A Rubric to Identify Online Course Plans for a Community of Inquiry

This blog was originally posted on the AACE Review (Rogers, 2018).

Community of Inquiry

A community of inquiry (COI) is what it sounds like—people gather to learn from each other. I argue that a COI can be preplanned to engender a robust learning environment. What that entails is under investigation. For instance, a query of COI educational research on the EdTechLib database garnered 6500 articles. “The ‘community’ in “community of inquiry” is not defined by time or space. A common question, problem, or interest helps to forge the connection” (Shields, 1999, para. 2).

Historically, interdisciplinary scholarly communities have been around since the time of Theagenes of Rhegium who orally interpreted texts to pupils in the 6th century B.C.E. (Hornblower & Spawforth, 1998). Those ancient Greek gatherings were generally teacher-centered in an unidirectional flow of information between the teacher and listening participants until eventually taking on the Socratic method of shaping pupils’ understanding through questioning for critical thinking in the 3rd century B.C.E.

As for the American educational setting, the foundations of a COI can be found in John Dewey’s writing and reform efforts, which were influenced by Charles Sanders Pierce’s logic of inquiry for scientific methods and Jane Addams’ pragmatic approach to social analysis (Shields, 1999). For example, Dewey strongly believed that through experience-based learning, students could intellectually address the subject matter with the assistance of their teachers (Dewey, 1938).

Fast forward to computer-mediated instruction, Garrison, Anderson, and Archer (2000) proposed a COI framework for distance education. It includes the following elements they deem essential: social presence (SP), cognitive presence (CP), and teaching presence (TP). According to Google Scholar, their COI framework has been cited academically 4817 times. Based on their research and related literature, my interpretation of the COI presences is as follows:

  • SP is the co-construction of meaning through shared learning experiences to engender student agency from connectedness.
  • CP is the engagement in learning activities that demand higher-order thinking skills.
  • TP refers to feedback and instruction and can be presented through the instructor or student-led activities.

Online Community of Inquiry Syllabus Rubric ©

The online course syllabus serves as a plan of action that can be utilized for discussing continuous improvement between course design collaborators (i.e., instructional designers, course developers, instructors). To that end, I developed a rubric to evaluate online instructors’ planned interactions for delivering computer-mediated instruction based on their syllabi. It is used to analyze proposed interaction treatments (ITs) such as student-student opportunities for discussion, not the actual course. Our purpose was to determine the inclusion and strength of ITs to provide instructional design (ID) feedback to online instructors regarding their course plans. The underlying theoretical premise being the more interactive the course, the higher the level of student satisfaction and course achievement. Cummins, Bonk, and Jacobs (2002) conducted a similar syllabi study that looked at formats and levels of communication of online courses from colleges of education.

The rubric’s purpose is to provide a pragmatic solution to prevent problematic teacher-led (passive knowledge) online courses with little student interaction nor rigorous academic challenges. The Online Community of Inquiry Syllabus Rubric© is based on general concepts from Garrison, Anderson, and Archer’s (2000) COI framework, quality distance education rubrics (California State University-Chico, 2009; Johnson, 2007; Quality Matters™, 2014; & Roblyer & Wiencke, 2004), and significant literature. It consists of the following categories: ID for CP, technology tools for COI, COI loop for SP, support for learner characteristics, and instruction and feedback for TP. The 5-point rubric has the following scale for the criteria: low, basic, moderate, above average, and exemplary. Points awarded determine the course’s potential level of engendering an online COI (i.e., low, moderate, or high). See rubric.

Content Analysis Research of Online Course Syllabi

Rogers and Van Haneghan (2016) conducted the initial research utilizing the rubric with two raters. Good interrater-reliability agreement was obtained in the review of 23 undergraduate and graduate education online course syllabi, intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC) = .754, p < .001 and 95% CI [.514, .892]. Results indicated the potential for above-average CP (M = 4.7); however, SP (M = 3.1) was moderate, and TP (M = 2.7) was basic. Rogers and Khoury (2018) replicated the study at a different institution across disciplines with 31 syllabi; those findings mirrored the previous study’s levels of COI presences indicating a weakness in TP. For action research, the rubric criteria and results can serve as talking points between instructional designers and course developers to address gaps. Table 1 provides common ID feedback based on our 2018 syllabi analysis.

