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Minnesota Instructional Technologists (MinIT) 2012

I’m just back from the 4th Minnesota Instructional Technologists (MinIT) symposium this time hosted by Carleton College at the Weitz Center for Creativity.  My excellent colleague Barron Koralesky from Macalester College and myself started this group in 2009 (though we had been talking about the idea for two years before that).  It is a gathering of instructional technology professionals from regional Colleges and Universities.  We’ve done various formats over the years and keep on trying new formats — we’re an experimental group!

This year Carleton organized a large group discussion that was centered around topics submitted by the attendees during registration.  The majority of the schools are on moodle so we had much talk about transition to version 2.x.  Hopefully the few that weren’t on moodle yet will join the fun soon – <wink>.  Most of us are opening up our beta sites to faculty before fall so they can get used to the changes.  Early feedback from faculty generally has been good.  Even though moodle 2 has “moved the cheese” faculty are adapting and liking the new features and new user interface standards.


Gusday 10 rundown

Carleton was very hospitable and Hawaiian on a cold Minnesota Friday.  It was a good day at Gusday 10.  We had some tweets going on throughout the day as well.  I snapped some pictures too at facebook.

Here’s a rundown of my takeaways:

  • Creating Engaging Online Courses – Luther Seminary
    • they offer 60 courses online or hybrid
    • been doing it for 10 years
    • they are running the Jenzabar LMS which is limited so they build most course sites in HTML with the LMS page as the hub
    • they have 3 people in the Learning Design and Technologies area
    • they think of the learning objectives first, the technology second
    • they build the courses for faculty, the faculty are the content experts not the builders
    • they use a lot of flash movies from flip video cameras – faculty introductions and the like
    • “Multi-Media Learning” by Mayer: 2 channels – audio and video, overload one and the other shuts down, too much visual in powerpoint and the audio part is lost too
    • use camtasia studio for annotated ppt
    • courses use small groups of 5, conference calls with group and instructor, group forums and course forum
    • adobe connect to enhance call experience
    • be specific in online courses, always
    • use mid-course check-ins, critical incidents
    • trying eportfolios this term
    • http://www.luthersem.edu/ldt/
  • Off-Hour On-Call Support – Bethel
    • A Saturday outage got the attention of the administration
    • Bethel has grown 20% in 5 years, new campus in Bloomington
    • issue vs outage
      • issue – (my monitor doesn’t work) not good for on-call, resolved during regular hours
      • outage – (Blackboard is down again) right for on-call reporting
    • using a definition from Georgia State
    • providing 57.5 hours of on-call coverage (until midnight during the week and evenings Fri-Sun
    • have a purpose statement – conduit for communication through a liaison to other staff, level 1 and 2 issues
    • compensation? – 6 person rotation, 1 person / week, 1/10 flex time before next rotation (6 hours)
    • equipment used
      • netbook with mobile internet
      • bomgard.com hardware remote access
      • shared PDA phone
      • phonetag.com – transcription and SMS / email creation of ticket with WAV
      • phone tree on campus to get into off-hours VM
      • started 10/1/9, about 2 calls / week
      • process: someone calls regular number, it’s off-hours so they pick that option, it rolls to phonetag number and the leave a message, an SMS is sent saying someone called, in a few minutes a ticket is created with the message and another SMS is sent with the message text.  The on-call person then decides it is an outage and does some initial triage and calls in the appropriate person if needed.
  • Document Imaging – Carleton
    • using Onbase from Hyland Software for 11 years
    • being used in silos, not consistent use of fields
    • not sharing documents across departments
    • isn’t a replacement for the business application, just a place to store files like virtual filing cabinet
    • the goal is not that it be easy to put documents in, rather it should be easy to find things in it
    • ties to RP through another little app
  • Project Management – Carleton and St Cloud State
    • St Cloud started, they have a position that just does project management
    • project vs operation work (sometimes fuzzy — are annual rollouts a project?)
    • project has beginning and end
    • 5 steps in process
      • initiate – idea
      • plan – scope
      • execute
      • monitor / control – check in w/stakeholders, watch scope creep
      • closing
    • project management – one project
    • program management – managing group of related projects
    • portfolio management – managing collection of all
    • charter is entry point to process
    • routine meetings to prioritize
    • reach decision point – document and sign off
    • communication plan for updates
    • completion document, lessons learned, future projects, document what was done
    • first create a process then find a tool to support it
    • Carleton – just enough project management
      • team of 4 ITS staff, shared, vet projects through group
      • big P projects (large organizational projects, often external driven, by leadership, $$, visible, higher risk)
      • little p projects (smaller team projects, by team leads, little $, little risk)
      • they’re using a wiki to track – opened to key ppl outside of ITS
      • charter is useful for people to organize thoughts about why it was great idea
      • have different states for projects
      • considering dotproject
      • update projects 1/month

I really enjoyed Carleton’s approach to just enough project management — they provided the slides too.  I think it could work for us as it’s enough to organize things but not too much to be onerous to people. The document imaging put a good perspective on the role of document imaging.  The Off-hours session provided a cool system for capturing reporting of incidents and getting them resolved.  Luther Seminary is doing some interesting stuff online and I noticed it is a full-service department — faculty record their video and drop off the flip.

