Getting started

Beginnings are awesome. Three weeks into my new role as MiraCosta College’s first Faculty Director of Online Education, I remain amazed and humbled by this opportunity. I have been given incredible latitude to define the role, to assess the possibilities, to learn about challenges, to build relationships, to engage the MiraCosta community.

MiraCosta’s Program for Online Teaching is a wonderful invitation to undertake this journey with seasoned travelers and fellow learners. The requirement to blog, along with the space I’ve been given in this position, is what I’ve needed for years. I’m a long-time microblogger, but have merely nibbled around the edge of blogging and participating in communities of bloggers. It is time to open wide.

I’m an avid user of Evernote. When I learned that MiraCosta was hiring me, I began keeping a list there of questions to pursue regarding online education at MiraCosta. I anticipate that for some time, this blog will be all about answering, refining, and struggling with these questions, while asking ever more. And I hope that this blog will extend the dialog to other MiraCostans and beyond.

Without further ado, my questions, loosely organized …

Student support issues

  • Are there info literacy/tech literacy requirements/desires for students?
  • What are student opinions about online courses, technologies, support?
  • What are the most-cited pressures/frustrations/challenges/problems/concerns of students?

Faculty support issues

  • What concerns are there re intellectual property? copyright issues? course ownership?
  • What are the hot button issues? FERPA? “curriculum” compliance?
  • Who’s responsible for FERPA issues – defining/policy-making, training, enforcing, etc?
  • What are the most-cited pressures/frustrations/challenges/problems/concerns of faculty?
  • Relationship with campus bookstore? Use of eBooks, readers, Cafe Scribe? Policy on eBook purchasing/format (Follett/Cafe Scribe)?

Pedagogical support issues

  • Are there examples of courses heavily using synchronous sessions?
  • Innovations in course materials? eBooks? OERs? etc.
  • Anyone doing/discussing portfolios/ePortfolios?

Technology support issues

  • Moodle v. Bb. – history, current state, vision for future
  • Integration of library resources into the CMSs?
  • What web 2.0 tools being used? Any problems with use of cloud storage/sharing tools such as Dropbox, google docs, etc? Social media such as twitter, facebook?
  • What tools are used for supporting non-academic group activities?
  • Is “let a thousand flowers bloom” working for faculty and students w/regard to instructional technologies? Are things moving toward consolidation/standardization, toward increasing diversity, or stasis?

Systemic/organization issues:

  • Where is there trust/confidence? Where wariness/uncertainty/lack of confidence?
  • Who are the key players (individuals & departments)?
  • Course outcome measures? (or other statistics being tracked/cited?)
  • Are there common student learning outcomes across programs? How are those implemented/taught/measured/tracked?
  • Are there different measures/tracking being used for online vs. other courses?
  • What is being done that should stop that would enable increases in quantity and/or quality of online education?
  • What needs to be started to enable increases in quantity and/or quality of online education? (eg policies, procedures, practices, people, programs, technologies, expectations, fears, misunderstandings, budget)
  • What are the bridges between in-person courses and online courses?
  • What do I need to wrap my head around about MiraCosta and CCs in general, coming from SDSU and the 4-year world?
  • Are people on the same page about MiraCosta’s mission? What is that?
  • What are the exemplars/aspirational institutions MiraCosta should look to?
  • What are the organizations MiraCosta is/should be part of to help get there?
  • Are there areas outside of strictly “online education” where this position could provide leadership/support?
  • What are the administrative procedures I should know about? Who are the key getting-things-done people?
  • What are the compliance mandates, reporting requirements, regulatory issues, etc. which I need to be aware of/publicize/enforce/compile/create/deflect?
Looking forward to thinking through these and others here, hopefully as part of a community!

6 thoughts on “Getting started

  1. Wow – what an amazing list of questions! While some are obviously closely connected to your new role in the organisation, there are some fascinating ones here that I hope we get to discuss within our new community too.
    Some of the issues that resonate particularly for me are those around copyright and IP, partly because of my own interest in OER and Wikieducator and the effective use of Web2.0 tools in the f2f classroom. I am working in a blended rather than a fully online distance environment but I suspect that the next 10 years will see a coming together of f2f, blended and distance practises as the underlying pedagogy shifts to one more suitable to the 21st century!
    One area you don’t mention concerns the use of immersive multiuser environments for education. This is something I have been exploring over the last few years and I have been impressed by its ability to provide authentic situated learning experiences and also to facilitate community between geographically remote learners. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on this.

    All the best in your new role – sounds pretty exciting and joining in with this class must be a great way of building a community for you! I look forward to reading more.

