August 14, 2018

In memoriam: Ingeborg Bø

The used to say that distance educators never die, they just fade away, but alas, that is not true.

Ingeborg, who was Director of the Norwegian Distance Education Association, a trustee of the International Council for Distance Education, and President of EDEN (the European Distance Education Network) never faded away. Despite battling ALS in her later years, she was active in distance education until almost the end.

She was a pioneer of distance education, working with NKI, the Norwegian correspondence school (as it then was) back in the 1970s, which was when I first met her. She was a lovely woman, gentle but firm, who was an excellent chairwoman and negotiator. She always worked to find consensus without losing sight of the clear goals she had for furthering and promoting distance education.

I will miss her dearly. Tusen takk for alt, Ingeborg.

Québec’s Téluq in trouble

A Téluq graduation ceremony in Rimouski
Photo: courtesy of Guillaume D. Cyr

Téluq (the Télé-université within the Université du Québec System) has for many years been a major provider of university-level distance education courses for francophones.

Last Friday afternoon, the Québec Ministry of Higher Education reported that it was investigating compliance of its laws with respect to the relationship between Institut Matci, a private post-secondary institution offering courses mainly to international francophone students, and Téluq.

While this investigation is under way, the current Director-General, Martin Noël, has been suspended indefinitely. An interim director-general has been appointed, Andre G. Roy, who was Secretary-General of Université du Québec since November, 2009.

Téluq has announced that for students, it’s business as usual, and the delivery of courses will not be affected. However, the timing is unfortunate, as Martin Noël was a leading participant in discussions with the ministry about the establishment of eCampus Québec. These discussions are still to be completed before any formal decisions are made about its establishment.

It is too early to speculate, but it seems the investigation is a result of a complaint about a contract with Institut Matci (a private organisation) for tutoring Téluq courses.

 

Notice: website under redesign

This web site is now more than 10 years old, and the design has not changed over this period. In the meantime, there have been several important developments in web site design, and more importantly, there are now over 2,500 posts or pages on the site, making navigation more complex and difficult.

With the assistance of Contact North and MARSworks, work on a new design is taking place during the month of August, the quietest month in terms of traffic.

You should not see many changes until the end of the month or early September, but in the meantime I will be working to provide better indexing of the posts by topic or category, which may result in the odd old post being republished or moved to a new location within the site. I am also taking this opportunity to remove or identify dead links and to add new material and links to update old posts. It will be obvious once the new site goes live, and I will accompany this with a post explaining the changes that have been made.

The main aim of the changes is to make it easier for readers to find posts on specific topics and to access resources on the site more easily. Most of the old features though will be retained.

In the meantime, I apologise in advance for any inconvenience caused during this process. 

Journal articles and reports on serious games

Originally created by Natasha Boskic

Branston, C. (2006). From game studies to bibliographic gaming: Libraries tap into the video game culture. Bulletin of the American Society for Information Science & Technology, 32(4), 24-29.


Bandura, A. (2002). Selective moral disengagement in the exercise of moral agency. Journal of Moral Education, 31 (2), 101-119.


Baudrillard, J. (1988). Simulacra and simulations. In M. Poster (Ed.), Selected writings (pp.166-184). Stanford; Stanford University Press.


Blunt, R. (2009) ‘Do serious games work? Results from three studies’ eLearn Magazine, December 1.

This article offers evidence of game use effectiveness to academic achievements. The paper presents the results of three quantitative studies conducted at an east coast university with one first-year and two third-year undergraduate classes. The students were divided into a control group (learning without a game use) and an experimental group (learning with a game use). According to the findings and Blunt “at least in some circumstances, the application of serious games significantly increases learning.” [However, learning is not defined except as ‘performance on tests’].


Brown, J. S. (2000). ‘Growing up digital: How the web changes work, education, and the ways people learn’. Change, (March/April), 11-20.


Bronson, P. and Merryman, A. (2009) New Research: $13 Christmas gifts = 13 point gain in kids’ IQ Newsweek, December 10.

According to Dr. Silvia Bunge, a neuroscientist at UC Berkeley, children’s IQ will increase after a number of hours of playing carefully selected games. After 20 hours of game playing, Dr. Bunge and her team was able to determine an increase in children’s IQ. They tested kids’ reasoning abilities and their processing speed. The positive results encouraged the neuroscientists to broaden their research and look for more school participants. Newsweek blog published an article about the Bunge Lab’s study on reasoning training in local schools and their results at http://www.blog.newsweek.com/blogs/nurtureshock/archive/2009/12/10.aspx [Note: the urls are now dead – if there is another url for this, please let me know]


de Castell, S., Jenson, J., & Taylor, N. (2007). Digital games for education: When meanings play. Situated Play, DiGRA Conference, Tokyo, Japan. 590-599.


de Freitas, S., & Griffiths, M. (2008). ‘The convergence of gaming practices with other media forms: What potential for learning? A review of the literature’. Learning, Media, & Technology, 33(1), 11-20.


