Tag Archives: Kay Lehmann

In Solidarity – I am Saving Universities a Ton of Money

This post is quoted in its entirety from my online colleague Dr. Kay Lehmann‘s blog posting. Since we work together online, and I share the sentiment, I am reposting it in solidarity.

I am saving universities a ton of money as an online adjunct

An Important email message today about sick leave policy from one of the universities I work for starting me thinking. I am saving these universities SOOO much money by working at a distance. As an online adjunct very little is provided to me… thus was borne this open letter…

Open letter to University administrators and human resources personnel who have adjunct instructors working at a distance:

I am the faceless, nearly nameless, person teaching tens, if not hundreds, of students for you each year via your online courses. Since I never set foot on your campus and in fact probably live hundreds or thousands of miles away, I am saving you a lot of money. Clearly I am saving you money when compared to tenured faculty but even compared to the meager existence of a local on-campus adjunct, the saving from my work is substantial.

For clarity’s sake let me define who I am since you probably don’t know me at all. I teach online courses via my own computer from my home. You pay me by course, or by student. This is my full-time job but I work for several universities in order to earn a full-time income. And following this rant about how much I am saving you, I will detail the benefits gained by working as an online adjunct.

Like most adjuncts face-to-face or online you likely do not pay me any benefits. No insurance costs or pension fund contributions must be funded on my behalf. Sick leave doesn’t apply in my world, nor does paid vacations or holidays. My courses do not close because I am laid up with the flu, I cannot close the course site and say ‘take the day off’ and I cannot ask someone to cover my class and teach it for me because of illness or injury. I teach from my sick bed, and while on vacation, and over holidays. In fact graduate students in online courses tend to do more work and ask more questions over holidays, weekends, and during traditional vacation times because they have extra time for their coursework. And I cannot even imagine a scenario where I would file an L and I claim for injuries sustained on the job.

There is no physical classroom to be provided for myself or the students. No utilities to be paid, equipment, furnishings, or physical presence to be maintained. In fairness you do pay for a learning management system where my course is housed. I have no idea what the balance in costs is between a physical classroom and the cost of one course on a learning management system so perhaps this is a fair trade.

No office space, even office space shared with other adjuncts, must be provided. You don’t provide a computer or Internet access for me to do lesson planning, grading, or other teaching functions which require electronics. I provide my own equipment, keep my software up-to-date, use my own phone for calls to students, and pay for my Internet access while at home and on the road. Some universities do offer discounts on software or reimbursement for phone calls and postage. The hassle of filling out your paper forms and mailing them to you with receipts to get reimbursed isn’t worth my time.

You have no costs for meetings or professional development. I have not consumed a cup of coffee brewed by your staff during a meeting because there are no meetings. And rarely is any professional development offered to online adjuncts. A few offers to audit a class are just about the only costs for PD that you have incurred for me.

You may offer technical support to help me with media creation, troubleshooting, and other issues but I usually figure things out on my own with the help of my PLN. To be honest your technical support people often assume a level of digital stupidity that takes so long to dispel it is easier to figure things out on my own. One does not teach online without some level of competency using a computer and Internet-based tools.

To summarize, I earn few, if any, benefits. I don’t get health insurance, take sick leave, or get paid vacation. You don’t have to provide a parking spot, chair, desk, or a light bulb. I don’t eat doughnuts at meetings or run off 20 copies of a 10 page syllabus. I do provide excellent service to your students and take pride in doing so. Perhaps you should thank me for my generosity and willingness to teach online courses in your institution.

Instead, for this excellent customer service, you continue to spam my inbox with email about local face to face meetings, policies, and politics; none of which have ever applied to me. I am your ever-growing future workforce…it is high time you figure out who and where I am.

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Posted by on December 28, 2010 in miscellaneous, Teaching Online


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Open PhD – Year One in Review

Learn at computer

CC-BY-SA Lumaxart

It shocked me to realize an entire year has passed since I embarked on this journey last September 22nd. I have learned a lot, often in unexpected ways and from unexpected sources. I decided a progress update was necessary for those following along.

