Live from ITC – Day 4: Challenges and Student Successes of eAdvising, Online Tutoring, and eLearning Orientation Support Services

Could the title be any longer? Note to self… Next time you present, make the title of the session short and simple. It’s my last day at ITC, and what will probably be my last session here, because I have to get my ducks aligned so I can catch a flight back east in a few hours… My ride to the airport is gonna be here a little sooner than I initially anticipated, so I must adjust my schedule accordingly and won’t be able to make the last sessions (although I’m going to try to catch a little bit, but we’ll see…)

Representatives of Coyahoga Community College discuss their struggles and conquests as they created a fully online support services for their students.

The initiatives involved a lot of cross-departmental collaboration in an effort to provide the highest quality services to their fully online students. The implementation of these initiatives had a broad impact on ALL students, regardless of whether they were traditional or online students. Communication is key.

Title III Grant recipients. The initiatives were initially developed to create an eLearning orientation but it turns out that the same concepts being delivered in eLearning orientation also needed to be included in the college’s standard new student orientation.

Online services offered: Virtual front door, eAdvising, Financial Aid TV, and online tutoring (SMARTHINKING).

Virtual Front Door was initially envisioned as a single web page, but soon evolved into an entity of it’s own. Virtual Front Door contains links to all services offered by the school, as well as links to live chat where students can chat one-on-one with someone from the school.

EAdvising: performed by faculty. Initially an email based system, but they’ve recently moved to SARS. Secure environment, transmits question to next available advisor. Once question has been answered, student receives an email with a link to the response. Students can see all the interactions they’ve had so they build their own personal solutions repository as well. After 1st year, GPA of eAdvising students jumped from 2.6 to 3.1. Completion rates of students who used eAdvising jumped from 77% in FA10 to 82% in SP11.

Financial Aid TV: set of videos which give students answers to their most frequently asked questions about navigating financial air process.

Online Tutoring: They used Smarthinking to deliver online tutoring. Nearly 5,000 online tutoring sessions so far. Biggest surprise is that a good number of f2f students are making use of the service. Most requests for online tutoring come in between 8pm and midnight. Contracted with Smarthinking, but are currently exploring other options as well. Significant increases in use of services over time, and average GPA of students who use service has increased as a result.

Orientation: asynchronous, not mandatory. Students log in to the environment and can resume where they left off. Contains interactive presentations which demonstrate how to use LMS, as well as tips on time management, avoiding procrastination, dealing with the unexpected, etc. Also has SmarterMeasure assessment as well.

Lessons Learned:

  • include all potential stakeholders
  • let people get there on their own. Don’t try to force folks into the project.
  • Do the research. Network. Don’t re-invent the wheel.
  • Embrace the value of audience/user feedback
  • test for usability and accessibility
  • Recognize the value of metrics
  • stay flexible and always look out for improvement options
  • Consider sustainability from the start…

Live from ITC – Day 3: Expanding our Anytime, Anywhere with Mobile Learning

Presented by Heather Dawson and Jin Sung An of Penn State World Campus (World Campus Learning Design)

Presentation materials at

According to the 2012 Horizon Report “People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to”. Trends to watch.. < 1 year: Rise of mobile apps and tablet computing 2-3 years: gaming, 4-5 years: gestures

  1. Research Overview: Evaluated mobile learning options, tried to determine whether or not students would use mobile resources. Team sought to define mobile learning, review current discussions, evaluate instructional options for adult learners, evaluate what works on what devices, assess pros and cons, define limitations, and formulate plan of action.
    • Flexibility and Motivation: student-centered approach, include optional meaningful activities, mobility (class everywhere!), address multiple learning styles. But… Does this make students more motivated to learn.
    • Defining mobile learning: knowledge on the move.
    • What’s a mobile device: portable, always on, always connected (tablets, phones, ereaders, etc.)
    • State of Mobile Learning: US lags behind other countries in implimentation.

