Plotting the Demise of Lecture Capture

Lecture capture isn’t what you think it is. Students think its a vehicle to allow them to watch lectures whenever they want, freeing them from the tyranny of the outdated, rigid classroom schedule. Faculty think it is a way to accommodate the needs of more students than the traditional classroom can meet. But lecture capture is really just a technology that allows everyone to act like they did before: faculty deliver lectures, students watch them and take tests about what they learned from these monologues. Lecture capture is a convenient enabler of the status quo. It challenges no one, not the faculty member or the student.  And that’s why it needs to die.

Once you realize what lecture capture is, you realize that creating something different doesn’t mean you should go back to small classes with faculty lecturing in front of students who dutifully attend 45 hours of class over 15 weeks.  Instead, you need a system that efficiently and effectively helps students master the basics while providing the room necessary for people to step outside their comfort zones and innovate in ways that promote student-faculty engagement and higher-order learning. You need an experience that demands something different out of everyone: the faculty as well as the students.  And, you need different kinds of technology in different kinds of physical space, with different kinds of class schedules to support that experience.

We have spent a fair bit of time over the past several months plotting the demise of lecture capture.  The new model will likely undergo significant revision over the next couple of years as we monitor its  progress and learn to tweak the system, but at its core is a combination of videos, adaptive learning technology and group exercises that facilitate the development of key competencies.  Faculty will become facilitators, not lecturers, and students will become active participants in their learning rather than passive consumers of content.  Students will be expected to show up five times rather than 30, and faculty will still be able to reach large numbers of students, just like with lecture capture. Three courses will use this new approach in the fall. If all goes according to plan, five more courses will debut with the new model in the spring of 2018 and five more in fall 2018. By spring 2019, all core and common course prerequisite courses will use the new model. Lecture capture will be gone. The college will be transformed and everyone will be more engaged in learning than ever before. Like many changes that seem scary and difficult at first, we’ll all look back in a few years and wonder why we didn’t end lecture capture sooner.

 

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How to Manage Your Boss

Last Tuesday was Renee Giron Day in the College of Business. It was her last day. Renee was leaving us to enter the real world. We celebrated because she has been a big part of us for a while as an accounting student, ambassador, lead ambassador and TA for our professional development courses. She is tiny, witty, succinct, geeky and a little annoying. She also has a short attention span. This blog post needs to be brief or she won’t read it.

But most of all, Renee is the master at managing up. When you meet her, she quickly tells you her rules of engagement. She speaks in short sentences with few words meant to clarify those rules.  If you follow her rules, she always delivers for you. She gives advice when she thinks you are about to do something stupid, then obeys if her argument doesn’t carry the day (reserving the right to tell you, “I told you so” later). She has her boss’s back and knows how to talk him off a cliff when he’s stressed. The result is mutual respect and loyalty.

Well done, Renee. I wrote this down just in case you didn’t leave instructions for the new person. Feel free to add in a few tips. Charge On, woman, and improve your diet. All those hash browns can’t be good for you.

#StillDean

My reappointment as dean for another five years was announced last week.  The review process was very gratifying.  A lot of people said a lot of nice things.  I’m pleased that my team has done so much to nourish the soul of the College and improve the experience for our students, staff and faculty.  It’s also fun to work with so many smart, accomplished and dedicated people willing to take risks.

While the formal review process brought a lot of affirmation, the best sign of our success in my mind comes through exchanges like the one I had Saturday at the movie theater in Waterford Lakes.  As I approached the snack bar, the young man behind the counter looked up hesitantly and said: “You’re the dean of the College of Business aren’t you?”  I confirmed who I was and asked him about his major and whether he was taking classes this summer.  Turns out I was meeting  a management major enrolled in six credit hours during summer B.  As he returned with my drink he said:  “I want you to know I really enjoy The Exchange.  Thanks for creating it.”  I smiled and wished him luck with the rest of the semester.

I often joke that I’m the North Korean leader because my picture is everywhere in the College.  But I want students to recognize their dean and know what he thinks by reading my blog. I challenge students to not be invisible, so I can’t be invisible either. And, while my schedule doesn’t permit extended conversations with students,  it pleases me to no end to have helped build a culture where people are willing to approach me and chat for a minute in the hall, on campus, or at the movie theater.

