Sunday, August 24, 2014

Rethinking College - Exploring the Future of Higher Education

Update August 30, 2014: #Newshourchats for Rethinking College took place August 26th through the 28th. If, like me, you were too busy with the start of the Fall semester, you can catch the twitter chats that have been posted by PBS NewsHour on Storify.

Shared this earlier today on Google Plus (G+). Since it's easy to embed a G+ post in a blog, and because I want to keep this one for posterity (could be interesting to look back on a few years from now), I'm posting here as well.
The videos linked below seemed more balanced than some I've viewed on this topic. PBS NewsHour did a nice job working to cover different sides of the issues in an unbiased manner. Hoping for further insight from the upcoming twitter chats.



Thursday, March 20, 2014

Library Publishing and Open Textbook Initiatives


"The cost of college textbooks has skyrocketed in recent years. To students and families already struggling to afford high tuition and fees, an additional $1,200 per year on books and supplies can be the breaking point."

- “Fixing the Broken Textbook Market”, a report by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund and The Student PIRGS.

In addition, according to the report "65% of students said that they had decided against buying a textbook because it was too expensive. The survey also found that 94% of students who had foregone purchasing a textbook were concerned that doing so would hurt their grade in a course. More than half of the students felt significant concern for their grade." 

Our university president recently commented to the faculty senate that the cost of textbooks has become a major factor for students in attending college. His comment aligns with the quotes and report above. 

A couple of years ago I worked with my university's director of educational technology to help faculty create textbooks for specific courses. We demonstrated how to get started building ePubs in a couple of faculty workshops by using articles in our library databases (when license permitted), OERs, library e-book chapters (when permissible), and their own writings. We also chose a platform that would allow all students to access the books regardless of what type of device they might be using. From the Android OS to iPhones and tablets, laptops and desktops. A couple of our tech-savvy faculty gave this a good try. In the end they reported that the time and effort involved in getting the textbook ready for the course (with limited IT and library help), was simply too great. 


Shortly after my experience with creating our homegrown textbooks, I heard about the SUNY Open Textbook Initiative. “SUNY Libraries are working with faculty to reduce costs to students, promote authorship, invest in readership, and support teaching and learning."

-Cyril Oberlander, Director of Milne Library at the State University of New York at Geneseo and the Principal Investigator for the Open SUNY Textbook Project. 

Over the past year I've been exploring and learning about a variety of open textbook initiatives. I’ve curated a set of articles and videos on open textbooks and library publishing initiatives on Scoop.it for those who are interested.  

Academic libraries have been increasingly involved with this movement, and there are a number of initiatives around the country that are gaining momentum. A recent library publishing conference I listened in on via the #LPforum hashtag on twitter mentioned several initiatives that were making good progress (see link to curated articles above). I’m looking forward to reading the Library Publishing Forum 2014 proceedings when published later in the year. A couple of blog posts that were written about the event helped fill in the gaps from twitter, this blogger did a nice job summarizing.


Though it's still early, successful open textbook initiatives are beginning to have greater impact. The Rice University OpenStax video below contains usage stats and more. There are quality peer-reviewed open textbooks available now that I feel comfortable recommending to faculty as an alternative to costly textbooks. However, the numbers are still small.
It was encouraging to read that over 2,500 professors had signed the open textbook statement of intent to include open textbooks in their search for the most appropriate course materials. But we need faculty members to make a commitment to using open textbooks or OERs for their courses. We also need more quality peer-reviewed open textbooks from which faculty can choose. This is where involvement and participation in the open textbook movement by libraries like mine could help. 

Small universities do not typically have the resources to start an initiative for publishing open textbooks. However, we are part of a consortium of 37 colleges and universities in the pacific northwest known as the Orbis-Cascade Alliance (OCA). One of the OCA [library] directors, Faye Chadwell, the University Librarian at Oregon State University (OSU) and director of OSU Press, was a featured speaker at the recent Library Publishing Forum. This news piece was shared in the #LPForum twitter chat and alerted me to the work already begun at OSU: OSU open textbook initiative aims to reduce student costs, enhance learning. Another OCA member librarian, Karen Estlund, Head of the Digital Scholarship Center at the University of Oregon (UO) Libraries, also presented at the LPForum. 


