Insights

WHAT’S ON OUR MINDS.

We’re always learning, wondering and sharing. Here’s what we’re thinking about lately.

Looking Back/Learning Forward: Lessons For the Now Normal

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Jul 20, 2021

Looking Back, Learning Forward, a motto and mindset to utilize as we envision the future of distance education and fuse historic learning practices with modern lifestyles. I recently co-hosted a webinar with Dr. Jim Julius, Faculty Director of Online Learning at Mira Costa College, where we walked a group of educators through insights gathered over the last fourteen months of online learning. If one thing is clear, it is that it’s been a journey for everyone: faculty, students, education consultants, learning designers, institutional leadership, and families alike. 

Launching Faculty Learning Communities: Participation is All About Perceived Value

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Jul 14, 2021

In an earlier webinar, O’Donnell Learn CEO, Carrie O’Donnell and I shared practical ideas and examples for building learning communities among faculty. These communities provide a rich opportunity for faculty to gather around a common goal, learning together and from each other while accomplishing a desired outcome.   Faculty learning communities can provide the time, space and resources for mission-critical efforts related to teaching and learning. Teaching expertise is most often not part of the faculty background, nor is instructional design a common skill. Plus, faculty often develop courses in isolation. In contrast, gathering faculty around learning design can create vibrant exchanges of what’s working, what’s not, and problem-solving around how to make improvements.

Learning Trends for the Now Normal

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Jul 08, 2021

I recently co-hosted a webinar with Dr. Jim Julius, Faculty Director of Online Learning at Mira Costa College and previous panelist to the EDUCAUSE Horizon Report: Teaching and Learning Edition. This year's annual report, 2021 Educause Horizon Report, describes trends and developing sectors in the modern and rapidly changing education system. We led a group of educators through insights and analysis of trends in technology to advance higher education delineated in this year’s issue of the Report. For this discussion, we focused on the social, technological, and economic trends based on the Horizon Report research. Here are some key takeaways. 

Empathy Mapping: Putting Learners at the Heart of All You Do

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Jun 29, 2021

Throughout 2020, we heard a call for empathy and connection. Learners wanted to know faculty understood the impact COVID-19 was having on their lives - and their learning. Not just what they were experiencing, but how they were feeling and why the rapid move to remote instruction was such a challenge.  At the same time, isolation forced an urgent need for connection and community among their peers, especially in the online classroom. The good news: empathy in the classroom is directly related to creating connection and community. In fact, the most successful learning experiences are always designed with the learner in mind. The best course design process seeks to understand “Who are my learners?”

Closing Equity and Inclusion Gaps with Universal Design for Learning: An interview with Dr. Brett Christie

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Jun 18, 2021

Crises are often credited with being a catalyst for transformation and change. This is certainly true for higher education. When the pandemic forced campuses to shutter nationwide, huge gaps in equity and inclusion were widely exposed - and students paid the price. As a result, more consideration is surfacing for Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and how this approach can help close those gaps. Of course, integrating UDL campus-wide presents its own set of challenges. I sat down with Dr. Brett Christie, Director of Learning Design at O’Donnell Learn - and our resident guru for all things UDL - for his take on how colleges and universities might begin this important task.

Resiliency in the Now Normal: Spending for Sustainability and Scale is Key

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Apr 22, 2021

Earlier in April, Matt Reed proposed the best use of the $12B included in President Biden’s infrastructure legislation for updating infrastructure in community colleges, would be “ways that situate colleges to be more resilient in future economic headwinds.”  For those of you unfamiliar with Reed, not only does he write the “Confessions of a Community College Dean” blog on Inside Higher Ed, nearly 18 years of his career has been in community college leadership positions. Dr. Joshua Kim, director of online programs and strategy at Dartmouth College, fondly refers to him as “Dean Dad.” In fact, Kim penned a response in support of the infrastructure spending recommendations Reed made in his post and offered an additional recommendation of his own: learning designers. 

Learn While Doing: Course Innovations in Real Time

Published By Brett Christie, PhD
on Mar 30, 2021

We recently learned there are approximately 20,000 learning designers in the US compared to over 1,500,000 faculty creating online courses. Additionally, a study we conducted last summer with 475 higher ed faculty revealed: Nearly half were simply mirroring their face-to-face instruction, Only 22% were designing their courses differently for online, More than 40% had never taught online or had only taught online for one to two terms. But here’s an even more startling fact: faculty were spending nearly 49 hours prepping an online course for the first time. Converting an existing course for online? Twenty-three hours.

Right Now, External Partners Might Be Higher Ed’s Greatest Ally

Published By Joana Jebsen
on Mar 09, 2021

A recent Hechinger report raised the alarm on the increasing amount of OPM contracts secured in 2020. While there seems to be great concern over the cost and number of these contracts, there also seems to be a lack of correlation between this increase and the pandemic. Have we all forgotten the sudden shift to online learning every university across the nation had to make? Whatever online learning institutions had in place at the time, if any, had to be scaled on a massive level.

Propel: Driving Learner Success Through Purposeful Instructor Support

Published By Carrie O'Donnell
on Mar 05, 2021

In a study we conducted last summer with nearly 500 higher education faculty, we learned most were spending 49 hours prepping new online courses prior to the start of the semester. For existing courses, 23 hours per course. And fine tuning content throughout the term? Eight hours per week. This is in addition to teaching, not to mention other duties like research and service. However, we also learned that while most were confident in their ability to teach online, 42% have little experience and nearly half were attempting to mirror their face-to-face teaching in the online environment. Both of these factors are strong indicators of not understanding the intentionality involved in developing and delivering effective online courses. As we move beyond emergency remote instruction towards improving the online learning experience, how do we ask faculty to do even more preparation? The reality is, we shouldn’t. Instead we should purposefully support instructors to help them more effectively and efficiently develop their online courses.