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IMPACT FLCs: What are they all about?

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By in Course Redesign, IMPACT, Professional Development on .

Recently, as a presenter at the 2014 AECT International Convention: Learning, Design, and Technology, I shared information about being a support staff member for the IMPACT (Instruction Matters Purdue Academic Course Transformation) program in the presentation: Designing Instruction to Create Systematic Change: A Designer’s Perspective1. IMPACT is a Purdue Provost’s initiative facilitated through the collaborative efforts of the Center of Instructional Excellence (CIE), Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), University Libraries, Discovery Learning Resource Center (DLRC), and Purdue Extended Campus (PEC). Using research findings on sound student-centered teaching and learning practices, over 100 faculty have redesigned their courses enhancing student learning, competence, and confidence. After 4 years, IMPACT has transformed over 90 courses changing the learning environment for over 25,000 students. Attendees were quite interested and impressed with the emerging results of Purdue University’s IMPACT program.2

One of the goals of IMPACT is to: form Faculty Learning Communities (FLC) as instruments for faculty exploration, collaboration, learning, development and contributions to the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.3 FLCs began to emerge in higher education the late 1970’s and ‘80s as groups of faculty and professional staff explored strategies to improve instruction and student performance. In 2001 Miami University was awarded a FIPSE (Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education) grant, Developing Faculty Learning Communities to Transform Campus Culture for Learning. Working with several other partner universities, the results of this FIPSE grant showed the structure of the FLC to be one that led to successful change.

The FIPSE project identified 30 components of an FLCP (Faculty Learning Community Programs). Evidence collected shows that FLCs encourage and support faculty investigation, implementation, assessment, and adoption of new (to them) approaches such as involving appropriate technology, active learning, inclusive classrooms, and revised curricula. In addition, FLCs provide for the developmental needs of important cohorts of faculty who have been affected by change, isolation, fragmentation, and stress. Evidence shows FLCPs enhance undergraduate learning by increasing faculty interest, practice, and expertise in teaching by providing safe, supportive, multidisciplinary communities in which faculty can investigate and take risks. Another project goal was to foster scholarly teaching and SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning). This was achieved by involving FLC participants in a sequence of developmental steps, starting with investigating the literature and culminating in a refereed presentation or publication.4

My experiences as support team member of IMPACT FLCs mirror the results of this FIPSE grant. Over the past four years the actual structure of the Support Team has taken several forms. In the current structure, the Support Team works with a small group of faculty, usually two to four. The Support Team is made up of members from the various units and consists of a “Primary” support team member, who acts as the main contact for the faculty member, and one or more “Secondary” support team members. All support team members participate with faculty in the semester long FLC sessions which serve as the foundation for the faculty development phase of the program. The support team members frequently assist in guiding the small group discussions that takes place during the weekly FLC sessions. These structured FLC sessions are designed to introduce faculty to research-based teaching and learning practices. Some of the topics covered during the FLC sessions include:

  • models utilized in the redesigned courses that include: blended learning models, supplemental approaches in which face-to-face courses are supplemented with online components, flipped models, and fully online models
  • pedagogies and principles, such as, strategies for incorporating group work, team based learning, problem-based learning, informed learning, Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education (1987), the principles of backward course design,
  • and, exploration of possible topics for SoTL projects, including the development of a research question.

In the actual redesign process, the support team members provide a variety of roles dependent upon their area of expertise, for example: pedagogy, technology, information literacy, research and many other areas. Most groups of faculty and support team members also meet weekly or biweekly during this semester. Typically this semester is followed by a more individualized phase of the program, again usually taking place over a semester. This is frequently when faculty actually redesign their courses. The support team members remain engaged with the faculty members during the subsequent pilot phase, and often several semesters later while the course is continuing to evolve. In some cases, support team members become involved in SoTL projects with the faculty members.

This course redesign program is a true commitment for support team members and faculty alike. Many institutions have course redesign programs; however, Purdue University’s IMPACT program is a cross-disciplinary effort that touches courses in all academic colleges and schools throughout the university. This unique collaboration of support team members from a variety of units and small groups of faculty in the FLC contributes to the positive systematic changes in the learning environments that are occurring on the Purdue University campus.

Resources

1Designing Instruction to Create Systematic Change: A Designer’s Perspective http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/idcpres/26.

2IMPACT Report 2014 http://docs.lib.purdue.edu/impactreps/4/.

