Last Friday, February 19, from 8:30 am to 11:30 am, I attended a presentation/workshop with Dr. Geoff Scott from Western Sydney University. I wasn’t given much information about the presentation other than I was invited along with the other Center for Teaching & Learning Directors, Instructional Designers, and Faculty Professional Growth Directors in the district. In fact, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. Who wants to spend a Friday listening to someone talk about assessment. Not this girl. Turns out Dr. Geoff Scott, Emeritus Professor of Higher Education and Sustainability at Western Sydney University and a National Senior Teaching Fellow with the Australian Office for Learning and Teaching is on a fellowship trip visiting colleges and universities across the world. Maricopa was lucky enough to be his only community college stop. His focus was on “Powerful Assessment in Higher Education” and it was quite entertaining. Of course it helps if the presenter has a funny accent and throws out words like bloody, whackit, popo, and mucking around. For example, he told us we have to detoxify the POPOs on our campuses: The pissed on and passed over. I really got a kick out of listening to him and time flew by. Mostly because he was an excellent storyteller. His delivery of the content came alive and was very informative.
The one thing that stood out for me was a list he shared with us that came out of the research they did. They discovered what the top ranking capabilities were successful graduates. The list made me think about my own successes and how my own capabilities contribute to that success. It also made me think about my colleagues that I work with on a daily bases. It reads like a dream list to me, as not everyone is as capable in all 12 areas, but it is something to aspire too. Have a look for yourself. Where do you stack up? How successful are you in your job?
Top ranking capabilities successful graduates in 9 professions
- Being able to organize work and manage time effectively
- Wanting to produce as good a job as possible
- Being able to set and justify priorities
- Being able to remain calm under pressure or when things go wrong
- Being willing to face and learn from errors and listen openly to feedback
- Being able to identify the core issue from a mass of detail in any situation
- Being able to work with senior staff without being intimidated
- Being willing to take responsibility for projects and how they turn out
- Being able to develop and contribute politely to team-based projects
- A willingness to persevere when things are not working gout as anticipated
- The ability of empathize and work productively with people from a wide range of backgrounds
- Being able to develop and use networks of colleagues to help solve key workplace problems
I’m a busy person. We’re all busy, but being the Faculty Director of the Center for Teaching, Learning & Engagement has really challenged my perception of what is really busy. But no matter how busy I am, one thing is always constant; I always have time for professional development. I’ve participated in pretty much everything Maricopa has offered us. MIL – Done. MET – Done. MSI – Done. Sabbatical – Done. Learning Grant – Done. Multiple times. Summer Projects – Done. Diversity Infusion Program – Done. What ever dollar amount district makes available for us to travel – I spend every dollar. Every year.
Learning is my passion, as I demonstrated in my Ignite GCC talk last semester. It’s just something I can’t turn off. I want to learn new things. Every day! So I always have time for professional development. Which is why I’m so surprised that the CTLE doesn’t attract bigger crowds. Isn’t everyone like me? Doesn’t everyone live for professional development? Unfortunately, no. Faculty are busy. They’re either doing their own thing or just can’t find the time. This is unfortunate indeed because we are awesome if I have to say so myself. 🙂
The CTLE team works hard each week to combat this lack of interest in “our” professional development. We offer rewards for blogging, and then debate about the healthiness of these rewards. We throw big events like Ignite GCC and GCC’s Rockin’ New Year! We offer all the latest trends in education as workshops, and to combat the ever present comment, “I can’t make that time,” we offer the “Have it Your Way” form where faculty and staff can choose their professional development AND when it is offered. Just for you.
So this might sound like I’m about to complain, but I’m not. Yes, I would love to see every single person on this campus come through the CTLE for professional development (actually that would be quite overwhelming), but the reality of this is, that’s not going to happen, no matter what we do to get them here. And I’m okay with that because the people who do come, and who do participate and engage with us, are the most awesome people I’ve ever worked with. They make it all worthwhile knowing that we were able to help fuel their own passion for learning. So I hope you all keep coming.
