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The Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter

Vol. 3, No. 3
September 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
* Ohio State University: Introductory Statistical Concepts
* Drexel University: Computer Programming
* Florida Gulf Coast University: Fine Arts

2. Pew Learning and Technology Program
* Round III Grant Awards Made
* Reports of Our Demise Greatly Exaggerated
* Upcoming Pew Invitational Symposium
* Pew Monographs Widen Their Impact

3. Pew Round II Project Updates
* Carnegie Mellon University: Introduction to Statistical Reasoning
* Riverside Community College: Elementary Algebra
* University of Alabama: Intermediate Algebra
* University of Dayton: Introductory Psychology
* University of Idaho: Pre-Calculus
* University of Tennessee, Knoxville: Intermediate Spanish

4. Common Ground
* Portal to Virtual Universities
* Governors Want More Distance Education
* Rio Salado College Offers Online Teacher Certification
* Online Lab Promotes Improved Classroom Teaching

5. PLTP Calendar

6. Archives and Reposting

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1. Redesigning Learning Environments

* Ohio State University: Introductory Statistical Concepts
* Drexel University: Computer Programming
* Florida Gulf Coast University: Fine Arts

Choosing what we eat and combining foods to prepare dishes that meet our particular tastes are an accepted part of everyday life. The idea that we would eat only corn flakes and milk for breakfast everyday is attractive to very few people. We value preparing and enjoying a variety of foods and meals.

Why then would we find a one-size-fits-all educational process a desirable way to learn? Today information technology provides the opportunity to individualize—or customize—both learning resources and activities for students. No longer must we assume that all students’ baseline knowledge is the same and that their learning styles, strengths and weaknesses are identical. Three of the Round III grant recipients in the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign are harnessing the power of information technology to redesign courses so that they include a wide range of diagnostic techniques, learning resources and activities, and assessment strategies for students.

The Ohio State University (OSU) is redesigning Statistics Concepts, a five-credit course enrolling 3250 students annually. Ohio State’s redesign will implement a buffet strategy, offering students an assortment of interchangeable paths that match their individual learning styles, abilities, and tastes to learn each course objective. Like the emporium metaphor, used by Virginia Tech, a buffet suggests a large variety of options that can be customized to fit the needs of the individual learner.

OSU’s buffet of learning opportunities will include lectures, individual discovery laboratories (in-class and Web-based), team/group discovery laboratories, individual and group review (both live and remote), small group study sessions, videos, remedial/pre-requisite/procedures training modules, contacts for study groups, oral and written presentations, active large-group problem-solving, homework assignments (TA graded or self-graded), and individual and group projects. Students, whether on or off campus, will be able to select among these options each tied to specific course objectives. For example, students may elect to practice working with a concept in a data analysis laboratory, in an individual Web-based activity, in a facilitated study session, or by explaining it to others in a jigsaw-formatted review.

To promote commitment to follow-through and to enable efficient tracking of their progress, students will enter into an online "contract" that captures their choice of learning modes at the beginning of each of four units of study. Students will receive an initial in-class orientation that provides information about the buffet structure, the course content, the learning contract, the purpose of the learning styles and study skills assessments, and the various ways that they might choose to learn the material. Out of class, they will complete online learning styles and study skills instruments and receive a report of their results as well as directions on how to use this information to build the online course contract.

Using technology to manage course administration and monitor weekly progress reports and diagnostics will also allow OSU to move to a modular course format. Students will be able to earn from one to five credits based on successful module completion. Students can also choose how to sequence their learning. By requiring students to demonstrate a passing level proficiency in one unit before proceeding to the next, severe deficiencies will be identified and addressed early, resulting in a lower failure/withdrawal rate. Thus, the several hundred students who now fall behind and feel compelled to withdraw will have the option of demonstrating proficiency without having to drop all five credits. Analysis of previous data on drops shows that OSU will be able to eliminate one-fourth of the course repetitions, thereby opening slots for an additional 150 students per year.

Other Round III institutions are also employing a buffet approach in their course redesign. Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) is including a buffet of learning options in their redesign of "Understanding the Visual and Performing Arts." The traditional course has been taught in face-to-face sections of 30 students each, plus two small distance sections. The redesigned course will create a single section for all on-campus students and those working at a distance and will use a common syllabus, textbook, set of assignments and course Web site.

