Systems of Cost, Paying the Price – Ch 2 Reflection

Although this chapter provided some much needed context for the broader case of improving how we financially supporting college students, I’m not one that needs much convincing. I understand the needs and have even benefited from many of the mentioned financial aid sources.

My main takeaway from this chapter is how complex the systems currently are. In fact, I started to outline the factors that contribute toward the inaccuracies of the predicted cost of college:

Hand written notes showing different sources of cost inaccuracies for predicted costs of college.

I present these notes as a testament to the complexity of the current state of financial aid, but also to illustrate how I’ve been wrestling with ways to simply some of this information to make it more accessible to the public. My first idea was creating infographics from some of core ideas of Paying the Price. Here’s a quick mock-up as an example (note that I am not a designer):

Infographic that says "Rethink the Pell. Only covers 35% of public 4-year college. #payingtheprice"

My main hesitation with this plan is that I don’t want to distill away the value from the ideas presented in Paying the Price in favor of soundbites. That being said, I do see merit in infographics as a means to spread awareness, spark curiosity, and get more people thinking about the cost of college.

Recalling My Financial Aid

This chapter got me thinking about the financial aid I received to attend college. Specifically, I recall having firsthand experience with this problem:

If private aid is available, then state or federally supported aid (excluding the Pell) must be removed such that the cost of attendance is not exceeded. – Sara Goldrick-Rab (1)

While I attended the University of Oklahoma I was a beneficiary of both Oklahoma’s Promise (I knew it as OHLAP) and Sooner Promise. I remember discovering this shortcoming in the financial aid system. Basically, I received a set amount of money from Oklahoma’s Promise/Sooner Promise that was composed from various scholarships and grants. However, if I applied and received scholarships on my own, these would funnel into the set amount of money I was guaranteed. In other words, I had to acquire scholarships in excess of the set Oklahoma’s Promise/Sooner Promise threshold to actually receive money. At the time, this was discouraging, and although I did apply for a few private scholarships, there wasn’t much of a point when such awards were absorbed by the system.

Even though I’m describing this shortcoming of the financial aid system, I do not wish to discredit the aid I received as it did enable me to attend university. Rather, I hope to offer a point of improvement where I envision students benefiting from all of scholarships they receive in addition to programs like Oklahoma’s Promise/Sooner Promise.

Discussion Questions

I’ve been reading blog posts from others who are currently studying Paying the Price and I felt inspired by the discussion questions that Bryan Alexander included in his reflections.

  1. What ways can we engage the community in the content from Paying the Price?
  2. For current financial aid systems where many students qualify but only some are selected to receive, how do we expand these programs? Should we expand these programs?
  3. If you were to redesign the financial aid systems, what would your ideal setup look like? How do we reach for this setup?
  4. What are your thoughts from the last two chapters of Paying the Price?

The featured image is provided CC0 by Juan Ramos via Unsplash.


  1. Sara Goldrick-Rab, Paying the Price, p. 53.

Domains17 Conference Proposals

I’m already anticipating the #Domains17 conference slated for June 5-6th this summer. Much of my excitement is a direct result of the folks who will attend this conference as #Domains17 will be bring together many of the minds focused on Domain of One’s Own (DoOO) projects and beyond. Individuals like Martha Burtis (headlining!), Jim Groom, Tim Owens, Adam Croom, Laura Gibbs, John Stewart, and more!

Yet, #Domains17 is centered more broadly around domains as an educational technology. Since I largely approached domains from the DoOO perspective, I’m looking forward to growing as I experience new domain projects and applications outside my DoOO mental framework.  Domains are a fantastic technology because of how versatile, how open-ended they can be, and I’m looking forward to learning more from all of you at #Domains17!

In preparation for this conference, I’ve been constructing a few proposals I’m interested in seeing at #Domains17. Here are the drafts of some of my initial ideas (and since I’m groovin’ to Silence Magnifies Sound by The Six Parts Seven as I write, I hope you’ll give it a listen as you read.):

Proposals

Domains Professional Development – Roundtable

Tweet Abstract – Deep Domain Dives: Professional Development Roundtable – Share, learn, and brainstorm about professional development around domains.

Full Proposal – This session aims to be an open discussion about supporting usage and exploration of domains through professional development. All are welcome and should plan on sharing their current/future offerings of professional development involving domains, divulge their dreams for engaging students and faculty, or listen to ideas to take back to their own campuses. The facilitators of this roundtable have content available to share to spark discussion but hope that participants bring any and all ideas related to engaging students and faculty with learning domains. A valuable brainstorming session is the goal.

