Friday, July 4, 2014

Best offers a superficial analysis at best in: Are Universities Gouging Online Students?

Thanks to my colleague, John, for pointing me to Best's (2014) essay.  The "comments" sure counterbalance the essay's argument ....

Best, R. (2014). Are Universities Gouging Online Students? Inside Higher Education. Available online: http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2014/07/03/essay-calls-end-charging-online-students-same-person-students

The comments from professors who teach online and students who benefit from the accessibility and diversity of online programs are right on point.  I have taught online for 16 years and believe that I have achieved some of my best teaching online - I also love teaching on campus, and believe I offer an engaging and interesting experience for students no matter what the delivery method.  What I have learned over the past 16 years is that to design, develop and teach an online course tends to take me at least double the amount of time that it takes me to design, develop and teach an on-campus course. Part of the extra time is spent on the design and development of the online learning environment itself, and then supporting the immersive, interactive and engaging knowledge building activities that I have sponsored in online discussions and case groups. Part of the extra time is meeting 1-2-1 and 1-2-many with my online students to discuss assignment expectations, review assessment criteria and provide feedback and support when work is returned. On campus, I can often meet with groups for this kind of interaction. Part of the extra time online is the preparation for an active and engaging synchronous session, carrying out the session and then the follow up required after each session. On campus, I can follow up with students who have questions right after class in the hallway.

As the Associate Dean, Graduate Programs in Education, I have deep knowledge of the organizational and governance structures, the program design, development and delivery structures, the program office staffing and resources needed, and the academic expertise and experience required to offer blended and online programs. With a little reflection, I was able to assemble this partial list of the additional investments that Werklund School of Education and Graduate Programs in Education make in order to design, develop and offer high quality, robust and accessible blended and online professional graduate programs and provide excellent support and service to our global community of graduate students:
  • Double the number of Graduate Program Assistants
  • A Distance Delivery Coordinator
  • A Team Lead
  • A Practicum and Internship Coordinator
  • An additional Graduate Program Director (academic)
  • A Director, Professional Programs (academic)
  • Academic Coordinators for every cohort in every program (academics)
  • Ongoing, professional learning and development opportunities for staff and instructors (academics and graduate students)
  • Release time for new program / course development (academics)
  • Associate Dean, Teaching and Learning, who provides leadership and support with high quality teaching in the Werklund School of Education
  • Two Distance Technology support staff in the School, and the army of staff in the Taylor Family Institute for Teaching and Learning Center  who provide technical and pedagogical support for students, staff and academics
  • Over 80 full time, tenure track academic staff and 60+ contingent term academic staff who hold the expertise and experience to teach courses online using engaging and appropriate signature pedagogies
  • Graduate Assistant Teachers, who are doctoral students who are mentored and supported in their own development as post-secondary educators, who provide support for online courses
I will keep adding to this list -- it is a complex, multifaceted enterprise when higher education offers blended and online programs. Ongoing orientations, research events, blended symposia, online resources and tutorials and integration with contemporary learning technologies is part of the human and technological infrastructure that underpins good quality blended and online learning experiences.  There is a large list of additional investments that need to be made in order for Graduate Programs in Education, Werklund School of Education to be able to consistently offer high quality, research informed and research active learning experiences in our professional programs -- we are very proud of the quality of students in our programs, we are proud of the quality of courses and programs we offer, and we are focused on continual improvement and expansion of services. 

I appreciate the essay written by Mr. Best even though I feel it is, at best, a superficial analysis of the issues and needs associated with offering blended and online programs in higher education.  I am sure Best's (2014) essay will provoke a range of comments and reactions over the next few weeks, which is likely the most important point - to get a thoughtful conversation started.  I appreciate the opportunity and motivation that Mr. Best's essay provided for me to reflect upon the human and technological infrastructure and essential conditions required to offer high quality blended and online graduate programs. 

UPDATE: A great contribution to the conversation:  Online Pricing, by Matt Reed, July 6th: http://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/confessions-community-college-dean/online-pricing#disqus_thread

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Great Quotes about Research

As a researcher, I have always understood research to be a form of disciplined inquiry -- when I conduct research, I usually start by surveying what is known - by talking to colleagues, by attending conferences, by reading journal articles, books and resources about the topic or problem of interest. Based on the review of literature and consultation with other researchers to survey what is known, I can identify what questions that other researchers are asking, what themes are emerging in the literature, what findings have been achieved, what new problems are arising, and where the gaps are in current knowledge.  Based on the review of what is known, I can design a research protocol to explore what is not known.

