What I Have Learned After Completing 28 Online College Courses by Alicia Fernandez

October 10, 2019 0 By Stanley Isaacs


– We’re ready, Jeff. Whenever you’re ready. We’re on? Okay, perfect. Good morning, everybody, we’re back. Hello? It’s not on? Hello, hello? But that’s too close. Hello? Good morning. Alicia, it looks like
you’re going to have to talk really close to it. Can you guys hear me? Can you hear me? Good morning, everybody. Trying to make sure that this mic works. Can you guys hear me? Okay, good, so. Looks like you have to
be right up close to it. – Okay. – Okay, so. As you make your way back to your seats, I want to ask who in the room has taken one online course as part
of your undergraduate or graduate degree? How many people have taken five courses? How many people have taken 10 courses? How many people have taken 15 courses? How many people have taken 20 courses as part of your undergraduate
or graduate degree? How many people have taken, did I do 20 yet? 25 courses? Okay, it’s getting there. (chuckles) How many people taken 28? How many have you taken? – 28. – 28 online courses? At least 28 online courses? – [Voiceover] Just ask
her how many right here. (audience laughs) – Okay, how many? – [Audience Member] 130 credits. – (mumbles). How many? – [Audience Member]
(mumbles too low to hear) – Perfect, perfect. So there are few people in the world, at least in this room, who have taken 28 online courses as part of their undergraduate
or graduate degrees, and I am so pleased
and delighted and happy to introduce Alicia Fernandez to you. She is an Open SUNY online student and she is also the recipient of the 2015 National University
Technology Network Online Student Recognition Award
which was given to her in, last year, in Savannah, Georgia at
the annual conference, the Newton Annual Conference. Full disclosure, I nominated
her for that award. (audience laughs) And she was also my student in the very highly rated, in
U.S. News and World Report online masters program, CDIT at U Albany. Alicia is the reason, is the poster person for Open SUNY. She is an adult re-entry
student for whom Open SUNY, I think, was envisioned. I think she’s a real life
example of the extraordinary impact that online learning
can have on a person’s life who takes full advantage of it, and I really want to congratulate you and, on everything, on all of your successes, and I’m so pleased to introduce
her to you and have her talk to us about what she’s
learned after taking 28 online college courses. Welcome, Alicia. – Thank you. Thank you for that kind
introduction, Alex. All right, well, I’m pleased to be here, representing one of the 7 million students who didn’t have college degrees that Doctor Cartright referenced yesterday in New York State, so my first slide, as Alex mentioned, I’ve taken 17 online courses to get my baccalaureate at CUNY, and 11 online graduate
courses to get my M.S. in Curriculum Development
Instructional Technology as well as a certificate of graduate study in Online Learning and Teaching, and I’m the proud recipient,
as Alex mentioned, of the Newton Student Recognition Award. So, a little background on me. I’m a native New York City resident, and when my father went to
take me to go to school, the kindergarten teach
sent me home because I didn’t speak English, and I was home all day with
my mom who spoke Spanish. And, there were no ESL
programs back in 1967 so my father would not
take no for an answer, and he told the principal,
“I will teach her English. “She will be back in 45 days, “and she will be up to
speed,” and so it happened, so I was able to attend school. I went on, from a myriad of reasons,
I went to college, dropped out of college, family responsibilities, financial need, so successfully employed for 30 years, it never impacted me in any way, but then, I was laid off in 2009 after 30 years in the workforce and I found out that every
job I applied for needed a college degree. All of my experience, all of my merit, was worthless, so, here I go, and I say, all right. I guess I better go to college. So, clearly, money and
time were constraints ’cause I was still doing some work and didn’t have money
to go to private school so I, I also wasn’t sure about
what I wanted to study so I found an online degree
through the City University of New York. They had just started the program, and I enrolled. During the enrollment process, one thing I want to mention
as an adult re-entry student, I really didn’t get any
advising or any of the concierge services you were talking about yesterday, and when I was choosing courses, people were telling me, “Oh,
you have to take two semesters “of Spanish.” I’m fluent in Spanish. (audience chuckles) And, I don’t think I need the two courses, so, know, when you talk about
competency-based learning or CLEP exams, I think my advisor should have said to me, “Yes, take the CLEP exams. “Get the credit for Spanish. “Don’t take the CLEP in
things that are instrumental “to your degree or
possible graduate studies.” So I think these are the type of things that the adult re-entry
population feels sort of lost. You’re in there, you see the curriculum, you’re transferring credits, you don’t know what’s
getting accepted, so, I think that’s an area
where a lot of people are dissuaded from persuing online degrees that were in my position. And, you definitely, you get a sense that you’re not being catered to personally, that it’s more about money
