Access

ACCESS provides the means for all qualified, motivated students to complete courses, degrees, or programs in their disciplines of choice. The goal is to provide meaningful and effective access throughout the entire student 'life cycle.' Access starts with enabling prospective learners to become aware of available opportunities through effective marketing, branding, and basic program information. It continues with providing program access (for example, quantity and variety of available program options, clear program information), seamless access to courses (for example, readiness assessment, intuitive navigability), and appropriate learning resources. Access includes three areas of support: academic (such as tutoring, advising, and library); administrative (such as financial aid, and disability support); and technical (such as hardware reliability and uptime, and help desk). Effective practices for measuring increasing accessibility may analyze and apply the results student and provider surveys, narrative or case study description, focus groups, or other means of measuring access. Larger-scale access implementation may also result from mission-based strategic planning in a variety of institutional areas.

Effective Practice Awards Submissions Due June 30

Submitted by janetmoore on May 27, 2010 - 2:06pm
New effective practices  submitted by June 30 are eligible for awards to be presented at the July 21, 2010 Emerging Technologies for Online Learning Symposium Awards Presentation Luncheon.
Thousands visit effective practices for innovative practices supported by eviden
Award Winner: 
2014 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Author(s): 
Angela Gibson
Author(s): 
Priscilla Coulter
Author(s): 
Susan Satory
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
American Public University System
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Summary
With the goals to increase student connection to the online library, to develop academic research skills, and to foster student success in a first-year online course, a collaborative program between librarians and faculty was created and yielded positive results including student growth in information literacy skills, reduction in student anxiety in navigation and utilization of the online library, and high level of student academic success.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Bringing the Library to Life: Live Librarian Instruction in a First-Year Online Course

Summary
With the goals to increase student connection to the online library, to develop academic research skills, and to foster student success in a first-year online course, a collaborative program between librarians and faculty was created and yielded positive results including student growth in information literacy skills, reduction in student anxiety in navigation and utilization of the online library, and high level of student academic success.

Background
Just under a third of all college students leave the institution after the first-year (ACT, 2012; Barefoot, 2000, 2005; Kinzie, 2014, Kuh, 2008) and 47% of college students fail to matriculate at the original four-year institution, 56% dropping before the start of the second-year (Tinto, 1987, 1993). Meanwhile, online higher education continues to grow at a rapid rate; over 7.1 million students took at least one online course in the fall of 2013, an increase of 400,000 students from 2012 (Allen and Seaman 2014). Positive interactions with university faculty and staff are critical to student engagement, learning, and persistence. Information literacy is a crucial component to higher education, but first-year students are typically unaware of their own substandard academic research skills (Gustavson & Nall 2011). Offering a diversity of library interventions can help these students gain the skills they need to succeed (Latham & Gross 2013). Librarians and library services can play an important, lasting role in promoting student confidence, connectedness and academic success (Regalado 2003, Zhong & Alexander 2007).

APUS is a fully online institution both regionally and nationally accredited serving over 90% adult learners and over 50% military learners. College 100: Foundations of Online Learning students are those new to American Public University System. Students encounter lessons, assessments, and discussions that require information literacy skills; that is the ability to identify, search for and evaluate appropriate sources of information for college-level assignments. However, students frequently contact faculty, librarians, and technical staff with questions and sometimes declarations of frustration or anxiety about navigating the library indicating a need for basic library orientation and research skills training. Students' apparent lack of familiarity with the Online Library, undeveloped information literacy skills, and varying learning preferences may impede successful achievement of course objectives.

Innovation
An initial pilot was developed in spring of 2013 with five sections, two taught by one faculty and three taught by another, to offer synchronous sessions with students hosted by an APUS Online Librarian during designated times within the eight weeks of the course. Though not integrated into specific assignments for the initial pilot, students participating in sessions received additional credit. From student feedback recorded through an open discussion forum with the instructor, it was determined that those students taking advantage of the Adobe Connect sessions stated they were more familiar with the library, that they were more confident in their navigation and research skills, and that they believed the information assisted them in related assignments. The two faculty of the small pilot concurred with student statements and recommended expansion of the initiative.

Stemming from the smaller project early in 2013, a pilot was developed offering synchronous office hours with APUS Online Librarians for 28 selected COLL100 classes with October semester starts. Five Librarians volunteered time to schedule regular sessions. The lead Librarian for the project, and co-coordinator of the initiative, developed a short five-stop video tour of the APUS Online Library focusing on orientation and navigation skills as well as areas deemed critical to first-year student success and development of basic information literacy skills such as databases, eBooks, journals and articles, and working with the deep web. A pre and post-session quiz was created to assess student attitudes and knowledge acquisition from the Live Library sessions. Again, results from the expanded pilot indicated student skill development, higher levels of confidence, and better rates of success in library and research associated assignments for those participating in the sessions.

The innovation was initiated again in April of 2014 expanding in sections to verify results. Thirty five sections, and nineteen faculty, of the April College 100 semester participated in the project. Between Week 2 and Week 8 there were 19 two hour Live Library sessions held live via Adobe Connect with Librarians providing a demonstration of the main features of the APUS Online Library. Sessions were offered on weekdays and weekends as well as day and evening times. These demonstrations included an overview of components necessary for student navigation and use of the Library for College 100 assignments as well as key elements necessary for success in future courses. Students were able to interact in real time with Librarians through audio or via text chat in the room.

The APUS Librarians from the previous 2013 pilot all volunteered once again to facilitate sessions and work with student. Those unable to attend live sessions made individual appointments with Librarians and/or utilized a Library Tour video and worked directly with the faculty for the section. Beyond a very few technical issues with connections there was overwhelming positive feedback from students and faculty. Students described how anxiety levels on research and the Library were drastically reduced after the sessions, how they learned how to use tools key to success in classes, and how they could now easily navigate with confidence and know where to go when they needed extra assistance. The faculty who attended commented how they learned something new by attending sessions!

In addition to tracking attendance at live sessions, survey and qualitative data provided by students, Librarians, and faculty were gathered from the initiative. Such data provided insight into themes, points of confusion, and engagement in the initiative and learning. Student attitudes, knowledge, and skills were surveyed with a pre and post session assessment. Themes were noted by Librarians during session and in follow-up with students. From within the classroom faculty monitored impressions. Instructors used an open forum to discuss the Library sessions and gather feedback asking students what they learned, how will they apply new knowledge and skills, and thoughts on further exploration. Assignments connected to the Library were analyzed to assess any increase in the submissions and quality of grades as compared to COLL100 classes not involved in the pilot.

Students integrated the learning from the Live Library sessions into assignments in the classroom both directly – as in quiz and reflection requirements for points in attending the session – and indirectly – as in increased knowledge and skills to accurately and more efficiently perform Library and research based assignments.

Overall student GPA, Community of Inquiry (CoI) scores, and End of Course Survey, were analyzed. Of those who participated in the October 2013 pilot sessions 93% of students achieved the course grade of "A". Additionally, just over 90% of participating students achieved the grade of "A" on relevant Library assignments. Over 90% of student feedback, both in the post-Live Library session survey and feedback in the open discussion forum, was positive, indicated a change in attitude (i.e. from anxious or disconnected to confident and engaged), and included comments illustrating student learning and skill development. Similar positive results were indicated with the April 2014 records. Qualitative data pulled from student feedback in communication to faculty as well in response to an open ended prompt on the post-session quiz yielded very positive and validating results. A small sample of student responses are provided:

“I just completed my live library session and it was very helpful. Since this is my first course it really showed me how to navigate through the library. My library host was super nice and there was only two people in the session so she used my topic in a few of the search engines to show me how to get results”.

“I had my library tutorial today, April 16 from 10:00-10:20 my time, 12:00-12:20 eastern.
I will say that I am glad this is required learning for this course. I didn't realize how helpful the library is and I will be sure to utilize it through this class and all my future classes!”

“I learned a lot of things today. I learned about the different ways to search for topic information. Not only books but journals and papers. I learned that I can save the information in a pdf for future reading. I learned where to find help in siting sources. I also learned that I can search frequently asked questions but I can also ask a librarian directly and that they are pretty speedy in a return response.
I'm happy I got into the tutorial early in the course!”

