Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Pritchard and Gall on iTunesU

Link to presentation and podcast

Russ Pritchard: As I've already said, my name is Russ Pritchard, and I'm an Assistant Professor of Instructional Technology at Philadelphia University. Brian and I today are going to talk a little bit about our implementation of iTunes University, but we have more of a two-pronged attack. I will talk more about the pedagogical aspects, or the aspects we've tried to approach from the cognitive sciences, and why we believe iTunes University fulfills the mission at Philadelphia University.

Brian Gall: And my name is Brian Gall, Instructional Technology Specialist with Philadelphia University. This is one of my charges as the instructional technology specialist, along with Blackboard and faculty development. I'll present the technical aspects of anything from doing your first podcast, all the way to the trials and tribulations of implementing iTunes University.

Russ: As we began a few years ago to decide what technologies we wanted to implement, we decided that we did not want to implement technology for the sake of technology. That is, we want to have a well-thought-out strategy of what we picked and what we implemented, and why we thought it would help us toward performance with respect to the cognitive sciences.

I teach an introductory course called Introduction to Instructional Technology. I've been teaching it now for about six years, and each semester, I ask the group, after the first class, go home, back to your institution, high school or whatever, and take a very quick survey of the uses of instructional technology that you see, and report back on it next week. And every year, I tabulate the data, and I'm not surprised, but they are, at the uses of technology.

Most people are still performing very much the way they once did, say, 25 years ago. Literally, sometimes, dittos. Some people don't know what dittos are, but they are still using those in some cases. But in all the cases, what we found out, is that when they are using technology, it is really at a lower level. And when I ask, "why are you using technology in this fashion?" they really don't know. They're not quite sure why we're implementing a technology that we are.

Brian: In the past, as Russ said, over the past 25 years, technology has definitely blossomed to the point where we can't keep up, in many ways. Schools are still trying to play catch-up, so we have a phrase called "learning from technology." Which basically means we have a lot of tools available to us, our administrators at the K-12 level, and even somewhat our administrators at the university level, is that we've given you all these tools--use them.

So, in the past, we have traditional use of static PowerPoint, just like you're seeing today, so we've really embraced 21st century technology with this. But, the fact is, a lot of the lessons that I see, and I've seen about eight or nine lessons since I started at Philadelphia University, every single professor uses static PowerPoint as his or her only method of technology in the classroom. This is interesting to me.

We use Blackboard to store documents. Most of use know that Blackboard, or any content management system, is more than just a document repository. But our use of Blackboard, and at many other schools, is just to store documents so you don't have to make copies.

Administrative uses. Word to type up business letters, syllabi, and so on. Excel, possibly to keep grades, possibly to keep a department project. But are they teaching with Excel? Are they using it in the classroom? And then, Outlook. Sure, emailing colleagues, and emailing students as well. But using it purely as a flat communications tool.

And then, teaching uses. Electronic grading. Most of our teachers have at least gone on to Excel, or something like Blackboard or GradeQuick or something like that, to keep grades electronically. And hopefully, possibly, grades on the web, as well, in the K-12 area. And, audio and video, we're still showing those videos from the 1980s and 90s, but now, the question is, can we put it on iTunes University so we don't have to show it in class anymore? That's a question I get, and we'll explain that a little bit further.

But basically, what this means is, we're teaching the way we've always taught, but we're just doing it more efficiently. We're not doing it more effectively. We have a lot of money invested in technology, but is it changing the way we're teaching?

Russ: So, when we spoke about this a few years ago, we said we were going to make a conscious decision to move away from teaching from technology to teaching with technology. So, we had to step back and say, what does it mean to teach with instead of from. So we came up with about five guiding principles.

The first one said that when you use technology, does it give you authentic and varied evaluation? Now, evaluation is of course a big topic unto itself, but it says, the professor looks at what they do and evaluates. We're saying, is it authentic, because you're only evaluation from one person. Can we have the peers do it? Can we have other schools do it? Or can we even have people from other countries do it?

We then said, in addition to that, can we have varied practice and assessment? And I think the only study I've ever read that said, absolutely, positively, we know it works, is TOT or time on task. And time on task is a fancy way of saying the amount of practice you give them. But it's not just the amount of practice, it's how varied the practice is. So, we said that, if you're going to implement technology, can you have more practice, more timely practice, and can it be more effective?