Table 1: Common Feedback Based on the Online Community of Inquiry Syllabus Rubric Analysis

Rubric Category Instructional Design Recommendations
Instructional Design for Cognitive Presence Include higher order thinking activities such as case analysis, papers that require synthesis or evaluation of peer, self, and/or product. See the list of cognitive activities in the Online Course Design Guide in Table 3.
Education Technology for COI · Add group work for collaborating on projects with Google Hangouts or Skype, so students can learn from each other.

· Use Schoology’s Media Album for students to share their projects and obtain peer feedback. For example, students could narrate PowerPoint project and save as MP4 to create a video presentation to add to a digital portfolio.

COI Loop for Social Presence · Provide a rubric for discussions to make the criteria clear.

· Provide discussions on readings to enhance learning from each other.

Support for Learner Characteristics

 

· Add the College’s accommodation statement.

· Provide links to academic tutoring services.

· Provide strategies for remediation and/or resources for building background knowledge.

Instruction and Feedback for Teaching Presence · Add specific online virtual office hours and format options. For example, use Skype, Google Hangouts, or FaceTime with your smartphone for human interaction.

· Describe direct instruction. Will there be narrated PowerPoints, audio summaries, lecture notes, or commercial program?

· Add information on feedback response time and format.

References

Cummings, J. A., Bonk, C. J., & Jacobs, F. (2002). Twenty-first century college syllabi: Options for online communication and interactivity. Internet & Higher Education, 5(1), 1.

Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. The Kappa Delta Pi Lecture Series. New York: NY: Collier Books.

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education 2(2-3), 87-105. doi:10.1016/s1096-7516(00)00016-6

Hornblower, S., & Spawforth, A. (1998). The Oxford companion to classical civilization. New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Johnson, E. S. (2007). Promoting learner-learner interactions through ecological assessments of the online environment. Journal of Online Learning and Teaching, 3(2). Retrieved from http://jolt.merlot.org/vol3no2/johnson.htm

QM Higher Education Rubric Fifth Edition. (2014). Quality Matters. Retrieved from https://www.qualitymatters.org/sites/default/files/PDFs/StandardsfromtheQMHigherEducationRubric.pdf

Roblyer, M., & Wiencke, W. (2004). Exploring the interaction equation: Validating a rubric to assess and encourage interaction in distance courses. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 8(4).

Rogers, S., & Khoury, S. (2018, October). Rubric to evaluate online course syllabi plans for engendering a community of inquiry: Round II. Paper presented at the meeting of the Association of Educational Technology & Communications, Kansas City, MO.

Rogers, S., & Van Haneghan, J. (2016). Rubric to evaluate online course syllabi plans for engendering a community of inquiry. Proceedings of Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference, 349-357. Chesapeake, VA: AACE.

Rubric for Online Instruction. (2009). Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching. California State University-Chico. Retrieved from http://www.csuchico.edu/tlp/resources/rubric/rubric.pdf

Shields, P. M. (1999). The community of inquiry: Insights for public administration from Jane Addams, John Dewy and Charles S. Pierce. Archives of the Digital Collections at Texas State University. Retrieved from https://digital.library.txstate.edu/bitstream/handle/10877/3979/fulltext.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y

What’s Grit Got to Do with Learning?

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What’s Grit Got to Do with Learning? was previously posted on the AACE Review (Rogers, 2017)

In terms of education, ‘grit’ is a combination of your passion for learning, perseverance at task, and purposeful activities. Volition and conation are synonyms for grit. During his AECT 2017 keynote, Thomas Reeves, professor emeritus at the University of Georgia and AACE Fellow since 2003 tackled the topic of grit. He stated that the conative domain is the missing piece for learning and placed it beside the affective and cognitive domains as the triad for intelligence, as was the case in Aristotle’s day.

Reeves and other scholars point out that grit/conation is not new to education. He referenced Snow’s (1992) Academic Aptitude Model, Carroll’s (1993) model of school learning that included perseverance, and Kolbe’s (2002) work on the conative domain (motivational-volitional). Looking at the literature, many prominent psychologists, past and current, recognize non-intellectual factors in learning performance.