“ I attended the Live Library session on 10 May 2014 @ 10AM (Pacific Time). The APUS Librarian, Mary-Elizabeth Gano, was very helpful in answering all of my questions regarding the library. I stumbled across the COLL100 Course Guide before, but a great degree of clarity was achieved by attending the Live Library session. I kind of felt like I had previously assembled a bike without reading the instructions, only to read the instructions later... and discover that I could have saved myself a lot of time and frustration by reading them first. The information regarding the FAQs and the help that the library can personally afford to me was really reassuring (ask a librarian, tutor.com, LibChat, and the help tab). The assistance with how to properly search a website was of great value, as I have a bias toward taking everything on the Internet as gospel”.

“I just did the session at 1 and I must say it is very informative. I advise all my fellow students to check it out. Found some really helpful tools that I can use throughout my entire degree process”.

“I had my Library session on Tuesday. I thought it was informative, however, I had already figured out most of what was covered when I was looking up the research paper topic options. What I did find helpful was the information about the book search. I had not started looking at books a sources yet so when I did start after my session, it made the experience very easy”.

“Unfortunately due to my schedule I could not attend a live session, however; I watched the Youtube tutorials on the library tour. One thing I learned that I didnt know before was that on proquest when searching for your topic, click on the book reference, you can actually type in keywords and it will take you to specific chapters in the book that relate to what your looking for. Sounds much nicer then scrambling through the whole book to find one thing that your looking for. I also like that fact that there is a ask a librarian tab. I also learned about the "Deep Web" .You re just one question away from an answer. What a great service to offer the students”.

“I attended the live library session during the third week. I found the experience interesting and informative. I was at work and was still able to do the drop in. The librarians answered all my questions and dropped a few hints on me through chat. I was able to learn how to refine my searches to get the results I needed”.

“First and foremost I would like to say that Mrs. Susan Satory was amazing in every aspect of the word. This is my first online course ever and she broke it down to an easy and very understandable level. I am not very good with computers but she made me feel very confident and knowledgeable about what I was doing, and made me very comfortable about speaking how i felt and asking questions…. Secondly, The "summon" tool, as a novice researcher and new student when pulling information I always feel bombarded with a whole bunch of useless and "rabbit whole" information. With this tool it allows me to specify exactly what I'm looking for and only generate results on what I choose, which helps new users like myself to further focus on what I want to see”.

“I had not attended a Live Library session prior to creating my Annotated Bibliography. I just finished my session tonight. It was VERY informative, though, and it will definitely make creating my Resources page for my final paper easier. I also was shown ways to search the library that I wasn't aware of before. I think had I attended a session earlier, it would have made my search much simpler.”

Scope, Implications, and Discussion
Identifying gaps in students' information literacy skills and knowledge of the APUS Online Library resources allow librarians and College 100 team members to develop new multi-modal assets within the classroom and the library, and to modify current resources for on-demand instruction that better meets students' needs. Feedback gathered from live sessions is being used to transform frequently visited library assets such as the Ask a Librarian reference service, Course Guides and Tutorial Center resources into more engaging, effective, media-rich learning tools. A live chat within the Library is now being tested as one of the Library's new initiatives to personalize service and aid retention.

Directly related to all of the Sloan-C’s Five Pillars of Quality Online Education, the Live Library initiative demonstrates success in learning effectiveness, scale, access, faculty satisfaction, and student satisfaction. Learning Effectiveness: The design and delivery of the program including the assets for classroom integration, for Librarian support, and for live demonstration was done with effective practices of online instruction as well as a focus on pedagogy for first-year students including integration of the principles for andragogy to meet the needs of adult learners. Scale: Those involved in the program leveraged the current technologies for recorded, synchronous, and asynchronous interaction, communication, and instructional delivery. Access: Higher levels of engagement with faculty and Librarians created deeper connections with students in what can be a faceless and voiceless environment. Increased engagement and academic success, as pointed out in the literature, can increase persistence and retention. Faculty Satisfaction: The initial two faculty for the smaller pilot strongly recommended to the program coordinators and fellow faculty to expand the pilot. All faculty involved volunteered themselves and their sections for the pilots and participated in Basecamp, a project management site, to obtain information, ask questions, give feedback, and provide recommendations for current and future work with the initiative. Overwhelmingly faculty stated participation in the project was personally rewarding, how they themselves learned something new when attending a live session, and how the information for the students enhanced their ability to effectively deliver instruction. Student Satisfaction: Evident from the sample of qualitative responses, students became connected to not only their current professor but to a staff member, a dedicated, supportive, and knowledgeable Librarian. Students indicated regularly in feedback how they now understood things that had previously confused them, become more confident in abilities to work in the Library and perform research, and affirmed connection of new knowledge and skills to classroom application.

Live Library Office Hours provides new students in their first class at APUS an opportunity to establish a personal connection with a librarian and the Library. Additionally, with synchronous communication, and an interactive demonstration of crucial search skills, student confidence, competence and satisfaction with the library is has increased, along with improved performance on classroom research assignments. The positive impact of improved information literacy skills, and closer relationships with librarians, should linger in future courses as well.

This more engaging format will allow librarians to teach information literacy in a more proactive way, rather than passively awaiting student queries and hoping (often with no student feedback) that their responses are effective. In keeping with the focus of the Community of Inquiry framework, these live, interactive sessions will grant APUS librarians an unprecedented opportunity to establish social presence with new students, developing a rapport that will endure throughout students' academic careers.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

In addition to tracking attendance at live sessions, survey and qualitative data provided by students, Librarians, and faculty were gathered from the initiative. Such data provided insight into themes, points of confusion, and engagement in the initiative and learning. Student attitudes, knowledge, and skills were surveyed with a pre and post session assessment. Themes were noted by Librarians during session and in follow-up with students. From within the classroom faculty monitored impressions. Instructors used an open forum to discuss the Library sessions and gather feedback asking students what they learned, how will they apply new knowledge and skills, and thoughts on further exploration. Assignments connected to the Library were analyzed to assess any increase in the submissions and quality of grades as compared to COLL100 classes not involved in the pilot.
Students integrated the learning from the Live Library sessions into assignments in the classroom both directly – as in quiz and reflection requirements for points in attending the session – and indirectly – as in increased knowledge and skills to accurately and more efficiently perform Library and research based assignments.
Overall student GPA, Community of Inquiry (CoI) scores, and End of Course Survey, were analyzed. Of those who participated in the October 2013 pilot sessions 93% of students achieved the course grade of "A". Additionally, just over 90% of participating students achieved the grade of "A" on relevant Library assignments. Over 90% of student feedback, both in the post-Live Library session survey and feedback in the open discussion forum, was positive, indicated a change in attitude (i.e. from anxious or disconnected to confident and engaged), and included comments illustrating student learning and skill development. Similar positive results were indicated with the April 2014 records. Qualitative data pulled from student feedback in communication to faculty as well in response to an open ended prompt on the post-session quiz yielded very positive and validating results. A small sample of student responses are provided:
“I just completed my live library session and it was very helpful. Since this is my first course it really showed me how to navigate through the library. My library host was super nice and there was only two people in the session so she used my topic in a few of the search engines to show me how to get results”.

“I had my library tutorial today, April 16 from 10:00-10:20 my time, 12:00-12:20 eastern.
I will say that I am glad this is required learning for this course. I didn't realize how helpful the library is and I will be sure to utilize it through this class and all my future classes!”

“I learned a lot of things today. I learned about the different ways to search for topic information. Not only books but journals and papers. I learned that I can save the information in a pdf for future reading. I learned where to find help in siting sources. I also learned that I can search frequently asked questions but I can also ask a librarian directly and that they are pretty speedy in a return response.
I'm happy I got into the tutorial early in the course!”

“ I attended the Live Library session on 10 May 2014 @ 10AM (Pacific Time). The APUS Librarian, Mary-Elizabeth Gano, was very helpful in answering all of my questions regarding the library. I stumbled across the COLL100 Course Guide before, but a great degree of clarity was achieved by attending the Live Library session. I kind of felt like I had previously assembled a bike without reading the instructions, only to read the instructions later... and discover that I could have saved myself a lot of time and frustration by reading them first. The information regarding the FAQs and the help that the library can personally afford to me was really reassuring (ask a librarian, tutor.com, LibChat, and the help tab). The assistance with how to properly search a website was of great value, as I have a bias toward taking everything on the Internet as gospel”.

“I just did the session at 1 and I must say it is very informative. I advise all my fellow students to check it out. Found some really helpful tools that I can use throughout my entire degree process”.