First, a bit of a recap. On that fateful declarative day, I wrote this:

I am going to create my own Ph.D. program via open education using open courseware. My degree will be in Educational Technology with an emphasis in (what else?) Open Education as the Great Equalizer. As the tag line to my blog states: it will be all the learning, with none of the “doc”-uments. (Or none of the “cred”-entials). But I will have the knowledge; and, in the end, isn’t that the most important thing? (Oh, and I will still have my $45,000).

In the next few posts, I will lay out my 4 year plan – with help from the Twittersphere, blog readers, my advisors, and hopefully some subscribers. I plan on completing research and a dissertation as well – no shortcuts here. My first advisor – Dr. Kay Lehmann is a blogger, online instructor, book author, and course developer. I look forward to finding a few more Ph.D./Ed.D volunteers in my grand experiment.

Will this work? Can it be done? Can we make it rigorous enough to be equal to an actual online Ph.D program? Join me on this journey. Your feedback and suggestions are welcome!

I really had no idea how big the #opened movement was at that time. I learned very quickly. That first blog post went a bit viral, and one week later, I had more than 1,000 unique hits. Commentary to that first post has reached 50+ and I still get a new comment every now and then on it. Lesson #1 – this is a big idea!

Several posts later, I went on to define my plan, define exactly what was (and was not) an Open PhD, and layout the open courses I wished to pursue. Lesson #2 – finding graduate level open courses is not easy

You might be wondering where all my exploration has led me. I admit to feeling like I haven’t made a lot of progress through the courses I chose, but Year One became more of a research/intern year instead. And I am okay with that.

During my research to learn more about Open Education Resources, I have made some powerful connections in the Open Textbook movement. Judy Baker (@educ8ter) and Jacky Hood (both of Foothill-DeAnza College District) brought me into the Community College Consortium for Open Education Resources and College Open Textbooks. What a find! After attending several workshops (online and f2f), I volunteered to help the collaborative and soon found myself with a contract as a trainer and instructional designer for COT’s Moodle workshop.

About the same time, I noticed Cable Green (@cgreen) of the State Board of Community and Technical Colleges out of Washington State was spearheading an OER initiative to help lower the costs of textbooks and improve retention for community college students. As an adjunct online instructor in Washington and an Open PhD student, I wanted to be a part of this! Several months later I was (and still am) working as one of ten instructional designers to the Open Course Library project.

The Open Course Library project is about designing 81 high enrollment, important general education, and pre-college courses for face-to-face, hybrid and/or online delivery, to improve course completion rates, lower textbook costs for students, provide new resources for faculty to consider using in their courses, and for our college system to fully engage the global open educational resources discussion.

In addition, I’ve remixed the COT workshop to provide an open course workshop on open textbooks for Washington State community college faculty. That workshop will debut soon. (Ironically, for expediency it will be housed behind the state’s “closed” Angel LMS system …for now). A version of this same workshop is being held on P2PU and led by COT’s associate director, Una Daly (Adopting Open Textbooks).

Speaking of P2PU, it is one of the many open learning initiatives I have become acquainted with this year. Stian Haklev (@houshuang) has contributed many good ideas to this project and I look forward to having time to give back at P2PU – perhaps inaugurating a DIY department :-). I’ve also exchanged dialogue with other “Open” students – each figuring out this idea in their own way. Parag Shah in Computer Science, Leigh Blackall, Jason, Dan Pontefract, and the DIY Grad School among others. Lesson #3 – Open PhD’s require getting “connected”.

And “connected” I have become – from Curt Bonk, Stephen Downes, and George Siemens to Clark Quinn, Marcia Conner, Jane Bozarth, Jim Groom, Dean Shareski, and so many others. Between Twitter, LinkedIn, and resources like eLearnMag, Learning Solutions, and many blogs, I am connected to the thought leaders in not only open education, but educational technology as well. Social media is the lifeblood of the DIY student – providing that necessary component of discussion and debate.