I would love to be involved in writing a grant for an Orbis-Cascade Alliance Open Textbook Initiative. We could solicit one textbook from each institution, providing some cash to the lucky professor who gets chosen at each school, with half of it payable when the book is complete.  If we could get this rolling and get a batch of texbooks every year, we would soon have a collection that would matter, and that participating schools and others could use with pride.  


Definition and characterizations of Open Textbooks - simply put, college texts offered online under a license that allows free digital access and low-cost print options. 

Would love thoughts from others about library publishing and open textbook initiatives. How doable is it? Are the challenges too great? Would the benefits to students be worth overcoming challenges that arise? Seems to me they would. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Educause Connect: Portland

Portland, Oregon was the first of three test cities for a new model of Educause conference event known as Educause Connect. Tag line: Solve, Network, and Grow - Less "Conference." More Professional Development. Below are my thoughts as a participant and presenter (now known as "content leader").



Online pre-conference meetings were scheduled for content leaders and included our designated learning track facilitators. The meetings were designed to help us learn about the new learning format and how it was different from past conference events. We learned that changing to the Connect learning format meant our sessions were to be less about presentations and more about facilitated dialog, conversations. Like we often hear in higher ed, it's time to end the sage on the stage. And they really meant it. Before our second pre-conference online meeting we were notified to be ready to tell the group what specific interactive strategies we would use during our session. Preparing for that meeting helped my colleague and I to nail down a couple of tools to use during our session.

The first tool we chose was TodaysMeet along with the #EConnect14 conference hashtag for those on twitter as a back channel. (A benefit of TodaysMeet is that it works on most devices and no login or account is required to start using.) Participants were asked to introduce themselves in TodaysMeet at the start of our session to familiarize them with the tool. I asked a couple of questions during the second slide; after that the session participants led the way with questions and comments throughout (some raised hands to speak, some spoke out, and others posted on TodaysMeet). My co-presenter (or co-content leader?) was able to address questions being posted on TodaysMeet and those raising their hands, while I shared and forwarded slides, and conversation ended up flowing nicely.
The other activity for engaging the group was to participate in a rubric activity created by my colleague and co-presenter, Professor Anna Berardi. The rubric activity was well received. Unfortunately, due to the level of participation in discussion, we ran short of time and the activity had to be rushed. We would rethink that strategy for next time, perhaps mentioning a discussion cut off time at the start and beginning the rubric activity sooner.

In the end, I thought our session went well (evaluations coming soon, and we'll see :) ). It helped that the keynote speaker, Kevin D. Jones, talked about the value of failing, that it was okay to fail and if we weren't failing we weren't taking risks, weren't learning to trust, weren't really learning at all, and that was a negative fail. At least that's how I heard it. Bottom line, the keynote was encouraging and helped me relax as did the new format. I found it easier to share and have a conversation rather than the more traditional presentation format. Overall, I liked the new Educause Connect learning format and I'm looking forward to sharing takeaways with librarians and others at my university.

Regarding sessions: A session by ASU librarians has piqued my interest in digital badges and I plan to further investigate. I ended up jumping over to the Mobile/BYOE track the second day and was fascinated by CSUN's tablet initiative. And I thoroughly enjoyed the future trends in mobile session.

I attended the Educause Regional Conference in Portland in 2012 and have attended the larger Educause ELI conference in the past. The new Connect format helps in making connections and allows for deeper learning in a particular track. The last day of the conference, with the exception of the closing keynote, was mostly conversational led by our track facilitators. In our case, the facilitators for the online learning track, John Farquhar and Crista Copp, did an excellent job throughout. Their role in the event was helpful and important, they kept us on track. Good facilitators seem key to the success of the new format.