“I had my Library session on Tuesday. I thought it was informative, however, I had already figured out most of what was covered when I was looking up the research paper topic options. What I did find helpful was the information about the book search. I had not started looking at books a sources yet so when I did start after my session, it made the experience very easy”.

“Unfortunately due to my schedule I could not attend a live session, however; I watched the Youtube tutorials on the library tour. One thing I learned that I didnt know before was that on proquest when searching for your topic, click on the book reference, you can actually type in keywords and it will take you to specific chapters in the book that relate to what your looking for. Sounds much nicer then scrambling through the whole book to find one thing that your looking for. I also like that fact that there is a ask a librarian tab. I also learned about the "Deep Web" .You re just one question away from an answer. What a great service to offer the students”.

“I attended the live library session during the third week. I found the experience interesting and informative. I was at work and was still able to do the drop in. The librarians answered all my questions and dropped a few hints on me through chat. I was able to learn how to refine my searches to get the results I needed”.

“First and foremost I would like to say that Mrs. Susan Satory was amazing in every aspect of the word. This is my first online course ever and she broke it down to an easy and very understandable level. I am not very good with computers but she made me feel very confident and knowledgeable about what I was doing, and made me very comfortable about speaking how i felt and asking questions…. Secondly, The "summon" tool, as a novice researcher and new student when pulling information I always feel bombarded with a whole bunch of useless and "rabbit whole" information. With this tool it allows me to specify exactly what I'm looking for and only generate results on what I choose, which helps new users like myself to further focus on what I want to see”.

“I had not attended a Live Library session prior to creating my Annotated Bibliography. I just finished my session tonight. It was VERY informative, though, and it will definitely make creating my Resources page for my final paper easier. I also was shown ways to search the library that I wasn't aware of before. I think had I attended a session earlier, it would have made my search much simpler.”

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Directly related to all of the Sloan-C’s Five Pillars of Quality Online Education, the Live Library initiative demonstrates success in learning effectiveness, scale, access, faculty satisfaction, and student satisfaction. Learning Effectiveness: The design and delivery of the program including the assets for classroom integration, for Librarian support, and for live demonstration was done with effective practices of online instruction as well as a focus on pedagogy for first-year students including integration of the principles for andragogy to meet the needs of adult learners. Scale: Those involved in the program leveraged the current technologies for recorded, synchronous, and asynchronous interaction, communication, and instructional delivery. Access: Higher levels of engagement with faculty and Librarians created deeper connections with students in what can be a faceless and voiceless environment. Increased engagement and academic success, as pointed out in the literature, can increase persistence and retention. Faculty Satisfaction: The initial two faculty for the smaller pilot strongly recommended to the program coordinators and fellow faculty to expand the pilot. All faculty involved volunteered themselves and their sections for the pilots and participated in Basecamp, a project management site, to obtain information, ask questions, give feedback, and provide recommendations for current and future work with the initiative. Overwhelmingly faculty stated participation in the project was personally rewarding, how they themselves learned something new when attending a live session, and how the information for the students enhanced their ability to effectively deliver instruction. Student Satisfaction: Evident from the sample of qualitative responses, students became connected to not only their current professor but to a staff member, a dedicated, supportive, and knowledgeable Librarian. Students indicated regularly in feedback how they now understood things that had previously confused them, become more confident in abilities to work in the Library and perform research, and affirmed connection of new knowledge and skills to classroom application.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Equipment necessary for the effective practice is a learning management system, a live audio and video conferencing or meeting tool, headphones and speakers, standard computer and monitor with standard software, and Web 2.0 tools, such as YouTube, survey tools, and scheduling tools for application.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Salary of faculty and staff along with cost for technology platforms in use at an institution. No additional costs were incurred.

Other Comments: 

Thank you!

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Angela Gibson
Email this contact: 
angelamgibson@hotmail.com
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Pricilla Coulter
Email contact 2: 
pcoulter@apus.edu
Effective Practice Contact 3: 
Susan Satory
Email contact 3: 
ssatory@apus.edu
Award Winner: 
2014 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Author(s): 
Naza Djafarova, Director, Digital Education Strategies, The Chang School, Ryerson University
Author(s): 
Melissa Abramowitz, Instructor, Interdisciplinary Studies, The Chang School, Ryerson University
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
The G. Raymond Chang School of Continuing Education, Ryerson University, Toronto
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Experiential learning activities, such as role-play, are just as beneficial to students in online courses as they are in face-to-face offerings. Online role-play is an important strategy to allow students to practice skills such as interpersonal communication, problem-solving and negotiation. A range of options exist to support online role-play activity including, text-based, asynchronous, discussion boards at one end of the spectrum and sophisticated, three-dimensional virtual worlds at the other. As a team supporting distance education, we recognized the need for a tool to support the key elements of role-play activity online, while providing ease of use for both instructors and students. In response to this need, the Digital Education Strategies team at The Chang School, Ryerson University, developed an online role-play environment called Lake Devo.

Lake Devo is a highly adaptable online role-play environment and presentation tool. Using any role-play scenario, instructors and students can create scenes and characters and interact in real-time. Role-play activity is captured, and published as a 2-D "movie" that a class may review, discuss, debate and analyze in Lake Devo's self-contained debrief area. Lake Devo’s chat tool allows users to check in with each other “out of role” while they are using the environment.

The environment has been used by students and instructors in a variety of different program areas at Ryerson University to support key learning objectives and evaluations.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

The Lake Devo environment allows students to undertake real-time role-play interaction online. Ahead of the role-lay activity, individual students create their avatar or role-play character. Each Lake Devo role-play character may be customized using a variety of body types, facial features, clothing and accessories. As a group, students may also choose a realistic backdrop for their role-play activity from multiple settings and sounds relevant to many fields and subject areas, including healthcare, business, and education. Using text, sound effects and modifiable facial expressions for their avatars, students can exchange dialogue, while including non-verbal cues that may not be possible when using text-based tools, such as standard discussion boards, for role-play activity. Work on the environment may be combined with some pre-activities, such as ice breakers, away from Lake Devo, to ensure a strong group dynamic during the role-play activity.

All role-play activity is captured as a role-play “movie” which may be reviewed by the class in Lake Devo’s integrated debrief area. Once “out of role”, this allows students to identify lessons learned and to measure how effectively they have applied their skills. In the debrief area, viewable only by their specific Lake Devo Community members, students can post comments and questions and exchange feedback with their peers.

Because of its flexible and adaptable design, instructors may use Lake Devo in a number of ways to support learning objectives in their courses. For example:
If instructors wish to provide a specific foundation or to have students focus their skills in one particular area, they may create a scenario or scenarios ahead of time, complete with characters, for students to role-play. This is a useful strategy when instructors would like their students to consider multiple approaches or solutions to the same problem.

Additionally, instructors may teach through narrative by creating their own Lake Devo movie(s) for review by students. They may then pose questions for reflection and discussion in the Lake Devo debrief area, which allows students to review a movie as many times as they wish and post their comments in response. An instructor may consider creating multiple short movies with subtle differences, prompting students to distinguish important nuances that can affect the outcomes in a given scenario.

The Lake Devo environment is fully equipped to allow an instructor to set up his/her class as an online collaborative community. He/she may enter students’ information, configure working groups and have the system issue login information to all users.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Since the first version of the Lake Devo environment was designed and launched in 2009, it has been used to support assignments in the following program areas at Ryerson: Interdisciplinary Studies, Retail Management, Fundraising Management, Early Childhood Studies, and Food Security.

Student response to the Lake Devo role play environment has been extremely positive. Student comments include:

“I really enjoyed the Lake Devo group project it was fun and surprisingly simple to use." (The Chang School, Winter 2011, Distance Education Supplemental Survey)

“….. it was a great tool that made the group project most interactive. It allowed for a level of creativity that I had not used in the many online courses I have taken in the past. I would recommend it." (The Chang School, Winter 2013, Distance Education Supplemental Survey)

“The Lake Devo sessions brought out a lot of real life situations and demonstrated many aspects of mentoring.” (The Chang School, Spring 2014, Distance Education Supplemental Survey)

Awards and recognition include:

• National University Technology Network: Honourable Mention, Distance Education Innovation, 2010.
• Canadian Society for Training and Development: Canadian Award for Training Excellence in the “WOW” Category, 2010.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Learning Effectiveness – Lake Devo makes the most of the online learning environment to support the key elements of role-play activity. Since the debrief aspect of the activity is as important as the role-play itself, the easy capture and retrievable format of the Lake Devo movies help to maximize learning outcomes. Multiple modes of representation (text, visual, audio) provide students with a breadth of options to connect with and inhabit their role-play characters and settings. The collaborative features of the environment encourage the development of learning communities in the context of online course work.

