Pedagogo

Fall Semester or Fall Sequester? Making the Academic Year Successful

May 12, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4
Pedagogo
Fall Semester or Fall Sequester? Making the Academic Year Successful
Chapters
Pedagogo
Fall Semester or Fall Sequester? Making the Academic Year Successful
May 12, 2020 Season 1 Episode 4

Wonder what academic success can look like for universities in the Fall? Interested in hearing the strategies your colleagues are using to liaise with administration to be successful, innovative, and effective? In this episode of Pedagogo, Allison sits down with academic leaders to discuss ways to define success for Fall and what it looks like to succeed, no matter the modality used to deliver classes.

Show Notes Transcript

Wonder what academic success can look like for universities in the Fall? Interested in hearing the strategies your colleagues are using to liaise with administration to be successful, innovative, and effective? In this episode of Pedagogo, Allison sits down with academic leaders to discuss ways to define success for Fall and what it looks like to succeed, no matter the modality used to deliver classes.

Britt:   0:02
Pedagogo, the show that brings education to your ears and meta-mastery to your assessments. With several insightful interviews today's episode explores that question of uncertainty on every educator’s mind, what's the plan for fall? Pedagogo brought to you by ExamSoft the assessment software that keeps security and integrity in your exams while providing you actionable data for your outcomes when creating the testing seems tough. ExamSoft gives you rainbows so you can pass your students with flying colors.

Allison:   1:26
Hey, Education Nation. Thanks for joining me for this special episode of Pedagogo, Fall Semester or Fall Sequester: Making the Academic Year Successful. This episode is dedicated to the question that's on a lot of people's minds, “what is your plan for success this fall?”  I'm speaking with academic leaders around North America to hear their answer to this and other pressing questions. Today I’m speaking with Patrick Robinson, Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at Arizona College and Cyprien Lomas, Director of the Learning Center and the Associate Dean of Learning Technologies for the University of British Columbia. To kick us off today, take a listen to my conversation with Patrick, who is a leader, administrator and activist, and a fellow of the American Academy of Nursing. Patrick’s been with Arizona College for a year and a half and is 30 years into a nursing career, about 20 of which has been spent in academia working his way through the faculty ranks, to department chair, then Dean. And now Provost.  We’ll pick up with Patrick answering what he is envisioning for fall.  Take a listen.

Patrick:   3:25
We are going to avail ourselves of remote learning at sort of at the beginning here and we're doing that with a reliance on synchronous learning.   it's not intuitive. It has to be planned. It has to be designed. And then we're going to do a lot of the, what I'd call the cognitive learning, upfront, or what we used to call didactic learning. So, we'll do a lot of that, front-load it, and then hopefully be able to get onto campus, uh, with appropriate infection control processes, um, appropriate social distancing, which will probably include masks and try to do some simulation labs in our laboratories.  It's hard to learn how to, start an IV virtually. There's a lot you can learn virtually, but you have to get the feel and the tactile sense of what it's like to slide the catheter into the vein. So hopefully we can do all of that in some sort of a limited capacity. And then hopefully our clinical partners will be allowing us into the healthcare facility somewhere in that semester. So right now, hospitals are making the right decisions. They shouldn't be letting non-essential, uh, providers in there. It's not safe for patients. So part of the contingency is also if we can't get that practical learning in, then we may have to start front loading some of this semester's clinical learning into the fall semester and be very creative and trying to catch up, as we try to keep students in the right progression to graduate on time. Um, so it's it's gonna be a lot of artistic craft in scheduling between summer and fall. Um, and it's going to be different in all our locations and where the student is in the curriculum.

Allison:   3:40
Absolutely. So, Patrick, as y'all envision returning to on-ground, does your university have the luxury of having the physical space to allow, uh, social distancing? Or will you accomplish that through scheduling?

