High Tech & Distance Learning
in Higher Education
by
Kwi Park-Kim

[April 25, 2002]
 

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Online Notes
BCC FDIP in Technology and CUNY Online
Requires: Adobe Reader

Thomas Tam: We are very lucky today to have Prof. Kwi Park Kim to come here to talk to us about her work with high tech and long-distance learning. Prof. Kim is a nationally known expert in terms of say faculty development through high technology and an expert in teaching using Blackboard and many other things and it’s really a pleasure for me to introduce you and I sincerely hope that we can work together and collaborate in the future because our Institute is a very young one and we need a lot of assistance especially in the high tech area of this Institute out to the world and try to get the expertise within CUNY to link that up to deal with the problems within the community. And so I’m very happy that you are here and we welcome you. Please give her a big hand.

Kwi Park Kim: Thank you so much. What I’m going to speak about today is the faculty development initiative program, we call it "FDIP" in technology, which I have been designing, developing and implementing for the past 7 years at Bronx Community College. Then I will also talk about how I got involved in teaching online. I know that a few people from here are from computer science area, but mine is more focused on integration of technology into teaching. I have a power point slide here and I will actually use both power point slides.

I’m a faculty member actually at the Business Center at the Information System Department. I have been working there since 1993. When I was teaching there way back in 1996, the Dean of academic affairs was asking me if I can get involved in Faculty Development Training in Technology with 3 hrs re-assign time. So, what I did in the first year was that I designed a survey questionnaire to find out where every faculty member was, the skill levels and their hard-will knowledge and self-will knowledge. I tried to do some kind of need assessment in 1996. Then what I did in the first semester in 1996 is that I went to individual departments to do some kind of department-based training on e-mail and SIMS. Some of you might know that it’s a popular base on student information system. So that’s the first kind of training I have done for faculty members. Then starting the second semester, I sent out all the flyers for the list of our workshop hours. Usually, like 15 to 18 workshops are offered every semester from beginning levels to advanced levels. They have to attend one of the labs, all hands on for 2 hours. I try to focus on how they can integrate this new technology into their own curriculum. I have been coordinating Notebook Lotus Program for faculty for the past 4 years and I have been coordinating manual instructional day, which is going to be held on second Friday in November at our campus. So you are invited, you can come to our campus to join and spend one day and be updated about new technology. Basically, this one (the slide), I summarized it. I usually alphabet the workshops as many as 35 annually and when I count the number of faculty and staff that participated as of last semester was about 350 people, but they took more than one workshop, mostly like 5, 6 or seven workshops. Topics are not just how to use excel. It’s how to download the class roaster from SIMS and create a grade book in excel. More focus on how the faculty can set benefits out of all this technology. And another example here is how to use power point presentations in the classroom and on the Internet. How they can put power point slides on the website and creating post-web pages, work media, image on web pages, creating news letters or flyers using pace maker, using e-mail in teaching, incorporation of internet material into courses. All these are really focused on.

James Lap: You do this in Blackboard or do it simpler:

Kwi Park Kim: No. Blackboard is separate. I’m going to cover online issues. Now about CUNY Online using Blackboard, in the past, I was involved in CUNY Online. This is CUNY-wide initiative in developing a synchronous learning in-class structure for CUNY colleges. In 1999, Dean O’Wagner asked me to join this CUNY Online faculty to evaluate the best course development and management software for our faculty members and we are kind of late actually in terms of developing distance-learning courses. We evaluated "Lotus Learning Notes," now Lotus was purchased by IBM. We evaluated Web City Product and then Blackboard. I personally liked Blackboard based on my personal use of the program and from training perspective it was very easy to use and very flexible. And faculty members can use this program to develop their online course if they have some background in using e-mail. MS Word or any word processing program or just Internet search. That’s it. No more than that.

So, from my perspective, I strongly recommend this Blackboard. And anyway we decide to use Blackboard for CUNY Online System. One thing nice about Blackboard is that last year it had partnership with Microsoft, so when I was at Blackboard Conference a month ago, I saw the integration of Microsoft technology into Blackboard when they released a new version in December. I think they are talking about Version 6. We are currently using Version 5.

Rex Wong: So Blackboard is a company name, not just software.