Access – Instructors at Ryerson make use of the Lake Devo environment in a variety of courses at no additional expense to students. The current iteration of the Lake Devo environment is under active revision for compliance with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act. All Lake Devo movies have an exportable transcript which includes full text description of all visual and audio elements. The environment is equipped with thorough “Help” documentation as well as a video tutorial to support independent use of the features by students with a range of technical abilities.

Student Satisfaction – Students have been consulted through surveys specific to the Lake Devo environment as well as via course surveys for the offerings in which Lake Devo is implemented. Students have reported a high level of interactivity and creativity in using the environment and also identify a specific sense of pride in the products that result from their work in Lake Devo. While student satisfaction with the features of the environment has remained consistent, the Digital Education Strategies team has adopted a continuous improvement approach to the design of the environment and has fully revised the environment over the past 5 years, in keeping with student feedback.

Scale – Classes of any size and from any discipline can easily implement the use of the Lake Devo environment. It can also be implemented by Ryerson’s fellow institutions as the environment is not integrated into a single sign-on portal or Learning Management System.

Faculty Satisfaction – Instructors have demonstrated their satisfaction with the Lake Devo environment through repeated use of Lake Devo in their courses. Over the past five years, Lake Devo has been used by a total of ten online instructors, for at least eight different courses, involving over 35 sections of students. Instructors have also been involved in user testing for the environment, as well as in demonstrations of the environment for fellow faculty.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Students and instructors require no special software or equipment to make use of the Lake Devo environment. The only requirement is internet access and creative ideas for role-play scenarios.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Lake Devo is available for use by instructors and/or students at no cost.

For the Digital Education Strategies unit at The Chang School, the key area of cost for the Lake Devo environment was the original development by the project team. Ongoing costs have now been reduced to incremental resources for student and instructor support during “high traffic” times. Other than these expenses, the additional investments take the form of up-front instructor time to design their own Lake Devo learning activities.

References, supporting documents: 

Please visit the following links for more information about Lake Devo:

• Lake Devo Overview and Video : https://lakedevo.ryerson.ca/Help.aspx

• Lake Devo Gallery of Student Projects: https://lakedevo.ryerson.ca/Movies.aspx

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Naza Djafarova
Email this contact: 
ndjafaro@ryerson.ca
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Melissa Abramovitz
Email contact 2: 
mabramov@ryerson.ca
Effective Practice Contact 3: 
Maureen Glynn
Email contact 3: 
maureen.glynn@ryerson.ca
Award Winner: 
2014 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Author Information
Author(s): 
Dr. Mary C. Zatta, Robin J. Sitten
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Perkins eLearning, Perkins School for the Blind
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Perkins eLearning has grown in just a few short years from a small number of webcasts developed and posted in 2007 to a major initiative that is fulfilling our mission to be a leading source of online professional development and networking for teachers and parents supporting children and students who are blind or visually impaired. Since the inception of our program it has been our mission to provide online professional development opportunities that are accessible to individuals with disabilities.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

As we have grown from a small number of on-demand webcasts to our current catalog of self-paced tutorials, and instructor-led courses, we have identified an approach to course design that insures accessibility beyond the current legal standard regarding html, scripts, or plug-ins. Our practice considers accessibility for all types of learning styles, physical abilities, and language proficiencies in the design of course objectives, content, and assignments as well as usability. The effectiveness of this practice has made us a leading source of online professional development and networking for teachers and parents supporting children and students who are blind or visually impaired. Today, Perkins eLearning logs over 200,000 visitors per year and offers over 170 content offerings.

Amongst the professionals working in the field of visual impairment, a notable percentage of individuals working in the field are visually impaired themselves. Our efforts toward providing an accessible platform were, by necessity, the foundation of our planning from the outset and not a later revision of our teaching efforts. Our course development practice (using a specifically-configured Moodle platform) emphasizes creating a course that is accessible in design to any and all participants, and provides instructors with a fully-accessible interface for instruction and evaluation. In our efforts toward providing an accessible platform of professional development activities and instructional resources, we have used the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) as our “North Star” as opposed to the minimal guidelines outlined in Section 508.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Incorporating the principles of Universal Design, Perkins eLearning has developed a platform whose baseline is accessible to a range of learning styles, abilities, technical proficiency, etc. Although our primary goal was to meet the needs of professionals with visual impairments, we have found that our platform has also been utilized by learners with hearing impairments, learning disabilities, and primary languages other than English.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

The primary pillar addressed by this practice is Access. As noted above, Perkins eLearning exceeds the current legal standard of Sect 508 compliance by setting as our standard Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0. WCAG was developed by W3C to define web accessibility that is perceivable, operable, understandable, and robust.
Unlike most online learning institutions, Perkins eLearning creates course frameworks and posts all content on behalf of our instructors in order to insure accessibility, including quality assurance for captioning/description considerations and screenreader testing.

In addition, an emphasis on course accessibility and universal design addresses the pillars in the following ways:
Perkins eLearning has been endorsed for its Learning Effectiveness by Fitchburg State University (Fitchburg, MA) which includes our coursework in its Graduate and Continuing Education catalog. We have submitted 75% of our instructor-led courses to FSU for graduate credits; 100% of our submissions have been approved by that institution. In addition, Perkins eLearning has received a letter of support from the Academy for Certification of Vision and Rehabilitation Professionals (ACVREP)

"In addition to the quality of Perkins’ educational programming, I am greatly impressed with Perkins’ commitment to professional learners. Taking the needs of all learners in account and continually researching and developing resources, Perkins has implemented innovative means to provide meaningful educational and training opportunities to a wide variety of learners that supports convenience of schedule and, most importantly, accessible given specific learner needs. Speaking on the issue of accessibility, Perkins’ commitment to learner accessibility is second to none. In fact, I have received many unsolicited comments from ACVREP certified professionals, many of whom are blind or visually impaired, informing me that they found the educational resources provided by Perkins to be fully accessible with many reporting that the learning activities provided by Perkins were the best they have experienced in their professional careers." Garett Holm, President ACVREP

We are also certified providers for the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) and the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA).

Perkins eLearning has been engaged in discussion with Harvard University and Boston University related to their needs for developing accessible online classes. In particular, Harvard has recently engaged Perkins eLearning in a discussion about providing 1) an assessment of their online platform and 2) training in accessible course design.
Scale is provided through Moodle, an open-source learning platform which Sloan Consortium has recognized as “the best Learning Management System they’ve used.” Beginning with a pilot program of 10 learners in a single course, we have grown in 2 years to a year-round program of quarterly sessions and a participant base of 400 registrations. Nearly 20% of these enrollments are returning students.

We are able to provide most considerations for accessibility, including captioning and audio description, in-house. We have developed guidelines to educate our instructors in methods they can incorporate into their course development to ensure that accessibility guidelines are met. As a result, we have increased the knowledge base and capacity of the instructors regarding accessible course design.

Satisfaction is expressed by our learning community in formal and informal ways, both solicited and volunteered. All feedback is used to improve our courses on an ongoing basis. Faculty have eagerly provided repeat sessions of their courses, and expanded their content into other formats, such as self-paced tutorials, which they design. One recent faculty member praised the helpfulness of our session mapping approach, which provides structural supports for course design, and “the beautiful job Perkins did putting this course together.”

Student Satisfaction is measured at the conclusion of each course via survey. Surveys are sent to each participant after the grades are posted in an effort to obtain authentic feedback. In addition, we receive ongoing unsolicited feedback from course participants, describing our format as “user-friendly,” and full of alternatives, such as using an iOS device with Voiceover when they are away from their screenreaders.

We have one staff member who is dedicated to provide technical assistance and support to participants and instructors. Issues reported to the eLearning helpdesk are generally resolved within 24 hours. This support includes accessibility assistance as well.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Simple web-camera or digital cameras (including iOS devices) are sufficient for recording presentations and demonstrations to use in learning modules. Most instructors have the proficiency to record these demonstrations themselves from their location and share them with Perkins eLearning through a shared Dropbox directory.
Recommended software and learning platforms: Moodle, Adobe PDF Writer/Reader, Dropbox, Vimeo/YouTube, Camtasia Studio

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Estimated costs for production are embedded in faculty salaries. Instructor costs are covered by the tuition for each class.
Additional costs include engagement of The Learning Curve Consortium for Moodle support and hosting services; file sharing services including Vimeo, Dropbox, and YouTube; and Media production software from Camtasia and Adobe Connect.

