Multi-Modality: Creating a Student Centric, Flexible Choice Instruction/Learning Model

Century College logoI am at Achieving the Dream’s Dream 24 conference with a team from Clover Park Technical College in Orlando, Fl. I am interested in looking at highflex models from the instructional design perspective. These are my notes for colleagues – they are impressionistic and represent my own intrests as an instructional designer – your results may vary, contents may settle during shipping.

From the program:

Century College’s Multi-Modality Model addresses student needs for flexibility and high-impact learning, increasing access and equity for all students. Al multi-modality classroom is where a faculty member uses three modalities (face-to-face, online synchronous, and online asynchronous) to teach a course and the key component is student choice, where students can choose any modality on any given day throughout the semester to fit their schedule and learning style preference. Resulting from lessons learned during and affter the pandemic, college leadership employed and shared governance structure where faculty and administration worked collaboratively creating an innovative model that includes professional development, student supports, state of the art technology, and more! A robust data-driven assessment showed strong student outcomes, narrowing of equity gaps, and advancement of teaching and learning. Participants will explore how this model can be successfully implemented at their own institutions.

Century College is in Minnesota – a career and tech college. 11,000 students, 169 degrees, diplomas, and certificates. 45% students of color and 50% first in family to college.

They invested 4.4 million into 103 classrooms, 10 labs, and 21 student gathering spaces.

They discussed institutional buy-in. Multimodal classes provide flexibility to students.

One of the first speakers was the faculty union leader. 60-70% full-time faculty – this makes buy-in all the more important. There is a faculty shared governance process. Communication was the key to faculty buy-in. They had trouble implementing online learning because of the lack of support and faculty buy-in. They needed to provide the tools and support to make it work.

This started with a student who was a mother who couldn’t make it to class so an instructor used Adobe Connect to live stream the course for that student. The students’ need for flexibility.

Benefits: Increased access, increased enrollments and student success.
Challenges: Support for faculty and workload, support for students, high quality captioned videos, communication and logistics.

Structure:

  • Students choice for three modalities
  • Faculty training
  • Classroom tech support
  • Resources to support students
  • Assessment for improvement

Planning for implementation was discussed with a two-year timeline. Faculty get paid for professional development, and faculty have to go through the training in order to teach. Teaching and learning center, student workers, and IT working together.

They contracted with a leader in the highflex model (Beatty) from San Francisco State. They took what they learned from him and built their own after.

Technology:

  • Front camera
  • Speakers
  • On-call IT support
  • Tech assisstant
  • Room microphone
  • Podium microphone
  • Projector
  • Assisted hearing device
  • Wireless lavalier mic

This took a lot of training to get it to work for faculty.

Changes in course design. The faculty member said “go paperless” – use the LMS for everything even if you are teaching face-to-face. It functions as one community – you are not teaching three classes simultaneously. They use tools like Perusal which is a social annotation tool. Clear, transparent assessments and rubrics that are provided ahead of time ensures that all three modalities are assesses equitably.

Students enrolled in multi-modality sections have higher pass rates than hybrid and online sections of the same course and had pass rates comparable to f2f sections. It helped narrow the equity gaps as well.

To implement:

Include research and best-practices review, collaborative discussions with faculty and admin, get student feedback, develop model based on student choice, be willing to invest.

__________________________

I am interested in this because of COVID and also because we did this 12 years ago at Tacoma Community College for the Health Information Management courses. Those students included those already working in the health field, some were parents, or employed elsewhere. We did a very simple model using the LMS in conjunction with Elluminate (like Zoom), and a live phone connection.

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AI: What is your policy?

Free ai generated art image, public domain art CC0 photo.I wrote this for the Teaching & Learning Center Newsletter, but I wanted a version of this in the blogosphere in case someone had a take on the five positions here in this brief article. We are also discussing AI policy in an AI task force:

Readers of this newsletter may already be familiar with “generative AI,” like ChatGPT, which launched in November 2022. It can generate papers, reports, test questions and answers, computer code, images and more when asked questions by the user. It has some educators worried it will encourage plagiarism. Some institutions have gone as far as banning it. We currently do not have an “official” position at Clover Park on the student use of AI. Given that, an instructor is probably going to take one of these positions (suggested by Jeff Budlong, in Inside Iowa State)

  • It’s not allowed: only content by a student or as part of an assigned group is accepted.  
  • It’s allowed with attribution: AI-assisted work on some assignments is allowed when students identify what parts of the assignment were AI generated and how it helped them.  
  • It’s allowed in limited instances: AI can be used to prepare for assignments by brainstorming, but students must show how it helped them reach the result.  
  • Use is encouraged broadly or required: students can use AI but must identify what parts it generated.   