Thanks to Jenn McKay, EDD Candidate, for sending along these great quotes about research:

“Research is creating new knowledge.”  ~ Neil Armstrong

“If we knew what it is we were doing, it would not be called research, would it?”  ~ Albert Einstein

“Research is formalized curiosity.   It is poking and prying with a purpose.”   ~ Zora Neale Hurston

“You'd be amazed how much research you can get done when you have no life whatsoever.”  ~ Ernest Cline

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nov 28: Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School - PhD

What a great day!!  Today I hosted the first of four conversations in the Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School series.  A big thank you to Gwyneth Meyers, Educational Technology / Learning Sciences, and Tanya Mudry, Counselling, who shared their deep expertise and experiences as post-candidacy doctoral students and fielded many questions from their peers about strategies for success in preparing the research proposal and getting ready for candidacy exam.

"Keep writing - every sentence is a sentence closer to being done"

It was very exciting to attract and to engage with 25 doctoral students from across specializations in a conversation about the doctoral research proposal and candidacy exam. The conversation took place in Education Tower 114, the "Glass Oral Exam Room", in Graduate Programs in Education office. Given the interest, and range of questions, I aim to book future conversations that focus exclusively on the candidacy exam and the dissertation oral exam. Stay tuned!

Graduate Programs in Education Resources

Several resources on the GPE Website will be helpful as doctoral students navigate the development of their research proposal and prepare for candidacy.  You will find the following documents on the GPE Website that will guide the preparation of your research proposal and preparation for candidacy exam:
Our School of Education is unique in that we offer two doctoral program pathways:
Doctoral students in both pathways complete coursework both in research methodology and in their discipline, prepare a research proposal, sit a candidacy oral exam based on the research proposal, and then write a dissertation that is examined by committee in the dissertation oral exam.  You can study the distinctions between the Research PhD and the Professional EdD

Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • My GradSkills provides a comprehensive range of professional and academic development opportunities to give graduate students the skills they need to succeed before and after graduation, such as academic writing, preparing for candidacy and project management: http://grad.ucalgary.ca/mygradskills.
     
  • 3MT - Three Minute Thesis Competition, an internationally recognized research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland in 2008. The exercise challenges thesis based graduate students to present a compelling presentation on their thesis topic and its significance in three minutes or lesshttp://grad.ucalgary.ca/mygradskills/3MT
University of Calgary Library
  • Student Services:  There is a diverse array of courses offered by the Library on Literature Search (Very Important and Useful!!), Academic Writing, Thesis Formatting, Mendeley, EndNote, RefWorks, and more. I encourage all graduate students to take advantage of these great learning opportunities:  http://library.ucalgary.ca/workshops
In conclusion, this is only a start to our ongoing conversations in Graduate Programs about how to Survive and Thrive in Graduate School, and a starting list of resources - I hope you find this blog one stocked with vital resources to scaffold and support your success in the doctoral program. Upcoming conversations are listed below.

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Winter 2014

Surviving and Thriving as an Education Doctoral Student
Online, Tues, January 28 - 1800-1930

In this second session, Dr. Michele Jacobsen and two colleagues, Dr. Jennifer Lock and Dr. Veronika Bohac-Clarke, will co-host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Year 1 to Year 2 in the Education Doctorate.

Surviving and Thriving in the Specialist MEd
Online Tues, February 25 - 1800-1930

In this third session, Dr. Michele Jacobsen, and Dr. Sal Mendaglio and Dr. Jim Brandon, will co-host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Year 1 to Year 2 in the Specialist MEd.

Surviving and Thriving as a Master’s Thesis Student
March 13, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM
Graduate Programs Office, EDT 114a

In this fourth session Dr. Michele Jacobsen and Dr. Sharon Cairns from Educational Research and Educational Psychology will co-host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Research Proposal to Thesis Oral Exam. 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Surviving and Thriving in Graduate School

Over the next few months, I am hosting the following conversations with graduate students:

Fall 2013

Surviving and Thriving in your PhD Program: Research Proposal to Candidacy
November 28, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM
Graduate Programs Office, EDT 114a


In this first session Dr. Jacobsen and Post Candidacy Doctoral Students from Educational Research and Educational Psychology will host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Research Proposal to Candidacy Exam.

Winter 2014

Surviving and Thriving as an Education Doctoral Student
Online, Tues, January 28 - 1800-1930
Join:  https://elluminate.ucalgary.ca/join_meeting.html?meetingId=1276154823861

In this second session, Dr. Michele Jacobsen, Dr. Veronika Bohac-Clarke and Dr. Jennifer Lock will host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Year 1 to Year 2 in the Education Doctorate.

