Thursday, January 14, 2010

Learning Technology - let's start the conversation

Paul O'Connor has contributed a blog post to start our conversation on the strategic theme of Learning Technology. Thank you Paul your thoughts!

Click "Read more" to see Paul's entire post, then please add to the discussion with your own comment. New to blogging? See the Dec. 22 post: "How to post a comment".

All yours, Paul. --Scott

Learning Technology - from Paul O'Connor, Chemistry Instructor and Educational Technology Coordinator

Rates of participation in on‐line and hybrid learning at Douglas College are lower than at many other BC post‐secondary institutions. Given returning (2nd career) students, the adoption of online technologies both in the K‐12 school system and in the under‐30 generation, does on‐line and hybrid learning represent an opportunity for Douglas College to expand its geographical reach and its ability to serve students? Where do we strategically want to go on this topic and what infrastructure changes are needed to facilitate that?

We must attract adult learners to avoid a reduction in the number of students at the College. To do this we need to offer online and hybrid programs, not just individual hybrid or online courses. Entire credentials (e.g., a post-degree diploma) or path to a credential (e.g., the first two years of a degree) must be offered in an accessible format. Thus, we need to identify which existing and new programs should be offered in the hybrid or online format.

Developing new hybrid and online courses will mean investing in people: faculty members need the time, and the skills, to develop, revise and teach hybrid and online courses. We need additional instructional designers and media developers to ensure that we make best use of the technologies. Additional technical support for faculty and students will be needed through CEIT's Help Desk. Furthermore, it is essential that we develop quality courses that are peer reviewed to ensure the principles of good course design are implemented and that the resources be available so courses can be reviewed and revised every 5 years.

A full time Hybrid and Online Activity Coordinator will be needed to: organize faculty workshops, coordinate support for faculty teaching online for the first time, organize peer mentoring, facilitate peer review, promote the Hybrid Development Course, and coordinate student support.

The maximum class size for hybrid and online courses will need to be established. Having 20-30 students allows for quality student interaction and a manageable workload for faculty members. (Bates, A.W., Poole, G.; Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education. 2003, Wiley. Pg 216)


Now what do you think? Let's hear your comments on the theme of Learning Technology.


  1. Hi Paul,
    Sport Science uses 2 online coures and some hybrid content in its post-degree diploma in PE. I couldn't agree more that the program level considerations are of utmost importantance. Our experience has been that the fact that students are in a cohort and take both in-person and online courses together makes a significant difference to their interactions online. You are also bang-on for class-size. The reading load and typing can be very high for courses that try not to be 'programmed instruction'. It's been a great model for the busy teachers we try to serve.

    Having an online 'guru' as part of CAFD is an interesting concept. Susan G. has been a great resource in the past 5 years for those ambitions faculty who waded in without leave or funding support to do so. Without her support and the other members of the CEIT involved, we wouldn't have been able to ger our courses off the ground.

    BTW, thanks for your hours of work as Ed. Tech. Coordinator.

  2. Hi Paul,

    One question I have about moving curriculum to this mode of delivery is what happens to faculty copyright over course materials?

    Robin Wylie

  3. Hello all: What a wonderful opportunity to dialogue about important topics as we wend our way along the pathway (we will create) to the future.

    Hybrid and Online learning opportunities seem to be at the forefront these days of educational discussions. I have had extensive experience as a student within this model over the years but never as a faculty member. It will be essential for Douglas College to be competitive in the use of educational technologies to keep up with (if not be able to surpass) the offerings of other institutions. Brian and Paul make excellent points about the need to continue a foreward motion in this area.I agree that it will be essential to have adequate resources and infrastructure in place to be able to move ahead quickly. I think the writing is clearly on the wall to indicate that having the hybrid and / or online options are in our best interests as a College and to our programs in particular as we strive to attract applicants.

    Of utmost importance will be that Douglas College has the leadership to direct such an endeavour and we seem to have that already within the college. I would support putting our eggs in that basket at least at the outset and adding resources to get the job done. The faculty will need significant opportunities to learn how to teach most effectively within that model of teaching / learning. It is essential that we as a faculty are able to pose provocative questions, or at least thought-provoking ones, to ensure the depth of creative and critical thinking we hope to inspire to make the learning exciting and in depth.

    I look forward to ongoing discussions.
    Carolyn Sams

  4. In response to Robin's question, LOU 7 on distributed learning in the local agreement indicates that Article 5 of the common agreement applies to copyright. My take on this is faculty members hold the copyright for materials they create as part of their normal duties unless they are specifically hired, paid or given time release to develop materials in which case the College holds copyright. In either case both parties have the right to use the material.

    What is less clear to me is what happens when staff member are involved in developing these materials. My understanding is that the College holds copyright for materials developed by staff members. For example, if I as an instructor develop notes and examples that I write on the white board in class, what happens to the copyright if I receive help from Client and Learning Services to reformat these for the web? Do I have a right to take these materials with me if I move to a different institution? I am curious to know what Robin and others think.