Risking a little hubris, I might add a fifth position, “ignoring it completely because you are confident enough in your instructional design that the only way for a student to use external tools like AI would be to apply the same critical thinking skills they would need to work through the assignment in the first place.”  

What should your position be on AI in your classroom? The TLC has a number of options to help faculty make that decision. We have offered and will continue to offer workshops and podcasts around AI, we are holding an AI Faculty Institute over the summer, and you can always talk to us in the TLC. We can help you look at your curriculum and make suggestions about where AI can help either you or your students, or how to craft your assignments and policies to communicate your expectations to your students.   

If you would like to explore more policies, I would recommend Syllabi Policies for Generative AI Tools which has collected over 70 policies from different universities and colleges. Also, Texas A&M University has a wide variety of policies gathered from other universities in a more condensed format.  

If you have a sixth position, I would love to hear from you! Comment below, catch me on Mastodon, or drop me a line. 

 

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Instructional Design Positions at Clover Park

The logo of Clover Park Technical CollegeClover Park Technical College is looking for two instructional designers for project positions. I work as an Instructional Designer at Clover Park and I can tell you it is an excellent place to work!

Clover Park Technical College (CPTC) is seeking a highly skilled Instructional and Curriculum Design Specialist to support college faculty in Curriculum design. The ideal candidate will be passionate about supporting the college’s diverse student body and will help support the college’s work to cultivate an inclusive culture and campus climate by valuing diversity, sustaining an environment of belonging, and promoting equitable opportunities for all. The successful candidate will work to eliminate equity gaps and help students succeed in their chosen career path and an increasingly diverse work environment. Well-qualified applicants should be enthusiastic about continuously working to help faculty keep the curriculum relevant, researching and implementing the latest developments in curriculum with the intent of helping to create a more inclusive classroom environment.

The Instructional Design and Curriculum Specialist is responsible for supporting faculty in the researching, planning, and development/design of program courses, scope and sequences, syllabi, program maps, and adoption and development of Open Educational Resources (OER). Additionally, the Design and Curriculum Specialist will help facilitate faculty training such as Fundamentals of Teaching Online, ACUE, and Reading Apprenticeship, as well as a variety of faculty learning communities. The purpose of this appointment is to support the redesign of the curriculum to create a more inclusive and equitable classroom experience for students. This includes strengthening student learning outcomes that address the identified requirements of the industry. This is a grant-funded project position that will be funded up to August 2024.

This position has been designated as a bargaining unit position represented by the Aft Professional Staff, Local 6431, and is overtime-exempt.

Clover Park Technical College celebrates the many individuals that make up our community and embraces the opportunity to learn from our differences and similarities. CPTC values equity and respect. We seek to create an environment of innovation and excellence and focus on student success, lifelong learning, and social responsibility.

Apply on the college’s website.

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AI: An “F” for Fake

Orson meets TerminatorI have been playing with voice cloning to try and get a sense of where the technology is and how it can be used in instructional design. There are a number of moral and legal issues with voice cloning, of course, like how do you know the voice you are hearing is who you think it is and what they are saying is what they are actually saying. But there are some very useful applications of this technology in education, such as cross-lingual voice cloning for dubbing videos in other languages. As Perez et al. puts it: “The rapid progress of modern AI tools for automatic speech recognition and machine translation is leading to a progressive cost reduction to produce publishable subtitles for educational videos in multiple languages.” It has also been used by an instructor with ALS who had lost her voice through the illness but got her voice back virtually through voice cloning. It can also be used to create more natural voices in education materials that use text to speech (TTS).

But not all of these tools are created equal. In my experiments I used Orson Welles voice because it is so distinctive (and I am a fan). A voice that distinctive should be low hanging fruit for AI. To be fair, I am only trying free or freemium tools so your experiments will certainly vary. I work a lot with adjunct instructors and students so cost is a factor.