    • Hi, Clare – thanks for your response. I am getting to know lots of MiraCosta folks here in person, and a big value of this class will be to extend those relationships and add new ones with other MiraCostans – in a larger context with the perspectives of a variety of other thoughtful educators like you. It will be interesting to see if, within this SMOOC, there emerges a kind of common “MiraCosta perspective” that is distinct from others, or not.

      Regarding immersive multiuser environments – I will confess my bias right now, which is that I still don’t find them “ready for primetime.” I hope you don’t hear that as dismissive – I see the potential and the value when done well. I just think that the tools and effort required at this point still firmly place this medium into the “innovator” category. Personally, I see an important part of my role as encouraging and facilitating innovation, but to remain quite clear about where the early majority and late majority folks are in their pedagogical and technological sophistication. Hyping/pushing approaches that are well beyond the zone of proximal development of most educators isn’t going to do much to help them grow.

      What I see as important in moving all of education toward the day when such tools are routinely incorporated (and that day will come … but I wouldn’t expect it for at least a decade), is (a) the pedagogical side – helping more educators to understand the value of “authentic situated learning experiences” and learning communities, as well as helping educators to embrace their role as architects of learning environments and experiences; and (b) the technological side – helping more educators to see the value of synchronous online interaction, while also awaiting the convergence of tool usability with user capability. There are also systemic and cultural changes that will occur as technologies become more ubiquitous and integrated into everyday life experiences. I think it’s fascinating that VR was all the rage for so long, but A(ugmented)R seems to have snuck up a bit on people … how AR is used for learning experiences (mostly not within formal education) will, I think, have a big influence on how immersive multiuser educational environments evolve over the next 10 years.

  2. Great role you have there! I think you will see a variety of skill levels here and certainly many views on the technologies uses and abuses, and the evolving pedagogy that will be shaped in part by them. You are fortunate to have folks like Lisa and Jim who have the desire to take things to this level. That human desire will go much farther than the technology or the pedagogy.

    I think their willingness to move in this “open” direction with course content like “teacher development” has some of the answers to your questions in it. Reflective practitioners, community based learning, collaborative strategies, and student centered learning are all elements that this class exemplifies and informs some of the queries you have above.

    It is certainly an interesting time with these computers and some of the opportunities they provide. As a happy Xbox 360 junkie and someone who has had some amazing experiences playing Halo Reach with people from around the world I can tell you that when the tools/technologies that drive the gaming industry find their way into the academic settings, much like SL has in some ways, things will change even more. I see the skill levels of users as part of the challenge (like a “problem”) and part a rich opportunity.

    Courses like this one are so needed among educators. The class could have nothing to do with “technology” and I would say the same thing. In fact, that is my real mission these days, to move the conversation from the “online” or “technology” words into one word, education.

    You have a great opportunity! Awesome.

    I see your avatar is an image in the Canyon. I love that place and live a couple hours away. I have been super lucky to take people there!

    My 13 year old daughter has been to the bottom over ten times! Here are some images from last summer:

  3. Thanks for your thoughts, Todd. I agree that without people like Jim S and Lisa here at MCC, and like you at Yavapai, change simply doesn’t happen in ways that “iterate toward openness” to borrow David Wiley’s phrase. “Change management” is a phrase that I’ll use but I’m becoming as uncomfortable with it as I am with “learning management.” Perhaps “change cultivation” is a better term.

    In my mind I always see a continuum of education strategies (that involve both technology and pedagogy). One end of the continuum just keeps pushing further out as innovation happens. But the other end is stuck, and so the continuum gets wider. If “change management” does apply, perhaps it’s more so with the late majority folks who require much more care and feeding, carrots and sticks, to get them to embark on the journey toward the educational elements you name (reflective practice, community-based learning, collaboration, etc.).

    Regarding the canyon – after only being on the edges, I had my first immersive experience there this May, backpacking the Royal Arch Loop – 6 days/5 nights of awesomeness. I envy your opportunities there!

    • Dang, that is a trip I have never been on but I have hear it is wonderful! Good for you! That is an impressive first trip!

      The management part of classrooms and institutions has become as pretty stagnant overall. I am hoping the word “leadership” replaces “management.” I hope we SEE the leaders/managers more. I think they need to be leading (out front) the charge, not in offices sending emails or participating in “meetings” that have the same members every time. I think what I hope for is something more aligned to the ol’ “the best teacher is the best learner” type of description. Not sure how that will all pan out…

      The management of learning is perhaps not the best way to go about it. Risk, and the intentional movement towards risk is where learning exists. maybe “risk management” is the better description of what education/management/leadership could look like?

      Who knows? It is fun to wonder! I am loosely involved in a class and I posted following this am. It sort of tells a story of how we can see the digital spaces we find ourselves in:

  4. Pingback: Iterating toward … what exactly? | education everywhere

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