With those connections has come the opportunity to write. My co-author and colleague, Dr. Kay Lehmann, and I have published this article about Twitter in higher education, and a chapter about Twitter in higher education for a peer reviewed book Educating Educators with Social Media (in press – due Jan 2011). I even had the thrill of having this Open Phd project mentioned in Anya Kamenetz’s (@anya1anya) book DIY U:Edupunks, Edupreneurs and the Coming Transformation of Higher Education. (More a study of the funding of education, there is a nice section of resources in the back).

Where do I go from here?

Solving the puzzle of recognition for the work put into an “open” degree is a vital part of my journey. I get questions regularly from readers with similar ideas – all wanting to know if their efforts will be recognized by the employing world. The real answer is – I don’t know. In the ed tech field, knowledge has currency, but in other fields, sheepskin carries the required validity. Other “open” arenas are wrestling with the same idea – and certificates of competency are emerging from some (like Pippa Buchanan’s School of Webcraft). I will blog more about this later and hopefully we can crowdsource some good ideas to move forward with.

I also want to focus my energies towards completing more of my “course load”. Specifically, project management and applied multimedia technology are the areas in which I need more depth. If you’re interested in learning about these two areas also, drop me a comment – we can form a virtual study group.

And, frankly, I need to update my blog more often…it keeps me moving forward.

As always, I look forward to your comments, questions, and feedback! You are all part of my Open PhD journey.



Posted by on October 8, 2010 in Year One, Year Two


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The Power of the Network

One her blog, my writing and teaching partner, Dr. Kay Lehmann, summed up an excellent networking experience we had using LinkedIn over the last two days. Since she already wrote the post and it was a shared experience, I shamelessly asked for her permission to quote it here.

Yesterday I saw a message requesting proposals for book chapters posted in a discussion group on LinkedIn. I belong to several groups on LinkedIn, the particular one where I saw the message was Technology-Using Professors. The message was actually 10 days old and the deadline for proposals had passed, but I went ahead and made contact with the gentleman anyway.

Between yesterday and today a flurry of emails went back and forth between the gentleman Dr. Charles Wankel, my co-author (and partner in all things non-criminal) Lisa Chamberlin and I. As of this afternoon we will be writing a chapter for a book entitled Higher Education and Social Media. Our chapter will be about the use of Twitter in higher education. I also got a minor teaching job off one of the job boards on LinkedIn a couple months ago.

My point is… There is great value in spending a few minutes a week maintaining your professional networks. I actually had not been on LinkedIn in a few weeks and nearly missed this opportunity. If you are not on LinkedIn, you really should be. This is not the only professional networking site to which I belong but LinkedIn is a highly varied collection of people and widely used by business folks. LinkedIn is definitely not just for educators.

What she said!

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Posted by on March 12, 2010 in Best Reads, Teaching Online


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Critical Thinking with Digital Media is EASy

Since the beginning of formal education, instructors the world over have struggled with how to get their students to dig deeper, reach farther, and push themselves beyond mere adequacy. Teachers, too, are pushed to challenge ourselves to be more than just average, to do more than just accept the status quo. We instructors are to become active, daily, practitioners of critical thought. We must regularly model for our students what it is to reflectively examine, critically assess, and effectively improve the way we live (, 2008). Benjamin Bloom, by designing his model of Cognitive Learning (Bloom, 1956) helped 20th century instructors make better intentional choices in directing their learners toward this higher level thinking. But the world has changed quite dramatically since the mid 1950s, and its high time we teachers take a fresh look at the way we approach critical thinking with our students. In the 21st century, using digital media is the key to making critical thinking EASy in the on or offline classroom no matter the grade level.