Students will be directed to learning activities most closely suited to their learning styles as measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) instrument.(At FCGU, each student’s learning style is routinely assessed in a required introductory general education course). The goal is to create a structured learning environment that maximizes flexibility and caters to individual learning styles for 800 students annually, through the use of information technology.

Faculty at Drexel University are combining two computer programming courses required for different majors. To accommodate student diversity, a mixture of presentations and hands-on participatory learning experiences using interactive, Web-based modules will replace the traditional lecture model. To accommodate different student learning goals, the modules themselves will cover particular aspects of computer programming at different levels of knowledge and skill acquisition.

Students will be assigned work and reading from the module at a level appropriate to the objectives of the long-term goals of their major, allowing those in different majors to acquire the appropriate skill level for each technique and concept. Students who have difficulty with the higher levels will be able to change majors and still receive course credit without having to drop the course and repeat modules already mastered. In addition, course credit will be variable depending on the number of modules successfully mastered and the level of skill mastery the student attains.

Students will also be able to enter the course in one of three cohorts based on their performance on a knowledge and skills placement test. Students who have had some programming before coming to Drexel will enter the course at the fourth module and earn only two credits. Students who have more experience will enter at the seventh module, earn one credit, and finish quite quickly.

Many believe that mass customization is emerging as the organizing business principle of the 21st century. Internet-based e-commerce now makes it possible, for example, for customers to order computers designed to their exact needs and specifications, obtain customized home mortgages and compile music CDs containing any combination of songs. By offering students a buffet of learning opportunities that may be customized to their learning needs. Ohio State, Florida Gulf Coast and Drexel are pointing the way to a 21st century approach to learning that will soon make today’s online fixed meals a distant memory.

To learn more about the Ohio State, Florida Gulf Coast and Drexel projects that are part of Round III, visit Project Descriptions.
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2. Pew Learning and Technology Program

* Round III Grant Awards Made

On June 22, 2001, the Selection Committee met to select the recipients in the final round of the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign. The selections were announced in early July. The ten recipients are Brigham Young University (English Composition), Drexel University (Computer Programming), Florida Gulf Coast University (Fine Arts), Iowa State University (Discrete Math), Northern Arizona University (College Algebra), Ohio State University (Statistics), Portland State University (Introductory Spanish), Tallahassee Community College (English Composition) University of New Mexico (Introductory Psychology) and University of Southern Mississippi (World Literature).

Focused on a variety of large enrollment courses, Round III projects demonstrate a range of costs savings from 27% to 56%, with an average savings of about 40%, consistent with the projects funded in Rounds I and II. Several of the redesigns are focused on new academic areas: English composition, world literature and fine arts. Full descriptions of each project, including contact information, are available at Project Descriptions.

* Reports of Our Demise Greatly Exaggerated

Thirty grants totaling $6 million—all funds available—have been awarded as part of the Pew Grant Program in Course Redesign. As a result, the program has received numerous inquiries as to what’s next? The Pew Learning and Technology Program is funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts to carry out a number of activities through much of 2003, including publication of this newsletter, continuation of the Pew symposia and monograph series, a number of workshops for grant recipients to share experiences and exchange ideas and a wide range of dissemination and consultation activities related to course redesign. Our major goal in the coming years is to build on the good work of our grant recipients and help the higher education community at large understand how they too can redesign their instructional approaches using technology to achieve cost savings as well as quality enhancements.

* Upcoming Pew Invitational Symposium

Cosponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges, the new Pew symposium entitled "Small Colleges in the Information Age: Challenges and Opportunities" will be held in Charleston, South Carolina on October 9-10, 2001. 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 that 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 is the appropriate balance between face-to-face and online instruction, given the distinctive features of these institutions? What are the pros and cons of collaboration? What new approaches are being pioneered by peer institutions that may be transferable to others? This roundtable will explore these and other issues facing small institutions as they move into the twenty-first century.

* Pew Monographs Widen Their Impact

Five thousand printed copies of each monograph published by the Pew symposia on Learning and Technology are distributed to campus presidents of institutions of 3,000 or more students, EDUCAUSE institutional representatives (about 1800 CIOs), association officers and various other higher education opinion makers. Downloadable PDF versions are also available on our Web site. Our goal is to have a maximum impact on the thinking of all members of the higher education community. What follows are a few examples:

Quality Assurance for Whom? Providers and Consumers in Today’s Distributed Learning Environment NCAT Monograph.