Making learning active is a big buzz phrase. But we said, what does active mean? What do you want the student to do to make it active? So we said it must be: investigate, discover, apply, or solve. So when you implement the technology, does it make it active by doing one of those four things?

This idea about making learning active--once again, I tell my teaching classes every year, at the end of the night, if you're more tired than the students, you're doing something wrong. And that begat student-centered responsibility. It says, can we take what I call the locus of responsibility--who's responsible for learning?--and can we push it back on the student? That's what we say about active learning.

This is the one where I'm getting, really, the most resistance. So, when I give them the monkey, they give me the monkey back. They want--I paid my money, therefore, I want you to teach me. But we're constantly pushing for them, saying, you learn yourself, help yourself, guide yourself, collaborate, ultimately, since you were a part of this.

And, our last strategy then said, we form collaboration. We think that the social constructivist model is the way to go, especially at the graduate level. So they learn by collaboration. Certainly, there are lectures. Certainly there are discussions, but they're going to learn by collaboration. So, does the technology we implement help us to collaborate?

Brian: And I'll pay you back on that. Especially at the graduate level, but, coming from a high school environment for the past eight years, this is really K-12 now that they're working together. I taught in a block situation, we had 82-minute classes. Our principal said, day one, every year, if you don't have more than five activities in that class, you're doing something wrong. You're not teaching.

Russ: Yeah.

Brian: So, it even goes all the way up from K-12 to undergraduate, to graduate, with collaboration, and getting people to work together.

Russ: This idea about collaboration, we're talking about, for example, the discussion board. We have a lot of discussions, but a lot of times, it becomes what I call a barfly conversation. Ain't it awful? I've done this. I want to have a discussion, but I want to be informed. I want the technology to say, where do I get information from? Then we'll have discussion, but only after that happens.

The question then becomes, if we decide upon it how then do we teach it of course to the faculty? How do we get them on board?

How do we get the knowledge inside their brains? The issue became what I would call, working on the work of Everett Rogers, how do you get them to adopt the new technology? And so those of you familiar with the management of change know about the work of Everett Rogers, and he said, you got to get the adoption rate up. Because we don't have forever to get them to use the technology or whatever, we'll run out of time.

So, we then decide to use six things that are kind of expounded upon by Rogers, when we go through the training session, one of the first issues we come up with is relative advantage.

So were explaining a technology, we say, here's what you're doing now, here's what you want to move on to possibly. And then decide, why is it better than what we did before?

If the technology advantage is this big, they're not going to do it. It's not worth their time. There's got to be and you've got to teach them the relative advantage to the way we were doing it before. And we'll talk about iTunes in just a few minutes, and we'll say why is it better than Blackboard? And we'll talk about that.

It's got to be compatible with what they currently use, if it's too radically different, it's not that it won't work, they may not adopt it as quickly. It's got to be simple. Everybody here is obviously somewhat technological savvy, and so when we see a new technology we like it, we use it even if we think it doesn't work because we like it. What I like to say is that sometimes we work with, if you'll forgive the phrase, Luddites, which is what I was at one time. They've got to see that it's not that hard to learn. The other day we showed some teachers Movie, they said, this is easy, even I can do it.

They have to be able to try it before they buy it. So in the training sessions we set up, or even within their classroom, is there a way we can say lets give it a trial run, maybe not in training, but in your classroom can someone be there to help you?

Can they see it work? They've got to be able to see the relative advantage, or how they're going to be able to teach better.

And finally, one of my favorites once again is, what we call the channel of communication, who's telling them about it? When they make the decision to adopt or not adopt, we call the persuasion stage, they don't like mass media information, they like information from people they are working with. So we have these small sessions, kind of like what we're doing now, we have a group called TLTR, and it's in that group we discuss it together and say, does it work or doesn't it? If we decide it does, and we get that information from their local channels, they're more likely to adopt.

Brian: And even a big thing like that, faculty involvement from day one, as we all know probably from our positions, is definitely a key. One of the things that I was told when I first started, if you don't get the faculty behind you, don't bother suggesting something new. So it's interesting how you can pull a group of people together, try and get them turned on, but those six things are exactly what, the faculty are not going to listen unless those six things are met with the technology that you are implementing. So one of our solutions with learning web technology, of course, is our installation of iTunes University.

