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The Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter
Vol. 3, No. 4
December 2001
Editor: Lowell Roberts
Program in Course Redesign

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An electronic newsletter of the Pew Learning and Technology Program (PLTP) highlighting ongoing examples of redesigned learning environments using technology and examining issues related to their development and implementation.

. . . sponsored by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts.

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TABLE OF CONTENTS

1. Redesigning Learning Environments
* Florida Gulf Coast University: Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts
* University of Southern Mississippi: World Literature

2. Pew Learning and Technology Program
* Round II Interim Progress Reports Available
* State of the Art Learning Environments: Lessons Learned from the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign
* Charts of Anticipated Savings Available
* Pew Symposium Held: "Small Colleges in the Information Age: Challenges and Opportunities"

3. Pew Project Updates
* Drexel University: Computer Programming
* Florida Gulf Coast University: Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts
* Northern Arizona University: College Algebra
* The Ohio State University: Introductory Statistical Concepts
* Portland State University: Introductory Spanish
* Tallahassee Community College: College Composition
* The University of Southern Mississippi: World Literature

4. Common Ground
* Just-in-time Learning and the War on Terrorism
* Colorado State University: Essential IT Skills
* New Software Helps Students Choose Online Courses
* Stanford to Adopt an Institutional Distance Education Policy
* Online Learning and Research Collaborations
* Aboriginal People and Distance Education
* Suggested Reading

5. PLTP Calendar

6. Archives and Reposting

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1. Redesigning Learning Environments

* Florida Gulf Coast University: Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts
* University of Southern Mississippi: World Literature

Although many in the higher education community believe that it is possible to use technology to increase quality and decrease costs when redesigning math and other quantitative courses, most are skeptical that similar techniques can be applied to humanities courses. Two institutions in Round III have taken on this challenge. Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is redesigning Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts, and the University of Southern Mississippi (USM) has targeted World Literature for redesign.

Until undertaking this redesign, Florida Gulf Coast had two versions of Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts – one taught on campus in face-to-face sections of 30 student each and a second offered at a distance. (Employing a 15:1 student/faculty ratio, the distance model was extremely labor intensive and expensive.) Because of increasing enrollments, which are expected to continue, enrollment has grown from 180 students in seven sections in the 1997-98 academic year to 800 students in 31 sections in 2001-02.

In addition to the need to accommodate increasing student numbers, FGCU wants to deal with “course drift.” The course uses large numbers of adjuncts who do not always cover the same topics with equal emphases, even though the course has a standard syllabus. Many of adjuncts have a limited background, lacking the breadth required to teach the wide range of topics required in the course. The problem of course drift continues to grow as the need for more sections and more adjuncts increases.

The goal at FGCU is to create a structured learning environment using technology that maximizes flexibility for students and caters to individual learning preferences. The redesigned course will have a single section and use a common syllabus, textbook, set of assignments and course Web site. Students will be placed into cohort groups of 48 and, within these groups, Peer Learning Teams of six students each. Students will be directed to learning activities most closely suited to their learning preferences, identified in an earlier general learning course required by all freshmen.

The course redesign at FGCU will off-load many labor-intensive activities, such as presenting content information and grading exams and papers, to technology. In addition, FGCU will use a new staffing model. The redesigned humanities course will include six modules, three focusing on Visual Arts (Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture) and three focusing on Performing Arts (Drama, Music, and Dance). Faculty experts in the six fields will redesign the course and outside experts will critique the content. The course will be taught by rotating full-time faculty members working with a course coordinator and a group of preceptors. The faculty members will provide intellectual leadership for the course, while the course coordinator will oversee the mechanical aspects. Preceptors will be responsible for interacting with students, monitoring student progress and grading some critical analysis essays.

The result at FGCU will be a 39% reduction of the cost-per-student from about $132 to $81, with an increase of 150 students. As enrollments grow, the staffing model will allow the university to increase the number of peer learning teams, while maintaining the desired consistency of content and learning activities.