Surviving and Thriving in the Specialist MEd
Online Tues, February 25 - 1800-1930
Join:  https://elluminate.ucalgary.ca/join_meeting.html?meetingId=1276154823862

In this third session, Dr. Michele Jacobsen, Dr. Jim Brandon and Dr. Sal Mendaglio will host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Year 1 to Year 2 in the Specialist MEd.

Surviving and Thriving as a Master’s Thesis Student
March 13, from 1:00 – 2:00 PM
Graduate Programs Office, EDT 114a

In this fourth session, Dr. Michele Jacobsen, with Dr. Sylvie Roy, Educational Research and Dr. Sharon Cairns, Educational Psychology, will host a conversation that demystifies the transition from Research Proposal to Thesis Oral Exam. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Getting Started - Developing Strong Supervisory Relationships

This week, I got to sit down with new faculty colleagues for a conversation about Graduate Programs in Education and Graduate Supervision.  In preparation for that meeting, I assembled a few "must have" documents that every New Graduate Supervisor in Education should have in their toolkit in order to study and prepare to be a Great Graduate Supervisor.

1. Faculty of Graduate Studies Calendar - Online , PDF and Hardcopy

Grab the Calendar and your highlighter and prepare to learn these sections:
  • Academic Schedule - vital for your course-based teaching and for deadlines
  • Awards and Financial Assistance - helps you advise students on funding
  • Fees and expenses - become aware of what students pay to be here
  • Academic regulations - grades, progress reports, time limits, appeals, principles of conduct, integrity in scholarly activity - you must read all of this
  • Handbook of Supervision and Examination - Online and PDF
  • A vital section of the Graduate Studies Calendar is the Handbook of Supervision and Examination, found on pages 35 - 48. Do not pass go, and do not undertake supervision without reading and understanding every section in the Handbook. 
  • Everything you need to know about examinations can be found here, and also on the Graduate Programs in Education Website (see below for specifics). Every graduate supervisor has the responsibility to know the rules and regulations surrounding supervision of graduate students and for the scheduling and conduct of exams. There is a specific section on the Role and Responsibilities of the Graduate Supervisor, p. 47-48, which every supervisor should know by heart. There are also sections on Faculty, Program and Student roles and responsibilities, that should be read and understood as part of our collective commitment to student experience and success.
  • Graduate Programs in Education (GPE) Program Descriptions, p 62 - 73
  • Read and understand and memorize the requirements for the programs in which you supervise students. It is not "nice to know", it is "Must Know" information. 
2. Graduate Supervision - FGS Web
  • Checklist of Expectations for Graduate Student and Supervision
  • Faculty of Graduate Studies Intellectual Property Awareness
Graduate Supervisors work closely with masters and doctoral students during the entire thesis-based program, from admission to orientation to graduation. One tool that supports clear communication is the Student-Supervisor Checklist. During the early weeks / months of a working with a graduate student, be sure to discuss expectations and goals using the checklist, establish a regular meeting schedule, establish a timeline with the student for major program goals, review the intellectual property checklist, and discuss other issues that are relevant to your discipline and your work together.

In Graduate Programs in Education, we expect all Graduate Supervisors and Graduate Students to review an discuss all elements of the Student-Supervisor Checklist together, and to put a co-signed copy on file once all topics on the checklist have been discussed. 

3. Graduate Course-based Teaching

Graduate Program Timelines and Dues Dates have been established for textbook orders, course outline approvals and the posting of the course outlines for each Semester. Study these due dates so that you submit your Graduate Course outlines and textbook orders ON TIME, so that Graduate Programs in Education can get these out to students as soon as possible in preparation for the semester.
  • Textbook Orders: Apr 15 for Fall; Oct 15 for Winter; Jan 31 for Spring/Summer
  • Course Outline to EDSA Chair:  Aug 1 - Fall; Nov 15 - Winter; Apr 1 - Sp / Jun 1 - Sum
It has been rumored that the Associate Dean takes people who are consistently early or on time with their course outlines to lunch. You heard it here first, folks.

4. Graduate Programs in Education (GPE) - Policy and Processes

The Faculty of Education offers several masters programs; it is important that you study each of these in preparing to advise your students:
Our Faculty is unique in that we offer two doctoral program pathways:
It is important that you understand that both of our Doctoral programs require doctoral students to complete coursework, to prepare a research proposal, to successfully complete a candidacy oral exam based on the research proposal, and to write a dissertation that is examined by committee in the dissertation oral exam.  Study the websites to better understand the distinctions between the Research PhD and the Professional EdD. You will find the following documents on the GPE Website, and it is expected that you will read, study and become familiar with the expectations for examinations in order to advise your students well and to successfully mentor them in achieving success.
In conclusion, this is only a starting list, but one with vital resources to support you in your goal of advising students well and becoming a great graduate supervisor.