3IMPACT website http://www.purdue.edu/impact/

4Miami University FIPSE Grant http://fipsedatabase.ed.gov/fipse/grantshow.cfm?grantNumber=P116B010714

Discussion Board, Blog, or Wiki… How do I choose?

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By in Blackboard Learn, Distance Education, Tools on .

A frequent question that comes up is what the difference is and how to decide which tool to use for activities in a course – discussion boards, blogs, wikis, or journals.  The tools are similar in some ways, allowing students to post text and other materials, but do operate in ways that make them more useful for some course activities than others. The following is a brief description of each and some examples of when to use each in a course.

Discussion Board

Discussion Boards

  • a communication tool that that allows individuals to collaborate with others through posting or answering questions
  • topic centered
  • frequently used as a supplement to in-class activities
  • Examples:

o  class discussion

o  class debate

o  peer review

 For more information see: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/tools/blackboard/learn_res/fac_res/boards.html

Blog

Blogs

  • a web site that shares an individual’s or group’s log of events, insights or opinions; from the words web log
  • author centered
  • frequently used as a place to reflect
  • Examples:

o  course learning reflection

o  resource review

o  record of research activities

 For more information see: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/tools/blackboard/learn_res/fac_res/blogs.html

Wiki

Wikis

  • a web page that allows a group of users to create and modify pages easily and quickly; from the Hawaiian words Wiki wiki meaning quick
  • content/document centered
  • frequently used as a collaborative space
  • Examples:

o  group projects

o  group writing assignments

o  planning events and activities

For more information see: http://www.itap.purdue.edu/learning/tools/blackboard/learn_res/fac_res/wikis.html

 

Debbie Runshe, Educational Technologist

Diagrams have been adapted and made available under an Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike Creative Commons License from Worsham, D. (2007, June 27). Blogs and discussion boards – What’s the difference? Wisconsin Union Blend. [Weblog post].

Social Pedagogies and CourseNetworking at Purdue University

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By in Distance Education, Student Technology Kit, Tools on .

Purdue is currently collaborating with CourseNetworking (CN) to explore the possibility of offering faculty an alternative learning management system (LMS) that requires little administration and allows first-time users to quickly create courses independently. This light-weight LMS uses a familiar interface and focuses on academic social networking.

Ali Jafari, , professor of computer and information technology at Purdue’s School of Engineering and Technology and director of the CyberLab, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, and the founder of CN was quoted in a recent Purdue News article:

“The learning systems we have today were developed almost two decades ago,” Jafari says. “We need to invent the next generation. We need to learn a lesson from Facebook and Twitter that connecting people together and let them learn from each other is a more effective way to go.”1

A new social learning-based system focused on networking and collaboration that produces a highly interactive learning environment, CN has the potential to connect instructors and students from around the world based on shared interests and subject areas. The walls between classrooms are broken down enabling learners from different classes and schools to have dynamic discussions and freely share learning resources through: Posts, Polls, Events and more. CN transforms the traditional teacher-centered learning environment to a more engaging and effective student-centered learning environment. Students enjoy their learning experience by “following” and “colleaguing” other learners, by compiling learning resources on their own, and through a unique reward system, collecting Anar seeds, that many instructors use to incentivize the learning and engagement.

Randy Bass in his 2012 Educause article, Disrupting Ourselves: The Problem of Learning in Higher Education, discusses the pressures that are being felt in higher education due at least in part to the evidence that significant learning experiences are happening outside of the formal curriculum. He describes the pressures coming from two sides: 1) “data surrounding experiential learning, and 2) the informal learning and the participatory culture of the Internet.”2

Instructors can create tasks in CN that include “Smart Links”. These links allow the students to quickly access functionality such as: creating posts, responding to polls, and submitting assignments into a “Dropbox” area of the course for grading.

The course interface is familiar to the students. CN is designed to allow students to post multimedia easily and efficiently. Students frequently share resources found on the Internet. This informally appears to be quite motivating for the students. Their observed interactions frequently indicate their understanding of the content being learned and their ability to connect it to real life experiences, making the learning relevant.

To learn more about CN, visit http://www.thecn.com

Debbie Runshe, Educational Technologist

1Tally, S. (15 October 2013). “Purdue, Course networking to collaborate on next-generation edtech.” Purdue News.

2Bass, R. (2012, March/April). “Disrupting ourselves: The problem of learning in higher education.” EDUCAUSE Review. 47(2), 23-33. Retrieved from http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/disrupting-ourselves-problem-learning-higher-education