Showing posts with label faculty. Show all posts
Showing posts with label faculty. Show all posts

Friday, August 19, 2011

Designing Effective Writing and Research Assignments

In a perfect world, first-year students would arrive on campus with a solid foundation of research and writing skills that you get to build upon with true college-level assignments. Unfortunately, that's often not the case.

As a result, writing assignments are time consuming and, at times, frustrating to grade. Of course, they also are vital to furthering student learning and an important part of the academic experience. In other words, they're not going away anytime soon.

Download Keys to Designing Effective Writing and Research Assignments »

This Faculty Focus special report was created to provide instructors with fresh perspectives and proven strategies for designing more effective writing assignments, including how to thwart "cut and paste" plagiarism.

Here are just some of the articles you will find in this report:
  • Revising the Freshman Research Assignment
  • Writing an Analytical Paper in Chunks
  • Designing Assignments to Minimize Cyber-Cheating
  • Chapter Essays as a Teaching Tool
  • Writing (Even a Little Bit) Facilitates Learning
  • How to Conduct a ‘Paper Slam’

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, September 22, 2007

I'm still working on getting more stuff on the blog. As I mentioned in the blog, I'm trying to get a Faculty Learning Community centered around technology going. Time has been the greatest barrier--both in getting the FLC going and in blogging. Its frustrating. The FLC falls into my KAM I and KAM III application areas. For KAM I, I am looking at Rogers (Innovation Diffusion Theory) and Hall and Hord's CBAM model. I developed a faculty development proposal based on the faculty technology survey implemented last year and plan to submit it to the Interim President next week. Our Technology FLC discussed that we need a paradigm shift in how our instructors "teach"--to be more student-centered and focused more on learning. This would definitely be an organizational change. As one way of at least exposing the instructors to alternative ways of teaching and learning, we hope to present short 30 minute interactive presentations on adult learning theory, teaching the millennial generation, using technology in the classroom, Web 2.0 tools, etc. As Rogers indicates, they have to be aware of the innovation first and then begin to see its relevance. With a graying faculty, we're chipping away a little at a time.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Best Laid Plans and Good Intentions

One of my favorite sayings is that sometimes life interferes with life. We have good intentions. We really want to accomplish our goals. However, something always seems to get in the way. Since the beginning of the semester, I have intended to go to the gym and work out. I know I need to do this. I have even encouraged my students to build time into their schedules to exercise at least 15-20 minutes a day. However, there always seems to be something that I need to do during that time period. Research has shown that those people who exercise have just as crazy lives as those who do not. How then do I motivate myself to go?

I am finding the dilemma true in our Technology FLC. We developed the Blackboard component so those who were unable to meet on a regular basis could still interact with others in the team. To date, only three out of the eleven have even logged in and reviewed some of the resources. We agreed that we would create our own blogs so we could experience that activity from the student's perspective.
We are to discuss this process and how to incorporate blogging in our teaching practices at our next meeting. Only one other faculty member has created her blog. When we signed up to participate in this endeavor, we all recognized that we needed to incorporate technology into our teaching practices. We all recognized that Web 2.0 tools are what are being used by cutting-edge teachers to reach their students. Just like I know that I need to exercise--So, how do we commit to spending that extra time? I don't know what the answer is.

Saturday, September 8, 2007

Finding Time for Faculty Development

Time is listed as one of the major barriers to effective faculty development initiatives in several studies I have read. That is definitely true here! Our Technology Faculty Learning Community is having trouble finding a time when all of us can meet. Our 11:00 on Friday spot has been hijacked, so we set up 4:00 on Thursdays. Despite good intentions, only four of us were able to make the meeting this week. We have yet to meet with three who have expressed interest. Knowing that time would be a problem, we initially decided to also create a Technology FLC "course" in our Blackboard CMS. Our thought was that we would meet once or twice a month and then communicate online in between. It may be that the online discussion may form the bulk of our discussions. We did decide to hold the Thursday at 4:00 period open every week. Those who are able to meet can do so. I will facilitate the discussion. The face to face discussions will not necessarily be used to "present" information unless we decide to. Those who cannot meet on Thursdays have the opportunity to participate in the online discussions and take advantage of the resources, links, etc. located there. Time can also be a problem here as we must be committed to checking into to Blackboard on a regular basis. If we to truly develop into a learning community, then we must be willing to commit a piece of ourselves (time included) to this project.