The National Governors’ Association has commissioned Carol Twigg to write a paper on quality assurance (based on the monograph from the Pew symposium) to be published as part of a series, "Higher Expectations: Essays on the Future of Postsecondary Education." Other topics include "Lessons from Innovators: The For-Profit and Community College Sectors"; "College Cost Containment in an Era of Unprecedented Demands: The Case for Reallocation"; "Sputnik Revisited: The Need for a New National Investment in Science and Engineering"; and "Next Steps in State Education Accountability Systems."

The Western Cooperative for Educational Telecommunications (WCET) has received a planning grant from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation related in large part to ideas developed in the Pew monograph on quality assurance. WCET has been asked to develop a proposal to create an online tool that would evaluate Web-based courses for institutions considering their purchase. WCET convened an expert panel to help define the questions, scope and requirements and to react to a preliminary draft of the results.

Who Owns Online Courses and Course Materials? Intellectual Property Policies for a New Learning Environment NCAT Monograph.

The National Academy of Sciences has invited Carol Twigg to discuss intellectual property issues with respect to course materials as part its Science, Technology, and Law Program. This program is a forum for distinguished representatives of the nation's science, engineering, and legal communities, convened under the auspices of The National Academies, established to monitor and explore the growing number of areas in which the processes of legal decision-making utilize or impinge on the work of scientists and engineers. She will participate on a panel discussion examining a number of intellectual property issues in Washington, DC on November 5, 2001.

Connie Dillon, director of the Research Center for Continuing and Higher Education at the University of Oklahoma, interviewed Carol Twigg in Vol. 15, No. 1 of The American Journal of Distance Education. The interview was based on and expands upon the publication of the Pew monograph.

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3. Pew Round II Project Updates

* Carnegie Mellon University: Introduction to Statistical Reasoning

The SmartLab system, a scaffolded learning intelligent tutoring system for statistics labs, will be used this fall for almost all labs in Introduction to Statistical Reasoning. This will test whether SmartLab can be an effective substitute for some of the teaching assistant labor in statistics labs. In addition, the use of SmartLab is being extended to supporting students in homework exercises. The longer term vision is to have SmartLab as a regular resource for helping students in doing their homework. Over the summer, true randomized experiments on components of the SmartLab system were run using two mini-session courses on statistics taught at Carnegie Mellon. The purpose of this effort was to gather data on the effectiveness of the software and to provide information for iterative improvements to the interface this year.

On the "back-end" side of this intelligent tutor, work was done this summer on moving the software that provides students feedback and creates a model of students using the system to a new operating environment developed at Carnegie Mellon. The goal is to have the tutor in the best environment for continuing its development and for making it more widely available. For more information on Carnegie Mellon’s redesign of Introduction to Statistical Reasoning, contact Joel Smith at joelms@andrew.cmu.edu.

* Riverside Community College: Elementary Algebra

Riverside Community College piloted the redesign of its Elementary Algebra course in the spring of 2001 with approximately 300 students. Surveys of students were conducted on math attitudes and learning styles; pre- and post-tests were administered to determine gains in knowledge. Focus groups of both faculty and students were conducted as well. Based on information obtained from the focus groups, faculty made a number of changes in the course structure. One of the biggest was a move to require that students spend a minimum of two hours per week in math labs to increase the amount of interaction among students and instructors. Another change was to augment the Web-based homework, which was not necessarily related to lecture topics, with homework each week that relates to the lecture material. New workshops were developed to help students with math anxiety and study skills issues. Training for more than twenty faculty on the ALEKS program and assessment procedures was held over a two-day period in August.

In the fall 2001 semester, 1850 students enrolled in the redesigned Elementary Algebra course. The College’s Office of Institutional Research and the faculty Outcomes Assessment Coordinator are working on verifying and processing the data collected in the previous semester. For more information on Riverside Community College’s redesign, contact Anthony Beebe at abeebe@rccd.cc.ca.us.

* University of Alabama: Intermediate Algebra

The Math Technology Learning Center (MTLC) moved to a new facility this fall. This facility, developed using funding provided by the U.S. Department of Education and the State of Alabama, contains 240 computers and is dedicated solely to mathematics instruction. For the fall 2001 semester the facility will be used to teach Remedial Mathematics (250 students) and Intermediate Algebra (960 students). In addition, the Department of Mathematics will pilot test use of the MTLC in four sections of Precalculus Algebra, a large-enrollment course for engineering, science, and business majors (2,100 students per year).

