September 19, 2014

What do instructors need to know about teaching in a digital age?

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Jacques Cartier project 2

The next step on my road to writing an open textbook is to draft an overview of the contents of the book. Probably no stage of writing a book is more important than this and so I’m going to throw open the process and ask for your comments and suggestions.

Who is the book for?

I’m aiming mainly at faculty, instructors and teaching assistants in universities and colleges (including two year colleges). I’m particularly keen on reaching post-graduate students thinking of a career in higher education, and young lecturers and instructors who are fairly new, but I recognize that more experienced classroom instructors will also need some guidance and help as they move increasingly online.

I’d also like to get senior administrators such as Deans, Vice-Provosts, Teaching and Learning, and Provosts interested in the topics, as well as instructional designers and learning technology support staff, and the book could also be of interest to many k-12 teachers, but my main focus is on instructors in post-secondary education.

Format

This post is essentially about content, but content and format are inextricably linked. I discussed possible formats in an earlier post, but I have described some of the activities I’m thinking of incorporating at the end of this post.

Outline of the book

This is very much a first draft and could change dramatically depending on the feedback I get. But you have to start somewhere.

i. Preface: what the book’s about; who it’s for; the format of the book; contributors

1. From periphery to mainstream: the evolution of technology-based teaching in higher education:  a very short history of educational technology; why change is necessary (needs of learners/needs of the economy/increasing cost of HE); challenges faced by instructors; this book aims to help.

2. The nature of knowledge and implications for teaching methods: Types of knowledge (epistemology) and implications for teaching.  Does technology change how we think or learn? Summary of learning theories (including connectivism). Teaching (and learning) styles. Competency based learning. Instructional design models (ADDIE, communities of practice, flexible design models). What we know about learning with technology (very briefly!)

3. Understanding technology Understanding media and technologies in educational contexts., including broadcast vs communicative; synchronous vs asynchronous; live vs recorded; real vs virtual. Locating different technologies within this framework, including lecture capture, LMSs, multimedia, simulations, remote labs, social media, virtual reality. Adaptive learning. Can computers replace teachers? A guide to media selection (might be moved to Chapter 6).

4. Modes of delivery: face-to-face; blended; hybrid; fully online. Open content and open learning (including issues of IP, OERs and MOOCs). Implications for the design of teaching. Impact on the campus/learning spaces.

5. Forms of assessment continuous vs summative; non-formal (feedback) vs formal (graded); multiple-choice; short answers; essays; project-work; e-portfolios; group work. Pros and cons and relationship to teaching goals. Lots of examples.

6. Nine (or 12) steps to quality teaching  with technology: identify your philosophy of teaching; what kind of course? teamwork; use of resources; master the technology; set appropriate learning goals; course structure and student activities; learner support; managing discussion; student assessment; course evaluation, including formative and role of learning analytics

7. Design templates and example module/course/program designs

Design models

  • traditional course (lectures, discussion, labs, etc.) with technology add-on
  • flipped classroom
  • ADDIE model
  • community/networked-based
  • flexible learning design (e.g. ETEC 522)
  • other?

Hybrid models

  • re-purposing (module, course, program) for different target groups
  • integrated design for multiple audiences (full-time, part-time, off campus)
  • adaptive learning models (e.g. maritime training)
  • can/should you mix and match approaches?

8. Strategies and planning for digital teaching: planning at the program level; roles for faculty, including content delivery and assessment, facilitator, co-creator of content, teaching consultant, managing a team including adjuncts and TAs; costs and time management; organization of resources (e.g. central or devolved); technology and educational productivity. Examples of good institutional strategies.

9. Faculty development (principles and examples) Why the current model is broken. Rewards and motivation for change. Types of faculty development: pre-service and in-service; just-in-time; brainstorming; mentoring; working in a team; mandatory courses. Examples of successful models.

10. Conclusion: What will the future look like? 12 rules of teaching in a digital age. Anything else I haven’t considered!

Appendices

A. List of resources

Length: approximately 80,000 words/250 pages, with chapters of roughly 30 pages each.

Format: roughly 10 modules per chapter, each module = 30 minutes reading, with 30 mins activity = 10 hours study time per chapter = 100 hours for the book = one three credit course!

Two versions of the book: a straight read; one with in-built activities

Activities

  • non-graded  assessment questions for feedback purposes, including using all the various forms of assessment covered in Chapter 5
  • asynchronous discussion forums on set topics
  • project work for readers, including the design of a module, design of a course template, design of student activities, design of an assessment strategy
  • feedback and evaluation of other readers’ project work
  • guest lectures/interventions on specific topics
  • an ‘alumni’ network for readers of the book
  • developing a community of practice around the book
  • suggested assessment strategy if book used as a course.

