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Onlignment | Compliance or competence? Choose your target

Educación flexible y abierta - 17 Octubre, 2014 - 09:15

A few years back, I had the opportunity to take on a consultancy assignment in deepest Africa. Before I could go, I had to complete an e-learning course around issues of health, safety and security...

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Marc My Words: In Learning and Performance Ecosystems, the Whole is Greater Than the Sum of the Parts (Part One)

OLDaily - 17 Octubre, 2014 - 02:41
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Marc Rosenberg, Learning Solutions Magazine, Oct 16, 2014

Marc Rosenberg describes what is essentially the Learning and Performance Support System (LPSS) we are in the process of launching here at NRC. He writes, "A learning and performance ecosystem introduces new capabilities that integrate learning and performance solutions into the work environment, where the vast preponderance of learning actually takes place. While training is still important, the overall strategy minimizes the need for workers to leave work in order to learn, reducing work disruption, and placing more learning opportunities directly into the workflow."

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3D Printing in Higher Ed Grows; Average Contract $32,000

Campus Technology - 17 Octubre, 2014 - 01:08
A company that monitors federal, state and local contracting has discovered that the expansion of 3D printing is growing in the public sector — including colleges and universities.

Actualidad en el aula: "El nuevo diccionario"

¿Qué es la RAE? ¿Por qué la Lengua tiene normas? ¿Cómo se decide lo que es correcto o no en nuestro idioma? ¿Cómo aprovechar bien los diccionarios?

La publicación del nuevo diccionario de la RAE ofrece la oportunidad de que los alumnos investiguen y creen recursos.

La secuencia didáctica que presentamos ofrece una guía de trabajo en el aula con todos los recursos necesarios:

U Colorado To Help Fortify Defense Department Networks

Campus Technology - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 22:36
Northrop Grumman, which does defense work for the United States government, has given $70,000 to the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs to support research into securing Defense Department networks.

Competency-Based Education: Not just a drinking game

e-Literate - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 21:48

Ray Henderson captured the changing trend of the past two EDUCAUSE conferences quite well.

The #Edu14 drinking game: sure inebriation in 13 from vendor claims of "mooc" "cloud" or "disrupting edu". In 2014: "competency based."

— Ray Henderson (@readmeray) October 3, 2014

The drinking game: sure inebriation in 13 from vendor claims of “mooc” “cloud” or “disrupting edu”. In 2014: “competency based.”

Two years ago, the best-known competency-based education (CBE) initiatives were at Western Governors University (WGU), Southern New Hampshire University’s College for America (CfA), and SUNY’s Excelsior College. In an article this past summer describing the US Department of Education’s focus on CBE, Paul Fain noted [emphasis added]:

The U.S. Department of Education will give its blessing — and grant federal aid eligibility — to colleges’ experimentation with competency-based education and prior learning assessment.

On Tuesday the department announced a new round of its “experimental sites” initiative, which waives certain rules for federal aid programs so institutions can test new approaches without losing their aid eligibility. Many colleges may ramp up their experiments with competency-based programs — and sources said more than 350 institutions currently offer or are seeking to create such degree tracks.

One issue I’ve noticed, however, is that many schools are looking to duplicate the solution of CBE without understanding the the problems and context that allowed WGU, CfA and Excelsior to thrive. By looking at the three main CBE initiatives, it is important to note at least three lessons that are significant factors in their success to date, and these lessons are readily available but perhaps not well-understood.

Lesson 1: CBE as means to address specific student population

None of the main CBE programs were designed to target a general student population or to offer just another modality. In all three cases, their first consideration was how to provide education to working adults looking to finish a degree, change a career, or advance a career.

As described by WGU’s website:

Western Governors University is specifically designed to help adult learners like you fit college into your already busy lives. Returning to college is a challenge. Yet, tens of thousands of working adults are doing it. There’s no reason you can’t be one of them.

As described by College for America’s website:

We are a nonprofit college that partners with employers nationwide to make a college degree possible for their employees. We help employers develop their workforce by offering frontline workers a competency-based degree program built on project-based learning that is uniquely applicable in the workplace, flexibly scheduled to fit in busy lives, and extraordinarily affordable.

As described by Excelsior’s website:

Excelsior’s famously-flexible online degree programs are created for working adults.