Canvas Integration – Demonstration and Discussion

Tweet Abstract – Domains Inside the LMS?: Bring your course website/blog into a Canvas course to engage students. See demonstration & join open discussion.

Full Proposal – Integrating a course website/blog into your Canvas course is an opportunity to showcase and share student work within a classroom. Whether students are blogging, contributing to a research website, building a course textbook, generating a wiki, or creating some other web materials, these resources can be integrated directly into a Canvas course using a domain. (Please note, this applies beyond Canvas as other Learning Management systems include similar features like D2L’s “custom homepage.”)

This session brings together a demonstration of the setup process, highlighting the requirements to accomplish this integration, along with a discussion that seeks to brainstorm possible domain-LMS relationships with participants and answer their use case questions. Attendees will have the opportunity to engage with the reasoning behind using this strategy and what domains in the classroom can mean for their curriculum.

Mobile Blogging & Scholarship Canvas course shown with a Domain of One's Own website integrated inside the Canvas Course.
A domain has appeared inside this Canvas course!

OU Create Onboarding – Presentation and Discussion

Tweet Abstract Onboarding Student Domains: An “in class” presentation to demonstrate our engagement of students in Domain of One’s Own for their 1st time.

Full Proposal – One of the first steps when engaging students with their own domain is to walk them through the setup process. This presentation seeks to inform instructors, administrators, and technologist about the setup of domains in OU Create. Specifically, the demonstration will focus on Domains, cPanel, and introducing WordPress in a classroom setting. Paired with this presentation will be some discussion and the opportunity to answer questions about our steps and recommendations. Our goal is to help other institutions understand what’s involved to support the initial onboarding of students into Domain of One’s Own so they may provide the best experience for their own students.

Professional Development with Domains – Showcase

Tweet Abstract – Open Publishing with Domains: Showcasing professional development curriculum facilitated at University of Oklahoma with domains.

Full Proposal – Over the last couple years, several professional development programs at the University of Oklahoma gained websites as a point of engagement, means to document work, and as a way to share and distribute materials. This use case of domains reinforces our belief of open-sourcing materials. Yet, many questions are associated with publishing open work: Why use domains? How does one start sharing? What’s the formula? Why even publish professional development websites? Are there repercussions?

This showcase aims to engage people in open publishing with domains, the backend of professional development websites (including themes, plugins, etc.), and inspirations for how domains can be used in professional settings to further learning and access to materials. The facilitators will be available to answer questions and discuss strategies and recommendations with everyone.

Screenshot of the eXperience Play website.
eXperience Play professional development website hosted on OU Create.

Other Ideas

Faculty Using FeedWordPress – Panel

I’ve worked with several instructors over the last few years who have used the FeedWordPress plugin to syndicate student writing to a central course blog. I’d love to have a panel at #Domains17 focused around these experiences and hear the feedback these instructors could give to others.

An example FeedWordPress site showing student blog posts syndicated to a course blog.
A FeedWordPress style website, hosted in OU Create.

Global Engagement Fellows – Panel

Speaking of students, I’d love to highlight some of their work on their domains and have them talk about what drives them to publish. In particular, I’d love to hear from the students involved in the Global Engagement Fellows program at the University of Oklahoma. These are students that get funding to study abroad twice during their undergraduate career. Since they blog about each of these experiences, these students possess one of the most interesting perspectives on domains, study abroad, and learning.

Global Engagement Fellows website showing students blog posts from their study abroad experiences.
The Global Engagement Fellows website combines student blog posts.

Creaties – Panel

Much like the Global Engagement Student Panel, I’d enjoy hearing from some of the students who were nominated for Creaties awards including best portfolio, best short story, and more. Learning what drives these students to use their domains in this way would be worthwhile testimony in support of the value of domains.

Preview of the Creaties website.
The Creaties are the awesome awards for OU Create users.

Domains Instructionally – Demonstration & Discussion

I felt this idea overlapping with some of the other proposals I wrote, so I didn’t include it. Still, I was thinking about a session with a more general approach to using domains instructionally that would include examples like the domains-LMS integration outlined above.


I’m not sure how many more proposals I will work on at the moment. I just wanted to throw a few ideas out there as I felt compelled. Feel free to leave me any feedback you have. Did you like my recommended jams?

The featured image is provided CC0 by William Iven via Unsplash.