References, supporting documents: 

American Foundation for the Blind, www.afb.org

Ascough, Richard S. "Designing for online distance education: Putting pedagogy before technology." Teaching Theology & Religion 5.1 (2002): 17-29.

Burgstahler, Sheryl. "Universal design of distance learning." Information Technology and Disabilities 8.1 (2002).

Council for Exceptional Children, Teaching Exceptional Children. Special Education: Ready for Cyberspace [Special Issue] 46,5 (May/June 2014).

Hansen, R. (2009) Testing Moodle for Accessibility http://sloanconsortium.org/cannect/project3.html

Pearson, Elaine J., and Tony Koppi. "Inclusion and online learning opportunities: designing for accessibility." Research in Learning Technology10.2 (2002).

Winke, Paula, Susan Gass, and Tetyana Sydorenko. "The effects of captioning videos used for foreign language listening activities." Language Learning & Technology 14.1 (2010): 65-86.

World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), www.w3.org

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Mary C. Zatta, Ph.D.
Email this contact: 
mary.zatta@perkins.org
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Robin J Sitten
Email contact 2: 
robin.sitten@perkins.org
Tags:
Award Winner: 
2014 Sloan-C Effective Practice Award
Collection: 
Vendor EPs
Author Information
Author(s): 
Vincent Termini
Author(s): 
Franklin Hayes
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
ProctorU
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Student identity authentication for distance education programs is an important factor in the successful implementation of an e-learning program. This check is necessary to ensure an institution is giving credit to the student who completed the work and protects the reputation of the institution. It is also important in efforts to safeguard Title IV funding and reducing institutional liability in federal financial aid fraud cases. Between 2009 and 2012, federal financial aid fraud grew 82 percent, with more than 85,000 people potentially participating in fraud rings, accounting for $874 million during this disbursement period. A February 2014 Education Department Inspector General audit found that federal rules regarding identity verification in distance education programs “do not sufficiently mitigate the risks of fraud, abuse, and noncompliance.” The audit highlights the need for new standards and regulation regarding financial aid disbursement in distance education programs.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

The Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008 (HEOA) requires institutions receiving Title IV funding to verify the identities of distance education students enrolled at an institution using at least one of three methods: (1) a secure login and password (for example, through a Learning Management System); (2) proctored examinations; (3) other technologies and practices which are effective in verifying student identification.

The distinction between identity verification and authentication is an important factor to consider. Identity verification confirms that the same person has continually shown up to take an exam or logged in. Identity authentication, however, helps prove that the correct person enrolled in the course is the one completing the work or who should be receiving federal financial aid.

As state budgets continue to be slashed, many institutions simply opt for secure student login and password credentials through their Learning Management System (LMS). While this meets federal regulations, basic LMS credentials are not an effective combatant or deterrent against financial aid fraud or academic integrity violations. A wide array of effective and trusted authentication methods are available, however, these still do not document that the student who is authenticated is actually the one who is taking the exam or enrolled in the course. To ensure a secure examination environment in online education while adhering to federal regulation, a combination of live proctoring and one or more identity verification tools should be implemented.

Identity verification tools have become an important factor when complying with federal regulations. There is a broad range of tools that can be used to authenticate the identity of distance learning students. This practice does not seek to promote or advocate any method’s superiority, but rather to explain the effectiveness of such tools in tandem with live proctoring.

Challenge-based questions are an effective authentication method that rely on various public record databases. The questions often relate to residential history and other characteristics that only the enrolled student would know. Random questions are generated from a sample bank of over 120 personally-identifiable elements. This is the same method implemented by the banking and healthcare industries.

A major bio-metric analysis tool is keystroke analysis. Typical keystroke analysis measures characteristics such as length of time to type a particular word or phrase and the length of time a key is pressed, among the many features of a person’s typing behavior.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Acxiom, one of the largest providers of personally-identifiable, challenge-based questions is a method utilized by the banking and healthcare industries to verify identities of their customers.

According to KeyTrac, a major keystroke analysis company, on average, only two people in 10,000 have very similar typing behavior.

ProctorU relies on these and other methods of student authentication during the invigilation process. While these methods authenticate students, it is live proctoring that ensures that the authenticated student is indeed the same person who completes the exam.

A visual confirmation by a trained proctor observes the student alongside their government-issued photo ID. A proctor is also there in real time to monitor the biometric login or records-based challenge question scores. Lastly, the student is observed logging into their LMS with supplied credentials.

These measures ensure that not only is the institution in full compliance under the HEOA, but also that the academic integrity of the exam is held to the highest standards. The process also helps to deter financial aid fraud and reduce institutional liability. This process has been trusted for over 500,000 exams and is the primary tool for combating academic integrity violations of over 500 institutions around the world.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Access: By relying on bio-metric analysis or records-based challenge questions, test-takers from around the world can be accurately and securely authenticated for online examinations. Live proctoring requires minimal hardware or software and many test-takers already have the necessary equipment if they are enrolled in an online course. These basic requirements have allowed exams to be taken by service members while deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Faculty Satisfaction: The most effective proctoring service should adhere to federal regulations regarding student authentication, as well as providing a secure environment that upholds the academic integrity of the student, faculty and institution. Live proctoring and authentication replicates the face-to-face monitoring of a classroom during an online examination. ProctorU’s process is trusted by over 500 institutions around the world because administrators can communicate directly with the proctoring session database and view session notes in real time regarding authentication and any session irregularities.

Learning Effectiveness: An online exam with live proctoring and trusted authentication tools is a more effective method for measuring student learning. These tools help combat academic dishonesty and uphold the integrity of the exam, student, faculty and institution.

Scale: Since the authentication process is dependent upon student interaction with an automated system, there are nearly no limits to scalability. Biometric analysis is extendable to any number of users around the world.

Student Satisfaction: The authentication process is a simple process and requires little time to complete. Many students are comfortable with the process because similar identity verification tools are used in a growing number of industries including the credit and banking industry, and retail and healthcare sectors.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Students need a well-functioning computer, high-speed Internet and a webcam to be proctored and authenticated. Faculty members only need access to the Internet and ProctorU with a basic, well-functioning computer.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

The only cost associated with ProctorU is the usage fee per proctored exam based on length. The cost of authentication is included in this fee. Depending on the institution’s requests or needs, this cost is sometimes covered by the institution and other times by the student. However, this is a nominal fee that is equal to or less than the cost of finding a physical proctor at a testing center.

References, supporting documents: 

Below are the titles, links and brief descriptions of articles that describe the effectiveness of student authentication tools and live proctoring services.

Experiences verifying the identity of distance learning students:
http://www.learninghouse.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/Student-Authenti...
The for-profit education sector and community colleges are experiencing significant online education enrollment growth to meet consumer demand for education in a slumping economy. Along with growth comes quality concerns related to two areas: Academic integrity and criminals targeting online education programs for student aid fraud.

Identity verification through dynamic keystroke analysis:
http://www.di.unito.it/~gunetti/curriculum/ida-paper.pdf?origin=publicat...
Typing rhythms are the rawest form of data stemming from the interaction between users and computers. When properly sampled and analyzed, they may become a useful tool to ascertain personal identity. Unlike other biometric features, typing dynamics have an important characteristic: They still exist and are available even after an access control phase has been passed. As a consequence, keystroke analysis can be used as a viable tool for user authentication throughout the work session.

The reliability of user authentication through keystroke dynamics:
http://janmagnus.nl/papers/JRM089.pdf
People can be authenticated by something they know; like a password; something they have; like a credit card; or by some part of their anatomy; such as a finger print. When typing on a keyboard a user can be authenticated through what they type, but also through how they type through keystroke dynamics.

Behind the Webcam's Watchful Eye, Online Proctoring Takes Hold:
http://chronicle.com/article/Behind-the-Webcams-Watchful/138505/
The article presents information about online test proctoring. The author looks at several online proctoring companies that work with universities, such as ProctorU. The article also discusses the emergence of open online courses and the use of proctoring with webcams.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Vincent Termini
Email this contact: 
Vtermini@proctoru.com
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Franklin hayes
Email contact 2: 
fhayes@proctoru.com
Collection: 
Student-Generated Content
Author Information
Author(s): 
Linda C Algozzini, Instructor
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
American Public University System
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

This author currently teaches a foundations course for new/transfer first year students entering an open access, asynchronous online university. The course is standardized and has a set design model, which cannot be altered or added to. Changes are not allowed to the syllabus, lesson content or instructional flow of the course.

