Richard Sebastian

The digital home of Richard Sebastian

Category: Professional Development (page 1 of 2)

Virginia is for Open: OpenEd 2016 in RVA

Last year, Richmond, Virginia was the host city for the 2015 UCI Road World Championships, a weeklong, international bicycle race second in importance only to the better-known Tour de France. It was a great event, with thousands of visitors from all over the globe crowding along the course route to watch the world’s top cyclists zip by. A few months […]

Excellence in Education Award Finalists

When discussing higher education, there is often a focus on the more serious, systemic problems facing institutions–rising costs, poor outcomes, a stultified academic culture, dwindling public resources–all important topics that need to be addressed–and less attention on the often minute, personal exchanges that make higher education so essential and so powerful: the life-changing impact on thousands of learners fostered by talented and dedicated faculty members. We […]

VSU’s Digital Course Fair: Oct. 23, 2015

VSU Digital Course FairHey, are you are looking to check out some new digital course tools and materials to possibly incorporate into your instruction to engage your students? If so, you may want to check out Virginia State University’s Digital Course Fair. According to VSU’s Director of Distance Education, Art Fridrich, the goals of this event are “to introduce or reintroduce college faculty to the rich variety of digital course tools currently available to facilitate learning, enhance or create new partnerships, and reduce the cost of education for college students.”

Some of the things you’ll see at this event are adaptive learning courseware built upon Carnegie Melon University Open Courseware, new products and services from publishers like Cengage, Pearson, and McGraw-Hill, open educational resources vendor Lumen Learning, and much more.

The event is free. There will be refreshments (yes!) and door prizes (I never win). If interested, please register by clicking on this link: http://vsu.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_1BQzyxy2qdYlqVD

If you want more information or have questions, please contact VSU’s Director of Distance Education, Art Fridrich at afridrich@vsu.edu.

Proposal deadline today: Conference on HigherEd Pedagogy

CIDER logoThe 8th Annual Conference on Higher Education Pedagogy hosted by Virginia Tech’s Center for Instructional Development and (pant, pant…let me take a breath) Educational Research (mercifully shortened to the refreshingly delicious acronym CIDER) is, according to the CIDER website, “focused on higher education teaching excellence and the scholarship of teaching and learning. The conference showcases the best pedagogical practice and research in higher education today. Sessions address disciplinary and interdisciplinary instructional strategies, outcomes, and research.” If you have something to share, get on the stick: proposals are due today, September 14, 2015. Here is more from the event page on the CIDER site:

Faculty are, on a daily basis and in very unassuming ways, demonstrating a renewed energy and focus toward the scholarship of teaching and learning. This is further evidenced by our attention to academic assessment, the integration of technology and learning, and even in the change in our teaching lexicon as we incorporate active engagement and reflective practices into instruction to encourage authentic learning.

The conference has grown steadily over the past six years, from 288 participants in 2009 to over 1000 participants in 2015 from 200+ institutions, 48 states, and 50 countries, including community colleges, liberal arts colleges, medical colleges, research universities, and historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Join us as we showcase and share our collective growth, innovation, and achievement in teaching and learning.

You can find the call for proposals and submission link here: http://www.cider.vt.edu/conference/cfp1.html.

Distance Education Peer Group: Call for Proposals Closes August 28!

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The Distance Education peer group conference is scheduled for October 9-10, 2015 at Reynolds Community College’s Parham Campus. Proposals are due on Friday, August 28.

Get together with your peers and bridge the distance to superior teaching and learning online. If you have an innovative idea, suggestions for best practices for distance education and/or hybrid classrooms, new research, or other information you want to share that will enrich the practice of teaching and the process of learning online, please submit a proposals. We need our pioneers and trailblazers, our full-timers and our adjuncts. We need the diversity of thought and ideas that drive educational innovation. We need you to step forward.

Proposals are being accepted now and must be received by the August 28 deadline. Sessions are 60 minutes long and may be in the form of a:

  • presenter’s forum with one or more presenters
  • panel
  • roundtable
  • hands-on training in a computer lab.

Click on the link below for more information on the Distance Education Peer Group Conference or to submit a proposal: http://www.vccs.edu/careers/office-of-professional-development/peer-groups/distance-education-peer-group-conference/

This week’s events

Calendar_Noun_project_1194.svgWow, it’s been a busy summer, with a lot going on. Here are a few events happening this week that may be of interest to you. Take advantage of them now before the busy semester gets underway!

Keep track of all upcoming EdTech@VCCS events here: http://edtech.vccs.edu/upcoming-events/

NMC Summer Conference Correspondent

nmc_logo_url_RGB_jpg__675×600_I am heading up to Alexandria tomorrow for the New Media Consortium (NMC) Summer Conference. The NMC is best known for producing the Horizon Report, several annual publications that for the past decade or so have charted trends in educational technology and–although the organization has always distanced itself from this word–predicted the level of adoption of these technologies will have in various educational domains–higher ed, K12, museums, and libraries– along several adoption “horizons”–one year or less, two-to-three years, and four-to-five years. I’ve always found these prognostications problematic, untrustworthy, and ultimately not really useful. More useful is the sections of the reports that document current trends and provide links to case studies.

The focus of this conference is very different from the ones I usually attend, emphasizing creative educational practices using emerging technologies, and I’ve wanted to attend for a number of years. Either the location (Portland, OR last year) or schedule conflicts have prevented this. However, having the conference in DC this year (OK, technically Alexandria) has made it too convenient an opportunity to pass up this year. So, I have decided to jump in with both feet as well, as I have also volunteered to be a NMC Conference Correspondent. During the conference I will be crossposting from my social media accounts to the NMC conference blog and Twitter feed (@NMCorg #nmc15) mainly, as well as to the NMC Flickr group and Instagram account. We’ll see how it goes and if I can successfully keep all of these digital balls in the air.