Academic Technology Expo 2017

Friday, January 13th was the sixth annual Academic Technology Expo (ATE) at the University of Oklahoma. ATE is one of my favorite local conferences because there’s an emphasis on instructors presenting the tools they are using in their classrooms. This helps me gage and pursue various technologies and use cases that interest faculty. Not to mention, ATE keeps me informed about many of the technology initiatives throughout OU classrooms.

This year’s ATE was especially notable between a day (Jan 12th) focused on OU’s new Innovation HUB followed by a day (Jan 13th) filled with phenomenal presentations and the wonderful Keynote speaker, Gardner Campbell!

Telling ATE Stories Through Twitter

The tweets that follow are intended to represent a snapshot of my experience at ATE. They have been curated from the #OUTechExpo stream and will include various individuals. In other words, this post also acts as a “recommended to follow these awesome people” post. Anyways, I’ll try to limit myself to ~5 tweets per session—here we go:

Drupal as a Collaborative Classroom Tool
Students Creating and Sharing Online Annotations through Hypothesis
Wiki EDU - Wikipedia Articles as Course Assignments
Keynote: An Insite-Oriented Education
Making Games for the Classroom with Twine
Students as Makers of Educational Games

Keynote

Reflection

My favorite part of ATE was presenting alongside Lauren and Julie on some of the curriculum they’ve implemented/are developing for their courses. Lauren built a text-based game with her students around the choices immigrants and asylum seekers face. This activity intended to engage Lauren’s students in both research and creative writing that could be showcased outside of the classroom. I love this project because Lauren had her students reflect on every choice they made while developing the game, Sanctuary. What an opportunity for her students to see the world through another individuals point of view and empathize with people immigrating to the United States.

Julie also has a terrific choose-your-own adventure game development activity she intends to implement in her Fall 2017 course around Spanish literature. For Julie’s students, they will practice their language skills while writing plausible, alternative ending to pieces of literature. Checkout the example Julie developed for her students, Las medias rojas, during her participation in eXperience Play. My favorite quote Julie said about why she’s pursuing this activity is that she had “fun” developing her own text-based game and wants her students to have a similar experience in her class.

Sanctuary Cover
Las medias rojas Cover

I felt spoiled at ATE since it was my second time to hear Gardner Campbell speak in the last three months (shoutout to #OpenEd16!) He was phenomenal. What resonated with me from his talk is his portrayal of the internet as a network where everyone is connected, but no one entity is in control, as well as his call to action that we should always be intentional when implementing technologies into the classroom. To me, these are two ideas that drive some of the curriculum and professional development I design. Honestly, it’s hard to put into words much of the inspiration Gardner propagates, so I will differ to the soon-to-be-released video of his talk. I highly encourage you to listen to his encouragement (when it’s posted). Thank you Gardner Campbell!

PS. Gardner Campbell invited us to his Open Learning Connectivist MOOC that starts this week. I wanted to extend the same invitation to you. 🙂

Finally, due to the threat of inclement weather, ATE possessed a high concentration of passionate educators willing to brave the potential of freezing rain. Thus, from learning about Drupal to facilitate collaborate research in the classroom, to engaging students in discussion using group annotations with Hypothes.is, and scaffolding the writing of academic papers with Wikipedia articles, ATE was comprised of some fantastic sessions. I love seeing the results of passionate instructors and the technologies they utilize. Here’s to another great year of learning alongside them.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Riley McCullough via Unsplash.

Our Most Important Canvas Training

Last week was the 19th Canvas Camp hosted at the University of Oklahoma. Looking back on its evolution from May 2016 to today, the dozens of courses developed by participating instructors, and the feedback I’ve received, Canvas Camp is an ongoing success.

Background

Canvas Camp is intended to teach instructors how to use Canvas while they are producing their first Canvas course. Most of our time is spent exploring notable features, developing courses, and problem solving how to design courses in Canvas. All levels of expertise are welcome because Canvas Camp is flexible enough to scale and adapt to suit everyone’s needs—there’s always something to learn in our open-ended sessions! That being said, although this training is meant to teach several components of Canvas, there are many more pieces beyond what we introduce.

Canvas Camp occurs face-to-face in 2-hour sessions over 4 consecutive days. Demonstrations of Canvas, exploration of features, and discussions of course design all take place during this training, however the main focus is the development and completion of participants’ courses!

Before I jump into the design of this training, be aware that my curriculum for Canvas Camp is openly shared using a Creative Commons license and you are welcome to take, adapt, use, repurpose, etc. all of the materials without permission as long as you abide by the license. Additionally, feel free to reach out to me on twitter or via email—I’m always up for a video chat.