At the University of Southern Mississippi, course drift and inconsistent learning experiences for students are also a problem. Here the university plans to redesign World Literature, a required general education course enrolling 1000 students each term. The course is currently offered in 16 multiple lecture sections (~65 students) per term, with eight sections taught by full-time faculty and another eight by adjuncts.

The redesign will place all students in a coherent single, online section and will replace the passive lecture environment with media-enriched presentations that require active student engagement. In addition, the University of Southern Mississippi will use a similar staffing model to FGCU’s, but it will be more cost-effective. A course coordinator will direct the team-teaching of four faculty members and four graduate assistant graders. Each faculty member will teach his or her area of expertise for four weeks. The faculty team will offer course content through a combination of live lectures (optional attendance by students) and required, Web-delivered, media- and resource-enhanced presentations.

Cost savings will be produced by teaching the same number of students with fewer instructors, significantly reducing faculty time in the classroom by sharing the load, eliminating adjuncts, employing graduate assistants for basic but time-intensive grading of writing assignments, and shifting course management to WebCT. The university estimates a reduction from the current $70 cost-per-student to $31, a 56% savings.

In both of these humanities courses, the primary problems were course drift and inconsistent learning experiences because of a growing use of adjuncts. While staffing models vary between the two, both institutional designs employ Web based learning materials for greater consistency of learning experiences and more cost effective use of personnel. Both use faculty expertise to ensure that the course objectives are met consistently and both use graduate students or well-trained preceptors to be sure that the needs of students are well met.

While the designs differ from those used in math or science courses, both institutions expect that they will be more effective in meeting their overall academic objectives and that students will have a better learning experience in the humanities courses. Faculty teaching downstream courses will have confidence that students have had the same learning experiences in these introductory courses. Improving quality while saving money: it can be done in the humanities!

For more information about the Humanities course at FGCU, visit Florida Gulf Coast University. To learn more about the project at the University of Southern Mississippi, visit The University of Southern Mississippi

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. Pew Learning and Technology Program

* Round II Interim Progress Reports Available

Interim progress reports for the Round II projects are available on the program Web site. Begin at Project Descriptions Sorted by Grant Rounds and follow the links for each institution. Topics covered in the reports are student learning outcomes, labor-saving techniques, implementation issues, development issues and dissemination. Among the tentative but promising highlights regarding learning gains:

--Cal Poly Pomona reports increased student retention and a reduction in the numbers of students receiving D and F’s in the pilot offering of their introductory psychology course.

--Carnegie Mellon reports improved of mastery statistical concepts known to be difficult for introductory students using SmartLab modules. These concepts are: correlation, boxplots, scatterplots, contingency tables, chi-squared statistic, and t-tests.

--Fairfield University reports significantly increased student interaction and inquiry-based learning in large class meetings of introductory biology where little or no interaction normally takes place. All changes introduced in the pilot redesign were very well received by the students; seventy-one percent found that the technological additions to the course were helpful to learning.

Spanish instructors at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville report that students in the pilot redesign of Intermediate Spanish Transition seemed more prepared in class and ready to “use Spanish” and not merely talk about it. Instructors no longer needed to spend a great deal of time explaining grammar or introducing vocabulary.

* State of the Art Learning Environments: Lessons Learned from the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign
Date: February 25, 2002
Location: Omni Dallas Park West, Dallas, Texas

Faculty project leaders from four of the Round II institutions will talk about their models of course redesign, including their decisions regarding student learning objectives, course content, learning resources, course staffing and task analysis, and student and project evaluation. They will share their experiences and respond to questions about how they are accomplishing their objectives and what challenges they have met -- and overcome! These models provide varied approaches that demonstrate multiple routes to success, tailored to the needs and context of each institution.

To learn more about the agenda, registration materials and logistical details, visit Workshop Information.

