Thursday, November 20, 2008

NEW ProfHelp Process

Need help with a course issue? Instead of emailing ProfHelp with your questions, please use the NEW ProfHelp form located on your Faculty Gateway page. You can get to the Faculty Gateway by using the link on your “My CCCOnline” page or by using this direct link: Just log in and look for the ProfHelp link. This new process will allow us to track the kinds of issues that you are seeing so we can better address recurring problems, etc. Thanks!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sandboxes for LMS Finalists Available Now!

Hi Everyone-

As most of you know we are in the process of evaluating responses to the RFP for a new Learning Management System. The selection committee met last Friday to choose finalists for the new LMS. Those 4 vendors have set up sandbox areas for testing and evaluation of their products. We would like as many of you as have time to review the LMS's and pass your opinions/thoughts on them on to us via a survey form. The URL and login information as well as a link to a survey is posted on the wiki at

If you lose the direct link just go to the faculty wiki and click on the Learning Technology Council link in the box at the top of the page. It is linked from there.

These 4 vendors will be evaluated based on feedback from faculty, staff, and students, on their presentations to the selection committee (scheduled for the first week of December), and on information from reference checks. At this point we will also include cost information. Based on the evaluations from this step we will choose one or two vendors for site visits by the technical evaluation team. We hope that will add enough information to enable us to make a final choice.

We appreciate the time you are taking to support us in this process and value the feedback on the LMS's!


Lisa Cheney-Steen

Monday, November 17, 2008

Help With Wiki Organization

Hi everyone! As we move more content to the Wiki, we've discovered that we need to work on the organization of the Wiki so it's simpler to find things. Jonathan has been hard at work adding and modifying search tools within the Wiki, but we'd also like to create some organizer pages to help everyone locate the information they need.

Please answer the following questions for us by Thursday, November 20.

1. What top three categories of information do you most often search for on the Wiki?
2. What top five specific topics do you most often search for on the Wiki?


Thursday, November 13, 2008

StudyMate Webinar Reminder

Hi Everyone,

This is a reminder about a training opportunity Friday, November 14th at 10 am. The webinar session will be facilitated by Shae Ramquizt, Sr. Account Manager for Respondus, Inc., the makers of the StudyMate Class Server product. CCCOnline's Blackboard Vista instructors can enable this learning tool now!

Come learn from Shae about all StudyMate Class Server can do for you and learners. This webinar counts as one training credit, and No RSVP is required, just join us at

Monday, November 10, 2008

Study Mate Webinar Friday!

Hi Everyone,
We have a few training opportunities left this year. On Friday, November 14th at 10 am, we have a webinar session facilitated by Shae Ramquizt, Sr. Account Manager for Respondus, Inc., the makers of the StudyMate Class Server product. CCCOnline's Blackboard Vista instructors can enable this awesome learning tool now! Come learn from Shae about all it can do for you and learners.

This webinar counts as one training credit, and No RSVP is required, just join us at

Saturday, November 08, 2008

The CCCS Learning Management System RFP

In the summer of 2008 the Learning Technology Council (LTC) initiated an RFP process for the Learning Management System. There were several reasons for this decision. First, our current contract with Blackboard expires on June 30th of 2009. The size of this contract is such that the LTC feels that we have a fiscal responsibility to look at our options before signing another multi-year contract. We also feel that the market for learning management systems has changed significantly since the last RFP and warrants another look. Then in July of this year Blackboard announced the development schedule for their new, combined product, Blackboard Next Generation. Their product development schedule suggests that if we stay with Blackboard we will find ourselves migrating to a new BB product in about two years. Thus we are probably migrating to a "new" LMS whatever the result of this RFP process. And last, Blackboard Vista has not been as stable a product for us as we would like it to be, leaving us wondering about its ability to handle the growth in usage we expect over the next two years.

The RFP process formally began last spring, when we surveyed faculty for your input on the current LMS and your thoughts about a potential change. Later that spring and into the summer the LTC invited potential LMS vendors to make presentations to us as part of an overall market review. Finally in August we formalized the RFP committee as the members of the Learning Technology Council plus a representative from SFAC, Kathy Winograd (English Faculty from ACC). This means that every college has at least one representative on the RFP committee. (This membership list is for internal use only.)