than it is about, you know, your attainment of a degree. So, as I mentioned, I
started the B.A. in 2010. The program, I think,
was in its third year. It had a lot of issues. You know, a lot of instructors
didn’t know how to manage the LMS. It was very clunky, and the students were
new to the modality so, a lot of frustrating days, and it was apparent to the students that some instructors
were much more proficient in managing the LMS than others. Not that we had any say about it. We’d often wonder, we were all assessed for online readiness. Were they? (audience chuckles) Not sure about that. (audience applauds) And, I’m a big proponent, at this point, that a lot of the frustration
could have been prevented with better orientation, so, for example, don’t just tell us to go into Blackboard. Warn us that we might be typing, you know, our, well, we’re inspired and here we are, you know, having some
intellectual friction, and boom! Blackboard crashes and you
just lost all your work, you know, so, I think if people knew, type it in Word, paste it in, the nuances of cutting and
pasting between Blackboard and, you know, a Word program, just little things like that that I think as the student is trying
to fit this all into their schedule, it’s these little
things that would have helped me not be frustrated, not
contemplate dropping out. Also, task managers and calendars. I think any professor
that provided a calender, that was downloadable into Google that I could put into my Outlook calendar, it made life a lot easier
because time management is such a problem for the online student that whatever the institution
or the instructor can do to facilitate that, it’s a win-win. And finally, I think the
biggest challenge for this online population is that
we’re learning how to be online students while being online students, and, you know, this is
the bridge we have to sort of get over the divide. Okay, so, cutting and pasting. In my corporate life,
this is all I did all day, was cut and paste, and I found out in the classroom that cutting and pasting
doesn’t always work because in my first semester,
I was in a learning community and we were building a
wiki on technology terms, and I said, oh, you know, cracking, hacking, I didn’t
know there was a difference between these two, I’m going to use these, so I pasted them in and
I linked them to their Webopedia definitions, and I
got a zero and was reported to the dean for possible dismissal, and I said, Excuse me? I’m like, I have a 95 in this class, why? And the professor, I
contacted the professor, and the professor said,
“Well, that’s cheating. “You copied and pasted
and it’s plagiarism, “and you violated the policy,” so after a series of negotiations
with this instructor, she got me an online writing tutor through the university. They taught me how to paraphrase. I was able to resubmit, and that became a 90. I completely understand the
violation of the policy. My issue with this was that
had I not proactively reached out to the professor, I could
have easily closed my laptop, got frustrated, and said,
“I don’t need this.” And, I think that when these
types of things happen, when you have somebody that’s been outside of academia, don’t jump to the conclusion that they intentionally
meant to plagiarize, because I hyperlinked it,
I assumed it was okay, and if she had just sent
me an email and said, “This isn’t the way you do
it,” I think it would have, it could have had a much different result, and I’m lucky that it didn’t (chuckles). Okay, so, another thing. Building community online
is not an inherent skill that all of us have, and
we come to the classroom, and I think certain instructors
really take an effort to build a community and
maximize our learning. I’m going to point out two
specific instructors of mine. When I was in Professor Shea’s class, during my first postings, he read my journal, my reflection on my learning,
and he asked me a question about was I maximizing the opportunities to build community, to
learn from my peers? And I’m pretty results-driven,
and I think I was just following the rubric, and you know, getting the maximum points, but no, I wasn’t maximizing
my opportunities for learning. I wasn’t sharing as much as I could, so it made me review how
I trusted my classmates, how much I was willing to divulge, you know, the line between
sharing and formality, so that simple comment led
me to reflect and change my style of learning, so, just so you know, a one
word sentence from a professor really impacted me. In Professor Pickett’s class, after I took on somebody
going on about multiple intelligences in our first
discussion board posting, Professor Pickett says, “Great. “Fantastic post. “Teach us more. “Tell us more.” And I said, “What? Teach what?” I go, “I have to teach my peers?” And once again, I had to review, I said, “Wow.” I said, I have to know
this well enough that I can teach it to someone. I go, that’s a revelation. I said, “Okay.” I said, “Let me work on that.” From that, I think, for
me, in my personal life and in my professional life, the ability to develop how to, to do competent peer
review and self-assessment has helped every aspect of my life, and I think a lot of the
people that come in this cohort don’t have this culturally
or professionally in their arsenal. My family, people who are