The PDF of our presentation is on the Educause Connect page in the box below with the exception of the rubric created by Professor Berardi. We're working on writing up our experience for publication and will include the rubric at that time. Our slides have been uploaded to Slideshare.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Thoughts - #HigherEd #Mobile #Libraries #SocialMedia

Below are the topics that have held my interest this past year. They more or less line up with the quote below from the number one key trend in the 2012 Horizon Report for Higher Education:

"People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to. Life in an increasingly busy world where learners must balance demands from home, work, school, and family poses a host of logistical challenges with which today’s ever more mobile students must cope. Work and learning are often two sides of the same coin, and people want easy and timely access not only to the information on the network, but also to tools, resources, and up-to-the moment analysis and commentary. These needs, as well as the increasingly essential access to social media and networks, have risen to the level of expectations. The opportunities for informal learning in the modern world are abundant and diverse, and greatly expand on earlier notions like “just-in-time” or “found” learning."
View the 3min NMC Horizon Report 2012 introductory video on YouTube

MOOCs and the Future of Higher Education

Been following MOOCs since the early days when they were more about people and connectivism and less about companies and systems. This past year I took (and completed!) my first MOOC. I posted about my MOOC experience and showed off my "Statement of Accomplishment" on Google+. I also created a public Google doc with a few links to information on MOOCs to easily share with others who inquire.
If you're interested in this topic, (and if you work in higher ed, I hope you are at least following the developments), or curious to see what a "Statement of Accomplishment" from a Stanford prof looks like, here's my doc on MOOCs and Higher Education

Watch this TED Talk - Daphne Koller: What we're learning from online education

Mobile Everything 
The computer in our pocket. According to the 2012 Horizon Report for Higher Education linked above, Mobile and Tablets (for the first time two separate categories) were both listed in the top category (rated as most significant): Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

Mobile
"Mobile apps are the fastest growing dimension of the mobile space in higher education right now, with impacts on virtually every aspect of informal life, and increasingly, every discipline in the university."

Mobile - Relevance for Teaching, Learning, or Creative Inquiry
"Mobile apps embody the convergence of several technologies that lend themselves to educational use,including annotation tools, applications for creation and composition, and social networking tools. GPS and compasses allow sophisticated location and positioning, accelerometers and motion sensors enable the apps to be designed and used in completely new ways, digital capture and editing bring rich tools for video, audio, and imaging. Mobile apps encompass it all, and innovation in mobile device development continues at an unprecedented pace."

Tablets - "Relevance for Teaching, Learning, or Creative Inquiry
"Because of their portability, large display, and touchscreen, tablets are ideal devices for one-to-one learning, as well as fieldwork. Many institutions are beginning to rely on them in place of cumbersome
laboratory equipment, video equipment, and various other expensive tools that are not nearly as portable or as inexpensive to replace."

Recently Pew Internet released its first Mobile Connections to Libraries report (especially helpful as a reference point in years to come). More importantly for academic libraries and higher ed in general are findings from the 2012 ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology.
A statistic I see as especially important:
"A greater percentage of students in 2012 (62%) than in 2011 (55%) said they own a smartphone, and nearly twice as many in 2012 (67%) than in 2011 (37%) reported using their smartphone for academic purposes."

Academic Libraries
This past week myself and three other librarians visited with a library director who used to live and work in the Portland area and was back visiting during the holidays from out of state. Naturally, we discussed the future of academic libraries which to all of us boiled down to the future of higher education.

Google+ and especially Hangouts
Google+ really fits in the social media category below but I'm giving it its own spot as I believe it's about more than just another social network. I see it as all things Google integrated into all things online (especially if you use gmail and are logged into your account).

WSJ Update (Jan 2, 2013): Google executives say more integration is coming. "Google+ is Google," says Vice President Bradley Horowitz. "The entry points to Google+ are many, and the integrations are more every day."


Social Media - Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn, Facebook Pages, Google+, etc.
I teach a course as an adjunct for my College of Education titled "Developing a Professional Online Identity." The course, designed for graduate Counseling Program students (soon-to-be therapists), started again in mid January. Each week I either cover a social network or focus on the broader topics such as ethics, methods and strategies involved with creating a professional identity online.

I learned a lot teaching this course last year and I'm hopeful this year will be at least as successful. The 15-week two credit hour course (change from 1 credit last year) will cover everything from LinkedIn to Google+ and the increasing importance of having an online social media policy for professionals taking the course. The Harvard Business Review Blog has a new related post: The Future of You

Other ongoing topics of interest...

Augmented Reality

Internet of Things

Surprised more hasn't developed along these lines. Blew my mind the first time I tried the experiment: HTML 5 Arcade Fire, Wilderness Downtown

Oh, and this is just flat out amazing, spend some time on this site if you get a chance: Snow Fall

There's more but I'm out of time :)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Mobile & Social, and Google+ Hangouts

The last few years have seen a good amount of focus and research on mobile in libraries and education in general. In the last couple of years social in libraries and education has also been picking up steam.