Canvas Camp website annotated Gif of home page

Canvas Camp Design

Canvas Camp was built around five main components:

  1. Teaching the technical skills to use Canvas
  2. Engaging faculty in course development
  3. Producing Canvas courses
  4. Reflecting on why the University switched to Canvas
  5. Learning Canvas as part of a community

1. Technical Skills

As with any new tool or software, there are varying degrees of digital literacy and technical expertise of the Canvas Campers. For individuals who possess high technical skills, the Canvas Camp website aims to empower them to progress through the Canvas Camp curriculum at their own pace. For participants who have just started to learn Canvas, the face-to-face sessions provide them with a safe space to ask questions, learn, and experiment on their own or in community with others (including the facilitator).

Canvas Camp is intentionally flexible in design to serve the needs of a wide range of technical expertise.

2. Course Development

Working with instructors over several days offers the opportunity to engage them in course design and discuss the pedagogical implications of their Canvas course decisions. This aspect of instructional design is intertwined with learning the technical skills of Canvas as the camp facilitators explain and discuss the ramifications of decisions made while developing courses. Depending on the feature or design in question these interactions might occur on a one-on-one basis, however there also opportunities to draw on the collective expertise of the instructors present—this often yields rich discussion.

As an example of how course development takes place, a significant shift in organizing course materials has occurred, in part, due to the popularity of Canvas Camp. I see many more instructors organize their course materials chronologically than topically like they did in the previous learning management system (LMS). Granted, both types of organization offer their own benefits and shortcomings. However, now faculty are being more intentional in this design decision. They are engaging with each other and the camp facilitators to pursue what is best for their students. For example, most of the faculty that participate in Canvas Camp opt to use the Modules feature of Canvas to arrange their content by week, unit, chapter, etc. This chronological presentation of material is intended to give their students greater levels of context for the materials they are studying during the semester.

3. Producing A Course

The notable draw to Canvas Camp is the promise to come away with a course, built and finalized. In most cases, we see faculty members complete 75-100% of their course. Sometimes instructors have completed more than one course during this professional development. Regardless, this is heavily marketed to bring people into Canvas Camp.

4. Why Switch To Canvas?

Arguably the most important aspect of Canvas Camp is engaging in discussion with the participants throughout the week. For example, after faculty members have wrestled with Canvas—learned and experienced its strengths and shortcomings—we ask them to tell us why they think the University decided to switch to Canvas. Inevitably, someone always brings up the monetary aspect, but after several minutes of discussion, faculty often suggest the change was made because “Canvas is better for the students,” “easier to use,” and/or “nicer to look at.” All of these reasons are recorded on the whiteboard at the front of the room to highlight positive aspects of Canvas. This reflection is crucial. If you hope to change perspectives about Canvas, give instructors meaningful experiences with the tool and follow up with reflection and discussion. In other words, Canvas Camp also functions a primer (and potentially a model) to tackle larger digital literacy questions related to educational technology and learning management systems.

5. Learning Canvas Together

Training is always more fun together! Canvas Camp benefits from diversity of disciplines, types of teachers, and the people present. The community aspect of this training is integral since participants must turn to one another when they have questions or need recommendations. In particular, this occurs when the facilitators are assisting other attendees. Overall, Canvas Camp is a wonderful learning environment to engage faculty in technological and pedagogical practices of Canvas, but this training shines when it empowers faculty to become both students and teachers to one another.

Reflection

The reason Canvas Camp is our most important training at the University of Oklahoma is not only because it’s our most comprehensive, face-to-face training, but because it’s our most fun.

I know that sounds weird. I realize building courses can be tedious and far from fun. There’s just something special about Canvas Camp that I hope to bring into every other training program I build/facilitate. The comradely of learning Canvas in community paired with the feelings of accomplishment from completing courses is fun. The energetic discussion and informal instructional design that occurred during each session is fun. The creative challenge that coincides with building engaging courses is fun. There’s a lively spirit present with each cohort of instructors at Canvas Camp, and yes you guessed it, that makes it fun!

Beyond the fun of Canvas Camp, this professional development strives to do more than teach software. Canvas Camp aims to shift the culture of the University. Yes, there are many more components to such a process than a single training, but as of January 12th, 143 instructors now have greater confidence to build courses in Canvas (and you have to start somewhere)!

