The inaugural Bay to Bay Distance Learning symposium was hosted by Online Learning and Instructional Technology Services and ELearning Services on Friday, February 12, 2016 at the University Center Ballroom on the USF St Petersburg campus. The event was an overwhelming success!
Attendees were greeted by USF Student Ambassadors and started their day sampling new technology provided by Microsoft, Apple and Zaption at the “Technology Petting Zoo” and enjoying coffee and conversation with colleagues from across the USF System.
The program for the morning consisted of welcomes and greetings from across the USF system followed by practical tips for teaching online and encouraging words for faculty working with the current generation of online students.
The first faculty speaker, Steve Diasio, a management professor and researcher of open innovation, spoke to participants about “Educating the World about management through Design Tools”. He introduced the Finger Puppet Management TV Youtube Channel and discussed ways that he uses this tool to enable his students to manage themselves, manage groups and learn about topics in leadership and management. He challenged participants to visit the Youtube channel, support students in their learning and find ways to incorporate interactive technology into their teaching.
Casey Frechette, assistant professor of journalism and media studies, shared the talk “Learning to teach Online: How I started to Wing it”. He discussed how planning is important for teaching online but how spontaneity can add a personal touch to your teaching and allow instructors to connect with their online students in a substantial way. He encouraged instructors to outline rather than script online presentations, use their first take of a video instead of their 50th and react to student comments rather than reflect. His discussion encouraged participants to stay real and authentic in their interaction with online students – much as they would for a face to face class.
Judithanne Scourfield McLauchlan was the next faculty speaker. Judithanne is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Founding Director of the Center for Civic Engagement at USF St. Petersburg. She shared a discussion about Civic Engagement in the Online Classroom. Judithanne freely admitted to having hesitations about teaching her course online. She was concerned about the opportunity to meet and interact with students and to continue the Civic Engagement portion of her classes. Judithanne praised the OLITS team for their assistance in helping her create an online course that allowed her to continue to interact with students and involve them with Civic activities. She also found that the online discussion following the student Civic Engagement activity allowed for 100% participation in the feedback discussion – which is not possible in her face to face course sessions. Judithanne encouraged instructors to continue to be courageous in their attitudes towards online learning.
The final faculty speaker was Philip Wagner. He is the Core Curriculum Coordinator, Chief Morale Office and an Instructor in the College of Arts and Sciences at USF Sarasota. Philip spoke to attendees about “Those Darn Millennials!”: Faculty Panic in the New Wave of Online Learning. In his discussion, Philip compared the concerns that some generations have with the new wave of millennials to the concerns that past generations had of younger people for ages. Specifically, he noted that the present “Baby Boomers” were titled as the “me” generation by older generations when they were coming into adulthood. Philip noted that the millennials are not lazy but instead they need to be properly motivated with technology and teaching methods that are applicable to their interests. He described an assignment in which students planned to collect money for a non-profit organization but at the mid-point of the semester they had not put a dent in their financial goal. The students were asked to take three photos that depicted what it meant to be a recipient of the services provided by the non-profit organization. The assignment allowed students to connect with their larger project in a meaningful way. By the end of the term the students exceeded their financial goal for the project. Philip encouraged faculty to use creative methods to connect with students and help the students connect to course material in a meaningful way.
After a fantastic lunch buffet, attendees were involved with demo presentations from Apple and Zaption. USF St. Petersburg Chancellor, Sophia Wisniewska, welcomed participants back and introduced our Keynote Speaker, Sir Ken Robinson.
Sir Ken Robinson shared a keynote address on the topic of “Creating a culture of growth, change and innovation”. He discussed concerns in the current state of education along with signs of hope and change that he has discovered. He reiterated the importance of recognizing that it is possible to make changes in the system of education. Things can be changed and are in fact changing. He discussed the importance of identifying how we frame our resources and asserted that we have everything we need to solve our problems in education. It is important for us to create conditions in which everyone is willing to have and share ideas. Sir Ken Robinson shared a few key elements of positive change for education including the idea that we must equip and empower our teachers by providing meaningful professional development for educators. He recommended a broad curriculum for our schools and discussed how many facets there are to our world that cannot simply be identified in ten or so categories of subjects in school. Sir Ken recommended that schools get creative with their schedule and be willing to try new approaches. He discussed the importance of partnership in the innovation of education. He shared the importance of looking to where the “puck” is going to be rather than where the “puck” is as we approach change in our education system. Finally, he showed the possibility of change, innovation and partnership through the following video that showcases the Landfill Harmonic Orchestra who have taken what little they had and made something fantastic.
Overall, the symposium was a fantastic day and sparked important discussion about change, growth and innovation at the University of South Florida.