SNHU’s ubiquitous president Paul Leblanc described the challenge of not understanding the target for CBE at last year’s WCET conference (from my conference notes):

One of the things that muddies our own internal debates and policy maker debates is that we say things about higher education as if it’s monolithic. We say that ‘competency-based education is going to ruin the experience of 18-year-olds’. Well, that’s a different higher ed than the people we serve in College for America. There are multiple types of higher ed with different missions.

The one CfA is interested in is the world of working adults – this represent the majority of college students today. Working adults need credentials that are useful in the workplace, they need low cost, they need me short completion time, and they need convenience. Education has to compete with work and family requirements.

CfA targets the bottom 10% of wage earners in large companies – these are the people not earning sustainable wages. They need stability and advancement opportunities.

CfA has two primary customers – the students and the employers who want to develop their people. In fact, CfA does not have a retail offering, and they directly work with employers to help employees get their degrees.

Lesson 2: Separate organizations to run CBE

In all three cases the use of CBE to serve working adults necessitated entirely new organizations that were designed to provide the proper support and structure based on this model.

WGU was conceived as a separate non-profit organization in 1995 and incorporated in 1997 specifically to design and enable the new programs. College for America was spun out of SNHU in 2012. Excelsior College started 40 years ago as Regents College, focused on both mastery and competency-based programs. The CBE nursing program was founded in 1975.

CBE has some unique characteristics that do not fit well within traditional educational organizations. From a CBE primary I wrote in 2012 and updated in 2013:

I would add that the integration of self-paced programs not tied to credit hours into existing higher education models presents an enormous challenge. Colleges and universities have built up large bureaucracies – expensive administrative systems, complex business processes, large departments – to address financial aid and accreditation compliance, all based on fixed academic terms and credit hours. Registration systems, and even state funding models, are tied to the fixed semester, quarter or academic year – largely defined by numbers of credit hours.

It is not an easy task to allow transfer credits coming from a self-paced program, especially if a student is taking both CBE courses and credit-hour courses at the same time. The systems and processes often cannot handle this dichotomy.

Beyond the self-paced student-centered scheduling issues, there are also different mentoring roles required to support students, and these roles are not typically understood or available at traditional institutions. Consider the mentoring roles at WGU as described in EvoLLLutions:

Faculty mentors (each of whom have at least a master’s degree) are assigned a student caseload and their full-time role is to provide student support. They may use a variety of communication methods that, depending on student preferences,include calling — but also Skype, email and even snail mail for encouraging notes.

Course mentors are the second type of WGU mentor. These full-time faculty members hold their Ph.D. and serve as content experts. They are also assigned a student caseload. Responsibilities of course mentors include creating a social community among students currently enrolled in their courses and teaching webinars focused specifically on competencies students typically find difficult. Finally, they support students one-on-one based on requests from the student or referral from the student’s faculty mentor.

Lesson 3: Competency is not the same as mastery

John Ebersole, the president of Excelsior College, called out the distinction between competency and mastery in an essay this summer at Inside Higher Ed.

On close examination, one might ask if competency-based education (or CBE) programs are really about “competency,” or are they concerned with something else? Perhaps what is being measured is more closely akin to subject matter “mastery.” The latter can be determined in a relatively straightforward manner, using various forms of examinations, projects and other forms of assessment.

However, an understanding of theories, concepts and terms tells us little about an individual’s ability to apply any of these in practice, let alone doing so with the skill and proficiency which would be associated with competence.

Deeming someone competent, in a professional sense, is a task that few competency-based education programs address. While doing an excellent job, in many instances, of determining mastery of a body of knowledge, most fall short in the assessment of true competence.

Ebersole goes on to describe the need for true competency measuring, and his observation that I share about programs confusing the two concepts..

A focus on learning independent of time, while welcome, is not the only consideration here. We also need to be more precise in our terminology. The appropriateness of the word competency is questioned when there is no assessment of the use of the learning achieved through a CBE program. Western Governors University, Southern New Hampshire, and Excelsior offer programs that do assess true competency.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of the newly created CBE programs do not. This conflation of terms needs to be addressed if employers are to see value in what is being sold. A determination of “competency” that does not include an assessment of one’s ability to apply theories and concepts cannot be considered a “competency-based” program.