Grit Research

Grit is important because it can boost life-long academic achievement (Abuhassàn & Bates, 2016). Here’s how other scholars describe it: industrious, conscientiousness, personality trait (Roberts, Lujeuz, Krueger, Richards, & Hill, 2014), passion, and perseverance (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007). Critics of Duckworth et al.’s take on grit as a trait for success question the validity of their study’s findings (i.e., generalizability, confounding variables) and wonder whether participants who quit a grueling West Point Cadet initiation program also used grit to do so (Denby, 2016).

Duckworth and Reeves both mention Dweck’s (2009) theory on the growth mindset, as a way to help students develop grit. If you want to delve deeper into Grit, also take a look at Deci and Ryan’s (2009) self-determination theory since it addresses one’s ability to complete a task through willingness, volition, and endorsement of an activity.

The important message for learners is that grit is not solely about your ability/potential/talent per se. Grit is up to you!

Grit and Me

As a first-generation college graduate raised in situational poverty by a single parent, my perseverance has paid off. My grit is based on my openness to experience and conscientiousness, which you might recognize from the Big Five Personality Traits. I recently experienced grit during a gaming workshop, where I couldn’t hear the presenter or see the presentation clearly and my computer was running slow, but I persevered and learned the lesson.

For me, it’s that point where I’m embarrassed by my ineptitude and faced with the fight-or-flight feeling. For my grit to kick in, it needs to be a challenging and purposeful activity.

Do you have grit? Take Duckworth’s Grit Scale to find out.

References

Abuhassàn, A., & Bates, T. C. (2015). Grit: Distinguishing effortful persistence from conscientiousness. Journal of Individual Differences, 36(4), 205-214. doi:10.1027/1614-0001/a000175

Deci, E. & Ryan, R. (2000). Self-determination theory and the facilitation of intrinsic motivation, social development, and well-being. American Psychologist, 55(1), 68-78. doi:10.1037110003-066X.55.1.68

Denby, D. (2016, June). The limits of grit. Retrieved from https://www.newyorker.com/culture/culture-desk/the-limits-of-grit

Duckworth, A. L., Peterson, C., Matthews, M. D., & Kelly, D. R. (2007). Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 9(6), 1087-1101. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.92.6.1087

Dweck, C. (2009). Developing Growth Mindsets: How Praise Can Harm, and How to Use It Well. [Presentation]. Paper presented at the Scottish Learning Festival, Glasgow. Retrieved from http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/video/c/video_tcm4565678.asp

Kolbe, K. (2002). The conative connection: Uncovering the link between who you are and how you perform. New South Wales: Pow Wow Events International.

Roberts, B. W., Lejuez, C., Krueger, R. F., Richards, J. M., & Hill, P. L. (2014). What is conscientiousness and how can it be assessed? Developmental Psychology, 50(5), 1315-1330.

Snow, R. E. (1992). Aptitude theory: Yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Educational Psychologist, 27, 5-32.

My Courses Available on Schoology’s Public Resources

In my departure from a College that uses Schoology, I thought of ways that I might be able to save my online course designs for future use even though my new workplace doesn’t use this learning management system (LMS).  Fortunately, I was able to save the entire course files, not just the individual material.

First, I saved them to my Schoology personal Resources (aka Home), then I downloaded the courses as Common Cartridge (IMACC or Zip) files for future use. The Instructional Mangement System (IMS) Global Learning Consortium states that Common Cartridge is a formatting standard for the interoperability of content within other systems. See their Brief Primer on Common Cartridge Conformance. In Schoology, you can upload and export these types of course files. See the Schoology Help Center on this topic.

I also decided to share them on Schoology’s Public Resources so others can use them. To be clear, I’m only sharing the content that I created. See Figure 1 for the location of these free resources. Schoology doesn’t make it easy to locate by name, so you’ll need to filter the results by Resource Type (higher ed) and File Format (folder), etc.