The first one I tried was VoCloner. I was not impressed. It sounds more like Tennessee Williams bumped a little towards the North Atlantic:

The next one, PlayHT, gave much better results:

PlayHT seems to have picked up the cadence of his voice pretty well. PlayHT only lets you clone one voice and if you want to use other voices, they want you to pay. But you can delete a voice and create a new one any time you want. I look forward to more chicanery with this later – maybe for #DS106?

If you have tools that you are using for voice cloning that you think our faculty might find useful, feel free to post a comment below or send me a note. Thanks!

 

 

 

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Edu Predictions: Where is my conveyor belt sidewalk?

An outlandish car of the future. I have been rather disappointed lately that over the last few years we have not had much in the way of predictions in the education sector. For a while there it seemed like pedagogical prognostic punditry was a wide-spread New Year’s ritual across the blogosphere. I think that COVID and AI have a lot to do with fogging up the crystal balls. A year before COVID shut down schools it would have been hard to predict that a virus was going to change teaching (hopefully forever). Maggie Grady at the University of Buffalo points out that COVID as made us more flexible as teachers, changed how we communicate, and introduced “new” teaching methods such as the flipped classroom. I will be interested in seeing what the research shows about how these changes were implemented, how long the changes persist, and how they effect student success and retention.

I think AI would be hard for most in the education world to make predictions about because most educators really don’t understand what it is, how we will use it, and how it is changing. I keep reading education articles about AI that still apply concepts like “thinking” and “creating” to AI (“Gosh, it thinks just like we do!”). The idea is that since we have read a bunch of books and articles and come up with ideas that ChatGPT does the same thing and therefore it is “thinking” as if the sum total of thinking is the regurgitation of information. But I digress, which is how you know that I did not use ChatGPT to write this: ChatGPT is terrible at meandering digressions (see Victor Hugo or Balzac for really good digressions). My point is that the AI technology is changing so rapidly that it would be foolhardy to make predictions about where it all will wind up.

All of this isn’t to say that you can’t find ANY predictions about education for 2024. There are a number of industry and private consultant types that have a lot to say but most are thinly veiled sales pitches. You can read a lot of the “AI is important and nothing will help your students succeed with AI better than CainCo’s Widgetware 3000…” type of thing at places like eSchool News. Stephen Downes was kind enough to post a link to 157 trends from mostly corporate as presentations in a Google Drive.

Moving sidewalks of the future from 1959

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Efforts to Regulate A.I.

I have not posted here in a while because of conferences, in-service, travel, and other local elearning events – it was a whirl-wind summer of AI in Education, a conference at University of Central Florida. We then presented with our new found expertise at a nursing deans conference, and are working on AI initiatives on campus including a summer AI Faculty Institute. I have been attempting to take a measured approach, looking at the ethics, accessibility, data privacy, climate impacts, racism, etc. But that does not seem to be a popular take on all of this. I am interested in really examining it in order to push for a truly open and transparent version of these kinds of tools that are geared towards education rather than profit.

There has been some movement in regulation on A.I. in the form of one step forward and then two steps backwards. UNESCO has had some interesting discussions, meetings, and publications, but I am waiting for something with more teeth. It is important though to get the principles we are talking about down.  It is ridiculous to think that we can’t agree on this because we may not be in agreement with all of the principles.

I am impressed with how fast Joe Biden got something together. The teeth in this one are pointing in the right direction: make the ethical principles be required for federal funding. Hit them in the pocket book. It will take state governments years to get a statement down that will mean anything. This started last October with the Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights (the rights are for us, not the AI).

The sad thing is that we have safeguards in place for student data (FERPA) and for accessibility, yet the onus for protecting students is on the schools and faculty – not the ed tech corporations. Again and again, ed tech companies build and sell products that end up selling student information to data brokers and/or not being accessible. Pretty much the same scenario is playing out here. Rishi Sunak hosted the international AI summit and his big message was that it needs to be regulated but not at the expense of “innovation” (innovation = corporate profits).

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Open Pedagogy and Teaching with Zines

UK and US zines via Wikipedia.

