A little over one year ago, I was starting my first Graduate Assistantship. I was working as a Hall Director at Notre Dame College (NDC), a small, private, liberal arts college in South Euclid, Ohio. During some administrative reshuffling, the Hall Director graduate assistants were reworked into a full time Residential Education Coordinator position. I moved into another newly reworked graduate assistant role at NDC. The role I currently occupy is First Year Experience and Leadership. This is a joint role between a new initiative to create a cohesive First Year Experience and a newly retooled Student Engagement. I work heavily with one supervisor during August and the first six weeks of the year and another supervisor for the remainder of the year (with occasional projects with the FYE supervisor). Sound complicated? Well, it can be if there is no communication between all the parties. Luckily for me there is ample communication and I am enjoying every moment of it.
However, there is a learning curve. You might think that being at the same place for one year would mean that I know something about how August is supposed to work, but there was definitely a learning curve. I had to work through August from a completely different angle than before. Instead of Resident Assistant training at the beginning of August I was preparing for Welcome Weekend Leader training towards the end. Things were definitely different. I recognized that I was in a transition (very Schlossberg’s Transition Theory of me, right?).
Because I am still going through this transition- I wanted to write a small blog post about it. Also, I wanted to share some of what I have done to make my transition feel pretty seamless. Please note that these are all written from the perspective of changing into a different role at the SAME institution. Here are my two pieces of advice:
Meet with your new supervisor early and regularly BEFORE you start
Unless you will be supervised by a position that has yet to be filled (or was just created) you should meet with your future supervisor early in the process and regularly too. This allows you to get to know them and their supervisory style a little bit before you officially start. It also gives you the opportunity, if you are moving into a new department entirely, to get to know your future coworkers and learn about the office culture.
If your supervisor has not been hired yet try to be involved in the hiring process or meet with the hiring committee chair to let them know what you are looking for in a supervisor. This is also a good time to talk to your supervisor about your concerns or questions about the position. This leads into my next point…
Make sure you get a position description early on in the process
You want to know what you will be doing, right? Get the earliest iteration of your future job responsibilities so you have time to meet with your supervisor or another relevant person to ensure your concerns are noted and acted upon. The last thing you want to do is wait until you start to ask about what you will be doing… Another piece of advice is to ask if it has been updated. As a graduate assistant, you are not a part of many conversations. You don’t want to be surprised with additional responsibilities because they had a meeting and forgot to update you.
Stay tuned for future posts on my blog! I am going to try to post once a week. What might I post about? I’ll post about events in my graduate school life, reflections, and occasionally I will interview people in the field and post them too. Stay tuned while I find my online voice!
Today I received my final grade from my Everything eLearning for the Higher Education Administrator class I took over the course of this summer. It was my first summer class I have ever taken and it was more condensed (eight weeks versus fifteen). I had taken only one online course previously and the extent of its learning tools were discussion boards and quizzes. Everything eLearning was an entirely new challenge.
The course was taught by Sasha Thackaberry (check out here website here). She is an expert in eLearning which she demonstrated throughout the course. Her expertise was crafted into each and every module. We were being taught by a professional about her life’s work. This made the course all the more interesting and I was in for an awakening to online education.
I came into the class thinking it would be similar to the online course I had taken that fall. I’d log in once a week, complete the assignment, submit and go back to doing other things. I was mistaken. If done correctly eLearning is a very intensive process similar to that done in classrooms. I was to engage with the material I was learning in a more constructive fashion than reading it and posting a board. Occasionally we utilized guided note taking, a measure to ensure we were doing the necessary prerequisite work before our weekly projects, but also as a way for Sasha to make sure that we understood the material in the correct way. It is a substitute for the 1:1, face to face interaction one might experience in the classroom.
Weekly we had one or two large assignments, depending on the material. It was extremely difficult for me to get into the swing of learning new material and then immediately demonstrating that I had learned and understood it by applying it in such a short amount of time. However, each assignment was directly connected to that specific weeks’ module which helped me quite a lot. What was most helpful was the fostering of our creativity. Sasha understood that demonstration of knowledge can come from many different places. We were able to submit assignments in a myriad of different ways (occasionally getting extra points for going above and beyond). I learned about creating infographics and using Prezi. Because I was challenged to do something new and offered a reward for it I used new tools to challenge myself.
I could not have completed this course without a friend. Kedron, a graduate student in my program at Kent State University, and I met nearly weekly to work on assignments together and develop each other’s ideas more. Without having this in-person connection-I would not have been successful in this course. It was very challenging and I needed support.