Background of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognitive Thinking

In order to better understand the EASy Taxonomy, it is helpful to do a quick refresher on Bloom’s Taxonomy in case you don’t have your Intro to Educational Learning Theories textbook handy. Here’s how my co-author Dr. Lehmann and I explained it in our book Making the Move the eLearning: Putting your Course Online (2009):

Teachers are often taught to incorporate critical thinking in the design of lessons, tests, and discussion questions by applying Bloom’s Taxonomy (Bloom, 1956). According to the taxonomy, learning activities start with low-level thinking at the base of Bloom’s Pyramid of Cognitive Learning and work their way toward the highest point to help demonstrate students thinking at the highest cognitive levels.

In developing the EASy Taxonomy, there is an acknowledgement that the upper level of Bloom’s pyramid, especially evaluation, has come to represent testing. This is as much a by-product of our assessment-driven mandates like No Child Left Behind as it is the misuse of Bloom’s, which was never meant to be used in such a linear fashion as it is employed most often these days. Even Dr. Lorin Anderson, a former student of Bloom’s and now a distinguished professor of education at the University of South Carolina saw the need for a change in the way Bloom’s Taxonomy had been utilized. In partnership with Dr. David Krathwhol, a Bloom’s researcher, Anderson set about revising the taxonomy to better meet today’s educational environment. Interestingly enough, Anderson and Krathwhol (2001) also shifted synthesis, now renamed “creating,” to the top of the pyramid” (p.72-73).

According to Benjamin Bloom (1956), the lowest level of learning in the cognitive domain is referred to as knowledge (i.e., label, list). Moving up the pyramid, the next level of thinking is comprehension (i.e., restate, paraphrase); followed by application (i.e., apply, solve); analysis (i.e., classify, infer); then synthesis (i.e., construct, design); and finally evaluation (i.e., critique, persuade, often interpreted as test or assessment these days), which Bloom suggests is the highest order of critical thinking behaviors.

Bloom’s Taxonomy as an OER

One of the great aspects of Open Education Resources is the idea that the resources are meant to be reused, remixed, and repurposed. In our course (and our book), Dr. Lehmann and I do just that with Bloom’s Taxonomy. We treat it like an OER. We remix and repurpose the three higher order thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation.

Bloom’s Becomes EASy with Digital Media

When digital media is introduced in the classroom (and by digital media I mean all things digital that can be shared in some way), the top level of Bloom’s pyramid, Evaluation( in the sense of a test), somehow seems to be a very low bar for students to achieve. When students have the ability to interact with others halfway around the world on a global-scale project, asking them to recall the three main exports of Chile on an end-of-unit exam is not making the best use of educational resources or the students’ cognitive ones. (No offense intended to Chilean exporters, I am sure they are very nice people).

With the EASy Taxonomy, the term evaluation is remixed to become the verb evaluate and is repurposed to ask students to use the descriptors investigate and explore as in “evaluate what data is available for a particular topic”. For students to evaluate the EASy way, they need to learn search skills, be open to exploring topics in non-linear paths (outside-of-the-box thinking), and they will be more efficient if they know (or discover) how to use the digital tools of tagging, and RSS feeds. With this knowledge students can bring the information to the themselves, rather than chasing after it (Dr. Michael Wesch’s video explains this best ).

As with all taxonomies, it helps to understand EASy better if you have a graphic aid to tie the concept together. The starting place for EASy is the basic knowledge base the student begins with from the lesson’s introduction and background activities. This may be any scaffolded activities from readings to direct instruction by the classroom teacher.


The student then evaluates what data is available (both digital and non-digital) and adds the results to his/her knowledge base.

EASy Evaluate


The next step in the EASy Taxonomy is to take Bloom’s Analysis stage and remix it into the verb analyze. To analyze in EASy means for the student to choose and apply a set of decision filters in order to make informed choices from among the gathered data. This stage may vary a bit depending on the sociocultural experiences of each student. Teachers can challenge students as to how they are determining the validity of their sources, how they are defining experts from average Joes (especially in emerging fields), and how they discern quality from among all the noise on the Internet. Certainly, state and district guidelines could dictate this information for the students, but if we want critical thinkers, we have to give them opportunities to wrestle with ideas like these and define the answers for themselves. Besides, more often than not, due to the ever-evolving nature of technology, the validity of a resource is completely dependent upon how it is utilized at that moment (Lankshear & Knobel, 2005).

