‘Tis the season for new beginnings! Kick off your school year right by discovering the Discovery Centre, meeting new professors, and getting a CUOL refresher.
In this Issue: (pdf copy)
New Faculty – Pablo Mendez
Discover the Discovery Centre
CUOL Conference on Online Learning
CUOL: How It Works!
Behind the Scenes – Maria Brocklehurst
A Season of Firsts — Feature Story – New Faculty
By Andrea Noriega
On a cold Monday morning, in January of 2014, Dr. Pablo Mendez traversed the blustery winter winds on his way to Carleton for his first teaching experience with the university. While facing a new class for the first time might be intimidating for some, Dr. Mendez resourcefully leveraged the cold as a topic in order to interact with his students. “Telling the students that I was new to real Canadian winters and asking them for winter survival tips was a great way to quickly establish a connection them” says Dr. Mendez.
The new academic year of 2014 has now begun, and new faculty such as Dr. Mendez, now a Geography professor at Carleton, are getting their bearings. However the Carleton teaching experience doesn’t start on the first day of class; it starts at new faculty orientation (NFO). “It’s been fantastic to be able to count on so many great people in the university who are dedicated
to helping me do a good job” says Dr. Mendez. He commented that “everyone has always been very professional but also very personable” with him in these experiences. At Carleton, there is a focus on ensuring that new and returning faculty have the resources they need to teach effectively.
This will be Dr. Mendez’s first time participating as the instructor of a video recorded class. “This being the first time I teach a course with an online component, I have to admit I’m a bit nervous” confesses Dr. Mendez, “particularly about being video-recorded while I teach”. Having immersed himself in the Carleton community, Dr. Mendez will likely have several contacts he can turn to for support. However this may not necessarily be true for all faculty, especially new faculty, which is why resources such as NFO are so important.
Additionally however, there are several Carleton support services to help instructors navigate through their teaching experiences. Carleton University OnLine (CUOL) offers ongoing support to their instructors and helps make the transition for new faculty such as Dr. Mendez more manageable.
Dr. Mendez met with the CUOL staff for a one-on-one info session earlier this month where they discussed how to facilitate midterms and final exams both for the in-class and distance students.
Each year a general meeting is held for all CUOL instructors in late August or early in September per academic year. Dr. Mendez attended the general meeting this year on August 28th. The keynote speaker has talked about the trends in online learning and where online education is headed.
As the warm weather slowly fades, and new winds bring about change, the Carleton community remains dedicated to teaching and learning.
Continuously searching for innovative ways to improve faculty’s experiences is, by extension, a pursuit in improving the experiences of students. “I love the feeling I get when I’m coming to understand something that I find perplexing or is entirely new to me. The hope that I can help other people feel that way is what motivates me as an instructor” says Dr. Mendez – and maybe, these are words to live by.
Discover the Discovery Centre
Tucked between the floors of stacks by the MacOdrum Library is the Discovery Centre, a new 7,000 square-foot space where students flock to do research, conduct experiments, and watch the occasional World Cup final. It’s an innovation incubator—a free-rein, clean-slate study sanctum that represents just one of the ways in which Carleton University has committed to promoting immersive learning.
From 3D printers to mobile whiteboards to gaming labs, the futuristic space fosters creativity in a way that can’t be matched by library kiosks and lecture halls. Furniture on wheels and semicircle sofas to encourage group sessions, and bursts of bright-yellow chairs keep the space from feeling too clinical. It even houses a couple of treadmill desks for those who work better in motion.
“One path I wanted to take with the design of the space and what was put in items or features you cannot easily find elsewhere on campus,” says Alan Steele, director of the Discovery Centre. “Many of the items of furniture are on wheels so groups can cluster where they want. From one person to groups of 12 or more, they can all gather to work and study.”
Steele has been working at Carleton University since 2002, when he joined the Department of Electronics. Almost 10 years later, he was appointed Special Assistant to the Provost and part of the job was the setting up of the Discovery Centre. The space officially opened its doors in November 2013, but Steele says it’s a work in progress.
“We are still less than a year old and so still developing,” Steele says. “I would like to see more events, like our ‘Expert and a Movie’, or more talks involving students. I would like to see more student work in the Centre, items students have created, or posters.”
