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Flexibytes: Flexible learning news, trends, and resources.
Welcome to the Flexibytes newsletter featuring flexible learning news, trends, and resources at UBC and beyond.

Why one professor live-streamed lectures for free on social mediaGraham Reynolds, a professor emeritus at Cape Breton University, streamed three of his lectures to the public on Facebook Live. The lectures are from a course he teaches on campus and focuses on the impact of civil rights icon Viola Desmond, a black woman who refused to give up her seat in a segregated Nova Scotia movie theater in 1946. Reynolds says, “This is a way to deliver courses to a broader audience; people who for whatever reason, can’t access the university but are looking for the kind of content these courses are offering. They can do this in their own homes.” According to Reynolds, the first lecture had around 1,200 views. The videos are now archived on YouTube.

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10 key points about active learning

Cathy N. Davidson, director of the Futures Initiative at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York, shares what she has learned about teaching active learning courses. Davidson defines active learning “as a theory and method of teaching that engages students in the process of thinking meaningfully and deliberately about and then co-creating their learning experiences, in the classroom and beyond.” She discusses how students are involved in every stage of her classes, from instructional design to assessment methods, and walks readers through some of the techniques and strategies that she has found to be successful. 

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Students’ Union, U of C set out to define the ‘student experience’At the suggestion of the Board of Governors, the students’ union at the University of Calgary have drafted a definition of student experience. The students came up with a 10-point definition, which included the statements, “our access to the resources and opportunities we require to flourish in school, after graduation and for the rest of our lives” and “our nervous excitement about our future and what exists for us after the University of Calgary.”

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EdX quietly developing ‘MicroBachelors’ programEdX will be launching MicroBachelors programs in the next few years after receiving a $700,000 grant from the Lumina Foundation last December. EdX, a nonprofit online education group, has already developed 45 MicroMasters degrees with its partner universities. These low-cost online programs can help successful students gain admission into a full master’s program at the participating institution. According to the article, the big idea behind the MicroBachelors is “offering a low-cost, low-risk way for students to start an undergraduate education even if they can’t get to a campus.”

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Distance ed growth – Access is a big motivator, but it’s complicated

This article looks at the growth of distance education, which increased by 30 percent between 2012 and 2016 in the United States. Russell Poulin, director of policy and analysis at the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education Cooperative for Educational Technologies, summarizes the findings of a survey that the organization conducted. The survey looks at the motivations for increasing distance education offerings, such as improving access to education and finding funding, and some of the effects of the increase at institutions. He concludes that there are no simple answers, and that answers vary from place to place. Also, there is rarely a single motivation for increasing distance education enrolments.

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The misguided drive to measure ‘learning outcomes’

In this New York Times op-ed, Molly Worthen, an assistant professor of history at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, critiques the increasing emphasis on measuring and assessing learning outcomes in higher education. This push to ensure students graduate with job-ready skills “has fed a bureaucratic behemoth known as learning outcomes assessment,” Worthen says, and led to a growing for-profit assessment industry. Worthen argues, “If we describe college courses as mainly delivery mechanisms for skills to please a future employer…we oversimplify the intellectual complexity that makes a university education worthwhile in the first place.”

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Top 10 IT issues, 2018: The remaking of higher education

EDUCAUSE Review looks at the top 10 IT issue in 2018, as selected by members of the EDUCAUSE IT Issues Panel and voted for by EDUCAUSE members. These 10 issues look at how “digital technology is remaking higher education through four key themes: institutional adaptiveness, improved student outcomes, improved decision-making, and IT adaptiveness.” Among the issues include developing better security strategies, advancing technology’s role in defining the student experience, and helping institutions adapt to technological change.

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TLEF awards $2.25 million to enhance student learningThe Teaching and Learning Enhancement Fund (TLEF) has awarded $2.25 million in funding to 63 projects to enhance teaching and learning at UBC for the 2018-19 academic year. The projects are spread across 14 faculties and units and represent a range of strategies to enhance teaching and learning at both the course and program level, including expanding experiential learning opportunities for students, developing resources and activities to increase active student engagement and support student wellness, and developing open educational resources.

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