We talked about needing a paradigm shift on Thursday. We have the opportunity to spearhead that shift in thinking (and doing). Several of us indicated that our students' technology literacy is often limited to gadgetry--mobile phones, IM, MP3 players. They use the web for socializing--FaceBook or MySpace--or shopping. However, there is so much more available to them (and to us, as teachers). Technology changes to quickly--it reminds me of the fashion world. Purple is in; pink is out. We are digital immigrants, those of us not born into today's technological world but at some later point in our lives became fascinated with it, adopted it, and use it. The importance in making this distinction, as Marc Prensky points out, is that like all immigrants, some learn better, quicker, more efficiently than others. We will always keep a foot in the past--our educational system was okay for us.... However, that educational system was not designed for today's digital natives. Technology has caused a "singularity," as Prensky notes, an event that changes things so fundamentally that there is no going back. As educators, we must embrace this change.

The first step in embracing that change was that we all agreed to explore the world of Web 2.0. As per the 2007 Horizon Report, user-created content and social networking are already established on many campuses and, therefore, will have the most immediate impact on teaching and learning. Check out Vicki Davis' classroom project entitled the Horizon Project based on a study of the Report. Here are two videos on the Horizon Report from her site. Our FLC decided to start with blogs--all of us are to create our own blog. We are then going to research how blogs are being used in higher education classrooms.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Faculty Learning Communities--Faculty development option

We are in the midst of organizational change where I work with the retirement of our President of thirteen years and the Interim Presidency of our Provost. Change for the sake of change is not good, but as a catalyst for improvement and development, it is powerful. As part of that change is a re-evaluation of how we, as a faculty, can work together to improve our teaching practices and thus improve the college. The Interim President is promoting a paradigm shift to a more student-centered learning environment, integrating technology as learning tools and resources. This change provides a wonderful backdrop for my KAM I (Social Change in Educational Technology in Higher Education) studies.

Rogers’ (1995) model for adoption and diffusion of innovation classifies adopters of innovations in five categories, they are: innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards. In the early stages of faculty development at --- College, most faculty were innovators or early adopters with high intrinsic motivation, computer technical skills, and a desire to teach using technology. In light of this, the primary focus with faculty was to provide training on the course tools and suggested applications leading toward success. This typically occurred in a computer laboratory with a small group of interested faculty. A few individualized sessions were also provided for support and follow-through with the training provided in the group session at the request of individual faculty members. However, other than the initial introductory face-to-face workshops offered by the Blackboard Administrator three years ago, no ongoing faculty training program exists to prepare faculty to develop their technological skills, to convert their courses to online, to use Blackboard efficiently or to incorporate technology into their teaching practices.

A holistic approach to supporting users in each of these stages is essential. As the late majority faculty are being “pushed” to integrate technology, the need to provide training and support in addition to technical training has become apparent. While large group, workshop-based training was sufficient for early adopters as an introduction to developing online or web-enhanced courses, it does not provide the detailed assistance necessary for the late majority. A campus-wide approach would allow for dialogue among faculty across all disciplines about best practices in technology integration, whereas "just-in-time," personalized support at the department/division level would enable faculty to adopt technology more seamlessly. I have proposed the development of faculty learning communities as a faculty development option to provide training and support as faculty endeavor to transform their teaching practices. Specifically, I have initiated a technology FLC--and hope to encourage other faculty to develop additional FLCs to address other needs such as retention, meeting the needs of the NET Generation, creating multi-disciplinary courses, etc.

"A faculty learning community (FLC) is a group of trans-disciplinary faculty, graduate students and professional staff group of size 6-15 or more (8 to 12 is the recommended size) engaging in an active, collaborative, yearlong program with a curriculum about enhancing teaching and learning and with frequent seminars and activities that provide learning, development, transdisciplinarity, the scholarship of teaching and learning, and community building" (Cox, 2004).