I have recently, just for artistic inspirational reasons, went to San Francisco for the Labor Day weekend. My wife and I used to live there in the early 90s when we first graduated from college and got married. She worked her first “real” job at Pacific Gas and Transmission, and I was a substitute teacher, writer, and publisher of the humble zine “Notes from the Underworld.” It was a poetry zine but inspired by Dada, Surrealism, and the Fluxus movement.

Anyway, we go back now and again to hit some museums and galleries, see some friends, hang out in North Beach, and eat some really great food. This time, for no reason really, we decided to go to the SF Zine Fest. It was really an amazing experience. I expected it to be a handful of tables thinking that since the 90s, the space that self-published DIY expression was replaced by the internet and social media. I was so wrong: I was expecting maybe 50 vendors but there were at least 200 there. I hear that the LA and Chicago zine fests also have that many people. I love zines because of the artistic freedom they represent, the subversion of the publishing model, and just the raw human experience that goes into many zines.

At the Zine Fest, I ran into a couple of tables that represented work of students from a high school and a k-12. I thought that was fantastic. Art teachers working with English teachers to create joint projects. One of the things that I am concerned about as an instructional designer is student ownership of the learning. This fits right into our work on open pedagogy where students are not only demonstrating that they have met the outcomes of an assignment, but they are also learning to own the media with which they are creating. This spirit should be in our approach to the internet as well. There is so much to unpack here: it is a totally different relationship to learning, information, and media.

At the Olympia Zine Fest here in Washington State.

We grow up in this country as passive consumers of media and that informs our education. The corporate textbook often defines the course. Assignments that involve creating, like blogging, making videos or podcasts, posters, zines, etc. put the creation and the engagement with media back in the hands of the students. When the students are creating, they are asked to interrogate their own choices about what images they use, what text they use, how their message is presented, what they leave in, what they leave out, whose voices are centered in the narrative – these questions become skills. They will also start to critically question media that they didn’t create. It is a part of media literacy and the process of critical thinking.

The readings I have listed below are interesting to me because of the wide ranging examples and uses of zines: from students assignments to a teacher, Kate Ozment, turning her syllabus into a zine. This kind of work will be going into my instruction design work with open pedagogy and into my own teaching when I return to the classroom (English and ABE).

If there are some other readings that you think belong here or that myself and others would benefit from, drop me a message or leave a comment below. If you are already using zines in your classroom, I would love to gather more examples.

Readings, References, and Explorations

Bakaitus, Elvis. (2019) Zines as Open Pedagogy. Open Pedagogy Notebook.

Brown, A. , et al. (2021) Zines as Reflective Evaluation Within Interdisciplinary Learning ProgrammesFrontiers in Education, v.6.

Fields, Erin,  Alisauskas, A., and Taylor, J. (2020) Participatory Publishing: Zines as Open Pedagogy. UBC Library & Archives. University of British Columbia. Presentation.

Lonsdale, Chelsea (2015) “Engaging the “Othered”: Using Zines to Support Student Identities.Language Arts Journal of Michigan: Vol. 30: Iss. 2, Article 4.

Orozoco, Cynthia Mari. (n.d.) Informed Open Pedagogy and Information Literacy Instruction in Student-Authored Open Projects. Open Pedagogy Approaches.

Ozment, Kate (2020) “Making the Syllabus Zine.” Sammelband. Women in Book History

Rallin, Aneil, and Ian Barnard. (2008) “The Politics of Persuasion versus the Construction of Alternative Communities: Zines in the Writing Classroom.Reflections 7.3: 46-57.

Sahagian, Jacqui (2022) “Zine-making as Critical DH Pedagogy.” Scholar’s Lab. University of Virginia Library.

Scheper, J. (2023). Zine Pedagogies: Students as Critical Makers. Radical Teacher, 125.

Smith, Christopher. (2021) Zines: An Intro to Multidisciplinary Writing. Georgia Southern University. Book Chapter.

Stahura, Dawn. (2023) Teaching with Zines. SSU Library. Salem State University.

Teaching with Zines (n.d.) Barnard College.

 

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AI and the End of Education

robot teacherBy the click-baity title “end of education,” I don’t mean the inevitable intellectual dystopian smoking hellscape of education that is to come, but the purpose of education: to what end are we doing what we do and by what means do we wish to do it. What is the purpose of education? Even here in a technical college, our goal shouldn’t be to just get someone through a test, but to teach them how to learn. We are not just teaching someone how to repair a car, but how to analyze problems. The uncritical adoption of the latest technology (or idea, pedagogy, philosophy, etc.) does not do that.

