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Course Design Quote

Today I came across this quote from a faculty member in a 2011 Chronicle of Higher Education article he wrote about backward course design & I really liked it:

I was letting my reading list design the course, instead of designing my course around goals.
I was thinking about what I wanted my students to read, rather than what I wanted my students to learn.”

— Mark Sample

Well said, Mark.  The full article is here: http://chronicle.com/blogs/profhacker/planning-a-class-with-backward-design/33625 (you may need a subscription to access is, sorry if that’s true…)

The article is talking about online learning, but the six characteristics seem to be relevant more broadly:

“Next-generation online learning differs from last generation e-learning in six distinct ways:”

1. scalable
2. personalized
3. outcomes-oriented
4. data-driven
5. social and interactive
6. activity oriented


Michael Staton, LearnCapital

the world is converging on universal primary & secondary school
everyone seems to agree that higher ed should be available to all

(in order of how well internet does it)
Knowledge acquisition
Access to opportunities
[missed one here]
Marketable skills
Personal transformation

Seeing lots of startups both across school offices & up/down the univ admin

Unbundling is here, rebuilding will be a big opportunity

“It’s like tech has an intention, if you get in front of that, you create opportunity”

Books to read:

  • Kevin Kelly – What does Technology Want
  • Tony Wagner – Creating Innovators (21st century skills)
  • Reid Hoffman – The Start-up of You
  • Intrapreneur book

Need Intrapreneurs to cross gap – Medal of Deviance
Let the user decide, see what sticks
Lots of startups to help instructors make money – Udemy

LaunchPad startups:

  • EDUonGo – tools for instructor to launch their own online academy/marketplace
  • USEED – ed funding; crowd funding platform, teach students & faculty how to succeed on it
  • Learned: Ed is an ecosystem, not a market, it’s important & possible for everyone to win (game theory) We are not here to disrupt, see need for partners to evolve education
  • Collaaj – Democratize rich content creation, should be easy for everyone (Lecture Capture tools are 10/20 years out of date; Camtasia too complicated)
  • Ponder – Instructional tool to scaffold student critical thinking in a way that is scalable for teachers to review & manage
  • ApprenNet – How to bring components of a magical live classroom into an online env’t.  Students practice skills, Students learn from their peers, Access to experts
  • GoGoLabs – Gameification; 3D Game Lab

How they work well with customers (unlike traditional tech companies which tend to be unbelievably bad) & not be gremlins?

Game components: Rules, Goals, Feedback system, (ed has first 3, but not 4th) Voluntary
Inscriptive media – media that has inherent educational capacities

Brian Flemming, Eduventures

John Kotter, Change Leadership (ideas, approaches, people, visioning/listening, nurturing/sustaining)
Visioning (not enough of this) > Transition (causes failure here) > Progress
Eduventures “One Stop” student services experience
University of Minnesota One Stop
Virtual (tier 1), Front office (tier 2), Back office (tier 3)

Transition is typically more about dealing with loss than it is about dealing with change

(online strategy – most of his work, big report coming out soon – what’s it’s going to take to re-engage; boom is over)

Focus on change leadership BEFORE innovation

Johns Hopkins Univ, Engineering for Professionals

JHU-EP: 146 online courses, 12 fully online programs

Engineers & instructional designers both design solution on things that have worked in the past, functional & appealing solutions

Defining the problem,
specifying the requirements,

Content – Explain Everything, Camtasia
Activities – Voicethread

Cynthia Coburnphoto[1]
School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University

(can email her for the paper this is based on)

Organizational Conditions that Support Innovation:

  1. Access to knowledge resources beyond setting
  2. Absorptive capacity
    • presence of individuals with skill
    • knowledge of where skill resides
    • communication channels
  3. Organization routines that support design & iteration

4 ways of thinking about scale

  1. Adoption
  2. Replication
  3. Adaptation
  4. Reinvention

Jonathan Worth
Open photography class: http://phonar.covmedia.co.uk/

Old business model was built around scarcity of supply
Internet changed all that, everyone is a photographer
At first he tried hard to police this > don’t steal my images. He needed to keep it scarce so he could charge a premium for it.
Someone posted his images, he found out & slammed them.
14 year old girl wrote back
He sent her editorial gold dust > she posted them; he got way more traffic

Photography born out of a time when seeing was believing, led to currency in those times
Snapchat now – new paradigm
People are getting good at creating images, feedback loop is really fast now (no more waiting for feedback)
Live flickr feed

New problem – one now has to be believed to be seen
How do I become a trusted/credible source?
How do I get heard by the right people?

