OETC 2013: Equip, Engage, Empower

It’s that time of year again when I get to see/hear what other educators and IT people are doing in the field across the state of Ohio. This year flipped classrooms, MOOCs, and life-long learning are big. Here are some of my notes that might be helpful or inspiring to others.

Monday I heard from Kristin Kipp, the 2011 iNACOL National Online Teacher of the Year. She presented on her experiences creating successful blended learning environments. Pearson made a short video of her, showcasing her work. In it a few of her students were interviewed expressing how happy they were to have “a personal learning experience” that Kipp’s blended teaching nurtured. She offered a few suggestions for introducing blended learning in our own classes:

  • Extended discussions, begun face-to-face (f2f) and continued online,
  • “Silent discussions”, begun online and continuing f2f, and
  • Collaboratively developed web sites or Google Docs.

For online activities to work effectively she recommended creating a home base for consistent directions & tool availability. This could be a Blackboard course, an instructor’s own website, or some other online location that students can easily access. She commented on blended learning in general, that online activity should lead into f2f activity and f2f activity should lead into online work. They’re not separate, but feed each other. One distinct advantage online learning has over f2f is the ability for students to pause and rewind lecture or other content. As I listened to what she had to say it occurred to me that the idea of a “flipped” classroom might be a tad intimidating to seasoned faculty who are comfortable in the ways they’ve been teaching. Whereas introducing “blended learning approaches sounds more appealing. Baby steps are good, especially when you really should only change one or two things each semester and our students’ personal learning experiences hang in the balance.

Some student workers from OSU’s Digital Union presented on augmented reality (AR.) Mobile devices are pushing AR, as a lot of AR is location-based. Examples of AR abound in contemporary life:

  • In football and hockey TV coverage when a yellow line or arrow appears on the field and the puck has a tail.
  • Some GPS units will display a photo image overlay on top of route info. Hybrid maps do the same.
  • At the LEGO Store they had an interactive display where a child holds a box in front of the unit and minifigures come to life on the box in the display monitor.
  • Campus virtual tours now offered on many mobile apps.
  • Stargazing apps that show you the stars in the sky even when it’s overcast.
  • Nintendo’s Face Raiders.

OSU’s String App is a free AR showcase of what can be done, and what people are working on.

They emphasized that we need to train our students to “learn to learn”. In this day and age we are constantly having to learn, unlearn, and relearn. This was a recurring theme in just about every session I attended.

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