ITunes University is a product that came out from Apple a little over a year ago, in principle. And basically it provides us a place where we can store 500 GB of audio, video and enhanced files. During our session yesterday we were talking about, what if we lower 500 GB? There's nothing from Apple they said they're going to charge, but nobody knows how much. So it's interesting from a big school environment, if you have a lot, like Temple has, like we talked about yesterday, well over a terabyte of information already. So that could be an interesting dynamic.

But the reason they are giving this to Universities free is, and the sales person told me, they hope we buy more products. But yet they also understand the needs of our millennial learners, and seeing how we can present more information to them in an easier way.

So how does it meet our goal?

Russ: So we decide then to try the iTunes University, we look back at its able to do and say how would it fit into either one, or a combination of those five cognitive principles. And we said it gives us authentic demonstration. Meaning that the students can do a pod-cast, an enhanced pod-cast, PDF files, they take it from their place of work and their the ones that build the site, and therefore becomes more authentic.

Now again I'm saying authentic because it comes from real life, true situations were they have to be working.

They also get varied evaluation. And there's a lot of discussion about this role beginning in just a couple of minutes. When it goes into iTunes University, it's open for everyone to see it. So other classes will look at it, of the same section, other schools will look at it within Philadelphia University, and indeed the whole University will look at it. They have an idea then of what other people are doing and they can kind of benchmark themselves against it.

You can do that in Blackboard, but it's not easy, so the relative advantage here that iTunes provides is much greater. It can be active, and so when the information becomes authentic, I can then say to my graduate students, I want you to go into iTunes University and discover this. It's authentic, I know it's up there, it makes it more accurate.

I like the idea of becoming student centered, where students in the classes are then asked to build the content, build and manage the content. Those of us who are working with blackboard know, it is really course centered, and it's really built around what the teacher wants to put up there. This once again shifts the burden back to the student to organize the content, which I like.

And finally, because it's up there for all to see, it's informed collaboration. It forces them to work together, even if it wasn't something that they might have tried before.

Brian: Going back to the student-centered responsibility.

[clears throat]

Excuse me. Faculty can create content and put it up there. They way we've approached this from almost day one, is to come up with activities that teachers can use in their classroom to get students to produce the content. So again, it's one of those things, pod-casting out one more thing from the professor during the day. We put a spin on that by saying let students populate the content, let students share the information, and actually show the professor what they learned in their class.

Of course the faculty perspective is there as well, they can put up things as they see fit. So just a quick demonstration of our installation of iTunes University, I'll show four different examples. One audio, one enhanced, and two vi-casting examples. And I apologize, I didn't bring my speakers with me, but you'll get the idea.

So this is our site, and even before this, what Apple does, we'll get into this a little bit later, but they present us a white store-front, and that's what it is, its an iTunes store. They give us all the code, all the examples and those kind of things. And then depending on who you have on your staff, you need somebody to design the back-end of it. Luckily for us we had an expert programmer that took their code that didn't work and implemented it in for our system. So we were able to do that. I know from looking at the message boards, a lot of universities signed on to the system over six months ago, but are not live as of today. So it's an interesting dynamic that we'll talk about.

And then our PR department designed the actual interface to take advantage of the branding mechanism that you see.

One example that I wanted to show you, our foreign language department up until about three months ago, all of their practice material that went along with their text books, was on a website, that website was only accessible in the learning lab, learning language lab which had six computers. And it was also accessible in the library. But in the library you needed to checkout headphones, and we had four sets of headphones, depending on whether the students brought them or not.

At most ten students at a time could listen to material. They logged onto the website, they found their lesson let's say a Spanish one, lesson five they received 25 links. They would click on a link for the first one, it would download, it would play, they would listen to it. Then they would have to go back to the website, click on another link, download it, listen to it. A lot of steps for them to do.

So the advantage of learning the foreign language material on iTunes, is the fact that a Spanish one student can come in and log on to their course, and they can see all of their lessons, there's five lessons in their text book. And let's say that on lesson one, they can get individual songs, or they can subscribe. And that's really the difference between podcasting and MP3. It's not the fact that you have to have an iPod, because we all know that you don't. I mean, you need some kind of music source, you need iTunes or Windows Media player, Real Player, or WinAmp or something that plays music on your computer.