In the graphic, the analyze stage is represented by showing only some of the incoming data being selected.


EASy Analyze


The final step in the EASy Taxonomy is to have students add their voice to the collective digital learning consciousness. They do this through collaborating. Students can collaborate statically, which means Johnny interacts only with fixed-state information he has chosen when he analyzed the data. Then Johnny synthesizes that data together with his own ideas to make a new product.

Or, students can collaborate dynamically, which means Eva uses social networking tools to collaborate with other students, who along with all their analyzed data, create a new product. It is dynamic synthesizing because the continued influence of many collaborative voices makes this process fluid and subject to many changes before the final product emerges.

Either way, the final new product must add a new voice to the collective conversation surrounding the topic in some incremental way, not just mimic the old voices that have come before. This is not just regurgitation of old ideas; it is the creation of new ones. The idea here is to get students to realize that by standing on the shoulders of other learned individuals who came before them, the students can go even further.

To represent this part of the process, the filtered data advances in a different direction as a new product. It then, in turn, becomes the new knowledge base for the next learner who searches for the topic.

EASy Synthesize


Bloom’s Taxonomy made it too easy for teachers to lean on the crutch of standardized or prepackaged assessments and think they are encouraging critical thinking.� Occasionally, we teachers have even assigned other types of assessments, like essays, under the guise we are utilizing Bloom’s highest level of cognition. But we aren’t really looking for new products when we do this; we are looking for students to repackage someone else’s ideas in the students’ own words (i.e. Show me you understood what Harper Lee meant when she wrote, “She seemed glad to see me when I appeared in the kitchen, and by watching her I began to think there was some skill involved in being a girl” (TKAM� Chapter 12).

In my years as an American Lit teacher, I was certainly guilty of this kind of assignment. I was comfortable that my students would prove to me through this essay whether they understood the chapter or not.� But I’ll be honest, I knew deep down this wasn’t a demonstration of true learning in the best sense of the word. At least not in the way I’ve come to believe learning should be defined now.Not in the educhaos, ZPD, transformative, rock-their-foundations-to-the-core kind of way. It was just a fancy re-gifting of someone else’s ideas. Like Chris Dede (2006) says, my students were “putting old wine in new bottles” (p. 1).

Not anymore.

EASy isn’t quick.EASy isn’t a shortcut for teaching or learning.� But with EASy-based lessons, students are engaged, motivated, and in the zone.



Is your teaching EASy?

If you use social networking and digital media in the EASy way described in this post, leave me a comment or tweet me. I’d like to link to your class projects and show case them on my site!

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Posted by on December 12, 2009 in Teaching Online


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My First “Official” Open Ed Resource

I am in the middle of teaching three online courses, taking George Siemen’s Introduction:Emerging Technologies -Africa open course for my Open PhD studies, making tons of Twitter connections with fellow like-mined educators, and staying in a 5th wheel trailer for two weeks on my sister’s property in Eastern Washington state while I visit my relatives on this side of the country.  What’s a girl to do in her spare time?

Write up a post about a teaching resource for using digital media and social networking to promote critical thinking in the on or off line classroom, of course.

I’ve had the article rolling around in my head for a while now.  I posted it to my other blog site that I use for sharing resources and reflections with other online educators.  You can find that post here.  Nothing really new in my doing that.

The “aha!” moment came when I realized what was significant about this practice.  I’ve been  intentionally creating and posting educational resources to be shared…openly…freely…use them at your own discretion.


I’ve been a part of this movement for sometime now, and I didn’t even know it?


With this particular post, however, I officially slapped a Creative Commons attribution, non-commercial, share alike license on the post just to make sure my readers knew they could play with my toys in their own sandbox.