Screenshot of the Schoology interface displaying the Public Resources icon on the left-hand side. The icon has a bookshelf with a globe beside it.
Figure 1. Schoology’s Public Resources

Anyone can sign up for an individual Schoology account to access them if their institution does not subscribe to this LMS. Here are the two courses that I shared:

  • Accessibility Workshop for Online Learning in Distance Education – I used this for faculty professional development for meeting accessibility federal guidelines in course design.
  • Critical Reading 101 Demo Hybrid Course – I used this for an actual developmental reading course for college students and as a demonstration course for faculty training purposes.

Schoology users can share their courses and other content on its Public Resources by selecting the bookshelf with globe icon beside the material in your personal resources. See Figure 2 for location. If you use either of my course content, I would love to hear about it!

Screenshot of Schoology user's Personal Resources with pop-up comment beside Public Resources icon indicating to share if selected.
Figure 2. Schoology’s Public Resources sharing tool

Continue reading “My Courses Available on Schoology’s Public Resources”

What do instructional designers do in higher education?

Sandra sitting at her computer in her office

The work and the placement of instructional designers vary from institution to institution. For instance, my current position is with the Library and Instructional Resources Services. My new position will be within the Information Technology department. As for job tasks, if you’re the only designer on campus, you wear many hats. Conversely, you could be a part of a team with several designers. Most of the designers I know are mostly focused on designing and developing online courses, but this is not always the case.

TASKS

To illustrate specifically the work of an instructional designer, here are the activities listed from my resume:

  • Collaborated with faculty to develop 25 new hybrid and online courses for Theology and MBA graduate programs;
  • Conducted quality assurance reviews of all (80) online courses;
  • Wrote the Online Course Design Guide for faculty that addresses accessibility and copyright requirements, research-based practices for teaching and learning, and the collaboration process with the instructional designer;
  • Managed knowledge via Instructional Design LibGuide for faculty and students;
  • Trained faculty on educational technologies, andragogy, and how to make their online courses accessible;
  • Supported the Schoology learning management system (LMS) administrator with troubleshooting issues, developing supporting documentation and video tutorials, and LMS adoption (Previously served as LMS administrator for eCollege);
  • Participated in the development of the College’s Quality Enhancement Plan;
  • Wrote documentation for the College’s accreditation process for distance education, conducted quality assurance checks of reports in Compliance Assist, and served on the Strategic Planning Software Support Team with IT to develop methods and identify platforms for the interchange of input from all stakeholders; and
  • Served on the Educational Technology Committee and co-wrote the draft Educational Technology Framework and Distance Education Policy.

SERVICE

Sometimes instructional designers also teach, mentor, and provide service to the community even though it is not required for staff. Here’s a list of my activities:

  • Co-taught undergraduate interdisciplinary course (IDS394) on digital citizenship and fact-checking online data at my college;
  • Co-coordinator of the New Day Experience reentry project to reduce recidivism in Mobile County for which I supervised three undergraduate students for sociology internship course (SOC299) in 2018-2019 and mentored six student volunteers from 2015-2017;
  • Educause Games and Learning Steering Committee;
  • Board Member of Emerald Coast TESOL & professional development officer;
  • Mentor for Foley Center- Mentored 40  student volunteer English language teachers for the College’s migrant education night program; and
  • Board Member of college’s Friends of the Library.

RESEARCH

Last, some instructional designers are also involved in research.  Read my Research Statement to learn about my research activities.

What about you? If you’re an instructional designer, share how this differs and relates to your work.

Sandra Annette Rogers, Instructional Designer

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Planned Interactions and Technologies for Online Learner Engagement

Silhouette of head with different scholastic objects floating overhead

Active Learning Defined

Active learning engages students directly in the learning process through instructional activities with differing degrees of interaction that is student-centered, whereas passive learning occurs indirectly and without interaction. The latter is often, but not always, teacher-centered. Student-centered learning emphasizes learner control and manipulation of information, so students can actively use what is learned. Students respond well when they have a participatory voice in their learning. Additionally, active learning is preferred because it triggers cognitive functioning. This is based on the cognitivist (with constructivism as a subset) educational learning paradigm.

