R541 Infographic Sketches and Design Notes


Sketch #1

Sketch #2

Design Notes

What is the purpose of your infographic and who is the intended audience?

The purpose of the inforgraphic is to inform about the definition, licensing, and offering of OER via textbook and subject contexts.  The audience is faculty new to learning about, searching, and utilizing  OER.

Why did you lay out the elements in that way?

Millions of philanthropic dollars have been invested in the creation of OER; and according to Dr. Cable Green, Director of Global Learning at Creative Commons, there exist over 500 million Creative Commons licensed items.  Searching through these OER require an investment not only in time, but also a commitment to understanding open licensing issues when reusing, revising, remixing, redistributing, and attributing these materials.  This “mining” of OER is work.  Thus, the layout of the elements in the infographic within an underground mine are a nod to the precious value of the ore (OER), but also to the worker (faculty) expending their own resources to cull the resource itself.

Why are you representing those data in that way?

Category and Alphabet are the organizational principles of LATCH I’m using for this infographic.  The information between textbook and subject is similarly weighted and the listing of the texts and courses by subject makes the most logical sense.

What colors are you thinking about using and why?

The mining theme could embrace an underground brown earth, black coal, and yellow light color scheme; but I know there is also above ground mining that consisting of blue sky, green background, gray or brown mining track.  My initial plan was to use the coal cars, but I definitely plan to complete more research about the mining field.

Infographic Topic: Mining OER for Higher Ed Faculty

Over the last decade, millions of philanthropic dollars have been poured into OER development, which has yielded some outstanding and high quality open content.  The problem is mining this content is difficult and unfortunately becomes a barrier to adoption given the OER are seemingly anywhere. From textbooks to courses, repositories to individual websites, a ‘one stop OER’ search that’s continuously updated has always been an interest of mine.  My intent with this project is to create an infographic to share back with the OER community and continuously update as new OER are available.

For the past eight months I’ve been updating this slide I created:

It not only is lacking in what the user can actually do with the slide, but it offers little information about the OER, is too broad in scope, and lacks an easy user-interface. I want the viewer to be able to do more than simply view the infographic, I want them to use it over and over again as a tool in their OER toolkit.

With just a few weeks of visual design study under belt, I’m excited to get started with developing this infographic.  A few goals for this project are making it interactive, especially after reading Robby’s message about the Social Bowl 2014 , applying the knowledge from the lynda.com tutorials, including Design Aesthetics for Web Design, utilizing Scribus, and sharing, such as on a Pinterest board like the one I found today by Robert Farrow called OER Visualisations. The What means Creative Commons? infographic was a favorite (especially the way ND is depicted).

In the planning stage of the infographic, the following are important:

  • Audience: higher ed faculty in high enrollment courses, such as the “Introduction to ____” course.
  • Subject: highlight each discipline with links to source materials perhaps in a descending order from logo, to the title of the OER hyperlinked to the content, and finally an instance of the OER “at work” in context, such as in a course
  • Open License: to assist user in remixing open content
  • Consider Viewport variety: for mobile devices; download Bootstrap to build CSS for responsive web
  • Consider Pop-up Windows/Modal Windows: would keep clutter at bay and group the discipline information, although this may not be the most effective method based on criticisms

To the drawing board!

Grad School Blog #1 for R541 Instructional Development and Production – Design Thinking

For the next ten weeks I’m excited to say I’ll be dusting off this WordPress site and contributing work here for my R541 Instructional Development and Production – Design Thinking graduate course with Indiana University-Bloomington’s Instructional Systems Technology.  We’ve been instructed by Dr. Myers to address in our blogs our progress in the following: self-study choice of design software, major collaborative project, individual projects, as well as module readings.  I plan to continue advocating for open throughout this semester’s course of study.


Il-Lumen-nating Kaleidoscope: Gateway to OER and Higher Ed Reformation

Improvement in post secondary education will require converting teaching from a “solo sport” to a community based research activity.

-Professor Herbert Simon, Carnegie Mellon, 1998

My professional role of the last 10 years has focused on teaching, guiding, and nurturing the institution’s most academically at-risk. At Chadron this is defined as a matriculating student with ACT scores below 19 in one or more core subject areas of reading, writing, and math. What isn’t measured is how these Millennial Masters of texting and Facebook don’t know the difference between a web browser, operating system, or file extension.  In today’s digital age, many of these students fear learning online because they have yet to mature their academic digital literacy skills.

Through a serendipitous turn of events, I joined the Kaleidoscope Open Course Initiative project in May 2011. Upon reflection, the kick-off meeting in Cerritos, CA was a turning point in my career. When I entered the field of education, I aimed to change the world; but the reality of bureaucracy led to burnout, which in turn fed hopelessness.  I wanted to improve and make a difference, but I didn’t know how – and my administration had neither the answers nor the resources.  My ability to innovate and create was roasting in a budgetary pressure cooker. I felt alone and powerless.

