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Posts from the ‘Write6x6’ Category

12
Feb

Mini-Bytes. Try Before You Buy

Photo: Great Falls College MSU

I learned about an interesting way to increase student online enrollment from the eLearning team at Great Falls College Montana State University today at the ITC eLearning conference in Tucson. They discussed how students are often reluctant to sign up for online courses because they’ve never done so before and don’t know what to expect. That coupled with the fact that some students sign up for online courses and are not properly prepared to be successful in the online environment. The eLearning departments solution was the creation of Mini-Bytes. “A Mini-Byte class is a free 2-week sample of an online course. Instructors that teach the full 16-week watch over the courses and interact with the students who can sign up at any time.” Students get to try before they buy. That’s a great idea.

I think that if students could actually see what the expectations are for an online class and experience the look and feel of a course, they would have a better idea of what the online class will be like. They can then make an informed decision about whether online is a right fit.

However, many times great ideas get mired in red tape. How could GCC or Maricopa capitalize on an idea like this? First, we would have to get past the whole registration aspect. With our no late registration mandate, this is not possible. Strike one. Next, we would need to get faculty who teach online to be willing to open a 2-week portion of their online course and allow for open enrollment. Canvas permits this easily; however, the idea of having a random group of students in a 2 week course that faculty would be responsible for engaging with is not easy. Faculty working for free? Strike two. If the numbers were small, it might be possible to persuade a few. But would there be a broad enough spectrum of courses available for students to taste?

Another problem I foresee would be course consistency. As the former eCourses faculty lead for GCC, I know first hand how challenging it is to get all departments on board with a consistent look and feel for online courses even though we subscribe to Quality Matters. I would imagine taking an online English course would be much different from taking an online math class. Although maybe that is not the purpose of the mini-bytes. Maybe they are course specific which makes sense. Therefore, we would need to ensure that department online courses have a consistent look and feel. I know in English that is what we strive for, but it can be a challenge.

Overall, I like this mini-bytes concept and clearly one college, Great Falls College, has made this work for them. I guess I will implementing innovative ideas in Maricopa were easier.

 

9
Feb

Sabbatical: Supporting Data-Driven Decision Making With Educational Data Analytics Technologies

I’m happy to say that I was awarded a sabbatical for the 2018-2019 academic year. The fancy title of this post will be the focus of my sabbatical. It should be a grand ole dandy time, and I’m looking forward to spending my time doing and learning something new. If you’d like to read more about my sabbatical, I posted a few key points below.

Abstract: Learning analytics is a new and developing field. There is a growing literature base around learning analytics and its impact on student grades and retention. Although learning analytics is still at a relatively early stage of development, there is convincing evidence from early adopters that learning analytics will help to improve outcomes. It only makes sense that Maricopa would want to tap into this new field. Learning analytics has been defined as “the measurement, collection, analysis and reporting of data about learners and their contexts, for purposes of understanding and optimizing learning and the environments in which it occurs” (Sampson, 2016). Maricopa with its use of Canvas LMS and SIS has an overabundance of data that goes unused. Becoming a data analysis authority will enable me, as a full-time faculty member, to help support data driven decision making at GCC using education data analytics technologies, which includes Canvas Data Portal.

Goal(s) – what the sabbatical will accomplish. A vital aspect of data driven decision making is Data Literacy for Teachers, which is the primary goal of this sabbatical, to empower myself to use data in the decision-making process, so that I can help support data driven decision-making at GCC using education data analytics technologies. Data Literacy for Teachers “comprises the competence set (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) required to identify, collect, analyze, interpret, and act upon Educational Data from different sources so as to support improvement of the teaching, learning and assessment process” (Sampson, 2016). Our LMS, Canvas, produces a lot of data that presently is not being used. By becoming a data analysis authority and more knowledgeable in Canvas Data, I will be able to help support other faculty and administrators with data driven decision making at GCC using these data analytics from Canvas.

Objectives – steps to achieve the goal(s). The objectives for this project mostly follow the competency set (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) required for Data Literacy for Teachers. They are required to identify, collect, analyze, interpret, and act upon Educational Data from different sources. There are several steps involved in this project.

