ITC eLearning 2023, Day 3

Building a Sustainable Distance Education Quality Assurance Ecosystem at Austin Community College

Presented by Ninghua Han, Michelle Escudier, Angelo Caverte, Austin Community College

To be honest, I felt obligated to attend this session because the presenters are from my institution. But I’m glad I attended, I learned about some of the initiatives and what the Office of Distance & Alternative Education is doing. Despite efforts by few, divisions still tend to operate in silos, so I usually don’t have much info on what is happening across the institution.

The Distance Education Office has a predictable faculty professional development cycle

Synchronous – Monthly Friday Workshop pattern (1 hour each)

  • 1st week – DE Faculty Connections
  • 2nd week – Faculty/ID-led workshops
  • 3rd week – APPQMR
  • 4th week – Faculty/ID-led workshops

Asynchronous professional development cycle

  • Blackboard 1-4 courses
  • Distance Education instruction series
  • Accessibility and usability for online instructors
  • VoiceThread training
  • Etc.

One of the things that I’m interested in is the asynchronous Blackboard 1-4 courses. Since one of my teams provides support to faculty on Blackboard, is this something that my team should be involved with? Or should my team at least go through this training themselves? Thoughts to ponder…

ITC Award Winner, Outstanding Support for Faculty or Students – Training Camp: Successful Implementation of E-Faculty Coaching

Presented by Daniel Baham, Tarrant County Community College

It was interesting to hear how institutions are doing coaching. TCCD has dedicated eLearning coaches, which is something I have never heard of – this usually falls to Instructional Designers.

ITC eLearning 2023, Day 2

The Creation “Healthy” Online Course

Presented by Cynthia Krutsinger, Pikes Peak State College

In 2020, Colorado Online was established with the intent of allowing students to take courses/complete programs in a fully online format, regardless of which college offers the program. While the CO program is hosted at the state level, the creation, design, and maintenance of the courses is done at the campus level.

The standards that are developed to ensure consistency starts with Quality Matters and adds additional items, creating what they call QM+.

In their new course review plan, there are 3 components that will be in place:

  • Healthy Course Checklist (includes QM/QM+, DEI checklist, accessibility checklist, etc.
  • PPSC Best Practices for Online and Hybrid Course Design
  • Required Common Course Framework (CCF)

Faculty will have the ability to use a common course framework as a starting point. This appears to be optional.

Given the number of sections that they are anticipating for the next few terms, it’s interesting that they only have a staff of 4. It does make me wonder how many course reviews are done by the large handful of Instructional Designers in our ACC Distance Education office.

Policies, Practices, & Attitudes: A Playbook for Involving Adjunct Faculty

Presented by Marc Farrior & Stephanie Hoon, Pima Community College

This session is a panel of faculty & support staff that provided various ways of engaging with adjunct faculty. Most of the answers are around how the Teaching & Learning Center at Pima Community College is unique.

One of the things that came up that resonated with me is that adjunct faculty are not just participants in the various training sessions that they offer, but adjuncts are allowed and encouraged to present in professional development sessions. Beyond the presenting for TLC sessions, Pima also has an Adjunct Faculty Institute (AFI) that is led by adjunct faculty, which is unique.

This session had a lot of interesting points. Unfortunately, like with many of the sessions at this conference, I didn’t take away any action items for me. This would have been a good session for our Faculty Development Office, although this conference generally doesn’t seem to draw a lot of faculty development professionals.

Distance, Online, Hybrid, and HyFlex: Policy Differences, Surprising Agreements, and Practical Implications

  • Online means everything is done online (synchronous or asynchronous)
  • Hybrid/Blended is a mix of in-person and online course delivery.
  • HyFlex is students can move between online and in-person course delivery at their preference.

I agree with these definitions and I wish it were feasible to consolidate the many definitions that exist at ACC. It gets so confusing with the ~8-9 different definitions that we have, that this would make things so much easier. I don’t expect this to actually come to fruition anytime soon though…

Let’s TILT (Transparency in Learning and Teaching) Your Online Course

Presented by Leslie VanWolvelear, Oakton College

I really didn’t know what to expect from this session as I had no knowledge of TILT beforehand. My understanding is that TILT is the idea of injecting transparency into the curriculum – ensuring that students understand the purpose and value of various assignments, projects, etc. By understanding the value, students tend to have more buy-in and take the course more seriously.