Examples of active learning include the following:

  • Studio model with a teacher or student observations and feedback (e.g., writer’s workshop, art production, portfolios)
  • Problem-solving,
  • Group work (e.g., business proposals, case studies, mixed media presentations)
  • Debates,
  • Gaming and simulations,
  • Metacognitive strategies to monitor self-learning,
  • Transference of knowledge to new problems and situations, and
  • Assessments that require analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

These can be configured to the hybrid and online environments via videoconferencing tool for synchronous conversations, forum tool for asynchronous discussions , shared drive and collaborative documents, media hosting platform, and portfolio or other platform to share student work. Besides the general activity description and assessment piece, these digital activities require clear guidelines for interacting with each other, the content, the teacher, and the tools (e.g., group roles, peer review criteria, schedule, samples, tool guides).  

What does active learning look like online?

Active learning can take on different formats, levels of engagement, and levels of complexity in setup. For example, active learning can be individually or collaboratively assigned. Online educators use the community of inquiry (COI) framework to ensure students are engaged with the content, each other, and the instructor to maximize learning. Social presence (SP), cognitive presence (CP), and teaching presence (TP) are the essential elements to the communication loop for an online COI (Garrison, Anderson, & Archer, 2000). This means that online learners are involved in cognitively challenging activities for CP (i.e., analysis, synthesis, evaluation), are able to interact with classmates for SP (e.g., discussions and projects), and that the teacher or student moderator is present in some way through communication, guidance, and feedback for TP. This document covers various instructional strategies and the digital tools to engage students online through active learning as structured through the course’s primary interactions (e.g., lecture, discussions, assignments, assessments, feedback and guidance).

Set the Stage for Active Learning

Tell your students what you expect of them in the online course. A best practice is to provide a ‘Getting Started’ folder with your syllabus, schedule, pertinent documents, and protocol for interactions (Quality Matters, 2014). For example, share course requirements for the online environment and address learning values such as the growth mindset versus the fixed mindset.

Dweck (2009) described those who underestimate their ability to learn as possibly having a fixed mindset, while those who believe that they can learn by establishing attainable goals and applying effort to learn as having a growth mindset. Students with a growth mindset want to be corrected; their ego is not tied to learning. Conversely, those with a fixed mindset do not pay attention to corrective feedback. They believe that learning should not take any effort because it is tied to their intelligence; their ego influences how they learn. Students with a fixed mindset may be resistant to active learning. See blog post to Focus on the Process to Support the Growth Mindset of Students.

Make sure students know how to use the learning management system (LMS) prior to high-stakes assignments to reduce anxiety and to reduce the cognitive load for the overall task. Here are some useful tasks to help familiarize students with the LMS:

  • Student acknowledgment form submission/assignment (i.e.,, course expectations),
  • ‘Getting Acquainted’ discussion,
  • Syllabus quiz to ensure students have read it, and
  • Poll practical experience on the course topic to better understand students’ prior knowledge on the subject and drive instruction to meet students’ needs.

Instruction

The lecture, demonstration, or direct instruction of a skill is a passive learning event unless students are provided ways to interact with the content. Consider using EdPuzzle, PlayPosit, or Camtasia Studio to engage learners while watching a video lecture or demonstration with questions to answer before preceding to the next segment; these third-party premium tools provide instructors with learner analytics.

Instructional strategies. Strategy election depends on various affordances and constraints such as time and resources. For example, an activity-centered lesson is based on an interactive task and requires collaborative tools and student groupings. Content-centered lessons are passive tasks where the student generally only interacts with the content, the exception being discussions of content. Experience-centered activities require a hands-on approach to developing something or serving/working with others. The learner-centered activity provides the learner with more autonomy over their pursuit of knowledge and includes metacognitive actions for self-regulation of learning; the affordances and constraints for this type of activity are highly dependent on the task. Overall, the best practice is to utilize a variety of instructional strategies to address learner preferences. Here is a list of online instructional strategies for each type.

