21st Century Masters Cohort 2 F2F Weekend

So one of the things that I am most proud of professional is our 21st Century Masters.  If you want to read more about it. go to http://bit.ly/21stcenturyteaching  

As part of this masters degree, students study the key ideas of 21st century thinking and innovation.  Each cohort has one face to face weekend and we are doing it this week. The goal is to build community and help the students know each other and the faculty.   We do a variety of activities to have students accomplish these goals.

Friday night we always try to have a public event. This year we watch Code: Debugging the Gender Gap and then had panelists from the The Div.org and iThemes to talk about out how getting kids  involved in computer science can be important for building our State.

We also did a variety of team Building Activities.  We did a break out EDU and then we designed a Cohort Logo and then made it into signs at the Fab Lab at the OU Innovation Hub..

If we are going to talk about communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity – then we have to practice. Our activities helped us to put these ideals into practice.

 

 

While I did not get a good picture yet,  we had cohort 1 (5 members) also attend Friday night..I really think we are creating a powerful community that can change Oklahoma and the education of our kids.  (and Texas and North Carolina)

Paying the Price – What is the role of Professors in College Costs

I was a bad Book club member ..(I should have looked at my schedule more..) but I wanted to share some ideas about the Book Paying the Price by Sara Goldrick Rab (I also saw her speak on campus).

Higher Education has me really worried.. I feel as though much of the angst that is upheaving our politics and communities is because we are making college the difference between the Have’s and the Have Not’s.

When I went to college – I remember it was a big deal that they raised our tuition to $52 a credit hour at Northwest Missouri State University – (from like 45 the year before) Here it is today.. (we did not have the fees like we do today)

If you look at this link http://www.collegesimply.com/colleges/missouri/northwest-missouri-state-university/price/ (which has face validity)

So in 1992 – it was 1,680 and now it is  6,770 (tuition and fees)

In all honesty, in 1992, my father (who made too much for me to qualify for financial aid) gave me a 20K promise for college – told me that if I had money left – It was mine.. I made it on that money, while being an RA and working as a custodian, tutor, house sitter, upward bound math and science assistant and earning scholarships until my student teaching semester (when I got pneumonia and it all fell apart)  I took out a loan from him for my final semester and paid it back.

I am not telling this story to say that I was privileged (but I know that I was) but to put in real perspective. Now the estimate for Northwest Missouri State University is basically 16K a year (on the books – actually cost is likely higher -see the book) .  I could have easily blown my whole funding a year now and it was generous support (I mean parents don’t have to pay for college and that was a quite a nice car in 1992)

So what does this mean for our students – college is out of reach for many of our students – the cost is prohibitive and their aid does not reach their need.

From the same Website:  Average cost is 15, 651 with age average of 7,769 – DOES NOT Compute.

Sara Goldrick Rab’s book goes into more individual stories but here are my first thoughts (for now)

  1. Student aid does not make it affordable for students to attend college – especially if they have need.
  2. Middle class students – especially those whose parents claim them but don’t support are totally skewered.
  3. There are hungry students on our campus (every campus) – and if we have rate of 22% free lunch in Oklahoma – once they graduate high school – where do all those kids go.. (hint: some go to college)
  4. A lot of retention – is focused on first year students – but I do think that we should focus on later year students more (they run out of money and beginning scholarships) and also graduate students – it is no longer the fun poor I remember.. (okay there is really no fun poor) 
  5. Financial stresses are one of the biggest stresses on students and keep them from finishing. If they quit before finishing they have the debt but no degree and are even more at a disadvantage.

So from these – here are my takeaways and action steps for professors.. 

  1. As professors we need to read books like this one, and others and we need to be aware of the financial issues facing our students.  We need to talk to them and we have a responsibility to understand what college costs for them.
  2.  Advocate for students – As OU is facing another budget cut after a 16% State cut last year, it’s  tough – lots of things getting cut -but honestly we are advocates for our students and we need to better understand their experience.   And we need to help them find resources (like the new OU foodbank)
    1. As advocates here are some things we can do:
      • listen – hear them – take real time to listen to their stories and their struggles.
      • Connect with resources – there are services through the provost office and the retention team to help students be successful.
      • Encourage students to apply for scholarships and assist our development people in raising money for scholarships.  Write letters of recommendation with a smile! 🙂
      • Consider students when writing grants and applying for funding. Could we create more student jobs both Grad and Undergrad – The Office of Undergraduate research and CRPDE could offer some ideas.
      • Think about our course materials in light of the bigger picture.  Can we use cheaper or Open Educational Resources to reduce student costs (most students don’t buy the expensive books anyway)  The OU Libraries will help.  http://guides.ou.edu/oer
      • Participate in your campus conversations about fees and try to use fees to greater benefit of the students if they exist.  (I have changed a class from Blended to weekend to reduce fees for students – each online class has a $40 per credit hour fee, and $20 for blended). If you are offering in these formats – ask yourself the questions – why?  Key skills? Online learning experience? Student needs? or my Convenience?