It is very important to the selection committee to have input into the LMS decision from as many faculty and staff as possible. To facilitate this input the committee will ask the finalists in the selection process to provide a sandbox with access to their product for usability testing. The access will include faculty, student, and administrative roles. The selection committee will have a feedback survey available for your use once you've had a chance to review the products. The tentative dates for the sandboxes and surveys are Nov. 17th through December 3rd. We would appreciate it if you would block out some time for this review during that period.

As the RFP process for the new Learning Management System moves forward, the selection committee has outlined a plan for evaluating vendors and making our recommendation to the Executive Steering Committee (made up of CCCS senior administrators and several college presidents) by mid-January. The tentative schedule is as follows:
* Sept 18th, RFP released;
* Oct. 30th, proposals due back from vendors;
* Nov. 14th, first vendor down-select, possibly to 2-4 finalists;
* Nov. 17th through December 3rd, usability testing (sandboxes available);
* Dec. 3rd through December 5th, vendor presentations to the selection committee;
* Dec. 7th through mid-December, possible visits by a technical team to the finalist's hosting facilities;
* Mid-December, final analyses and reports from sub-committees;
* Early January, Final summary analysis;
* Mid-January, recommendation to Executive Steering Committee;
* Summer 2009 and fall 2009, pilot new LMS.
If you have additional questions please contact your LTC representative. We will continue to post updates (including committee membership) on the wiki -


The Learning Technology Council

CCCOnline, Rhonda Epper, Lisa Cheney-Steen, and David Chatham
CCCS-IT, Julie Ouska
ACC, Lee Christopher
CCA, George Lesko
CCD, Jeanne Stroh
CNCC, Sandy McKelvey
FRCC, Tammy Vercauteren and Donna Hall
LCC, Vicke Denniston
MCC, Don Estes
NJC, Cyndi Vandenbark
OJC, Vanessa Forselius
PCC, Robin Leach
PPCC, Julie Witherow and Fabrizio Labate
RRCC, Rebecca Woulfe
TSJC, Jocelyn King

Friday, November 07, 2008

Last Day at Sloan-C Conference

Hey Everyone-

I am still looking for the Holy Grail of Educational Gaming, so as a part of that I started the day with a presentation by Harvard Business Publishing on simulations. The presenter had some very good lessons learned -- 1) syllabus space is tight, so develop very small topical sims rather than try to replace the entire class; 2) the administrative hurdle of managing sims is huge (that is both faculty administration and the business side; 3) students expect an engaging interface; 4) beware of the "complexity = reality" trap; your sim must stay "teachable and usable". Harvard Publishing primarily develops sims that can be completed in under 2 hours -- that includes prep, play, and de-brief. They have to support case-based teaching.

Harvard is developing in conjunction with a company called Forio ( because that was the best way they found to solve delivery and payment issues. It sounded like they charge students for the sims via credit card. We would probably have to expand our digital content fee instead, but it is doable now.

The Universal Rental car pricing is a single player sim, the Everest climb is multi-player. They are both interesting. Forio also has free sim development software that probably sucks you into buying the full version. :^)

(As a side note the night before I had dinner with the folks from Lab-Paq, who are thinking of developing a forensics course based on CSI. There is a ot of interest in games!)

I put on my student services hat next and went to a session on developing student community and support via social networking tools such as Twitter, Second Life, Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. I am planning a survey in the not too distance future to find out which web2.0 technologies both you and our students use. We do need to expand and organize our community space, decide which parts belong behind the firewall and which belong outside, decide which tools to use for which purposes.

My last presentation was on designing a First Year Seminar experience for online, adult learners. There is a large body of research showing that traditional first year students benefit significantly from success seminars. While there is not much research on online, adult learners our orientation has ben very popular with students. We also have two program chairs who have been puching for the development of some sort of success seminar for studens for quite some time. Goals of such a seminar would include
  • Examine reasons for attending college,
  • learn strategies for becoming a successful adult learner,
  • build a support system,
  • learn how to manage work, family, school,
  • learn study skills,
  • learn about college support services,
  • and many more.
If any of you have experience with success seminars I'd love to know who you are.

Finally, the closing speaker was Liz Burge (, professor of adult education at the University of New Brunswick. Three general principles from her presentation:
  1. Technology application is a defining, but not a single, attribute of distance education.
  2. Technology should transparently mediate interactions.
  3. Never feel compelled to adopt the new because it is new; that is not the point.
She also commented that she first used audio recordings back in the 80's. They went away for a long time as we concentrated on the visual. Now audio is being looked at seriously again -- so don't forget about older technologies when you are planning your teaching.