  • Identify and learn about big data, analytics and data analysis.
  • Identify and learn about Canvas Learning Analytics.
  • Learn about Canvas Data Portal.
  • Learn how to collect the data from Canvas into various tools for analysis.
  • Learn Data Analysis to discover what the right questions to ask will be.
  • Learn how to interpret learning data to predict and influence outcomes (act upon).
  • Assess and identify which BI Tools schools are leveraging to analyze data.
  • Create/Find a collection of example queries that use Canvas Hosted Data to answer questions; queries that could be very useful to solve problems at GCC (act upon).
  • Create awareness guides and a workshop for faculty on Canvas Learning Analytics.
  • Create a resource guide for district CTL’s on Canvas Data Portal.
  • Get Canvas Data Portal turned on in Maricopa.

The only objective I’m worried about not accomplishing is the last. It can be a challenge at time getting things with in Maricopa accomplished, but I’m up for the fight.

9
Mar

Is It Time for Happy Hour Yet?

That’s a pretty relevant question. It is Thursday, and the To-Do list is fairly long. So why not shirk all responsibility for 30 minutes or so and blog about happy hour? Sounds good to me. Happy hour is the obvious choice for this week’s writing prompt for Write6x6Building Relationships. How do you build relationships with faculty, staff, and students on campus? How important are these relationships to you?

First, I’m going to point out the obvious. There will be no happy hour with students, but everyone else is fair game. It’s the perfect way to build relationships. When I left South Mountain Community College 8 years ago, one of the pluses on my Pro/Con list for leaving the college was building relationships and community. I have some wonderful friends at SMCC and built some long lasting relationships, but not many of those relationships went beyond the boundaries of the college. I just felt like if I was going to spend 6 hours a day with people, I should be friends with those people outside those boundaries – at least some of them. So I left. I felt like a bigger campus, more people would open up those doors. And I was right. I went from having 6 faculty in my department to 40. There might have been more at SMCC if I counted the Reading faculty, but I didn’t really know of any of them. But you get the idea.

Everyone is busy, and teaching schedules can be chaotic. It’s difficult to build relationships when you never see the people you work with. So I made it a habit of walking the halls and spending time in my office beyond the required 1 hour office hour, just so I could connect with my peeps. After a while, I quickly learned that I was never going to get much work done when I was in the halls of 05. I spent my time there popping into offices, talking with colleagues, answering questions and generally just chilling.  It was a great trade off. Not everyone agrees with that sentiment, as there were plenty of closed doors in the hallways.

But there are also many happy hours. Meeting up off campus allows for people to feel free, be more relaxed, and open up a bit more about how things on the job are really going. It gives us all a chance to problem solve together and brainstorm ideas. But it also builds stronger relationships. I work with a bunch of awesome people who travel to conferences for professional development together, submit proposals for grants together, work on projects together, and of course, attend many happy hours, dinners and gatherings in our own homes together. We’re just one big kumbaya song.

18
Feb

Evaluation Plan for Faculty Can Be Fun. Really.

© Laura Strickland/MyCuteGraphics.com

So I’m a member of the Peer Assistance and Review (PAR) committee again this year. As a member of this committee, I have agreed to be a mentor for a probational faculty member that needs to comply with the RFP requirements. When I heard about these new requirements for probationary faculty, my first thought was, thank goodness I’m not probationary. I don’t want to have any part of that. Well, it turns out no one can really escape PAR. Even us old residential faculty, as all the newbies are required to have mentors. And with so many new faculty, pretty much everyone who is not new is a mentor.

The Maricopa Community College District implemented this new peer assistance and review model (PAR) for probationary faculty about 4 years ago. Faculty are considered probationary for 5 years. Under this new model, probationary faculty are assigned a residential faculty mentor to help guide them through the process to becoming residential (tenured). As part of the PAR, probationary faculty have the opportunity to document their professional growth, mentor evaluation, administrative evaluations, and student evaluations in a Google Sites template.

