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Distance Ed Findings

North Texas Regional Community College Technology Forum © R. Craig Collins, 2005

Notes on North Texas Regional Community College Technology Forum


Session I: Why Tech Projects Fail… Cancelled
Session I:
Innovative Teaching

In competing for a pool of students, who now have more choices in deciding where to spend their education dollars, Collin County Community College has established several programs to support flexibility in maximizing lab time and increasing students enrolled. Open Entry/Open Exit allows students to begin classes on any day in the semester and to start the next class in the sequence the next class period. Blended learning classes have fixed start and stop dates, but through an online interactive learning tool, students can participate in lectures interactively online and can view recorded lectures after the fact for review. They can also participate in class if they desire. The presentation includes PowerPoint slides, web demo, Q&A and handouts highlighting how each of these modalities supports flexibility.

Barbara Taylor, Collin County Community College
Pete Brierly, Collin County Community College

My Notes:
This school uses a unified curriculum to deliver Open Entry/Open Exit solution.
OE/OE requires team teaching in order for faculty to always be in the lab when students drop in.
For OE/OE, department wants students who rely on peers, has experience, and therefore needs less lecture to succeed
All lecture material is canned.
OE/OEUsed to help upper division classes ‘make’ by opening access to those in workforce

Blended has structured meeting times, but student can ‘attend’ via internet.
Blended instruction allows interaction not available in OE/OE

Department uses costly simulations available on line, instead of always requiring students to come to on campus lab.

Students must have good time management skills, and procrastination is a real problem.
Reporting grades can be a problem with so many faculty involved in process

Bottom Line: They indicated these solutions do not work well with new students, and
they have no data to show if these methods actually attract students, percentage of those who complete etc.

Keynote -
Stand and Deliver: The Convergence of Demography and Technology in Community Colleges

Dr. Paul Taylor, Chief Strategy Officer, Center for Digital Education
Presentation available at http://www.pwt.net/roadshows/

Discussed trends in online percentage of baby boomers and gen Y, such as younger students expecting information on handhelds in addition to computers, as well as expecting an ‘experience’, not just service.

Indicated majority of US online, 81% students online, and in 2007 majority of US will have broadband, across all demographics

Discuss how much education on line is asynchronous (70%) and synchronous (10%)

Session II:
Keeping your Online Students

Insights from veteran Internet faculty have been compiled to provide you with new strategies for improving your online retention.

Mickey Slimp, Dean, Learning Resources, Tyler Junior College
Online course at https://www.tjc.edu/vctsecure/vctform-combined.asp

Example retention rates for online courses: developmental math, 7%.

Getting started 
  1. Administrative
    a. Identify students early
    b. Capture email
    c. Make first contact
      i. Phone
      ii. Postcard
      iii. Email
    d. Send information packet 
    e. Technical headstart
      i. Equipment test
      ii. Login test
      iii. Needed downloads
    f. Avoid late enrollment
  2. Orientation
    a. Introduce self
    b. Introduce class to each other
    c. Force interaction… build community
      i. Instant messaging
      ii. Discussion area
        1. Ice breakers
        2. Student pages
    d. Navigate class
    e. Identify student expectations
    f. Set expectations
      i. Calendar
      ii. Participation (avoids procrastination) 
        1. 3 times a week in class discussion area
    g. how to deal with problems
  3. During the semester
    a. Modularize Calendar
      i. Activities
      ii. Major Events
      iii. Exam Dates
      iv. Front load course to avoid burn out
      v. use selective release of content
    b. Use Reviews/Quizzes as reward opportunities
    c. Use multi-sensory, go beyond course management
      i. Phone
        1. call center
      ii. Email
      iii. Snail mail
      iv. Newsletter
        1. may be student created
      v. use video and sound
    d. Use Groups
      i. Schedule group activities
      ii. Identify partners
      iii. Lab work
      iv. CHAT
    e. Help!
      i. Use Distance Ed office
      ii. Use campus IS office
      iii. Use call center
      iv. Use work study students to help
      v. Use Student assistants to help
      vi. Use Student services (testing center)
    f. Link up with
      i. Professional associations
      ii. Fellow instructors
      iii. Other institutions
    g. Avoid Burnout
      i. Plan time
      ii. Let students know your hours
      iii. Know the signs
        1. can’t catch up
        2. frantic
        3. avoidance
    h. Solutions
      i. Get ahead
      ii. Team teach
    i. Learn from the experience
      i. Collect data
      ii. Student polls

Session III
Making Faculty/Student Contact in Online Classes: Helping Retention with Multi-Media and Other Online Contact.

The relatively new environment of online classes has generated concern over student retention. This presentation argues for increased faculty/student contact--both real and virtual--to decrease the sense of isolation for students. It addresses PowerPoint with embedded audio, movie clips, discussion postings, chat sessions, and some other possible strategies for increasing this sense of contact. A basic introduction to these multi-media approaches will be included.

Ken Haley, Paris Junior College

Primarily discussed using PowerPoints, delivered on CD, to distance students. PowerPoints included scanned pictures, audio files of instructor, short video files of instructor.
Used the term distilled content, audio less than 5 minutes. Video even less time, used less frequently.

I noted that none of the content was compressed, which is why it was delivered on CD… huge files size. Presenter did not know XP had a video editing tool built in, etc.

Also discussed using threaded group discussions, and the importance of letting students know that someone is reading posts.

Also discussed using real time chat to allow real time interaction and to build community.

Also discussed sending out encouraging letters to jump start students, and help them keep up.

His conclusion: Avoid student isolation, and use multiple approaches to increase chances of success

Last session
Digital Camera Give away/Evaluation of conference

I did not win the camera, but I suggested that next year that they evaluate presenters, to improve overall quality of presentations, and perhaps include a session on fair use, since too many presenters were violating copywrite left and right… not a good thing to do around students.

© R. Craig Collins, 2005

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