Now, nearly two years later, I can say my former teacher-self resembles little of the teacher I am today.  Quite simply, Kaleidoscope was and continues to be the most profound and life-changing professional experience of my career.

The heart of Kaleidoscope – collaborative improvement of course design to improve student success using open educational resources – resonated from within a knowingness that the Kaleidoscope pitch wasn’t like all the others I had heard at conferences and workshops purporting change and promising retention. I finally found a community that encouraged me to reignite my passion for learning, teaching, and, more importantly, yearning to change higher education.

At the start of the project, all I could really grasp was replacing the expensive textbook I was using with high quality, peer-reviewed, free materials called OER. It seemed obvious that OER was good because it saved students money. The true gift, however, was Kaleidoscope’s model in utilizing OER. It extended beyond the freedom from the textbook: it was in the opportunities to collaborate cross-institutionally, understand the value of sound course design, and use empirical data instead of a hunch to make meaningful change.

I teach in Nebraska – a state known for corn, the birthplace of Kool-Aid, and beef cattle that outnumber people four-to-one.  At my institution, I was a lone wolf in developmental education. To be frank, before Kaleidoscope, the transitional studies program I was charged with creating and henceforth improving was only ever going to be as good as me…and I was exhausted. There just wasn’t a pool of passionate, qualified, and available people able to invest in improving. My colleagues had their own courses to tend to, and we all had countless meetings filling the holes of any extra-time that might have been used to rally together and improve the institution. Yet, the growing pressure to deliver student success was undeniable and my administration bore the same yoke we all did of proving that higher ed – especially little Chadron – was actively doing something to defend itself in both the wake of Academically Adrift and as an answer to the call in The Red Ballon Project.

What was remarkable about Kaleidoscope was that faculty developers, perhaps for the first time, shared in meaningful ways together: the load of course construction, the celebrations in successes, and the commiserations in weaknesses. We supported each other through learning from and teaching each other. It wasn’t easy, but it was fulfilling and, surprisingly, rejuvenating.

What was most fascinating about Kaleidoscope was as each semester of my participation passed, my intrinsic drive to improve grew.  I had read about instructional design and learning analytics, but I had no idea how to implement these approaches in practice with success.  My place in the project was more than a front row seat in witnessing the power and loop-closing exhibited in the model: I was a first-string player. The effect was an awareness beyond could I reform higher ed to I am reforming higher ed. I was no longer passive and alone and, like my students, became a success statistic myself: I changed how I thought about who I was.  Now, in my own meaningful way impacting the students who need it most, I am an OER advocate, instructional designer, data analyst, improver and reformer of higher education…in sum: Kaleidoscope gave me the knowledge and tools to become a better teacher.

The greatest Kaleidoscope lesson was how using OER impacted the way I taught and how my students learned.  When I utilize OER, my students have access to content on the first day of class, which means I begin teaching on the first day of class. I’m ashamed to admit how much time I wasted before my use of OER.  The first week, encouraging: “Buy the textbook!”  The second week, nagging: “Why aren’t you buying the textbook?” And by the third, berating: “If you don’t buy the textbook, how do you expect to succeed?”  When a student’s ability to buy course materials hinges on waiting for funds – possibly weeks for financial aid awards or until September to sell a steer calf – it impacts the quality of teaching and learning in the classroom.

Last week, I received a text message from Danielle, whom I hadn’t talked to since midterm of Fall 2012.  She was part of a 6-credit, 8-week “mashup” pilot I created that remixed Kaleidoscope’s developmental reading, developmental writing, and college success courses.  I framed the content with tools for “surviving” in the online learning environment and called it “COLG 176 College Literacy.” Her text to me was:

Hi, It’s Danielle from last semester. I just wanted to let you know I’m halfway through Comp II and I have gotten all As on my papers. I just wanted to say thank you for helping me become a great writer.  I hope your semester is going well.

Thirty years after A Nation At Risk, these same words and much of the original text still apply today:

If an unfriendly foreign power had attempted to impose on America the mediocre
educational performance that exists today, we might well have viewed it as an act of
war. As it stands, we have allowed this to happen to ourselves (p. 9, par. 3).

Kaleidoscope meets the threats to education head on. Now, as a team member of Lumen Learning, I don’t fear what is to become of higher education, but instead look forward to embracing bright opportunities to improve it.

Re-defining and Teaching Today’s At-Risk Student: A Post-Secondary Perspective

In an effort to better serve, teachers must understand their student.  As Director of Transitional Studies and primary course researcher, developer, and instructor of my institution’s transitional studies, my definition of the at-risk post-secondary student has changed over the years.

Although my institution has yet to publish a definition of at-risk, I believe the statistics are the definer, which includes 67% of all students who are first generation college attendees, 92% who receive financial aid, and the 40% identified as deficient in core subject areas of reading, writing, and/or math (National Center for Education Statistics).