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Posted by on October 17, 2009 in The Plan


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Dr. Kay’s Thoughts on Open Education

Dr. Kay will be blogging on OpenPhD throughout this experiment in the role as one of my “PhD” advisors.  Look for her posts with Dr. Kay in the title and under the category of Advising.

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Posted by on October 5, 2009 in Advising


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The Open PhD – What a Concept

I keep telling my friends and colleagues that I want to start my doctorate. In fact, I spend an inordinate amount of time on the internet exploring different programs, options (online or on the ground), costs, funding sources, etc. I work from home, teaching educational professional development and writing courses online – so I actually have the time to pursue my last degree on a part time basis. What I don’t have is the money. I won’t even finish paying off my M.Ed until June of this year, and I just can’t see taking on $45,000 debt during this recession with no guarantee of a tenured job on the other side of it.

So what’s a lifelong learner and tech geek supposed to do?

In my case, I simply had to read my Twitter stream and watch as an odd combination of posts and RSS feeds melded together to become my big idea.

A few days ago, Konrad Glogowski (@teachandlearn) tweeted about signing up for a class at Peer 2 Peer University.

Starting a Peer 2 Peer University course today! #p2pu #opened

In my usual wander down the rabbit hole fashion, I followed his tweet to see what Peer 2 Peer University was all about. Interesting! I needed to know more about this idea. I started searching with the terms “open education”, “open access”, and “free education”. These terms brought me to Curtis Bonk.

Bonk, an educator, national speaker, and writer, is also the author of a blog post about his latest book:Empowering Online Learning: 100+ Ideas, for Reading, Reflecting, Displaying, and Doing. While extolling the virtues of shared lists of open items that strangely often number 100, Bonk wrote:

One day I am sent a URL for an online resource summarizing 100 free podcast programs from the best colleges in the world. I am told that if I listen to these podcasts, I can skip the tuition.

A kernel of an idea began to form. What if? Could I really? Would it matter? Would it be worth the time and effort?

In Bonk’s post, he included links to itunes U andYoutube Edu . I had heard of these sites, but admittedly, I had never really explored them as I am not a big viewer of podcasts. When I need a video for one of my courses, I search it out and link to it – but that’s pretty much it.

I took the time to explore.


Did you know MIT has 1800+ courses available for your viewing pleasure? You can even download the syllabus and assignments (with answers). Some courses even provide copies of old exams. How could I have missed this? It’s not just MIT – other schools belong to the consortium – Carnegie Mellon, Standford, Oxford, Yale, the list keeps going.

I was so excited when I found MITs Physics III course to help my son who is struggling with his own Physics III course at another university. The video lectures from a world class engineering school professor should certainly supplement his studying. He was ecstatic – I’m pretty sure the link to iTunes U is now being rapidly shared among his fellow engineering student friends.

Now, you might be wondering what all this has to do, exactly, with my enrolling in a Ph.D. program.

Well, everything.

I am going to create my own Ph.D. program via open education using open courseware. My degree will be in Educational Technology with an emphasis in (what else?) Open Education as the Great Equalizer. As the tagline to my blog states: it will be all the learning, with none of the “doc”-uments. (Or none of the “cred”-entials). But I will have the knowledge; and, in the end, isn’t that the most important thing? (Oh, and I will still have my $45,000).

In the next few posts, I will lay out my 4 year plan – with help from the Twittersphere, blog readers, my advisors, and hopefully some subscribers. I plan on completing research and a dissertation as well – no shortcuts here. My first advisor – Dr. Kay Lehmann is a blogger, online instructor, book author, and course developer. I look forward to finding a few more Ph.D./Ed.D volunteers in my grand experiment.

Will this work? Can it be done? Can we make it rigourous enough to be equal to an actual online Ph.D program? Join me on this journey. Your feedback and suggestions are welcome!


Posted by on September 17, 2009 in The Plan


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