Welcome to December, CUOL’ers! Wherever you find yourself this holiday season, we hope things are merry and that you’ve got a cup of cocoa close by.
In this Issue:
“Elvis” Manthorpe –a little less conversation, a little more action
New CUOL professor Anne Trépanier will bring Quebec to the forefront of online education this winter, and simultaneously test out some novel teaching techniques.
Quebec, meet the world. Or at least the world as determined by CUOL’s class list. In our newest online-exclusive course, professor Anne Trépanier will be teaching the history of Quebec, and she expects the course will be very popular with foreign students.
Quebec is a special case-study. For international students considering making the trip to Canada, Trépanier thinks they will be interested in learning about the francophone nation-within-a-nation.
It will be Trépanier’s first time teaching with CUOL, and she’s excited to dive in headfirst – after all, there will be no in-class section of students to divide her attention. Content will be delivered through a series of slides narrated by her recorded voice-over and office hours will be held on Carleton’s own videoconference software, Big Blue Button (introduction videos and one interview with expert were recorded in the CUOL studio).
“I’m more of a guide now,” she says of her new, slightly altered role as CUOL teacher. The online medium has given her the chance to spend less class time simply transmitting facts (instead, she leads students to the facts by providing links within the slides’ content to reliable sites with information about the topic at hand) and more time helping the students to make sense of the wide variety of interpretations of past events.
By leading the students through the contrasting and contradictory narratives of Quebec’s history (after all, what is history but a recorded story that is constantly edited) she hopes to foster critical thinking and research skills.
Another way she’s taking advantage of the digital perks is by scattering quizzes through the lectures to help students ensure they understand the content correctly. The quizzes won’t be factored into final grades, but will instead help break up the lecture into chunks and keep students on their toes.
This is Trépanier’s fourth year working at Carleton, and in that time she has developed 11 new courses. Most of which, she says, are rooted in experiential and out-of-the-classroom learning. There’s a limit to how much out-of-classroom group learning she can bring to her online course – seeing as there is no physical classroom to begin with – so she’s creating other sources of interaction. She says that creating the online course was a lot more work than she expected, but she jumps to add that the Educational Development Centre at Carleton was incredibly helpful.
Trépanier, a mother of two who swims with Carleton’s Master swimming team three times a week, has also been involved in two Quebec documentaries and one as a primary researcher. She studies the role narratives about Quebec’s history play in public discourse to this day.
“The main objective of this course is that the students get the fact that Quebec is obsessed with memory.”
Anne Trépanier teaches CDNS/FINS 2501 in the winter term.
How much does a class change when it’s moved online? More than you may think.
Adapting an in-class course to become exclusively online is a bit like turning a screenplay into a movie, says one of the main people involved in the process. In both cases, there’s a lot of give and take in terms of what goes in and what stays out of the course, according to Maristela Petrovic-Dzerdz. An instructional designer for Carleton’s Educational Development Centre, Petrovic-Dzerdz helps professors convert their courses to an online-focused equivalent.
“It’s a joy, but it’s a lot of work,” says Petrovic-Dzerdz. She says that only about 30% of the original course content stays exactly as is when the new remodeled course is released.
The first step is thinking critically about what the course’s goals should be, says Andrew Barrett, who is involved with much of the theory and design stages. Eventually, the professor works with Petrovic-Dzerdz to get into the hands-on creation. This can involve implementing a variety of features that the professor might be new to.
For instance, in Trepanier’s case, in addition to the quizzes and guest speakers and external links, they included a component that they hope will stop students from leaving all their lecture-viewing until the last minute. This simple but intelligent component involves having the students write a “weekly learning responses” – basically a few sentences – reflecting on the content of that week’s class and about any questions they’re left wondering about; they must submit each small assignment at some point in the week following the release of each lecture. While the assignments likely won’t be weighed heavily, a student would harm his or her own grades if he or she procrastinated viewing their classes too much.
When you’re changing everything to a completely new medium you have to find a way to keep the students engaged, says Petrovic-Dzerdz. And since all the lectures must be recorded before the course even starts, professors might be surprised how much preliminary work goes into the whole thing. This means that workload may be slightly lighter during the semester itself, but there will still be office hours and student assignments to deal with.
“We want to set the bar high,” adds Barrett.
While Trepanier’s course is only the second to go completely and exclusively online, Barrett says there is a long line of professors looking to follow suit.
Tales From The Field
As Ottawa edges into winter, CUOL (enviously) hears from a student who lives in a place where the locals complain about the chill at 15 degree Celsius.
When Ariel Bissett sits down to watch her CUOL lectures, she might feel warm, equatorial air wafting in through the window. If it happens to be a weekend, cheerful latin music will likely be booming from the leafy town square. This is because she recently moved to Honduras, but if it wasn’t for CUOL, she might never followed her family there.