I’m excited to be blogging again with my colleagues at GCC as part of the Write 6×6 Challenge. We had such success with our inaugural challenge last spring, so I was a bit nervous that no one would sign up for round 2 a year later. Luckily I will not be the only one blogging. We have 20 faculty, staff and administrators signed up! Yay! We even got the president blogging again.
In week one we are blogging about how we make a difference, although everyone is free to write about what ever. I’ve learned that most people just want to be told what to write about. Funny how faculty and others are just like our students in that regard. I tend to like to reflect on things in general and then write about what stands out the most. That’s a real challenge when you have a ton of stuff going on. Nothing tends to stand out, yet everything weighs heavy on my mind.
Sometimes I feel like I need a kick to help get me started on things, and that’s how I feel I’m making a difference at GCC. I’m providing the kick that others need to get started. We all have great ideas to either work on or share, and everyday in the CTLE we work to find ways to help faculty and staff hone those skills to develop their ideas or to just share them with others. We challenge them daily to learn new things, get involved, experiment and share where otherwise they would not feel challenged to do so or feel they don’t have the opportunity. If faculty and staff want to be challenged and want to be engaged, we’re here to make a difference.
Okay, that’s a bit of a stretch, but if I’d said, “Most everything I know about teaching with technology and technology in general I’ve learned from reading blogs,” that would have been too long a title for this post. Either way, the point is blogging is huge, and I’m so excited to have 32 people from GCC blogging on Write6x6.com. Except we’re not calling it blogging because that complicates things. People know how to write, but many don’t know how to blog. And that fact alone prohibits many from sharing their expertise with the world. So we’re writing, not blogging.
We learn so much from each other, yet we rarely talk to each other. This is often the case on a busy campus or workplace. I’ve worked at GCC for 6 years now, and I have to admit, I don’t know half the people whose writing I am now reading each week. But I’ll know them better after these 6 weeks are over. I’m already starting to feel a connection with many and learning lots of cool things. But that’s normal for me – Reading blogs, engaging with an online community, Tweeting.
I’ve had this blog, freshmancomp.com for about 9 years, but I started blogging back in August of 2006. I had a Blogger blog back then that still sits untouched with my early writings. The interesting thing about that first blog is my first blog post ever was a post I wrote about my first day at GCC on August 13, 2006. I didn’t even work here permanently then. I was doing a semester long transfer with Nancy Siefer that fall. She was me at SMCC, where I was a full-time faculty member for, at that time, 6 years, and I was her here at GCC. I still think that was a brilliant move on our part to finagle that trade because look where I am now – at GCC for the past 6 years. Anyway, enough about me. Let’s get back to me and blogging. 🙂
Throughout the years blogging has not only been a way for me to share what I’ve learned about teaching with technology, but it’s been my primary way to learn about what others are doing in that same realm. I read over 159 blogs! Yes, 159. Seems impossible, but I’m only reading the good stuff. Using a feedreader like Feedly.com allows me to subscribe to many different blogs, collate them into a single space, and organize them by topic, making it easier to skim through and read what I want. Click the image to see a bigger picture of what that looks like.
I can honestly say I’ve learned more about teaching and learning, technology and instructional design from my online reading than I did in my doctoral program in instructional technology and distance education. That’s not a crack on my education. It’s a reality that once you graduate, your education stops. Let that sink in. But the world and your field doesn’t stop. In order to keep up, we all have to keep educating ourselves. I could never do this job, Faculty Director of the Center for Teaching, Learning & Engagement based on my degree I earned back in 2006. See the correlation now? Once my degree was complete, I started blogging AND reading to keep the education going. And now I’ve been able to move to a new position and have the knowledge and skills I need to do it well (well, I least I think I do it well).
I’m hoping that our Write6x6.com professional development activity at GCC will inspire others to keep the education going and not only keep blogging, but also keep reading and educating themselves to be better educators, administrators, managers, support staff or better at whatever it is they may do at GCC.