Steele and his team are also considering covering one or more walls with a dry-erase surface so students can create large-scale drawings or collaborative brainstorming.
The space currently consists of three rooms: a Gaming Lab equipped with consoles and a gaming computer as well as the 3D printer and scanner, a Multimedia Lab with a 18×5 foot display and surround sound for presentations, and a Learning Lab with a reconfigured classroom set up to encourage student-teacher interaction.
Steele’s tip for making the best use of the centre? Get there in the morning when it’s at its quietest to snag a whiteboard—it can get pretty busy in the afternoon and during exams, he says. And the traffic isn’t just limited to undergrads.
Professors use it for their office hours, and students from all faculties have been using it to bring designs to life using the 3D facilities, building models of fish fins, chess sets and even video game characters.
Lisgar High School’s Calculus and Vectors class paid a visit to design and print racecars, creating a 75-foot racetrack to test out their creations.
Steele says he’s happy to hear any comments, ideas or suggestions for the space from new users. As for the students who’ve already settled in, the repeat visits speak for themselves.
“They like the comfort, the flexibility, the brightness and the technology. People work in here for hours and that tells me we have it right,” says Steele. “It’s nice to see the look of ‘wow’ when people get off the elevator and step into a space they weren’t expecting.” Top
CUOL Conference on Online Learning
The interest in MOOCs, Pellish explains, peaked and then steadily dropped off as institutions realized that while enrolment was high, completion
rates were drastically low.
By Andrea Noriega
Associate Vice President Teaching and Learning, Joy Mighty, warmly welcomed this year’s keynote speaker, Matthew Pellish, the director of member education at the Education Advisory Board at this year’s online learning conference at the bright and inspiring River Building on Thursday, August 28th. Organized by Carleton University OnLine (CUOL) staff, the conference was fortunate to have Mr. Pellish present on the trajectory of the MOOC from its advent to its more recent descent as what was previously seen as an educational innovation. This short morning conference included a cracker barrel session with ten discussion tables each boasting their own unique area of expertise in online teaching and learning.
Mr. Pellish’s presentation, entitled Promise and Perils of Innovation remarked on the affordability and accessibility of higher education, positioning these issues as the catalysts for innovations in online education. More centrally, the area of discussion was around MOOCs , and how they have moved from a perceived threat to the structure of higher education, to arguably innocuous in all counts. The interest in MOOCs, Mr. Pellish explained, peaked and then steadily dropped off as institutions realized that while enrolment was high, MOOC completion rates were actually drastically low. With an average completion rate at 2% of enrolment, the MOOC proved to be a less than desirable approach to creating a solution for affordable and accessible education. However Mr. Pellish’s take away message is more powerful than just this – he stresses the importance of seeing online learning as an opportunity to expand learning resources toward a multimodal approach. Mr. Pellish describes this as an “unbundling” of traditional packaging of courses and programs, a process which is expected to open up more education consumption options for the multimodal learner.
Cracker barrel session topics ranged from innovations in e-portfolios, to student support services for online learning, to gamification as a pedagogical
tool. Knowledgeable professionals from the Educational Development Centre (EDC), the Library, CUOL, and the University of Ottawa were involved in leading discussions on the range of topics currently of interest in the developing world of online teaching and learning.
At the table on The Future of CUOL Online Exams and Proctoring, facilitated by Nestor Querido and Jeff Cohen from CUOL, the matter of “what makes a good exam question” was raised as a point of concern when managing large online classes. Ensuring that assessments are effectively administered entails creative solutions to ensure students are completing the assessments properly.
A few tables down, Andrew Barrett and Samah Sabra from the EDC presented on Professional Development for Online and Ontario Online Institute. They introduce CU Open, CU Portfolio, and the certification program that is currently being launched and will offer modules in course design for instructors. Only a few tables away, an engaging presentation was made by Kevin Cheung, on Reigniting Students’ Learning: Using Game Techniques, Apps and YouTube.
He describes how he transformed a remedial math course into an engaging learning experience for students through the use of gamification strategies. Turning his lectures into the clues to solving an App game, Cheung was able to increase his student’s success in the course.
