Lessons Learned When Higher Education Faculty Teach Online
Patrick Dickson

for the
Michigan Virtual University and Virtual High School Symposium
Leadership Strategies for E-Learning: High School to Higher Education
February 5-6, 2002
Henry Center for Executive Development
Michigan State University

Preview.  Thank you for the invitation to discuss some of my experiences learning to teach online and working with other faculty in developing a completely online master of education degree.

I would add that a critical ingredient in helping faculty learn to teach online are our students as resources and colleagues.  So we have also been looking at ways we can prepare our graduate students as future faculty in a world where teaching with technology and teaching online courses is becoming more in demand.

Key points:
MSU, like other institutions, is scrambling to create online courses, and the pace of change has accelerated in the past year and a half.  Of special note:
    Online Masters of Education
    Completely revised PhD Program: From "Educational Psychology" to "Learning, Technology and Culture"
    Completely revised Masters programs (on-campus, overseas, some online courses).

I have been a part of developing the Online Masters.
Fall 2001 and Spring 2002: Teaching an online course,
    CEP 813, Electronic Portfolios in Teaching and Learning

Also using the Web and Blackboard for other courses.
My homepage connects to information about these courses.

========= End of MiVU Presentation ======
What follows are notes from an earlier talk to colleagues at MSU for your further reading, if you wish.

I am especially interested in learning what other faculty and departments are doing in this regard. I do not plan to "cover" the topics that follow below. I have provided this outline and links for your convenience so you can follow up on ideas that interest you.  I do want to touch on several topics:

   *  preparing future faculty.... growing importance of technology in higher education
   *  power of portfolios as a tool for teaching and learning
   *  a few of the latest references on:
            research on effectiveness of educational technology
            implications of online learning for universities
    *  points of collaboration across MSU campus... for example: http://www.ns.msu.edu/TAcertificate/Default.htm
    *  other topics participants wish to add to this list?

Introductions:  Who are we and why are we here?

About me.  Patrick Dickson
    Background: chemistry major, high school physics and chemistry teacher, PhD in child development, studied parent-child interaction University of Tokyo.
Interest: Environments that make us smart...from parent-child environments to computer-learner environments. Lifespan developmental perspectives on education: as a parent, a high school teacher, a researcher on home environments, and a professor.  Mullings: "most influential teacher" essays; "most influential course."

 Last several years:
        Teaching undergraduate and graduate courses around technology in education.
           TE 150 (Students:  Undergraduates who plan to be K-12 teachers).
                Power of having students create online portfolios: Exploration of student portfolios.

           CEP 909:   "Technology in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education" (Official title: Cognition and Technology)
                Students: Graduate students preparing to be "future faculty".
                CEP 917:  will teach under this number in Spring 2001.

           CEP 882: Electronic Portfolios in Teaching and Learning  (new this fall)
                Students: Masters degree students (mostly K-12 teachers) in new on-campus masters program.
                Teaching it on Saturdays to accommodate their wishes.

                Began using some of Blackboard:  http://blackboard.msu.edu    vs  http://www.blackboard.com
                    Rapid growth in MSU courses "on" Blackboard in past few months.

Past few months:
            College Task Force on the Development of an All-College Online Masters Degree
            Directing: On-Campus Masters in Educational Technology for K-12 Teachers
            Deliberations on Creating a new PhD Program in Educational Technology (out of PhD in Educational Psychology).

Last month:
        Presentation to visitors from the Netherlands Center for Higher Education Policy Studies.
        Striking universalities of concerns and interests around technology in higher education.

References (Just a Few Key Ones)

Research on Effectiveness
(For the Sceptic: "Where's the evidence that it [technology, online learning] is as good as/better than traditional teaching?")

    The U.S. Department of Education Secretary's
    Conference on Educational Technology: Evaluating the Effectiveness of Technology,  on July 12-13, 1999.
        Seven issues.  Commissioned papers provide up-to-date perspectives on this persistent question.