I'm including a couple of my presentations from 2012 below on these two topics.

What I'm especially excited about of late is Google+ Hangouts, (see slide 24-36 in presentation below). What may be of specific interest to librarians/educators like myself, who work with students and colleagues in ways other than face-to-face, is referenced in slides 29-33. (For those not familiar with Google+ Hangouts, it is arguably the most popular feature of Google+, Google's social networking platform and more.)

Bottom line, in the same way that twitter has become my single most valuable professional development tool over the years, though I was skeptical at first, I'm hopeful that Google+ Hangouts will make certain aspects of my job a little easier. At the same time I hope to be able to provide superior research help to students online using this tool.

Tomorrow I lead a reference tips session at our weekly librarian's meeting on the main campus, which will be all about Hangouts. This Saturday I'll be teaching my second library research class to students in another state via Google+ Hangouts (you can read about my first session here, from back when it was named G+ Hangouts with Extras). A week ago I joined our librarian's meeting on the main campus for the first time from my Portland office with positive results and will continue to attend at least one meeting a month using this tool. There'll be another blog post here soon focused on Google+ and Hangouts with some entertaining screenshots so stay tuned if this topic is of interest.





Are you using Google+ or G+ Hangouts at your library? Are you an educator using Google+ Hangouts for office hours or in any other way? I'd love to hear about what others are doing with mobile and/or social, feel free to share in comments.

I'll end with a quote that resonates with me as I continue to follow mobile and emerging technologies "The most important thing we can do is to ensure that when the technology matures, we are ready to deliver content to it."  -Jason Griffey, Head of Library Information Technology at the University of Tennessee and author of Mobile Technologies and Libraries.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Teaching Library Research On An iPad

I recently taught my third library research class on an iPad and here’s what I learned.

     First, you may be wondering why a librarian would teach with an iPad rather than a laptop. In my case the answer is simple: GFU students who enroll in the Master's Degree in Teaching (MAT) and Adult Degree Programs are given new iPads. Professors from those programs felt it would be helpful to the students if I used the library's iPad to demonstrate how to access and download library resources. 

The equipment:
     Along with an iPad 2 or the New iPad (3rd gen), you need a VGA Adapter to connect the iPad to the classroom projector, and some kind of laser pointer since you will have no cursor. The picture above shows what I used: an iPad 2 with a smart cover (for easier viewing and typing during demo), my iPhone battery charger with built-in laser pointer, the VGA adapter, and a case for carrying the iPad and accessories. 


Class design, learning outcomes: 
     My one-hour library research session consisted of a brief overview of the library website, followed by demos of how to get articles from our subscription databases, how to find and request books, and how to use library e-books.  I also introduced them to their course-specific research guide (LibGuide), and used that for parts of the demo.

How things went in the classroom - (learn from my mistakes):
     Even though I had practiced in my office, the first class was a little rough. I did not have a laser pointer, and I hadn't realized that without a cursor students would not be able to follow along as I referred to links and various parts of pages on the projector screen. The students were quick to point this out, and now I always take a laser pointer with me.
     In addition, these students were in a new cohort, and had been handed their iPads at orientation only hours beforehand. Most were unfamiliar with the device, and this brought additional challenges. Fortunately many owned smartphones and were familiar with touch screens, mobile browsers and apps. Still, I needed to move more slowly than I had anticipated. Halfway through the class I realized I needed to focus more on exact steps so the new users could follow along.
     The two subsequent classes involved sessions with students who had been using their iPads for a few months. These graduate teacher education students were very adept at using the device. They easily followed along and even got ahead of me more than once (i.e., some began downloading e-books while I was demonstrating using e-books in the browser). 
     For the most part these classes went smoothly and felt more like teaching on a laptop. Nonethless, when on an iPad there are regular reminders that you are using an Apple mobile operating system (iOS) throughout. When pointing to anything built on Flash there will be either an empty space in the page or a small “broken link” icon. In the case of our library tutorials, we made sure everything had been uploaded to our YouTube channel so those on iOS devices could access them too.
     Another consideration is that many sites will detect your mobile OS and ask if you would like to go to the mobile version of the site. In some cases there is no choice and it will simply redirect you. It's important to test the sites beforehand to know which way to direct users when there is a choice. Most libraries now have a mobile site to accommodate smartphones. That may not be the best choice for iPad users, though, who could benefit from having access to the full website.

