All posts by Joseph Drasin

Drasin: M8 UDL

  • In your own words, describe your interpretation of accessibility and Universal Design for Learning (UDL), include the three networks in your brief response.

UDL reminds me of 508 compliance rules for web site design, but it goes a level deeper. Like 508, UDL is a framework of improving the accessibility of learning delivery, e.g. captions on photos, using pictures to represent concepts, and not relying on audio to indicate focus of the lecture. However, it goes beyond that in trying to make learning delivery more accessible by other types of learning, rather than strictly addressing disability issues.

  • Describe a few things that you think you could do to increase accessibility in your classes. (It’s a work-in-progress, do not feel like it’s something that will happen all at once).

With the visuals I use in presentation, I have tried moving more towards visuals, but I should (like I did in the video we made) try and visually focus on what I’m speaking to. In addition, adding captioning would help. At a more foundation level, I could structure my lectures in such a way that they are more easily broken up in their delivery so that they can be consumed as a large, or a collection of smaller, assets.

  • What are some questions that you have about this topic?

I would be interested to see research on if some of these activities actually improve delivery. In addition, I’m curious if it may detract from the lecture focus by trying to increase the universality. For instance, are some types of knowledge most effective in a way that is not easy to make universal. I’ve seen this in the 508 accessibility compliance area where some sites become less usable overall in order to make them more accessible to all.

  • Take some time to think about where you’ve been, where you’ve come and where you’re going pertaining to teaching in an online/blended classroom. Use images, videos and type of multi-media to tell your story. Describe what resources you have access to and what you think you will need to be successful.

This course has been an excellent course both reminding me of things I had been taught before, but also applying those principals in a practical manner. I did not go through a traditional doctoral program where I taught, nor am I an educator by trade, so I really enjoyed developing a syllabus, course structure, and mini-lecture. It’s also helped me realize just how much more I have to learn and I have to balance this with other needs. As timing would have it, I spent this weekend with a number of friends who are on tenure tracks and we discussed some of the principals in this class. While they all wanted to be better teachers, they also made it clear that their tenure progress was basically independent of their teaching quality. One even said that teaching awards can be looked down on because it means you are spending too much time on teaching and not enough time researching. This of course depends on the type of university you are at.


OER – Once again, the challenge is too much, not too little

While I had not heard the term “Open Educational Resources (OER), I am familiar with using publicly or open-licensed content. We have actually been having a lot of conversations at work about how to distribute learning both to students and staff in a manner which is consumable. There is so much valuable content available, both in terms of scholarly open-journals, as well as lectures, quick-videos, etc… Our challenge right now is actually to cull through the content and find the content type which best suites the audience and context.

Searching through some of the databases I found a number of useful sources which would make a nice companion for some of the context I already have (e.g. I was quite impressed with the sheer volume of content and found it a bit overwhelming. I know I only scratched the surface with a few searches.

I can see a lot of value in have relatively easy (and free or cheap) access to content, especially from highly regarded sources. Certainly having content which has been deemed appropriate at a peer-institution helps a lot with having confidence in the source material. However, one possible downside of this is instructors becoming over reliant on others to do their research and themselves losing touch with the source content. Another challenge I see with the copyright rules is making sure the rules are maintained as they are borrowed from one source to another. For instance, those who deliver content to both public (university) and private (professional workshops) need to make sure they are following the rules of the content.


Joseph Drasin

I apologize for my very late post. I have been on work travel for the past week and as a result, my day was spent in discussion and workshops while my evening was spent doing my real job. Now that I have returned from sunny Bloomington, IN, I can rejoin the land of the living. As an aside, the workshop I was participating in was an excellent example of heutagogy with a focus on “student”-directed learning, reflection and re-application of learning, and a focus on developing learning skills (in this case around leadership and strategy).

As I’ve mentioned, I recently took a course on andragogy, and many of the principals I learned aligned well with my target student audience. I was not familiar with heutagogical learning (Blaschke, 2012)., but having read about it, I see a lot of potential in using it as an approach for some of the assignments I am developing. In particular, the drive towards double-loop learning (Argyris, 2005), is one which demonstrates the higher levels of learning taxonomies. Since my goal is to enable students to apply the classroom learning in multiple context, this self-driven, self-reflective approach appears to offer a lot of potential.

For adult learners, I see three principals of self-directed learning which I would want to highlight in the assignments I developed. First, I think that adult students are often best equipped to understand how the lessons and theories in the class can be applied in their own context. Assignments need to be such that students are able to focus on specific areas, rather than the whole. This can make rubric development extremely difficult, but I see a lot of potential in increasing the quality and value of the final products. For instance, while there may be several leadership theories students are supposed to learn, assessing their knowledge of all of them may not be as practically useful as allowing them to focus on one which can be applied in their workplace. In addition, this offers opportunities for students to teach one another the ones which they have become experts.

Second, adult-learns they often have richer scenarios for analysis than generic ones which the instructor can provide. In my experience, adult-learner students were able to create much more dynamic and interesting case studies and discussions than the instructor alone could have provided. In addition, they bring a lot more passion to the subject. Having assignments which set the framework, but allow students to determine the specifics may allow for higher engagement as well as more valuable knowledge generation. For instance, instead of offering a stock case-student for assessment, allowing the students to submit their own case study from their experience. I may be bias to this approach as such an assignment led to the genesis of my dissertation J

Finally, since the purpose of learning is more towards application than strict assessment, these two aspects of self-directed learning allows the students to best apply it in areas which provide the most value as well as bring their own motivation and drive to the class.

