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Learning and Gathering

Our first cohort completed the CoI Teaching Excellence Community Course in early October, and we have already launched Cohort 2. It has been an exciting adventure keeping up with the logistics behind the Community Course, and we learned so much from our first round. Cohort 2 is running much more smoothly, and I find that I now have a bit of extra time to gather my thoughts.

The Community Course approach has been a success for our faculty. The level of engagement and dialogue in the Study Groups was outstanding, and our faculty were thrilled to interact with each other across disciplines. Our participants engaged with the content (and each other!) and now have a much clearer understanding of the CoI framework, and how to integrate CoI effective practices in to their teaching at APUS.

For three out of the five weeks in Cohort 1, participants in the CoI Teaching Excellence Community Course contributed to an effective practice compendium on one of the CoI presences (social, teaching, and cognitive). The purpose of this learning activity was to get folks to share, and to begin the development of a community generated effective practice knowledge base. We now have so much data!

Our team has just begun working with the APUS Institutional Research and Data team to explore this data and to find the best way to review and share what we have. Along with this data, we have pre and post-course survey data to review. The research possibilities are endless, and the CTL welcomes recommendations for the review and exploration of our data!


Moving Right Along!

We are well into Week 3 of the APUS Community Course, and it’s been a whirlwind of activity across the board. With all of the activity, I’ve neglected posting here!

Updates of significance:

Over 50 participants have earned the Content Contributor badge in the course by contributing to the course social media sites! There have been quite a few participants who wrote back after I sent their badges, letting me know that they felt honored to be a part of this initiative. That was great to hear! The general feedback on the course structure, content, and activities has been excellent, and will enable us to make the course even better for our second cohort which will start in early October.

Our guest speaker series has been a hit, with an opening review of the CoI framework the first week, and Alexandra Pickett from the SUNY Learning Network the second. Alex wowed everyone with the tools and approaches she uses! While some folks were overwhelmed by the array of tools/technologies/methods, everyone gleaned a bit of practical advice on how to establish social presence in the online classroom.

With last week’s focus on social presence, it was exciting to watch the conversations unfold, and the communities interact. The conversations on LinkedIn are going strong, with effective practices being shared there as well as within the Sakai Study Groups Effective Practice Compendium. The social media outlets are providing a place for more crossover conversation, which is exactly what was hoped for. Faculty participants are getting to know each other, and enjoying the exchange!

The Study Group Leaders are my heroes. Each of them has taken on the responsibility of managing their “seminar” spaces, and all have done a stellar job of communicating with the participants and keeping the conversations on topic.

Week 1 badges have been distributed, and participants are adding them to email signatures, blogs, etc. The excitement about the Community Course badges gives me much hope for a full badge initiative to be implemented in 2013 for our faculty development initiatives at the Center for Teaching and Learning!

On with Week 3, and learning about Teaching Presence!

The CoI Teaching Excellence Community Course at APUS launched yesterday. It’s exciting to see how the Study Groups are interacting already. Also interesting to get the comment here and there along the lines of “this is fantastic” along with “what?”. We knew we were going to hear from both ends of the continuum. So far it sounds like the participants are finding the the content and methods for interaction to be engaging.

You can follow some of the conversations by visiting any one of our social media sites:

Note: We’re using the #CoICommunity hashtag throughout the course.

Participants who contribute content can earn the Content Collaborator badge. As of day one, we’ve already had three folks earn the badge!


Study Group Leaders

The Study Group Leaders are gearing up for next week’s launch of the CoI Teaching Excellence Community Course. I have created a full guide for their reference, including a task outline, task specifics, and a weekly checklist to follow.

The Study Group Leaders have joined the CTL Community Course team and are just as excited as I am to see this endeavor take flight (you can expect a few aviation references along the way!). Each of the Study Group Leaders will be responsible for facilitating the discussion forum learning activities, and monitoring the effective practice compendium areas.

We’ve created 25 Study Group sites in Sakai and will register our faculty Community Course participants across the group sites). I have taken a peek into some of the Study Group sites already, and am thrilled at how the Study Group Leaders have already applied personal touches to the pre-populated announcement areas. Great work all around!

We’ve also invited a team from Institutional Research to participate in our Community Course. They work with the CoI research data, and can benefit from experiencing what the faculty will be going through as they learn more about applied CoI effective practices. The data team has a Study Group cohort of their own, with forum questions related to how the content applies to the work that they’re doing.

Study Group Leader badgeAll of the Study Group Leaders have the option of displaying the Study Group Leader badge on their email signatures, blogs, etc. The Multimedia Team at APUS designed all of the badges for the Community Course, and as the course progresses, I’ll highlight the badges here. You can read more about our approach to the badge system in the Earning Badges section of this blog.


Countdown to Launch

With the launch of the very first Community Course a little over a week away, I feel like I’m getting ready to give birth. Nesting, perhaps?

The Community Course concept came to me in the middle of one night — I woke up thinking, “yeah, I can make this work!”. The problem? How to deliver a required professional development course to 2,000 faculty by the end of November 2012. First thing that comes to mind? MOOC, right? Not for APUS. Not yet. We wanted an option that would be available to our faculty only. The biggest obstacle that I was facing in creating a massive delivery option was the OPEN piece. And that’s the best part of the MOOC.

So, I thought about what I would do in a physical situation — IRL, on a real campus. I’d host a lecture series open to the entire campus community, with limited seating (1,000). Then, I’d host study groups, and assign study group leaders to facilitate the dialogue. I turned the concept into a project plan overnight, and we (the CTL team) have taken it from there! It has been months of work writing, editing, planning, scheming, revising, reworking, reinventing, exploring, sharing, drawing, redrawing, struggling, learning, relearning, and so on.

None of this could have moved forward without the brains and steam of the CTL Community Course team: Chris Reynolds, Barb Manuputy, Raven Townsend, CJ Fitzgerald, and Kirsten Avey. Extra mention to Raven, who helped me see beyond every obstacle that was on the pathway. And back to the birthing metaphor, I feel like she’s been beside me the entire time helping me with everything. If she could catch this baby in her hands, I know she would!

There will be things that will go wrong when we launch (I believe in Murphy’s Law), but this is going to be an exciting endeavor. I’ll be blogging throughout the duration of the course, and keeping track of what works, and what needs more work.

So far, lessons learned:

  1. Keep that paper and pencil handy by the side of the bed! My favorite piece of ephemera from all of this is the concept diagram that I drew in the middle of the night.
  2. You CAN do anything when you have a boss/team leader who stands behind you 100%. That support is priceless.
  3. When you can’t have what you want, create something brand new. Well, I already knew that — it’s what keeps me going!