iPads and library e-books:
     The GFU library's two major e-book vendors, ebrary and EBL, are probably mostly used in the browser. They also allow e-books to be downloaded for offline reading, which may be attractive for iPad users. Digital Rights Management (DRM) ensures that these downloads expire after a certain amount of time, and limits their use in various ways. Consequently, the user must have a free Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) account, and will be prompted to create one if need be at the point of download.  In the case of ebrary, the user must also create a free personal ebrary account before downloading an e-book. Both accounts can be created on an iPad. However, Adobe Digital Editions is Flash-based and can not be installed on iOS devices. Instead the user must install the Bluefire app, which uses their ADE account. 
     Bluefire can be used for both vendors’ DRM-protected ebooks, but ebrary offers an app of their own, and there are some benefits to using it. I recommend installing both and authorizing them with the same ADE ID account.
     If you don't have time to walk students through creating ADE accounts, it may be best to simply demonstrate how to use these books in Safari—one can still search, highlight, take notes and more in this environment.  You could then point them to a link on the library website that will explain how to create an ADE account and download the ebrary and Bluefire apps. 

What I learned: 
1) Before teaching with an iPad the first time, practice in a room with your iPad hooked up to a projector
2) Always bring a laser pointer
3) Mobile sites are often not the best choice on iPads, since the screen size permits handling the full-content site.  However, sometimes there is no choice; be prepared and test beforehand (especially with e-books).
4) Be aware and prepared for workarounds when running into Flash on the iPad.
5) If a learning outcome is to have students successfully download a library e-book, have them create a free Adobe Digital Editions account before class.
6) If students are new to the iPad prepare a simpler presentation that covers less territory.
7) When working with students who are adept at using the iPad, relax and let them teach you a few tricks. 
     
     Finally, I'm noticing that students who own 2nd and 3rd generation iPads are beginning to use them as their primary devices. I have confirmed this with a show of hands whenever I work with students in our MAT program. Most eventually invest in some kind of case with keyboard so they can type as quickly and easily as with a laptop. They may have access to a desktop or laptop as well, but the tablet becomes their go-to device once they're comfortable with it.  See Forrester blog post from April 23, 2012 - Why Tablets Will Become Our Primary Computing Device 






Thursday, April 26, 2012

Professional Online Identities - Academia Embracing Social Media

Below is an overview/summary presentation of the online adjunct course I completed teaching to graduate counseling students this week. It was a great experience all around, and especially rewarding for me in that students appeared to have enjoyed the course as much as I did. We all learned quite a bit.

Included in the slides below are student voices via twitter that I thought were most profound. Hearing attitudes change and the "ah-ha" moments throughout the course, it became clear that students were understanding the potential impact of social media on their careers. In addition, the professional development benefits afforded them by following experts and organizations who wisely utilize social media became apparent.

For most of the students, it was a revelation to learn the extent that freely available social networks could be used for professional as well as personal purposes. The course also focused on tips and tools that could help as they planned their goals and strategies. And though we focused on using social media for a positive professional impact, the misuse of these tools can also impact careers.

It seems this past year was a turning point and the debate over the ROI of social media is about overSocial media and TV integration has increased and it makes sense that most businesses and organizations are incorporating social media into their overall strategies. And that includes higher education, where there is plenty of buzz and implementation-- Social media in higher education literature review. Higher education institutions are also developing helpful social media policy guides.

It's becoming increasingly important that college and universities provide some type of training in this area for students as well as staff. (And not just for business programs, which may have a jump but are still lacking per this recent Forbes report.) Whether it's for-credit elective courses for those in professional programs, seminars, or informal "lunch & learn" sessions, we can all benefit from understanding social media's potential. In addition, raising awareness of how its misuse can cause significant harm.

Students uploaded their finals for the class and all can be viewed on Slideshare from this TRMA585 tag list. I'm proud of their work and the course. Hope you enjoy the slides. (Click TRMA 585 Instructor Ashford link below for larger view on Slideshare)


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