Friday, October 11, 2013

What's the hype about Problem Based Learning? (Panel Discussion Remix)

While listening to the recording I decided that perhaps I should try Jim's method of remixing and recognizing that I too do better in a written context where I can pick and choose where I can focus my attention. Here is my attempt to capture the discussion.

Peter Leong and Lani Uyeno provided insight into how they have integrated problem-based learning into their online courses. Lani's course Eng. 211 Autobiographical Writing and Peter's course 668 Quantitative Research (graduate level).

Authentic Context
Lani's course:  The student's work on a published journal and thus are more interested as they see an effect of their work on others.

Peter's course:  Fictitious consulting company doing educational research

Response to Tony Bate's point-'bringing in the world to your teaching'
Lani: writing memos, letters in response to clients requests; the fact that they are online: they spend more time in revising and editing their work
Peter: the course material (quantitative research/statistical research) is dry for most students so the fact that they are using research methods to help their client oppose legislation & from their analysis of the data, bring forward conclusions helps bring the material alive for the student

Authentic activities in PBL How do they differ from traditional learning activities?
Lani: publication means that revision and editing of work is more important than it is in person
Peter: in f2f small problems were not contextualized so difficult for the student to learn how to apply; online the students are better able to apply the material

Online students are more responsible: the material is there but don't pay attention to it; the team leader more responsible and ensures re-reading and understanding what is there

PBL effect on student learning & motivation
Lani: have to become more motivated; grow in communication skills; seen students who are quiet given a voice online; students are more professional in their interactions; when Lani gives her thoughts on their deliverables - do revisions before handing in
Memoirs content: teams Lani posts which team is critiquing which team; uses rubrics
Drafts - Lani prepares a power point slide what works; what needs more work; whole team usually shows up

Peter: Working with graduate students you still see a shift from them expecting you to give them all the material to them learning that they need to look for the information
1) Formulate & operationalize research questions
2) Select research design & statistical analysis method
3) Perform the statistical analysis and draw conclusions
4) Presentation
Rubrics for each task.  Peer evaluation at the end of the project (done separately by each team member rate their peers).
synchronous meeting once a week

Using technology to support active learning among & between students
Lani:  BB Collaborate - good interaction with students and they can ask any questions
Peter:  endorsed Lani's thoughts on BB Collaborate; added blogs to reflect on their experiences; 2nd Life; interesting to read blogs to see where they start and where they end - they are in charge of their own learning

other technology: brainstorming on white board; separate groups; polling function; chat function

Largest Barrier to PBL & Active Learning - TIME
Lani: commit the time to shift from lecture to PBL; once it is done the material is impressive to student because of the time and thought you have put into the course; students more involved in their learning
Peter: Time to convert to PBL - once it is done what was once dry engages students online - they can see how it works in real life

Recommendations (how to start)
Lani: start small; rethink one idea or concept from course; work with a colleague as the back and forth really helps
Peter: authentic - talk to industry expert; make sure you have a real world/work problem - Just Do It! - don't wait for the perfect idea

Example of a first baby step?
concept - context for presenting it
invite guest speaker on subject matter

Resistance from students:
*** so hard - used to be on the receiving end - no research themselves
- after first deliverable - less resistance as other students are there to support

PBL on-line
- gives students a sense of the whole - where you are going as all the material is online - they can go and revisit or go ahead
- students take it upon themselves to tell others to revisit the material

Overall the benefits of PBL are too great not to be using!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

May I ask a question?

What I have my learners engaged with the material and thinking critically about what it means to them and their subject area? Now the kicker is if you can do it in a regular classroom you are one of the select few but to do this all online that is no small task.

As I think about my experiences in the online education world, as I have been teaching online for seven years and in the past four years I have taken a few online courses, I cannot say I have ever been as engaged as I have been as in this MOOC. So what is the difference?

I find the newsletter very impressive and it comes to me (I don't have to go looking for the website or the material - oh who knew it would keep me on track.).  There are synchronous sessions - which are linked to a world clock that actually works (well I did have one time wrong) its just been too bad that I couldn't make all the sessions since I find them rewarding - people actually talking about this online world and even more astonishing is that they are enthused and excited to be involved (most of the people I engage with see it as a necessary evil). The links to the reference material - yes I am a person who actually wants to read the original just to be sure I understood it all.

This week I went through the course material - which really I have done every week since I find the compilation of materials a definite resource.  I participated in Debbie Morrison's Blackboard discussion and I basically listened to Linda Elder lecture on critical thinking (I had hoped to listen to her presentation again this week thinking I must have missed something.) I watched the weekly wrap-up and wished I could ask a few questions.  I realize that there was a minimum of people present at Greg's session but I could really have used the examples.  I am always asking my students to provide examples as in my mind (and I think in theirs) it helps to clarify my thinking am I getting the message that they are sending.  Personally I wish Greg had put in a number of examples for each of the points since as I am watching the recording I have no way of knowing if I am really getting the point.

Synchronous online is more appealing and engaging to asynchronous online in my experience and this course also underscores it for me.  If I had participated in the roundup I would have been able to ask my questions.  If this course was in a LMS I would have posted my questions in the forum under the discussion and hoped that I would get a response sometime down the road.  My other thought is that with synchronous session you are more likely to be able to capture some of the interests of your students - I am not sure how that actually translates in the asynchronous world that I inhabit.

This brings me to another realization is that the synchronous part of this course is what pushes me forward to do the readings and search through my mind for the other material that I have sifted through.

Questions.  I was more than happy to see the material on questions as I spend part of last year trying to get myself asking solid questions or at least questions that were divergent.  The book Thinking through quality questioning, although written for a different audience provides ample material to give you some pause to think - what kind of questions am I asking. Lots more work to do in this area as people need to feel that they can respond.  Perhaps we are so socialized to answer convergent questions that anything else makes us leary?  Going back to the weekly round-up Greg put up a slide on "Questioning Behavior . . . " I didn't get the information down (another I have to go back) but I did get the nugget are you giving verbal rewards (Great question!).  I found John Hattie's Visible Learning for Teacher's last year and although not for this audience he does a good job on how to give feedback - The article that actually gave me the nuggets to go forward was Educational Leadership: Feedback for Learning: Seven Keys to Effective Feedback

All week I kept thinking I am missing something major here - but what is it?  I have been ruminating on how to figure out what is a realistic workload for instructors taking a blended course.  I would definitely appreciate a discussion on workload - we have talked about the discussion board however I might have missed what is the standard or is there a standard - one discussion posting per week or 1 per two weeks or is there any guidance. Lots more questions hopefully they are of a higher order ;-).