Robert Griffiths is the Director of Digital Scholarship for the Office of Distance Education and eLearning. Dr. Griffiths has significant knowledge in deploying technology-empowered learning experiences, including spearheading the ODEE Impact Grant program in an effort to study how using technology can engage students, increase instructor efficiency, and support anytime/anyplace learning. He also oversees Ohio State’s effort for Massively Open Online Courses. Additionally, Griffiths’ team supports the online general education initiative for autumn 2014 through providing instructional design leadership to teaching faculty involved with the project.
Q: How do you see the creation of online courses, specifically those designed to be available to a wide audience through general education, as key in the present and immediate future of the Ohio State University?
Griffiths: There is a confluence of pressures on higher education. At almost every turn, decisions are being made on how to reduce cost, reduce time to degree, and accept a wider-range of qualifying activities as credits while at the same time institutions are being asked to use technology and data to prove learning effectiveness and better educate a society requiring advanced degrees to meet a changing work environment. In many ways, right now higher education is the calm between disruptive storms, but that storm is quickly approaching.
The creation of online courses, specifically those available to a wide audience, affords Ohio State an opportunity to be at the table and decide how we can meet the mission of our institution. It is an opportunity for scaled yet individualized education that allows for flexibility and greater opportunities to engage in the community.
Think of your daily experience. How often, today, do you feel tethered to the radio hoping you can hear your favorite song? How often do you purchase an entire CD just to hear one song? How often are you required to wait for the exact rerun of Seinfeld you’re hoping to watch? How often are you sitting on the front porch at 6am waiting to read yesterday’s news? Probably never.
It’s our time for students to have a premier education that meets the expectations and lifestyle they are already enjoying in other facets of their lives. We are developing the capability to do so via distance education and in a way that promotes the hallmarks of OSU’s quality and prestige.
Course: English 1110
Update by Tara Koger
The final touches are being put on the course as instructors prepare to take over video development. Throughout April and May, the four instructors have been developing their skills in iPad instructional video creation. They’ll primarily be using Explain Everything for the course. This feature allows them to mark, highlight, and explain concepts visually and via audio with minimal software usage. Moving forward, they’ll be working both independently and collaboratively to develop content. The team coordinators are also working on the Writer’s Exchange platform, which is currently being redeveloped for the autumn semester. English 1110 and at least one other course will use the platform to facilitate student discussion of each other’s work.
Course: Biology 1102
Update by Cory Tressler
Biology 1102 Syllabus: “The goal of Biology 1102 is to provide students with baseline knowledge of human biology, and to help identify current limits of knowledge related to human biology issues and 21st century human behavior and lifestyles.”
During the second week of Biology 1102, students will explore DNA and genetics. Lecturer Kristin Smock continues to prepare her learning materials and has decided to participate in National Geographic’s Genographic Project. Smock’s DNA will undergo advanced analysis and she will be presented with results that show her ancestral heritage. By participating in this multi-year research initiative, Smock is able to demonstrate concepts related DNA and genetics, as well as adding her own personal touch to the course. Developing a personal, human connection with students is important in fostering an online learning community. By sharing a part of herself with her students, Smock is modeling a spirit of collaboration, scholarship, and dedication to the subject matter, which will hopefully inspire students to dive deep into the content and surpass the stated goals for learning.
In this series of posts, we’ll ask instructors to describe their experience at the onset of the online GE creation process. Once the semester has finished, we’ll revisit them to see how things went.
Psychology 1100 is a popular GE course that has been taught online through a number of different incarnations. It is currently taught by Ryan Hansen, a graduate teaching assistant in clinical psychology, who will continue to teach through fall semester. The original version was created by Jackie Von Spiegel, who is now an advisor in Psychology Department. We spoke with Ryan, Jackie, and PS 1100 Program Director Melissa Beers about how this course first began and what it has evolved into over the years.
Q: Thinking back to the initial decision to create the online general education courses and your involvement, what were some of your first concerns or questions?
Melissa Beers (MB): I was first involved with developing an online section of Introduction to Psychology in 2007. Our biggest concern at the start was what resources it would take to mount the course online. At that time, the only models we had to work with were examples in which faculty programmed their own courses, and those were an enormous amount of work for a questionable return on investment. Carmen was key. From the beginning, the ability to build, structure, and manage the course through Carmen was essential. Carmen makes it extremely easy to manage an online course.