I actually ended up with two pretty awesome mentees. Both are excellent teachers and fun to work with. The best part is they make being a mentor fairly easy. I’m going to share my recent evaluation of one although evaluation isn’t quite the right word. It was more of an observation with feedback. Evaluation indicates the making of a judgment about the value of something; assessment. I’d like to believe all teaching has value, and it’s really not up to me to judge someone’s value or their teaching. I like to observe and then give feedback. Lucky for me what I’ve observed has always been inspiring.

Recently I sat in on an after class review session and the room was full. My first observation was how does that happen. Students stick around for a study session after class? The whole class was engaged. They were divided into groups of 2-4 and it appeared that they each had an assigned topic to cover. As the instructor called on each group, students were prepared with their information. Some reading from notes or slides; others reciting information from memory. My mentee was encouraging and peppered the whole class and group members with questions. Students volunteered answered. Whether they were correct or incorrect, they each received the same kind feedback that the answer was correct or incorrect. It didn’t seem punitive if the answer was not correct. Someone else was just called on to provide a different answer. The whole session was positive and encouraging. I was inspired, and I wasn’t even a student in the class.

It’s really good to see good teaching, but the best part is there is no one way about it. Every instructor brings her own touch to the classroom, and we can all learn by observing how others get the job done. Turns out that this whole PAR thing might not be such a bad thing after all.

9
Feb

Need a Grammar Checker? I Want to Find Out

Writing today is almost a completely online or computer aided experience. Students are composing in word processor programs as well as online in programs like Google Drive or directly in Canvas. While most of these text editors will probably have built in spelling and maybe a grammar check, a more robust dedicated editing tool can find hidden errors that are easily missed on a standard text editor, and there are many of these tools available on the web for free and for pay. I decided that maybe our students and even faculty and staff might benefit from some of these tools, so I wrote a summer project proposal to research it this summer.

My goal for a summer project is to spend some time using some of these editing tools to discover which make the best use for our students and for us. I also want to study how these programs work to discover if in fact they are accurate and how accurate they are. In addition, I’d like to research whether these tools actually benefit students by teaching them to become better writers or if they are simply a crutch. With this knowledge, I’d like to develop a plan for how best to use these programs with students so that the tools can be more of a teaching aide than a tool that makes corrections only for students. So my proposal includes academic research, activities that can enhance my professional knowledge and expertise, as well as field research to learn innovations. 

I think this will be great way to spend my time this summer, so I plan to complete this project over a 4 week period during the month of June. Did any of you submit a proposal? I’m curious how you plan to spend your summer if you did. 

6
Feb

In Search of My Inspiration. How Do I Expand Beyond?

I have to admit I’m borderline burnout, but what keeps me going these days are the people I work with on a daily basis. My inspiration comes from all of those faculty and staff who take the time to better themselves and be the best they can be and utilize the CLTE to help them with that. I can’t be a slacker around these folks. Oh no, so I’m inspired to step my game up and help provide the services they need, and it reminds me of why I’m doing this job in the first place. It’s easy to forget at times.

So the last thing I need to be doing right now is agonizing over a journal post, but I’m inspired to do so because of the 10+ posts already posted on Write6x6.com from last week. They are my inspiration to post, to share. They are my inspiration to complete a tedious FPG application for an upcoming workshop. My inspiration to schedule FMS training in the CTLE. My inspiration to send out yet another announcement about what we have to offer, knowing very few will bother to read it. But it’s that few that inspire me.

Recently I attended a district event at SCC called TechTalks. It’s a TEDTalks type of event where 8 speakers talk about their experience with using technology in their life or work environment. These talks are very inspirational, but on this particular Friday I had every legitimate excuse to not miss work and not attend. I’m so glad I didn’t give in to any one of those excuses because that’s all they are is excuses. Attending TechTalks rejuvenated me. It inspired me. It made me want to go and do ALL those things those speakers talked about. I wanted to understand data, play with virtual reality, create portfolios for my students, create OER, and even make a music video despite my lack of music and movie making skills. I was inspired. Again by my colleagues in Maricopa. I’m so glad I didn’t pass up this one of a multitude of opportunities to be inspired because what good am I to you, my colleagues, my students if I’m not inspired to do my job?