socioeconomically disadvantaged, you don’t have rational discussion. You’re in survival mode, you’re in reaction mode, so a lot of what’s expected
in the college classroom is not, it’s not in our toolkit. So, the more we’re exposed to this, the more we’re taught to reflect, criticism is not negative, it
can be something, you know, positive. It was something that I’ve said to Alex, it’s
made me a better wife, a better sister, a better daughter. It’s just impacted every area of my life. On the same token, instructors that modeled
behavior in negotiating cultural differences was also pivotal. In my undergraduate
degree, the population was international, we had
time zone differences, cultural differences,
and one particular class, it got very heated with a
gentleman from the Philippines making very derogatory, well, what we perceived as derogatory allegations about women
and their roles in society and what we should or shouldn’t be doing, and the female professor
allowed the discourse to happen and a few of the female
students contacted her, and we were very upset because this gentleman
was basically saying we should be home, having children and not getting an education, and she explained to us, she said, “That’s his culture. “He’s allowed to have that perspective. “You’re allowed to disagree with it, “that doesn’t mean I’m going
to allow flaming and insulting “on the discussion boards. “So find a way to disagree
with him respectfully, “view his perspective, “understand that he comes
from a different place, “and move on.” And I think watching her
handle him, as a woman, it led me to realize that, wow, you know, I don’t have to be that reactionary. I can take things in
context and that helped me in my work life, dealing
with people internationally, and that’s what I mean about, you know, instructors modeling the
netiquette in very authentic ways. And then, also, private journals and blogs really, really helped foster
reflection and I think, they both served purposes. The private ones give you
a chance to, you know, really delve into things that
maybe you don’t want to say publicly, but the public
ones allow you to see your classmates’ thoughts and
you can build on that, so I think both have their value. Once again, I’m going
to harp on peer review and self-assessment because I think the ultimate goal, I think,
for me, as a student, which I didn’t realize at the time, beyond getting the degree and
securing a better-paying job, the critical thinking skills I developed are really what has impacted me. It’s let me evaluate everything, in a manner that I
never could have before, and, you know, you find, you realize that learning’s iterative, and you can explain that to
everybody in your family, that failure’s okay, that
you can learn from failure and that you, you know, just fail, reflect, revise, move on, and like I said, I
didn’t have these skills before coming to the classroom. Okay. The bane of my existence was, I always thought that I wrote well, and I found out that, in
academic circles, I did not. (audience chuckles) And I was getting little
notes about citations and about writing in the third person. This really has to be
addressed for this population. Before you throw them
into discussion boards and start assigning research papers, we don’t know what this is. We’ve been writing memos and typing emails and doing reports, we’re progress and
task-oriented, and then, you throw this at us,
and I’m like, pardon? What? And, it was very disconcerting
and it really, I think, affects your self-confidence
and your self-efficacy, so I think, if this is
addressed before the course really starts, in some
manner, through links or, you know, I’m not
sure what the solution is but I’ve had myriads of
conversations with all kinds of students, emailing each other at night, what is this? How do you do this? How do you develop a thesis? What are they talking about? So this is all going on behind the scenes. I loved this and I really
culminated this in Alex’s class, the building of a personal
learning environment. I liked that in my first class in CUNY, we had to do a Digication eportfolio. And that’s still available on a link. If I want to see the work I did, I just click on it, I see it, it’s there for the world to see, and then in Alex’s class, we did a blog. I like that I can revisit
these things years later, and a lot of the learning
and a lot of the work we did is within the Blackboard frame. You know, it’s password protected, you’ll never have access to it again, so any wiki you build, any, you know, collaboration you had, it just evaporates into the ether, so I think opportunities for students to build these personal
learning environments, should be encouraged,
you know, at all times. Okay. So now, getting down to the crux of it, what helped. From the beginning, I think professors who gave you interesting
icebreaking activities set a tone for the course. If they used VoiceThread
or Vokey or something more creative, it was more
than just the basic picture and hi, this is who I am. One professor asked all of us to admit one thing we were ashamed of, and one thing no one would
ever suspect from us, and that led to 350
posts from 22 students, so… (audience laughs) Yeah. Have people write something interesting. As we start using the Web
2.0 Tools, which we love, the students want the media, they want to interact,
but we need feedback. If we’re not using the
tools correctly, help us, or guide us to where we
