November 2010 Archives
Lyons, from Faculty Development Associates, just posted a link to this NY Times
story to the POD listserv:
Growing Up Digital, Wired for Distraction
It is a
fascinating follow-up to our "millennial" presentations earlier this
semester. What I am wondering as I read
this is whether this seeming inability to focus on schoolwork is going to
disadvantage these kids as adults.
Clearly, teachers and faculty still consider the ability to concentrate and focus to be important skills. Likewise, the research literature also indicates that they are important for deep learning. And It seems like employers still want these skills in their employees. Will things change as these school kids become the employers? It will be interesting to see...
Anyone interested in how the whole regional accreditation process works in the US should take a look at the first of these publications. The link to the Newsletter includes a brief description.
One overarching theme was the impact of the rising use of adjunct faculty teaching courses. Many institutions have data showing how many courses adjunct teach, salary comparisons and hiring trends, but very little work has been done focusing on what impact this has on student learning outcomes. Very hot topic now, and could use a lot of research around this to better understanding the complexities of the situation.
Scott Jaschk, co-founder and editor for Inside Hither Ed, talked about online learning as a space begging for more research. One item he discussed that I found interesting is the idea of "What constitutes a 3-credit online course?" Most universities have a formula for calculating credit hours. For instance, Penn State's Division of Undergraduate Studies defines a credit hour:
Penn State credits are awarded on a semester-hour basis. For the average student, 1 credit represents a total of at least forty hours of work in class activities and outside preparation. The distribution of time between class activities and outside preparation varies depending on the type of course. Typically, courses which involve lecture, discussion, or recitation require 12.5 classroom hours per credit. Therefore, the distribution of time is usually about one-third formal in-class instruction and two-thirds out-of-class preparation. For laboratory courses, the distribution of time is very different. For each credit, approximately 25 to 37.5 hours are spent in laboratory instruction; in addition, out-of-class preparation is required.
This definition drives a great deal of policy decisions. Yet we do not have anything similar defining how this formula changes or applies to online learning. How does 12.5 classroom hours per credit lend itself to online courses? To hybrid courses? This question should be answered with the help of research examining online learning...not by simply guess work.
These were the themes of the first 1/2 of the conference, which provides plenty to think about for now! I'll revisit this next week, posting some notes from the second half of NEAIR.
Here's a link to the journal article discussed:
Madera, J.M., M.R. Hebl, and R.C. Martin. 2009. Gender and Letters of Recommendation for Academia: Agentic and Communal Differences. Journal of Applied Psychology 94(6): 1591-1599.
With that trend in mind, I recently read an interesting Chronicle article, detailing the experiences of three students attending universities that are investing heavily in elearning. I'm unsure where PSU will be in 2015 with online learning, but some of the trends listed in the article include:
- The University System in Maryland is requiring students to take 12 credits in 'alternate learning mode' courses, which includes online courses.
- By 2015, several Minnesota universities are pushing to have 25% of the college credits earned by students moved to an online format.
- Over half of Central Florida's 56,000 students are taking an online course this year. What might be even more interesting is that over 2,500 are taking blended, online and face-to-face courses at the same time.