LINK: OSU opens research unit for online teaching, learning

“The OSU Extended Campus Research Unit is designed to create an accessible and inclusive online learning environment.”

“Oregon State is in a position to build a robust research pipeline that ultimately will improve the access and quality of online teaching and learning for our adult learners,” [Lisa L.] Templeton said. “It will allow the university to expand its reach even further and give students more opportunities to succeed.”

OSU opens research unit for online teaching, learning. Oregon State University news. January 6, 2016.

Link & File: WCET, OLC, and UPCEA Partner on Higher Ed Act for the 21st Century Learner

Three key organizations in the field of online learning have partnered together to produce a two-page handout that summarizes emerging issues, in the hopes that those concerns can be addressed in the upcoming reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. This partnership hopes to create “a unified voice on pending federal regulations for today’s higher education students.”

Read more on the WCET blog, or view the handout below.

Link: Mapping a MOOC Reveals Global Patterns in Student Engagement

A professor at Penn State reflects on trends in engagement among the 49,000 registered students in his MOOC. A blog post by one of his graduate students goes into more detail and breaks down engagement by various demographic factors.

The map shows places in South Asia where engagement was low but people earned passing grades, which signals a different type of motivation for taking the course in that part of the world compared with other locales. We also see places in the United States and Europe where people were engaging with the course and not earning a passing grade — so these would be the folks who were interested in the topic but probably didn’t care about earning the credential at the end.

Robinson, Anthony. “Mapping a MOOC Reveals Global Patterns in Student Engagement.” Chronicle of Higher Education, January 11, 2016.

Fish, Carolyn. “Making Maps of a MOOC.” The CartoFish Blog. August 14, 2015. 

File: 7 Things You Should Know About The Evolution of the Transcript

A comprehensive overview of recent efforts to transcript digital badges, competencies, internships, and other non-traditional sources of educational experience.

Efforts are under way to capture a broader range of learning experiences and create frameworks to curate them, providing a more holistic view of student learning.

Link: Summiting by the Online Route

Excerpts from a conversation between Michael Rodgers (Southeast Missouri State) and Carl Lashley (UNC Greensboro), on Lashley’s experiences teaching in an online doctoral degree program.

UNCG’s doctoral program is attractive because it is sensitive to the needs of working professionals. The strong online component saves commuting time. From the relative comfort of home, students are fresher and more relaxed when it is time to log into the online course after a very busy day of work. Even so, most of Lashley’s students live relatively nearby (less than a 2 hour commute), which affords them the opportunity to come to campus from time to
time for face-to-face courses, meet with faculty, and attend advising sessions and seminars. Lashley’s awareness of his students’ need for a sense of belonging motivates him to use the on-campus events to establish relationships that Lashley characterizes as “accidental cohorts,” which create connections and lend authenticity to the virtual relationships born of online interactions within discussion boards and group activities.

Rodgers and Lashley. “Summiting by the Online Route.” Tomorrow’s Professor (Stanford), #1454. January 2016.

File: Stories from Students in Their First Semester of Distance Learning

This unique study used video diaries to collect data on student experiences as first-term distance learners.

Learner stories reveal many shades of grey to the “soft factors” of what it means to be a distance learner and provide a unique insight into the complexity of studying from a distance.

Link: Mobile Learning: Moving Past the Myths and Embracing the Opportunities

The authors of this paper–a condensed version of which was the top post on eCampus News for 2015–articulate and debunk several myths about mobile learning, including the idea that mobile learning is limited to phones, that it is only applicable in distance education, or that it fails to make use of existing good pedagogical practice. They also discuss its pedagogical affordances.

mLearning is appropriate for designing learning environments for a variety of learning contexts.

Brown and Mbati, “Mobile Learning: Moving Past the Myths and Embracing the Opportunities.” International Review of Research in Open and Distributed Learning, vol 16 no 2, April 2015.

Link: 3 Truths and 5 Recommendations for Online Programs

If teaching online is harder, takes more time, and even more disastrous if done poorly than face-to-face learning is, why should anyone launch an online program? Inside Higher Ed blogger Joshua Kim showcases how in spite of these challenges, developing new online programs can help grow institutional capacity and foster innovation. The comments on this post are also valuable!

Moving a program online is an opportunity to rethink the program.

Kim, Joshua. “3 Truths and 5 Recommendations for Online Programs.” Inside Higher Ed. December 15, 2015.