Whither the Bandwagon

I don’t think that the potential of CBE is limited only to the existing models nor do I think WGU, CfA, and Excelsior are automatically the best initiatives. But an aphorism variously attributed to Pablo Picasso, Dalai Lama XIV or bassist Jeff Berlin might provide guidance to the new programs:

Know the rules well, so you can break them effectively

How many new CBE programs are being attempted that target the same student population as the parent institutions? How many new CBE programs are being attempted in the same organization structure? And how many new CBE programs are actually based on testing only of masteries and not competencies?

Judging by media reports and observations at EDUCAUSE, I think there are far too many programs attempting this new educational model of CBE as a silver bullet. They are moving beyond the model and lessons from WGU, College for America and Excelsior without first understanding why those initiatives have been successful. I don’t intend to name names here but just to note that the 350 new programs cited in Paul Fain’s article would do well to ground themselves in a solid foundation that understands and builds off of successful models.

The post Competency-Based Education: Not just a drinking game appeared first on e-Literate.

U Nebraska Team Develops Wearable Tech Curriculum

Campus Technology - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 20:50
A National Science Foundation grant will help students in Nebraska apply engineering skills to wearable technology.

Cornell Scientists Teach Upstate NY Science Teachers

Campus Technology - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 20:25
As part of a National Science Foundation grant project, high school teachers are in the lab at Cornell University learning content to pass on to their own students.

UC Irvine Extension Adds 12 New Distance Courses for Recent Grads

Campus Technology - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 19:06
The University of California, Irvine Extension has launched 12 new career readiness courses to be offered as four Coursera Specializations.

Why Wearables Are the New Gateways to Human Knowledge

Campus Technology - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 18:03
The use of Google Glass and other wearable devices in higher education is still experimental, but the technology is opening up exciting new possibilities for teaching and learning.

Shoehorn Gets a Stable Release for 2.7

Moodle News - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 15:12
Gareth Barnard‘s Shoehorn theme which is based on Bootstrap 3 framework has been available but not recommended for a production server until now. The latest release is now stable and ready for...

Further thoughts on the short videos from Bau-ABC for the Learning Layers project

Pontydysgu - Bridge to Learning - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 10:43

Yesterday I published on YouTube seven short videos (with English subtitles)  that were filmed in Bau-ABC to demonstrate the achievements of the Learning Layers (LL) project. Here the link to the YouTube channel via which they were published:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCNsA37YN2C4HZEwN10HqPOw

During the final editing phase I had plenty of time to think about the importance of this material for the LL project. Therefore, I would like to share these thoughts with this blog post. I have already given an overview on the content of these videos in my previous post. Therefore, I prefer to go directly to the points that I want to highlight when looking at the whole set of these videos as testimonies of our partners in Bau-ABC on the achievements and prospects of the work of the LL project in their working environment:

1. The Multimedia Training has impact

Already the first video demonstrates that the Multimedia Training has had real impact. The most obvious example is the Carpernters’ blog – Zimmererblog. With this blog trainer Markus Pape has organised the whole range of initial training projects (from year 1 to year 3)  in his trade. He has also attracted international interest and the number of hits (now over 4700) is highly respectable. But it is equally important that similar initiatives (with blogs or with separate web pages) have been launched in other trades as well and that the feedback from apprentices – who have been able to use their smartphones to access the material – has been positive.

2. The Learning Toolbox (LTB) can be used to support both learning and occupational work

The third video explores the use of the Learning Toolbox (LTB) in an apprentice’s project, whilst the sixth video documents instruction on a specific workplace (and discusses the use of LTB).  The fourth video demonstrates uses of LTB in different working situations. The fifth video highlights the role of LTB in creating awareness for Health and Safety issue – both in the training workshop and in real work situations.

Altogether, these videos demonstrate multiple uses of the LTB for different purposes. Thus, Learning Toolbox is not merely a toolbox to support the training in Bau-ABC (in a local context) but a toolbox to support working and learning in construction sector occupations.

3. The trainers and apprentices are engaged in developing and commenting the Learning Toolbox

In the second video four trainers make comments on the importance of the LTB. In particular they highlight the role of LTB in supporting self-organised learning. Also, they draw attention to the possibilities to make the obligatory documents more interesting to the apprentices (by allowing them to add photos, cartoons or videos). The trainers are clearly willing to enter the next phase – to introduce a functioning LTB in selected apprentices’ projects – as we can see from the “Bonus Track” part of the video.