Patrick:   5:35
So, I think one of the things that I'm not hearing a lot of people discuss is how do you actually prepare the physical plant for reopening? And it's expensive. Part of that is what is the initial disinfecting protocol? What is the ongoing disinfecting protocol? Where do we need to put up shields, right like they're doing at, the grocery store?  We're lucky because, we're all health sciences, so we have hand sanitizer dispensers everywhere. We build, our physical space for our enrollments. So, we will be accomplishing what we do with creative scheduling.

Patrick:   5:37
And that may mean more lab sections, hopefully not higher faculty loads, using, uh, parts of the clock that, um, we don't use right now in terms of scheduling, although we're pretty good at that. Um, and of course, we are always used to a lot of clinicals on, on weekends. So, our students and faculty are used to working on the weekends. That certainly will be maximizing all of that time to ensure that we can deliver our education, um, safely. Um, so yeah, I think there's a lot to think about in terms of the, um, how you prepare that physical space and we're not going to have 50 people in the classroom. I mean, that's not safe. Um, and we gotta figure out how to do that with the resources we have or investing in the resources we need to make it a safe environment. And that may mean blending in ways we haven't blended before. You know, having some students on campus some days, uh, having other students on campus other days, even if they're there, in the same course, right? Yep.

Allison:   6:07
And all of those are options?

Patrick:   6:32
All of those should be options and you cannot be constrained by the way you've normally done it. This is the time for, um, creative leadership, expansive thinking. So, just not be constrained by, you know, outdated thinking of how we've done things. But we shouldn't be doing that as academic leaders anyway. That's one of the problems with higher ed. But that's, that's probably discussion for another day, right? Allison. We can’t fix it all today.

Allison:   7:03
We can't fix it all. Well you bring up such a good point, Patrick article after article that I've been reading is suggesting that potentially the silver lining of COVID is, is this the impetus to redefine higher education. So, it's, it's an exciting time in that there is no right or wrong answer and nothing seems to be off the table.

Patrick:   7:14
Yeah. You know, and it's sad that it kind of took this because we don't have any, we have the same great thinkers have been saying this for years and you know what, I think part of it is we don't have, we just don't have the right, the right system set up for academic leaders to be innovative. And there's a lot of fear. There's a lot of fear. And maybe this will do it because we were forced to do things that many of us have wanted to be doing for years.

Allison:   7:33
Patrick, if you had it your way, what in its best form might education look like after COVID-19? What would be some of the practices we might latch onto now and keep?

Patrick:   7:35
Yeah, so to me it's the best education is always using the best modality, the best evidence-based teaching, learning strategy to achieve, learning outcomes. So, sort of this false idea that you choose a modality if you have it

Allison:   8:30
Meaning to have access to it.

Patrick:   8:59
That's not even sound. You have to measure the outcome. I know you and I share a love of learning assessment, so it's like what do you do? Is three hours, twice a week the best way to teach So, you know, just get out of this idea that it is one way that it's a steady diet of one thing. and invest in the resources for intentional design. I think that's the, the other thing is like, you know, it takes a village to create a curriculum and the course, it doesn't take you faculty member and it is an interprofessional team of designers, technologists, uh, subject matter experts in that doesn't just mean an online class that is a class. that's how I would see a higher education, progressing in the future. I think that that's what people are going to be demanding.

Allison:   10:48
Yeah, I hope so. I would be overjoyed, to see that. So, Patrick, do you see it as an opportunity for leadership to create environments where faculty can engage in that intentional design and kind of get faculty buy in that, “hey, let's make things data-driven and let's be brave to redefine best”. Is that something that leadership can take an active role in doing? Should that be faculty driven? Um, have you, have you seen that be successful anywhere?