DiSalvo, B., Crowley, K., & Norwood, R. (2008). Learning in context: Digital games and young black men. Games and Culture, 3(2), 131-141.


Duperray, C. (2009) Combating Yellow Fever: A Serious Game eLearning Africa, No.4, March 12[Note: the url is now dead – if there is another url for this, please let me know]

The World Health Organization (WHO) in collaboration with the Agence de Médecine Préventive (AMP) have developed an immersive distance training tool using serious gaming, which is now available for physicians all across Africa. The CD-ROM offers the chance to play the role of the District Medical Officer, the epidemiologist or the virologist, and thus be an actor in an epidemiological investigation.


Eskelinen, M. (2001). The gaming situation. Game Studies, 1(1)


Flanagan, M. (2006). Making games for social change. AI & Society, 20(4), 493-505.


Hayles, N. K. (2007). Hyper and deep attention: The generational divide in cognitive modes. Profession, 187-199.


Helm, B. (2005). Educational games crank up the fun. BusinessWeek, August 23, 2005. [Note: the url is now dead – if there is another url for this, please let me know]


Jagodzinski, J. (2007). Videogame cybersubjects: Questioning the myths of violence and identification (implications for educational technologies). The Alberta Journal of Educational Research, 53(1), 45-62.


Juul, J. (2008b). The magic circle and the puzzle piece. Paper presented at the Philosophy of Computer Games, Potsdam, Germany. 056-067. 


Juul, J. (2008c). Who made the magic circle? Seeking the solvable part of the game-player problem The Philosophy of Computer Games, 2008.Potsdam, Germany. (Audio recording). 


Kafai, Y. B. (2006). Playing and making games for learning: Instructionist and constructionist perspectives for game studies. Games and Culture, 1(1), 36-40.


Klopfer, E. et al. (2009) Moving educational games forward Cambridge MA: MIT The Education Arcade. A useful introduction to some of the issues around educational gaming.


Kupperman, J., Stanzler, J., Fahy, M., & Hapgood, S. (2007). Games, school and the benefits of inefficiency. The International Journal of Learning, 13(9), 161-168.


Murray, J. H. (2006). Toward a cultural theory of gaming: Digital games and the co-evolution of media, mind, and culture. Popular Communication, 4(3), 185-202.


My Thai, A. et al. (2009) Game Changer New York: Joan Ganz Cooney Center Sesame Workshop


Pivec, M. (2007). Play and learn: Potentials of game-based learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 38(3), 387-393.

Rice, J. (2010). New 3D Learning Book by Karl Kapp. Educational Games Research: Research and discussion concerning instructional video games. February 8, 2010.


Ryan, M. L. (2005). Narrative and the split condition of digital textuality. Dichtung-Digital, 1


Sauvé, L. (2010) Dr Louise Sauvé, the Society for Lifelong Learning and“1,2,3 Asthma” e-Learning Africa 2010 News Portal, March 31.

An interview with Dr. Fauvé about ‘1,2,3 Asthma’, a variation of Parcheesi, an ancient Indian game of crosses and circles. Each team advances to move its four virtual counters around the board. To earn points along the way, you need to answer a number of questions about asthma, how to prevent it, control it and about what triggers the attacks. Questions vary in difficulty. Video and sound clips offer additional information and widen the players’ knowledge of asthma, which affects 300 million people worldwide. Dr. Fauvé is President and General Director of SAVIE, the Society for Lifelong Learning, based in Québec


Wardrip-Fruin, N. (2005). Playable media and textual instruments. Dichtung-Digital, 1. 


Zagal, J. P., & Bruckman, A. (2008). Novices, gamers, and scholars: Exploring the challenges of teaching about games. Game Studies, 8(2). 

Why is innovation in teaching in HE so difficult? 4. Integrating online and distance learning into the mainstream

Blended learning: what makes it innovative? Image: Erasmus+

This is the fourth and final post in this series. The previous three were:

Is it really so difficult?

A strong case could be made that at least in North America, higher education systems have been very successful in innovation. For instance, over the last 15 years, online learning has become widespread in most universities and colleges.

In the USA, one in three students now takes at least one distance education/online course for credit (Seaman et al., 2018). Although campus-based enrolments have been static or declining in the USA over the last few years, fully online enrolments have grown by about 5% over the last four years. 