session interrupted due to fire alarm…LOL

  • Course Pilot and Mobile Activities: Pilot ran in Spring 2011, including 10 courses in adult Ed, special Ed, intro accounting, and engineering. Lasted for first 5 weeks of semester. Approximately 400 students invited to participate.
    • Technology Considerations: Mobile strategy… Static strategy can’t work with a dynamic technology. So, they went after the “low hanging fruit”. Points to ponder… What’s already in place? should you use native apps or web apps?
    • Course Pilot- Incorporating mLearning Activities. Set up mobile website (with a lengthy URL). In order to minimize confusion, they set up QR codes and a shortened URL. Used jQuery mobile to develop code and created app.

    • Elements in courses: Audio podcasts, mobile flash cards (Kaka for Android, Mental Case or Mental Class on iOS), Syllabus, course announcements
  • Findings: 27 question survey. Low response level (13 students out of 400 responded) Nearly Students all owned smart phones and at least one other advice. Students were looking for access to course resources as well as admin tasks, learning activities tightly connected to subject matter, active learning process. Do mobile activites make students
    More motivated?!
    50% were equally motivated while about 35% were more motivated. Analytics tell us more… Though only 13% of students accessed the survey, 94 accessed the mobile site and 72 returned to it multiple times. About 75% were accessing via iOS devices.
  • Next Steps: Design for features, not devices. LMS that supports mLearning. hold focus groups. Do more research…
  • ITC 2012 Day 3: Using Free Tools to Support Teaching and Learning

    Presented by Shannon Eastep of Northern Kentucky University.

    Love love love me some free tools! I’m the kinda guy who will try pretty much any tech tool, just to see what happens, and I’m always looking out for more. So this is really my kind of session. From the handout, I can already see that I’ll be walking out of the session with new goodies in my bag. Tools being showcased are part of NKU’s EDU305 – Conference Presentations course.

    • Audacity: I’ve used this one for years to record and edit audio and find myself using it more and more. It’s cross-platform. It’s open source. It’s flexible. Plug-ins are available to further enhance functionality.
    • AudioBoo: On-the-fly web-based audio recoding.
    • Dipity: Create interactive Web-based timelines complete with embedded multimedia elements. (Alternative: Time Toast)
    • EyeJot: Create and send video emails
    • Jing: Record on-the-fly video screen captures or grab screenshots. Videos up to 5 minutes with a 2GB bandwidth limit for Jing videos. (Alternative: Screencast-o-matic)
    • PB Works: Create and maintain wiki’s.
    • PollEverywhere: Online polls which can be used in f2f sessions to get immediate feedback from students. Students text responses.
    • StudyStack: Create and deliver flash cards and other interactive study aids like hangman, matching, and bug chase. (StudyStack is a free alternative to Respondus StudyMate)
    • Today’s Meet: Web-based meeting rooms for chat sessions or online office hours.
    • Vocaroo: On-the-fly web based audio recordings. Drawback is that recordings may only be available for 3-4 months
    • VoiceThread: Web-based Audio discussion board which provides a presentation and allows users to make comments on the presentation via audio, video, or text.
    • Bonus idea: Present PowerPoint as a video. Export voice-over PPT slides as JPG files then import audio and images into Movie Maker to create videos.
    • Bonus idea #2: Create excel spreadsheet as a formative assessment. Cell presents prompt, students select what they think is the appropriate answer from a second cell, and a third cell tells the student whether or not they selected the correct answer.

    Bonus idea… Present PowerPoint as a video. Export voice-over PPT slides as JPG files then import audio and images into Movie Maker to create videos.

    Some considerations for all these tools (and others)…

    • Can you download your materials?
    • Are they ADA compliant?
    • What are the Limitations of free accounts?
    • How long will it stay on the site?
    • Mobile compatibility?

    Live from ITC – Day 3: Communicating, Creating, and Connecting: Meeting the Challenges of Teaching Public Speaking Online

    Public speaking online? How is that possible?? Okay, we know it’s possible, but how did they do it? These are just thoughts and impressions and may or may not translate into a cohesive narrative… Consider yourself warned.

