Fostering collaboration & ownership in online courses

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  • Proposal submission to the Virtual Fall Academic Conference - 2011Names: Eileen O’ConnorHome Center: School of Graduate Studies Contact info:Eileen.oconnor@esc.eduWorking Title: Fostering collaboration, ownership, and professional networks—in online and distance environmentsAbstract: How can online and distance environments be developed to support professional communities and collaboration? Although working together on complex projects can encourage learning, working within an online environment makes it difficult for an instructor to oversee and manage collaboration and to ensure that students are moving towards the desired instructional outcomes. The author will review how she structured and scaffolded the development process; modeled the complex outcomes desired; required frequent, reported student-to-student meetings; and increased ownership, responsibility and pride-in-the-work through the student-designed virtual pods (in Second Life) and shared project-wikis/websites. The professional networking impact will be discussed as well. Proposal: Dr. Eileen O’Connor proposes to share her experiences and findings about a creative design for learning (with an associated assessment, evaluation, and improvement) developed to promote effective student collaboration, pride and ownership in their work, and the development of professional/social networks within online environments. Eileen has included aspects of this work in her online courses over the past several years – using networking tools that moved beyond course management systems. However, achieving a distance, complex, collaborative project had always proved difficult. During the summer of 2011, she designed, implemented, assessed, and evaluated an online course where students co-developed projects, designing a small virtual space and creating a public website/wiki that explained their projects. In advance of the course, she had secured Informed Consent of the students to study their efforts, having procured Institution Review Board approval for this study. Learning from past, unsuccessful efforts, she carefully structured the processes, modeled desired outcomes, solicited involvement, and required team-progress. This approach lead to productive students learning outcomes as evaluated by monitoring the quality of digital and virtual interactions during the course and by evaluating the final project with a multi-faceted, learning-outcome rubric. The results of this course experience have been crystallized into a paper that is currently under review for inclusion in the Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2012 in Texas. Already, the components that proved more effective are being integrated into Eileen’s fall courses. If this proposal is accepted, the elements that proved most successful from empirical evidence within the study and from theoretical support found in other scholarship would be highlighted and general conclusions about what these findings might suggest for distance collaborative and networked relationships will be considered. The 4 – 8 minute “deliverable:” Using a narrated PowerPoint that will include short video segments of the virtual environment, Dr. O’Connor would highlight the key aspects of the study from which she gathered her data. However, the focus would be primarily on the elements that appear to have relevance to the wider educational and professional audience that needs to consider how to work effectively at a distance. The subsequent discussion could provide opportunities for further explanations and for dialog about how these elements might work in the audience’s environment. Eileen would solicit ideas and suggestions from the audience, hoping that distance collaborative efforts in her own work and in the work of colleagues would be improved and that ongoing insights would be shared. Web links: If this presentation is accepted, an online slide-sharing document would be created and the link would be shared, in addition to the development of the video/PowerPoint presentation (which Dr. O’Connor would create and submit as well).  Respectfully submitted by: Eileen O’Connor 
  • As the research suggests, when students collaborate, share, and struggle together with complex assignments, the results can be of a higher quality – the work has been shifted, sorted, and refined.
  • By having students develop their work within a “publishable” website or wiki, greater pride can be shown in the work – as I have reported in other research
  • And, as you might suspect, adults working together could also results in social and professional networks
  • But how can you make this happen in online classes?
  • The final evaluation will hopefully be a good collective grade, but the contribution of individual members will be consider too – it is important that all contribute equally and fairly
  • But how can you make this happen in online classes?