Activity-Centered Content-Centered Experience-Centered Learner-Centered
·        Analysis of case studies

·        Critically review an article

·        HyperInquiry* team project

·        Academic controversy** assignment

·        Develop a book trailer on topic

·        WebQuest

 

·      Pretest/Posttest

·        Write a literature review

·        Complete modules on topic in computer-adapted lab/program

·        Write essay

·        Make a presentation

·        Discuss content with peers and instructor

 

·        Develop questionnaires

·        Develop a personal model of topic

·        Participate in a simulation

·        Develop a workshop

·        Develop a wiki on topic

·        Produce a podcast on topic

·        Develop a how-to guide on a procedure

·        Write a blog post on topic

·        Serve others as a mentor, tutor, or volunteer on topic

·        Curate an art exhibit

·        Peer-review of papers or projects

·        Students create m/c questions for review

·        Design a project

·        Evaluate a program

·        Write an autobiography of your interaction with topic

·        Complete self-evaluation

·        Develop a personal learning network

·        Capture reflections in journal, audio, or video

·        Curate digital books and articles on topic for lifelong learning

Notes. *HyperInquiry is like a Webquest but at a deeper level of inquiry (Dempsey & Litchfield, 2001). **Academic controversy is a debate where students eventually take on both sides of an argument.

Learning strategies. Learning strategies are ways students can engage with the course readings and other content to monitor their learning. Cognitive learning strategies include concept mapping, mnemonics, overlearning, metaphors, and similes. Embed these learning strategies into your instructional activities to build students’ brain schema on the topic and its relation to other subjects for long-term memory. Share this list of cognitive strategies with students. The difference between cognitive and metacognitive being concreteness versus meta-awareness respectively. Most students are likely familiar with the structurally cognitive ones such as concept maps but may not be familiar with the others. Share this Student Learning Organizer of Metacognitive Strategies. Tying learner strategies to your instruction will make it more inclusive.

Discussions

Discussions can have well thought out open-ended questions provided by the instructor, student-generated questions, or no questions at all. For example, one instructor has had great success without providing questions in his online discussions. Instead, he tells students the purpose of discussions and that they will find suggestions for these by listening to his podcast or video lecture for that unit.

Roles. Provide structure and student agency to discussions by assigning roles (e.g., starter, responder, wrapper) and rotating those roles during the course. Additionally, this will prevent the same students posting first and everyone else waiting to reply. Student-moderated discussions provide social presence to the online community of inquiry (COI). See blog post on how to plan for an online COI.

Media. Use the audio or video recording features to share responses besides the text-based option to provide novelty and multiple means of representation. Ask students to provide a visual created by the student that illustrates their learning along with their reflection. See Google Drawing illustrating a students’ understanding of a reading regarding semiotic domains. This provides both teaching presence and social presence for the online COI. The exchange of media will close the psychological distance between you and your students.

Monitor. For equity, a best practice is to create a matrix of teacher-student interactions to track your response efforts over the course of the semester. Monitoring your discussion posts will curtail various biases and ensure consistency. Set up a spreadsheet to do this and include personal information shared in the ‘Getting Acquainted’ discussion to provide a more personalized context to interactions with each student.

Assignments

Highly effective tasks are those which are situated within the actual task (authentic or simulated) or end goal for your course for near transfer of information to long-term memory. This is in contrast to far transfer tasks that are related but not exact. Situated learning occurs through different modes of co-participation based on situational factors (Lave & Wenger, 1991). Learning in one situational context may not transfer to another unless it closely mirrors it and the learner is properly prepared; therefore, authenticity is crucial to the learning situation (Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989).

Groupwork. Student-led projects provide student agency in the design of their own learning. Provide the parameters, team roles (e.g., team leader/organizer, researcher, writer, & presenter), and peer evaluation forms to ensure everyone participates fully. Include expectations for group grade such as everyone provides proofreading of assignment prior to submission. Encourage student groups to set up their own ground rules for group meetings and task sharing. Monitor group work by asking to be added to the document workspace such as a shared Google folder.

Presentations. As for hybrid courses, maximize the face-to-face meeting by asking students to present their work to each other during seminar sessions in their level one courses. This is referred to as flipped learning when you use class time for student activities instead of teacher-centered activities. For fully online courses, students can share their media presentations (e.g., narrated PowerPoints saved as MP4 files, podcasts, video projects) with other students in a media hosting site that allows students and teachers to provide feedback, as well as tags, titles, and captions.