    For the fully online degree, one of the primary concerns is that online students will not be able to get a “true public speaking” experience. However, in the connected age, public speaking is more than just talking in front of an audience. It also includes presenting information and presenting oneself online via social media. Responsible online behavior should be taught. Many companies now have “Social Networking Background Checks” for potential new hires. Many companies also do interviews online via Skype or similar avenues.

    In Illinois, online public teaching courses required to have speeches delivered before a live audience. Hybrid delivery is the best of both worlds for this type of course because the f2f components address traditional public speaking elements while online components address the more modern needs.

    The idea isn’t just about using online tools to deliver the course, but to also teach how to use these tools responsibly.

    How does it work?

    • Recurring characters: storyline which appears in each lessons and expose students to their worst fears about public speaking. Engages students as they relate to characters’ struggles. Establishes context for what’s to come in the lesson. Scaffolded design with activities and elements building upon one another
    • Discussion forums: Same as In other courses, but are designed to foster a sense of commonality and build empathy between students as they realize that they all feel the same anxieties and fears.
    • From the desk of…: Collections of short videos featuring instructors from around the country that offer insight, tips, and hints. Adds a level of authenticity to the course and provides more diverse experiences than what they’d receive in the traditional classroom.
    • Instant IQ: Quick video clips that deal with most salient issues on each topic. Feature a variety of subject matter experts.m it’s like having a special guest speaker in every module.
    • Delivery:
      • Content: Each lesson subdivided into 3+ Topics and include introduction, presentation, practice activities, and graded assignments.
      • Practice Activities: Allow students to play around with the content and experiment with the information and skills without worrying about the grade. Self-assessments in place so students can identify their own strengths and weaknesses.
      • Graded Assignments: Rubrics for grading assignments provided to students and instructor so that students can evaluate performances by recurring characters and see how their own work will be graded. For speeches, students record themselves and can submit recordings in a variety of ways such as submitting to dropbox, uploading video to YouTube, setting it as unlisted and providing link to instructor, and other methods as well.

    Textbook and course title is “Public Speaking: Preparation and Presentation in a Digital World”. The course is available from Coast Learning Systems. eBook and text are directly aligned to the course.

    Live from ITC – Day 3: Random Thoughts to Start the Day

    Once again, the keynote that kicked off the day was eye-opening, in more ways than one. Thanks to the [insert corporate brand name here] coffee provided by the [insert corporate brand name here] Hotel, I was alert and ready to learn, but no amount of coffee could have prepared me for this morning’s keynote.

    Let’s face it. Students come into college with (or without) a distinct goal in mind, but all too often, life happens and the students get sidetracked and wind up unable to complete their degree on time, and many drop out after one semester. This is not new news. The factors that lead students to want to pursue a college degree are quite often the very same things which keep them from succeeding. The desire to improve oneself and the strength of the dream are often diminished over time due to overwhelming life circumstances. Again, this is not new news.

    In order to keep students on track and help them achieve their dreams, we need to adjust the way we work. Institutions are designed to serve the needs of “traditional” students, but now, there are more “non-traditional” students than “traditional” students. How do we make the institution open and ready to serve these diverse needs?

    How can we help students get professional certifications and degrees? With the advent of open resources, like MITx and the Mozilla Open Badges, why can’t we incorporate these “mini-credentials” into the curriculum? Why can’t we have a system within a course or degree program which enables students to achieve these mini-credentials as a part of their curriculum. These are just random thoughts with no research, and I’m writing them now so I won’t lose them. But why can’t I, as a technology instructor, help my students earn badges (which are similar to achievements in video games) as they complete coursework? If the skills needed to earn these badges align with the course goals and objectives, then it shouldn’t be a problem. But what if there are some badges which sort of align with my course goals but not entirely? Can I do extra credit assignments which will allow the over achieves to get these extra badges? Is there a way I can have these badges represented in the LMS and carry over from semester to semester? Can we add the badges to transcripts?