What the Best College Teachers Do

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During the scenic two-hour shuttle ride from the Calgary Airport to Banff on my way to the Open Education Global conference I managed to plow through the slim little bestseller, What the Best College Teachers Do, by Ken Bain. Dr. Bain was one of the keynote speakers at this years VCCS New Horizons conference and I was really captivated by his talk which he gave amidst his keynote audience, wandering table to table like some Vegas crooner. His keynote was essentially a synthesis of the his book, citing examples of what the best college teachers do–they focus on knowledge-creation, not knowledge transmission, create learning experiences in their courses, encourage learners’ intrinsic motivation–and how these practices are supported by research in the learning sciences.

However I found his concluding chapter a bit contradictory. For his research studied what the best college teachers do, not what the best-trained college teachers do. Many of these teachers learned to be effective “on the job,” through trial and error and, most likely, and possessing a certain disposition for good teaching. Yet, in the concluding chapter Bain argues that good teaching is not some set of intuitive, inborn traits but in fact a set of skills, based in research, that can be taught. I don’t disagree, but think this point would be much more effective if I could see how teachers trained in the learning sciences get to effective teaching more quickly and completely than those who are not.

This book is a reminder to me that, colleges don’t need to be reinvented, run like for-profit corporations, or actually run by for-profit corporations. Instead, higher education needs to focus fully on supporting effective teaching and learning. We know what works–in fact, Bain summarizes these approaches nicely in his book–so let’s finally, finally train our faculty to do what the best college teachers do.

You can buy What the Best College Teacher’s Do at your local bookseller or, if you insist, online through some global behemoth.

OpenVA 2.1: Powdered Wig Version

Thomas Jefferson Reenactment

“P.S., citizens: ye should license openly all of mans’ intellectual endeavors to avoid some serious problems down the road.”

OpenVA is putting on its breeches and tri-cornered hat, hopping on its pony,  and heading to Williamsburg, VA. OpenVA is evolving from a centrally-organized, annual summit to more of an umbrella term for a collection of institution or group-sponsored gatherings focused on all forms of openness. This is a good thing, I think, and was the goal anyway, shared at the close of OpenVA 2.0 last October at Tidewater Community College with the idea of the college “drive-by.”

The W&M event is really an ideal format for the next iteration of OpenVA. Jamison Miller, previous OpenVA participant and graduate student in W&M’s Higher Education Program, organized OpenVA 2.1 to address particular needs at his institution, but has designed the event with input from the the broader open community in Virginia. Here is the announcement Jamison posted to the OpenVA mailing list:

We are excited to announce “OpenVA 2.1”, a 3-hour workshop on Open Educational Resources (OER) that will be hosted at the College of William and Mary on Saturday, May 2nd. Although OER are gaining exposure and adoption across the globe, awareness remains one of the chief obstacles to implementation. This event, then, is about fostering a rich and varied awareness of the many faces of OER. We are organizing two focused panels to critically discuss:

  1. the current OER landscape and what constitutes OER and,
  2. first-hand accounts of OER implementation from a variety of disciplines and contexts.

These panel sessions will be broken up by an expectedly spirited keynote address from Gardner Campbell, Vice Provost for Learning Innovation and Student Success at Virginia Commonwealth University. Space in the agenda will be reserved for audience input, as we hope to encourage an engaged dialogue relevant to attendees. And lunch is on us!

It is good to see the DIY, guerilla spirit of the first OpenVA conference continue. The first conference was created 2 1/2 years ago out of spit and polish, rolls of duct tape, Werner Herzog-recommended bolt-cutters, pure, unrefined human ingenuity, and a small roll of bills that constituted a budget. We referred to it as an “inaugural” event at the time, but that was purely aspirational. Here we are today, with another exciting event at one of the nation’s oldest and most prestigious colleges. Who’d a thunk? Details below. It’s free, but you have to register.


Saturday, May 2nd, 10:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. (doors open at 10 for coffee)
Media Center, Ground floor, Swem Library
The College of William and Mary
400 Landrum Drive, Williamsburg, VA 23185

Free weekend parking available in all campus lots
Directions: https://swem.wm.edu/about/directions-parking
The event is FREE, but pre-registration is required as there is a cap of 50 attendees. Register at http://openva.org/register-2/. Please distribute immediately to interested staff and faculty. For questions, please contact Beverly Covington or Jamison Miller.

The 3rd Annual Open Textbook Summit is calling

Call_for_Proposals___Open_Textbook_SummitThe call for proposals is out for BCcampus’s 3rd Annual Open Textbook Summit. The summit will be held on May 28-29 in Vancouver, British Columbia. This is the same location as the Open Education Conference on November 18, 2015, which also has a call for proposals.

Summit topics include:

  1. Faculty experiences adopting, adapting or creating open textbooks
  2. Student advocates and students who have experienced open textbooks
  3.  Open textbook project staff interested in sharing experiences and resources
  4. Government representatives who are, or are interested in, creating policy and establishing funding programs
  5. Librarians supporting open textbooks
  6. Open textbook research initiatives
  7. Open textbook peer review
  8. Institutional support for open textbook adoptions
  9. Technology to support the development and use of open textbooks
  10. Innovative pedagogical activities involving open textbooks  and open pedagogy

Submissions  are due on March 23, 2015. Acceptance announcements go out no later than April 2, 2015. Presenters get their registration fee waived.