Assessments

How can students demonstrate mastery besides multiple-choice tests? These are still useful for testing recall. However, to engage the learner in higher order thinking skills, we should provide alternative assessments such as project-based learning, essays, portfolios, performance, products, and presentations. These do not need to be end-of-term projects. Formative assessments can be formal or informal (practice tests, digital exit tickets, polls), which serve as comprehension checks and subsequent student feedback during the course. This is in contrast to summative assessments that test your cumulative knowledge on a topic at the end of the term. Formative assessments promote fairness by gathering evidence of students’ understanding throughout the course, which can be used to better inform/modify your instructional practices to meet students’ needs.

Testing is a learning event. Consider setting tests for multiple attempts to help students achieve mastery. This triggers new learning and/or review of content, as student revisit content for answers. Tolerance for error in course assignments also makes it more inclusionary. To prepare for a test, ask students to use the free tool PeerWise to create questions on the topic of study for each other to answer. Some instructors ask their students to submit questions for actual tests. In this scenario, students develop questions from the content according to its structure and importance.

Feedback & Guidance

Learning requires differing feedback loops offered at intervals throughout the course, hopefully, with just-in-time guidance. Feedback can come from intelligent tutors through computer adaptive programs, instructors, teaching assistants, peers, and subject matter experts from the professional field. Formats for feedback loops vary from discussions, recommended edits on a paper, rubrics, and assessments.

Rubrics. Rubrics establish the criteria and scale for various tasks such as discussions and assignments and make the expectations explicit. Rubrics provide consistency and speed with grading. Some electronic rubric features allow you to provide feedback at the criterion level and for overall performance. Additionally, you can tag your departmental student learning outcomes to these rubrics to help students understand why the task is important.

Scaffolded instructional feedback. Scaffolding instruction provides content in meaningful and manageable chunks of information. This entails providing visuals for structure, context, direction, and just-in-time definitions. For example, segment a lecture at viable points and ask reflective questions. For writing, break large tasks such as research papers into point-based phases of the writing process (e.g., outline, literature review with five citations, rough draft, final paper). Consider the universal design for learning and design for tolerance for error by providing space to practice (e.g., mock interviews/comps/presentations, tutorials, simulations).

Peer feedback. It is critical to provide guidelines and criteria for peer feedback tasks. This involves establishing roles, a clear project description, rubric, and instructions for tools used. For writing, assign a peer review of draft papers utilizing MS Word tracked changes or Google Docs suggested edits. Instructors can request access to the documents for review.

Conclusion

In summary, for active learning, students need the following:

  • Preparation for learning events,
  • Situated learning environments for near transfer,
  • Planned multimodal interactions that are cognitively challenging,
  • Cognitive strategies,
  • Feedback loops, and
  • Metacognitive strategies to monitor their learning.

References

Brown, J., Collins, A., & Duguid, P. (1989). Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, 18(1), 32–42.

Dempsey, J. V., & Litchfield, B. C. (2001). Surfing below the surface of the Web: HyperInquiry. In B. H. Kahn (Ed.), Web-Based Training (pp. 229-234).  Englewood Cliffs, NY: Educational Technology Publications.

Dweck, C. (2009). Developing Growth Mindsets: How Praise Can Harm, and How To Use it Well. [Presentation]. Paper presented at the Scottish Learning Festival, Glasgow. Retrieved from http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/video/c/video_tcm4565678.asp

Garrison, D. R., Anderson, T., & Archer, W. (2000). Critical inquiry in a text-based environment: Computer conferencing in higher education. The Internet and Higher Education 2(2-3), 87-105.

Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Quality Matters™ Rubric Standards. (2014). Higher education rubric, fifth edition. Quality Matters Program (QM). MarylandOnline, Inc. Retrieved from https://www.qualitymatters.org/rubric


How do you engage your students online? 

Sandra Annette Rogers, Ph.D.