Patrick:   11:16
In the ideal situation? Um, leaders are leaders because they have skills and leadership vision. hopefully people are chosen for leadership positions because of their ability to envision a new future. We know that doesn't happen all the time. Faculty are collaborators and partners and unduplicable resources to do that. Do I have examples of that happening? Absolutely. But it's in very nontraditional types of, um, organizations where, you know, I, I spent 10 years in a research one, um, environment as a faculty member and I loved my research and, um, you know, loved my colleagues, but it was a stifling environment for me because I loved educational innovation. Yes. I love teaching and I was told many times that, you know, as I was, going for my third-year review, it's like you're spending too much time with students. And I'm like, I thought that was my job. Right. You know, I've chose places that, engage faculty and hire faculty who want to do things differently. I've been in places where competency-based learning was the norm and faculty embraced that and the, the ability to evolve and competency-based learning was a collaboration amongst, uh, executive leadership, uh, marketing, uh, instructional technologists and designers, instructional architects, product managers. Uh, so absolutely it, it can happen.

Allison:   14:05
Right. Wow. You were talking about to, to envision a new kind of fall to envision education after COVID, to be willing to define what's best, you know, to adopt the cost of what's best and then implement those practices in a robust way where you have intentional design. Can you talk to me about how you have been successful or any success you've seen in prioritizing the cost of best?

Patrick:   14:13
Boy, yeah. That absolutely takes, vision from the leadership, um, because it’s expensive. And the investment to me doesn't start with a technology. And I think that's where a lot of people start. It's backwards. You know, people are getting really enthused about their new shiny toys. Well, you have to have a really strong use case in order to know what you're even looking for.  Because the universe of technology is infinite at this point. Oh my God. The virtual sims and the white boards and it's, dizzying and exciting but you can't start with that. So, I think prioritization is, to me clear and it's always around human resources cause that's what's gonna make the difference.

Patrick:   14:18
So, it is developing the use case, doing a strategic look into the marketplace to see what you need to accomplish, what you need for the, the broadest, applications possible. And then make those strategic purchases but invest in the training of faculty and holding them accountable and evaluating them on the use of that technology in the classroom, or um, online. And that's the place to start. People make a difference. Technology won't make a difference without the people there who can implement it. It's not fair to faculty to give them, um, tools and say, do this. Um, they have to have the support, training and resources, um, to, to use it. And that's what's missing a lot when we implement a technology  

Allison:   16:15
Right. And leadership that prioritizes that will, will see the dividends. 

Patrick:   16:27
Yes, no doubt about that. Without it.  You're wasting your money.

Allison:   17:54
Well, and the other thing I think I hear you saying is just the value of data. If the only metric you have is the number of students exceeding, meeting, or failing to meet course learning objectives is it's going to be hard to make these data driven decisions and establish a use case. So really figuring out what metrics need to be counted, what defines success, and how to collect that, would be an important place to start if you're thinking about trying to shift your paradigm and operate in this way.

Patrick:   18:15
Yeah. Well that brings up an excellent point. That's another thing we fool ourselves with that just because we have a PhD in a discipline that we have, some kind of understanding of program assessment or learning assessments. So, I would say there is numerous schools where assessment is absolutely a useless exercise on paper for a site visit, and there's nothing living, breathing or informative about it. And if you don't have the capacity in your institution, and you don't have a leader who truly understands assessment in its broadest sense, learning assessment is only part of that, that's another truly strategic investment that you should be making because your decisions in, I don't care what your endowment is, nobody can afford to lose money. Nobody can afford to make decisions based on supposition. That's right. False assumptions. You know, everything should be data driven and there are absolutely ways to do that. And yes, looking at the number of students successful in a course is about as low-level assessment as you can get, and doesn't really tell you anything.

Allison:   18:45
Right. Well, Patrick, presuming that your fall semester will remain virtual or will remain online, can you talk to me about how you would might define success in the fall?