If they subscribe they're going to get this first song. And once that's downloaded they'll have a link to Spanish one. Then they can check off each song, download them all automatically, and have them on their computer at one time.

A disadvantage of course is that if you click subscribe, you don't get all of them at once, you only get the most recent what they call episode.

But if I put new content under lesson one tomorrow, let's say I'm a teacher and I have a project where my students have to give a one minute presentation on cultures in Spain. They can record that, they can upload it. If I log on as a professor, I'll get all of those presentations automatically. So that's the advantage of anything subscription based, not just iTunes university, but just anything that's a subscription.

And you'll see that you have all the songs here. But if you click on one, you can play it. And we actually made these enhanced by integrating some of the images from the textbook. I had two graduate students working on putting images from the textbook, we have right to do, through the usage from the textbook of different lessons and what they're talking about.

So an audio podcast that was on a website turn into an enhanced podcast instantly. An example of an enhanced podcast and this is actually a project one of our business faculty did, it was a project where students had to collect five images from the Internet, and had to give a two to three minute discussion about either, artificial intelligence, robotics, gaming theory, e-commerce, or something "the future of technology" related.

I'll quickly get this one. You can preview all of these, but unfortunately, with enhanced NVIDIA you won't see images as you preview, you'll only hear the audio. So you ought to download something.

And they use "Garage Band" to produce this, "Garage Band" is the only software that we know of currently that produces enhanced podcasts. And enhanced means audio, video, PowerPoint, JPG, GIF and even PDF documents can be distributed through enhanced podcasts.

And finally, our occupational therapy department has a capstone program where the seniors had to sit down one on one with the patients, a clinician type interview. And they basically asked wrap-up questions in their time with the patient. Previously in the project, they recorded the interviews on their own, they brought in a VHS tape, or a DVD, depending on whether the put it on DVD or not. They took a class to look at all the video tapes, then the next class they peer-reviewed and critiqued and analyzed what the interview style was and what the answering style was. So they could do better interviews in the future. So it's a three process, and additional time outside.

Because of podcasting and iTunes university, we reduced this to no outside time, and only two classes. The professor brought all the students in for a class and videotaped their interviews. The between that day and the next class, they had to log-on to iTunes university, and view five different videos. They had their own presentation style, and then the presentation style for other interviewers. That second class they got together and had a really high-level discussion about how to improve their interviewing techniques.

So where before the third class was just basic technique, they didn't go into anything high-level about how to interview. This enabled them to do higher level type skills.

You'll notice how I am switching around in my library. If you subscribe to a course, it will go in your podcast area. If you get a song or get a movie, it will go into either music or movies. So that's just the way iTunes looks at it.

Man 1: Once you've downloaded the content, will it organize it by the course?

Brian: If you subscribe you have. Here's "Alta 342 lesson one". The thing that's frustrating me right now is the use of tabs. If you use another tab, you have to subscribe to each tab. But if you put everything in one tab, it's too much. Do you know what I mean?

Let me go back to Spanish. By the way, that video was about 400 megabytes for about five minutes, and with iMovie we reduced it to, I believe it was, 24 meg. It looks crystal clear in the iPod.

The different tabs.

Man 1: Oh, I see.

Brian: Yeah, right. We decided to do the tabs because of the amount of content; the Spanish three and four course has 600 files. So just because of the level of content we had to do it in tabs. But it's frustrating too; it takes a little bit away from the user views, being able to do that.

Woman 1: I don't know if I will need 600 files for my course.

Brian: Sure, right. Oh absolutely. But I think that like for early occupational therapy, this is all they're doing in there currently; they can subscribe and get everything.

The thing we talked about also with this is that this is an automatic scaffold in your reading material. The professor is going to pick the five best interviews, no actually, the students pick the best five, and they are going to leave them up there for the next year.

The forty students doing interviews next year are going to be able to see these, and they are going to be able to see what the good techniques are. So year after year after year the skills of your students are just going to increase, hopefully automatically, that may not happen.

