All posts by Ashanti Morgan

Ashanti Morgan

About Ashanti Morgan

Ashanti Morgan is a Senior Instructional Technology Consultant and Program Manager for the Global Learning Experience (GLE) initiative at DePaul University. She also teaches computer productivity courses online as an adjunct professor in DePaul's School for New Learning. Ashanti has been working in the instructional design industry for over a decade in a variety of sectors including higher education, K-12, and non-profit. In her current role at DePaul, she manages faculty training, strategic planning, and global course development for the GLE program, an initiative that exposes students to intercultural exchanges while collaborating virtually with students abroad. She also provides instructional design expertise to faculty in a variety of disciplines across the university. Ashanti earned her master’s degree in Instructional Technology from Northern Illinois University. She also obtained her bachelor’s degree in Organizational & Corporate Communication from Northern Illinois University.

Ashanti Morgan

#GlobalLearning17: Five Reasons Why You Should Attend!

DePaul University and the SUNY COIL Center have teamed up to offer the first-ever Global Learning Conference: Transcending Boundaries Through COIL. This don’t-miss event will be held October 30-31, 2017 in Chicago.

The Global Learning Conference illustrates best practices and innovation in collaborative online international learning (COIL). COIL is an approach to fostering 21st century student competencies through the development of multicultural learning environments that link university or college classes in different countries using online technologies. The conference invites faculty and lecturers, instructional technologists and designers, international education and study abroad managers, and anyone interested in the internationalization of higher education to attend and share knowledge with their peers in this growing field.

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Ashanti Morgan

Virtual Exchanges: The Next Big Thing?

In these increasingly unique times, ubiquitous access to alternative facts via the media (both social and traditional) can influence the impressionable minds of our youth—especially those living in homogeneous communities. Now more than ever, it’s imperative that educational institutions expose students to authentic, real-world experiences with diverse people and perspectives around the world.

Study abroad programs have been and will continue to be an effective way for students to garner global perspective and experience cross-cultural collaborations with students overseas. Students are immersed in the culture, history, and heritage of their experience and ideally, take advantage of the opportunity to meet people from diverse backgrounds and viewpoints. Continue reading

Ashanti Morgan

Get in Sync! 5 Tips to Better Domestic and International Collaborations

Collaborating across the globe is gaining much-needed traction thanks to the accessibility of  technology tools and internet connectivity. While there are some countries that still suffer from digital inadequacies, the proliferation of mobile device and tablet accessibility is changing the game and thankfully, beginning to level the playing field.

Social media and other mediums have shown the humanizing impact that integrating video into a conversation can have that somehow, makes us feel connected to those that we haven’t seen in years and/or live thousands of miles away. And now, other industries are starting to take notice.

The academic and business world as we knew it decades ago is evolving to new heights. With more online courses at the collegiate level increasing to the exponential growth of global virtual conferencing in the workforce, our brothers and sisters around the world are much easier to engage on a regular and consistent basis.

Make no mistake, if you’re going to connect sizeable groups of college students or colleagues in a meaningful and engaging way, it takes time and strategic planning. Unlike social media, in academia, business corporations, healthcare, and other industries, structured and formal real-time (live) video interactions can take weeks, maybe even a month, to execute flawlessly. Continue reading

Ashanti Morgan

Vetting Project Management Resources: Finding the Right Fit

If you’re like the majority of the world, multitasking is part of your daily routine. From managing personal to professional tasks, keeping it all together in your brain can be a bit overwhelming.

Thankfully, there are a number of tools, from easy to use smartphone apps to more complex software, that exist to help manage it all.

Whether you’re looking for a tool to individually track tasks, or you work with one or more people and need to manage and track a series of tasks, choosing the right process and solution doesn’t have to stressful. The following are some general tips to consider as you broach the subject.

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Ashanti Morgan

What to Expect When Syncing: Best Practices using Video Conferencing Tools

Technology is changing how we do everything. Gone are the days of classroom strategies that focus solely on using static content to engage students. Thanks to high-definition (HD) video ubiquity in mobile devices, tablets, laptops, etc., engaging in real-time (instantaneous) with folks across the globe without leaving home is feasible and affordable. To take it a step further, video conferencing, or as some may describe as web conferencing, webinars (web seminars), or webcasts, enables online collaboration with limitless implications for student engagement, in the US and abroad.