* Charts of Anticipated Savings Available

Charts are now posted on the program Web site that summarize the anticipated savings for each of the Rounds in the Pew Program in Course Redesign. For Round I, savings range from 7% to 70% with an average of 35% Projected and Actual Savings. For Round II, the savings vary from 19% to 86% with an average of 47% Projected and Actual Savings. For Round III, savings average 41% and range from 28% to 56% Projected and Actual Savings. Information about dollar savings and numbers of students involved in the redesigns are also summarized on these Web pages.

* Pew Symposium Held: "Small Colleges in the Information Age: Challenges and Opportunities"

On October 9-10, 2001, a group of national experts gathered to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing small colleges as they integrate information technology into their teaching and learning mission. The diffusion of information technology throughout society in general and higher education in particular presents both opportunities and challenges to all institutions. Small, residential liberal arts colleges, especially those who are primarily tuition dependent, face issues that are unique to their sector. Can information technology offer solutions that address the resource constraints that confront these institutions? Under what circumstances can methods for improving academic quality and controlling costs developed at larger institutions transfer effectively to the small college environment? What new approaches are being pioneered by peer institutions that may be transferable to others? This symposium, fifth in the series and co-sponsored by the Council on Independent Colleges, explored these and other issues facing small institutions as they move into the twenty-first century, in an effort to provide some thoughtful advice to all parties concerned. A monograph based on the discussion will be published in spring 2002.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. Pew Project Updates

Descriptions of the Round III projects are available on the Pew Center Web site: Project Descriptions.

* Drexel University: Computer Programming

At Drexel University, the redesign project is combining two introductory Computer Programming courses for computer science, computer engineering, digital media, information systems, and mathematics majors. A dedicated computer laboratory has been created with five clusters of six tables, each cluster having five laptop computers running Windows 2000 equipped with wireless network cards. The room is “wallpapered” with white board, and each cluster has a projector that can be switched among the laptops so students can collaborate and share information. A member of the redesign team used the computer laboratory in the fall term to gain experience in facilitating group work rather than lecturing. Students have made the switch to a “paperless” environment easily. The room works well for group work, but is not convenient for lecturing. For the pilot phase of the redesigned course, the weekly lecture sessions will be in a traditional classroom.

The redesign team has gained extensive experience with WebCT for course management and delivery of online materials and has developed software to augment its capabilities to automate additional aspects of course management. A question bank of quizzes is under development, as are online lectures composed of PowerPoint slides with voice-over explanations. Existing online lab assignments are being reconfigured to correspond to the modular structure of the redesigned course. The redesigned course will be piloted during the Winter Quarter, starting in January 2002.

For more information about Drexel University’s redesign of Computer Programming, contact Nira Herrmann at nherrmann@mcs.drexel.edu.

* Florida Gulf Coast University: Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts

A digitized version of the course text has been provided to Florida Gulf Coast University by Prentice Hall; faculty will use this version to program the Intelligent Essay Assessor, assessment software developed by Knowledge Analysis Technologies (www.knowledge-technologies.com). FGCU also will use Prentice Hall’s interactive textbook Web site so that students can take practice examinations with feedback.

Three adjunct faculty, who teach the traditional version of the course, restructured their course outlines to be compatible with the redesigned version and developed a uniform syllabus with standardized assignments. FGCU has begun disseminating information about the redesigned course, including an article in the Naples (FL) Daily News (www.naplesnews.com/01/08/neapolitan/d121380a.htm) and an interview about the project’s use of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Test to be published in a forthcoming edition of Distance Education Report.

For more information on Florida Gulf Coast University’s redesign of Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts, contact Jim Wohlpart at wohlpart@fgcu.edu.

