Monthly Archives: January 2016

A Primer on Quality Matters

During the 1/19 faculty meeting I described a little bit about the organization Quality Matters. Quality Matters is an organization that grew out of a FIPSE grant from MarylandOnline in an effort to improve and provide standards for online and blended course delivery. After the three year grant came to a close, Quality Matters became its own entity and is now funded by subscriptions. To date there are over 900 institutional subscribers.

Quality Matters provides tools and services to educational institutions to assist in the improvement of online and blended learning. Some of the tools that are provided are the rubrics based on the Eight Standards identified by QM as important for online learning, training courses for developing online and blended courses, using the QM rubrics, and becoming an official QM peer-reviewer and they also provide the service of coordinating and conducting individual course reviews. Benefits of being a subscriber is having access to these tools at a reduced price and being provided with a structure to manage internal course reviews within the institution.

Morningside is currently testing out the utility of the Quality Matters rubrics and exploring the benefits of continuing a subscription to their services.  Grad Nursing has been using the rubrics in their course development for this semester and plans to conduct some peer reviews of these courses later on. Grad Ed is planning on applying the QM rubrics to courses within their Foundations Core to assist in course improvement. A few faculty teaching online undergraduate courses will participate in a pilot using the QM rubrics on their courses.

Additionally, I plan to complete several (three) of the online professional development courses offered by Quality Matters (Applying the QM Rubrics, Designing Online Courses, and Designing Blended Courses) over the course of this semester not only to improve my own understanding in these areas, but to evaluate the quality of these professional development opportunities.

Later on in the semester (April 9) FDC will hold a workshop on Online Course Development where myself and several others who have been involved in using the QM rubrics will describe our experiences and methods of using these tools.

As we move toward the creation of new programs that are online and in increasing online offerings for our residential students, the issue of quality is paramount. Quality Matters provides a national (really international) benchmark for quality of online teaching. Whether we stay with Quality Matters will depend on the value that we see from these pilots. But if it is not Quality Matters, it will be something else similar that will be used.



A Brief Overview of Fair Use and Creative Commons Licensing

Producing and sharing digital media has never been easier. A simple Google search brings up thousands of images. Music is available digitally. There are programs and apps that make creating new digital products using existing media a snap. With this ease, it is important that in addition to simply being a good citizen, one must also be a good digital citizen. One characteristic of being a good digital citizen is  not stealing or using another’s work in a way that is not approved.  With this issue comes the topic of Fair Use and the Creative Commons license.

A book could easily be written on these two topics, what they are, how they were developed, and when something is or is not considered Fair Use. For the purposes of this blog, I wish to simply provide an overview of these two items and to provide some common ways that Fair Use may be infringed upon, often unintentionally, and how to avoid possible infringement of Fair Use within the classroom.  I would like to thank Adam Fullterton for his information in my preparation for this post.

First, A basic understanding of Fair Use.  Fair Use is actually a legal defense that is used if/when someone is sued for copyright infringement. It is not a law in and of itself. The guidelines set forth for Fair Use are those that are used by the courts to determine whether or not copyright has been infringed. These four guidelines are as follows:

  1. What is the character of the use?
  2. What is the nature of the work to be used?
  3. How much of the work will be used?
  4. What effect is there on the market?

These guidelines are taken into consideration as a whole when courts consider if Fair Use is an appropriate defense.  For further details on each of these guidelines please see this link.

Creative Commons licenses is a form of copyright that allows creators to set the limitation on the use of their created content.  Products with a creative commons license tend to be more straightforward about how the creator intends and allows his or her creation to be used by others.  It is possible to find entire sites or advanced search engines that will filter by the type of licensed use. Here are a few examples of sites with CC licensed material:

There are also advanced search features in Google Images that allow users to select by license type as well.

Honestly the area of the use of digital media for educational purposes can be murky and extensive, but I’d like to share a few general guidelines to you to assist you in being a good digital citizen.