Kwi Park Kim: It’s a company name. At the beginning, they said "Course Info." Software name they called it "Blackboard Course Info." Now they deleted that name and call it Blackboard.

Rex Wong: So it’s a software with no content, right?

Kwi Park Kim: Good question. There is no content. You build you own content. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, there are many publishers/vendors providing course contents, tests, assignments, etc.

Rex Wong: Are they only in English?

Kwi Park Kim: As far as I know, no foreign language yet. I’ll come back to FDIP later. I’ll talk more about CUNY Online now. From Blackboard perspective, I offer a series of workshops, but if I mention them now, you might be wondering what these features are about, so let me go into Blackboard first. (Pointing at the monitor) This is the first screen you will see when you log into Blackboard website. Login screen here, so this is the same screen my students will see. I’m teaching one business course, which is called "Introduction to the Internet & Web page Development" completely online. I’ve been teaching this class way back in 1993, but it was in a traditional classroom. Then, when we decided to adopt Blackboard in 1999, I was one of the first staff members to migrate my traditional course into Blackboard platform. Since then, I have been using the system for online course. What I’m doing is meeting my students 3 times per semester in a traditional classroom. For the Orientation on the first week of class to give them some hand-on experience. I’m giving them some accounts, their login user ID and password. And I’ll let them use all these features so they feel comfortable using them. Then midterm exam and final exam, basically for assessment. I’m giving them online testing. Actually in the fourth week, first online testing and then about tenth week, another online testing, but that’s not good enough for my classroom for midterm exam and final exam. So, I’m basically seeing them face-to-face. The rest of them are done in using online platform. They don’t like tests in paper version anymore because when they take online testing, they see their grades right away so they know where they are. For online testing, students can take the time they want and as many time they want. It’s up to the instructor. The Blackboard provides all these options when you create your own testing. So it’s very flexible and what I’m doing is that I let them take only once. Sometimes, they lose connection while taking the test or click the wrong button. So what I do is that I set up a time limit. They can take the test from 9am to 3pm, but I’m going to be seating in front of my machine in case if students have any problem.

James Lap: So, you spend more time on this than in a traditional class, right?

Kwi Park Kim: Yes. I’m spending more time than in a traditional classroom because I’m responding to their e-mail questions, tracking what they are doing, checking their weekly assignments. They can submit their assignments by e-mail or discussion forum. I do have virtual office hours, every Friday from 9-10, where they can bring up all their problems, discuss about notes, assignments, etc. Students really speak up here. When I used to teach in a traditional classroom, the students used to be quiet. They don’t ask many questions, but online, if they have a problem, they send an e-mail.

Annie Ponsirirojana: Actually, I had to call my professor once. I took an online course last semester and I was having problems. I couldn’t wait for e-mail, so I called the professor at home.

Kwi Park Kim: It depends on the instructor. I respond the e-mail very quick.

James Lap: Let me ask you something. In traditional courses, faculty can teach about 5 classes, bout how many online can you handle?

Kwi Park Kim: Two years ago, I used to teach 2 online courses per semester. I offered 2 sections of the same course limit to 20 students per section. But it was still a lot of work and paper because I kept saving their e-mail, discussion forums, etc. So I decided to talk to the department Chair that I’m not going to teach more than one online course of one section. Students love this online course and it’s the first one that fills up very quick. The department Chair asked me to teach another session, but I personally can’t because it’s too time consuming.

Rex Wong: So, basically the workload is responding the e-mail?

Kwi Park Kim: No. There are discussion forums and virtual classrooms. I also have to check their assignments. Actually, it’s hard in real-time virtual classrooms because there are 20 students asking questions and I’m only one person. So, during Orientation day, I explain to my students about the virtual classroom feature. They have to give me some time when they raise a question.

Ruru Rusmin: When you use the virtual classroom, do you use the chat or the whiteboard?