* Northern Arizona University: College Algebra

The Department of Mathematics and Statistics at Northern Arizona University is redesigning its college algebra course from a lecture-based format to a self-paced but structured, Web-based format using the ALEKS software. The redesigned course will be offered for the first time in the spring 2002 semester. For comparison, one-half of the college algebra sections (containing approximately 400 students) will be offered in the redesigned format and the other half in the traditional format. Full implementation of the redesigned course is scheduled for the fall 2002 semester.

Over the past five months, a team of department faculty has constructed a program of study that is compatible with the department’s course syllabus, as well as the content found in the ALEKS program. The team also determined the procedure by which exams are given; constructed a test bank for those exams; developed and implemented necessary student support structures; and trained instructors, laboratory aides, and tutors. In addition, NAU built and equipped a new 45-machine college algebra computer laboratory.

For more information on Northern Arizona University’s redesign of College Algebra, contact Terry Crites at terry.crites@nau.edu.

* The Ohio State University: Introductory Statistical Concepts

The Ohio State University has made a series of important incremental changes to Introductory Statistical Concepts over the last several months in preparation for a pilot offering of a "buffet style" learning approach in spring quarter, 2002. Reprogramming the course Web site was completed during autumn quarter to allow fluid upgrading for the dual needs of monitoring and facilitating variable student learning paths. Version 1 of the proposed student tracking software is now ready and will be used during winter quarter to gather baseline data for project assessment and for planning some of the details of the buffet. Version 1 includes an online learning styles and study skills assessment and the implementation of an online check-in process with low-stakes quizzing, both linked to an SQL database. An “instant message” add-in has been completed and will be used as one option for electronic office hours. Key elements of the server side of the buffet model have been developed and implemented, including a "customer service" component of the TA training course taught for incoming graduate students and the training and evaluation criteria for a new TA certification process.

For more information on The Ohio State University’s redesign of Introductory Statistical Concepts, contact Dennis Pearl at pearl.1@osu.edu.

* Portland State University: Introductory Spanish

During the first months of the project, three teams focused on technology, pedagogy, and research and assessment. The technology and pedagogy teams’ approaches to course redesign focus on improving student learning by making certain course elements available in the online environment, including grammar and writing materials supporting assignments; cultural elements such as clips from radio broadcasts to support improvements in student listening, comprehension and vocabulary skills; and regular graded and ungraded quizzes to test student learning. Templates for the course modules and quizzes, including graphics and audio files, were developed and tested.

The research and assessment team is examining the effectiveness of various pedagogies and developing assessment approaches to understand student abilities and satisfaction in working with the online materials, the cultural issues in classroom instruction, and out-of-class group activities. During the fall term, assessment addressed student familiarity with the use of information technology tools, including the Internet and campus course management software. Assessment of student oral proficiency skills will be evaluated during a pilot project in the spring of 2002.

For more information on Portland State University’s redesign of Introductory Spanish, contact James Pratt at prattja@pdx.edu.

* Tallahassee Community College: College Composition

Tallahassee Community College is redesigning College Composition, the sole course in the general education curriculum required of all students. The redesigned course will be taught in computer labs. Each section will have a course Web site template with pre-loaded assignments, course information, links to the textbooks and other supporting sites, remediation exercises, and a course management system specific to that section, hosted by a national server maintained by Pearson's Course Compass Blackboard. The Web sites will test, diagnose, and route students into online, individualized, interactive exercises in writing and reading skills.

The redesigned curriculum features a menu of reading-based writing tasks, which will foster increased program consistency while allowing for independent choices to appeal to disparate learning styles and levels of preparedness. Active reading, encouraging critical thinking and informed writing, will be an integral part of the writing tasks, supported by online modules that review essential reading skills. TCC is outsourcing individual online tutoring, while it trains a pool of local online evaluators to assist instructors in improving student reading, writing, and thinking. The January 2002 pilot and redesign assessment will involve eight instructors teaching one section each of the experimental course and one section each of the current composition course.

For more information on Tallahassee Community College’s redesign of College Composition, contact Sally Search at searchs@tcc.cc.fl.us.

