Personalized Professional Development #nwelearn

bigstock-stress-meter-showing-panic-at-28707623PD 2.0 for the Overworked and Super-stressed

This session was presented by two super smart Instructional Designers.  The awesome Ben Kahn (@thebenkahn) and the great Maria Erb (@erbfarm).

Anecdotal Observations

  • Traditional workshop attendance seems to be having less attendance
  • Faculty development day worked ok.
  • Demand is there…but meeting it is not working

Profdev has to sneak into the “cracks” in time faculty have available….especially without “the M word” creating momentum (mandatory).


  • How do we make profdev more attractive?
  • More in alignment with needs?
  • Modeled on what we know about teaching/learning with students

Personalized profdev should be differentiated by need (pace and place, voice and choice) for faculty as well. One size fits all doesn’t work any better for faculty than it does for students.


  • Diversify offerings
  • Embed opportunities outside of workshops
  • Meet faculty-learners where they are
  • Offer deeper self-paced options
  • Assist with faculty-led projects
  • Facilitate cross-disciplinary collaboration


Academic Technology Ambassadors – cross discipline, tech swag, quarterly lunches, collaborative tools, “diplomatic immunity”

UP Crossroads – round table discussions with speakers and snacks around topics like Ethics and Technology

Techtalk Podcast – Exploring the use of technology in the classroom – one conversation at a time.  Faculty as guests, short podcasts, publish to iTunes and Google, (make it accessible). (Hello WWCC, this would be fun!)

Teaching and Learning Hub – Getting all content in one place and then categorize from there.  UP’s site is cool.  They’ve got folks blogging in a joint site.  (Hmmmm, can we get community college faculty blogging??)

#UPTechTips – Posts that help fill the blog and autoposts to Twitter.  Faculty can subscribe.  Models the behavior.  Opens the door to answering one person’s question but pushing the answer out to many (based on #1minuteCPD)

One-on-Ones – high touch relational profdev still needs to remain in the mix.

Faculty-led Tech Initiatives – faculty lead pedagogy and scholarship on a project.  eLearning provides support and tech leadership.

Departmental Personalized Best Practices – personalized for a specific department that answers a particular need (e.g. School of Nursing hybrid grad program).  Strong collaboration with the department for their content on their timeline completed at their pace.

My thoughts: Really great information shared by Ben and Maria.  These two know what they’re doing in getting profdev to faculty in a way that isn’t intimidating and meets their needs wherever they are.  Reach out to them on Twitter if you have questions or just want to pat them on the back!




Leave a comment

Filed under Conference, teaching and learning

Talking 100% Online Course Completion at #NWeLearn

Linn-Benton Community College’s strategies for raising completion rates in online classes

  • Good fit – student in the right class/modality for them
  • Strong instructor presence
  • Strong institutional support

(My thought: Good fit also applies to faculty – is teaching this class online a good fit for them? If not, completion rates will not be good either).

Process is to design the course in such a way that the students clearly decide before the drop date whether the course is a good fit for them.

Writing 122

Pre-course strategies include clear assignment calendar with length of time for each activity, set weekly priorities, learn what deadlines at firm and which are flexible, syllabus quiz. (Pro tip: have students name their back up plans for technology failures – love this!)

Instructor Presence include weekly “video letters” that prove there is a human behind the class.  Use reminders and nudges that personalize learning.

Institution – administrative drops (e.g. you are not logging in and completing assignments in a way that will allow you to be successful in this course.  Consider taking this course at another time) and an emphasis on campus supports for online students.

Communication 218

Discussion posts due early in the week with quick grading turn-around

SOS Discussion thread for questions/concerns that all students can see pinned to the top for easy visibility.

Week 3 progress report instead of midterm – catches issues early, student perceive instructor support (and caring), and it’s an opportunity to help students problem solve issues.

Make it a priority to notice who hasn’t logged in during the first couple of days – they are the students most needing interventions.