The next step of the process where I think this can be applied is in the collaboration focus of online classes. Since the students become, in essence, the subject matter expert of the assignments, the discussion can become real-world problem solving efforts with each student taking the role of a scholar as well as practitioner. I’ve seen examples where students have worked on classroom assignments and then gone on to apply the solutions other students have offered in their organizations. Designing papers and projects where students can operate in this manner allows for effective assessment of learning, better student engagement, and reflection back to the instructor to help further develop the course.

In these cases, the instructor’s role becomes that of a facilitator, gently guiding the students. There is still a need to ensure that students are staying focused on the assignment, applying the theories and principals of the class, and not going too far off the rails. This can be very challenging for the instructor to allow the right amount of room for students to explore in a self-directed manner, while still maintaining the integrity and learning objectives of the class.

Joseph Drasin

Argyris, C. (2005). Double-loop learning in organizations: A theory of action. In K. G. Smith & M. A. Hitt (Eds.), Great Minds in Management: The Process of Theory Development (pp. 261-279). New York, NY: Oxford University Press

Blaschke, L. M. (2012). Heutagogy and lifelong learning: A review of heutagogical practice and self-determined learning. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning. 13(1), 56-71.

Another Thought on Engagement

Reading everyone’s posts sparked a question, that I would be really interested to hear other’s thoughts about.

For many of us, there was a teacher or two who impacted us in a profound way. This is that class and teacher we remember our whole lives and may be what drove us to become lifelong learners. Do you think such a situation will happen in an online environment? Do you think that level of bonding can occur between student and teacher?

Joseph Drasin

Joseph Drasin – Reflections on M2

My motivation for online teaching is largely one of practicality. As noted in the Lin and Dyer (2012) as well as the Van de Vord and Pogue (2012) piece, online learning is expanding, and this is especially true for adult learners. Since most of my teaching is to professionals and academic adult learners, I need to be where my audience is. As I mentioned in the VT thread last week, I spent the fall taking a course in pedagogy vs. andragogy, and it really was fascinating. Many of the concepts in that class are applicable here. If you’ve not read any of his work, and have any interest in adult learning, I high recommend reading some of Lindeman’s (1944; 1945) work.

What I think has made and will hopefully continue to make, me successful at online teaching is being able to engage my students in a manner which bridges their academic and practical interest. I do this by expressing my passion for the subject, the practical value of the subject matter, and why they have a vested interest in engaging in the topic. I was very drawn to Fink’s (2003) taxonomy (though he does not like that word) in which the driver of a teacher is not simply to impart knowledge, but to create a desire in the students to continue learning about the topic after the course. If you’ve not read his book Creating Significant Learning Experiences, I recommend it.

This drive for purpose becomes even more important in the online environment which the students tends to be more self-motivated and self-guided. Fortunately for me, the subjects I teach professionally and in the classroom tend to be ones which lend themselves to this. Be it leadership, organizational change, organizational development, being able to show students how these are more complex social and psychological dynamics, but also ones which can greatly help them understand their workplace, relationships, and themselves. I truly believe that the role of a managers and leaders is a fiduciary one, and so I have a strong desire to impart these concepts on my students, and I think they pick up on that.

One of the areas of concern for me is not the time factor, which dominated the readings, but rather how to maintain this level of engagement and passion which one can establish more easily face-to-face. I think the VT posts we did helps some with this, but as I mentioned, I don’t think this is necessarily sustainable as a primary means of collaboration. In addition, the asynchronous nature removes some ability to effectively work together and synthesize new ideas. As an instructor I need to be much keener at picking up on queues of student engagement, be it the frequency or verbosity of their posts or other means. This is something I would really like to hear about from others.

While writing this, I starting thinking about the concept of an online classroom, but in a more permanent sense to reflect the brick-and-mortar classroom. I think it’s great that we have a once a week meeting to meet “face-to-face”(ish) J However, I’ve thought about extending this to having a permanent open A/V conference space where students can go at any time and meet up. Almost like a lounge in the dorm, they can hang out there while they work and other students may be there and collaboration may serendipitously occur.

Another challenge (I know you said one) has plagued every online class I’ve taken, and that is one of organization. I’m not sure if it is a reflection of the software quality, but in every class I’ve taken it’s been an effort to be aware of all the activities and assignments. Some classes have almost felt like a treasure hunt to make sure there isn’t some important note in some hidden corner of the virtual classroom.

Joseph Drasin

Fink, L.D. (2003). Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Lin H, Dyer K, Guo Y. (2012) Exploring online teaching: A three-year composite journal of concerns and strategies from online instructors. Online Journal of Distance Learning Administration. 15(3).

Lindeman, E. C. (1945). The sociology of adult education. Journal of Educational Sociology, 19(1), 4-13.

Lindeman, E. C. (1944). New Needs for Adult Education. Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 115.

Van de Vord R, Pogue K. (2012). Teaching time investment: Does online really take more time than face-to-face?. International Review of Research on Open And Distance Learning. 13(3). 132-146.