Patrick:   19:08
Well, that's probably an easy one because it doesn't change, you know, ‘cause I believe success is success. So, if you're going to define success, um, success is going to be, I believe in threes, so I would say, you know, student satisfaction, retention and, um, student success. And what will change is the tactics that we have to implement and order to, get to what is success. You need tutoring, mentoring, support from faculty support from, we have a, we have a lot of different roles on our campuses that assist students with success. We have a position called a college counselor because people experience nonacademic barriers to their success. So, this individual on the campuses helped some broker, resources, to support the student, you know, whether those be, you know, um, entitlements or support with health or mental health issues. So, we don't interact. If we're not on campus, we're not going to interact with our learning resource center tutors the same. We're not going to interact with our counselor the same. So, what does that mean? We have to develop the tactics where those services are readily available. And my gosh, that's not hard at all to success looks the same regardless of where you are.

Allison:   19:10
Right. And I think I hear you describing the willingness to find the tools that will provide your students just as robust an experience at home so counseling, and the support, TAs and tutors, just providing a robust experience while still quantitatively measuring performance

Patrick:   19:17
Absolutely. And you know, our faculty is just freaking amazing. They have really stepped up. Um, it's not, wasn't surprising, and are really enjoying it.  And really are enjoying the, um, challenges, enjoying the, and are absolutely enjoying the, um, uh, the creativity that this current situation has mandated.Absolutely  

Allison:   0:00
ell, I just think that speaks to though one being offered tools and solutions that are working, and two, they have obviously received the message, try.  If it fails, try something else. So not having that fear, um, I think does make you bold, and you can look at this as an opportunity to try and enjoy being creative.

Patrick:   0:00
Absolutely  

Allison:   0:00


Allison:   0:00


Allison:   0:00
Can you talk to me about maintaining rigor and kind of trying to maintain accreditation standards and in this completely online environment?

Patrick:   0:00


Patrick:   0:00


Patrick:   0:00


Patrick:   0:00


Patrick:   0:00
The first thing is to make sure that you've received the communications and if you're unclear about what it takes to continue this, um, that you've had those dialogues with your program officer or, your liaison. And if you're not sure there are, I would reach out to your, your, um, liaison and say, Hey, this is the challenge that I have encountered. What can I do and how can you assist me, um, in doing it? I think what most of us are doing right now who have not invested in the development of quality online education. We're doing what I consider best we can. Um, remote learning that depends highly on synchronized learning. There's lots of challenges with that, but I think it is what many of us have to rely on right now. So, I think it's just making sure that you know, your workload maps for your courses and you're getting the contact hours, you are not compromising when it comes to assessment. You know, I'm a big believer in,  you know, making sure that everything you do from a learning perspective is, assessed.  If you're not, if you haven't done that up to this point and you just allow a faculty to put an A, B or C in your student management system that worked for whoever monitors you. Um, but you know, rigor online environment and in that face to face environment should be a lot more than that with ensuring there's a validity to what you're doing. Standardized rubrics. Clearly for, a profession like nursing we have to make sure that we're maintaining the rigor in terms of the security of those exams. And I would say also don't, um, don't slack off on your, on data gathering. You know, if you're continuing to teach students, you don't want Spring of 2020 to be just like a black hole with no data in it.

Patrick:   0:00
Right. Group chat.

Patrick:   0:00
And we've had a lot of those discussions. So, we've been pretty, um, clear in making sure that the data is not exactly what it looked like before, but we are able to assure that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing. So, it's having those critical conversations in terms of your program effectiveness, assessment right now, and if there needs to be a contingency plan, putting that in place, ‘cause you don't want to show an accredited that. Yep. Sorry. We just sorta were, ‘it was challenging,  so, we decided not to, to measure anything this semester’.    

Allison:   0:00
That's right. Well, Patrick, as we wrap up, what are the technologies and the tools, um, that you couldn't do this without? And are there any technologies or tools that in this, in this time of crisis, it became apparent that they just weren't working.    