Kwi Park Kim: I use the whiteboard. It’s basically the summary of what I’m going to do in today’s virtual class and I also put up a few slides, which are very helpful. For Version 5, you can’t incorporate power point slides yet, but for Version 6, you can. So, that’ a big improvement in this new version. In whiteboard, you can display any website, which is very good feature. Now let me explain to you this screen. On the left frame, the first button is called "Announcement." This is the first screen you are looking at when you first log into the screen. Basically, we are posting like update or any change on this page. This is like when you go into the classroom and make and announcement. What I usually do when I post something new in announcement, I sent them an e-mail at the same time. The second button on the left frame is "Course Info." When you click on course info, you will see course description, course objectives, requirements, course evaluations, etc. You can put as many course-related materials in this feature. What I usually do is that every semester, students ask questions of how to use Blackboard. I summarize all those questions and post them as "tips" in course info. So, during orientation (face-to-face meeting), I explain to them and let them know that all these how-to questions are posted, which are really helpful to them.

Rex Wong: Are these features done by you or by Blackboard?

Kwi Park Kim: These are done by me. There are some done by Blackboard, but you don’t have to use them all. You can activate or disable them. You can hide these buttons. So, when I have the faculty-training workshops at Bronx Community College, I demonstrate all these features, but emphasize to my faculty members, "you do not start all these features at the beginning," because they feel frustrated with the amount of work that they have to get involved. I usually encourage them to use "Announcement" and "Course Info." Then, increase the features like discussion forum, virtual classroom, etc every semester. This is my recommendation. When you go to the third button, "Staff Information," you are allowed to put up your e-mail address, phone number, office hours, your picture, etc. Then "Course Documents," is where you can put up your lecture notes. I usually post one at a time. In each lecture note, I include reading assignments. I do have textbooks, but when I went to a Blackboard Conference, I saw e-books. So, next semester, I’m considering adopting one of the e-books. Technology is really moving forward. Students and faculty can log into Blackboard web page by using wireless devices such as palm pilot, pocket pc, etc. In the next Technology Day in November, I’m considering that I’ll have that kind of special event for wireless devices. I will probably post it in September. I will let you know about it in case if you are interested.

Rex Wong: Dr. Kim, all these pages are in html format. Did you build it directly into Blackboard of did you build it separately and then incorporate it into Blackboard?

Kwi Park Kim: There are 3 ways in terms of incorporating your own contents. There is "Smart-Text Format," "Plain-Text Format," and "Html Format." Smart-text format is the best way for faculty members that don’t have any technical skills in html. This means that everything will be shown on screen as you typed. My contents are in html, but most faculty members at BCC use smart-text. Plain text, I do not recommend because you lose all the line spacing. Now, in "Assignments," you can see how to submit assignments. I have weekly assignments for my students and I specify how they can submit them. Sometimes by e-mail, sometimes in discussion forum, sometimes they have to bring them to me, especially for web page design because they want me to see. Then, I post a general feedback and individual feedback through e-mail about their assignments. There is a "digital-drop box" feature, where they can drop off their assignments, and I can download the files in my computer and read them. It’s basically uploading and downloading.

Rex Wong: If a student submits a 30MB assignment through digital-drop box, can you accommodate it?

Kwi Park Kim: I haven’t seen size limitation, so I guess you can accommodate big files. "Communication" is a key of interaction between students and the instructor to make the course successful. This e-mail system allows you to send e-mail to all your students. However, students can’t use this feature, but as instructor, you are allowed to use it. Students need an account. If they don’t have one, they can set up one of hotmail really quick. This communication feature is very good for students. At the beginning, I tell my students to introduce themselves here. They can also answer each other questions. Sometimes I ask them to summarize articles and post them here, so students can read each other’s summaries and comment on them. "Virtual Classroom" can be used for chatting. If the students missed the virtual classroom, the can click on "browse archives" and see what was discussed in the real-time virtual classroom.

Rex Wong: Can you put small video clips in whiteboard?

Kwi Park Kim: I don’t think you can in this version. I haven’t seen any yet.

Thomas Tam: If you have power point slides in your file, can you just copy and paste into the whiteboard?

Kwi Park Kim: In version 6, yes, but not in version 5.

Rex Wong: Are the "browse archives" automatic recording?

Kwi Park Kim: Yes, it is automatic recording. Now, in "Course Grade," you can create a grade book in excel, then export it and incorporate into this feature. Here, students can see their individual scores. Nobody else can see it, but themselves. In, "Course Statistics," you can see how often each student log into Blackboard. You can generate some kind of "special report." You can see a bar chart for each individual student. It shows the time each student log in and how many hours a week the student logs in. It shows all the statistics. Although it doesn’t show how serious the students are, but the instructor can have an idea how often they log in. The instructor can see what the students do while they are logged on. Does anyone have any more questions about Blackboard?