Ultimately, Everything eLearning was a difficult class, but not because the material itself was hard, but because I was learning a lot of new material in a short amount of time and in a completely new format than I was used to. I believe this course enabled me to analyze online education from a completely new perspective. I gained a lot of knowledge that I can now put into practice when I am educating students such as creating infographics, developing easy to understand rubrics, or utilizing the ADDIE model to create a program or course.
Oh, and I also made this AWESOME ePortfolio.
Thanks Sasha- I may have had my moments of stress overload with the class, but I have become a better administrator and educator because of it.
Learning is constantly changing and so are the overarching concepts that guide how we educate. These overarching concepts are called learning paradigms. There are three main learning paradigms used in education that guide how we approach the task of educating others. These are pedagogy, andragogy, and heutagogy.
Pedagogy: This is the learning paradigm that many of us are most familiar with. This paradigm is hierarchical in nature as the teacher/professor is the “knower” of all things and only this elite group of people is able to impart knowledge to learners and the process is dependent on this relationship. This teacher centric way paradigm is where we obtain the phrase “sage on the stage” model of education where the student is expected to absorb dictated knowledge rather than construct it for themselves, usually for the purpose of some assessment (typically a standardized test) to show that they have gained the essential knowledge before they can move on to the next grade or level.
Andragogy: This paradigm is an interesting hybrid between pedagogy and heutagogy insofar as it retains characteristics of pedagogy, but is casually stepping outside of its comfort zone and adopting more connected and constructivist sentiments. This learning paradigm is used in adult education in which the students are more self-directed, thus changing the role of the professor slightly to more of a facilitation role rather than the sole creator of learning process. Also important within this paradigm is the introduction of context; adult learners have life experiences that become learning experiences. As Gerstein (2013) describes “the principles of active, experiential, authentic, relevant, social-networked learning experiences are built into the class or course structure.”
Heutagogy: Andragogy paved the way for heutagogy because andragogy introduced the methods and technologies that became commonplace enough to support the transition to a heutagogical approach to education. Heutagogy is a representation of the time; education can occur anywhere at any time via a multitude of technologies outside of the “traditional” classroom. Within the model the role of teacher is significantly altered too. They are no longer simply the licensed professionals who prepare lesson plans; instead anyone and everyone can be a teacher in their own way because knowledge is constructed socially and context matters significantly.
Check out these two graphics for further explanation on what these are:
Although all these words end inn “gogy” it is important to also note their differences outside of their definitions. Pedagogy is the type of education typically utilized in the education of children, and is most likely the type of paradigm that was experienced by you, the reader. Andagogy is applicable to adult education more so because adults have experienced life significantly more than a sixth grader, for example. Because of this, adult learners are more likely to learn by drawing from experiences they have had and as such differ deeply from children who may or may not have any context in which to learn from. Heutagogy takes the initial steps in andragogy a step further and connects each individual student to the learning in a new way without a hierarchical structure of teacher-student, but a structure in which everyone assists in the construction of knowledge for one another. This model is the most learner-centric whilst the other paradigms are more teacher centric.
Competency-Based Education (CBE)
Before I begin, please watch this video from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation on Competency-Based Education.
Competency based learning, ultimately, is a pretty simple model of learning. Educause (n.d.) defines CBE as an “approach [that] allows students to advance based on their ability to master a skill or competency at their own pace regardless of environment.” This approach gained popularity because of its ability to drastically reduce a precious commodity. Can you guess what it is? No, it’s not money… Alright, I’ll tell you: time. Kamenetz (2014) points to the fact that we measure most of our educational accomplishments by time such as first or second year masters student. CBE is unlike this notion and instead directly measures learning, not the time spent doing the learning.
Learning Paradigms and Competency-Based Education
Competency based education can, to some degree, occur within pedagogy, andragogy, and heutagogy. The worst fit is within pedagogy. The focus within pedagogy is the imparting of knowledge from sage to student in a process designed by the teacher, controlled by the teacher, and at the pace of the teacher. Competency based education required some learner focus. Furthermore, there is logic in the educational format that is supposed to be followed and very rarely allows for deviation. On a final note, since pedagogy is typically used in children’s education- it is less likely to be useful within this system due to not having many experiences that may have made them masters of skills or other competencies.