Then a long plane ride home where I reverted to a very old technology and knitted. :^)


Thursday, November 06, 2008

Day 2 of Sloan C

Hi Everyone-

I started the day at a session on the state of gaming in education. The presenter was Benjamin Noel who got his start in World of Warcraft, but is now moving on to education. Hi current company has two games for education available or soon to be available. The first is Burn Center. It's goal is to teach peopple how to deal with large scale disasters -- in this case 40 burn patients at once. It makes sense to do that in a game because it is a low likelihood scenario, but one that our health professionals possibly should be prepared for. There is a movie on the game available here -- The second game is Conspiracy Code, a game aimed at teaching American History to K12. History is another obvious target for gaming as whether or not you found it interesting probably depended entirely on your teacher. We watch the History Channel obsessively, but complain equally incessantly about how it's taught in K12.

Both look like they have possibilities and I do see the positive aspects of games as a learning strategy. I think my older daugher has learned more economics and history from Civilization IV than she has in school. I am not sure we have a financial or educational model that works well with games yet though.

Next I wet to a session on search engines. That was fascinating -- one presenter (Ray Schroeder) has a blog site with links to engines at
There is also a tutorial at About.Com that incudes much of the information from the presentation -

They reminded me of really cool sites like and the WayBackMachine, which are fabulous if a link you used in a course has gone missing.

Last presentation of the morning was a panel talking abouthte future. Not a lot there unfortunately, but there were brief mentions of software as service, online computing (ie Buzzword from yesterday) and cloud computing in general. There are some very important questions around data storage when you begin to seriously use the power of cloud computing. (Do you know where your gmail or delicious bookmarks are stored? How about the presentations you out up on Slide Rocket?) However, the sheer power, convenience, and ability to scale are going to outweigh many of those data considerations for many of us.

And it's only noon here...


(And I apologize for any typos -- I am sitting by the pool to type this and can barely see the screen. :^))

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Emerging Technologies Workshop at Sloan-C

Hi Everyone-

I am at the Sloan-C conference on Online Learning in Orlando this week. I am attending all sorts of fascinating presentations and workshops and I want to pass at least some of the information on to you. Today I am at a workshop on emerging technologies....

Adding Audio

Adobe Acrobat lets you embed little tiny audio files in pdf files. So you can read your student's papers and comment via audio on their work. This of course requires that you own Acrobat Pro, which he thought was around $60.

The speaker's (Phil Ice) research suggests it saves about 60% of overall grading time. He also had research suggesting learning outcomes were significantly improved. The other reason to add audio comments on student work was some research quoted that showed learning improved when two senses were involved in the learning process (audio and visual). I will try to track that down as well.

Another way to do this is to record your grading session in Elluminate (we have a license or Elluminate V-Room is the free version) or in Adobe Connect (Connect Now is the free version). This also works well, but is a little bit more challenging for students to manage.
I think you could also do this in Voice Thread, but haven't tried that yet. (, also has a free version).

Collaborative Documents

Adobe's new product is Buzzword. If you have used Googledocs this is significantly snazzier. If you want to send me your email address (to I will add you to a document so you can see how it works with sharing turned on. (Side note -- there are two paths to collaboration -- wikis and web-based document management systems. They may be going to the same place, but are taking different routes. Wikis are very simple to use and have built in discussion tabs and version tracking. Buzzword concentrates on giving you the ability to build a document that you might print -- easy to add images for example. We have a wiki available for your use also -- or

Other Powerpoint Type Presentations

Slide Rocket is an online powerpoint presentation with a free version. You can find it at

Keynote - Terry Anderson of Athabasca University

Athabasca is Canada's online university. Here are the slides up on Slideshare already -

Tonight Terry included some research on the efficacy of distance learning, synchronous versus asynchronous models, and the relative importance of different types of interaction (student/student, student/teacher, and student/content). Student/student turns out to be very important and it might be true that if you get one type right you might be able to sluff a bit on the other two.

Oh and slide 6 gives you the reason eLearnng is so popular right now. Completely wortyh the entire presentation just for that slide.

More tomorrow -- it's dinner time here.

Lisa Cheney-Steen