Thursday, October 25, 2012

Returning vets who can't get jobs

Jon Stewart interviewed vets who can't get jobs due to the disconnect between military training and experience in the field and certification. There isn't some institution already getting going on this and offering prior learning assessment and setting up a learning plan to get these people jobs ASAP? I'm checking out the Hillsborough Community College (Tampa FL) web pages devoted to veterans and notice this "Veteran students must be degree seeking; that is, planning to graduate with an Associate in Arts (AA), Associate in Science (AS) or Associate in Applied Science (AAS) degree, Selected College Credit Certificates (CCC) or Post-Secondary Adult Vocational (PSAV). Note: Educator Preparatory Institute no longer qualifies." ( ) I wonder if HCC has any way to evaluate what a vet already knows to put them on a fast track to certification in some area such as EMT. Do schools offer such a service?

Monday, October 15, 2012


The TLTGroup of sMOOChers met online last Friday. The group's doing the Current/Future State of Higher Education MOOC(#cfhe12) together. Most of the group had just watched Siva Vaidhyanathan's presentation " Beyond MOOC Hyperbole: Why We Should Support MOOC Experimentation ... Critically and Carefully" CFHE12 is using GoToMeeting and we agreed that we don't like it. You can't see a list of participants and you can't chat with other participants while you are watching. You can send questions to the moderator, but otherwise there is no interaction. Do I see that organizers have a choice about allowing everyone to use the chat window?? I'm not sure why that function didn't seem to be available. See "chat with other attendees" Another aggravtion with GoToMeeting: Watching an archived copy of the first presentation by Jeff Selingo required putting in your name and email address again and downloading a codec (in my case) and THEN watching. Stephen Downes put up a copy of the Selingo's presentation at - no problems there! Having the right tool at the right time makes a difference.

Coincidentally, I was looking through Peeragogy: A Peer-Learning Handbook ( recently and like the way they suggest thinking about tools for self-learners in terms of function. Learners need tools to collect (search/visualize), relate (consulting others), create (and co-create), and distribute/disseminate information. ( ) We sure could add some criteria to a synchronous tool. I would like something more like Bb Collaborate or Adobe Connect.

One of the SMOOCHERS mentioned etiquette - or lack of it - in the discussion forums. I haven't noticed anything even slightly off to me, so I'm trying to figure out what might have seemed troubling. I'm wondering if this was a reaction to some informality(?) (Some participants in CFHE12 know each other, so there's that.) Want to see really bad behavior? There was plenty in the Coursera course I took. The teaching assistants for that course did not use a heavy hand, but they did remove some postings. We can remind participants to be polite, but what should we do when some aren't? Perhaps we should warn MOOC newbies about the potential for a lack of decorum in discussion forums Perhaps we should suggest that newbies warm up by spending a few hours reading comments on slashdot and reddit and get innured to flip comments. Perhaps we should be trained in strategies for dealing with rude postings when we are not in charge. (Some suggestions for dealing with difficult students in the online classroom at )

Last Friday was a day of complete confusion for me about what time I was supposed to be where - both in physical space and online space. I need an administrative assistant! I finally made it online for that first TLT Group sMOOCHers discussion on CFHE12. Talk about confusion in general! I've been using the wrong hastag for sMOOCHers. It should be #tltgSMOOCHERS . I would have sworn that I'd been reading all my TLT email, but I guess not.

Speaking of technology: I do not yet have a mobile device with a data plan/hotspot. I experimented with ways to get onto wifi as if I were getting out of work at 2pm and getting into a 2pm online meeting ASAP. Not much luck with a rapid launch with my current batch of devices from my work location! Maybe it's time to pay Verizon more money? (sigh).

What money can buy: Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy For Girls

I watched the tv show about the first graduating class of the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls on OWN network last night. Oprah is aiming to create a "new generation of dynamic women leaders." I poked around their web site this morning. The OWLAG says this about ICT: "We continually monitor ICT developments in education - seeking new ways of using connectivism as a learning theory and exploring the genefits of networked learning." There is an Arts and Culture Department that "provides after-school co-curriculum programme which focuses on creativity, opportunity and development." The OWLAG includes design technology in the curriculum with lessons that are mostly project-driven and assessed on the basis of teamwork as well as other results. The school stresses community service. There is an office of university guidance and a wellness team. The school offers the Internantional Baccalaureate degree for the middle years. The school teaches English, IsiZulu, SeSotho and Akrikaans. English is the "bridging language." The other three languages help ensure that these students will be "firmly grounded by their culture and South African heritage." The description of the library includes this: "Books are the most important part of the Library. Despite our very impressive collection of DVDs, movie recordings and subscription databases, the printed word in its traditional format is where research and reading skills begin." (That sounds almost quaint to me - but I appreciate the sentiment.) Nice! What if all kids had a personal advisor and a wellness coach and a life orientation curriculum? I know that Oprah has plenty of money to lavish on tis particular school and gets to pick the best blueberries (see ), but what if we had the will to do more for all of our children?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

CFHE12 Current and Future/State of Higher Education

CFHE12 MOOC is using Desire2Learn. Since UMUC recently announced that they are going with Desire2Learn, I'm glad to get an opportunity to experience this LMS as a student. I tried to log on right after getting the first newsletter. No luck! The log on procedure needed some tweaking. While that was annoying, I understand that these things happen. Online courses: You are going to put up with at least a little bit of technology pain. (Contrast this with driving to campus which is problem-free, right? No! They forgot to give us adjuncts the new faculty parking lot code at the beginning of the semester. Parking nightmare!) I had my own confusions getting used to D2L. Barry Dahl explained how to see many posts at once in the discussion forums by changing to "reading style". That helped! Initially I wasn't sure who Mark Read was - but I'm slowly getting the hang of it. Did I look for help screens? No! I behaved just like most of my students.
One of the nice things about the discussion forums in D2L: I did a search for "librarian" in the Introductions forum and found all the librarians I had listed as I read through the introductions. Perhaps we should all be trained to use keywords and tags in our discussion postings as a matter of course. "Imagine that someone is trying to find material on the topic of your post. Will they find yours?"

Whether it's a MOOC or not, my little, fleeting problems with D2L made me think about some micro-level aspects of online vs face-to-face courses:

Online courses: Course syllabi and instructions for assignments can be confusing. One course I teach asks students to list "discipline." Some students are asking for clarification. Perhaps we should just ask them to list "your major"? (It's a grad course.) (P.S. I ask students to list the last book they read for fun. Many students in my last two courses listed Fifty Shades of Grey. Maybe they are thinking of a different kind of discipline.
Face to face courses: Course syllabi and instructions for assignments can be just as confusing, but it may be easier to ask questions about the instructions in a face-to-face class.

Students may have trouble navigating all the components of an online course. (I do not believe that navigation and use problems are restricted to use of an LMS.)
Most of us have been sitting in classes since the first grade. We know how face-to-face courses work.

Watching a professor deliver a video lecture online can be boring.
Listening to a professor deliver a lecture in class can be boring.

Wading through online threaded discussion forums can be tedious.
Listening to that one student who always hogs airspace in class can be tedious.

Contacting your instructor and/or other students via email, chat, phone, etc. can be a snap in online courses (though the response might not be instantaneous)
Students may be able to avail themselves of faculty office hours and/or stay after class to ask questions.

Students taking online courses may plagiarize and cheat on exams.
Students taking f2f courses may plagiarize and cheat on exams.

Students may complete an online course and yet not have a true, deep understanding of the content.
Students may complete an online course and yet not have a true, deep understanding of the content.