Keynote Innovations 2014

Martha Kanter  was the undersecretary of education for President Obama. She spoke about the chronic under funding of post secondary education. For the next election, there is a focus on getting out the student vote so that politicians who are in favour of post-secondary funding are elected.

The one take away I had from her presentation is innovation comes from creating environments where people connect.


LA Community Colleges Adopt Hybrid Lab Courses for Core Mathematics.

This project was funded by Educause’s Next Generation Learning Challenges (NGLC). It is working to enhance college completion of ow income learners. Today’s presentation is by leaders of a successful Wave I project. Something proven on one campus can be scaled to other campuses. One of their key points is good data is critical to demonstrating the success of projects. Their Powerpoint presentation is available at

Their approach is to invest in innovation to support student success. They seek to multiply impact and then accelerate adoption.

Kate Stevens is a California State University. The California Math Consortium developed a hybrid math lab. It is based on a web of connection to colleagues around the country. The issue is 60% of arriving students need help with developmental math. See slide 5 of the Powerpoint for a graph of students with A/B grades compared to DFU grades.

The reasons for these differences include weak prerequisites, poor transition between classtime and work. (e.g., Time on task) and poor coordination of course material and instruction. An illustration of the latter is  students looking for the least amount of work they have to do.

By ‘killing herself’ (including  adding supplemental instructions and remedial materials), she was able to flatten out graph between A/B DFU students. She scaled this out to other classes. She then discovered a glitch. Students had trouble with mid-term exam which some faculty had made more difficult. Students dropped out. She looked at data and found problem. Graph flattened out again. 50% passed, 50% failed.

Pasadena City College was experiencing similar issues with student success. It was taking six years for students to complete a two year program. They would spend four years repeating high school content. Students who start at the high school level had difficulty completing. If they placed in pre-calculus they did well. If they came from pre-algebra they did not succeed.

The first solution was a one size fits all curriculum. They were training everyone for calculus. Then they asked a critical question. Do all students benefit from taking algebra? They created SLAM, stats for liberal arts majors. Then a separate course for STEM students.

They then looked at Accuplacer and decided to ignore placements and look at the last course they took in high school. This still did not solve the problem.

Then started using Kate’s model. The key is a dedicated counselor who supports learning, manages at-risk students and be proactive. They also created a four day boot camp for students to remediate holes in their math. This set the tone for the entire semester. It was called boot camp for a reason. The students were organized in groups. They stayed together beyond the boot camp. This made them realize there was a commitment that need to be made. Their success rate increased to an 80% success rate.

They realized they were not challenging their students enough. By challenging them and providing them support they reached this success. They went from a one day boot camp which was not as successful to an  Accelerated Intermediate Algebra (AIA) program which includes support. See slide 36 which show an 80% success rate for Pasadena City College taking  AIA. They discovered students constantly have to have remediation. They use ALECS facilitated by f-2-f.

What’s in the pipeline? They are working with General Chemistry to make math more relevant and increase STEM majors. Stronger collaboration with K-12. Just in time learning with other departments.

Students do not pay for boot camp, but they must come. Boot camp pays for itself as it allows students to jump over several courses. No need to repeat.

My take away from this is I need to increase the use of  Khan Academy for remediation. It would also be go to to use podcasts, twitter and blog to direct and encourage students.

Essential Online Instructor

In online classes, instructor presence, instructor immediacy, and a sense of community are essential for successful student completion and retention. Improve student participation and satisfaction by making the online classroom inviting.

Karen Liebhaber, an online adult upgrading English instructor from Black River Technical College in Pocahontas, AR presented in the Learning and Teaching stream. The full title of her presentation was The Essential Online Instructor: Present, Immediate, and Community Facilitator. It is available online at 

She is an experienced online educator who was concerned about the low retention rate, poor completion rates, poor grades and poor student satisfaction that many online courses report. Her goal became to improve student retention and completion by being more present to her online students. That involved being available ‘almost 24/7’ to her learners. She reports that the result of this immediacy is that students feel supported, encouraged, important and part of a community of learners. She now feels she knows more about her online learners than her face-to-face learners on campus. She had created trust between herself and her learners. There is more accountability. They now realize their absences will be noted and they are less likely to squeak by. She did this by increasing instructor presence online, giving students a sense of immediacy and community. This increased visibility of the online instructor comes through course design, facilitation and direct instruction.

