Open Learning at UWindsor – Part 1

The first couple of months in my new role as the Online Learning Specialist in the Office of Open Learning at the University of Windsor has been quite a blast!

Collaborative Open Learning Laboratory

My new office is the CoLlab (Collaborative Open Learning Laboratory) located in Erie Hall, Room 1110. It’s reminiscent of the lab that I worked in for my PhD supervisor, Clare Brett‘s CFI-and SSHRC-funded lab at OISE/UT. I still play with educational technologies, but with a greater focus on open, online and blended ones in higher education contexts in collaboration with faculty and for academic development, instead of a focus on supporting online graduate students in my work with Clare.

My role is a bit different that a traditional faculty member, so for research, rather than focus on writing my own individual grant applications, I support faculty on grant applications for developing online courses, programs, and modules, like those for Ontario Online from the Council of Ontario Universities.

I also collaborate with faculty who have been awarded internal grants like the Open and Online Strategic Development Grants from the Office of Open Learning (see the 2014 Grant Recipients). So far, I have had the pleasure of working on several online program grants, and look forward to working on course and module projects.

While working on these grant applications and funded grant projects, I have also managed to submit one co-authored journal article that has been accepted with revisions and will hopefully have another one submitted shortly! Fingers crossed.

Nick Baker teaching at GATA Academy - Sept 2014
Nick Baker teaching at GATA Academy – Sept 2014

For teaching, I have been co-teaching Office of Open Learning Workshops on lecture capture using various technologies (Blackboard Collaborate, Echo360, Camtasia, etc.) with our Acting Director, Nick Baker, and on ePortfolios with our Admin Assistant a.k.a Social Media Maven, Alicia Higgison.

Alicia Higgison teaching a MBA ePortfolio Workshop - Oct 2014
Alicia Higgison teaching a MBA ePortfolio Workshop – Oct 2014

Very soon, I will be teaching a course developer workshop for Additional Qualifications Courses offered through our Center for Executive and Professional Development. Additionally, in January 2015 I will co-teach with Lorie Stolarchuk from the Centre for Teaching Learning, the SEDA-accredited University Teaching Certificate course, Online Education. Lorie and I will be piloting Blackboard Learn, the LMS that we’re transitioning to from Sakai-based CLEW. I am looking forward to trying out the cool features, especially for assessment, that Blackboard Learn offers.

Imran Abdool's blended Economics for Life class
Imran Abdool’s blended Economics for Life class

For service, I have assessment on the brain because I’ve been supporting faculty with online exams, both multiple-choice questions and short answer, using online proctoring called BVirtual. After some trials, I think we’ve figured out how to avoid some of the challenges that students have endured, as if exams were not stressful enough. Many thanks to the instructors and students who have used online exams and online proctoring for their openness to trying new things and for your patience! Of course, I am always quite happy helping faculty figure out innovative ways to teach online and blended courses. For example, I attended one of Prof. Imran Abdool’s Economics for Life classes the other day to see student presentations in a face-to-face that also used a virtual classroom session on Blackboard Collaborate to connect with students at a distance from campus.

So, it’s been a great two months so far. More fun times ahead!


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