(open class on blog)

What is our product as teachers? NOT information
Think of class as a home, someplace that people would come back to

Jim Groom

Need to give students & faculty a possibility of understanding how the web works – creative space of their own.
a domain is to web hosting, as a postal address is to a house (pointer)
sub-domains: like rooms in a house
at Mary Washington – giving all faculty & staff their own domain
(WordPress, Mediawiki, OwnCloud, etc…)

Give people space to be open, movable, relevant; building spaces on the open web that could be practical
~spaces (1995-1998)
old html sites – not easy
GeoCities made it easy (closed in 2009)
rough band of archivists saved the content from GeoCities, Yahoo didn’t save anything

LMS blackbox – no one can share or use

Personal CyberInfrastructure – make students sys admins of their own

There has to be a sense of community/neighborhood

Jon Udell – blog.jonudell.net

Giving everyone a user innovation space
Democratizing Innovation (Eric Von Hippel)

Give others ownership & agency

Kristen Swanson
The Edcamp Model via Google hangout

http://edcampboston.org/, May 3, 2014

Powering Up Professional Development

New teacher: Limited Time Only (LTO) learning; 4 days/year; 1 thing/day
Kevin Jarrett
Edcamp, Fall 2009 (unconference model)
Tenants: Free, Open to All, Vendor-free day, Anyone can present, Rule of 2 feet (leave session if it doesn’t work for you)

Say: “what you want to share & what you want to learn is important” > produces engagement
Invite people into a meaningful conversation that they choose & drive
Ave cost ~$75

The Long Tail…

First time at a conference that’s totally new to me (found out about it via Cathy Davidson’s current Coursea MOOC on the future of higher education) & enjoying it so far, after the opening plenary.

Digital Media & Learning Conference (DML2014)photo[1]

Speaker: Louis Gomes, UCLA & Carnegie Foundation

We need a sharper focus on practice improvement > Getting ideas into action
My wonderful idea …. (zone of wishful thinking) …. that idea working to improve lives

Improvement Principles:

  • being problem & user centered
  • variation in performance is the problem to be solved
  • see the system
  • you can’t improve what you can’t measure
  • in order to measure, we need systems of disciplined inquiry
  • tap the power of networks

Relevance > Engagement
Ambitious learning for all students > Effectiveness
More efficient systems > Efficiency

Performance Management view (set targets, create incentives, collect data/dashboards, hold individual accountable for progress); “What works” view . too long/complicated.

W. Edwards Deming > Education reform is “miracle goals without methods”


  • To accelerate efforts to improve life chances
  • Quality & Reliability at Scale
  • Networked Improvement Communities

Ideas of Improvement Science joined to the Power of Networks
The Improvement Guide (book)

“We can accomplish more together, than even the best of us can do alone”
We have systems of sharing, not systems of commitment to solving shared problems

Rigorous & Collaborative Inquiry > Systematic Practice Improvement

We don’t allow ourselves to “learn our way into the problem”

Make sure it works for someone, then understand the situation it will be used in

Incentives > Policy systems > Impact at scale

All interaction is process, different routines support different routines, variation in routines can lead to variation in outcomes

Developmental Math in Community College
Triple success in half the time – yay
Looking at variability in performance – how to better shrink the teaching & learning gap over time

Deming’s Knowledge Forms
Subject Matter & Profound (intersection) >

Driver Diagram (Beginning Teacher Effectiveness Network)
PDSA Cycle
What are we trying to accomplish?
What change might we introduce?
How will we know that the changes are an improvement?
(Plan, Do, Study, Act)

Carnegie Diagram – PDSA cycles in bigger step process (good diagram)
Doug Englebart (1994) – A, B, C levels > Communities of PDSA’s

Practice improvement is the point!


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