ITC Award Winner, Innovative eLearning Technology – An AI Approach to Online Discussions: Engage Curiosity and Cultivate Confidence

Presented by Pamela Sulger, Brad Butler, and T. Adam Baldry, Pima Community College

This session was pretty interesting, as they talked about how they implemented Packback to increase student curiosity and engagement in online course discussions.

I didn’t take much away from this session, but that’s mostly because I’m already familiar with Packback. The vendor should have been a sponsor of this session and been represented at the conference with how much it was talked about. I think Packback could provide some benefit to instructors who are dissatisfied with the Blackboard discussion forum tool, but our efforts to pilot Packback at ACC have been fruitless.

ITC eLearning 2023, Day 1

In past years, I’ve done separate blog posts for each session. I’ve decided to consolidate down to 1 post per day. There are a few reasons behind this decision:

  1. The number of sessions at this year’s conference is very low in comparison to other years.
  2. There have been far fewer takeaways from the sessions this year.

Is Online Education Dead, or Just Dying?

Presented by Barry Dahl, Teaching & Learning Advocate, D2L

I don’t have a lot to say about this opening keynote, not because it wasn’t good or engaging, but because there wasn’t a lot of new info. One of the interesting things from this keynote was the integration/presentation of data from ChatGPT. I have been hearing things about this new AI platform, but I haven’t had time to do much research about it or understand how it can be used in education. During this keynote, Barry showcased a few examples of content developed by ChatGPT.

One of the things I want to do following this conference is to look more into ChatGPT and how it can be used at our institution.

The Expedition, Excursion, and Exploration Online Certifications. OH MY!

Presented by Zhivi Williams, Sr. Instructional Designer, Rowan-Cabarrus Community College

This session was showcased the certification process that faculty must go through in order to teach online. Their program includes the use of Blackboard and pedagogical practices. The session drew about 25 conference participants, and there seemed to be some good information. However, it was noted that they have ~500 instructors (full- and part-time). I do wonder how this certification program would look and the possible success rate at our institution, which has ~2000 instructors.

Birds of a Feather – Leadership

This is essentially a round table discussion of instructional administrators/leadership. The idea being that attendees can ask questions and discuss topics among peers.

In general, one of the main questions I have is how do other institutions deal with the vetting and funding of academic technologies that may/may not be adopted? We have a vetting process within the institution that funnels through my department. However, once a tool is recommended, nothing happens because generally speaking, the administration doesn’t have funding set aside for adopting new technologies.

While this is one of the ongoing questions that I have, most of the discussion/topics were at a higher administrative level than where I fall. I actually felt that the conversations were over my head/level and I felt a little out of place.

Achieving Work-Life Balance, The Power of No

Presented by Angela Thurman, Economics, TCC-Connect

These types of sessions always intrigue me. I have the hardest time disconnecting from work (and technology in general), but it’s something that I’m always trying to do better.

One of the things that resonated with me, not that it’s new information, is that the reward for doing a good job is to be asked to do more work/serve on more committees/etc.

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan.”

– Jim Rohn

I’m not sure what I was expecting at this session, but I didn’t really take anything away that I didn’t already know. She referenced SMART goals once (without actually calling them SMART goals). Having taught sessions/workshops on goal-setting, that wasn’t anything new for me. I almost expected her to begin talking about the Eisenhower Matrix, but that definitely didn’t come up.

Qualitative Measures: What Rubrics Can’t Assess

Presented by Allegra Davis Hanna, Tarrant County College

This session has some interesting information about Quality Matters and other rubrics. There are components that are incomplete or have vague wording, so the question becomes, who is responsible for defining the word “clear.” It’s not that rubrics are inherently bad, but it’s important to include other items.

  • Qualitative checklists for development, not evaluation
  • Peer observations and mentoring
  • Templates that meet requirements, faculty bring the personality

While I am not involved in course design rubrics or consulting with faculty on the development of online courses, there are certainly some things that piqued my interest. I would be interested to see how this aligns with things we’re doing at Austin Community College.