About R. Zager

I am an Ed Tech enthusiast and Instructional Designer at USFSP.

Improve Instruction During Your Commute

Podcasting is no longer a secret as great podcasts like Serial and the Finding Richard Simmons Podcasts have proven. These podcasts have shed a light on an often overlooked medium. The beauty of a podcast is you can learn or be entertained, perhaps both, as you commute to and from work. While you certainly can be entertained in a variety of ways, the podcast can really be a targeted and focused form of engagement.

The Cult of Pedagogy Podcast is one such treasure, especially for educators. In the most recent episode they discuss “Five Ways College Teachers Can Improve Their Instruction”. If you are an avid podcast listener or a novice who has yet to listen to their first podcast, you should check out the episode linked below.

Learn on your commute? Yes Please.

Cult of Pedagogy – Episode 65: Five Ways College Teachers Can Improve Their Instruction

 

 

Conference Mania

 

We all get swept up in the excitement of attending and possibly presenting at conferences. I recently applied to present at a conference in beautiful Keystone, Colorado

laptop and red mug on wood table with snow mountain in Pakistan

Pre-conference Coffee in the mountains

and, unfortunately, just found out my abstract was not chosen.

My disappointment was quickly replaced by the possibility of another conference and location for which I could write another proposal abstract.

I found a blog post from a very successful abstract writer, Catherine Baker,  who gives her 5 steps for successfully pitching your research for almost any conference you choose. The 5 steps and explanations are linked below. Hopefully her advice can help us all write better abstracts and get accepted to present at the conferences we really want to attend.

Catherine Baker’s 5 steps to writing a successful conference abstract.

Preparing and Teaching an Online Course: The Podcast

Podcast auf dem Smartphone

If you’re an instructor, instructional designer, or interested in education, then you should definitely check out a new podcast that the OLITS crew is debuting. If you’d like to be a fly on the wall as an instructor goes through preparing and teaching an online course, then give this podcast a listen. We will be updating with new episodes throughout the semester and mixing some strategies you may want to incorporate into your courses.

Download this episode (right click and save)

Want more money higher ed? Offer free online courses.

I know, you’re probably thinking that offering free online courses is the opposite of what a university should do. After all, the object of most universities is to make money. I’m sure in many higher ed meetings there are discussions about offering even more paid online courses to increase revenue. But are they missing out on an easy, if not obvious, option?

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Laptop with books, globe, graduation cap and diploma.

Free online courses are not new but the tides may be turning as prestigious schools such as Oxford are joining in. This Engadget article explains how Oxford is using the edX platform to offer its first free online course. The course they are offering is about understanding economic development and it will be available for anyone in the world to take for free.

So why should all of higher ed follow suit? It is simply a great way to get your university experience in the hands of people interested in becoming students. My advice to higher ed institutions would be to create a high quality online course that falls inline with the type of programs you offer. Then simply place that course on one of the many free platforms and monitor the feedback from students. Use this free course as a way to continually improve the type of courses, free or paid, you offer and hopefully drive more students to enroll in your school. If a free online course can showcase your programs, be used to continually improve your online education, and possibly increase enrollment… why not give it a try?

Is Online Education Taking Over Higher Ed?

Online education is quickly replacing the traditional higher education experience… or, maybe it isn’t. A recent Washington Post article explains that fears of online education replacing the traditional experience may be unfounded.

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Rather than looking at online education as something designed to replace or take away from higher education, the focus should be on how it adds value for the students. The article talks about an online master’s degree program at Georgia Tech that found students simply wouldn’t have gotten that degree if the program didn’t exist. Findings like this are what should be driving the online learning conversation at higher education institutions. We should focus on how online education can give more options at the course and program level rather than the possibility that it is trying to replace courses or programs already in place.

This simple, yet significant, shift in thinking can be a great way to evaluate online programs at higher education institutions. Online education isn’t coming to get you, higher ed… it is coming to help you get different students and give students even more options.

Could New “MicroMasters” Programs Be the Future of Higher Ed?

Staying current with the constantly changing world of online education is no small task. Deciding which trends are worth implementing or even paying attention to is also a challenge, especially in higher education.

 

New “MicroMasters” online programs are something higher education institutions should be paying attention to. An article in Washington Monthly explains that these “MicroMasters” programs are being offered by some major universities including Arizona State and Michigan. These programs are free and open to anyone who wants to take them. The program requires those completing the course to pay a $1,000 fee to receive a certificate of completion.

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It is easy to dismiss this as another type of Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) that have typically had very low completion rates and are often over-hyped. These “MicroMasters”, however, offer possibilities that should be considered. They are being offered as a way to explore a possible master’s degree, give a master’s applicant a better chance for admission, and give actual credit hours for master’s programs at some institutions.

 

Rather than just dismiss these new programs because they are different and make us uncomfortable, we should explore ways to use or improve upon these ideas. Status Quo is no longer acceptable for higher education when it comes to online learning if for no other reason than the intense amount of competition. We must pay attention to these trends and consider how they could be improved upon and implemented, or we may lose students and money to universities that do.