The andragogical system would be much more open to CBE as many adult learning programs are already (Western Governor’s University for example). It would make a lot of sense to use a competency related model for adult groups because they are more likely to have engaged in real world experience that would justify less time devoted towards certain subjects.
The heutagogical system, I think, may be the best paradigm for CBE to function in. Because everyone is considered a learner in this paradigm, learners have more options for education to help master that skill. Furthermore, this educational systems non-linear approach is best suited for competency-based education; students can excel quickly at what they know and devote more time to the subjects they need to learn.
The Future of Competency-Based Education
In this section, I will examine CBE from three different angles and hypothesize based on evidence at my disposal what the future of CBE might bring us. I will look at CBE from the view of the governmental oversight/regulation, hybridization with other learning models, and cost of education/economics of higher education.
When it comes to higher education in the United States, the U.S. Department of Education and its shiny red tape usually comes to mind. Government involvement (a contentious political issue) can result in a myriad of regulations that are designed to hold the system accountable, but sometimes miss their mark. One of the chokeholds that the U.S. Department of Education has is federal financial aid. In 2011-2012 72.8% of full-time, full-year students and 51.1% part-time or part-year students at all institutions received federal aid (NCES, 2014). Lots of students utilize federal aid for their education. How is all of this relevant? Fain (2015) reported that the U.S. Department of education is allowing 40 colleges to experiment in competency-based education while allowing them a waiver from some of the federal rules on financial aid. Basically, the federal government is performing experiments to determine if CBE is a viable learning model and if they can adapt federal funding to that model. The current financial aid model is relies heavily on the notion of time which is bypassed in CBE. Although this is just a first step, it is an important first step. Yesterday’s education does not work with today’s learners. If the federal government determines that CBE is a viable alternative and can justify future waivers to certain rules to support CBE it opens a lot of new doors for CBE.
However, I think CBE will face an important regulatory challenge in the future: accreditation. If CBE becomes common, regulators will intervene for quality assurance. Will “competencies” have to be accredited by regional accreditors? How will institutions differentiate themselves from others if they have similar competencies? At this point, I think there are a lot of unknowns.
I am a fan of mixed method approaches and hybridization of strategies in most areas of my life. I have similar opinions when it comes to CBE. I believe that CBE can be combined with other learning models to create stronger educational models and that it already is combined with more as well. Many CBE programs are online, thus utilizing multiple models already. I think this trend will definitely continue and that we will see more integration of multiple approaches. The one that comes to mind is gamification. Gamification and CBE would result in an open world style educational approach where students could gain achievements for mastering various “skills” that count towards their degree. The integration and hybridization of learning models with CBE is something that I see within its future especially with gamification.
Higher Education is not a cheap investment. With the average cost of private institutions being $134,600, public institutions $39,400, and a combination of two years community college and two years private institution being $77,400 over four years the previous statement may be the understatement of the year (Saving for College, n.d.). These rates are increasing and most predictions show that the increase is going to be steady. Where does CBE fit in? CBE can be offered more efficiently than the traditional model. CEO/President of the Lumina Foundation Jamie Merisotis (2015) recommends the following:
Build clear pathways to high-quality degrees and credentials. Today there’s an array of higher education pathways, such as skills-based certification programs, four-year degree programs and work-based apprenticeships. We need a system that recognizes all of these pathways and enables existing providers to develop more high-quality, low-cost models – something that changes in financial aid policy could advance. We also need to reduce barriers to innovation so that new models that meet the increasingly diverse needs of today’s students can emerge.
Focus on educational quality. Federal funds should be directed to programs that best serve their students, including low-income, minority and first-generation students, as well as working adults. Congressional leaders should make it a priority to carefully measure the most important metric – student learning – rather than just focusing on inputs such as time spent in the classroom. And establishing models to assess quality for higher education providers beyond the brick-and-mortar, four-year universities should be a key emphasis.
Address rising costs. Approaches such as competency-based education, online and accelerated programs should be encouraged and supported. All of these models have proven that higher education can be delivered more efficiently, and they’ve created healthy competition to improve and fuel a strong higher education marketplace. Key to this effort also is making costs transparent and understandable for students and parents, and making financial aid easily navigable and accessible to those who need it.
Each one of these suggestions involves CBE. Build clear pathways to CBE programs that are low cost, are of a high quality and focused on student learning, and are more affordable than current models. None of Merisotis’ (2015) are a perfect solution that do not invoke problems of their own, but the rising costs of college education have already led to the creation of many programs offered as a substitute for extraordinarily expensive institutions. The fact that I am writing this blog post about CBE is, in a way, a reaction to the costs of higher education. It is one of many parts to a possible solution and it is staring us in the face. Future calls for its integration into the system will become more frequent and potent. The question is not if, but when.