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Join me at AERA 2019 in Toronto

Sandra Rogers standing near AERA conference sign celebrating 100 years

I’ll be attending my second conference of the American Educational Research Association (#AERA19) this year. The theme is ‘Leveraging Education Research in a Post-Truth Era: Multimodal Narratives to Democratize Evidence.’  It will be held in Toronto, Canada from April 5-9th at the Metro Toronto Conference Centre. I was impressed with last year’s conference but a bit overwhelmed. Hopefully, with the help of their conference app, I’ll find the sessions I need.

View this link to see the poster for Dr. Khoury and my session: Rubric to Analyze Online Course Syllabi Plan for Engendering a Community of Inquiry: Round II. Come join me on Saturday morning, April 6, from 8:00 to 9:30am in the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, 300 Level, Hall C. It’s hosted by the Division C – Section 3b: Technology-Based Environments in the subunit for Distance and Online Education. I’ll be sharing copies of my Online Community of Inquiry Syllabus Rubric.

I’ve shared our research paper on the AERA online Repository.  Read this blog page to learn more about our study. My hope is that it will be replicated to validate the rubric and improve not only instructors’ syllabi but teaching and learning in distance education. Let me know if you’re interested in replicating our study.

Are you going to AERA? Let’s connect in Toronto!

Sandra Annette Rogers, PhD

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Recipe for Digital Curation of Your Online Persona

Cartoon headshot of blogger, Sandra Rogers

Have you googled yourself lately? What does the Internet search reveal about you? With each hashtag, blog post, tweet, and online project at a time, you’re building your online reputation whether you want to or not. In the absence of professional branding, your online persona brands you. Curation of our online personal data is more important than ever. This is because our online information and interactions are being used to analyze us for commercial benefit, credit ratings, job selection, relationships, health care decisions, harassment, law enforcement, and machine learning (Matsakis, 2019).

I’m putting together a few basic curation tasks in the ‘recipe’ below for a class lesson. Curation, of course, will take ongoing effort. These are simple actions to get you started.

Tag words from my blog

RECIPE

Curating Your Online Persona 

Time: Ready in minutes based on diversity of digital tools used and length of your digital footprint
Serves: Average technology users
Calories: 0

TIPS

  • Log out of all accounts to fully see information that you publicly shared.
  • Use alphanumericsymbolic passphrases for strong login credentials (e.g., @T!mBuk2B42Long). Create different ones for different types of accounts.
  • Consider the long-term impact of posting or otherwise reacting online.
  • Subscribe to a technical news service that shares how to keep your data safe such as  Mashable, TechCrunch or Wired.

INGREDIENTS

Benevolent Intention
Critical Thinking
Persistence
Relevant Safeguards

PREPARATION

  1. Search for your name on different Internet browsers (e.g., Google Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari). View at least the first three pages of results to find older accounts that you may have forgotten about and should close.
  2. Use Google’s reverse image search tool to see if your shared photos (e.g., headshot, Facebook profile, or wedding pictures) are used elsewhere without permission. For example, did you know that FB profile photos are publicly available? Anyone could be reusing or repurposing them.
  3. Set short and long-term goals based on your findings and personal insight.

CURATION

  1. Set up a Google Alert on your name to stay informed of its mentions on the Internet.
  2. Cleanse unprofessional social media posts. For example, use GoCardigan to remove retweets and likes on Twitter. Why? Twitter users can delete their own tweets but not their reactions to others.
  3. Close compromised or unused online accounts to safeguard your data and reduce your digital footprint. Review Wikipedia’s list of data breaches. Recheck the list periodically.
  4. Tighten the privacy settings on your social media accounts.

Please share your techniques and issues in safeguarding your online persona. I’ll continue to add to this post as I dive deeper into this topic and as new technologies surface.

Dr. Sandra Annette Rogers


Recommended Readings

Bates, C. (2018). Take charge of your online reputation. Educause. Retrieved from https://er.educause.edu/articles/2018/10/take-charge-of-your-online-reputation

Internet safety and cyber security awareness for college students. (N.D.) Retrieved from https://www.cyberdegrees.org/resources/internet-safety-for-college-students/

Matsakis, L. (2019). The Wired guide to personal data collection. Condé Nast. Retrieved from https://www.wired.com/story/wired-guide-personal-data-collection/

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