Really happy to still be dean of the College of Business at UCF.  Now, back to work everyone.  There is a lot we still need to do.

 

Why We Push

For the last several years I have hosted pizza lunches with students.  The students are typically winners of drawings at events like “Welcome to the Majors.”  The reason I do this is that I want to understand students’ aspirations, expectations and experiences.  It helps me get a clear picture of what is going on in the College and how we can create a culture that is going to help our students succeed while at UCF and in their careers.

I start each of these lunches with the same question: “Tell me what surprises you the most at the College?”  The most common answers to my question is that the place is very large and that the academic expectations are much greater than they were at the student’s last institution.  At a lunch a couple of weeks ago, a student gave me a different answer.  Choosing her words carefully and in very respectful tone she said: “Well, I don’t want to use the term push, but the college really encourages you to engage and get involved in things.”  I laughed and said: “Oh no, you’re right, we push.”

Why do we push?  The answer lies in the video we use during “Welcome to the Majors” where I say: “The purpose of education isn’t knowledge, it’s action.”  That’s a quote from Herbert Spencer, an English philosopher.  His point is that knowledge isn’t very useful if you don’t do anything with it.  This is especially true in business.  You are going to get paid for what you do.  What you do is influenced by what you know. But, if you are too afraid to act on what you know, you fail.  So we push.  We want you to get experience being outside of your comfort zone while you are here, so you won’t be paralyzed by fear and discomfort when you leave.   We want you to learn to take risks, experiment with things you haven’t tried before, expand your horizons, get some swagger and know that you can compete with anyone, anywhere.  If we do our job well, the day will come when we won’t have to push, you’ll  just jump.

 

Diverse

A few weeks ago I asked my blog readers to participate in a survey about how they would describe us.  The survey had 40 adjectives and asked people to tell us how much they agreed or disagreed that the descriptor fit their image of us.  The goal of this exercise was to understand how people perceive us. Thirty-eight readers completed the exercise.

They were not the only group we asked to do this task.  We also have responses from our faculty, staff, undergraduate students and dean’s advisory board members.  All together 609 people have completed the exercise and while there are some differences across groups (a point I will return to in a minute), there is one thing every group agreed on: We are “Diverse”.  Every single group picked this adjective as one of the top three things that most come to mind when thinking about the College.  When combining the data, it was the top choice.  “Accessible” was number 2.  This combination makes a lot of sense, in many ways we are “Diverse” because we are “Accessible.”

We are also diverse because we are “big”.  We didn’t give our survey participants the chance to tell us they think we are big. We already know.  We often talk at UCF about the need to do things at scale and the challenges associated with “scaling intimacy.”  But in my mind, our diversity is a much bigger challenge than our size.  Our diversity extends well beyond racial, gender and ethic differences to include differences in needs, aspirations, and expectations.  Diversity in gender, race, ethnicity is a strength. Satisfying diverse needs, expectations and aspirations is more challenging. It requires different program offerings and experiences, making it even more difficult to scale solutions and manage the portfolio of our offerings effectively.

Why do I think the survey respondents are telling me about more than just demographic diversity? One hint comes from the differences in responses across groups.  For example, undergraduates saw us as far less “affordable” than our ambassadors, faculty, staff, or advisory board members.  Students also see us as more “prestigious” “sophisticated” and “global” than the other groups we surveyed.  Another hint comes from the hundreds of conversations I have had with students over the last five years about why they are here, what they are trying to achieve and what they aspire to in life.  Some promised their family they would get a degree.  Others hope to be the first person in their family to graduate college. Many experience a surprising jump in academic expectations relative to their last institution, while others see us a place they can effectively manage their home, work and academic life.  Some look for opportunities to engage.  Others want to be anonymous. A few hope to start their own business.  Others want to study abroad and then go to a prestigious graduate school. Some students want to rule the world. Others just want the weekend their parents have never had. The best descriptor for all of this: Diverse.

There are a number of other interesting findings from the survey, but I’m not going to touch on those until we collect a little more data, especially from graduate students.  They are the one group we have yet to survey.  In the meantime, we, like the great country we live in, will continue to strive to find ways to turn all this diversity into a strength while still being true to our values.  Happy 4th of July everyone.