The course requires a level of proficiency with information literacy skills for reading, writing and written communication. Scaffold learning activities are present to facilitate the construction of a final APA research study by course end. However, the past two years have noted a change in students who enter the university and are required to take the foundations course. Students exhibit a wide range of proficiency from those exhibiting deficit literacy skills, lack of self-regulation, to a large majority of students lacking the meta-cognitive practices to reflect and think about their own thinking in order to shift from old paradigms to new. The learning activities maintain the scaffold purpose but students miss connections and relevancy with the content and seek further clarification to internalize their understanding.

There always seems to be something lacking in getting the students comfortable with LMS / navigation; ability to engage in critical thinking; frustration with the utilization of the APA style of writing; or inability to produce quality work from the expected learning activities.

Thus, a need was determined. This author set out to explore mobile/tablet apps and multimedia tools to find simple, yet effective options, which would provide value added resources to a standardized course design. The primary goal was to ensure that each of the Community of Inquiry (COI) presences were provided to enhance:
1. Building a community of learners
2. Engagement/collaboration with the content
3. Feedback
4. Support access
5. Student satisfaction
6. Increase retention
7. Meaningful learning experience for all students enrolled

The value added resources could be added to the front of forum (discussion board), the forum Q & A, classroom messages, and announcements. No other areas within the LMS could be altered.

The primary focus of the exploration was to determine the instructional use of each digital tool based upon the category criteria (practice, communication, content creation, assessment, collaboration and presentation). The intent was to align to weekly objectives and expected level(s) of Bloom’s Taxonomy. The desired outcome from the value added resource integration would be to encourage student understanding and proficiency with the content while increasing instructor presences for social, teaching and cognitive within instructional delivery. In addition the value added resources would provide exposure to media literacy (Core competency for 21st Century Learning).

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Description of the Effective Practice
Week 1
Forum 1 Through the Years with Mrs. A --Animoto Family Video with Bio (My model for forum and visual introduction to my family)

Webcam Opening Welcome Video inserted as a reply to every student’s Who am I? Initial post (This video greets and outlines expectations for students as they begin the course)

Week 2
Forum 2 Bulldog VOKI--(60 second instructional frame on how to cull out information from the research and place on the attached framework sheets to support the use of paraphrasing (prep for research writing)

Week 3
Forum 3 Blooming Up to Critical Thinking VOKI--(60 second instructional frame on using Bloom’s for forum replies to peers. Written Bloom’s question stems also added under the VOKI as guides to effectively respond with Blooms

Essay WORDLE

Week 4
Forum 4 Research WORDLE

Week 5
Forum 5 Topic Style Show Me IPad App Screen Cast APA Citation (Whiteboard Demo on APA citation)

Thesis Development Links; generators and slide show

Forum 5 Case Study

Week 8
Forum 8 Closing Webcam Video- (Summary of course, key learning’s and the continued use of reflective practice)

Pre Announcement
Screen cast video for navigation (Skitch screenshot and Screencast-o-matic tool to provide an interactive guide to navigation and access for the Sakai LMS)

Q & A SECTION –Posts Serve as Answers to FAQ

NAVIGATION SCREENCAST GUIDE (Created from IPad Explain Everything App and Telligami)

FORUMS-VIDEO EXPECTATIONS (Animoto Video on Week 1 Expectations/Examples which used ppt slides within video)

HOW TO’S-ADD VIDEO VOKI TO FORUMS (VOKI intro on how to add a voki or video the forums or LMS)

RESEARCH STAGE ONE-WEEKS 4, 5, & 6 VIDEO (Animoto video with ppt slides on gathering information, MindMap and thesis development)

RESEARCH GRAPHIC PROGRESSION OF ASSIGNMENTS TO FINAL PAPER (Info graphic created to visualize the progression of weeks learning activities to the final paper)

RESEARCH WEEK 4 GATHERING INFORMATION (Powerpoint slide with Audacity vocal track)

RESEARCH WEEK 4 OUTLINE/MINDMAP (Powerpoint slide with Audacity vocal track)

RESEARCH WEEK 4 THESIS DEVELOPMENT (Powerpoint slide with Audacity vocal track)

ASSIGNMENT AREAS FEEDBACK GUIDES

Week 3 Personal Essay
Sound Cloud Interactive Voice Guide to understanding the grading for the essay

Educreations IPad App Visual and audio screencast guide for understanding grading
for essay

Week 5 Assignment 8 Reference Page
Webcam Video with Audio interactive guide to understanding the grading of the scaffold reference page assignment

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

At the present time there is no quantitative data available. I have been piloting and beta testing the digital tools that are simple and easy to embed within our Sakai LMS for the COLL 100 division to roll out and train faculty on various tools to create and implement as value added resources within their COLL 100 courses. Since I began a year and a half ago students have commented on how it helped their understanding to hear my voice or to see and hear me demonstrating a concept. Since I have been sending out the navigation interactive screencast two days prior to any course opening I have had less emails with students being overwhelmed and not able to find their way. Each of the digital tools have reduced the emails on clarifying as students are generated to the tool first and then requested to come back to the message center if they need more. This has not only supported the students but overall has reduced my workload management. All emails are archived in our classroom message center and are ready for the IFR to capture and sort by data topic. The tools are logged and ready for the university to attempt to utilize some data analytics when ready.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

The tools were provided to support an increase in learning effectiveness, access, faculty satisfaction, and student satisfaction.
Students need to feel comfortable within their LMS or they will not be ready to take a risk with collaborating and engaging with their peers or instructor. In order to increase retention and prevent early withdrawals or drops student need to feel as if they are in control of their learning and understanding the content to the point that their proficiency is adequate to advanced. They need to enjoy what they are engaged in and that cannot be accomplished when they are overwhelmed or worried. Faculty are judged on their effectiveness and their COI data scores which are directly aligned to student surveys on the course and the instructor interactions with them.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Webcam, Computers, Ipad
Sound Cloud, Vocarro, Youtube, Animoto, Screencast-o-matic Voki, Tellagami sites
Ipad Screencast apps: Show Me, Explain Everything, Educreations, bContext,
Skitch screen shot Ipad app

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

To date, my costs have been with my Ipad Air, Macbook Air and IMac computers. Any computer or tablet device can be used as well as the equivalent apps for screen casting, screen shot, webcam etc. All of the sites that I currently use are the free versions and provide date storage except for Vocaroo.

I am currently beta testing Voice thread which would involve a cost.

References, supporting documents: 

I recently completed my Sloan Teaching Certificate program on November 25, 2013 with a specialization in Online Tools.
I will upload my three Eportfolio forms for the Online tools specialization.
In addition I will add my final portfolio Powerpoint presentation that was part of my final portfolio live session. During this session I provided a guided tour of the course I designed along with integration of digital tools.

