September’s Letter from the Editor

Trends I'm Following this Month

It’s All About Multimedia

Innovation in online education is moving forward, and it’s not just because the technology is getting better. Designers, program managers, and faculty members are making the most of the tools available in the context of online learning. My students are even surprising me these days with multimedia submissions of the usual text-based assignments and discussion posts. Video in particular is gaining ground in online courses as it becomes easier to create and stream. In a recent #IOLchat conversation, instructors shared how they are using video to provide technology tutorials, lesson introductions, welcome announcements, assignment instructions, and more. Find out if your instructor has a YouTube channel, you might be surprised to find that they do.

Online Education in the News

COE in the News!

“Like online dating, online degrees have moved from taboo to the mainstream.” This was EdSurge’s reaction to our new report about the growth of online programs offered by traditional colleges and universities. In addition to an increase in the number of degree programs available, we also found an expanding list of subjects you can study online. These range from ones you might predict – education, health professions, and business – to others that are less common, such as architecture and visual and performing arts.

Conference Updates

If you haven’t heard of SXSWedu, it’s one of the newest education conferences, with a focus on innovation and connecting a global community of educators. The seventh annual event will take place in March 2017 and I’m hoping to participate in a panel session – “Can Online Learning Close the Skills Gap?” This conference allows the public to weigh in on which sessions should be added to the program. Please consider voting for us! The polls close on September 2nd.

Here are some of the ideas I explored last month by following conference hashtags via Twitter:

#UWd2l – Distance Teaching and Learning Conference (August 9-11)

This conference began in 1985 with a goal of providing professional development opportunities to college leaders and faculty members getting started in online education. It continues to be a great event for learning professionals in higher ed, K-12, corporate training and beyond.

“Good advice for online proctoring: Get your faculty to take tests as if a student. Make them understand the experience.” @UWDEPD

  • Stepping into the shoes of an online student is in my opinion critical for teaching effectiveness. Online instructors – sign up for an online class, attend a webinar, volunteer with your university to test new learning environments. Change your perspective!

“Open badges from an employer’s perspective.” – @LACNYCnell

  • What would it take for employers to take badges seriously? The many variables include reputation of the badge source, how the badge was awarded (was the skill actually assessed?, relevant skills, and clear evidence of achievement.

“Google has a course builder! Who knew?” – @Willis483

  • Not me! But it’s good to see. There’s a lot of potential use of this tool for formal educators as well as independent trainers. Want to try your hand at designing an online course? Give this system a try.

“They’re not failures; they’re stepping stones in learning.” – @regardingjohn

  • What are your recent lessons learned in online education? Whether it was trouble with technology, conquering a new concept, or navigating the enrollment process, we get a little smarter and more effective with each mistake we make. The secret is identify what went wrong, establish a new approach to the situation, and then act on it.

Don't Miss!

National Preparedness Month – In September, the Department of Homeland Security encourages us to actively prepare for “the types of emergencies that could affect us where we live, work, and also where we visit.” Each week has a theme and resources are available online. Check out “Week 4 – Individual Preparedness” and think about how you need to get ready for potential disasters in your local area. Your school will have a plan, too, for emergency communications, so take time now to find out the details.

National Campus Safety Awareness Month – For students who travel to a physical campus location, September provides an opportunity to focus on keeping this environment safe. Explore our Student Safety Guide for more information on campus crime and resources. You’ll also find  a few safely mobile apps, and tips for online safety (e.g., password protection).

National Hispanic Heritage Month – From September 15 to October 15 you’ll find a range of events celebrating Hispanic and Latino Americans. Learn more about history and culture through events sponsored by your school and organizations in your local community.

Academic Calendar Deadlines

Fall Semester Starts! Changes are that your fall courses are already underway, or will be right after the Labor Day holiday. Make the most of the first few weeks of classes by getting organized and staying on schedule with your online course assignments and discussion forums. Check with your school to ensure you have a current academic calendar with other important dates (e.g., holidays, exams, last day of classes).

Drop/Add Deadline: Don’t wait to ask questions if you think you are in the wrong classes or need to withdraw for other reasons. Talk to your instructors and advisor as soon as possible to ensure you drop the course according to school policy (e.g., by the last day of the first week of classes), and avoid any financial or academic penalties in the process.