should go for tutorials. Teachers who incorporate
blogs, wikis, multimedia presentations, this is what we want. We want to be engaged, we want, you know, we’re online, we
don’t want just static text. You have to compel us a little bit. I loved, loved, loved, loved audio and video feedback. I know it’s time intensive. I didn’t think anything else compared. I loved Alex, when she reviewed
the course that I wrote, she would have, she’d have screenshots
of the actual submissions and, it’s just very, it breaks that wall down,
that barrier of the online classroom, so I strongly
benefited from it. Another professor in the SUNY program used to do formative feedback summaries of the entire discussion board, so she would mention each classmate and point out where we were going right, and perhaps if we were
interpreting something incorrectly, she nudged us the other way, so everyone felt, she wasn’t giving individual
feedback to all of us, but we all knew she read our comments, and just a little snippet
on what she thought of it. Another bane of an adult
student’s existence is textbooks. You know, I had an astronomy
class with a $250 textbook that, you know, is a
paperweight somewhere. Any professor who strives to
either give us inexpensive textbooks or online
textbooks or no textbooks, it’s the way to go. And then, okay. Family obligations. When I first started the program,
I was in Professor Shea’s class, and my brother is a police office, and he was injured during a rescue mission during Hurricane Sandy. I fell back on my work. I explained it to Professor Shea, and instead of not
accommodating me, he did. You know, it’s okay if
there’s a late penalty, but, you know, we’re not 18 year olds. We have things we’re dealing with and the university has to understand that because we’re usually, we might be in your age
group, so, you know, there’s sick kids, there’s sick parents, there’s sick siblings, and you know, we can’t choose that over school. It can’t be done. I mean, we can’t choose school over that, excuse me. Okay, what hindered my learning. Professors disappearing,
which happens a lot more than you know. (audience chuckles) Just, MIA. No feedback, no logging
in, just somewhere. (audience claps) And students are frantically
emailing each other, should we tell the dean? Should we tell the faculty head? Guess what? We don’t. And we don’t tell you
on the surveys either ’cause we don’t want
it impacting our grade, and guess what? It does because I’ve had
professors contact me over stuff I’ve said in surveys or on Rate My Professor. So, it does get back to students and they live in fear of repercussion, and just like on the
job, you may not give, you know, your 360 feedback that honestly, same thing here, guys. Late feedback and late grading, also, just crazy. We have to adhere to all these schedules and have multiple deliverables, and then it’s like, oh,
you’re going to grade four discussion boards like all today and I’ve been waiting for
a month, that’s great, and I’ve been doing it incorrectly. Thanks, great to know. (audience laughs) And the number of students in a course. One of the courses in
the CDIT had 30 students. Just getting the discussion board to load was a nightmare. And I have no idea how
this professor even managed this class, but it was great, because there was a lot of interaction, but it was just a lot to read, a lot to manage. I don’t know how well people did in that. And, group work. Oof. Very hard. I think, in the CDIT
program, it was easier because we were all geographically, pretty much all in New York State, and the online baccalaureate, a nightmare. Between different time zones and, it just didn’t work and inevitably, there’s always going to be one
person who’s a type A student who’s doing all the work, and it’s not apparent to all of you, and just on a side note, I had a situation in my, in the first two courses in
the Learning Community at CUNY, where we had a group, one of the women decided
not to do any work, kept saying she was in the hospital, whatever was wrong with her, at the end, she denied all of
it and claimed she was part of all the work. Luckily, the activities were built, we were building the
e-Digiciation portfolio, and we had a private discussion board where everything was tracked, and I was lucky that the dean
went into that discussion board and saw everything because this girl was
making very nasty comments, she was calling people at
home and insulting them, it just got really out of control, and it was good to know
that the university had a mechanism to diffuse
that, and to, you know, have the actual facts in the case. Cumbersome discussion
board posting requirements. One professor who I adored
had a crazy requirement where you had to log in six times a week, three different days, twice each day and they couldn’t interlap, so if you did six postings on a Saturday because that’s what your week determined, well, you’re only getting credit for two. And, this just caused a
bunch of chaos in the class, and, once again, you have
to understand that people are doing this between
soccer games and overtime and, you know, you just
may not have three days to log in to do postings. Formulary quizzes and exams. Very annoying. People would just take quizzes
off the Pearson website and give them to you. You know, it’s rote memorization. It’s lazy. We know it, they know it, but it’s out there. So, what do I think is needed? I think that all online