Thomas Tam: So, when students log on, you can actually see how long they stay and what they access while they are logged on, right?

Kwi Park Kim: Yes. The system takes care of all that. I personally like it.

James Lap: What do students do for the course evaluation?

Kwi Park Kim: Good question. Three years ago, I brought this issue up to the Vice President of Academic Affairs, and we decided to give students a course evaluation form at the end of the semester, then they return it to me. This way, they can report any problem while they used Blackboard and I can build my own survey questionnaire. So far, I haven’t seen any problem about Blackboard.

Thomas Tam: When you say "CUNY Online Faculty," do you mean that there is a group of instructors who teach online courses or something?

Kwi Park Kim: CUNY Online is a "Pilot Project." We started in 1999. A few campuses got together, only a few faculty mainly from 4-year college, and evaluated Blackboard.

Rex Wong: Can we join?

Kwi Park Kim: Yes. Each semester, Central Office sends a letter of invitation to department of colleges to join CUNY Online. The department Chair then chooses an instructor.

Thomas Tam: How many courses are being taught online?

Kwi Park Kim: There are hundreds. Baruch has many. Since BCC expects to have its own server in September, I expect to have more online courses.

Thomas Tam: How long does it take to train the instructor?

Kwi Park Kim: That’s a good question. Let me go back. I usually offer 5 online workshops with different topics:

  • Moving your instruction to the web-based environment.
  • Creating and managing course content.
  • Creating assignments and adding external links.
  • Asynchronous and synchronous communication (discussion board & chat).
  • Creating online quizzes and assessments.
The same I do with students, I offer a 2-hour orientation on the first day. Based on lecture notes, I give faculty members assignments. There are virtual office hours. It’s basically the same with students in online courses. Some faculty are shy and I have to reach out. So, I call them and see how they are doing if they do not speak up for a week. Every year, in the second week of November, we have Instructional Tech Day at BCC. In 2000, we had "Teaching Tools." This year, hopefully, we will have wireless and small devices pocket pc sessions. As I mentioned before, we have Notebook Loaner Program, which includes:
  • Creating multimedia instructional materials.
  • Developing classroom presentations or lab modules.
  • Exploring simulation software as a teaching tool.
  • Using the Internet in instruction.
  • Integrating e-mail into teaching.
  • Developing World Wide Web pages for course use.
Rex Wong: How can I find information of activities/events for all these programs/systems?

Kwi Park Kim: In the handout I gave you, there is BCC website with the info for these activities. The website is http://cs12.bcc.cuny.edu/~kpk. This is the FDIP on-line support website.

Thomas Tam: What do you think about "Global-Distance Learning?" Say, people from San Francisco or elsewhere can receive long-distance course online from CUNY?

Kwi Park Kim: Actually, CUNY has a problem with this because of the pre-requisites co-requisites, credits, etc. In addition, the system is still new. If we compare with SUNY, they are far more advanced than us. They do allow people to take courses from long distance.

Rex Wong: Is it about technology?

Kwi Park Kim: There is nothing to do with technology. Credential is what is holding it back, but technology is ready to go. SUNY doesn’t use Blackboard. They started to use Web City. They are using Lotus Learning Notes. They usually create a template for instructors. I personally like Blackboard because it’s simple and flexible to use. I encourage you to try it. You can go to www.blackboard.com and try it out at no charge.

Thomas Tam: Can anyone attend your workshops?

Kwi Park Kim: Yes, but you must attend the orientation. It’s mandatory. (Laughs). You can see the schedule of the workshops on the FDIP website. I post it at the beginning of every semester. You can see what’s going on during a semester by going on the FDIP website. The FDIP will establish new Instructional Technology Lab in the Center for Teaching Excellence, scheduled to open in Spring 2003 with support of Title V, State Department of Education grant. If you are interested, you can contact George Ott, Director of Instructional Tech. He works for Vice Chancellor Louise Mirrer. Now, long-distance learning is under Vice Chancellor Mirrer’s office.

Thomas Tam: Well, I want to thank you very much for coming today. It was very informative.

Kwi Park Kim: My pleasure.

 

 

 


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