To enhance student success, a number of changes will be implemented in Intermediate Algebra during the fall 2001 semester. All students will be required to attend a 30-minute class session each week to focus on student problems and follow up in areas where testing has defined student weakness. These sessions will also build community between students and instructors, addressing a concern raised by students that they didn’t have a "formal instructor" for the course. To further enhance student-instructor interaction, a semi-automated e-mail system has been established to allow instructors to maintain contact with students and to provide encouragement when needed. In an effort to better prepare students for success in introductory mathematics courses, the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI) was administered to all students enrolled in Intermediate Algebra. The results of this inventory, which evaluates study skills, will provide the basis for remediation efforts that will occur in the 30-minute weekly meetings.

To increase time on task, which has proven to be directly related to success, students will be required to spend a minimum of 2 1/2 hours per week in the MTLC. They will receive credit for this time and will be penalized if their effort falls short of the requirement. Students will also be given the opportunity to remove failing grades on tests by spending a minimum of 10 additional hours. For more information on the University of Alabama’s redesign, contact Hank Lazer at hlazer@aalan.ua.edu.

* University of Dayton: Introductory Psychology

As of the fall 2001 semester, all sections of Introductory Psychology enrolling a total of 590 students are being offered as a fully distributed e-learning course. Students come to class for an initial orientation and attend four exam sessions in person during the semester. Based on feedback from last winter's pilot, a number of changes were made for this semester: a weekly newsletter designed to guide students through the online material and provide a sense of connection to the instructor; more interactive "Test Your Knowledge" exercises; greater use of synchronous online events (e.g., chat rooms) for facilitating conversations with the instructor and other content experts; and undergraduate mentors (i.e., upper level majors) who will be supervising the group writing assignments that will begin after the first exam.

Although the proportion of students having difficulty has been relatively small (about 15% at the most), faculty have spent more time resolving technical issues than expected. Even with a Help Desk in place on campus, students have been contacting faculty directly when they have trouble. The project team is conducting voluntary interviews this semester with students who drop the course. One student questioned the wisdom of delivering all sections of a required class for majors at a distance, effectively forcing students into an online course. After considerable discussion, the department decided to offer at least one traditional section of Psychology 101 next semester. For more information on the University of Dayton’s redesign, contact Ken Graetz at ken.gratz@notes.udayton.edu or http://collaborate.udayton.edu.

* University of Idaho: Pre-Calculus

Modeled after the Math Emporium at Virginia Tech, the University of Idaho has developed the Polya Mathematics Learning Center, a 72-computer learning lab connected to a 50-seat tutoring facility. Students began using the Polya Center August 27, 2001. In addition to funding from the Pew Program in Course Redesign, the university has received support from the State Board of Education, the Student Computing Fee and other university funds. The expansion of the project in Phase II in summer 2002 will involve an additional investment of about $300,000 from sources outside the university.

With a combined enrollment of over 1,500 students, Intermediate Algebra and Pre-calculus are currently offered in the Polya Center. Students attend a weekly focus group where they learn how to navigate through the course, what material they should be learning and how the various learning activities respond to their individual learning styles. Of the nine hours per week students are expected to invest in learning the material of these courses, they spend one in focus groups and three or four in the Polya Center or its related venues. Activities include working from their textbooks with the support of a tutor, completing computer- based tutorials created by the book publisher, viewing online lectures covering all of the material and participating in a live lecture series. The remaining hours can be spent in any of the computer labs on campus or wherever the student wishes to study. The online lectures and the computerized tutorials are available in all university labs. During the summer of 2001, the learning activities were piloted in a smaller lab, and student reaction to the course was very positive with a high rate of success in passing the course. For more information on the University of Idaho’s redesign, contact Jeanne Christiansen at jeannec@uidaho.edu.

* University of Tennessee, Knoxville: Intermediate Spanish

In the fall 2001 semester, the University of Tennessee implemented the second phase of this project. Currently, 18 sections of Intermediate Spanish Transition are being taught two days per week and 15 sections are being taught three days per week. The number of students increased from approximately 100 in phase one to approximately 400. Students have completed the reading comprehension and listening comprehension proficiency tests and have been given questionnaires about their experiences online.