    These are just food for thought, reactions to this morning’s presentation, about which I will blog later…

    Anyway, the next session is about to start, so I’m off to learn once more…

    Live from ITC: Day 2: Preparing Students for the Online Environment

    Last session of the day… This one is from the good folks from North Central Texas College. They have an ANGEL orientation class which is required for all students in online or hybrid classes. Students must complete the orientation course prior to starting the class. Each semester, faculty are required to post an updated course info page so that prospective students know up-front exactly what they should expect. Additionally, these pages give advisors a resource as well so they may better direct students.

    Maintain website at which provides information on orientations, keys to success, etc. Additionally, flyers are posted around campus informing students of online course orientations as well. SmarterMeasure is used to help students determine whether or not they’re ready for the demands of online courses. Also offer live office hours and online advising.

    The problem is that faculty tended to spend the first week of class on orientation activities rather than teaching. Students taking multiple online courses had to go through multiple orientations.

    ANGEL created custom environment variable which won’t allow students to access course without first completing orientation. Students must pass final exam in orientation course with 80% or better in order to gain access to their course. Orientation course is self paced and students must register for the course through college. Course appears on transcript.

    Lessons in orientation course include:

    Technical Information: (accepted browsers, required software and/ or plugins, etc.) and students have to complete a technology acknowledgement (and score 100 on it) in order to move into the next module.

    Strategies for Success: link to SmarterMeasure assessment, information on how to succeed (log in daily, get textbooks early, etc.). Strategies component also includes acknowledgement on which student s must score 100 before they can advance.

    Finding Your Way Around ANGEL: covers the basics of ANGEL components, navigation, etc. and contains several short assignments which students must complete in order to move forward. Students are also required to post to discussion forums, submit to a drop box (with and without attachments), complete quizzes, play games, and even demonstrate proficiency with the ANGEL WYSIWYG editor.

    Library Resources: while the unit contains no assessments, it does contain extensive information on how to make use of the variety of resources available through the college library.

    Final Exam: 40 or so questions on the exam which students must pass with a grade of 80 or better. Students are allowed to retake the test as many times as they wish, until they receive a passing grade. Nearly all students who took the final exam did indeed pass it.

    Live from ITC: Day 2: Universal Design for Learning in Practice – Teach Yourself to Design Accessible Courses

    Presented by Kimberly Fields – Laramie Community College

    Universal Design for Learning… That glorious set of principles which aids us as we endeavor to create online resources which are fully accessible to all individuals regardless of special needs impairments. See for info on origins of UDL. The National Center on UDL was formed in 2009. The principles of UDL are: representation, action and expression, and engagement. The ultimate goal is learning and UDL princiles help students to achieve the goal regardless of their needs.

    Representation: how info is conveyed
    Expression: how students demonstrate mastery
    Engagement: how are students interacting with the material and how are their individual needs and expectations of the course being met? How does curriculum match up with students’ personal goals?

    Intro to Lit Online… A personal journey

    The issue started when Kimberly had a deaf student in her online class in SP11. Student couldn’t hear required videos and videos lacked closed captioning. She turned it over to the office of student services who turned it back over to her and informed her that making the course accessible was her responsibility. Moving from the Accommodation approach to the Universal Design approach involves a paradigm shift. In old thinking, (accommodation approach) the onus was on the individual to get their special needs addressed. In new thinking (UDL), the responsibility lies with the course designer. While her course did meet UDL principles for engagement, the course fell short in areas of Expression and Representation.

    Online office hours now done in Bb collaborate and use of accessibility review. Poetry presentations now oral or written instead of only oral as they were before.

    Students get to choose whether or not they want audio or written feedback for assignments.
    Creating a collection of captioned videos.
    Creating captions for existing videos.

    BUT textbook isn’t available as an ebook
    AND cool web 2.0 tools like Prezi and Google Docs are not fully accessible.