Transcript

  • 1. Fostering collaboration, ownership, andprofessional networks—in online and distance environments Eileen A. O’Connor, Ph.D. Eileen.oconnor@esc.edu Empire State College
  • 2. What will follow:• Possible outcomes & design considerations• Examples from my work – IRB procured; a study was conducted – The work has been submitted for possible publication• General considerations
  • 3. Higher level work Products &Increased relationships pride & that lastownership beyond the course
  • 4. Higher level work Products &Increased relationships pride & that lastownership beyond the course
  • 5. Higher level work Products &Increased relationships pride & that lastownership beyond the course
  • 6. Higher level work Products &Increased relationships pride & that lastownership beyond the course
  • 7. Through careful planning, design, and integrate the course elements:• Make the collaboration process itself explicit• Develop or assign teams; require brainstorming• Model the type of complex outcomes desired; be clear about expectations and assessment• Scaffold and pace the project development process: set a time line / require reports• Provide a forum for displaying work• Invite / require peer review
  • 8. The course that will be illustrated• A graduate course in the Master of Arts in Teaching program – Content Course: Science – Extending the students expertise in science through a science exploration – Creating a project that K12 students could join • In a collaborative efforts
  • 9. Course elements & their analysis: the evidence; presented in the researchIn determining what elements of design, interactions, expectations, virtual building, and virtual presenting were effective in supporting collaboration on the inquiry-based science-project development, this author/instructor gathered evidence from processes and products within the course, including:• project delineation, considering the course elements of structure, expectations, and evaluation required for the brainstorming, project submission, peer voting, project-selection and team-assignment process;• peer interactions, surveying the weekly project-and-topic meetings that were conducted by teams within Second Life and reported to the class in a discussion board and the weekly individually-submitted task lists;• final products and presentations, observing, videotaping (within the virtual space), analyzing, and grading the presentations and projects within the Second Life pod and within the required project wiki/website, using the assigned criteria and the grading rubric;• student debriefings, reviewing their comments on their own work, on the work of colleagues, and on ways to improve the course in the future
  • 10. Overall results / 17 studentTopic & # of students Bio. (3) Biodiv. (2) Bio2 (2) Rain (3) Physics Ocean River (3) (2) (2)Prior work w/ instructor 2 2 0 1 1 0 1Student centered project Partial Yes Yes Yes Partial Yes YesCollabor. effectiveness Good Good Poor Good Poor Good goodStudent satisfaction Good Good Varied Good Varied Good GoodInstructor satisfaction OK Good OK Good Not OK Good GoodExceeded expectations Yes Yes No Yes No Yes YesFinal report quality Good Good OK Good Not OK Good Good
  • 11. Overall results / 17 studentTopic & # of students Bio. (3) Biodiv. (2) Bio2 (2) Rain (3) Physics Ocean River (3) (2) (2)Prior work w/ instructor 2 2 0 1 1 0 1Student centered project Partial Yes Yes Yes Partial Yes YesCollabor. effectiveness Good Good Poor Good Poor Good goodStudent satisfaction Good Good Varied Good Varied Good GoodInstructor satisfaction OK Good OK Good Not OK Good GoodExceeded expectations Yes Yes No Yes No Yes YesFinal report quality Good Good OK Good Not OK Good Good
  • 12. Overall results / 17 studentTopic & # of students Bio (3) Biodiv. (2) Bio 2 (2) Rain (3) Physics(3) Ocean River (2) (2)Prior work w/ instructor 2 2 0 1 1 0 1Student centered project Partial Yes Yes Yes Partial Yes YesCollabor. effectiveness Good Good Poor Good Poor Good goodStudent satisfaction Good Good Varied Good Varied Good GoodInstructor satisfaction OK Good OK Good Not OK Good GoodExceeded expectations Yes Yes No Yes No Yes YesFinal report quality Good Good OK Good Not OK Good Good Only 1 was below the standard
  • 13. Within the course: generating the project General focusing ideas the actual brainstorming & creating project to . . . teams . . . planning
  • 14. Explaining the logistics & the collaborative processSecond Life •Reports weekly meetings via PPT meetingsTask / time •Documents weekly individual progress report
  • 15. Defining the project –required components
  • 16. And, providing a rich schematic(and verbiage) of areas to consider:
  • 17. Logistics & the collaborative project development processSecond Life •Reports weekly meetings via PPT meetingsTask / time •Documents weekly individual progress report
  • 18. Pods where decorated by students Added: rotating spheres Added: circulating fish Second Life pod expectations were minimal, but studentsAdded: plants added more than required – from individual exploration & sharing with peers
  • 19. And, in the projects that theyeventually presented within the pods Genuine sharing, community & caring was evident; students asked relevant questions & added extending ideas – all at a distance
  • 20. A pod about oceanography
  • 21. Observed• Rich projects – better than previous courses (students comments show pride & valuing)• Genuine valuing and application of 21st century technologies to the future K12 students; an expanded understanding of literacy• Peer teaching/learning – more skills evident then “taught” or even required• Responsibility and professionalism in the presentations – proud to share their findings
  • 22. Project websites welcomed K12 students and teachers
  • 23. Some projects included other schools
  • 24. Projects helped other teachersunderstand how to integrate their ideas
  • 25. Some projectshad direct public service aspects
  • 26. Projects with scientific materials
  • 27. Useful teacher guidelines
  • 28. Info and links to 21st century tools
  • 29. Some projects included relevant YouTubes & resources
  • 30. Other student projects created their own YouTubes
  • 31. Some projectsincluded work thatthe students hadactually conducted
  • 32. And, showed data could be collected & used in the project (quantitative science literacy)
  • 33. Some required science literacy journals
  • 34. Teacher resources were included in all
  • 35. Conclusions• Course themes and approaches that appeared to influence the effectiveness of the results – Sequencing & scaffolding – built understanding of requirements and staged – Brainstorming and modeling – provided a rich example – Pacing, weekly reporting, and task lists -- kept all teams on task and accountable – Requiring a project wiki/website, a science pod in Second Life, & presentations within the pod – developed pride and ownership
  • 36. Contingency plans• Place collaboration as a course objective and requirement – Not all will like the process – Develop a grading approach that will ensure fairness – participation can be monitored in wikis• Have backup plans – Alternative assignments if needed
  • 37. Higher level work Products &Increased relationships pride & that lastownership beyond the course