Jun 20 2012

Q&A with Must-Read Blogger Andreas Brockhaus of the University of Washington Bothell

Insights on cloud computing, learning analytics and online classes.

Andreas Brockhaus is the Director of Learning Technology at the University of Washington Bothell. In addition to his administrative duties, Andreas is a frequent contributor to the UW Bothell Learning Technologies Blog which provides 3,500 students and faculty with resources and tech news. At EdTech, we've been following the blog for a while and selected it as part of the 50 Must-Read Higher Education IT Blogs. Thanks Andreas for sitting down with us!

EdTech: Who do you think is leading the way in higher education technology?

Andreas: Any organization that is concentrating on discovering evidence of impact of technology on student learning is, in my opinion, leading the way in higher education technology. Examples of such organizations range from EDUCAUSE, with its focus on learning analytics, to the University of Central Florida, with its extensive data on hybrid and online learning, to Coursera, with its extensive data gathering from their massive open online courses. More and more, higher education needs to communicate its value and show what students are learning while attending a college or university, and having better assessment tools and data needs to be a key component to show how technology can positively impact learning.

EdTech: What will be the most important technology of 2012?

Andreas: I’m intrigued by Canvas Analytics, which will be released this summer by Instructure, because it’s a good example of the new wave of learning analytics tools, which will most likely become more mainstream in the next few years. What’s encouraging about tools like this is their usefulness on multiple levels, from the micro level, where students can assess their progress, to the middle level, where faculty can monitor a class, to the macro level, where the campus can get assessment data for programs and departments. Analytic tools such as this will make it easier to make data-driven decisions on improving student learning.

EdTech: Are you using a public or private cloud, or taking a hybrid approach?

Andreas: At UW Bothell, we take a hybrid approach. So, for instance, our faculty and staff email is currently on a private cloud while much of our student resources are on a public cloud. Students use Google Sites (with UW authentication) for e-portfolios and Gmail for their email.  

EdTech: Rewind 100 years. You are in a classroom in 1912. You can use one piece of technology to help the students learn . . . what is it?

Andreas: This question highlights how much technology has changed over the years. You quickly realize that it’s extremely difficult to take back only one piece of technology, because it’s all interconnected and is most useful as a part of that connected web. So you could bring an iPad, but much of its functionality would be lost because of not having the Internet. You’d have to take back something like a hand-held calculator, which functions primarily as a stand-alone piece of technology.

EdTech: How has your campus responded to the recent uptick in interest in online learning in the aftermath of Stanford and MITx offering free online courses?

Andreas: Our campus is very interested in hybrid/blended learning because empirical research shows that when designed well, hybrid courses achieve better outcomes than fully face-to-face or fully online courses. To that end, we’ve developed a series of 6- to 10-week Hybrid Course Development Institutes for faculty to help them develop a peer-reviewed hybrid course. We’ve designed these Institutes using the Community of Inquiry model developed by Garrison and Vaughn. We focus on both the pedagogy of developing a hybrid course and the technology tools that are effective in creating online and classroom learning activities. Our research shows that faculty who participated in an Institute had a statistically significant increase in their levels of expertise in hybrid course development and delivery. Assessments of students who have taken hybrid courses from faculty who have participated in an Institute have consistently shown an increase in both quantity and quality of class interactions.

EdTech: Where do you get your technology news?

Andreas: Much of my news comes from the usual suspects: EDUCAUSE, EdTech Magazine, Campus Technology, etc. I also find the digital library from AACE (The Association for the Advancement of Computing in Education) to be a useful resource for finding research articles on the integration of technology into teaching and learning. Conferences such as ELI (EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative) are also invaluable in getting information from practitioners at other higher education institutions.

Check out the UW Bothell Learning Technologies Blog and the EdTech 50 Must-Read Higher Education Blogs.

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