Tag Archives: NWeLearn

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!




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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.



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Introducing Audrey Watters

Audrey Watters holding shark jaw

Last week at NWeLearn’s 10th Anniversary conference, I had the great opportunity and privilege of introducing one of my ed tech heroes, Audrey Watters.  It was not only a big deal for me that Audrey was won of our keynotes, but it represented a milestone and celebration of what this little conference has grown into and how it is leading the pack in some ways.

Seeinging the tide of STEM &  Ed Tech conferences filled with all-male panels of experts and all-male line ups of keynotes (noticeable to the extent it generated a meme of its own), I threw down the challenge via tweet:

The NWeLearn nation answered the challenge in a big way – Audrey as one keynote, and so many top lady thinkers presenting sessions that we suddenly found ourselves in the majority. You rocked it, NWeLearn!

Here’s Audrey’s introduction (co-authored with my buddies Alysonn Indrunas and Maria Erb):

Good morning.  Are you having a good time? Enjoying the sessions?

When we talk about who influences us in our careers, especially in EdTech, it’s easy to come up with a host of names, but for the women in the room, there is perhaps no stronger influence right now than Audrey Watters.  And that may be true for men, as well.

Audrey often gives voice to the things we cannot say in our daily work lives while she critiques institutions and philosophies around the intersection of education and technology. As someone who claims to be a serial dropout, we’d like to give her an honorary degree in Feminist Radness. And men, if you feel excluded, allow me to remind you that feminism is for everyone.

On that note, NWeLearn has achieved a milestone. This year we have 26 presentations by women, 18 by men, and 9 presentations with shared duties. Wow NWeLearn! Way to represent!

According to Audrey, “To “hack education” isn’t something that just technologists should do or care about. Nor only is this a concern for teachers, administrators, parents, or students. We all should consider the implications of technology on how we teach and learn, lest the future of ed-tech be just like the history of ed-tech: learners as pigeons.”

Learners everywhere have a true champion in Audrey, watching their backs and taking shots at corporate bullies in disguise. She is onto them.

In her spare time, she reads, rabble-rouses, and prepares for the zombie apocalypse “because you never know”…And if you want to buy her a beer, try to make it a Green Flash West Coast IPA.

Please join me in welcome Audrey Watters!

The other thing tha happened this year? The Tweeters came out in force – sharing thoughts and resources from both keynoters (Jesse Stommel took the keynote reigns on the second day). The hashtag #nwelearn lit up by attendees and those following along from beyond the conference.

You can read all the tweets by checking out the conference Storify feed.

I hope you’ll join us next year at NWeLearn 2016 – somewhere in Oregon!


Filed under Conference, Women