* The University of Southern Mississippi: World Literature

The University of Southern Mississippi is redesigning its World Literature course from a multiple-section format to a single-section, technology-mediated format. Three primary tasks have occupied participants during fall 2001. First, USM has disseminated information about the change. Press releases appeared the first week of the fall term, followed by meetings with administrators, students, faculty, and staff who will be affected by the project. A Web page (www-dept.usm.edu/~engdept/dept/203.html) describes for interested students the next step in the implementation: a half-scale pilot in spring 2002 term. To date, one in every four students has elected to register for spring 2002's redesigned course.

Second, the course coordinator and four-member faculty team have redesigned World Literature by creating a uniform set of readings, quizzes, exams, and writing assignments and selecting additional media for the online environment. To establish baseline data, a four-week block of assignments from the newly redesigned course was used in fall 2001 for 600 students in 12 sections of the traditional course. In spring 2002, students in traditional sections will use assignments through the entire term that, as nearly as it is feasible to do so, parallel those that will be used in the online, single-section course, providing a means of measuring impact. The course coordinator has trained graduate assistants to score writing assignments in preparation for the spring implementation.

Third, the university acquired a digital camera for taping course lectures, Apple computers and software for editing these lectures and other additional media to be incorporated into the course, and RealVideo software to deliver the presentations via the campus's existing WebCT server. These components were tested throughout the fall.

For more information about The University of Southern Mississippi’s redesign of World Literature, contact M.J. McMahon at mj.mcmahon@usm.edu.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 4. Common Ground

Reporting on initiatives that share the goals and objectives of the Pew Learning and Technology Program.

* Just-in-time Learning and the War on Terrorism

Emergency room physicians throughout the United States are taking online bioterrorism intervention courses from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and the Detroit Medical Center. The first course, BT101: Bio-Terrorism Intervention, is being offered in December 2001 (www.pemba.utk.edu/bt101). Ninety hours of courses are planned, ranging from overviews of chemical and biological terrorism to the diagnosis and treatment of specific threats such as anthrax and smallpox. Instructors are experts from around the nation. Participants can receive the lectures, ask questions, and engage in discussion through a variety of linkages, including Web-based virtual classrooms and interactive audio.

* Colorado State University: Essential IT Skills

Colorado State University has converted its College of Business’ computer literacy course from a classroom approach to one that is “self-paced with milestones.” Now, rather than offering seven lecture and 31 lab sections annually to about 1400 students, CSU students work through 80 hours of material, exercises and projects at their own pace using e-learning software on CD-ROM from the Electric Paper Company (www.electricpaper.ie) and a text. The new approach not only reduced staff and facility costs but permitted expansion of the number of topics covered by the course. The course has been mapped to Syllabus 3.0 of the International Computer Driving License (ICDL), a computer literacy standard adopted by 50 countries (www2.icdlus.com). CSU plans to offer an online ICDL certification preparation course (www.learn.colostate.edu). For more information on CSU’s redesign of Essential IT Skills, contact Gene Lewis at glewis@lamar.colostate.edu.

* New Software Helps Students Choose Online Courses

In order to be able to make more relevant selections among online courses in information technology, students at San Jose State University and California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo will be able to do some personal pre-assessment (http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/011126/sfm031_1.html). Using software developed by eWebUniversity, students will be able to assess their skills, knowledge and prior experience. The software then recommends needed courses leading to Microsoft or Oracle certifications. This process will help students avoid registering for repetitive courses and enable them to identify gaps in their understanding to choose the most needed courses.

* Stanford to Adopt an Institutional Distance Education Policy

Stanford University, already involved in a variety of online education initiatives, is now developing formal guidelines for such projects. At the request of the Provost, the university’s Committee on Research drafted a set of principles for distance education (www.stanford.edu/dept/DoR/C-Res/ip_paper.html). The principles stress the primacy of service to the university, protection of the integrity of the university and its name, “unfettered” availability of materials throughout the institution, and preservation of scholarly traditions, such as the sharing of information and accessibility of research. Stanford intends to hold campuswide discussions around the principles and draft institutional policies by the end of the current academic year.