Patrick:   0:00
So, certainly because we're nursing, um, we depend heavily on secure remote test proctoring. So, we invested in the secure remote test, for regular unit exams. I don't know if there's anything else that's, absolutely critical. I would say that, we've experimented with a lot of synchronous learning tools and we found our best, that the faculty and leaders should be doing Some testing of those over the summer and seeing what works and think about the functionality. It just in terms of your ability to do small group work in a larger, um, setting, recording, posting, all of those types of things. And then going forward I would say that you need to have a strategy for how educational technology is going to be used and figure out your use case and do a, do a true RFP in terms of what you want to implement, going forward either for emergency and contingency planning or for business as usual.    

Patrick:   0:00
Wow. Right. There's just no getting around data-driven planning and then resourcing of tools and solutions, right? Yup. Yup.    

Allison:   0:00
Patrick’s plan for success was planning and prioritizing; investing in people and training, and making strategic purchases.  I thoroughly enjoyed my talk with Patrick. He is a strong leader, and forward thinker and the kind of Provost who makes faculty’s jobs easier.  That really came through when we were talking. He understands that partnering with the faculty is critical for success.

Allison:   0:00
Next, let's hear from Cyprien Lomas, Director of the Learning Center and the Associate Dean of Learning Technologies for the University of British Columbia. I met Cyprien after reading an April 2020 'University Affairs' article by Sparrow McGowan, which features a wonderful interview with Cyprien. Cyprien's quote to conclude the article is what caught my intention. He says, "I haven't been more energized than I've been in the past month, in my whole career. I can't tell if it's the shock or the work, but at the same time I had this opportunity just to dream and try out things that previously had been nice to have”. He say. “It does feel like there are a million experiments going on in parallel in higher ed and conference spaces and consumer learning spaces. And even with kids.”  Interested to get the viewpoint of someone who chooses to view COVID through a lens of positivity and promise. I sat down with Cyprien to talk about what success in fall could look like for someone so energized by the opportunities before him and through a lens of a learning technologist.

Allison:   0:00
Cyprien, thank you so much for joining me today. Can you tell us a little bit about, um, your role and what you do every day?

Cyprien:   0:00
Sure. My name is Cyprien Lomas. I am the, uh, Director of the Learning Center in the Faculty of Land and Food Systems and also the Assistant Dean of Learning Technologies. And what I'm doing is I'm running a unit that is looking at how do we learn, support learning, and teach better, um, within my small faculty, which is in a much larger campus, um, which is the university of British Columbia.    

Allison:   0:00
How are you looking at fall?    

Cyprien:   0:00
So, based on what we saw in the last six weeks, we are really trying to skill up and, uh, provision for remote teaching.    

Allison:   0:00
I see. Just to level set Cyprien when you say online learning, can you define for us what you mean? Does that necessarily imply synchronous or asynchronous learning or is it any learning online? How do you define online learning?    

Cyprien:   0:00
Okay. Um, tough question. I think when I'm, I've been using online learning, I think, in a sort of casual way. Um, I don't think what we will see in the fall, it feels like a sort of pale or version of online learning. Um, uh, which, and the term that I've seen thrown about is emergency remote teaching. It feels like there's quite a few levels that we would have to get to, to get to online learning. Um, and I think the challenge is, if we call what we're doing in the fall online learning, um, we run the risk of alienating, reducing the expectations of what the one online learning could be.  If we are going to be online, it would be quite useful to have where faculty could go in and record lectures, at night where they haven't seen anybody.   Um, and when I say lectures, even that's up for grabs, right? Because the question is, we have taught in 50 minute or, um, 80-minute lectures for quite a long time perhaps because we were constrained by space, the classrooms, and classroom availability. And so, the, this, is where it becomes exciting. The question is do we want to stick to a 50-minute lecture?  Um, and I think there's really quite a lot to learn there. And I think, like everybody else, um, I feel like I'm learning so fast now pretty much every aspect of my life is going online. Right? But I think, the other extraordinary thing about this period is that, um, everybody is in this boat of having a severe constraint on how's they do their job, in a way, if they're lecturers.

