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22st Annual OLC International Conference
November 16-18, 2016 | Orlando, Florida | Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin Resort

OLC Innovate 2016 - Innovations in Blended and Online Learning
April 20-22, 2016 | New Orleans, LA | Sheraton New Orleans Hotel

Connectivist Online Rhizomatic Exploratory Tiered E-portfolio Apprenticeship Model (CORE TEAM)

Roz Hussin (University of Nebraska-Lincoln, USA)
Additional Authors
Allison Hunt (University of Nebraska Lincoln, USA)
Session Information
July 8, 2014 - 5:30pm
Teaching & Learning Effectiveness
Areas of Special Interest: 
Innovative Blends
Major Emphasis of Presentation: 
Innovation and Experimentation
Institutional Level: 
Universities and Four Year Institutions
Audience Level: 
Session Type: 
Electronic Poster
Plaza Foyer
Session Duration: 
60 Minutes
Electronic Poster Session

Reviving and redefining the apprenticeship model of learning in blended mode: Saving money, capitalizing on human resources and pushing the boundaries of learning.

Extended Abstract

Apprenticeships are usually viewed as traditional methods of learning, common in ancient times among blacksmiths, carpenters, and other laborers. Internships are the more modern scalable practice of today, common in higher education and highly regarded by professionals. But, what if there were a model that was cost effective, gave a student course credit, utilized the skills of higher education professionals while lessening their workload, plus, the outcome produced has real-life application? And how would we adapt this model for the Web 3.0 environment?

The "Connectivist Online Rhizomatic Exploratory Tiered E-portfolio Apprenticeship Model" (CORE TEAM) pilot involved four-way collaboration between the faculty of a graduate course, an instructional design technology specialist (IDTS), a graduate student aspiring to become an IDTS, and the faculty of an undergraduate course. The target goal was to develop a new online undergraduate course as a portfolio-apprenticeship-immersion-design based learning assignment in an independent study graduate instructional technology course. The outcomes included:
(1) a ready-to-deploy undergraduate online course design
(2) a template for an apprenticeship based graduate level blended course
(3) a graduate level employment-ready eportfolio
(4) blended professional development training for faculty

Much of cognitive learning and pedagogy in higher education revolve around learning theory and teaching theories. Instructors teach about teaching, and unfortunately, sometimes, they only have time to teach the concepts in teaching and learning. According to Bloom's taxonomy of learning, surface definitions only cover lower levels of learning, i.e. remembering, understanding. Higher order learning involves analyzing, evaluating, and creating. The CORE TEAM leverages on Vygotsky's ( 1978) Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), where the apprentice is challenged-and-channeled by a mentor to engage in higher order learning through a simple process: work on a course redesign (Constructivism), document the learning process (eportfolio curation), metacognitively reflect on the work (Reflective Learning), discuss the work performed with and by the IDTS (Social and Vicarious Learning), and then independently continue working on the assigned course redesign with new knowledge learned (Transference Learning).

This model emphasizes the importance of mastering material through the use of continual corrective feedback. William E. Doll Jr., (1993) advocates this idea of recursion which is a looping of thoughts upon thoughts in this reflective feedback, which results in the formulation of "meaningful" schema. In this mode of metacognition, one not only reflects alone upon one's own thoughts, but it also requires others - "peers (and) teachers (to) look at, critique, (and) respond to what one has done" (Doll, pp 218). Doll explains that recursion "aims at developing competence -the ability to organize, combine, inquire, use something heuristically" (pp 218).

In this CORE TEAM case study, the IDTS acted as this outside resource, providing a guided structure of learning. Theories discussed developed out of grassroots necessity - meaning, the process rooted from task-to-theory, and not theory-to-task. The CORE TEAM also fosters individual learning as a student (or teams of students) is (are) assigned to particular tasks where their learning curve is evaluated in their metacognitive reflections. Currently, schools want students to arrive at the same place at the same time while following a teacher's calendar and timeline. Elliot Eisner (2001) states that "I would argue that really good schools increase variance in student performance" and that productive variance should be something that is valued and pursued (Eisner, pp 286). Productive variance can be a costly outcome to foster, but this is not the case with this model of learning.

Although faculty development and student support are a priority for institutions offering blended programs, this can be a very costly thing to execute. However, if a workload, that already exists, is merely shared with a student in a mentorship role, the cost is very minimal. During the CORE TEAM pilot study, only slight cost incurred was the time that the IDTS took to mentor the graduate student and meet with her on a weekly basis. Otherwise, there were no other costs.

This model can be replicated across disciplines and executed upon a larger scale. The CORE TEAM pilot was carried out as a one-off semester-long experiment, but its long-term objective is to eventually develop an independent study graduate level course, enrolling 10-20+ students year-round. The main factor in the success of this model is dependent upon two things:
1. The human resources that can provide the real life problem for the student(s) to work on. In this model, the IDTS served this role. Other than an IDTS, this role could potentially be fulfilled by a variety of education based professionals within higher education or by external industry consultants. A screening system would need to be developed to ensure that quality learning would take place based on the human resource and task(s) given.
2. Individual departments would need to adapt and/or approve independent study courses that reflect this model, requiring active advisors who are knowledgeable, familiar with and available to teach and monitor the CORE TEAM process, as well as administer the final course grade. Individual colleges would have to be responsible for tracking and attracting this pool of human resources.

The Outcomes
Ultimately, higher order learning is fostered in this learning environment, such as analyzing, evaluating, and creating an actual AND usable product. In this model, a ready-to-deploy online course design was created, an employment-ready eportfolio was created, and quality blended professional development on-job training was experienced by the various stakeholders, resulting in a higher value workforce overall. A common complaint employers have of college graduates today is that graduates have paper qualifications but lack applicable job skills. The backbone of apprenticeship is to build practical skills that are applicable immediately to address real life situations and problems. Employers want new-hires to be able to take abstract ideas and make it concrete. Thus, students need to go further than a final research paper or analysis. They need to create a tangible, "real", and "proven" output. This Connectivist Online Rhizomatic Exploratory Tiered E-portfolio Apprenticeship Model, or CORE TEAM, provides a win-win-win-win for all stakeholders - student, faculty, instructional designer, and employer.

Lead Presenter

Roz Hussin is currently an Instructional Design Technology Specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A graduate of Cornell University and an Architect by profession, she began teaching as an adjunct faculty in Architecture while practicing in industry. She eventually shifted to full-time academia and academic management at an international university, while simultaneously going back to grad school in instructional technology, and establishing a broad footing in the field of instructional design and curriculum development. While serving as the Associate Director of Academic Quality Assurance and International Corporate Development, her work took her to over a dozen countries in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the United States. Other previous positions include Nebraska 4-H Curriculum Coordinator, Adjunct Faculty at Southeast Community College, instructor for the Barbara Bush Foundation Adult Literacy Program in Lincoln Public Schools, College Access Coach for the Lumina Foundation KnowHow2GO program, Program Technology Tutor for TRIO Educational Talent Search, and Camp Director for various summer and enrichment programs. Today, her roots in architecture continue to influence her out-of-the-box instructional design strategies.