* Online Learning and Research Collaborations

The National Science Foundation awarded $12 million to a consortium of universities and nonprofits to develop software for online sharing of scientific instruments and data. The NSF Middleware Initiative (www.nsf-middleware.org) intends to develop applications for supercomputing, telescopes, modeling, databases, and other scientific resources. The consortium members are EDUCAUSE, The Information Science Institute of the University of Southern California, Internet2, The National Center for Supercomputing Applications of the University of Illinois, The Southeastern Universities Research Association, the University of California at San Diego, University of Chicago, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison.

Coast Learning Systems (www.coastlearning.org), Intelecom (www.intelecom.org), and Dallas TeleLearning (www.lecroy.dcccd.edu) will begin delivering streaming versions of their telecourses over the Internet in January 2002. Students will pay $55 to access each of the 31 courses, the same fee they are charged to rent videotapes of the courses. The streaming courses will be available through the Seattle Community College District (www.scctv.net) or institutions offering a telecourse for credit may make it available through their Web sites. Student access requires a broadband connection to the Internet.

G. Lewis. An E-learning Essential IT Skills Course and the International Computer Driving License (ICDL), available at glewis@lamar.colostate.edu.

* Aboriginal People and Distance Education

A report of the Conference Board of Canada indicates that aboriginal peoples in Canada are making full use of distance education technologies to secure training and education. The report includes case studies of projects in which native Canadians use Web-based learning platforms, email, self-directed learning software, and other technologies to pursue academic studies and training, such as Microsoft certification and restaurant operations.

* Suggested Reading

A. Lenhart, M. Simon and M. Graziano. The Internet and Education: Findings of the Pew Internet and American Life Project, www.pewinternet.org/reports/pdfs/PIP_Schools_Report.pdf.

L. Peters. "Through the Looking Glass: Student Perceptions of Online Learning, Technology Source (September/October 2001)", http://horizon.unc.edu/TS/default.asp?show=article&id=907.

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5. PLTP Calendar

A calendar of meetings, symposia, publishing dates, and relevant deadlines for the Pew Learning and Technology Program community.

***DECEMBER 2001***

December 31
Final reports due for Round I projects

December 31
Interim progress reports due for Round II projects

***FEBRUARY 2002***

February 25
Public Seminar: State-of-the-Art Learning Environments: The Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign Round II Results
Omni Dallas Park West, Dallas, TX
(Faculty project leaders describe how to redesign large-enrollment courses to improve quality and reduce costs.)
.

***MARCH***

Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter Vol. 4, No. 1

March 25 – 26
Mid-Course Sharing Workshop
(A workshop for Round III grant recipients to exchange ideas and share experiences.)
Las Vegas, NV
Workshop Information

***JUNE***

Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter Vol. 4, No. 2

June
Workshop 4: Assessing the Results
(A workshop for Round II grant recipients to share final results
of their projects and to compare planning and assessment goals
with outcomes.)
Date and location: TBA

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6. Archives and Reposting

The Pew Learning and Technology Program is an $8.8 million, four-year effort to place the national discussion about the impact that new technologies are having on the nation's campuses in the context of student learning and ways to achieve this learning cost effectively. The program has three areas of work: The Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign, the Pew Symposia in Learning and Technology, and the Pew Learning and Technology Newsletter. For more information, click here.

* Archives of The Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter are available.

* You are welcome to repost The Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter on your intranet without charge. Material contained in The Pew Learning and Technology Newsletters may be reprinted with attribution for noncommercial purposes only.

Copyright 2001, The Pew Learning and Technology Program

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Pew Learning and Technology Newsletter ~ December 2001 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~