In Canada, online learning in credit based courses has increased from around 5% of all enrolments in 2000 to around 15% of all enrolments in 2017. For the last four years, online enrolments have been increasing at a annual rate of between 12-16% in Canada, and nearly all universities and colleges in Canada now offer at least some fully online courses (Bates et al., 2017). 

However, that is one area where Canada differs from the USA. In the USA, online education is concentrated in a much smaller proportion of institutions in the USA than in Canada. In the USA, 235 institutions command 47% (2,985,347) of the student distance enrolments, but represent only 5% of all higher education enrolments in the USA (Seaman et al. 2018). Basically, some institutions, such as the University of Southern New Hampshire and Arizona State University, have become expert in scaling up online learning to a position where it has become large-scale and self-sustainable.

Then there are MOOCs. Many universities around the world are now offering MOOCs, with over 20 million enrolments a year. There may be criticism about completion rates and lack of accepted qualifications, but nevertheless, even – or especially – the elite universities have jumped on the MOOC bandwagon.

Also, Contact North’s project, Pockets of Innovation, with nearly 200 case studies, has identified that there are many individual instructors in colleges and universities adopting innovative uses of technology in their teaching, mostly independent of any institutional strategy.

However, probably the greatest impact of online learning on teaching in higher education is just getting started and that is the integration of online learning with classroom teaching, in the form of blended or hybrid learning. Bates et al. (2017) found that almost three quarters of institutions in Canada reported that this type of teaching was occurring in their institution. However, two thirds of the institutions reported that fewer than 10% of courses are in this format. In other words, integrated online learning is wide but not yet deep.

And this is where perhaps the biggest challenge of successful innovation lies: ensuring the high quality integration of online and classroom teaching. But we shall see that there are also concerns about how well campus-based institutions with no prior history of credit-based distance education have moved to fully online courses and programs as well.

The challenge of moving from a single mode to a dual mode institution

The most recent issue of the journal Distance Education, edited by Mays, Combrink and Aluko (2018) is a special edition dedicated to the theme of dual-mode provision, and in particular how previously single mode (i.e. solely campus-based) institutions are responding to the particular demands of distance education provision, and whether the quality and effectiveness of such provision is at risk. The editors of this edition believe:

such a decision will necessarily call for the revisiting of an institution’s assumptions about how people learn, how staff should work and how resources should be allocated and what policy changes are needed if quality is to be maintained or enhanced and the offerings sustained.

The articles in this special edition raise a number of questions such as:

  • is the blurring of the boundaries between on-campus and distance learning a good thing?
  • does the concept of distance education remain relevant?
  • are established models of distance education sufficient to inform the design, development and delivery of new kinds of provision, or are new models emerging (or needed)?

In particular, the editors are concerned that:

  • there is a real danger that in the convergence of modes of provision the unique quality concerns of distance provision, regarding, for example, the issues of access, success and cost, and the implications for how people learn and work, may be lost.

Interestingly, the special edition then looks at a series of case studies of the move from single to dual mode not drawn from North America or Europe, but from sub-Saharan Africa, where the motivation to move into distance learning has been driven mainly by changes in demand patterns (too many potential students; not enough institutions).

Application of an innovation adoption framework

Of these case studies, by far the most interesting is the article by Kanwar et. al, of the Commonwealth of Learning, which applies Wisdom et al.’s (2014) innovation adoption framework to provide a qualitative meta-review of barriers to adoption of open and distance learning (ODL) in conventional higher education institutes in Cameroon, Kenya and Rwanda. 

The framework has four key elements (which build on Everett Rogers’ earlier work on the diffusion of innovation):

  • external environment, e.g. national policies and funding, infrastructure/external physical environment
  • organisation of the adopting institution, e.g. institutional policies, organisational structure, leadership
  • nature of the innovation, e.g. complexity, cost, technology 
  • individuals, e.g. skills, perceptions, motivation, value systems of staff and clients affected by the innovation.

Kanwar et al. then used this framework to analyse the content of existing reviews of the adoption of ODL in the three countries. The findings are too detailed and complex to review here (the results varied between the three countries), but the study clearly identified some of the key barriers to adoption in each of the three countries. I was in fact thrilled to see an evidence-based theoretical model used to evaluate innovation.