For you educators, check out a few of my favorite blogs:
- Alan Levine’s CogDogBlog http://cogdogblog.com/
- Richard Byrne’s Free Technology for Teachers: http://www.freetech4teachers.com/
- Edudemic: http://www.edudemic.com/
- GCC CTLE Blog: http://gccazctle.wordpress.com
I attended my first OpenEd conference Nov. 6-8th in Park City, UT. Click the link and you too can see some of the sessions from the conference. I went with a team of people from Maricopa representing the Maricopa Millions Project. What I learned was that James Sousa from Phoenix College is famous in the OER world, and the SCC math department is cutting edge. Who knew? When I returned, I did a presentation last Tuesday from 2-3pm in the CTLE on OER to help everyone at GCC understand OER and the Maricopa Millions initiative. I shared information about the initiative and the call for proposals that went out last week. Proposals were due last Friday. Here is some information about the project from the call for proposals.
The main goal of the Maricopa Millions Open Education Resources (OER) Project is to reduce educational costs for students. Spending less money on textbooks and materials will foster greater access to materials for students, which may enable them to stay on track with completing their courses.
The Maricopa Millions OER Project includes developing a strategic, sustainable OER infrastructure that would include: awareness, professional development, OER development and technical support, marketing and technical structure. In order for OER to be successful at MCCCD, we have established an OER strategic planning and implementation team to establish and oversee specific OER outcomes over the next 5 years.
The driving objective for the project is to save MCCCD students $5 Million Dollars over the next five years through the use of OER materials. The sooner we begin, the sooner the students can realize the savings.
This Maricopa Millions OER project, through an internal grant process, supports the adoption, adaptation, and development of complete OER course materials for high enrollment courses in the MCCCD. The final product will be OER course materials that can be easily adopted and modified by other faculty (including adjuncts) teaching that course.
I wanted to point out many of the different facets of the program, one main one being that there is a “low cost” option available as well. This means that faculty could choose finding or adopting materials with a lower costs instead of building their own OER. For instance, in composition we are comfortable using an online publisher product with a built in ebook that is currently half the price of the average textbook cost for composition courses, so we are already saving our students money. There are many other scenarios for the low cost option.
Also, the call was for a specific list of high enrollment courses (ENG101, PSY101, COM100), but that should not discourage anyone who teaches smaller enrollment courses from participating with OER. It just means that at this time, the committee wants to start with supporting the higher enrollment courses to get a bigger impact on the numbers out the gate. Any faculty who wants to work on an OER project can do so without the support of the committee. The goal is to save students money and not everyone doing so will be able to be supported by the project.
Below is the agenda and all the links we talked about and shared during the presentation. Feel free to ask me questions about the Maricopa Millions project if you have any. In the mean time, check out some the resources below and start exploring OER. Read more
I own a total of four video cameras, but lately I haven’t used any of them. I’ve fallen victim to the old adage, the best camera is the one you have with you. And that camera just happens to be my cell phone. Clearly my other video cameras are better than my cellphone, so it would seem. I have a Canon Rebel T1i that shoots HD video, a Panasonic HDC-SD5 that shoots 1920×1080 HD, a Flip camera (remember those), and a Contour Roam helmet cam that also shoots in full HD. I have all of these great cameras and I can’t even remember the last time I shot video with any of them. Yet everyday, I shoot video and take pictures. Yep, I use my Samsung Galaxy SIII cellphone. It’s my stand alone camera these days. But it can’t be as good as the full HD I can shoot with the others, right? Wrong. It’s awesome.
The Samsung Galaxy S3 cellphone has a 8 megapixel camera that shoots full 1080p HD video. Many cellphones these days do, so you don’t really need to carry around a “real” camcorder anymore unless you are a “real” movie maker. So as proof of concept, I set out on a mission to create a video advertisement for our upcoming technology conference. My goal was to use only my cellphone and a web app to edit the video. No complicated expensive software allowed. I figured if I could make something useful, why couldn’t our students. They all have cellphones and there’s no cost after that. Here’s what I did… Read more
My project involves establishing a Personal Learning Network (PLN) for myself and faculty on our campus. It involves establishing an online presence and building a community on various social media sites for myself and our CTLE. I will research blogs, organizations and professionals to include in this community, as well as produce content for our blog covering the best pedagogical practices in online teaching. The goal of the PLN is to get faculty “to connect, collaborate and contribute so that we can become aware, connected, empowered, and confident learners.” I will spend time researching and learning about creating a successful PLN and how to get others involved. Attending a national conference, researching and reading will help me produce PLN content and connections.
