaches in education increase, systematic evaluation of course management software becomes essential. Even in cases where institutional support is high, two separate studies, conducted by Hutchins (2001) and Johnson and Howell (2005) found that faculty attitudes may be hard to change to meet the demands of the new dynamic, which indicated that a study of faculty attitudes should be a component of any research on the effectiveness of course management systems.

This study helps fill a gap in the Educational Technology literature concerning faculty attitudes and perceptions regarding CMS in higher education. In addition, the findings can assist faculty development personnel in developing appropriate training programs. Faculty training has been found to be an essential factor in the successful implementation of new technology in higher education (Butler & Sellbom, 2002; Bates, 2000).

Bates, A.W. (2000). Managing technological change: strategies for college and university leaders. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Butler, D.L. & Sellbom, M. (2002) Barriers to adopting technology for teaching and learning, EDUCAUSE Quarterly, 25(2). Retrieved May 13, 2008, from

Hoskins, S. L. & Van Hooff, J. C. (2005). Motivation and ability: Which students use online learning and what influences does it have on their achievement? British Journal of Educational Technology, 36(2), 177-192.

Hutchins, H. M. (2001). Enhancing the business communication course through WebCT. Business Communication Quarterly, 64, p. 87.

Johnson, G. M. & Howell, A. J. (2005). Attitude toward instructional technology following required versus optional WebCT usage. Journal of technology and Teacher Education, 13(4), p. 643-654.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Educational Social Networking Opportunity

This post just came through on the POD Network.

You and anyone at your institution are invited to join Weekly
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Thursday, June 5, 2008

Web 2.0 and Change in Higher Education

I found a new online journal yesterday--The Knowledge Tree--tagged as Australia's premier e-journal of learning innovations.

Edition 15 is dedicated to the infiltration of Web 2.0 tools into teaching. Since the concept of Web 2.0 is only a few years old, the practices discussed are definitely from innovators and early adopters. In the lead article, How Did a Couple of Veteran Classroom Teachers End up in a Space Like This? Extraordinary Intersections Between Learning, Social Software and Teaching, Ganley and Sawhill (2007) explore how the integration of blogging into their teaching transformed their practice. The truth of one statement caught my eye.

"There is ... a new form of tension in today’s classroom: between the students we once were and the students we now find ourselves teaching, a tension between what we have to teach and what our students want to learn, and a tension between their passions and interests and the Academy’s curricular obligations."

I am reminded of the digital divide between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. Today's students fundamentally process information differently from their predecessors. My mother retired from teaching high school in 1998 noting the change in students even then. Ten years later, the NET GEN has reached our college and university campuses enmasse. However, higher education, in general, is still stuck in the Industrial Age. Of course, there will be tension.

"[M]any teachers who do not have difficulty releasing old ideas, embracing new ways of thinking, may still be as resolutely attached to old ways of practicing teaching as their more conservative colleagues. That’s a crucial issue. Even those of us who are experimenting with progressive pedagogical practices are afraid to change" (Hooks 1994, qtd in Ganley and Sawhill).

Hall and Hord (2007) reiterated that change occurs gradually as individuals "come to understand and become skilled and competent in the use of the new ways (p.4). They indicated that most changes in education take 3-5 years to implement at the high level, and for each new adopting unit such as a school, district, or state, the countdown begins all over again for another 3-5 years. Mort (1964) chronicled educational innovations from the 30s, 40s, and 50s and concluded that the time lag between perception of a need for change to the introduction and diffusion of an innovation to meet that need was 50 years. Rogers (2003) also found that a "considerable time lag was required for the adoption of educational innovations" (p. 61), usually 25 years. So, how is technology affecting this process?

Hall, G.E., & Hord, S.M. (2007). Implementing change: Patterns, principles, and potholes. (2nd ed.). Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.

Mort, P. R. (1964). Studies in educational innovation from the institute of administrative research: An overview. In M. B. Miles (Ed.), Innovation in education (pp. 317-328). New York: Columbia University Teachers College Press.

Rogers, E. M. (2003). Diffusion of innovations (5th ed.). New York: The Free Press.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hearding Cats

I found this ad on YouTube. Sometimes working with people to to get them to accept a new idea is like herding cats.