Back from the 25th Annual Conference on Distance Teaching and Learning

Three of us trekked to Madison to attend the conference held at the lovely Monona Terrace.  The drive down was good but the drive back had much rain which slowed us down a lot.  We did stop and stock up on Wisconsin cheese (not myself though).  There were some good sessions and some not so good.  Here’s the highlights from my good sessions:

  • Distance Learning Czar:  It was clear that so many of the schools there were way into distance and online learning.  The idea of someone in charge of distance learning was repeated especially at the session featuring Carlos a fellow Frye ’09 alum!
  • SEO: Search Engine Optimization. This technique was explained well at a session on Marketing online programs.  The focus is clearly to capture students when they’re searching for an online program.  Looking forward to getting the powerpoint on this one.
  • Part Time Instructional Design: This session (see ppt) was the winner of Thursday for me.  It laid out a program at Del Mar College where instructional design is done by a team: 2 faculty, 1 instructional technologist, 1 librarian, 1 director.  The 2 faculty positions are 1 course release overloads for a term and are competitive slots — they apply for them.  The team does instructional design with faculty, course reviews, mentoring, development of support materials, general sounding board for online learning.
  • Quality Matters: Again and again places mentioned how they took the base QM rubric and modified it for their school.  Seems like a no-brainer to do so we have a way to assess the quality of our online offerings.  The question is who does the assessing and what is the result?
  • Economics of Online Learning: you can expect 12 – 32% of tuition as revenue (25% typical) for an online program.  I saw a session by someone from Compass Knowledge Group.  They help institutions develop and run online programs.  The data (based on 50 programs of various sizes) was useful in identifying the components and potential cost % of each.  Another one I’m looking forward to the powerpoint for the details.
  • Penn State Resources: faculty self-assessment and quality standards.  From a session that described the complexity that is Penn State, two resources were of note.  A faculty self-assessment allows faculty to test their readiness for online teaching.  And quality standards
    based on quality matters for their online courses.
  • What do online students consider essential to their learning?  Their perspectives match up well with, take a guess, the quality matters rubric.  A study of 202 Penn State World Campus students found pieces what they consider essential to their learning and what pieces not so much — maybe a surprise but they don’t consider games and simulations essential to their learning.  But that doesn’t mean those items don’t support their learning.  The presentation is up at slideshare to see the details.
  • Epson DC-06 Document Camera.  For $299 you get a usb-based document camera that is so easy to use and captures a great picture.  Time to dump our RCA-video based document cameras for a few of these.

“Collect All Posts” mod to moodle

With the end of term approaching, our faculty needed a way to read all of the posts in a forum without having to click into each discussion.  They got used to this feature in Blackboard so I wrote a new view of a forum that accomplishes this.  I made it part of our Augsburg moodle library. After you add a button to the standard forum view anyone can collect the posts — it also respects groups (at least in my testing of it).


EQ reading

I’m working my way through the latest Educause Quarterly. With a cover on e-learning, how could I pass it up?

First, there’s “Laptop Use in University Common Spaces.” At first I thought cynically, “oh, a survey to see if students are using laptops — they are!” But once I read it I saw they were interested in how students are using their laptops in these spaces. Of most interest was the need for power and secure storage. It’s amazing how many leave them unattended. The need for power is easy to miss — batteries don’t run forever!

Next is “E-Learning—A Financial and Strategic Perspective.”  This well-researched article does a good job of hitting the key aspects of e-learning that impact the bottom line: use of adjuncts and overhead costs.  It also hits on the concerns of faculty about the use of adjuncts, course development, and quality.

Following that thread is “Uniting Technology and Pedagogy: The Evolution of an Online Teaching Certification Course.”  This article explains a model of certifying faculty to teach online using an online course — the faculty get to be online students.  I think it provides a good framework for fulfilling this need — assuming you are able to invest in making the course as good as it needs to be.  There are some good examples of the challenges the faculty faced when they were in the role of online student.

And lastly, “Professional Development for IT Leaders” gave me some things to think about along with “CIO Effectiveness in Higher Education.” Of course the former takes place in a large university with many different IT opportunities.  But it makes me think what do I want to do? where do I want to go? do I want to move more into management and more distant from the end-users like faculty?  Those questions won’t be answered today…..

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