Human Development Family Studies

Detailed welcome letter with specific parameters for Week 1 sent out prior to the start of the term (e.g. need to do this or you will be dropped)

Google Hangout or Zoom conference by Week 2 – there’s a real person here

Positive reinforcement with automatic personal learning nudges

Linn-Benton acknowledges the ethical questions involved in their project…including false positives, educational stereo-typing, more students dropping and institutional costs and financial aid considerations.  They are borrowing the First Do No Harm code from medicine…but wondering what this actually means in an educational environment.

My thoughts: While I 100% agree with the pre-term contact and strong instructor presence, I work at an institution that has a lot of first generation, low SES, and second language learners.  The emphasis on scaring students off  (you’re not a good fit) and administratively dropping students who aren’t performing well in the beginning removes responsibility of helping these kinds of students learn to be successful and persist.

Any school can have 100% completion if they continually drop any non-performers before analytics are reported.



Leave a comment

Filed under Conference, teaching and learning

Creating Canvas Portals for Departments and Student Support #NWeLearn


Erin Baker from Centralia College in Washington State is one creative cookie.  Whether she is helping faculty reinvent the syllabus or thinking outside the box for using Instructure’s Canvas, she is one of the first to share these ideas in usable ways at conferences.

This session provided ideas for using Canvas for various educational options beyond just instruction.

Some benefits include:

  • Safe space for introverts to share
  • Level the playing field so everyone gets a voice
  • Updates and training available both #justincase and #justintime – whatever meets your needs
  • Storage for items that everyone needs access to
  • Consistency for onboarding materials and processes
  • Opportunity for creating cohorts that can take advantage of asynchronous meetings

Who might take advantage?

  • Student government
  • TRIO
  • BFET or Worker Retraining cohorts
  • Clubs
  • Initiative groups/committees (Achieving the Dream, OER, etc).
  • Department portals


  • Accessibility
  • Sustainability
  • Ease of design
  • Whether to have the shell public or private


My thoughts:

My favorite thing about Erin’s presentations is she always creates a Canvas course shell and invites session attendees to join them.  This way the resource lives beyond just the presentation.  This is wayyyyy more effective than the old “Can I have a copy of your slidedeck?

Leave a comment

Filed under teaching and learning

Virtual Reality at #NWeLearn


Fulbright scholar James Riggall, hailing all the way from Launceston, Tasmania, shows paintings you can climb inside in this VR demo.  The cost of the set up doesn’t seem too extreme…if you already have the laptop capable of running it at a high enough speed.

I experienced it – it was interesting to try.  Really smart folks are figuring out how this technology enters the education space.  How would you use it?


Me doing VR

Yep, that’s me…virtually picking up a giant stuffed unicorn!

Leave a comment

Filed under teaching and learning

Keynote for #NWeLearn


Dr. Greg Sampson, an educator and researcher in the field of learning theory, talked about the issue of equity in online classes.

When online learning is so focused on outcomes, adopters can forget to take closer look at the processes it takes to get to the outcomes.  What we teach, how we teach, and how we assess learners must all be examined to get to equity in the online education universe.  He also suggests that teaching and learning principles do not always transfer from one area to another, and the retrofit is not simple.

Notion 1: Examine some basic teaching practices

We must deal with pre-requisite knowledge in a way that is both fair to the learning standards and moves students forward.  Are we using the principles of frontloading and behavioral momentum in eLearning?

Can we say anticipatory set? K12 teaching folks know about this one. We need to move this principle into online course design.

To create equity, we have to look at our own language.  Are we using terminology that helps students proceed and succeed?

Sampson suggests: Probable passages, Anticipation guides, List-group-labeling, and cognitive labs

Notion 2: Create flexible course designs

Sampson explains the notion of differentiated instruction he designed for an 8 week online doctoral research class without using the terms.  Choose your own adventure lives!