Course Design

Organization of the course is critical to student success. The course needs to be logically setup, with material grouped according to context. Grading turn around time is also critical. Response to student inquiries needs to be immediate. While she may take time to mark essays, she provides them with timely feedback on when they can expect to have marked essays returned. It is also important to provide quality feedback.


Facilitation of students in the online classroom is important. Be a ‘tour guide’ to your online classroom. Once you get a second question on a particular topic, post your response in the course announcements area. In your course design as well as with your interactions with students set the class culture. Encourage interactive versus passive participation by encouraging student participation in activities. Acknowledge student responses right away. Be timely in your correspondence. Provide quality feedback.

Direct Instruction

Direct instruction shows your personality. This can come from your personal course materials including videos, audio, written lectures and written notes. Your tone, language and word choice in your instructional materials, forums and feedback all have an impact and help improve student motivation.

Instructor postings and just being visible in the class are statistical predictors  of student success. Baker, 21. Elements of High Value to Students (Sheridan & Kelly, 767) include :

  • Communication
  • Instructor Responsiveness

Elements of Low Value to Students

  • Synchronous communication
  • Face-2-face communication
  • Being able to see the instructor

 Other Related Issues

  • Clearly state course deadlines and timelines.
  • Create rubrics. They are important so that students understand grading system.
  • Regularly report to students about their progress
  • Create a weekly summary abut the coming week’s important topics.
  • Provide the opportunity for personal conference by phone or email.
  • Provide prompt feedback that is clear and descriptive. This can be written text or provided via audio or video.
  • Create reminders for deadlines. Some participants are using Remind 101. Others use Twitter to send out reminders to students. The announcements forum can also be used for this. Many course platforms have a calendar tool.
  • Create short instructional videos.

The presenter reiterated the importance of instructor immediacy. Further, can students relate to you? Can they trust you? Do they feel supported and encouraged or discouraged by you?

Watch your words. Give clear constructive feedback. Reaffirm students’ feelings. Create a sense of community in the classroom. An introductory video can help with this. Encourage student groups. Create survey, polls and questionnaires to gather student feedback.





Indigenous Circle Learning

Dr. Verna Billy-Minnabarriet, Vice President, Academic and Strategic Partnerships, Nicola Valley Institute of Technology (NVIT), BC took us through a circle. This is how they begin the student week at NVIT. An elder comes in Monday morning and blesses the facilities for the week. At the end of the week, they come back to cleanse the building.

Members of a circle starts with gratitude. A circle allows quiet students to have input. She appreciates the power of people listening to one another.

A copy of her Powerpoint presentation is available at

Social Media for Teaching and Learning

This session was animated by the folks from Pearson, our department’s math textbook publisher and developer of the MathXL platform. Their presentation is available at As an illustration of the use of modern technology in the classroom, we started off with  that uses text messages to poll.

Cave paintings may be the first application of social media. Web 2.0 provides the tools for the same social media, but over the Internet. Social learning is student as teacher. Social networking is connecting the two above. Web 3.0 will take social networking to the next level by providing a personal assistant , like Siri, who can access all the information on the Internet to answer any question.

How can we use social media for education? Twitter, Facebook, Google + and YouTube allow individuals to report directly about their experiences. Connection changes everything. Some examples are buying online, web md, eharmony, banking, friendships, secrets (post What has connection done for Education? Education’s use of technology was ranked 55, below coal mining. Schools tend to be against connecting learners to the Internet. Devices, apps (wolfram alpha), websites (Wikipedia).

To enhance education’s  Potential for Connection Pearson has created a Research & Innovation Network. They have also created a series of videos that present a vision of the future that integrates technology, neuroscience and educational psychology into everyday life to make anytime, anywhere learning possible.

Pearson considers itself to be one of the world’ss top ten most innovative companies in education. To gain a better understand of faculty’s use of technology, Pearson partnered with the Bapson Survey Research Group to survey the use of social media in higher education. Faculty use of social media increased 10%. Facebook is number one followed by blogs wikis, linkedin, podcasts, andtwitter. Students leaving, but faculty joking. Survey results are available at

The animators also suggest using social bookmarking tools that allow you to share websites of value. Delicious and are the popular. Zite allows you to aggregate info from the Internet based on topics. Pocket allows you to keep articles you found of interest. They also recommend using podcasts once a week to remind students do what is ahead.

The problem is determining which of the myriad of social media tools to use in your classroom. They suggest using four or five of the tools of the many available. Begin the process of determine which tools to use. For me it is my faculty website (blog), Google Plus and YouTube.