Those are my initial thoughts.. (I have more) but I challenge other faculty to advocate for our students.

Consider reading Paying the Price by Sara Goldrick Rab or College Unbound by Jeff Selingo they are good places to start.

I was reminded this week about first generation students.. (those students whose parents did not go to college). They often ask questions – but not the right ones.  I remember dinner conversation from my Dad about his stories about college – so I was at a distinct advantage to know what to ask.   As professors, we can help this situation by being informed and involved, helping our students to ask the right questions, and advocating for them when we can.  

 

 

Blending Leadership – My reaction

So I always try to read something to get me thinking over spring break..  (I was not good about blogging last year but I read Most Likely To Succeed by Tony Wagner and College Unbound by Selingo – books I suggest to everyone)

So this spring break I read Blending Leadership by Reshan Richards and Stephen J. Valentine.

First, I should say that I know Reshan through Apple Distinguished Educators – we have worked on a few projects at the same time but don’t know each other very well.  He is well known for his company Explain Everything but I will say by reading this book, I have definitely developed a great respect for him, his blended perspective (industry, K-12 and higher education). 

He was talking about this book in Summer 2017 at ADE Institute and I bought it online but never read it but picked it up as my spring break book. I am really glad I did. 

The overall premise of the book.. is that modern leadership requires us to think about leading in both the face to face and virtual world and that acts of servant leadership exist in online too.   I took notes as  I read the book, so it may seem kind of stream of consciousness but let me share some big ideas.

Truly Blended Scholarship

What struck me first about this book was truly the blended leadership and blended information seeking that is both spoken about in the book and practiced in it. In a higher education position being active on Twitter and interacting with blogs is not rewarded valued and questioned from any of the reasons that are discussed in the book (no peer review, no editing). 

However this is how I learned much of what I do, and my Professional Learning Community is in Blogs and Twitter So I was really excited when I saw that kind of reading combined with the reading that I do and the people that I know including Anne Ottenbreit Leftwich, Peggy Ertmer and wCharles Graham, people that I know professionally or went to grad school with.  These are well respected educational technologists and the authors of this book did a great job of weaving peer reviewed research articles with writings from business, and even blog posts. (I personally loved that they talked about the Agile Manifesto as I got my SCRUM certification this summer)   This book is very appropriate for someone who’s a professor in Education who is also engaging in the PLN that teachers are.  In fact I am going to encourage some of our educational readers to read this book to think about their role in both face to face and online spaces as leaders. This book is great and perhaps necessary read as we rethink scholarship and its value in academia.. This book provides a good example that someone can be engaging in reading peer reviewed scholarship but can also be informed by blogs. Which I personally feel are growing in importance as I have had “albatross” articles that have taken years to publish while their findings leak relevancy as each month passes by.

Practice what you Preach –

There was a lot in this book about the behaviors and habits of effective leaders in the digital age.   Some of the better ones included:

Be open in your communication and share your personal networks when it matches shared interest.. (Ie.. Don’t tweet a bunch of stuff on High School calculus to your network if it is all kindergarten teachers – but totally cool to talk about human development as it affects all ages.. (My example)

Be open with your tech use and share your experiences and be a participant leader working collaboratively with your team. (ie.. practice what you teach)

Consider taking care of digital spaces as servant leadership – ie.. if you would not let trash sit in a hallway, why would you let a Google Doc become unwieldy with comments and strikethroughs.

On being a flexible leader and tech user

Don’t get caught up on the tools for one purpose – remain flexible and know that the tool you love today could be gone tomorrow.    Use the tools, but we willing to pivot if something better comes along or it not longer meets your needs.

I totally love how they deal with SAMR – it drives me nutty that people use it as a ranking for teachers, when it was not intended to be that way..  I always think about it as varied stimulus. We all had teachers who used worksheets all the time, and never let you create something, and another teacher who was all into creation, that you never got through content.   There is a balance, where scaffolded learning helps learners learn both facts but also apply them and create with them.

Overall Takeaways

A blended leader is open and flexible and pays attention to the people they work with and allow them opportunities to grow and lead. They maintain online spaces to free people up to be creative and productive.

They also unplug when needed – being online is a choice and people are still key to the process.

Blended leaders choose the use of technology when it serves them well and are intentional to promote their organizations and their organization’s mission.  I really loved how they talked about companies that we love for their clear communication of their mission and how they asked – why aren’t schools doing more of that?  There are some really good ideas how every teacher or faculty member can participate in this mission.(which is a growing shadow work required of faculty in these rough budget times)

(on a related note: I LOVED reading this as a purchase from the IBooks Store.. I was able to highlight and transfer my highlights to Notes easily which made writing this blog post easy (even when I was on a plane or without network connectivity)  I only wish my highlighted sections could be more easily shown as complete – but I love that it will align them to printed page numbers.

Also I read this book in about 5 hours – in two sittings – a quick read and very useful.

Check out this book on the iBooks Store: https://itun.es/us/D6epdb.l