Track 1: I am not doing a quantitative study –> complete set A of modules

Track 2: I am thinking of completing a quantitative study –>complete set B of modules

Some of these will overlap.

My thoughts….


Seriously, yep.

(And two words for Instructure’s Canvas users: mastery paths)

Notion 3: Blow-up online high stakes assessments in K12

Dr. Sampson posits that K12 students struggle, and the policies that govern K12 accommodation rules don’t support students to have a positive experience.  There are hidden disabilities and language issues that make this a bad idea.  When students do poorly, it predisposes the student to have bad online experiences when they get to college.

Notion 4: Move beyond college prep

Challenge: How can we build online programs (in K12) to meet the needs of communities to build skilled workers in the trades for those students who do not want a college degree?

Vocational training in eLearning environments is a bit of a mystery…get on the radar.  The data is disappearing in the servers of the for profit companies.   I feel this regularly…can’t get to the online My Fill-in-the-blank Labs data for reporting purposes.

Leave a comment

Filed under Conference, teaching and learning

Live Blogging #nwelearn – Lumen Learning’s #Waymaker

(Full disclosure, one of the Lumen Learning vendors is my buddy and presented this session.  If you haven’t heard of/read anything by Alyson Indrunas, you’re missing out).

Indy presenting Lumen Learning

Indy presenting Lumen Learning

Lumen Learning is courseware designed to effectively use open educational resources (OER).  They promote increased affordability, access, and student success using OER and were founded by Kim Thanos and David Wiley.

Waymaker is courseware that helps teachers with personalized learning in a more automated way.  Waymaker was developed through a Gates-funded Next Gen learning grant.  Personalized learning is defined as maximizing student-instructor interaction in a personalized way (think how Amazon/Netflix personalizes your experience).

Waymaker’s interventions (based on research):

  • OER – lowers cost and provides Day 1 access
  • Mastery learning (frequent feedback, assessment as activity, alignment to outcomes)
  • Personalization (metacognition)

Focused on high enrollment classes to maximize impact for first generation and low SES students.

Personalized learning allows student to pre-test (show what you know) and prepares a study plan for them of what they already know and what they need to focus on learning

Aspirational goals are being achieved – helping Pell-eligible students, lowering textbook costs, and stopping the re-invention of the course content wheel.

Paul Golisch (Lumen Vendor #2) explained his history with using Math OER in the wild and then moving to curated content and how that has eventually translated into Lumen’s Online Homework Manager for math classes.  (This is similar to MyOpenMath).

Testimonial: WWCC (my school) has several faculty using Lumen’s platforms to incorporate OER as their textbook.  The vetted/curated content is high quality and the ability to customize the editable textbook inside Canvas (our LMS) to personalize the content even further is great.

Whether you adopt the platforms and support (SaaS) or not, the content as OER remains available and open for you to link to (all or or individual elements) freely.  I encourage you to give it a look!


Leave a comment

Filed under Conference, teaching and learning

#NwElearn Here I Come


It’s been a long while since I’ve written a blog post here.  Too long.  I’ve been a bit busy.  There was the whole cancer thing and then growing my hair back (I have to actually use a blow dryer now). My boss took a different job and our whole department got re-organized, and then I started a doctoral program, so, yeah, I’ve been busy and I let the old bloggity-blog take a back seat for a bit.

But I am headed to one of my favorite conferences tomorrow.  NWeLearn…the little conference that just blows other conferences out of the water. It’s the conference schools will pony up to send adjuncts to because it’s super affordable and located close.  It’s the conference that gives newbies the chance to deliver their first conference presentations.  It’s the conference that builds community and really gets what we all do in the eLearning world.

If you haven’t attended before, you should!  If you’re going this year, I look forward to seeing you.  I’ll be live blogging some sessions and tweeting, of course, because Twitter rocks for conference sharing.  You can look for items here or on Twitter with the #nwelearn hashtag.



Filed under Conference, teaching and learning