Graduate teaching assistants and instructors participated in two days of intensive training. Online activities were modified to reflect the lessons learned during the spring semester pilot phase: giving detailed feedback on grammar exercises; reorganizing material to make it more user-friendly; and providing detailed explanations about how to navigate in the site, how to download audio players, how to read the feedback symbols in the quizzes, and how to insert special characters such as accents. Students complain about problems with the activity content, limitations of the course management system, and technology-related problems. UT is rethinking the purpose of the online activities and considering resetting all graded activities to non-graded ones so that students can go back and retake quizzes so that quizzing becomes more focused on the learning process rather than on learner performance. For more information on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s redesign, visit http://itc.utk.edu/itc/grants/pew or contact Julie Little at jklittle@utk.edu.

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4. Common Ground

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

* Portal to Virtual Universities

The Instructional Telecommunications Council, under a grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, operates a Web portal of virtual universities and state and regional online education networks or consortia. Statewide Virtual Networks (http://www.itcnetwork.org/virtualalliancelist.htm) lists over 40 organizations delivering credit-bearing online learning, and it is updated regularly. The site provides contact information for each organization as well as a link to its home page.

* Governors Want More Distance Education

The National Governors Association (NGA) has released two reports endorsing distance education and calling for its expansion, while cautioning that more assessments of course and program quality are needed. "The State of E-Learning in the States" (http://www.nga.org/cda/files/060601elearning.pdf) reports an NGA survey of state "post-secondary e-learning capabilities." "A Vision of E- Learning for America’s Workforce" (http://www.nga.org/cda/files/elearningreport.pdf), the final report of the Commission on Technology and Adult Learning, advocates increased spending on online education. The Commission is a collaboration of the NGA and the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). Other topics in the reports include instructor training, intellectual property, public-private partnerships, and the need for new methods of evaluation.

* Rio Salado College Offers Online Teacher Certification

In August, Rio Salado College began offering an online post- baccalaureate K-12 teacher certification program (http://www.rio.maricopa.edu/ci/visitors_center/education/teach_prep/teach_prep_prog.shtml). Rio Salado, a campus of the Maricopa County Community College District in Phoenix, Arizona, and the National Education Association believe this is the first such program in the country. The program is self-paced, and most students are expected to complete it in 12 to 24 months. Assignments are distributed over the Internet. Rio Salado will arrange for classroom observation and student teaching at schools near the students; local schools and nearby community colleges will evaluate student performance. Groups of Arizona students will meet regularly with a professor to discuss their classroom experiences, and students outside Arizona may join in by telephone or videoconference. Teachers certified by Rio Salado will be able to teach in 19 states with reciprocal agreements with Arizona.

* Online Lab Promotes Improved Classroom Teaching

The Knowledge Media Laboratory (http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/KML/index.htm), created by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, features multimedia portfolios of practitioner research on teaching techniques. Each year the Foundation selects 40 professors and supports release time for them to analyze their teaching and improve their instructional practices. The laboratory showcases teaching portfolios of nine of these professors, including video clips of classroom interactions, audio commentary by the professors, syllabi and materials, assignments, and descriptions of what worked and did not work.
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5. PLTP Calendar

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

*** OCTOBER ***

October 9-10
Pew Symposium in Learning and Technology
"Small Colleges in the Information Age: Challenges and Opportunities"
Charleston, SC
Co-sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges

Publication of "Innovations in Online Learning: Moving Beyond No Significant Difference," the most recent monograph from the Pew Symposia in Learning and Technology.

October 29
Pew Learning and Technology Advisory Board Meeting
Santa Fe, NM

*** DECEMBER ***

December 3
Public Seminar: State-of-the-Art Learning Environments An opportunity to learn from the innovative faculty engaged in course redesign and funded in Round II of the Pew Program in Course Redesign. For more information, consult Workshop Information.
Orlando Airport Marriott, Orlando, FL
Co-sponsored by the Virginia Tech Executive Forum on Information
Technology

Pew Learning and Technology Program Newsletter Vol. 3, No. 4

December 31
Final reports for Round I grant recipients due.

*** FEBRUARY ***

February 26, 2002
Public Seminar: State-of-the-Art Learning Environments An opportunity to learn from the innovative faculty engaged in course redesign and funded in Round II of the Pew Program in Course Redesign. For more information, consult
Workshop Information.
Omni Park West Hotel, Dallas, Texas
Co-sponsored by the Virginia Tech Executive Forum on Information Technology

*** MARCH ***

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

Mid-Course Sharing Workshop
(A workshop for Round III grant recipients to exchange ideas and share experiences.)
Workshop Information
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 ~ September 2001
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