“He [Plato] defined education as we would: as training of personality to absorb the greatest possible scope and intensity of meaning and value from experience.” – Kenneth Rexroth

I think that the question we need to ask is why are we in education in the first place? Why are we teaching? If it is purely transactional – that you are here to provide student X with a certification for a job. Then, yes, by all means, lets get rid of teachers and replace them with AI or maybe a “smart” vending machine. But if it is more than that, then we should be taking the time to look closely at the tools we choose to use.

The idea that AI is going to make it easier to write a paper is like saying that a Xerox machine makes it easier to draw. The purpose of drawing is not just to easily reproduce what we see, but to use our minds and body, our whole person to bear on ideas in a tangible way and connecting to the world around us. A camera can reproduce things more accurately, but even modern architectural drawings try to communicate the spirit of a place or the concept behind the building.

Learning how to think, how to solve problems creatively does not need to be off-loaded on to technology as something difficult. Thinking and creating is difficult – its called “cognitive dissonance” and the resolution of that dissonance is where learning takes place. This is not just the acquisition of information or the production of a paper: the knowing happens in the work.

To bowdlerize McLuhan, the tools we choose to shape the world also shape us, therefore it is critical that we understand what tool we are actually choosing. Proponents of tools like ChatGPT are already projecting human thought processes onto a Large Language Model that does not actually think, create, or decide. Educators need to account for the ethical costs of the tools we choose to use. There are problems with the lack of transparency with companies like OpenAI where we have no way to verify the data that the company uses to “train” its ChatGPT because that information is proprietary. But I have touched on these issues elsewhere.

“The function of education, therefore, is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. But education which stops with efficiency may prove the greatest menace to society. The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

I don’t object to a single thing about AI itself – it is just another tool and tools have their uses.  It is being used to make huge improvements in medical treatments, assist during natural disasters and help us respond to climate change, just to name some innovations. What is objectionable is that corporations like OpenAI are treating education as just another marketplace and students as just another commodity. They also promote the view that education and assessment is just the production of just another product. And institutions are going along with it all because they think they will miss out on “the latest thing.” If we don’t do this, then someone else will. Alternately, I am hoping that we can create some spaces for critical thinking and analysis of AI and make decisions about how AI might fit into education based on something besides marketing.

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Clover Park Technical College is excited to host our second annual OER Faculty Institute!

The logo of Clover Park Technical CollegeDates: Friday, August 11 and Saturday, August 12 
Time: 9 am to 3 pm 
Location: Zoom

There will be keynote presentations from internationally recognized OER professionals as well as sessions on finding OER, accessibility in OER, open licenses, open pedagogy as well as a panel on OER and librarians.  

Although some sessions are prof/tech focused, we opened the institute to all community and technical colleges to encourage a wide participation and collaboration  on OER initiatives. 

There is no cost to attend, and it is held virtually via Zoom. We welcome your participation and look forward to seeing you at the institute! 

Please fill out the event registration form for the Zoom link, a follow-up email with links to the recordings and slides, and a copy of the program. 

Please forward widely and broadly to your colleagues and your communities in our Washington State CTC system. For more information, contact Geoff Cain at geoffrey.cain@cptc.edu

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Brief Notes on Issues Around ChatGPT

Here are some quick notes around issues around ChatGPT:

  1. Lack of corporate transparency from the mis-named Open AI (Silicon Republic)
  2. Ethical issues around labor practices with Open AI (Time)
  3. Difficulties with attribution (Duke University)
  4. Unresolved copyright issues (Bloomberg Law)
  5. Spreading misinformation (NY Times)
  6. Biased and discriminatory responses (UNESCO)
  7. Privacy and ethical concerns (Wired)
  8. Produces poor writing that can teach bad habits (The Atlantic)
  9. A turn towards learning as product instead of a process (requiring thinking and creating)
  10. The carbon footprint is horrendous (MIT Review)
  11. We are not looking at open source alternatives (Tech Talks)
  12. There is no vetting beyond buying into the hype cycle
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