Other Comments: 

My powerpoint could not be uploaded as it stated I exceeded the 2MB requirement. I will provide if the committee would like to see it.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Dr. Amy Peterson
Email this contact: 
Apeterson@apus.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Dr. Angela Gibson
Email contact 2: 
Agibson@apus.edu
Author Information
Author(s): 
David Edwin Stone
Author(s): 
Brichaya Shah
Author(s): 
Dawn Ramsey
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Southern Polytechnic State University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Academic programs are given financial incentives to develop and offer online courses via the use of a tuition differential. This funding allocation allows for the growth of academic programs in online formats, as well as allows academic programs to be more entrepreneurial in their online program growth. This funding model has encouraged and supported the growth of online learning as a percentage of all credit hour offerings from 6.5% of all credit hours to 13% of all credit hours in the fall of 2013. This has occurred during a time of rapid growth for the university as a whole. Linking online course development and course review to funding has encouraged participation in the Teaching Academy for Distance Learning at Southern Polytechnic.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Leveraging a slightly higher tuition rate for online courses than face-to-face courses, we have been able to create incentives for academic department to grown online learning at Southern Polytechnic. The tuition differential is distributed to the academic department (53%), general online learning marketing (12%), seed money for new programs (9%), and support of the Office of Faculty Support and Development (26%). Academic departments only receive funding if their courses have passed a formal course review process that is managed by the Instructional Design Unit and that uses external reviewers who have experience teaching online as well as a background in instructional design. Departmental funds are expended via the Office of Faculty Support and Development and must only expended in support of online learning delivery. Approved uses include course development (including faculty extra compensation), marketing expenditures (program specific marketing), and program support (equipment, software purchases, hiring student workers, adjunct instructors, etc). Courses must undergo review every three years in order to stay current and eligible for departmental funding.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

The number of credit hours as a percentage of all credit hours at the university has grown from 6.5% of credit hours during Fall 2009 to 13% of all students during Fall 2013. The Teaching Academy for Distance Learning is regularly at capacity and academic departments are developing new online courses.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

This practice provides an incentive for online learning to grow within the institution and helps grow interest and capacity for offering online courses within the institution. Academic programs have a high level of flexibility in the courses they develop and the department chairs can leverage the resulting funds to support the growth and success of the academic programs.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

For this practice we developed an internal reporting system that allowed for tracking online course development as well as credit hours generated. This was built by leveraging data already stored in the student information system. The reporting system was easy to construct, and was incorporated into the responsibilities of an existing position.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Administrative costs are minimal for this practice, as many of the faculty development functions are already in place at many institutions. The administration of the DLR funds is part of the responsibilities of a full time position, with student workers assisting in the process.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
David Edwin Stone
Email this contact: 
dstone@spsu.edu
Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Brichaya Shah
Email contact 2: 
bshah@spsu.edu
Effective Practice Contact 3: 
Dawn Ramsey
Email contact 3: 
dramsey@spsu.edu
Author Information
Author(s): 
Leslie Bowman, Online Student Success Coach, Clemson University
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Ozarks Technical College
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Walden University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Grading is one of the most difficult responsibilities involved in the teaching profession. Teachers of all levels, both traditional and online, find that comprehensive grading adds hours to their work week. These assessment strategies focus on best practices in grading students’ work to enhance application of knowledge in subsequent course assignments. All too often, effective and comprehensive grading takes time away from instructional activities. Sometimes grading responsibilities take a back seat to comprehensive instruction. Now there is a way to have it all – time for effective, comprehensive, individualized instruction and grading without adding to the instructor’s weekly work hours. In fact, this grading practice streamlines grading and leaves more time for instruction and interaction with students. The keys are organization and specific technology tools that allow instructors to give comprehensive, personalized, and instructive feedback while saving hours of time over traditional grading methods.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

While using technology for grading is not a new practice, there are technology tools we can implement that will significantly streamline grading time without sacrificing feedback effectiveness. Some of these tools are macros, grading toolbars, and writing software. This is especially effective for grading essays and research projects. Structuring the assignments for more effective and faster grading and structuring grading time to maximize effectiveness while minimizing time are all ways to organize and streamline grading practices.

These grading tools and strategies have been used in undergraduate and graduate content and writing courses. The grading practices are especially helpful in writing-intensive courses. Students need comprehensive feedback that is focused on their individual needs. They need this feedback in time to study and incorporate the instruction in subsequent work. Teachers find that providing this type of feedback in a timely manner is prohibitively time-consuming.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Students' two major complaints are: (1) not enough personalized feedback; and (2) feedback received too late to use for subsequent work. In a win-win situation, students receive feedback in just one or two days after due dates and instructors save time that is better spent in instructional activities in the classroom.

There is not currently any quantitative analysis and information regarding these grading practices. Informal qualitative surveys and reviews indicate a high satisfaction rate with faculty who use these grading tools and strategies.

Comments from students:

I was amazed at how prompt my instructor is in returning assignments. The feedback is excellent. None of my other instructors have ever provided this much feedback, and this fast.

My instructor is so good about giving feedback. Whether it is correction or praise, the feedback is always comprehensive. I appreciate that so much. It isn't so in all my classes.

I have taken lots of online courses, and never received so much personalized guidance and involvement from an online instructor!

My instructor gave positive feedback, great advice, and communicates continually with us, supports us, provides positive motivation with all our work.

I have appreciated my instructor's extremely thorough and professionally committed comments on my work. I have been impressed beyond the expression of words at herlevel of dedication and follow through on assessing our work.

Comments from instructors:

Making the grading process more efficient means you can make the feedback more meaningful for the students.

Developing your own grading toolbar is a genius idea.

The more efficient I am with grading, the more time I can spend interacting with students individually.

Using these tools (macros, toolbars, etc.) helped me develop and organize my comments/feedback, as well as focus in on what elements of a student's paper I should be really assessing (and helping students focus on).

I teach composition, literature, and business communications for more than one school. Needless to say my essay and discussion board posting and grading requirements are extensive. This process has saved my life.

I have cut my grading time and effort in half, yet my students still get substantive, personal, and high quality feedback (probably more than they did before.)

When I offer feedback on discussions or essays, my students now get a more complete explanation of what the concern is and how to fix it. All this is done in half the time. Before I started using this process I was intellectual toast after about 20 essays a day. Now I can easily grade 40 or more. If you have a lot of papers and/or discussions to grade, this grading process is for you.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Access: Instructors and students access assessment feedback via school LMS tools, email, or other file-sharing platform. No additional or extra software is necessary.

Learning Effectiveness: Students receive individualized feedback according to the learning needs. Students' learning deficiencies are addressed through targeted feedback that includes examples, additional resources, and personalized instruction. Getting students to not only read comments, but to apply the feedback we spend time providing for them can be quite the challenge. When students receive feedback quickly, they are more likely to study and reflect on the suggested improvements.

Student Satisfaction: Students want substantive feedback on their work and they want it fast. Students always mention on course evaluations how much they appreciate my thorough suggestions, corrections, and comments on all their work. They like getting their assignments back so fast so they can use that feedback to better prepare for the next assignments.

Instructor Satisfaction: Grading time is essentially cut by 50% and effective, substantive, personalized feedback to students increases by the same amount. Instructors like being able to provide more feedback in a shorter period of grading time.

Scale: All instructors can use these practices and strategies. The primary practices use MS Word and Excel. Toolbars can be created via multiple methods, using various technology tools. These practices are effective and efficient for traditional f2f classes as well as online and blended classes.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Any type of word processing program can be used for creating toolbars, rubrics, macros, and other streamlining strategies.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

Unless an instructor needs to purchase a word processing program or elects to purchase a short-key program, there is no cost.

References, supporting documents: 

Grading Made Fast and Easy: Save Time on Comprehensive and Personalized Assessments with Technology

Conference Presentations:
18th annual Educational Technology Leadership Conference, Roanoke VA
AFACCT 22nd Annual Conference, Baltimore MD
PBS Ed Tech Annual Conference, Petersburg VA March 2012
PBS Ed Tech Annual Conference, Ashland VA January 2011

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Leslie Bowman, Online Student Success Coach, Clemson University
Email this contact: 
Lesliebowman@clemson.edu
Author Information
Author(s): 
Leslie Bowman, Online Student Success Coach, Clemson University
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Ozarks Technical College
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Walden University
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Online Communities of Practice initiate and maintain active student engagement through peer mentoring and review, and instructor diagnosis and targeting of learning deficiencies. Communities of Practice streamline instructor-targeted personalized instruction.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

The COP creates a culture of interest, inquiry, risk-taking, and problem solving. Instructors and students fulfill roles as coaches, mentors, and reviewers, all of which form the building blocks that inspire dynamic engagement. As students realize they have the same challenges and experiences, their comfort level with exposing shortcomings, asking for help, and exploring new content, increases. The instructor assesses existing knowledge, diagnoses knowledge deficits, and then seeds the community with content based on targeted learning outcomes. Using sequential practice, peer review, and collaborative reinforcement, students share existing knowledge and develop new knowledge through analysis, extension, synthesis, and application of the course content. Students' course assignments are collaborative in nature and involve a lot of peer review and mentoring.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

I have used Communities of Practice in both undergraduate and graduate courses for five years. Students become more engaged with the course content and enjoy teaching each other through the peer mentoring process. Students work through problem-solving activities to find new ways to apply the content in each unit of study. The instructor makes use of ongoing formative assessment prior to each assignment summative grade. This translates into better grades overall and higher retention in online classes.