Cyprien:   0:00
And what I've seen is a lot of very deep thinking and reflection, that I'm not sure I have seen before, right. It almost took a crisis like this to shake people up and to get them to, dig deep inside them, to really reflect on what works for them and what doesn't. And in that process, is, they've also gone back to their discipline, and, and possibly what attracted to them to that discipline in the first place, and what they liked about it and what they want to share with our students. And this for me is so exciting.

Allison:   0:00
What is the heart of the discipline, right?    

Cyprien:   0:00
Absolutely. And what attracted them to the discipline. What really, if you had to go back and rethink it from scratch, what is the most important thing that you would like your students to get that from taking their course?    

Allison:   0:00
So, let me ask you this. Cyprien are you or your program defining success for fall? What would success look like?    

Cyprien:   0:00
So, success for me, often, is user support at the first level. And when I say users, I'm initially thinking of professors or instructors. Right. Yeah. And so, I guess my second level would be to identify people who can serve as my leaders and lead their peers. And Just see whatever I can do to support them. I think to let our faculty know that they were supported. The approach that we're taking is we're trying to lead by curating what we feel are potential best practices with the proviso that we are open to debate this. And in fact, we would welcome debate. And so, the challenge would be can we make a tool or a practice, understandable enough that a faculty member could then, quickly see how it would fit in their situation.

Allison:   0:00
Fantastic. So, making this suite of tools available. Yeah.    

Cyprien:   0:00
Yeah, absolutely. Making the suite of tools, but, but also curating them because I think you mentioned earlier, there are so many tools right now and I think that once we get past this shock, um, we can start to find ways to evaluate these different opinions. Finding some way to get, um, instructors to use the tools that they have in their pocket already and to, flavor, whatever they make with their own personality, I think is something that I, for me, holds a lot of promise.    

Allison:   0:00
I just loved the phrase Cyprien used, emergency remote teaching.  That’s about what it feels like.  In all seriousness, it struck me that both Cyprien and Patrick see this as a time for so much possibility. To reconsider everything about “a lecture” in Higher Ed.  I know they have me thinking.  I wonder… what do they have you thinking? What could you change in the way that you deliver your class that might lead to real gains? Cyprien also talked about the importance of identifying leaders he can call on to lead their peers.  Hands down, my favorite take away from talking with these two is that they both valued faculty support, and, in fact, included faculty support in their definitions of success. These are leaders under which programs can thrive in any circumstances.    

Allison:   0:00
That’s it for Pedagogo today. I hope you enjoyed today’s episode. Join me next week as we continue the conversation around “Fall Semester or Fall Sequester: Making the Academic Year Successful, when I’m   joined by John Murray, Provost at Barry University and Aaron Cyr, Director of Assessment and Evaluation at Arizona College. If you’re into data, Aaron’s your guy.  I found my interviews with these two leaders particularly practical, relatable and inspirational. Be sure to tune in. Until then, I’m your host Allison Case. Stay safe and stay well.

Britt:   0:00
Pedagogo brought to you by ExamSoft, the assessment software that keeps security and integrity in your exams while providing you actionable data for your outcomes when creating the testing seems tough. ExamSoft gives you rainbows so you can pass your students with flying colors.    

Keeley:   0:00
This podcast was produced by Allison Case and the ExamSoft team, audio engineering and editing by Adam Karsten and the A2K productions crew including me Keeley Karsten. This podcast is intended as a public service for entertainment and educational purposes only and is not a legal interpretation nor statement of ExamSoft policy, products or services. The views and opinions expressed by the hosts or guests of this show are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of ExamSoft or any of its officials, nor does any appearance on this program imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Additionally, reference to any specific product, service, or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by ExamSoft. This podcast is the property of ExamSoft worldwide and is protected under US and international copyright and trademark laws. No other use, including without limitation, reproduction, retransmission, or editing. This podcast may be made without the prior written permission of ExamSoft. 

Allison:   0:00