  5. My wish list for online courses would be:
    1)Easy to register and enroll (login, requirements, maintenance of account).
    2)Reasonably priced.
    3)Webtools should work smoothly
    4)Easy to find on the web or website, and easy to use website.
    5)Wide availability of courses.
    6)Offerings of packages for certificates, diploma or degrees.

    Martin Liem
    CEIT 1800

  6. I'm dubious about the role of "instructional designers." Having taught a hybrid course, I think it's best that instructors have complete knowledge and control over what they are doing. If you want to teach online, you have to be in it completely or not at all. That means we have to hire people who are capable of making the technology work themselves.

    I taught my hybrid English 1130 class a couple of years ago. If I were to do it again, it would be entirely different because the technologies available have improved so much. A five-year redevelopment window would mean that courses would get stuck in the stone age!

  7. I like to share my story with you. The original script, written in Chinese Language, was published on Ming Pao (Canada), on January 3, 2006......

    My first Library Tech course is a nightmare. It is a nightmare for those who did not grown up digital. Information Tools and Techniques, an online course, first time in my life.

    My classmates come from places across the Province, two from China. Technology expanded our life, and shortens the distance between people. Fantasy things that only happen in Hollywood are a reality today. Bill Gate even say: print media will disappear within ten years. Others say: libraries will be replaced by electronic database. Thanks God, it doesn’t happen yet.

    Thirteen weeks of virtual reality is a very unique and memorable experience. Twenty classmates enter a journey into the unknown darkness. Sorry, I don’t feel good at all.

    In this thirteen week of online adventure, the instructor and teaching assistants did a very good job in helping us. With online tools, we are able to work on assignments at our own time, and on our own place. However, technology can never replace human interaction. I feel helpless when working by myself. Working alone via a computer accelerates my lonely feeling.

    Cut a check for United Way, spend $35 to help a child via World Vision, is just a click. When my tax consultant at H&R Block counts those tax receipts on the table, she says I am too generous. She is indeed over praise. The truth is: when the poor child is sick, I won’t be around him. I will send him a birthday gift, maybe a Christmas gift as well. But I won’t attend his birthday party.

    Gift of love is not just a click, it is a lifetime commitment. It cannot be replaced by money, an email, or a phone call. I proud of the technology toys I have, but I enjoy reading a newspaper in printed form, visit a library, chat with my friends face-to-face, attend my daughter’s birthday party & school activities, and have dinner with my family.

    When I sick, I like my wife around me, rather than send me a SMS or give me a phone call.

    Albert Ng
    Library Technician – Public Services

  8. I am curious as to what exactley is meant by the phrase "peer reviewed to ensure the principles of good course design are implemented and that the resources be available so that courses can be reviwed and revised every five years" as indicated in the opening blog.

    Is this peer review directed solely to the look of the course, i.e., how it is presented on the website? Or is this statement intended to refer to the course content itself? If the latter, any review should be careful constructed with the goal of ensuring that transferibility from this institution to other institutions is not lost or otherwise adversely effected.

    My other concern is with the 5 year component. I would suggest that this timeframe is woefully inadequate. Courses are dynamic; as such, revisions and reviews should be carried out in a substantially shorter timeframe.

  9. Online and Hybrid courses are a big part of providing online learning opportunities, but another component not to overlook is academic support services that are also developing online components; currently, Douglas has the Library's suite of web resources plus their "Ask Away" service and the Learning Centre's online tutoring service. These are services that could do so much more as they develop into more well supported and full fledged online forms of learning opportunities that support students in their coursework. So, along with the need to add to the crucial help from CEIT to support both faculty and students is the need to also plan for and support the development of more robust online academic support services for students.

    There have been discussions at the college over the past few years about developing a Learning Commons model of academic support for students; the online or virtual version of a Learning Commons is equally important as the college strives to provide the kinds of online supports that students find useful and come to expect. These services need to be included in the overall Learning Technology visioning for the college.

  10. Here is a magazine for elearning that like to point to. It is from ACM (Association for American Machinery):

  11. How about giving the students a free ipod, e-reader or laptop for the course in elearning ? Usually these are the tools that you need for e-learning.

    Correction: previous post website:

  12. Can I add one more item to Martin's list --- iPad.

  13. Piotr Kisiel, CEITJanuary 27, 2010 at 4:20 PM

    On-line and hybrid learning presents a great opportunity to serve our students better. These two, as well as the use of technology in face-to-face, classroom instruction, are often seen in isolation and apart from the classical, lecture and lab-based education. But, from a student perspective, these are just different tools to do the same thing, which is to acquire information and knowledge in order to learn and achieve one’s goals. Clearly, today’s student population is expecting that all these tools be available to them as they struggle to get ahead in this ever more complicated world that we live in. Our job as educators is to have a full arsenal of these tools for our students. Otherwise, we are not meeting their expectations and turning them away. Therefore, on-line and hybrid learning must become a part and parcel of what we do at Douglas College. The fact that it will help us survive as an institution is rather secondary.

  14. I think it is important to realize that 99% of our students have a computer at home and high speed internet access (see the Student Profile Survey - so our students have the tools to participate in hybrid and online courses already and do not need to be provided with ipods or e-readers unless they are specifically required for a program.