With several discussions in a short period of time, the cracker barrel sessions remained interesting and allowed participants to navigate through the topics of their choosing, and ultimately helped make this event a success. Top
CUOL: How It Works!
Whether you are a new or returning CUOL student, you are bound to need some advice to help keep on track with your university courses. Follow these tips and your online learning experience will be a success!
Prepare your “viewing” environment
Since your classroom is your computer or TV, make your “viewing” area conducive to learning so you can get the most out of your CUOL course. For example, do you require silence? Specific materials? A pot of tea to hand? Make that happen!
Create a “viewing” habit
Schedule a specific time of the day for your “class time”, and view your lecture from start to finish. Make it a regular part of your weekly routine. If you try to view the lectures all at once, chances are that there will never be any time to finish viewing them.
Contact your Instructor or TA
If you have any questions about the course, your Instructor and T.A. can help. You can find contact information for CUOL instructors on cuLearn, on course outlines, and sometimes on the CUOL web site (www.carleton.ca/cuol).
Keep up-to-date with announcements
Not only should you follow your course outline, but watch for upcoming deadlines and important course information as announced on cuLearn, the CUOL website, and/or the CUOL newsletter. We also have a Facebook page (Carleton University OnLine – CUOL) and a Twitter feed (@askcuol)
Enter into cuLearn discussions, ask questions of your fellow students, keep up with readings, clarify points with your Instructors and TAs – it all helps you make the most of the material and the online experience.
Always plan ahead
Make sure you are aware of course assignment deadlines and midterm/final exam periods. Designate specific blocks of time for studying, rather than trying to “cram” right before the exam takes place. If you need a distance exam, make sure you apply by the deadline! https://carleton.ca/cuol/examination-services/
So I’m registered in a CUOL course! What do I do now?
-Determine how you will view your lectures
-If you are a distance student and wish to write your exams and midterms off-campus, apply by the deadline
-Test your chosen viewing method: log in to VOD even if your course is not yet posted, tune to Channel 243 on Rogers, try the Webcast, visit the CUOL Student Centre in D299 Loeb…
-Visit your course website for your course information (cuLearn)
-Get your required textbooks (see cuLearn for your course outline, use the Carleton Bookstore or other source to purchase your texts)
-Take note of assignment deadlines and midterm exam information
-Plan your viewing and coursework schedule – don’t let yourself fall behind!
-Get hints and support on making the most of Online Courses (see Making the Most of CUOL)
Please note: Local CUOL students do not need to register for examination, only if you are a distance student (100 km or more from Carleton Campus).
Distance (off-campus) Exams:
Eligible students who require distance examinations must ensure that the appropriate examination application is received by the CUOL office before Sept. 20, 2014, the deadline for Fall 2014 half-credit and full-credit CUOL courses, and Jan. 19, 2015, the deadline for Winter 2015 half-credit courses. Please go to the CUOL website for more information and to fill out the distance application form
You must be in the CUOL (R, T or V) section of the course to qualify for distance exams. Top
Behind The Scenes – Maria Brocklehurst
Then and Now…
By Andrea Noriega
Things only last so long. With technology moving at warp speed, changes at the university have required a lot of adaptation from the staff, and also from the physical structures of the university itself. This year’s students will be walking into a newly renovated CUOL office, and are none the wiser as to the processes that have been left behind.
What is CUOL today was once known as iTV (Instructional Television). Its viewing room was housed in the library, and had only a modest four viewing stations for students to watch recorded lectures via the ¾ inch videocassettes still used in the 1980s. Around to bear witness of this, and all of the changes iTV was about to undergo, was Maria Brocklehurst, a library employee, poised and about to traverse into the world of online learning.
In the time of iTV, there were fewer courses that were recorded, and the tapes were intended as a resource for student’s who had missed a television broadcast and wanted to catch up. The lectures were filmed, edited, and sent to the Library audio-visual room where they were made available to students for a short two-week period, explains Maria. With only 4 kiosks, and a narrow time window in which to view, iTV quickly found itself inundated by demand.
