I hope everyone is off to a good semester. I am pleased to announce that we have a new process in place to provide captioning for audio and video files in online classes. This will only apply to classes that have a student that is deaf/hard of hearing and has had this documented by the CPCC Student Disabilities Office. Our goal is to both meet the needs of students and also allow instructors to continue using video and audio without having to worry about providing captions. Instructors should have received an email with the written process, and it can also be found on the projects page of LTS website. Please let me know if you have any questions.
All of us who teach online classes know that there is a greater potential for cheating there than in a traditional face to face class. After all, how can you be sure that the work is being done by the registered student or that they are working alone? Now it appears that the possibility for students to do this is going up with pay services to take the entire class for you – with a guaranteed A. Read more about it in this Inside Higher Ed article by Alexandra Tisley. How far should colleges go to prevent this kind of cheating or fraud?
Do you have your pitch ready? Edcamp2 is coming to CPCC May 15. This is an unconference where anyone can present – if they get the votes. Here is how it works: everyone meets in a room and anyone who wants can pitch an idea in 30 seconds. Then a title and short description are written on a big post-it note and stuck to the wall. Once all the pitches are made, everyone votes and the most popular topics become the sessions chosen for the agenda. Please tell your colleagues – we want to make this a regional event.
This morning I sent out an email to the entire faculty. That in itself is always an interesting experience. This was to notify all the faculty about the next phase of the iPad pilot. We were not sure what the interest level would be – but I already know – a lot. This is very exciting. I think we are going to get some exciting proposals. Here is the link to the proposal form and the rubric. Let me know if you have any questions and if you are planning to submit a proposal.
Please indulge a post not directly related to learning technology, but nonetheless very close to my interests and also I feel very important. As a teacher of history at a community college, I have seen first hand that many students arrive on our campus with a deficiency of knowledge (and interest?) in some of the basics of our government and important issues of the day. And while I welcome the increased focus on community colleges in recent years and the corresponding rise in the prestige of how 2-year schools are seen, a lot of that focus is placed on retraining and job creation. That is undoubtedly a very important mission of community colleges and a job we are well positioned to carry out. But do we strike the right balance between job preparation and the need to help educate students on some of the concepts and skills not directly related to work skills? It is true that we have a strong general education sector. Students are required to take courses outside of their major discipline in order to receive a degree, and that is a good thing. And we are moving in the direction of adopting four core competencies that among other things address the need to develop personal growth and responsibility. Is this enough? Maybe. Or do we need to do more and really stress the importance of civic engagement and literacy to our students? I would encourage comments on this issue and also to look at a new initiative adopted by the Massachusetts Board of Higher Education that mandates tracking of civic engagement for graduates of the states’ public colleges and universities.
The talk went well yesterday down in Rock Hill, SC. It was a small conference, but I had about 15 people attend my session and they asked some good questions, even considering the difference of opinion on the utility of Wikipedia, but that is for another post. I was able to successfully demonstrate a new clicker response app called Socrative for the first time, but that is also for another post. In the course of preparing for this mobility in the classroom presentation, I concentrated a lot on digital books, especially digital textbooks. I have created a website with a lot of this information, and it will continue to grow. Please look it over, and I am always looking for more apps, stories, news, or studies and articles related to this.
I am giving a talk today to the Charlotte Area Education Consortium in Rock Hill on mobility in the classroom – and maybe more importantly outside of the classroom. One of the main topics I want to discuss and that I have been reading a lot more about lately is digital books. Part of my presentation today will include a website with links and information about this exciting topic. I will post that here later after a few more tweaks. Do you see students using digital copies of the textbook in your class?
It has been an exciting few weeks as we opened up a new semester. One of the biggest projects we have been working on is the pilot of Blackboard Collaborate. It has been quite a learning experience for me in seeing this project through from the idea phase to testing the system, to contract and finally implementation – where we are now. If all goes according to plan, we should be able to start creating user accounts by the middle of next week. I will know more tomorrow when we have an in depth call with Blackboard technical staff and our own ITS staff. As many of you know, our ITS folks stay very busy, but they have taken this project knowing how urgent it is for faculty to start using it right away. Somehow I have convinced them to stay until 6PM on a Friday night. So stay tuned for more updates. And if you think you want to use it, please reply and let me know.