     Teachers' Tools for the 21st Century: A Report on Teachers' Use of Technology   (September 8, 2000 )
Statistics on kinds of technology K-12 teachers have in the "average" classroom. Shows the huge variability that limits "generalizations" about technology in schools. This report uses multiple data sources to describe teachers' use of education technology in their classrooms and schools.  It examines the availability of this technology in their classrooms and  schools, their training and preparation for using it,  and the barriers to technology use they encounter.

    Research Studies: No Significant Difference is Common Outcome.
The following websites provide references to hundreds of studies comparing traditional and technology-related education. The first is data base of studies showing no significant difference while the second contains studies that do.  These are not good sites if you are looking for a conclusion or a high quality synthesis, but they might be useful in finding of research to critique and learn from.

    No significant difference.

    Some significant difference.

Higher Education and Technology

"Edu-Tech: What's a President to Do?"
This pdf format chapter is a good discussion of implications of technology-driven changes for higher education.
I will use the chapter as required reading in my doctoral course on technology in higher education.
    by Richard C. Larson and Glenn P. Strehle, Center for Advanced Educational Services
    Massachusetts Institute of Technology,  December, 1999, Revised March 2000
Final version to appear as an invited book chapter in Technology Enhanced Learning:
Opportunities for Change, edited by Paul Goodman of Carnegie Mellon University and produced by Lawrence Erlbaum publishers.
    Or read Larson's presentation to the House Science Committee based on the chapter on May 9, 2000.

http://www.chronicle.com/weekly/v47/i09/09b01001.htm(requires password).
The Future of Colleges: 9 Inevitable Changes
by Arthur E. Levine   Chronicle of Higher Education, October 27, 2000
Several major forces today have the power to transform the nation's colleges and universities.
His nine inevitable changes.

Policies on Online Courses, Intellectual Property Rights, and MSU's proposed revisions to its policies.

Dickson's Laws:
            "Nothing Can Be Said About  Technology in Education That is True on the Average" (#23)
                    and  "Nothing Great Has Ever Been Created On the Average" (#19)

     Individual differences are huge: students and faculty.
    Variance is huge on all dimensions: context, software, hardware, institutional support, setting.
    Hence: The Sceptics Question, which sounds rigorous, turns out to be so ill-formed as to be meaningless.

Teaching Tips
The Web gives access to free, online resources beyond the dreaming of King Midas, but the sheer vastness is a barrier. Lack of awareness is one problem, information overload is another. My solution is the "One-Pager" to get students and teachers started.
For an academic program, I believe we need a "Top Ten" list which works as a push down stack... the last one can be "More", but if we put more than 10, our students are overwhelmed and we haven't done our job as faculty. This concept applies to Recommended Readings in topic areas, as well as Recommended Websites.

Here's my one-pager of MSU Resources for Faculty  that I've found useful as an instructor.
        Many of my colleagues were unaware of their existence.

Here's my long-pager of links to MSU Resources for students.

Cultivating lifelong learners. The teachers and undergraduates I work with are not wealthy, so I try to identify free software such as Netscape Communicator and free tutorials (many of which are quite good).  (Ask me to tell my anecdote about Dreamweaver and what is the student willing to pay.)

More One-Pagers:

Online Courses
These are some links I gathered in connection with our College deliberation on creating an online masters degree.

The University of Illinois Online Masters in Curriculum, Technology and Educational Reform.
        Nice features. First cohort of 28 graduated in May.  Evaluation Report on their masters is worth reading.

On the topic of the rapidly changing marketplace for education.
Dean Carole Ames' talk to our faculty:
        Texas needed 35,000 teachers; entire university system output  of 7,000 per year; Sylvan Learning Corporation steps in.
                "Over 153,000 teachers have taken these courses:
                    94% of these teachers find the courses as effective or more effective than on-campus courses
        Mary Grove College in Detroit example: Reselling commercially developed courses.

Virtual Universities
    Michigan State University's Virtual University
    State of Michigan's Virtual University
    Michigan Virtual High School  (coming soon).

For-Profit Sector Enters Education
    Commercial, for-profit companies are entering the education market in many ways.

    And training university faculty is one of those sectors.
    The biography of the founder of this company says much about how the world of education is changing.