Learning Model Glossary
Game-based learning: utilization of a game to achieve an educational or learning outcome; example simulators
Gamification: a process of utilizing components of game design to increase the motivation and engagement of learners
Adaptive learning: Typically software that forms a baseline of your ability and then challenges you at that level
Big data: Data that is collected from many sources that is then analyzed and utilized to make improvements or helps find trends
Competency-based learning: learners work at their own speed to gain and demonstrate competency or mastery of skills or competencies
Prior Learning Assessment: exchanging real world experience and learning done outside of the traditional classroom for college credit
As a part of my As a part of my summer course Everything eLearning for the Higher Education Administrator, I was required to pick an online program from any college or university and critique it. The assignment required us to analyze and determine what advantages and disadvantages the program might offer and then describe what type of student would be a good fit for it. Here are my findings!
This program is offered by Kent State University, located in Ohio. Kent State University is a public institution that boasts over 41,000 undergraduate and 5,500 graduate students across its 8 campuses. Kent State University is home to a top-10-ranked Fashion School and the Liquid Crystal Institute (About | Kent State University, n.d.).
The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree at Kent State University is one of the university’s many online degrees. This program is accredited by NASPAA and is one of few of the online MPA programs to receive this accreditation. It is a 36 credit hour program divided into 12 three credit courses. Instead of having multiple classes simultaneously each student takes one course for seven weeks before moving onto the next one, allowing students to completely focus on one course.
This program prides itself on experiential learning requiring students to attend other events outside of the “classroom.” This specific program requires students to have a “substantive full-time administration experience in a public service organization.” If they do not have this experience upon entry into the program, students must complete a 3 credit internship in addition to the 36 credit hours of coursework.
Kent State University Undergraduate students interested in pursuing the online MPA may apply as juniors and seniors for the program and take graduate courses that will count towards both your undergraduate and graduate degree. This shortens the time needed to obtain a graduate degree by up to 12 credit hours or one third of the MPA.
Upon admittance to the program, a student counselor works with you to craft your personalized degree plan so that you can help construct your own path to graduation. Furthermore, this program is able to be done within two years, the same timeframe of other master’s programs. A current Kent State University undergraduate student interested in pursuing the MPA online has a great benefit of being able to take graduate courses during their undergraduate career and have them count. It may be possible to eliminate 1/3 of the time required in the MPA program, possibly even interning during this time to meet that experiential requirement (this is just speculation and is not reflected on the materials I have found thus far).
The program requirement for “substantive full-time administration experience in a public service organization” can be problematic for students who already have a career in an area other than public service. These students will be force to locate, interview, obtain, and work an internship to get this experience. The internship requires 300 hours of additional work.
Some of the experiential components of the coursework (conducting interviews and attending events) may require reliable transportation. This is a cost not covered by the course and if you are a student from a rural area you may be limited in your opportunity to complete these tasks without burden.
Who would be a good fit?
I think that there are two types of student who would be good for this specific program. The first is a current Kent State undergraduate student who knows that they want to work in a non-profit or a government career. Although these types of students will most likely be required to take the internship requirement they are still cutting down a significant portion of their required coursework and cost of their MPA. If I take 9 credit hours (which is the maximum a Kent State student can obtain minus the additional internship credits during their MPA) then the student would save $5,958 *(based on current tuition rates) on their MPA. In addition to that financial savings they would save an additional 21 weeks of their life from being dedicated to coursework (3 classes as 3 credits multiplied by the seven week length per course). Time is money and they are saving both.
Another type of student who would be a good fit for this program is one who is already working in a public administration career with a Bachelor’s degree but is interested in pursuing a new job further up on the hierarchy, maybe a Director level position. This type of student has the substantive full time experience and will have no need of the internship. These students will likely be working full-time and will benefit the most from the programs structure and would already be in a position to perform the experiential components of the class. They could interview their supervisor or attend a fundraiser of their own organization? Their full time experience that they are still currently enjoying would give them plentiful material for their coursework and projects.
Overall, based on the information I have been able to locate, Kent State University’s online MPA is a good option. It is accredited by a reputable accreditation agency and is focused on ensuring that its graduates have a practical experience in the field that they are going into despite it being an online program. However, think that there is room for improvement especially in its marketing to current Kent State University students. Students are looking for more cost efficient methods to obtain credentials and marketing this accelerated MPA option might draw students in.