    Top 3 lessons for improving representation

    1. Review your Technology.
      • Search for a VPAT (voluntary product accessibility template). Tool used to document product’s conformance with accessibility standards. Review it carefully and make sure that the vendor is working to make it compliant.
      • search for “screen reader + product” in Google and see what your results look like. Try “screen reader + prezi” if you’re in the mood to have your heart broken.
    2. look for captioned videos. On YouTube, search for “search term, cc” and see what you get. This will only yield results which have closed captioning
    3. DIY captioning ain’t that hard! Screencastomatic can help!!
      • captioning CAN be outsourced, but it’s expensive…

    It’s a lot of work, but it can be done… Moreover, it SHOULD be done.

    Live from ITC: Day 2 – The Grand Debate: Developmental Students Cannot Succeed Online

    The Grand Debate is an ITC tradition which takes a controversial topic in distance learning and has two distance learning professionals debate the topic. The debate is lots of fun and quite enjoyable for all in attendance.

    It’s also one of those “you had to be there” kind of things. So rather than give a blow-by-blow of the events, I’ll provide a few of the high points. I neither endorse nor oppose any of these statements, but they do give one pause to consider the issues…

    Developmental Students CAN Succeed Online

    • Just because an instructor excels in a traditional classroom, doesn’t mean they’ll excel online.
    • Design is critical to the success of students
    • instructors must be willing to log in regularly and offer support to students
    • online success rates in developmental courses are close to those of traditional courses, with hybrid courses proving more successful than exclusively f2f or online courses.
    • use of reporting tools and assessments allow online instructors the ability to see whether or not students truly comprehend material.
    • better instruction on how to teach online is needed to ensure that faculty are properly prepared for the challenge
    • shrinking budgets + exponential growth in distance learning = increasing need for dev Ed course online
    • if we don’t do it,the for-profit schools will
    • step into the now. Who are your students? They’re not traditional students and many of them can’t come to campus. Should they be deprived of the opportunity because they can’t make it to classes on campus?

    Developmental Students CANNOT Succeed Online

    • the unscripted interactions of students which happen before or after classes is lost online
    • the “lost look” is lost in online courses as instructors cannot see student reactions and work to adjust on the fly.
    • developmental mathematics may not be the best topic to put online
    • often, instructors and students woefully unprepared and publisher “classes in a box” don’t effectively teach the material either.
    • meta cognition in developmental students is lacking
    • instructors aren’t properly using the tools available and lack appropriate training
    • typing mathematical symbols and equations is just not easy
    • students can’t engage in rich mathematical conversation online due to the difficulty of typing in mathematical symbols.
    • even if students DO pass, how do we know that they’ve actually LEARNED anything?

    A lively, fun, entertaining debate between two skilled and gifted instructors. The debate is always one of the highlights of the ITC conference…

    More to come… Two afternoon sessions coming up!

    Live from ITC: Day 2 – 360 Student Services: Engaging the Online Student from Prospect to Degree

    Sinclair Community College in Dayton, OH has created a model for fully online student services which begins when the student applies to the school and ends with their graduation from the institution.

    SinclairOnline has 6000 online students with 13 fully online programs. Overwhelming growth in online enrollment (almost 100% in the past 5 years) and a reactive approach to student support services led to development of this new model. Realized that students were confused by the complex maze they had to navigate in order to get into school and be successful.

    To create program, the broke down the process into 5 stage roadmap to success. Admissions, financial aid, advising, academic and personal resources, registration, and community building.

    “An engaged student is a successful student.”. Engagement occurs both inside and outside of the classroom.

    Other schools have faced similar issues and bottlenecks with Financial Aid, students understanding how to use the technology, getting students to work with advisors (f2f and online), and understanding the process. It’s critical that Divisions build internal relationships with one another and create a seamless environment for students.

    Sinclair evaluated who their students were, and who were in the most critical need of assistance then established a 3 tier system beginning with students who have greatest needs (non-local students, at-risk students, students in Developmental courses, and First 30 students), moderate needs (any fully online students), and reduced level of needs (students taking online and f2f courses).

