1. Design, technology choices and interactive processes in an online doctoral program (poster
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Abstract1. The poster presentation was very well-received and in fact won the “Best Poster” award for the conference. Three other Athabasca faculty members were also present at the conference and witnessed this. Considerable discussion was generated by the poster at break times throughout the conference and some possible consultancies and/or invitations to speak elsewhere may eventuate. In early March I have been invited to work with an Australian colleague on producing some videos for use with doctoral students in online environments. These videos will initially be designed for use by AU doctoral students and Capella University students in the USA. 2. The workshop on e-portfolios was well-attended – in fact it was over-subscribed. As a result, several contacts have been made, including an invitation to spend some time in South Africa as a visiting scholar at the University of the Cape during either my sabbatical or Summer break in 2012. Since I have not yet written a paper, I am attaching the slides I used to present the workshop and a copy of the poster in Powerpoint. The workshop materials are all publically available on Wikispaces, to allow participants to access the links easily: http://desummit-eportfolioworkshop.wikispaces.com/
1. (Poster) Athabasca University’s first fully online doctoral program is now in its third year of teaching and implementation. This program, initially in Distance Education, involves four content courses and two research seminar courses, all taught online over a period of 3-5 years, following a single 5-day face-to-face orientation session near the commencement of the first course. The remainder of the program comprises a research study and written dissertation, which are supervised and examined at a distance, using whichever technology tools and applications the students and instructors feel are appropriate. This poster presentation provides some insights into the design and decision-making that has contributed to the successful implementation of this program and an overview of the teaching, learning and research processes involved in the program. Increasing concern has been voiced in recent years, in an expanding body of literature, about problems in doctoral programs relating to poor supervision (Connell, 1985), lack of support structures and processes for both staff and students (Malfroy, 2005), student isolation during the conduct of research projects (Denicolo, 2004; Knight & Zuber-Skerritt, 1986) and inadequate preparation of students for the process of writing their dissertations (Kamler & Thomson, 2004; Krathwohl & Smith, 2005). As a result of these and other problems, a concomitant increase is being reported in the number of doctoral candidates either not completing their dissertations or dropping out of programs prior to commencement of, or early into their research projects. In the professional doctoral program in the Centre for Distance Education, solutions to some of these problems have been found through the adoption of a cohort model of candidacy and enrollment and the use of a range of networking and communications tools. The courses at the commencement of the program are also designed to provide all students with necessary skills and understandings across the range of professional distance education competencies from trends and issues in the field to instructional design, reflective practice, research and teaching methodologies, as well as educational leadership and management. Through this design, from both the content and process perspectives, it is possible to provide a greater level of support and interaction than was previously typical of either face-to-face doctoral programs or distance learning programs. Details will be provided about the course content, assessment and research seminars preceding the candidacy examination and running parallel with the conduct of the research study and dissertation, including observations and reflections on the supervision process. Flow through the program will be illustrated, in particular instructor and student choices of communications technologies for different purposes and applications. The formulation of guidelines and modifications and refinements of these will be listed, as they evolved in response to student questions and concerns and as the result of experience with the first cohort through the process. 2. (Workshop) This workshop crosses several themes of the DE 2010 Summit, including #2: Distance Education Community and Open Learning; #3: Distance Education Learning and Teaching; #4: Global Perspectives of Blended and Distance Learning; #7: Distance Education Technologies and Transformations and #8: Innovation using technology in blended and distance learning contexts. The aim is to provide participants with an overview of the breadth of uses and applicability of digital media, reflective practice, community and social networking in education. This overview and hands-on exposure will cover a range of post-secondary contexts, countries and cultures. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions throughout and the facilitator will provide a variety of tools, links and sites, mostly free or open source, to suit participants’ needs and backgrounds. Drawing on her considerable experience in Australasian, European and north American educational institutions, the facilitator will demonstrate and illustrate how digital media can and have been used in different contexts to promote experiential learning, critical reflection, transition from learning to practice, community cohesion and lifelong learning in distance and open education.