As a part of my summer course Everything eLearning for the Higher Education Administrator, I had to pick an institution and review their eStudent Services. I chose Notre Dame College, a small, private, liberal arts college in South Euclid, OH as my institution because I currently work there and wanted to know more!
Check out my SlideShare below to see what NDC does for its online students!
The world is constantly changing. The status quo is constantly disrupted by the adoption of new processes, technologies, or products that constantly propel our species forward. This exact phenomenon is the subject of this post today; I want to talk about change, with a focus on distance learning and technology.
Before we get started there are a couple definitions I want to clarify.
Technology adoption: This definition can get a bit complicated because adoption is a process. Davis (1989) pioneered the Technology Acceptance Model (TAM) in which focuses on two whether the technology will be easy to use and whether it is actually useful. Davis (1989) provides a good start, however, Bridges to Technology goes into a little more detail which I think will be helpful.
Here is an excerpt from their website:
We look at technology adoption as a 5 step process:
Awareness – potential users learn enough about the technology and its benefits to decide whether they want to investigate further
Assessment – potential users evaluate the usefulness and usability of the technology, and the ease or difficulty of adopting
Acceptance – potential users decide to acquire and use the technology, or decide not to adopt
Learning – users develop the skills and knowledge required to use the technology effectively
Usage – users demonstrate appropriate and effective use of the technology ( What is Technology Adoption?, 2005, n.p.)
Disruptive innovation: I cannot explain it better than this video:
Distance Learning: Distance learning is learning from a distance obviously! Typically learning in this format will not occur in a classroom setting and can be done via many different methods such as correspondence, television, radio, or most recently online.
The Good Stuff
Now that the definitions are defined I can move on to something more in depth. Distance education has undergone many changes throughout the years, but one of its earliest iterations was correspondence education. In Boston, Caleb Phillipes offered shorthand lessons in the Boston Gazette (Pappas, 2013). As new technology was adopted throughout the years, distance learning adjusted with. Each technological innovation that came about resulted in a new iteration of distance learning from telephones to television. If you want to view a timeline of distance education you should check out my Prezi History of Distance Learning from a Distance.
Despite distance education being in its late 200’s it is still causing a ruckus. Once could say it is being disruptive… In fact, I do not believe that it is controversial to say that online education, distance education’s latest iteration, is a form of disruptive education.
In 2010, over 6.1 million students had taken an online course and it is painstakingly obvious that the number has increase drastically (Infographic, 2014). I have personally taken two online courses and know many other students who have taken at least one. It’s becoming rare to not have taken an online course. 98% of colleges and universities have online programs as of 2014 (Dumbauld, 2014). Every institution is doing it now and many of these institutions are playing catch up because they never fully adopted this technology and more and more students are wanting it and using it as an important criterion in their college search.
A professor of mine said that online education is a rebellion against the establishment of higher education. I agree completely. Horowitz (1987) describes the “Rebels” of the 1960s where students regularly began to challenge and make demands of administrations in schools across the country. Although this rebellion is slightly more passive aggressive (instead of demonstrations we see mass declines in admissions of traditional students and increases in online student admissions, etc…) these students have adopted the technology at astonishing rates which amplifies the disruption that higher education is seeing when it comes to online education.
Online education is the most effective iteration of distance learning to date, in my opinion. I also think that it is here to stay and develop further. Technology adoption is occurring at a pace previouslyunseen. New websites or apps catch like wildfire (YikYak anyone?) especially with the new generations of incoming students.
Jeffrey Selingo (2013) describes these students in an excerpt from his book College (Un)bound:
These students of the future are in elementary and middle school today. Born around the turn of the century, they have always known a world with the Internet, smartphones, and wireless connections. They are often referred to as digital natives. They pick up electronic devices and know intuitively to swipe instead of type on a keyboard. They feel comfortable in a social world that lives online. They text friends who are sitting only a few feet away.
In school, they remain largely uninterested in learning through traditional teaching methods. Two out of three high-school students say they are bored in class every day, according to a report by Indiana University. Then they go home and fire up Khan Academy to view online lessons from Salman to better understand concepts they didn’t get in school.
I hope this post has given you something to think about. There is more to come in the near future!
Davis F. D.Perceived usefulness, perceived ease of use, and user acceptance of information technology. MIS Quart. (1989) 13:319–339