In my work with the Kaleidoscope Project, the definition of at-risk was Pell Grant eligibility, which is based on financial need.

The exhaustive work of Hunter Boylan, published largely by the National Association of Developmental Education, has defined the field supporting at-risk students as:

“Developmental education is the integration of academic courses and support services guided by the principles of adult learning and development.

Remediation is a sub-component of developmental education involving the provision of coursework addressing pre-college material.”

And the Founding Director of UCLA’s renowned Higher Education Research Institute, Alexander Astin (1998) stresses the importance of educating this population of student:

The education of the “remedial” student is the most important educational problem in America today, more important than educational funding, affirmative action, vouchers, merit pay, teacher education, financial aid, curriculum reform, and the rest. Providing effective “remedial” education would do more to alleviate our most social and economic problems than almost any other action we could take. 

Neither the terms of “developmental education” nor “remediation” (the latter’s stigma still stings) fit what I wanted to accomplish with my institution’s support programming, so I named the work I do as “transitional studies” in an attempt to reflect the nature of “preparing the underprepared,” a nod to what National Association of Developmental Education aims to do, but also to reflect the growing support seen at other institutions: Utah State University-College of Eastern UtahGeorgia Gwinnet College,  New Mexico Junior CollegeCity College of San Francisco, Lower Columbia College (WA), The Art Institute of Institute of California-SanDiego, Fort Lewis College (CO), Bay College (MI), and more.

Yet the definitions and many of the current programs I’ve seen feel antiquated and do not appear to address a critical need today’s at-risk post-secondary student must have to be successful in academia and beyond: digital literacy skills.

Real, Hinson, and Christian’s Digital Literacy, the Community College, and Student Success presentation from March 2012, states “…researchers assumed a uniform degree of digital skills and information literacy and were surprised to the degree at which it varied.”  This is the ever-present conundrum for the educator of post-secondary at-risk students: building, developing, and nurturing the student for improved core subject area success in the face-to-face classroom and now online.  Just as in reading, writing, and math literacies, the degree of individual preparation is far and wide in digital literacy as well.  The growing presence of technology in the classroom, at times “being” the classroom, is proving to be a great challenge for at-risk students.

Since the research is lacking and resources for experimenting at my institution are scarce, my instinct is today’s at-risk student needs at minimum an integrated, hands-on, and technologically blended learning environment to experience success and develop individual weaknesses.  My challenge as a teacher is the current paradigm of higher education riddled with assumptions and sporadic research.

Integrating what I know about the the traditional model of developmental education with what I experience in the classroom, I am now for the first-time beginning to think about the “at-risk post-secondary education model.”  If it is seeded in traditional developmental education, then where is the place for technology?  What would Cormier’s rhizomatic learning (thanks OpenEd12!) look like in the context of this at-risk post-secondary model of education?  How does this affect how we integrate technology and use Wiley’s 4Rs of OER?

As my philosophy of openness teaching hinges on Boylan, Astin, and Wiley, I’m embracing Cormier’s vision that successful learning is “something flexible that is already integrated with the other things a learner knows” (2011).  Before one can discuss the current education model for the at-risk, the definition of the at-risk needs developed.  I extend this notion of flexibility to my definition of at-risk and wonder: will I every fully know my student?

What I do know about the students I teach is most:

  • are deficient in reading and writing skills (based on ACT or concordant test scores)
  • believe they are “bad with computers” and expect failure in online learning
  • lack resiliency skills, ex. have difficulty “bouncing back” after earning a poor grade
  • do not seek instructor feedback
  • do not apply instructor assignment feedback to future assignments
  • will not seek Student Services assistance in tutoring or counseling
  • lack critical digital literacy skills, which impacts their ability to understand directives and ask for help
  • largely are only comfortable learning in a “K12 technology” environment defined as “PC, Microsoft Office, and Internet Explorer“
  • lack skills in downloading, updating, and trouble-shooting since K12 technology (and most college campuses) does not extend IT administrative permissions to perform these skills
  • have little experience with multiple devices, operating systems, applications, and browsers
  • have access to a cell phone and use texting as a means of primary communication but do not use email on a regular basis
  • will use cell phones as an educational mobile device
  • may not be able to afford to purchase the word processing applications they are familiar with, such as Microsoft Office, for their mobile device
  • are not aware of open technologies

Although the definition of at-risk is still elusive, the need for improving instructional models serving this population never fades.

Astin, A.W. (1998). “Remedial education and civic responsibility.” National Crosstalk, 6(3), 12-13. Retrieved from http://www.highereducation.org/crosstalk/pdf/ctsummer98.pdf.

Cormier, D. (2011). Rhizomatic Learning – Why we teach? » Dave’s Educational Blog. Retrieved October 21, 2012, from http://davecormier.com/edblog/2011/11/05/rhizomatic-learning-why-learn/.