    To serve the needs of ALL students, they broke down student population into subgroups based on specific needs and associated subgroups with specific tiers and created tools to address the individual needs.

    Their SSP (Student Success Plan), which will be open source in 2012, allows for “coaches” to collect data (demographic, edu goals, life factors, etc.) students and create customized action plans for individual students. Action plan includes a list of challenges the student may have and provides action steps which students can take to conquer the challenge. Action steps are assigned due dates to encourage completion, Also, confidentiality level can be assigned to individual action steps so that sensitive student information is not freely available. Each event (meeting, email, etc.) is logged as a journal entry so that progress can be tracked and reviewed by other coaches (based on confidentiality level) and progress can be more accurately tracked. Additional information such as personality type, standardized test scores, unofficial transcripts, appeal forms, etc. can also be stored in the system. Robust reporting tool allows for immediate and comprehensive tracking of student progress, status, and goals. Academic companion to SSP is MAP Maker which allows development of proscriptive schedule so that students and coaches can see whether or not the student is on track.

    Other tools and resources for students include SinclairOnline include Navigating SinclairOnline, which is an online orientation that includes a step-by-step process of how to do everything they’ll need to do, complete with an interactive checklist.

    Additionally, the “How to Succeed in an Online Course” is a required free course for students who’ve never taken an online class that students can complete before they take their first class.
    Takes between 1 and 3 hours to complete and is available and covers all the basics of how to access and use ANGEL, how online courses work, self-assessments which allow students to evaluate their readiness for the online classroom, and how to get and stay organized in and online course.

    Upon completion of final course survey, certificate is created and record is made in college database so that student is allowed to register for online courses.

    Project was a staff-led initiative, assembling ideas from other institutions, departments, and professionals to create a comprehensive model that works.

    ITC live blogging – day 2: Teaching Online- A Transformative Course

    Presented by Sinclair Community College – Alice Renner

    This session featured a discussion of Sinclair’s program for training ft and pt faculty in the facilitation of a pre-made online course. The course, which is housed in ANGEL, was deemed necessary due to increases in the number of students enrolling in online courses, growth in number of course offerings, and an increase in the number of sections being offered. More sections means a need for more online instructors. This course does not certify the instructor to create a new course, and all new courses must be QM certified before going live.

    Strategies for course:

    • Gives faculty members the full “online learner experience” so that they may better understand the issues encountered by students.
    • Places focus on pedagogy.
    • Based on current research and includes an emphasis on reflective activities, giving faculty an opportunity to consider how they teach as opposed to what they teach.

    The 5 week course is offered quarterly and is facilitated by experienced online faculty. The 5 modules focus on:

    • Getting started online
    • Engaging students online
    • Facilitating discussions
    • Working in groups
    • Assessing student learning

    Incentives for faculty to participate.

    • Faculty paid $500 once they’ve completed course and teach online
    • Faculty paid $1000 to teach
    • Online course facilitator certificate
    • Helps adjuncts increase level in ranking

    Inside the course:

    • Every week, there is a hidden checklist so instructor knows what to cover and what is expected of them.
    • Syllabus
    • Due date breakdown
    • Survey to start course
    • First day folder
    • Instructor intro
    • Expectations – yours and mine
    • How to pass this course
    • Anonymous End of unit evaluation
    • Participants given ANGEL shell with editor access
    • Includes videos featuring successful online faculty offering tips and personal experience on the online teaching experience. << very cool!
    • 2 truths and one falsehood in introduction forum as icebreaker. Students asked to post 2 truths and 1 falsehood about themselves and other students are to reply and try to figure out what the falsehood may be.

    Lightbox: creates embeddable image viewer to add into course.

    Emphasis on learner-centric design.
    “Teaching teaching and understanding understanding” – YouTube video series

    “for the curious” links to supplemental material which enhances material but isn’t required.

    Emphasizes the value of using audio feedback for students.