Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Sloan-C Conference: Day One

Today, after an exciting evening of election coverage viewing, I attended the opening day of the 14th Annual Sloan-C International Conference for Online Learning in Orlando, FL. Today was highlighted with pre-conference workshops and an evening banquet that wrapped up with a mind bending "magic" act by Michael C. Anthony (many thanks to the Sloan-C conference planning committee who played a role in keeping tonight's festivities fun!).

I had the pleasure today to participate in a panel discussion titled "Asked the Experts" that included past Sloan-C award winners showcasing tips and creative strategies for successful online teaching. The presenters included Susan Oaks from Empire State College, Alexandra Pickett from SUNY Learning Network, Jason Scorza from Farleigh Dickinson University, and Charles Dziuban from University of Central Florida. I shared my personal experience that I went through from 2006-2007 when I finally refused to tolerate the text-driven nature of the learning environment of Blackboard in which I was attempting to use to cultivate a successful online art appreciation class. The key words in that sentence are "text" and "art." Yeah, you see the pedagogical conflict there. Of course, text is essential to communicating, exploring, learning about art but the image is primary, crucial to learning. I recorded the Keynote version of my presentation with Profcast and have uploaded it to Vimeo if you're interested in watching it. The presentation highlights the integration of VoiceThread and Ning into my class to create a more visual, learner-centered environment that promotes community, presence, and engages a variety of learning styles.

Extreme Makeover: Online Course Edition from Michelle Pacansky-Brock on Vimeo.

I enjoyed the opportunity to meet the panelists and discuss issues related to integrating web 2.0 tools into online pedagogy with the participants. Charles Dziuban successfully provided me with a list of compelling books that will take me years to get through. He really has a handle on the philosophical underpinnings of the "unpacking" effects that technology is having on higher education. It felt good to me to hear a leader who has a significant track record in higher ed (I believe he noted 40 years of experience...but I find that hard to believe) acknowledge that technology is resulting in the biggest change its ever confronted. I wholeheartedly agree.

The panel wrapped up with a very thoughtful dialogue about some pertinent and relevant issues facing online faculty today. One that was repeated was the struggle of wanting to integrate web 2.0 tools into an online class but being told "no, that's not allowed" by IT. Hmm. Sounds like we all need to get together to talk about this one. I do believe our primary goal is our students' learning, right? Then let's find a way to make this work.

Looking forward to more engaging discussions tomorrow!
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