Digital Learning Initiative (DLI) Symposium Presenter Profiles

Digital Learning Initiatives and Innovation Throughout the UNC System

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Barbara Howard
Herb Brown

 

 

 

 

 

Presenters

Barbara Howard has served in several roles in k-12 settings as well as in Higher Education and a Regional Education Laboratory (SERVE at UNC-Greensboro). She has been a middle grades teacher; middle grades and high school administrator; district office administrator; and researcher/developer in the Assessment and Accountability program of SERVE. In 2008, she began a career at Appalachian State University as a professor and program director of the School Administration program at Appalachian State University. She is the current Chair of the Appalachian State Faculty Senate and a member of the Executive Committee of the Faculty Assembly for the UNC System. She is also the current President of the North Carolina Professors of Educational Leadership (NC PEL). Since 2010, she has engaged in several international projects sponsored by Appalachian State including collaborations in Poland and Russia. In 2018, she was awarded a Fulbright Specialist grant and will be working with the University of Free State in South Africa in May and June 2019 to help develop their online distance education program on their South Campus. Her research interests inform her presentations and publications, which focus on assessment and pedagogy in online programs in Higher Education. To contact her: howardbb@appstate.edu, (828) 262-7619.

Herb Brown has served in numerous academic and administrative positions at James Madison University, University of Virginia – Wise, University of South Carolina and Appalachian State University. He has held faculty positions as well as positions as Director of Instructional Technology & Design and Director of Technology and Facilities. He has designed and worked extensively with online (distance education) programs for most of his career in higher education including designing the first virtual governor’s school in Southwest Virginia (1998). He has held the position of program director for the Business, Marketing and Information Technology education program and the Educational Media/Instructional Technology: New Media and Global Education Program – both fully online
programs. In 2016, he joined the Russian Collaboration project to develop the graduate certificate in International Leadership. His research interests include the application of information technology to the traditional and virtual classroom.

Abstract

Providing global experiences for graduate students can often be so challenging that it becomes almost non-existent. Many graduate students are working adults with families, making it difficult to participate in study abroad programs or student exchanges. Working with our international partners in Novgorod, Russia, we leveraged technology, online pedagogy, cultural mapping, interdisciplinary curricula, and diversity of students and faculty to bring realistic global experiences into the virtual classroom. Through online and face to face meetings in the US and Russia, a multi-disciplinary team of Appalachian State and Novgorod State Faculty co-developed and now co-teach four graduate courses to American and Russian students. These courses prepare our students to lead virtual international teams. Coursework focuses on cultural mapping, international leadership, technology and sustainability.

Overview of Project

Intercampus Partnership. Appalachian State has maintained a formal partnership agreement with Novgorod State University in Veliky Novgorod, Russian Federation, since 2011. We have worked on the development of this program since 2014. Working first with my Russian colleague, Dr. Natalia Ilyashenko, we identified the need to develop an online program that could reach underserved populations in Russia by sharing our successat AppState with our online distance education program to build such a program in Russia. From this start, Dr. lyashenko and I developed the first collaborative online distance education course as a pilot. Our goal was primarily to build bridges between our students and cultures, which, unfortunately, suffer from many misconceptions and stereotypes on both sides. On one level, professors from AppState and NovSU in Russia collaborated to develop curriculum; share pedagogical practices, which tended to differ due to cultural expectations; co-teach the classes; and design assessments, also impacted by cultural expectations.

Transformational Learning Environments. We had to create new educational environments that would support student collaboration over extended periods of time, both synchronously and asynchronously, across cultural boundaries. OpenQwaq, Zoom, Moodle, Skype and Google Docs as well as email were tools that facilitated this type of collaboration. We incorporated OpenQwaq (a type of virtual 3D platform), Zoom, and Moodle for whole class instruction, but beyond these platforms, students used tools such as SnapChat, Facebook, email and google docs to communicate with teammates outside the synchronous class meetings. Students introduced each other to various forms of social media and communication that allowed easier communication. Time zone differences and language proved to be challenges that technology

helped us overcome. Due to the seven-hour time difference, synchronous meetings were held on Saturdays so that it was morning for the Americans and afternoon for the Russians. Each team of American and Russian students included a translator, usually a student studying translation at NovSU, or a Russian student proficient in English. Student language skills were enhanced from interactions in class as well as through google translate. This pilot course was taught in Fall 2016 with 12 Appstate students and nine NovSU students. Study Abroad programs offer immersion into a culture for a few days, but many students are unable to participate due to cost and family or work obligations obligations. By engaging our students in a year-long program of
study over four courses requiring teamwork and project-based learning, we are hoping to increase our impact. Based on student feedback and projects developed, which will also be shared, we determined to pursue the development of three more courses to create a Graduate Certificate in International Leadership, which began in Spring 2017. The Certificate was approved by Appalachian State this Spring. The first cohort of students will begin this program in Fall 2019.

Sustainability and Scale Up Student tuition and enrollment at each university will sustain the program. The University of Free State, South Africa, another AppState partner, has indicated an interest in helping scale up this program study over four courses requiring teamwork and project-based learning, we are hoping to increase our impact. Based on student feedback and projects developed, which will also be shared, we determined to pursue the development of three more courses to create a Graduate Certificate in International Leadership, which began in Spring 2017. The Certificate was approved by Appalachian State this Spring. The first cohort of students will begin this program in Fall 2019. Sustainability and Scale Up Student tuition and enrollment at each university will sustain the program. The University of Free State, South Africa, another AppState partner, has indicated an interest in helping scale up this program.

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