Woman 1: Now you said this is student centered, and students can load stuff, this looks to me kind of traditional, you know lesson one, this is what you're supposed to listen to for class...

Brian: Right.

Woman 1: How would students create it? Can they create tabs, you know, are they encouraged to record themselves doing the Spanish lessons? What's the student centered part of that?

Brian: Right, when the faculty representative, when somebody on the faculty asks for a class I ask them a couple questions. Number one, what their course number is, all that administrative stuff. But I'll ask them if they want drop-box access or full editing access. Drop-box access means students can upload their own material, they can upload MP3s, m4as for enhanced, or m4vs for a garage band, for video, for iMovie, and that content will be given to the professor so they can evaluate it. In the interface, they'll be able to listen to the content, approve, or deny. If they give them full editing access, they can just upload content.

So I'm encouraging people to pick one of those two. They say, so why would I want that? And I say, I want your students to be able to contribute to this course And that's how we're approaching our training, by doing that. You don't have to do that, you can keep it completely closed off, for faculty centered. We didn't believe in that when we set this up, but it's a great question.

Man 2: [inaudible question]

Brian: Our particular installation is not publicly accessible. Much to my chagrin. You have to have a Philadelphia University user name and password. I'm hoping within six months I'm able to convince our IT and our administration to. UC Berkley was one of the first schools on iTunes University, they want a public collaboration of iTunes University sites. And they're trying to organize something, I like that, which we'd love to be a part of we're doing a project, hopefully, Russ's department's doing a project with India, be great to share information with them. Currently we don't have that ability.

Man 2: The thing about sharing information is you're putting your knowledge, you're testing your knowledge, and you're vetting what you've done with a wider population. You're going to get feedback that's probably sometimes wrong, and maybe unprofessional, I don't know, but the point is they're going to look at it; they're going to give you ideas. This is good, this is not so good. And that's what we're looking for.

Russ: It is my impression that in terms of the iTunes you service and the contract they are offering these institutions, it is possible to implement your particular iTunes U so that you have both a public area and a private course based areas as well.

Brian: Correct.

Russ: So it's just how your units have implemented, other schools have implemented a more open space versus closed private space.

Brian: Right, there's four levels, one completely open, UC Berkley was completely open, they now have a private side, they actually have a separate installation. You can have public and private within the same. You can have all private, and you can have it to a point were if I'm registered in L342, Spanish 1, only those students see that content, you have to have a full LDAP authentication model, which we don't have.

If you have Blackboard Enterprise, it works seamlessly. Because it just dumps the data from our version of data to Enterprise into the system. We don't have that ability. So we would like that public and private side, if a professor wants to make it private, OK, fine I'll let you do it, but we want the public side too on the same.

Man 1: This had never occurred to me, is there a way to get your data back? Like, say somebody uploaded something and then they loose it, which...

Brian: That's a good question.

Woman 1: Maybe Apple looses it? or...

Brian: Is that what you're saying? Because this is hosted at Apple.

Man 1: No, that's what I mean, since you have no physical control, I guess my question is, if a student, or even a faculty member, uploads something important and then they inadvertently wipe the disk...

Man 3: Where's the backup?

Man 1:...yeah...

Brian: In Cupertino, California. I guess we could travel out there to hound them to do it.

Woman 1: No, in fact I talked to the IT people and said, we're totally responsible for backing it up.

Brian: It's in the contract.

Woman 1: Yeah, they would help us, but obviously since the server is in California, they provide those so you can connect to it so that you could make a backup.

Brian: Right. And you can take it one step further, if you decide to move away from this after two years, eventually, they said by the end of the year, they're going to have a way that you can download all of your course material, directly. It will be a function within the administration section. They promised by the end of the year.

Woman 2: I think I remember this coming out about a year ago, that they were giving this away free to everybody, but that they would encourage you to strongly suggest the student use iPod Nano MP3 players. Can you get around that? Can you use any MP3 player? Because all of those...

Brian: The video, they can use Zune if they have it, I know SanDisk has a video MP3 player. You do need at least a video player to see the enhanced or the video. But we've kept the word iPod out of all, unless we've done raffles as part of PR, we've kept iPod completely out of the terminology. They encourage it of course.

Man 3: But iTunes, you can't, because everybody has to use it then.

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