2
Mar

Using Social Media to Collaborate and Spread Love

That title is so vague, right? Well if you’re reading, it worked. Next week is Open Education Week, and as part of the Maricopa Millions Steering team, I will be using social media to help share all the love for OER we have in Maricopa. My job is to organize the team to get our word out using the hashtag #openeducationwk. Let’s just say that is an impossible job, but I’ve got this. I have a great plan to make this work. So here’s what we want to happen. It might be similar to what you might want to happen in a class. We have 12 people on the committee. Everyone is responsible for writing at least one tweet and a blog post in one of these five areas:

  1. What is OER? 
  2. How do I find OER? 
  3. Faculty experiences developing OER,
  4. Faculty experiences with using OER, and
  5. FAQs.

We then want to tweet and post all that content using the designated hashtag. We’ll be using the same Twitter handle @MaricopaOER and posting to the same blog: https://maricopamillions.wordpress.com, but having everyone logging in using the same credentials can get quite messy, plus you risk the chance of someone just messing the whole thing up. So I set up a shared Google Doc with all five categories and the names of those responsible for each category and then left a blank spot for each to fill in their contribution. Here’s an example below:

  • Faculty experiences developing OER – Sian Proctor, Alisa Cooper
    • Tweet
    • Blog/Email:
    • Tweet:
    • Blog/Email:

TwufferEveryone knows how to work in a shared document, so this step was a breeze. The team has been adding their tweets and blog posts to the document. Next I started scheduling the tweets and blogs posts to go out in a timely manner next week because no one person has time to be tweeting and blogging all day, every day for a week, right? So we used Twuffer to schedule our tweets to go out 2-3 a day for a week at 10:00 am, noon, and 2pm. “Twuffer allows the Twitter user to compose a list of future tweets, and schedule their release.” We have 14 scheduled so far, and I had my work study student set all this up.

For the blog posts, we are using our WordPress blog, so there’s a feature in there to schedule blog posts. Just cut & paste the content from the shared doc into a blog post, add the appropriate title, tags, and categories and then choose the day and time you want it to go out. We’ll be posting blogs every day at 9:00am and noon if we get enough posts. That’s a hint if anyone from the steering team is reading.

Finally for an added bonus, WordPress gives you the opportunity to automatically tweet out your blog post every time you post. So what that means is when the blog posts go out an additional tweet gets sent too. The tweet automatically sends the Title of the post and a link for people to read it. I had to go in and add the hashtag for open ed week, so those tweets will be a part of our arsenal next week too. Below is an example of what auto tweets from a blog look like. This is from our Write6x6 blog posting to our CTLE twitter account. Our WordPress stats show that many people click through from Twitter to read our blog. That’s because of these auto tweets.

Tweet from Blog

So we’re all set for Open Ed Week next week. If you want to follow us or all the tweets about open education week, click through to Twitter by clicking the links in the previous sentence. Or maybe you can think of a way to set something up like this for your students to tweet and blog together about a special topic in your class.

23
Feb

How Do You Rank in Terms of the Top Ranking Capabilities of Successful Graduates?

successLast 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

  1. Being able to organize work and manage time effectively
  2. Wanting to produce as good a job as possible
  3. Being able to set and justify priorities
  4. Being able to remain calm under pressure or when things go wrong
  5. Being willing to face and learn from errors and listen openly to feedback
  6. Being able to identify the core issue from a mass of detail in any situation
  7. Being able to work with senior staff without being intimidated
  8. Being willing to take responsibility for projects and how they turn out
  9. Being able to develop and contribute politely to team-based projects
  10. A willingness to persevere when things are not working gout as anticipated
  11. The ability of empathize and work productively with people from a wide range of backgrounds
  12. Being able to develop and use networks of colleagues to help solve key workplace problems
19
Feb

My Professional Development is Important to Me. What About You?

busy-coop

Maybe I should take a Photoshop class.

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.

7
Feb

Write 6×6 Round Two Started Feb. 1st

write6x6I’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.