Feedback really welcomed (I think)

I’m really welcoming feedback, and I’m also hoping for contributions and participation in the writing from others who are more specialized than myself. But in the end it’s my overall conception so I have to take overall responsibility for it. So here’s some of things I’m hoping to get from readers of this blog:

  • am I mad to open up this early stage of a book to the public? Will others steal my ideas?
  • have I got this completely wrong? Do instructors really need something completely different? Do we need instructors at all?
  • what important topics have I missed?
  • should I tie the book to its possible use as or within a course or should I just keep it as a book?
  • will instructors welcome activities or will they just skip them?
  • any other comments or suggestions

I’m actually going to be on a small island in the Mediterranean so you can be as rude as you like!

Milna, Brac, Croatia - where I plan to start writing the book

Milna, Brac, Croatia – where I plan to start writing the book

Comments

  1. Tracey Johnsoon says:

    Hi Tony, first of all thank you for your ongoing contribution to our profession. I am an Educational Designer with a HE institution working with Academics to design, develop and deliver their courses. I will share a recent experience which I think could be included in your book. We supported a Professor who delivered a workshop in a new collaborative teaching suite and one of the activities had participants using PollEverywhere to share responses which were displayed on screens around the room. This group work was going well with alot of discussion, debate and participants seeing what other groups added and commenting they hadn’t thought of that. Now here’s the interesting observation. The Professor stopped the activity and walked to one group and asked them to share with everyone what they were coming up with. My observation was the Professor did this because they didn’t have “control” of the room – they weren’t directing the learning – the students were doing it themselves. I think we need to help Academics appreciate that learning can occur without their direct intervention. If the learning is happening, let it continue.

  2. I wonder if it might be valuable to place the outline in a google doc where people might link to content they’ve already written on this topic. You might find resources to reference, or you might discover there’s an option for a 3rd volume that’s an edited collection of existing material that aligns with the outline topics.

    I’m writing something similar, but more of a personal journey to get to the end points you’ve got as topics here. I’ve done a lot with your 6, 8 and 9 topics. And I think 8 and 9 are where we need to be saturating education and edtech with content. This is where big change needs to happen and where resistance is strongest and support is weakest.

    Thanks for all you do to inspire!

    Jen

    • Hi, Jen

      Many thanks for this. I did think of creating in Google Docs, but I’m using BCcampus’s variation on PressBooks, Pressbooks Textbook, which should allow me to share not only the outline, but also draft texts as I go, and enable suggestions, other materials, etc., to be included by others.
      One of the things I’m exploring is the balance between an organized, coherent narrative and the more dynamic, multi-perspective approach. I may well end up with two versions: mine and a ‘collective’.
      Really appreciate your comment

  3. A really interesting topic. I think there are more and more open resources around but always ways to show that ideas are your own, just by dating this here but for collaboration and input you do need to share some information. Something I come up against more and more lately are the techno-shy types. There are so many different tools out there that it’s hard to get your head around them if you are a little scared of technology. As well as some very opinionated people who have strong views that teaching used to be better before technology. It might be interesting to include ways to get buy-in from fellow lecturing staff and management.
    PS. going into winter in New Zealand I can’t think of anything more idyllic than writing a book in the Mediterranean. Look forward to reading more.

  4. Claire C says:

    Hi Tony,
    I am very excited to see this project develop. I am wondering if there is any place (in your or anyone else’s opinion) for a brief section explicitly discussing the other staff on campuses of higher ed who work to support faculty in these efforts? I realize you are directing your work at instructors, but I wonder how many might benefit from a discussion around the professional/managerial staff working in educational development, instructional technology, distance/extended/online/open education on campus?

    • Hi, Claire
      Excellent point. Yes, of course, the learning technology support staff are an essential group. However, many in this area will already be familiar with much of what I’ll be writing.
      The beauty of an open textbook though is that it can be used in different ways. One way would be as the basis for a course leading to a badge or certificate for those that do the accompanying in-text activities for instance, which might appeal to professionals in this area.
      Best regards

  5. Gary Miller says:

    Tony,

    This book is a great idea.

    One thing that I learned from working with traditional faculty who moved to the online environment is that some needed help finding ways to engage students in the online environment. As one Engineering professor told me, in a classroom, he could look into his students’ eyes to see if they were “getting” what he was saying. He had to find new ways to test that when he went online. In other words, how can you be sure your students understand the content? His response was to be much more interactive–to break content down into smaller segments, for instance, and ask questions more often. Especially as we move to flipped classroom environments, this issue may become more important.

    • Many thanks, Gary and great to hear from you. You’ve been one of the great pioneers of distance education.
      I fully agree that student engagement is the key to successful online learning (or any other form of learning for that matter), but in online learning it must be made more explicit. I’m hoping to have lots of examples of how to do this in the book – any examples will be welcomed (and acknowledged!).

  6. Antonia Makina says:

    I am a UMUC student who thoroughly appreciated Bates’s intention to write an open text book on‘What instructors need to know about teaching in a digital age’(learning curve: May16 2012). This topic is clearly trying to solve what we need to do now. A lot of talking has gone into what is meant by the digital age. However ‘What instructors need to know about teaching in a digital age’ has not been delved into. This probably leads us to relevant staff development strategies.

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