The formal definition of video conferencing, as defined by Merriam Webster, is:

  1. a method of holding meetings that allows people who are in different cities, countries, etc., to hear each other and see each other on computer or television screens.
  2. the holding of a conference among people at remote locations by means of transmitted audio and video signals

While there are a number of solutions that exist to host virtual meetings, it’s important that standard features embedded in these systems are easy to use and work seamlessly during an online session. Some of the more common features include the ability to stream HD video, instant chat, screen sharing, recording, and the use of a whiteboard to jot down important points during the meeting. While nothing compares to face-to-face interaction, these tools help connect users in ways that a teleconference (see definition) are incapable of doing.

Some of the usual suspects—Skype, Webex, Gotomeeting, Zoom, Google Hangouts, Adobe Connect, Avaya Scopia, Blue Jeans, Polycom, etc.—have worked tirelessly to create user interfaces that are intuitive and function with minimal to no latency issues. In order to make an informed decision, it’s important to develop and prioritize the functionality that’s paramount to a successful implementation for “you.”

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Ashanti Morgan

Courses without Borders: Global Engagement with Students Abroad

DePaul University’s Global Learning Experience (GLE) is a relatively new initiative that was established to provide students with opportunities to engage in collaborative projects, mediated by technology, with students abroad. GLE exposes students, some who have never traveled out of the country or considered studying abroad, with an opportunity to journey to another country via their GLE course without leaving the state.

GLE activities and projects are designed by faculty partners (typically one professor at DePaul and a professor(s) at an institution abroad) and range from concepts such as the creation of interactive, collaborative virtual tours to innovative 3D design projects. Students have a chance to work with their peers around the globe and learn cultural similarities and differences that impact (or don’t impact) collaboration and development.

Some of the residual benefits for students include building an international network of peers and working on teams globally. It’s no secret that companies, educational institutions, government agencies, etc. are eager to find talented graduates with diverse experiences. The University of Southern California Annenberg developed an infographic which suggests that “today’s global economy demands a more unique and effective working environment. Virtual teams consist of employees who are the best people for their jobs, but who are not geographically close to a company’s headquarters”. (USC Annenberg, School of Communication & Journalism). In GLE courses, students are exposed to a virtual team experience and are better equipped for the globalized workforce.

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Ashanti Morgan

Making Online Content More Accessible: Simple Techniques to Support All Learners Online

With the growing demand for blended and online content, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with considerations such as what type of content to include, identifying new websites or technical applications to introduce, and ensuring that the course design meets the needs of all learners.

The sheer nature of working at a distance increases the need to create opportunities for learner engagement and decrease ambiguity in communicating information. Thankfully, there are a number of different solutions that incorporate audio and/or video components that assist with humanizing the look and feel of your course. Introducing this type of media into course design means ensuring that all learners are able to access auditory resources.

One of the advantages of taking a blended or online course, especially for learners with specific needs, is the infinite number of times you can playback or review a concept until it’s mastered. For learners with special needs, diverse and/or preferred learning styles, English language learners (ELL), or English as a second language (ESL) students, incorporating transcripts, subtitles, closed captioning, etc. to audio and/or visual content in a course is invaluable. Faculty have also found that learners without special needs find having these resources embedded in the course a bonus. Continue reading

Ashanti Morgan

ADDIE vs. AGILE Model: An Instructional Designer’s Perspective

As an instructional designer over the last decade, I’ve come across a number of methods that have been introduced to enhance the design process. From understanding by design (UBD) to rapid prototyping, each approach brings about a fresh perspective that designers are charged with considering as techniques to utilize as he or she hits the “refresh” button.

I, like most designers that have been doing this work for a while, have a foundation in the ADDIE model – a methodology that was first developed in the 1970s for the U.S. Army by Florida State University.  Its focus is based upon a 5-phase approach to design: Analysis, Design, Development, Implementation, and Evaluation. For more information on the ADDIE model, check out an ADDIE infographic detailing the nuances of each phase.

A methodology that’s gaining traction with instructional designers across industries – and for good reason – is the AGILE instructional design process. The AGILE method is a project-oriented approach introduced by Conrad Gottfredson, a performance-support practitioner. It encompasses the five stages involved when designing eLearning experiences: Align, Get set, Iterate and implement, Leverage and Evaluate (Pappas, C. “The Power Of AGILE Instructional Design Approach…”).

In the table below, note the similarities and distinctions of the ADDIE and AGILE approaches to design.

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Ashanti Morgan

Reviving Threaded Discussions: Strategies to Enhance Virtual Conversations

Threaded discussions have been part of the online course framework for decades. There are a number of advantages to online discussions for students that differ from in-person. Unlike a face-to-face course, many faculty note that in an online discussion, each student is tasked with responding to a prompt thus providing more individualized instruction. It’s much easier for an introverted student to avoid raising his or her hand in class.