The discussion that happens on the final day of Canvas Camp is crucial for shifting culture. During every Canvas Camp, participants openly express their apprehension and frustrations with switching learning management systems. Giving instructors time to interact with Canvas and see how their courses look and behave in the system affords them the opportunity to naturally grow knowledgeable and comfortable with the change. Highlighting this perspective change during discussion while reflecting on the week of Canvas Camp, emphasizes and reinforces the cultural shift.

There are plenty more aspects of Canvas Camp I could touch on, but this is enough from me for now (feel free to reach out with questions). Instead, here’s a few testimonies from the participants of Canvas Camp:

Testimony

What was the most valuable/useful aspect of this session?

gaining familiarity through doing.

Overall, the camp was terrific. I enjoyed engaging with faculty from other departments.

Very hands on and practical–lots of time to work directly on courses.

The balance of some delivered content, and some ‘free time’ for us to explore Canvas and explore our own content in it. But the free time had the facilitator present to answer questions. That was very helpful.

The most valuable aspect for me was learning the basic mechanics of Canvas. It is overwhelming for anyone trying to self-teach. I also like that the canvas instructors gave specific recommendations for how to optimize course use (ex: enter rubrics directly to use Speed Grader instead of uploading files, etc.)

No doubt: it was the instructor. A truly exceptional educator. He took his time, making sure everyone was able to keep up, yet kept things moving along. Very nice, articulate delivery, good organization.

The featured image is provided CC0 by Carsten Thomsen via Pixabay.

iPadPaloozaOU Reflections

Last week was the first iPadPaloozaOU! Thanks to my colleagues that facilitated this event, in particular Anne Beck for ensuring the conference was fun and engaging!

Highlights

Keynote speakers – Both Jessica Herring & Lisa Johnson gave excellent keynote addresses. Learning about Jessica’s curriculum to bring robots into her english class was fascinating. And Lisa’s call to think about our perspectives as teachers in the classroom was a valuable chance to reflect and grow. In particular, I enjoyed Lisa’s activity of completing an Uffe Elbaek Model and discussing our strengths with our neighbor teachers:

 

Pre-service teacher involvement – Working with students is always a treat. As Jessica stated in her reflections:

“It makes my heart so happy to know that these are the people that are coming into our schools and are preparing to make a difference in the lives of students.”

I felt the same invigoration while learning from/alongside the education students that attended iPadPaloozaOU. (Not to mention, I got to hear feedback of what students think about Canvas so far.)

 

Connecting with folks – For me this was a pivotal event to meet folks on Twitter that I have been following for a while, many of which are from the #oklaed community. Using iPadPaloozaOU as an opportunity to learn more about their various passions as teachers in Oklahoma helped me connect with these fantastic educators. For example, I know much more about the practice of #sketchnote-ing thanks to Wesley Fryer:

Twitter

For #iplzaOU, I used TAGSExplorer to capture all of the tweets containing the conference hashtag. This allowed me to track some interesting data like the most frequent tweeters:

 

And the most used hashtags:

 

If you want to look at the data yourself, check it out here (I’m assigning a CC-BY 4.0 license to this content). A good place to start analyzing this data would be using a software like Voyant Tools 2.0. For more information about all this, checkout this post and let me know if you have any questions.

My Workshop

I hosted a workshop at iPadPaloozaOU titled “Student Creators: Cultivating Success & Amplifying Voices with Mobile Blogging.” Without a doubt the highlight from this session was the discussion that took place. Specifically, there was a point at which a pre-service teacher was providing some frank feedback to a dean on what motivates them as a student to participate in class discussions versus class blogs. In summary, the student was only motivated to contribute to a class discussion to satisfy the minimum effort required for a good grade. In contrast, the student stated that posting a blog would solicit more effort from her/him as such work would be accessible to the public. I was trilled the attendees of my session were comfortable sharing their candid perspectives, especially between students and dean.

Another highlight was the curriculum development that happened during my workshop. Here’s one example from an individual looking to integrate blogging into her science class:

Turning a Blog? into a Blog!

If you are interested in the contents of my workshop, checkout the companion website I made to house my presentation and the work of the participants. Alternatively, you can read more about the workshop from the proposal I submitted.

Closing

I am already looking forward to next year’s iPadPaloozaOU and will consider submitting another proposal. Specifically, I am thinking about developing text-based games to engage students with writing and digital storytelling. Can’t wait till learn and explore this topic! Thank you to everyone for making this event a blast!

The featured image is provided CC0 by Maarten van den Heuvel via Unsplash.