  1. Simply having the material present on a password protected system does not make it ok to freely distribute (i.e. just putting it on Moodle doesn’t clear you for Fair Use).
    • Examples:
      • Posting an electronic copy of a research article is generally considered not ok – but posting the link to the article from the school’s library database to access the article is ok
      • Scanning an article or section of a book and posting is is generally considered not ok – but making hard copies for your students to had out is ok (as long as the “how much of the work” principle is followed).
      • Embedding a video into Moodle for students to view in a traditional course (so they actually view it through Moodle) is generally not ok, but posting the external link to the video is usually ok (as long as the creator of the video allows).
      • Using popular music as a soundtrack for a digital project in its entirety is not ok, but using only 10% (or 3 min which ever is less) is generally ok.
      • In distance ed, showing films through the distance ed system is generally not ok.
      • The use of publisher course packs must ALWAYS be used with a purchased license.
  2. When finding images, video, or other digital media for use in class or projects, use sites with dedicated Creative Commons licensed materials or use advanced search options to select by license.
  3. Take a look at the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s resource to learn more about these copyright issues as they apply to teaching and learning.
  4. Take the extra time to find the stated (if any) copyright usage statements on websites and digital media.  Sometimes these are clear (can be found in the About, Legal, or Privacy section of a web page or bottom of screen in tiny print – if it is there). Other times these statements are not there and there may be a type of ‘implied usage consent.’

The use of existing digital media in the production of teaching and student projects is exciting, but we have a responsibility as instructors and students at Morningside to use these materials in an ethical manner.  There are some tool kits out there (checklists) created by other institutions to assist faculty in determining whether their use of digital media would likley be considered fair use or not.  Here is the tool created by the University of Minnesota.

I’m Baaaaaaack!

Well the holiday break is nearly over, students return to campus next week, and classes resume for the Spring semester next week Wednesday.  What else is new? Your new Educational Technologist returns from her sabbatical, ready and eager to really get into her new job! In this blog post I want to communicate to you some of my plans for the Spring semester and what you might expect to come from the Ed Tech office this semester.

My first job this semester is to really figure out what all my position will entail.  Educational Technology is a big job and I am but one person.  I will need to begin to see where I will need to focus my energies as I begin to help the college move toward more effective use of technology. One thing that will be my guiding principle is that I will be much more focused on helping the college to be more innovative in the use of technology. As such I will need to take a higher level view of the use of technology. What I mean by this is that my position is not supposed to be tech support, but rather helping instructors more effectively and creatively use the technology available.  For example, have a quiz that will simply not work for some reason, this is a call to eClass4Learning for tech support. Want to use the Moodle quizzing feature more creatively in your classroom to improve student learning, call me (x5253). Figuring out the scope of my position will also involve coordination with several different areas of campus including Tech Services, Library Services, FDC, and the new Teaching and Learning Coordinator.

Another area that I will be focusing my energies is the improvement of our online programs (Grad Ed and Grad Nursing). Currently we are testing out a system called Quality Matters to help us to improve the delivery of these online programs.  We are also working on developing a handbook for online instructors.  I will be giving more information about these in a future development session being planned in coordination with FDC.

In addition to the Quality Matters and Online Instructor Handbook development session(s) I plan to have 3-4 additional faculty development sessions. One that I hope to do relatively early is a session on the technology resources Morningside currently has but are underutilized. I will plan additional session based on information from the survey I gave late last year spring and in conversations with faculty.

Speaking of conversations with faculty, it is a goal of mine to have one-on-one meetings with as many faculty members as possible this spring to talk about issues in teaching and learning and to see areas where faculty might be interested in using more technology. I see these conversations as being very informal and talking about what we all love to talk about most, and that is how to best help our students learn.  So expect me to contact you to set up a time for us to chat this semester.

Finally, I hope to have many consultations with instructors about ways to best improve teaching and learning using technology. I invite everyone to visit me in my new office (213 in HJF Learning Center). I plan to keep my eye out for innovative uses of technology and to purchase some tech toys that might be worth experimenting with in the classroom. As these things happen you can expect a blog post, Facebook/Twitter entry, or other means of communication. As always, if you have interest in a particular product I am all ears.

I hope the spring semester is enjoyable and exciting for you. Personally, I am happy to be back, though I admit I think the transition will be rough.  Sabbatical is awesome and I got some great research done, but it is surely a different pace of life. I look forward to seeing everyone next week.