Earlier this year, I was pleasantly surprised to find IMPACT, team-based, campus-wide, concerted efforts at Purdue University while surfing the Net. The program is set to redesign undergraduate courses by “integrating a more enhanced student-centered approach that is informed by research and aimed at enhancing student learning, competence, and confidence” (IMPACT web site, Purdue University, 2011). The scale of the program is huge. The program started in 2011, and currently “62 courses and 72 faculty[are] in the program.” The University gives a $10,000 stipend per undergraduate foundational course to go through redesigning using the Seven Principles For Good Practice in Undergraduate Education:
encourages contact between students and faculty
develops reciprocity and cooperation among students
encourages active learning
gives prompt feedback
emphasizes time on task
communicates high expectations
respects diverse talents and ways of learning
The project is led by the Office of Provost and the staff from the five support units work together and help each teaching faculty to redesign the course. The support units that are involved in the program are: Purdue Extended Campus, Purdue Libraries, Discovery Learning Research Center, Information Technology, and Center for Instructional Excellence. The main idea of IMPACT is to “[e]nable faculty-lead course redesign with campus-wide resources.”
This is definitely a huge step up from our humble blended learning project. This scale of university-wide initiative would easily solve some of the planning and delivery issues we encountered in our project. This is an enviable project bringing all the learning support professionals as a team to facilitate learners-centered learning of undergraduate students.
I finally delivered my webinar entitled “Adding more ‘authentic dimension’ in higher education using social media the blog” on the last slotted date on March 26 for webinar presentations by the students in the Digital Literacy course. This was my first webinar and my first attempt to use Adobe Connect. When it was the time to start the webinar, I realized that I had no idea how to play each animation effect on my slides. I noted earlier the link structure of my slides on the right-hand side of the slid display. A big panic! I had to ask the instructor and fellow students for help even recording was already in progress. During the webinar, I also felt somewhat disconnected from my audience. A day later, I realized that I completely forgot to share the results of the poll I took from the audience during the webinar. Sigh! The instructor specifically reminded me not to forget to click the “display” option. Talking about entirely a new environment. The instructor gently reminded me after the webinar that this was all part of the learning process. OK, yes, that seemed more comforting. I have to have the first time and it’s all about learning.
Despite some glitches I encountered and a not-so-good delivery during the webinar, I prepared for this webinar for many hours. The idea I set out for my webinar seemed to be a very obvious choice at the time. As I prepared for the project, it became a daunting task! Since this is a conceptual piece, I had to clarify what I meant by “authentic learning” and how it fit into the context of higher education. I also wanted to bring in the idea of the pedagogical shift that comes with the use of emerging technologies: focusing more on learning processes rather than teaching. I also needed to connect these ideas to my professional experience of being an academic, liaison librarian at a university. As I reflect back on the preparatory process, what I needed is an additional level of meta-cognition. There is always a danger of getting too caught up in one’s own thinking process and forget about the actual effects of the presentation to the audience.
The most difficult webinar section to develop was the section for discussing theblog as a potential social media platform to integrate into university courses. Talking about something that I don’t have any experience of was definitely my weakness. But I was very lucky to come across a ProfHacker post, “A Better Blog Assignment,” by Mark Sample (July 3, 2012). A total of 45 comments was attached to his post and generated an interesting discussion about the integration of blogs into university courses. This provided a wealth of information for my webinar project. I am afraid, however, that I did not deliver this section of the webinar well. On the other hand, working on the topic gave me the opportunity to learn about it and it was all positive in that regard. In the end, because of this research, I was able to put together a join proposal towards the TLT Grants Program, an internal grants program at my university, with a teaching faculty colleague of mine.