students need this, but particularly, I think, this cohort. The targeted concierge services
and the advising services that I heard mentioned here are pivotal to not only enrollment but to retention and completion. Without that, it has to go beyond the first year, I don’t know how you can do
this working with faculty, or, I didn’t know that these
services were available. I mean, I think it’s got to
be more apparent to students. Nobody ever reached out to me. Anything I ever did, I proactively did. And I think a lot of it
could also be addressed with orientation courses and repository of resources. Couldn’t there be a page or several pages on the university website for this audience, with links and maybe
examples of exemplary work? Any professor that gave
you a sample paper, that gave you a sample posting, that gave, you know, show us, because just saying, oh
yeah, I need 250 words with three citations from the text… Show us, show us what it should look like because we don’t know. We haven’t done this, you have to show us. And, that’s it. That’s what I have to say, folks. Thank you. (audience applauds) Sorry. (laughs) – [Alex] Any questions for Alicia? – [Alicia] Yes? – [Audience Member] Did you
take any classroom classes? Have you taken classroom classes? I mean, you did a long time ago, right? – Yes. – How would they compare? What I’m thinking is, you came up with a lot of problems, which I know of and deal
with in a lot of ways, but there’s always this
sort of implicit comparison in a lot of people’s
minds to the classroom, and I’m just wondering, how would you say that
compares in terms of the conscientiousness of the instructors, the structure of what, knowing what you have to do? – Well, I think a lot of the
problems are attributable to the fact that’s it’s
(mumbles) in technology and a lot of people
involved are figuring it out as the students are. In my personal experience, I went to NYU when I
first left high school, and then left, but I think
the courses I took online were much better, and I learned, I gleaned a lot more from that experience. I’m older, but I also
think that the ability to think about things and reflect and look at what I said last week, and I just think that the way it’s built, it can foster real
intellectual development, so I prefer online. I wouldn’t go back to school,
bricks and mortar anymore. – Good, I’m glad to hear that. – Yes, sir? – [Audience Member] I’m
actually starting an online workshop for new online instructors at Plattsburgh, next week, and I would like to include
the recording of this, of your presentation,
in that online class, with your permission first of all. – Absolutely. – And would you say hello to my students? – Hello. (audience laughs) – Thank you. – Actually, I’d have to speak
to Alex, but for Alex’s class, I built a course based on all of this on an orientation for an online student in Moodle. I don’t know what the
availability of that is, but, I’m fine with anybody using it. (audience applauds) – [Alex] There was a question over there. – Yes? – You are the student that
I teach, and so I appreciate all the wisdom that you
brought to us today. I grapple with one of the
issues that you mentioned which is to try to foster learning from your peers, without
having group work, because the experience I’ve had is similar to what you’re describing. Do you have any suggestions
for how to do that? – Yes. I’ve had successful group
work when I’ve selected my partners, ’cause I think
that throughout your studies, you will bond with certain people, and maybe you’ve had
another class with them, and you interacted with them on the DB, and I think when that’s happened, that’s been really, and you can have a real, you can decide, you know, I’m better at editing, I’m better at research, and
you really start to cultivate relationships. But I think when the professor
just randomly assigns you to groups, it’s usually unfair ’cause
you’re usually going to have one student that’s just
logging in and doing the bare minimum, and another that’s, you know, striving for excellence. And, although, I think, I think if I were a young undergraduate that perhaps I would need that exposure for the work world, but me and you, we’ve already had that
experience in the work world, and we know how unfair it is. We don’t need to learn about it, so, that’s my qualm with that. – [Alex] Can we go over
here for some questions? – Oh, sure. – Mine is more of a
comment than a question, and it piggybacks off the
first gentleman that spoke. It piggybacks off the
first gentleman that spoke about on campus versus online. I’m in graduate school
now and I’ve taken two online classes, and 10 on campus, and the problems that you mentioned, for your online classes, I’ve found I’ve encountered
that as well, on campus. Just an inability of a professor. And, the two online classes
I took were magnificent, well done. So, I think it’s more
of a general problem. When you’re doing it online and
you run into those problems, it’s difficult because
you’re just tethered by just a very thin thread, and you don’t know who to go for for help, and you want to really put
negative things in writing, whereas when you’re on campus
and you find that happening, you gather together and kind of complain, but, nobody’s recorded it. So in general, I think
it’s more of an overarching making sure that the fit
is proper for the professor and the teaching is something
