Friday, May 10, 2013

LTDC Meeting: MOOCs, Google Apps, UW updates

I attended the LTDC meeting April 29-30 in Wisconsin Dells. LTDC stands for Learning Technology Development Council. Each University of Wisconsin including colleges and extension nominates a rep and a back up. I'm the UWEC rep. The reps' jobs and titles vary, but all have something to do with learning technology. It was a great experience to network with other learning technology professionals and to learn what is going on at other UWs. I’ve only been to a few of these meetings since I’m fairly new to the LTDC and they have been extremely valuable experiences. Here are the highlights of what I learned at this LTDC meeting - apologies for the length - it actually is a summary. It may not be very relevant to people outside of the UW system.

Keynote: Digital Learning and Data Systems Moving Forward Statewide - Kurt Keifer, WI Department of Public Instruction (DPI)

This was a joint keynote with all the other groups in the ITMC (Information Technology Management Council) about the Wisconsin K-12 movement toward incorporating more online learning into the curriculum. There are about 450 K-12 schools in WI, many who are very small, and the goal is to offer some standardized/vetted online content so that educators don't all have to spend so much time finding it individually. He also spoke about incorporating a standardized LMS across all K-12s, like the UW system has done with Desire2Learn. 

He had a Chrome book and indicated that they are becoming very popular in the K-12 environment because they are inexpensive and many K-12s use Google Apps for Education, so the integration works out well. A UWEC faculty member in Education mentioned this to me after my Windows 8 post - we have to remember who is going to be in the UW system in a few years and understand their experiences coming in to meet their expectations. Much of this was over my head, since I have limited knowledge of and experience with the K-12 system, so it was good for me to at least become aware of it. 

LaCrosse Math MOOC

This was also a joint presentation with the ITMC. Bob Hoar from UW-LaCrosse discussed their math MOOC. It started with a project the summer before in which they provided remediation to 37 students to get them to the level to take a for-credit math class (I may be off on my terminology!). They created online tutorials and all but one student gained the skills. When he saw the advertisement from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation for a grant, they decided this would be a great project to pursue. About 1300 people signed up and about 10% have completed, typical of a MOOC. However, the course is technically not over. They are offering both a synchronous session and asynchronous lessons to meet learners' needs. This seems like a good use of a MOOC to me. There will be no credit offered, since the goal is just to build students' skills to move on and take math for credit. 

Madison MOOC Pilot

MOOC was the word of the day. Madison partnered with Coursera and will be offering 4 MOOCs in their pilot, possibly 16 later.

  • More Than Just a High Score: Video Games for Learning (September 2013)
  • Markets with Frictions (October 2013)
  • Human Evolution: Past and Future (January 2014)
  • Globalizing Higher Education and Research for the Knowledge Economy (January 2014)
At the time of this presentation there were already over 30,000 people registered; on average 518 registrations were coming in per day. 

Why did Madison decide to get into MOOCs? From Cheryl Diermyer, the Project Lead: "One of the reasons UW-Madison started the MOOC pilot is because it aligns with our campus wide Educational Innovation efforts ( MOOC is just one of the many innovation efforts we are exploring. Another reason is because it aligns with The Wisconsin Idea ("

How is it funded? (Also from Cheryl) "The pilot is supported with philanthropy funds through the UW-Foundation. Coursera is grant funded and currently there is no expense to UW-Madison to use the Coursera platform.  We choose Coursera because many of our CIC institutions are already using Coursera and it's a good opportunity to learn from them. Also, because there is no cost to UW-Madison."


Kaltura is a media streaming solution that integrates with D2L and was recently piloted by some institutions in the UW system, including the College of Business. Programs that have been piloted and incorporated into common systems are the D2L e-portfolio and Blackboard Collaborate; learning analytics and Canvas are currently being piloted. The Common Systems Review Group has determined that Kaltura should be part of the common system and is included in the proposed budget. The budget will be voted on this summer. It has not increased since last year. It will be interesting for UWEC if we are able to use both V-Brick and Kaltura around the same time. 

Cooperative Extension Nexus 7 Pilot and Google Apps for Education

Extension is in the UW system but is bit of a different animal because their territory is the entire state. Therefore, mobility is particularly important. They decided to use Google Apps for Education because it allowed for easy collaboration and mobile access on all types of devices. They are still using traditional office products too, and they have not switched to Gmail. So their staff may have a personal Google account, along with their work Google account, and their UWEX account...that's a lot of usernames and passwords, but they said it is nice to have work/personal separation. 

They went with the Nexus 7 because of the price ($199) and how well it works with Google Apps, since it is a Google product. They chose the device after examining what they needed and decided on Google Apps. All staff received Nexus 7s. They emphasize that it is not meant to be a laptop replacement. The 7 does not allow a projector connection. 

Oshkosh uses Google Apps heavily and has integrated it with active directory so people use the same username and password for everything at UW-O. Milwaukee, LaCrosse, Whitewater, and Colleges also use it. So the contract has been approved by system attorneys and incorporating it elsewhere should not be particularly problematic.

Advantages of using Google Apps for Education over the regular, public version are that you can have 15 users in a Google hangout vs 10, there are more sharing options within your network, and Google does not "mine the data" or advertise. I think the last is the most important. 

Google Apps for Education is free. (Business and Government have costs though). However, Extension has 1 FTE dedicated to the Apps/Nexus situation. A challenge they cited was that Google keeps changing! 

Google does not attempt to take any intellectual property and all materials created by the user are the property of the user. This is true with the public/regular version. The only difference is the "mining" of data to provide advertisements. 

Institutions can choose which Apps they want. Common ones to include are Drive (formerly Docs), Google+ (which includes Hangouts), and Sites. Extension is using Google+ kind of like how we would ideally use Yammer. It is working very well for them and is creating a nice sense of community, particularly as they work through the initial phases of the Nexus pilot. 

A while ago, a faculty member asked about using Google Apps for Education because he wanted to have Hangouts with 15 students. I knew nothing about it at that point and asked the LTDC folks, who shared a lot of information and spurred this session. My conclusion was that implementing it was not as small of a task as Google's website makes it seem to instructors! 

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