Randy Bass Visit

Randy Bass in sitting in canoe pointing in direction

It was just a year ago that Carleton hosted Georgetown Associate Provost, Randy Bass, and I’ve been thinking of some of the work directly facilitated by Randy’s visit. I’ll talk about just two examples in this post.

Liberal Education in the New Ecosystem, Randy Bass from Carleton Academic Technology on Vimeo.

In broad terms Randy talked about designing a liberal education for this moment in history. He asked us, “If you were creating a Carleton education right now, and with everything you knew about the past but also what you knew about the capacities of our current environment and the challenges we are about to face in the next 10, 20, 30 years, what would that Carleton look like?” He suggested our answers would almost certainly cause us to create pilot programs that would push against the constraints of our current Carleton model and that we would need “a different kind of approval process” to make experimentation possible. Enter example 1: CUBE.

CUBE (Carleton Undergraduate Bridge Experience) is a summer/fall experimental course taught by Melissa Eblen-Zayas from our physics department. Carleton’s Education and Curriculum Committee (ECC) made the experiment possible by flipping the usual process so that we got quick approval for a pilot with built in accountability and sunset if not approved for continuation. CUBE has two primary student goals: to strengthen quantitative skills and to support the transition to college. The summer part of the course is completely online and is followed by the face-to-face fall course that is being taught right now. Melissa and I look forward to reporting out to the community sometime this winter about this very exciting experiment and regardless of whether the course continues, I think we have taken a solid step toward that future Carleton Randy asked us to imagine. And for me, Randy’s framework and encouragement were crucial.

Example 2 comes in the form of an LTC lunch session and Winter Workshop. Both of these events are sponsored by Carleton’s Future Learning Technologies Group (FLTG) and both events center on creating flexible curricula that push against the 9 ½ week structure or our current term system. The LTC lunch session is Tuesday, October 11 and the Winter Workshop will be in early December. I can’t speak for everyone in FLTG, but I know I was (re-)inspired and (re-)energized by Randy’s question “what would a course look like that was less course-based, less term-based, separated credit from seat-time, thought about all 12 months of the year, thought about how faculty would deploy their energies in different ways? And this energy and inspiration is playing a shaping role in how I’m approaching my part of these two upcoming events.

Randy Bass in sitting in canoe pointing in direction
Randy points the way in the Boundary Waters and to the futures of higher ed!
A year ago, I really bungled my introduction of Randy before his big talk in the Athenaeum. I was tired and had left my notes behind and pulling them up on my phone just didn’t work. If I had the chance to hit “reset” I would say something like this: Just as I wouldn’t (yet) wander into the Boundary Waters without the wonderful Minnesota guide I have luckily found, I wouldn’t navigate the “future of higher education” without the wonderful Randy Bass along!

Writing with Light & the MN eLearning Summit 2016

Basilica shot from MN e Learning Conference 2016

In late July, I attended and presented at the Minnesota eLearning Summit 2016 at the Minneapolis Community and Technical College. My presentation, Writing with Light: Building A Low-Cost Lightboard at Carleton College, was selected as a session. I’ve embedded a screencast of it below, as well as on YouTube. Here’s how my conference went, as a story in annotated tweets…

 


I was selected as one of the speakers for the summit and chose to speak on the Lightboard, which we designed and built at Carleton College. Our Lightboard is notable for its very low cost and ease of use. 
 

It was thrilling to see Randy Bass speak again. He came to Carleton last fall and gave an engaging and thrilling set of talks, inspiring us to think about the future of education and our roles within it.

One of the big questions we need to ask ourselves while thinking about education and the choices we make.

People panic about the changes in education that are happening and will happen, but that panic is often unwarranted.

Summarizing a complex concept in a tweet is tough!

The power of scale as it affects technology and education cannot be underestimated. We can use this scale to great advantage. We must also be careful of how scale can overwhelm.

My excitement went into overdrive went Dr. Bass started talking about ePortfolios. This is an area of intense interest for me. Dr. Bass had some very interesting data on ePortfolios.

Most impressive was the correlation between use of an ePortfolio and retention. It seems like students who use the ePortfolios to reflect on their work and themselves take more away from lessons.

Finally, Dr. Bass ended with an appeal to have every course teach three things: knowledge of the Domain, knowledge of the World, and Knowledge of Oneself. These three overlap to create an transformative learning experience.

Then it was time for the Lightboard! I had an engaged group who really enjoyed getting the details on how our Lightboard functions and playing with the scale model I brought with me.

This is the small-scale Lightboard I brought with me!


Here is a screencast of my presentation. Tweet at @EricMistry if you have any questions!

Next I attended a fantastic talk on various ways to use Google apps, such as docs and forms, to enhance the classroom experience. Wendy gave an engaging, well-organized presentation.

This was one of the many tricks and tips she shared. See more from her full presentation by clicking here.

 

This was really interesting. The team from U of M had some useful advice for dealing with video creation and editing at scale…

Next, I saw a short presentation on informed course design. This was very interesting as they emphasized the need for teams to be comprised of diverse perspectives in order to better meet learners.

Next was a look at the future of LMSs.

The stages of the LMS are pretty interesting. I’m not sure where they’ll go next, but it could be anywhere.

There is big money in the LMS sector. It’s impressive to think about and we should be pretty thoughtful about why so much money is funnelling towards it.

This was a great visual representation. Canvas is definitely a company to watch.

This was a very moving line from one of the introductions to the next keynote.

Dr. Marie Norman gave a really great talk on taking lessons learned from designing online courses and translating that to all teaching.

You have to love a talk that comes with an awesome reading list!

Often, straight-up lecture is not the best way to convey information. This is especially true for online classes, but we can take ideas of working around this and apply it to the classroom as well.

Scavenger learning is a useful concept that we can apply everywhere. Like with clickers, the important thing is asking well-designed questions.

Creating and sharing resources is a major component of online learning and teaching. We can take that culture and bring it to the traditional classroom.

Design is important, no matter where or how you are teaching.

Learning doesn’t exist in a vacuum. We need to think and teach accordingly.

This is a great thing for instructors to remember. Different students learn in different ways. If you engage them on all fronts, they’ll have a better chance of retaining knowledge.

I enjoyed talking more ePortfolios with Hamline’s team and other educators. It was helpful to talk problems and strategies to solve them.

…and then we were done! This was a great conference. I met and interacted with some passionate educators and other academic technologists. There are so many impressive and incredible things happening in this space. It makes me excited for the future of education.