they really like to do, because in a Research One
university, where I’m studying, I have encountered that on campus as well. Just a comment. – [Alicia] Oh I agree, completely, and just to your point, professors that are
passionate about their topic, for me, were more important sometimes than those that mastered technology because I was telling a story yesterday. I had taken an English course
with the retired chairman of the English department at CUNY Lehman, and she was teaching
this course in the summer and she was sort of disaffected, hi, yeah, here we are, we’re going to read some literature, and she asked all of us, you know, what’s your favorite books
from the Western canon? And most of the people in the class, it was a small class, 12 people, most people said, we haven’t read it, we lament it, and when she started
reading the stories about, you know, oh I want to
understand Shakespeare, I want to understand Dickens, she got so inspired and
taught one of the best courses that all of us, you know, her limitations in
Blackboard, we didn’t care. – Thank you. – So I agree. Yes, Professor Shea? (audience laughs) – [Professor Shea] Alicia, I
just wanted to say how proud we are at the University of Albany and CDIT program that we
have students like you who can bring to life all of these issues. We have decades of research, comments from students that
we’ve collected in surveys that echo much of what you said, but I think you really bring it to life in a different way than those, those comments do, so, I’d just like to offer
my congratulations– – Thank you, Professor Shea. – On this honor and also ask, we’d like, I think we’d
like to use this recording– – Yes, please. – Probably for professional
development purposes as well, so, thanks very much. – Absolutely, (mumbles). (audience applauds) – [Audience Member] Yes, I
agree, thank you for the really interesting feedback, it’s very useful, and I wanted to say, I
appreciated your comment about the formulaic quizzes that are used and I tend to agree with some
overuse of Pearson quizzes and things like that, so if
I could get your perspective on what makes an effective exam for you, that would be wonderful. I mean, our curriculum committee at FIT prefers exams that are
in the student’s voice, meaning essays, short essays, so, just your student
perspective would be appreciated. – Yeah, I think if I’m going
to demonstrate my learning, you know, sometimes I think
a quiz can be effective, you know, especially in
a science or a math class where, you know, you’re
building on something, but I don’t think that you
can exhibit the learning or the scaffolding of what
you’re learning from your peers online with, I’ll give you an example, in that astronomy class I mentioned, the professor was taking
the quizzes off the Pearson website. Well, the answers to those
quizzes are all over online. You really don’t have to
do much to ace that class, so he wasn’t putting much effort in, and neither were the
students ’cause everyone had emailed each other that
the quizzes were online, and I think it’s sad because I think, I know astronomy’s not, you know a psychology class or something, but I think he could have
contextualized things to current events and
made it more interesting and maybe, you know,
got us to write an essay about something and
exhibited more learning, so, that, to me, those, the classes that I’ve retained things from are those that challenged me to write, to relate it to real life, to relate it to what my
peers were writing about, and that’s what you take with you. – Thank you. – Yes? – I can relate to everything you said for every single class that I took, and I’ve experienced all of your examples and I agree with you 100%, but I was thinking, one of
the things that I’ve thought might be helpful for students. Do you think, if you had
to submit a writing sample to, say, the Online Writing Center, as a prereq before you started a course, I’ve always thought that
maybe that would be helpful, because I experienced, like
you, as an adult student, I thought I wrote well, I always had A’s in English, and then when you have to submit a paper and you get it back, it’s such a shock. And it’s not, you know, it’s a bit of a bridge to
get where you need to be, but that might be good preparatory– – It’s brilliant. – work for a student as far as
advising all online students, coming into, so I just thought… – Yeah, CUNY had developed an online writing tutor center with their writing fellows in grad school, and they don’t use it for that, but that would de
brilliant, because I think, I think preparation is the key. I think if, you know, as adults, if you’re told what’s expected, I think we’ll meet the expectation. I think the problem is
we don’t know what those expectations are, until after
they’re expected (chuckles). – Exactly, exactly. – Thank you. Yes? – [Audience Member] So, I agree. I’ve had exactly the same experience. The one that killed me was
when my professor disappeared forever. (laughs) My question is, did you find that you needed
to connect with students outside of the prescribed environments? Were there any ways that you did connect? Was it through any kind of social networks or…? – Mmm hmm. Many of us called or emailed, sometimes because of group work, sometimes just ’cause we wound up bonding or wanted to network
about professional things. So, phone calls, I met
a few of them in person. Yes, Facebook. Personal emails if we wanted