We had our initial meeting today. As a result of our brainstorm and discussion, the following cognitive goals were suggested:
1) develop expertise in accessing and utilizing online resources and tutorials;
2) broaden application of a variety of teaching strategies in order to better address student retention and persistence--including different learning styles, generational learning differences, student motivation, lack of technology skills as well as supporting under-prepared, disabled, and returning adult learners;
3) increase instructional technology competencies in the use of media, software, hardware, and Web 2.0 tools to enhance learning;
4) increase use of technology to streamline course administration and management duties such as record-keeping, attendance, gradebooks, and resource management.

Attitudinal goals include:
1) develop a culture of excitement and enthusiasm among participants for ongoing learning and self-improvement;
2) foster a collegial atmosphere among faculty;
3) encourage and support a community of practice (learners) willing to share expertise and experience.

Since one of the goals is to encourage the use of technology to streamline course administration and management, participants agreed to work together in a hybrid model. This model would allow collaboration beyond our abilities to meet together face-to-face as well as a means to manage our resources. We all agreed that there are numerous ways to approach our learning endeavor this year. We are to rank the following topics prior to our next session and determine a specific project or course in which to apply what we learn.

Potential topics for discussion

Adult Learning Theory
  • Andragogy
  • Transformative Learning
  • Social Learning
  • Constructivism
  • Brain-Based learning
Using Web 2.0 Tools
  • Podcasting
  • Wikis
  • Blogs
  • YouTube
  • Bookmarking tools such as
  • Slideshare
  • Collaboration such as Facebook, Stikipad
Integrating technology activities into teaching practices—beyond PowerPoint
  • Video/DVDs
  • Virtual Fieldtrips
  • Webpage evaluations
  • WebQuests
  • Scavenger hunts
  • Research activities
  • Reference documentation such as EasyBib
  • Note-taking/Outlining
  • Online Flashcards
  • Mind mapping/Concept maps/flow charts (using Inspiration)
Designing online learning environments
  • Web-enhanced/hybrid model
  • Synchronous vs. Asynchronous communication
  • Best practices for facilitating online discussions
  • Content development for the web
  • PDF Conversion of files
  • Organizing course content
  • Developing class units
  • Blackboard Basics
  • Advanced Blackboard
  • Elluminate
Alternative and Authentic Assessments
  • Online Assessments
  • Project-Based learning
  • Student Response Systems
  • E-Portfolios
  • Self-direction and Learning Contracts

Building Faculty Learning Communities (Vol 97)
Jossey-Bass series, New Directions for Teaching and Learning

Monday, July 2, 2007

Tapped In Professional Development Festival

Many of the bloggers I know are writing about the fantastic experience at the recent National Educational Computing Conference (NECC). I learned so much that my head is swimming. There were so many sessions I wanted to attend; I wish I could have cloned myself. Then there were the exhibits...I decided to focus on sessions that could provide information for my dissertation and KAM (Knowledge Area Module) research for Walden--faculty development, technology integration in the classroom, Web 2.0.

In one such session, I was introduced to a professional development community called Tapped In. Tapped In is an online community of K-16 teachers, staff, and researchers engaged in both formal professional development programs and informal collaborative activities with colleagues. Tapped in is set up as a virtual campus, which members occupying buildings and offices. Professional development discussions occur in "rooms." What's great about all this is that it is FREE! I signed on recently and learned that they will be hosting a professional development festival on July 25.

The festival is a day-long event led by volunteer educators who share their expertise and insight while facilitating discussions with members of the Tapped In community. This year’s theme is “Playing to Learn,” featuring ways to enrich the classroom experience with games – playing them, creating them, evaluating them and incorporating them into the curriculum! Please join us for this exiting event! Check out the schedule of events at

While many of the activities at Tapped In seem to be geared toward K-12, I think this environment would be a wonderful way to create faculty learning communities to discuss ways to integrate technology into higher education and to better facilitate online learning. The session I attended at NECC discussed the partnership between NCTAF and three universities who work with their area public schools (University of Washington, University of Memphis, University of Colorado at Denver) on a grant project to increase teacher retention. NCTAF has leased a "virtual building" on the Tapped In site with a floor for each of the partner sites. Within Tapped In, student teachers, new teachers, and Education professors are able to take advantage of professional development opportunities. The sites can also tailor their offerings to the participants' needs.