Open SUNY COTE Summit

Celebrate. Connect. Share. Grow.


Alicia Fernandez: What I Have Learned After Completing 28 Online College Courses

Presenter: Alicia Fernandez is a Open SUNY Online Student and the 2015 NUTN Online Student Recognition  Award Recipient

Day 2 Presentation

In 2010, Alicia Fernandez decided to return to college to complete the bachelor’s degree she had started 1980.  Four years and twenty-eight online courses later, she is the proud recipient of a B.A. in Communication and Culture from CUNY, and an M.S. in Curriculum Development and Instructional Technology from the SUNY University at Albany (received in May 2014).

As a first generation American, Alicia experienced financial and time challenges which precluded her participation in traditional university offerings. In 2009, after 30 years in the corporate ranks, she became one of the millions displaced by the economic downturn, and the lack of a college diploma became a barrier to securing a new job.  Fortunately, she discovered online degree programs that were not only very accessible, but also affordable. This allowed her to finally attain the previously elusive higher education credentials.

Alicia’s online learning experiences afford a unique student perspective. She will discuss instances that either hindered or facilitated her learning. Her reflections can help online teaching and learning practitioners and those that support online learners better understand and serve online students, especially her former cohort, the over 34 million adults in the US who have completed some college, but have no degree.

Open SUNY/NUTN Engagement: Creative Collaboration in an age of Consortia, Collaboratives, and Crazy Workloads

Moderators: NUTN Board Members:

Cristi Ford  –  Assistant Vice Provost for Learning Innovation Initiatives in the Center for Innovation in Learning and Student Success (CILSS) at the University of Maryland University College (UMUC).
Kevin Bell – Executive Director for online curriculum development and deployment at the College of Professional Studies, Northeastern University.
Dale D. Pike – Executive Director and Associate Provost for Technology-enhanced Learning and Online Strategies (TLOS) at Virginia Tech.

Day 3 Presentation
As innovation and academic technology become cornerstones for the future of landscape of higher education, it will be important for us to share topics and challenges that are emerging in our field. This session will provide attendees an opportunity to network and collaborate around synergies in the field of online learning and institutional digital strategy. In tandem with current NUTN board members and thought-leaders in the filed, explore new research partnerships, new collaborations on upcoming initiatives, and joint efforts on conference presentation sessions for the next NUTN event. Come with your big ideas and challenges. Be ready to make some new connections!

Kevin Bell: How Game Dynamics (not gamification) Will Save Higher Education

Presenter: Kevin Bell is a NUTN Board member and the executive director for online curriculum development and deployment at the College of Professional Studies, Northeastern University.

Day 3 Presentation
– the term – is becoming a lightning rod in higher education for many who are looking for the next big thing. If MOOCs weren’t it, is it Adaptive Learning? Personalized Learning? or Gamification? – What’s the magic bullet and where do I click?

Building on his own doctoral research carried out at the University of Pennsylvania between 2012 and 2014, Dr. Bell will demonstrate that elements common to intrinsically motivating online (and hybrid) classes, can be accentuated by reviewing, psychologically, they are doing and what effects they have on the learners. He makes the case that there does not have to be a golden bullet or a winner of the “Next Big Thing” award, but that engaging learning, as does engaging gaming, has traits that can be consciously built in to pedagogically sound, academically rigorous courses.

Gamification as a one-time, huge, vendor-enriching, expense, building out technology to offer up badges and leader boards, motivators as add-ons that provide no key intrinsic motivation for participants is unlikely to succeed. Spectacular builds of interactive simulations are prohibitively expensive for most institutions, date quickly and cannot be updated without more expense. The gamer generation is well aware that “Educational Games” typically fall short as “education” and are laughably inadequate as “Games.”

Breaking down what makes games (and effective learning environments) intrinsically motivating, why we persist and keep trying while we want to quit twenty minutes in to some learning experiences is the basis of this presentation. The work of Csikszentmihalyi on engendering Flow is referenced and will be factored into the discussion(s).

What aspects of successful game dynamics do we (or You, the instructor) already have, buried under the surface of low-tech classes and instruction? What elements might we amplify and develop by strategic use of instructor-developed, low budget, easily editable elements?

The underlying question the session will address is whether the application of select game dynamics to learning environments, even within traditional Learning Management Systems, might increase student engagement, time-on-task and outcomes including completion and persistence. The presentation will reference a number of case studies where instructor-practitioners implemented courses with game elements and how they performed with specific target demographics, including low Socio-Economic Status (SES), first generation and minority learners – demographics some are combining and referring to as the “New Majority Learner” Discussion will be facilitated as to how these treatments and the application of game dynamics might engage fragile learners and address access and self-efficacy issues including mindset and grit.

The doctoral thesis that ground this presentation was awarded a double distinction at Penn (the only double of the graduating class) and the contents are being reformatted to form the basis of an upcoming book.

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