to talk about, you know, personal matters, family matters, we didn’t want to do that
through the school email, so, I don’t think I
needed to but I wanted to with a lot of people, and I was the type that I
reached out to people a lot. If I saw somebody that was struggling, because I’d been through it, I might send you a
personal email and be like, hey, you know, OWL
Purdue’s got APA citations, why don’t, just FYI, here’s this, and I wouldn’t do that
publicly through the discussion board or whatever, so… – The reason that I ask
is beause I think that while we have structures in place that are useful, there
are all these workarounds that people do in addition
to the traditional methods that we use. – Absolutely. Yes? – Hi, thank you, Alicia. My name is Mia Breitkopf
and I’m a librarian. And I wanted to know, In
your educational experiences, did you work with a librarian? And if you did, what was helpful? And if you didn’t, what
could have been helpful? – That’s a great question. I did not work with a librarian,
other than requesting, you know, articles online
that weren’t available for download. However, in one of my classes in the CDIT, one of my classmates was Sarah Morehouse, who I think is the
librarian at SUNY Empire, and I was exposed to her
tutorial videos on YouTube and they were a revelation. Actually, I think in
the course that I built, I included her videos, so I
think that type of tutorial on how to use the library, scholarly, scholarly research is
so foreign to all of us coming back to school. We have no idea what this is, and I didn’t have that, I was grateful to have the
online libraries, quite frankly, because I didn’t
know how I was going to manage going to the physical library, but, you know, using EBSCO and doing, no. You had to sort of figure
that out on your own, but, you know, people are out there making
that material available and I think, people should
definitely distribute that to their students, so thank you for that question. Yes sir? – Thank you for your very candid remarks. It’s very much appreciated. So, two questions of things that came up in your talk. First of all, the egregious
requirements that some professors levy, you know, like six times, two days, whatever, you know, and the challenges that many teachers face when some professors
suck up all the oxygen in a student’s week, while others are trying
to be more accommodating, you know, so, the question is about, you know, maybe your
thoughts on strategically how to better balance that
for people who are in online degree programs, and then the second part
is my favorite topic, the ghost teacher. You know? If you build it, they will come, but if the architect doesn’t show up, you know, it’s a huge problem, and I think that’s another
thing I’d just sort of like to hear a little more from you on. – Yeah, I’ll answer your
second question first. During CUNY alumni advisory panel, we had the dean in the room, and this topic came up about teachers that just disappear. And every single student in the room, and I want to make something clear. Of the 28 courses I took, I did an assessment last night, and only five had issues
with late feedback and absent teachers, but five of 28 is five of 28. So when the dean heard
that these teachers just, I literally had one
teacher that posted twice in an entire semester, and just gave grades and that’s it, you didn’t know where this person was. And, you know, the dean wanted to know, you know, what we did, did we report this? And quite frankly, we felt
that was the university’s job. I said, “Don’t you have mechanisms?” You know, are we policing the faculty? You know? I thought we were here to study. We’re paying you. We’re your customers. I mean, from our point of
view, that’s how we see it. You know, we’re paying out of pocket. We feel like customers,
and for you to ask me to do your quality
control is a little much, but they didn’t seem to have mechanisms. They weren’t, some kind of restrictions, they weren’t logging in
to monitor this stuff, I’m not sure how they’re
going to overcome that, but the students are aware of it and, they’re posting about it privately
or they email each other. And there’s a lot of, to Carly’s point, there’s a
lot of communication between students off the network
regarding professors and classes and requirements, so, before I took Alex’s class, one of my good friends
had taken her class, one of my good friends, one of my co-students, so I emailed her and I said,
“Listen, I heard this class “is hard.” She said, “You better take
that alone in the summer. “It’s really demanding
and you’re sort of type A “and you’re going to be up
’til all hours of the night “building that course. “You better not take
that with anything else.” I said, okay. And, quite frankly,
Professor Shea’s class, I think, although I liked
taking it in the beginning, and there was a mix of PhD
students and grad students, I maybe should have been
advised to take that maybe in my second or third semester when
I was a little more prepared beause it was a lot of theory, so I think, the advisement portion could, when you talk about the balance, I think, your counselors know what
professors are more demanding than others, and I think,
they should steer students, you know, diplomatically, to form a curriculum that’s balanced because we don’t have that information. We’re getting that information out, but we didn’t have it and trickles down to us, but, you know, people do ask each other questions, what professor do you think,