More importantly, the study resulted in nine recommendations for successful implementation of ODL within campus-based institutions:

Government

  • develop national level policies and funding to encourage the adoption of ODL
  • establish national-level quality assurance mechanisms, equally for on-campus and distance programs
  • strengthen national-level IT infrastructure

Institutions

  • create institutional policies and clear implementation plans for promoting and supporting ODL
  • establish a centralised and autonomous ODL structure
  • develop a clear costing model for ODL and establish secure forms of funding/business models
  • build staff capacity and provide incentives to faculty to engage in ODL
  • promote research into the effectiveness and outcomes of ODL
  • ensure equivalency in the status and qualifications of ODL students

Comment

It would be a mistake to ignore this publication because the cases are drawn primarily from sub-Saharan Africa. Many of the issues addressed in these articles will resonate with many working in this field in North America and Europe.

I think the editors are right to be concerned about how well ‘conventional’ institutions are handling the adoption of distance and online learning. For many faculty, moving online is merely a question of transferring their classroom lectures to a web conference.

I was at a Canadian university recently where the design of a ‘blended’ executive MBA was being discussed. The ‘plan’ was to make one of the three weekly lectures in each course available instead by a 90 minute synchronous web conference. One professor insisted that all students had to watch the lecture at the same time so they could discuss it afterwards. No consideration was given to either the context of the students (working businessmen with a busy schedule and family) or to the pedagogy or research on video lectures. Even worse, the faculty were not listening to advice from the excellent specialists from the university’s Centre for Teaching and Learning.

At another Canadian university which has been running excellent distance education program for years through Extension Services, there is no plan or strategy for e-learning on campus, other than a proposal to distribute the specialist instructional design staff from Extension to the campus-based academic departments (which wouldn’t work as there are not enough specialists to go round each faculty). This also ignores the fact that these specialists are needed to run Extension’s own very successful non-credit programs, which bring money into the university.

So looking down the list of recommendations suggested by Kanwar et al., I can immediately think of at least a dozen Canadian universities for which most of these recommendations would be highly relevant.

I would differ on just a couple of points. There has been a long tradition of dual-mode institutions in North America, especially in universities with a state- or province-wide remit, at least in their early days. In Canada, Queen’s and Guelph Universities in Ontario, Memorial University in Newfoundland, the University of Saskatchewan, Laval University in Québec, and the University of British Columbia are all examples of mainly campus-based institutions with very successful distance programs. The distance education programs were the first to adopt online learning, and gradually, some of the best practices from distance education have been incorporated into blended and hybrid courses.

However, even in these universities, the move to more integrated online and face-to-face teaching faces challenges. UBC for instance did move its distance education staff from Continuing Studies to join a strengthened Centre for Teaching, Learning and Technology that also included faculty development. Other institutions have still to make that move in a strategic and careful manner. And the big issue is how do you scale from supporting online courses for 15% of the students to supporting blended learning for all students?

The real issue lies with faculty and especially departments moving to blended or hybrid learning that do not understand the need for learning design or the needs of students who are not on campus all the time. The integration of online and campus-based learning will often highlight the inadequacy of prior campus-based teaching methods. There is much that campus-based faculty can learn from  distance education, in terms of more effective teaching.

At the same time, I don’t think distance educators have all the answers. The Pockets of Innovation have plenty of examples of campus-based faculty thinking up innovative ways to integrate online learning and new technologies into campus-based teaching. My experience in designing online courses was that the best ideas usually came from a highly expert faculty member with a truly deep understanding of the subject matter (see my previous post on VR in interactive molecular mechanics for a good example). I believe that we will need new models for designing blended and hybrid courses, even though distance education has some sound principles that can guide such design.

So in conclusion, innovation of itself is not sufficient: it has to be effective innovation that leads to better outcomes, in terms of access, flexibility, and/or learning effectiveness. Innovation is unlikely to be effective if it merely moves poor classroom teaching online, which is why innovation will remain difficult in higher education.

Over to you

Do you have examples of poor practice in moving to offer distance education courses for the first time, or attempts at integrating online and classroom teaching? 

Even better, do you have examples of where this has been done successfully? What are the lessons you have learned from this?

References

Bates, T. (ed.) (2017) Tracking Online and Distance Education in Canadian Universities and Colleges: 2017 Vancouver BC: The National Survey of Online and Distance Education in Canadian Post-Secondary Education.

Kanwar, A. et al., (2018) Opportunities and challenges for campus-based universities in Africa to translate into dual-mode delivery, Distance Education, Vol. 39. No. 2, pp. 140-158

Mays, T. et al. (2018) Deconstructing dual-mode provision in a digital era, Distance Education, Vol. 39. No. 2

Seaman, J.E., Allen, I.E., and Seaman, J. (2018) Grade Increase: Tracking Distance Education in the United StatesWellesley MA: The Babson Survey Research Group

Wisdom, J. et al. (2014) Innovation adoption: a review of theories and constructs, Administration and Policy in Mental Health and Mental Health Sciences Research, Vol. 41, pp. 480-502