Maria recounts a time when there were waiting lists for lecture tapes, students would call in to reserve copies, and long line-ups would form regularly – but most distressingly of all, tapes were being hoarded, students would squirrel them away before midterms and exams, stashing tapes in pamphlet boxes, back issues of the serials section, and even more remarkably, in behind the ceiling tiles of the bathrooms.
Needless to say, there was an increasing urgency to accommodate the demand for lecture viewing. iTV rebranded to CUTV (Carleton University Television), and was relocated to its current home in the Loeb Building – Maria Brocklehurst along with it. Other transitions began to happen more swiftly – lectures went from being on ¾” videocassettes, to VHS tapes, to DVDs that could more easily be recorded, duplicated, and stored, making the availability of recorded lectures more accessible. However with the advent of VOD (Video on Demand), the DVD was quickly phased out.
Removed from the shelves, and replaced by the intangible medium of VOD, the DVD left an empty space where it once used to sit.
As the decade turned in 2010, the department was once again rebranded and became CUOL (Carleton University Online), as it is known today. The technology that once allowed students to view recorded lectures based on the availability of the recordings, had now evolved to be completely available online and be watched by multiple viewers simultaneously.
This fall CUOL will be boasting new 24/7 viewing stations that have doubled the capacity of viewing stations. “When you think of how limited it used to be, to how it is now, it’s a huge improvement” Maria noted. Lecture recordings and viewing have really come a long way; it makes you wonder what someone like Maria might see next. Top
Tech Corner – PodCasts
Five podcasts to subscribe to now.
If you think of the radio in the same way you think of floppy disks, cassette tapes and the Backstreet Boys, think again. With online radio and podcasts better than ever these days, we decided to round up a few of our favourites for your listening pleasure.
Yes, we’re talking about that little purple icon you’ve left untouched somewhere in the depths of your phone, in favour of giving prime home-screen real estate to Snapchat and Candy Crush.
If you haven’t already hopped on board the podcast bandwagon, here’s your starter kit.
NPR’S PLANET MONEY
Why are we still using signatures in the digital age? What are the highest and lowest-paying majors? Why is milk always in the back of the grocery store?
Planet Money is a smart-yet-comprehensible snapshot of what’s going on in the economy. But it’s not just for business majors—Planet Money takes complex financial concepts and breaks them down into bite-sized 20-minute segments scripted in a way that feels more entertaining than it does educational. Some favourite episodes for students are “What’s Your Major” and “A Teenager’s Guide to Doing Business in North Korea”.
THIS AMERICAN LIFE
In our opinion, it’s the best podcast out there today (and the best source for dinner-table conversation starters). This American Life’s premise is simple—stories. Tons of them. Exceptional stories from everyday people, with the occasional piece featuring a not-so-everyday guest like Molly Ringwald, Malcolm Gladwell or Phil Collins (spoiler alert: he writes a song for one of the episodes linked below. Take a wild guess as to which one). They’re grouped together in hour-long thematic segments divided into acts. Some recommended episodes for students include “Dr. Gilmer and Mr. Hyde”, “Break-Up” and “How I Got Into College”. (Just give one a listen—you’ll be hooked.)
Design enthusiasts and architecture students, this one is for you. 99% invisible is a weekly podcast that explores the process and power of design and architecture—and with over 17 million downloads; you know they’re doing something right. Some great episodes for students are “Hacking IKEA”, “Title TK”, and “Sounds of the Artificial World”.
TED RADIO HOUR
If you’re a TED Talks lover, we highly recommend TED Radio Hour to keep you company on your commute to school. Popular talks are reproduced for radio, strung together thematically with added interviews, with topics ranging from segments on crowd-sourcing innovation to power struggles to finding happiness. Some recommended episodes for students are “Unstoppable Learning” and “Making Mistakes”.
UNDER THE INFLUENCE
Under the Influence with Terry O’Reilly is a CBC radio show that explores creativity and influence in marketing. Terry’s talks are stitched together using audio clips and music, making his show so fun and effervescent, you won’t even realize how much useful information you actually glean from listening. Future marketing gurus and advertising aficionados, take note. Favourite episodes include “This I Know”, “Brand Envy” and “Nudge: The Persuasive Power of Whispers”.
All podcasts are available on iTunes or through your Podcasts app.