The thing is: Bissett’s family moves a lot. Up until her early teens, Bissett’s footloose parents had relocated the family from Alberta, to British Columbia, to Newfoundland, to Ontario. At this point they agreed to stay put while their daughter navigated high-school. Predictably, as soon as Bissett graduated they hatched a plan to move to Honduras (where Bissett’s mother is originally from).
Eighteen-year-old Bissett was left with a choice. Having inherited her parents’ wanderlust, she desperately wanted to move with them – but she also didn’t like the idea of delaying her university education. She says that while the schools in Honduras are esteemed within Central America, their English degrees aren’t as well-recognized in the western world, where she dreams of one day becoming a book publisher.
The solution was distance education. And as per her research, Carleton had the best systems in place.
“I always planned on moving around and traveling, but taking a year off never seemed like a real option. With Carleton online I’ve been able to [travel while not putting my degree on hold.]”
She admits that sometimes she feels a little isolated from her peers, and that it’s hard to stay focused because of her entirely self-monitored and flexible class schedule, but in her mind these are small prices to pay for getting to eat pupusas whenever she wants (Pupusas are a typical Honduran dish that are similar to corn tortillas, except thicker and stuffed with cheese, beans or meat).
She’ll have to return to Ottawa this summer, however, to take a pre-requisite that wasn’t offered online. By the time she finishes that, she says her parents and younger brother very well may have packed up and moved to England, at which point she’ll likely join them and continue her distance education there.
“It’s just all so exciting, it’s like an adventure!” Bissett says she thinks she’s entering the online education scene at a good time, just as more and more professors are experimenting with different digital features. For instance, she really appreciates how her psychology professor Bruce Tsuji is using polleverywhere.com to answer student’s questions in realtime.
As a way to save up for her schooling and travel, Bissett has started monetizing her youtube channel (http://www.youtube.com/ArielBissett), where she regularly posts a couple book review videos per week.
The CUOL Movember Challenge a Success
Glory and honour befall the champion of the competition.
He’s put the “man” in Jeff Manthorpe. The Carleton prof won the CUOL Movember challenge this month, after raised a whopping $816.00 for men’s health. Manthorpe was top for both donations-per-capita (of his class) and donations total.
His impressive moustache, which he affectionately dubbed “the ape-hanger” after the motorcycle handlebars, is probably partially responsible for the win (it’s like a handlebar moustache on steroids, he says.) It elicited varied responses from students, from amazement to disbelief to derision.
But Manthorpe wasn’t fazed; he’s willing to do just about anything for charity. Including impersonate Elvis in public. As part of his victory, Manthorpe delivered an entire lecture dressed up as the late, great rockstar. Whether his students will be treated to a soulful rendition of Jailhouse Rock or Blue Suede Shoes in the future remains to be seen.
“I’m happy I won,” Manthorpe says. “It brought out a competitive streak in me.”
The challenge also had personal meaning for Manthorpe. He’s watched as both his grandfather and his father have suffered prostate cancer.
Tragically, his grandfather lost the battle, but not before the cancer had spread to his spine, gradually causing paralysis.
“It wasn’t pretty to see,” Manthorpe says. But it’s an example of how – beneath the outlandish facial hair – there’s a very real and serious issue at the heart of the Movember campaign.
All told, CUOL professors and their students raised $3,359.00 for the cause.
While Manthorpe says he’ll probably participate again next year, he admits that his wife (who he describes as supportive, if slightly disturbed by the mop on his upper lip) is probably happy that December has arrived.
“Elvis“ Manthorpe – a little less conversation, a little more action
CUOL is pleased to announce that we have raised $3427 this year, which almost $500 more than last year’s total! Jeff Manthorpe from the Chemistry department led the field with $871. He celebrated his win by bringing out his rockstar alter-ego – Elvis Manthorpe – and entertaining the crowd with a series of “athankyouverrmuch.” CUOL is proud of and thankful to all the students who donated, and to all the professors who took part in the challenge.
Jeff Manthorpe $871 / 86 students
Jeff Smith $270 / 69 students
Kim Hellemans $620 / 258 students
Peter Thompson $600 / 301 students
Nandini Sarma $181 / 115 students
Bruce Tsuji $372 / 660 students
Zeba Crook $190 / 486 students
Julie Dempsey $170 / 456 students
Pam Wolff $25 / 73 students
Cheryl Harasymchuk $115 / 401 students
|Web references||Mo’ video at http://tinyurl.com/cn9vcuo | Mo’ page at; http://tinyurl.com/a45cfeh|
→Did You Know?
The CUOL Movember challenge raised $3427.00? Thanks to our students, More on Page 3…
→Did You Know?
CUOL offers an exam invigilation service to post secondary and professional development institutions from around the world. This year more than 1200 students and professionals have taken exams at CUOL.
→Did You Know?
Want to try out VOD? Watch the first lecture of your CUOL course online! Just click on any VOD course shown at http://tinyurl.com/cs5vza5 & you can view it for free.
CUOL gratefully acknowledges the support of Malabar Ltd’s Ottawa store for the CUOL Movember Challenge.