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Bringing Critical and Informed Connoisseurship to Educational Research

In Graduate Programs in Education, we are continually involved in new course design, and in therenewal and evolution of our current course and program designs. For example, I am working with a collaborative course design group right now to study and discuss the design of one of our research courses:  EDER 701.09 Participatory Methodology in Education.


Educational Research involves a range and diversity of research methodologies in the conduct of both basic and applied research. In our Faculty of Education, we offer graduate programs in seven specialized areas of study. There is diversity in the research methodologies in use across the seven specializations – however, these are most often related to the standards, literatures, research methodologies and approaches to analysis and presentation of research that are characteristic of those disciplines of study, rather than any differences in the quality, integrity and robustness of the research. 

Research in the Faculty of Education spans the range from basic to applied – our Faculty includes researchers and graduate students who emphasize basic research that is carried out in highly controlled contexts and applied research that delves into the complexities present in authentic contexts and populations.  Research and disciplined inquiry of all kinds, from experimental / correlational, to mixed methods and survey research, to historical inquiry, ethnography, interpretive and philosophical inquiry, to different types of action research, participatory action, community participatory action, and design based research is valued and relevant, and gets conducted by both Faculty and by Graduate students across the Faculty of Education.  

We have seven broad areas of specialization, and within each of the Educational Study Areas (EDSAs), we have faculty and graduate students who bring diverse perspectives and disciplinary expertise, along with different research traditions and expectations, to their research.   The range and diversity of research problems, research methodologies and different disciplines of study can be a bit overwhelming when new and experienced Education Faculty members, or even a faculty member from a discipline beyond our faculty, is asked to serve as an examiner for a thesis or dissertation. 

At the thesis oral exam, what examiners are asked to judge is the quality of a student’s research – which can be a challenge for an experimental researcher to feel qualified or informed enough to make a judgment on an interpretive study, and vice versa. It can also be a challenge for faculty who hold deep expertise in one discipline to feel qualified to make a judgment on a study carried out in another discipline. However difficult, that is the task that is before us as faculty members when we examine a student’s work.

So, in our research and specialization courses and across our masters and doctoral programs, our responsibility is to introduce and immerse masters and doctoral students in the complexity, range and diversity of educational research philosophies, methodologies and perspectives in order for them to develop and bring a critical and informed connoisseurship to their selection and use of research methodology in their own research.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ongoing Professional Learning for Graduate Students

The Graduate Experience goes well beyond courses and your relationship with your supervisor - although, these are two very important and key components of your graduate program.  Graduate students who aim to fully engage in their graduate program and the entire graduate experience as a developing researcher and educator have many options beyond coursework for professional learning and scholarly engagement.

There are a number of great graduate seminars, workshops and learning opportunities offered by several groups at the University of Calgary:

Faculty of Education
  • Thursday Noon Seminars - Every week, a helpful seminar or workshop organized by the Research Office, GPESA or the EDSAs is held in the Faculty of Education to support Student Success. Check out the upcoming seminars here:  http://educ.ucalgary.ca/node/2329 
  • October Poster Fair - Each Fall, the Research Office organizes a Graduate Student Poster Fair. This year the Poster Fair will take place on October 24th at TERA, EDT 830 from 3:30pm to 5pm. To submit a proposal to prepare and present a poster about your research, click here:  http://educ.ucalgary.ca/node/1219 - deadline Oct 17th!
    • Top 3 reasons Why you should present a poster about your research:
    • Reason 1: a chance to interact with other students and learn about their research
    • Reason 2: road-test your ideas
    • Reason 3: an opportunity to win an award for first, second, and third best research poster
  • Stay Tuned - Education 3MT Competition!!
Faculty of Graduate Studies
  • My GradSkills provides a comprehensive range of professional and academic development opportunities to give graduate students the skills they need to succeed before and after graduation: http://grad.ucalgary.ca/mygradskills.
     
  • 3MT - Three Minute Thesis Competition, an internationally recognized research communication competition developed by The University of Queensland in 2008. The exercise challenges thesis based graduate students to present a compelling presentation on their thesis topic and its significance in three minutes or lesshttp://grad.ucalgary.ca/mygradskills/3MT

University of Calgary Library
  • Student Services:  There is a diverse array of courses offered by the Library on Literature Search (Very Important and Useful!!), Academic Writing, Thesis Formatting, EndNote, RefWorks, and more. I encourage all graduate students to take advantage of these great learning opportunities:  http://library.ucalgary.ca/workshops