If the online modality creates opportunities to engage students that may not otherwise volunteer to talk in class, how can we capitalize on this?

My Experience

I took my first hybrid course during graduate school in 2002 via Blackboard. I recall threaded discussions being a large component of the activities that we engaged in weekly. Fast forward present day, much of the pedagogy in terms of the structure of discussion guidelines, prompts, and rubrics have not changed significantly. What remains constant in many asynchronous discussions is the idea of a student posting a response to a discussion prompt, and then responding to 1-2 peers’ responses.

Don’t get me wrong, there can be a rich exchange between students with this type of discussion design, but I would argue that there are more effective strategies to facilitate and encourage critical thinking. Continue reading

Ashanti Morgan

Internationalize your Online Course: Collaborative Sessions via Different Continents

Many institutions are looking at options to seamlessly integrate global connections into courses offered virtually, and DePaul University is no different.

Distance education offers a myriad of possibilities for contextualizing content in different ways. One example of this is establishing partnerships with universities in other countries that allow students from diverse cultures to engage with one another while learning the subject matter.

The course design below is one professor’s approach to integrating global collaborative activities into her fully online course.

OVERVIEW

With the amount of ubiquitous technology available, it’s easy to concentrate on the course’s modality or the types of technology that can be integrated into the course from the outset. But in the design of any course, the content should be the focal point and not the technology.

In working with a professor whose expertise is in public relations and advertising, the course that we chose to pilot was Advertising and Public-Relations Ethics. Since the professor had taught this topic multiple times while in Nairobi, Kenya, it was a natural first choice for the pilot.

In designing this course, we considered the following:

  • Content Planning
  • Course Design
  • Evaluation

CONTENT PLANNING

At the outset of development, it was important to establish what course- and module-level objectives would be most conducive to eliciting engagement among students. From there, we were able to work backwards to identify which assignments and content would be best suited to test during the collaborative sessions.

In fleshing out the content, the professor introduced a widely utilized model, the Potter Box Model of Reasoning to frame the conversations between the students.

Next, she strategically identified case studies, being careful not to include pop culture cases. From there, students would be assigned roles in group discussions: (1) the analyst role: interpreting the model based on the case assigned and (2) the commenter role: responding to another student’s explanation of the case based upon the model.

To preface the sessions, the professor delivered a video introduction that included etiquette not only in the context of working in a virtual environment but also cultural considerations and group dynamics.

COURSE DESIGN

Our first conversations about course design were about how we would be able to connect the students logistically. As the designer, I was interested in identifying seamless solutions, whether low tech or high tech, that didn’t disrupt their fundamental learning experience.

To do this, I researched technology solutions that would support collaborative discussions—whether synchronous or asynchronous.

Asynchronous Solutions

Synchronous Solutions

Online Discussion Boards

  • Learning Management System (LMS) Integration
    host school allow guests
  • Google Groups
  • Google Docs
  • Wikis
  • Blogs

Voice/Video Chat/Collaboration

  • Adobe Connect
  • Webex
  • Google Plus
  • Skype
  • Blackboard Collaborate
  • Polycom

Asynchronous and Synchronous Solutions

Aside from providing an experience with minimal technical interruption, the solution needed to take into consideration the time-zone difference and be hosted on a secure platform.

For this pilot, we decided to start with an asynchronous solution that met the expectations of the professors and factored in university policies. The students from Nairobi were provided with guest access to the DePaul learning management system, which enabled them to utilize the online discussion forum and other functionality within the tool.

Now that a solution was solidified, logistics was the next consideration. Since the students from Nairobi hadn’t used the LMS, we created a table-style matrix on the course’s homepage that directed students to the assignments within the LMS.

A master schedule that included due dates based on time zone was also included in the matrix.

The final resource was evaluative surveys to identify each student’s experience within the course.

EVALUATION

During the course planning stage, I utilized the ADDIE model to frame much of the way in which this course was structured. In the needs assessment/analysis phase, I posed a number of questions to both professors to ascertain the outcomes they were striving for with this course.

As a result, they were able to craft questions that they would pose to students at the end of the course. The categories of questions focused on the students’ experience with the content and engagement with peers from different cultures and the operability of the technology throughout the course.

Having data from the professors and students will be essential as I continue to work with others in the university who opt to integrate global connections in their courses.

Additionally, resources that organizations such as NAFSA’s Internationalizing Teacher Education Online provide will help as I work with faculty looking for ideas on how internationalization may work in their online course.