The third video shows a dialogue between Melanie Campbell and apprentice Martin on the uses of LTB in training. We have several remarks from him. In his final remark (not included into the short video) he expresses the wish to have LTB to use during the preparation for final examinations.

In the seventh video we have a particular working context – the storage of chains for construction vehicles. Here the trainer shows a particular possibility to use the LTB for identifying different chains. Here, new technologies (scanning the RFID chips) linked to LTB could help to track their technical data, safety features and maintenance data. This, however would require further steps in the development.

4. This all is based on previous work with the “Sharing Turbine” and brings the design idea further

Altogether, it is important to note that the initial design idea “Sharing Turbine” has not got lost. Instead, the progress with the trainers’ blogs shows that the info sheets and worksheets for apprentices’ project can be delivered via web. Also the examples on using LTB in different situations show that the apprentices can integrate digital media, web tools and mobile technologies to their work. Furthermore, the work with instruction videos (“Tricks of the trade”) arises from the phase of “Rapid Turbine” and has been carried on to work with Learning Toolbox.

5. This all is work for wider range of users to join in during the next phase of piloting

What has been delighting, is the fact that the colleagues in Bau-ABC have not kept the project and the benefits to themselves but are looking for wider outreach and wider engagement of their partners. This has been apparent during the trade fairs (Brunnenbauertage, NordBau – see my earlier blogs). We have also made progress with our contacts with craft trade companies and our counterparts have also shown interest to engage their partners into discussion on Learning Toolbox (e.g. the company K) or drawn our attention to the potential of LTB to support mobility of apprentices and trainees from other European countries (e.g. the company W). And finally, our work with managed clusters brings into picture a wider circle of users (as the recent messages from Gilbert Peffer demonstrate).

I think this is enough of my further thoughts. We have got something important moving and together we can keep things moving.

More blogs to come …

Moocs ‘will not transform education’, says FutureLearn chief

Educación flexible y abierta - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 08:45

Simon Nelson tells Times Higher Education podcast original claims were ‘overhyped and unrealistic

Massive open online courses will not transform education or destroy the university system, and their potential to disrupt has been overhyped, according to the head of the UK Mooc platform FutureLearn.

Simon Nelson, chief executive of the Open University-owned company, said that the early Mooc platforms – such as the US-based Coursera, Udacity and EdX – had overstated the case for what Moocs could be. He also revealed that he is “not a huge fan of the word Mooc”.



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From Gamification to Touch Interfaces: Designing for 21st Century Learners (EDUCAUSE Review) | EDUCAUSE.edu

Educación flexible y abierta - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 08:44

The beauty of both games and devices is that you can start small and work your way into bigger, grander experiences. And, as with all things educational (including the needs of students), it is best to give yourself and your students some room to fail and grow. Your first game won't be your best game. The first narration of a whiteboard on your app won't be as good as your last. But with each new method, you might find numerous new ways to connect with your students, to motivate them, and to make things stick. Now that's learning.



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Comparing xMOOCs and cMOOCs: philosophy and practice

OLDaily - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 02:36
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Tony Bates, online learning and distance eductaion resources, Oct 15, 2014

Good post clearly describing the difference between xMOOCs and cMOOCs. "The early  MOOC courses had relatively identifiable  designs which still permeate most MOOCs. At the same time,  there  are two quite different  philosophical positions  underpinning xMOOCs and cMOOCs,  so we need to look at each design model separately." See more Bates in this post defining what a MOOC is.

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Mercy College Adopts CRM to Boost Engagement

Campus Technology - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 01:13
Mercy College in New York has implemented an enterprise constituent relationship management system for higher education to improve its communication with current and prospective students.

Retention Software Makes It Easier for Students to Request Help

Campus Technology - 16 Octubre, 2014 - 01:00
The newest release of Starfish’s student retention software, its fifth version, features a streamlined interface as well as new ways for acting on data, online help for students, and options for making it easier to communicate with groups of students.

RIT Opening Technology-Rich Classroom for STEM Courses

Campus Technology - 15 Octubre, 2014 - 22:35
Tablets, projectors, cameras, interactive whiteboards, collaborative software and more will enhance STEM learning in a new classroom being dedicated this Friday at the Rochester Institute of Technology's College of Applied Science and Technology (CAST).

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