While there currently no quantitative data comparing this practice to traditional discussion-formatted online classes, we have collected qualitative data from student comments in emails and course evaluations. We have also informally compared final grades and retention numbers in COP courses and the same course taught in a traditional discussion-assignment weekly online format.

Comments from students:

I have learned that your first and second draft is not your last; there are many revisions that will take place in order to make the writing scholarly. The COP allows for that practice and revisions.

I wish all classes used the COP process for writing assignments, getting feedback, and revising before sending in for a grade.

My grades are much better because of this. Not to mention that I've learned so much more about scholarly writing with all the extra practice.

This COP thing is fantastic; I wish all my classes had this. I learn so much more when I can revise my papers based on feedback from my instructor and peers than if I just get comments with a grade and no chance to use those critiques immediately.

Comments from instructors:

This process includes both self-directed learning and moving toward peer mentoring when mastery begins to allow for sharing knowledge with peers. COPs build both intellectual muscle and increased relational networks for the student participants.

Overall, the COP provides a more balanced perspective of the learning process for students by addressing strengths and weaknesses simultaneously and with equal emphasis. Student self-assessment and self-directed learning are fundamental COP aspects that occur in a continual process throughout the course.

Communities of practice take the stale discussion format so common in online classes and turns it on its head; students are now directing their learning and faculty provide the guidance and formative feedback to steer their students toward improved outcomes each week.

As we all appreciate the individualization that technology driven learning brings to our students, we also are finding that the key to student achievement is engagement with others through the sharing of the learning experience and the building of relationships that may not have a face-to-face component.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Access: All students access the COP online through the school LMS in a discussion board set up for this specific purpose. This works in traditional and online classes. In traditional classes, I begin peer review in class groups and then students take their reviews online to the LMS provided by the school. If a school LMS is not available, there are free discussion boards that can be used; I know teachers who have used private, closed Facebook groups for the purpose of setting up COPs.

Learning Effectiveness: Students in a COP demonstrate content mastery through a variety of collaborative activities, including text, audio and visual media, case studies, table-top activities, and multimedia production. Formative assessment and targeted instruction, via ongoing constructive feedback and effective interactive facilitation directly in the COP, affords students with multiple opportunities to construct and apply new knowledge. Targeted and personalized instruction in the COP promotes critical thinking and allows students to take risks by sharing their initial ideas as they work together toward building knowledge, and creating ideas that demonstrate their progress in synthesis and application of content.

Student Satisfaction: Students like the ongoing, customized, personalized learning as well as the valuable feedback from peers and their instructor. Students especially like the opportunity to work on assignments, with editing and revising opportunities, prior to submitting work for a grade. Students learn more through these opportunities and their grades are much higher.

Instructor Satisfaction: Instructors avoid long grading days after due dates. They can provide feedback and revision suggestions throughout the week, targeting concept deficiencies on an individual basis, while giving everyone multiple opportunities to master the content for the learning unit. When the assignments are submitted on the due date, the work is of much higher quality; the instructor is familiar with the work and can provide additional comments as necessary very quickly. Grading takes very little time.

Scale: Instructors in traditional f2f and online courses can implement these strategies by setting up a dedicated online discussion forum in any LMS. Instructors can use example 5-point instructions for students introducing and engaging in the COP, or can write their own course-specific instructions.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Any online platform suitable for discussion can be used. Generally schools provide access to an LMS for traditional f2f classes and, if not, there are free online discussion boards that can be used for COP interaction.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

For schools that provide LMS availability for f2f classes and that have online courses and programs, there is no additional cost. If instructors do not have access to an LMS, free online venues are available.

References, supporting documents: 

Online Teaching and Learning: Creating Communities of Practice to Enhance Student Success and Increase Class Retention

Conference Presentation at the VCU Online Learning Summit, Richmond, VA May 2013

Conference Presentation at the Distance Learning Administration Conference 2013

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Leslie Bowman, Online Student Success Coach, Clemson University
Email this contact: 
Lesliebowman@clemson.edu
Author Information
Author(s): 
Leslie Bowman, Clemson University, Online Student Success Coach
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Ozarks Technical College (Springfield MO)
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
Walden University (Minneapolis MN)
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

In order for personalized learning to happen and for students to become motivated to learn and interested in the topic, they have to be involved in the teaching/learning process. Personalized learning means that students choose what they want to learn in order to master the course or unit learning outcomes. Personalized learning promotes mastery of course content because students are actively engaged in the learning process; students teach and learn from each other. After having developed numerous courses in various subject areas over the past decade, I have found that it becomes necessary to pick and choose what topics and issues to include in the course outcomes. Textbooks are huge tomes with far more content than can be adequately covered in a single course term. So as the experts in the subject matter, faculty are expected to determine the most important and valuable content to include in the course. When several instructors are teaching multiple sections of the same course, there is a lot of discrepancy in what students learn in the different sections of the course. One course might include a cursory study of 15 out of 22 chapters. Another course might include a deeper study of 12 out of 22 chapters. Some faculty may attempt to cover every chapter in the textbook. In all these scenarios, some students will be bored because the content they are most interested in may not be covered in the course. Other students may be overwhelmed because they have no experience or prior knowledge and all the content is new to them. Students who have no interest will put forth no effort. Being bored and/or deluged with information can shut down even the most motivated learners.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

Every online course has topics and learning outcomes related to those topics. For the past five years, I have provided students with choices of topics and issues within the course content. In each unit of study, students choose two out of five topics and also contribute a new topic of their own. Students decide the topics they want to learn about in depth. Participation and engagement in dialogue is required 5/7 days per week in the online classroom. Each unit of study allows for a deeper exploration of several topics as opposed to units of study with one or two discussions and a single summative assessment.

Along with content choices, I also provide students with choices in assessments. There are choices of assignment topics in each unit of study as well as choices in how they will demonstrate mastery and application of those topics. For example, Unit 1 includes eight topics for assessment. Students choose three topics and also choose how they will demonstrate mastery and application of the content. Choices include written essays and reports, presentations, and various multimedia tools. The stipulation is that they may not use the same assessment assignment more than once.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

At the end of the class, students did better on the final exam than in other classes where multiple topics were not studied in depth. The benefit of personalized learning through content and assessment choices is that students learn more about the course content than they do if the instructor chooses a finite number of discussions and assignments.

Effectiveness of these practices has been evidenced through final grades and higher retention in online classes for the past five years. While there has not been a formal quantitative study, a comparison of end of course grades and rosters shows fewer drop-outs and failures. Students are more engaged in the learning process, evident through emails and course evaluation comments.

Student Comments:

I hate wasting time on discussions and assignments when I already know something. I'd much rather learn something new.

I learned a lot about my chosen topics in this class. I also learned new information from the topics my classmates chose that were different from my topics.

I really enjoyed all the presentations and multimedia productions by classmates. I learned more from my classmates' work than I ever learned from reading or listening to lectures or just watching powerpoints.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

How does this practice relate to pillars?

Access: All students access the course units of study through the school LMS in a discussion boards set up specifically designed for content and assessment choices.

Learning Effectiveness: Students demonstrate content mastery through a variety of collaborative activities, including text, audio and visual media, case studies, table-top activities, and multimedia production. Topic discussions promote critical thinking as students apply the course concepts to real life situations.

Student Satisfaction: More students engage in discussions more frequently than in the old-style online class discussion format. I had fewer "absences" during discussions in these courses.

Instructor Satisfaction: Instructors enjoy the active engagement and seeing students applying concepts to business and other real life situations. Grading takes far less time because the instructor is interacting with students on an ongoing basis, providing formative assessment feedback, and guiding students in revisions so that final assignment products are comprehensive.

Scale: These strategies can be used in any online or traditional course. If used in a traditional course, I recommend setting up a discussion forum in the school LMS for each topic in each unit of study.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

Online discussions are optimal for this type of teaching and learning. Most schools provide access to the online program LMS for f2f faculty to use in their traditional courses.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

For schools that provide LMS availability for f2f classes and that have online courses and programs, there is no additional cost. If instructors do not have access to an LMS, free online venues are available. There is no cost associated with implementing this in an online course.

References, supporting documents: 

Online Teaching and Learning: Creating Communities of Practice to Enhance Student Success and Increase Class Retention

Conference Presentation at the VCU Online Learning Summit, Richmond, VA May 2013

Conference Presentation at the Distance Learning Administration Conference 2013

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Leslie Bowman, Online Student Success Coach, Clemson University
Email this contact: 
Lesliebowman@clemson.edu