you know, grades fairly? You know, who’s really ridiculous? You know, and, you sort of figure things out, but I think we could use help, and I think that you’d get less drop out, and you’d get better performance if that was addressed
from the institution. Yes, ma’am? – Hi, as a fellow CDIT graduate, I graduated in 2007, I will say that during my
time taking the courses, I did it in a hybrid format. But the last semester that I had, I had some job issues at
the time that were really, really stressful in terms
of getting graduated, and you mentioned that
it’s really important for schools to realize that adult students need flexibility. What would be your suggestions as to how schools can help adult students and be flexible with their time? That type of stuff. Do you have any specific suggestions on what we could do to help? – Yes, I think that, number one, they should be honest about the commitment of time
that it requires upfront. I think people say, oh,
it’s nine or 12 hours. It’s usually a lot more, especially your first couple of semesters, and they should be candid about that so you can plan your life around it. Secondly, I think if you have
an incident that happens, the instructor, the faculty, you know, there’s ways to do things. I’ve had it done for me and I think, I don’t think there’s
a boilerplate solution, but I think it requires communication, the instructor being
willing to hear about it, the student willing. A lot of times, the student
doesn’t want to tell the professor, you don’t want to seem
like you’re cheating or trying to get out of your task, so you wait, but then,
you’re like, you know, now I’m late, now I hit the wall, so I think, if the environment’s
there for that type of communication, I think it
would ameliorate things. Thank you. – [Alex] Okay, one last question. – [Audience Member]
Sorry, I didn’t realize you were trying to close up. These are all great suggestions. A lot of what you’ve talked
about are true problems with face-to-face teaching too. I hear it a lot that a student
is 3/4 of the way through the semester, one of my advisees, and doesn’t know he’s doing in the class. But I think we have a better
chance to deal with it in the online environment because under Kim’s leadership and Alexander, we’re building, I think, structure, and I think that concrete advice, a list of things that teachers can do would be immensely helpful, would immediately raise
all level of teaching because many teachers who are teaching face to
face and move to online, don’t have a habit of
communicating with students between classes, and many students don’t
want to be communicated with anyway between classes, but it’s different in online, so, that would be cool if there were, your Moodle, I certainly want to see it. I want to see written
permission from you to use it and then, a list, which
I’m sure Kim and Alexander have probably already begun to make for everybody. You’re not going to impose
these rules on a teacher or he goes to jail, you’re going to give him a list of things that will make his teaching
immediately more effective. That would be very cool, thanks. – You’re very welcome. – [Audience Member] I
just want to comment that, as we look to the target audience for Open SUNY, we expect to see many
more students like Alicia, and so I think that, you know, I loved the comment from John about, “can I use this in my
session for new faculty?” And I, you know, I think
we do actually have some tremendous resources
available for faculty. We heard from the
concierge panel yesterday. I think we are building a really, we have the OSCQR rubric, we have a really robust
set of resources, and, you know, I think, as we’ve
done the institutional readiness, we see where campuses are and where we can be helpful to them, so, I just want to
acknowledge that and say all of what you have said to us today is really important and I think, as we go forward with Open SUNY, it’s, you know, students
like you are going to be really who we’re delivering
to, so thank you. – [Alicia] Thank you. And just a closing comment. I hope that this wasn’t
taken in a negative tone, because I’m the biggest
proponent for online learning and for my cohort, this
is our only option. So, I’m only here trying
to move the needle so that it’s better for
you, it’s better for us, and, I would never ever think that, I live in New York City,
I have access to all kinds of bricks and mortar schools, it doesn’t interest me. I love that I can sit and
read and deliberate and edit and think about the posts. I don’t want to be in the
classroom and get called on and not have that type
of reflection going on, so that was not the intent
of my presentation at all. If you want, if anybody wants a
referral, I’m glad to give a testimonial. (audience laughs) But, we appreciate
everything that’s being done and we look forward to, you
know, it just getting better. Thank you. (audience applauds) – Thank you very much, Alicia. We’re going to take a 15-minute break while we set up for our keynote address. Michelle Weiss is here, in place of Paul LeBlanc. He is ill. I was emailing and calling
frantically with him yesterday and he sends his regards and apologies, and graciously connected
us with Michelle Weiss, and I’m very excited about
introducing you to her. In about 15 minutes, we’ll come back, so, see you then.