As an online instructor and eCourses Faculty Lead for my college, the general purpose of my project is to increase my knowledge and the knowledge of our ecourses faculty of the best pedagogical practices in online teaching by establishing a Personal Learning Network (PLN). “Personal Learning Networks are systems that help learners take control of and manage their own learning.” It’s a system of lifelong learning and provides support for learners to manage their learning and to communicate with others in the process of learning. This PLN will be used for professional development and will help myself and other faculty learn from content-area specialists and each other. In order to create this network, I need to improve my skills and knowledge in the process and learn about best practices for creating such networks, as well as learn how to help and motivate others to join the network. The true value of this project is that the learning doesn’t end after the final report is submitted.
My goal Read more
Scottsdale Community College hosted SCC TechTalks 2013, a series of live, 18-minute presentations on how technology has impacted teaching and learning on February 1, 2013. The event followed a similar format to the widely popular TEDTalks and was put on by SCC’s Instructional Strategic Technology Advisory Committee (ISTAC).I was honored to be invited to be one the speakers of this inaugural event and had a great time participating.
Event description: “The thought-provoking talks feature presenters from a variety of professional backgrounds covering an array of subjects — from theater and music to math and science. Presenters include faculty members, tech gurus and students.”
Below is a playlist of all the talks featuring Maricopa’s past and present technology leaders. So go grab some popcorn, get comfy and enjoy the show.
Most students hate online discussion. It’s true. Ask them. I don’t blame them. I hate it too. Ha! Yep, I just admitted that. It’s not the idea behind asynchronous discussion that I dislike. It’s how it is implemented in most online courses. It’s almost as if it’s an after thought. Oh wait, I need some student to student interaction, so I’ll throw a few questions in a discussion forum and be done with it. There’s no clear purpose. Then 24 students all jump in and try to manage what can quickly become unruly or worse boring and meaningless. First, my horror story. How do 24 students “discuss” this question: What was the theme of the story? Yes, I’ve seen that discussion question in an online course. Well, after the first student nails the answer, and it didn’t take long in this case. Everyone waiting 4 days until the one brave soul responded with the correct answer. Done. What was everyone else supposed to say after that? Not much and the discussion was a flop. Twenty-four students echoing the same response. And I’ve seen worse.
There’s a lot that goes into creating successful asynchronous discussion in online courses. I talk a little about some of it in the video at the end of this post. Instead of elaborating on that further, I’d rather share with you a very rewarding asynchronous discussion going on right now in my ENG102 online course. Discussions don’t have to take place in a traditional discussion forum. That’s the first lesson. In this case, my real goal, aside from getting students to interact with each other, was to have students help each other out with their writing by offering some valuable feedback. This discussion begins in Connect Composition where students submit their latest essays. I set up a peer review assignment and put students in groups of 3. Their goal at this stage is to review the other two papers in their group and offer feedback based on the 6 questions I set up for them to answer.
The objective is twofold: Read more
I can’t remember when I first started using SoftChalk, but it seems like it’s been about 10 years. That’s how long the company has been around (since 2002). I’ve been using the tool to help create interactive lessons for my online and hybrid courses. We’ve had it available to us (Maricopa) for quite a while now, but when our current contract expired, we decided we needed to go out for RFP to make sure we were using the best product and paying the best price. I’d never thought much about it until I realized there might be a possibility of having to use something else. But when I express my concerns to my colleagues, all I ever get in response is: “What is SoftChalk?”
Well, that’s part of the problem, not enough faculty know the answer to that question. So the few of us who do know, may suffer the consequences. There will always be a need for an interactive lesson builder, and I vote that we keep what we already know. However, if there is something else out there that will blow me away without causing me stress learning how to use it, I’d be open to that too. In the mean time, here’s hoping others in the district find this video interesting enough to start using Softchalk while we await the verdict.