Conversations on online learning

Episode 11. Bancha Srikacha

April 10, 2021 Digital Support Partnership Episode 11
Conversations on online learning
Episode 11. Bancha Srikacha
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we speak with Bancha Srikacha, Instructional Technologist at Manhattanville College, about instructional design in online learning. 


Follow Bancha: 

Twitter: @BS96 

Tools mentioned: 



Blackboard Collaborate 



Backward Design 

Quality Matters 

Online Learning Consortium 

Association of College and University Educators (ACUE) 

Stuart Taylor (ST): hello i'm stuart taylor and welcome to conversations on online learning a podcast in which we discuss online learning and how to support it in each episode we'll ask our featured guests to relate their own particular area of expertise and experiences related to online learning we'll also ask our guests to share their advice for teaching and learning support staff who want to enhance and develop their own online learning support our guest today is Bancha Srikacha. Bancha is an instructional technologist at manhattanville college new york and joins us today from new york metro area welcome Bancha


Bancha Srikacha (BS): hi thanks for having me 


ST: thanks for joining us and so yeah maybe if you could just kick off by telling our listeners what you do and how you came to do that 


BS: sure so i'm an instructional technologist what i do is support uh faculty use of instructional technology um it largely is around classroom use but we are exploring um online courses fully designed um intentionally online courses that is until uh march 20 uh with the with the pandemic pivot as i call it so things have been very topsy-turvy and inside out but we're about to start i'm having i'm interviewing faculty uh deans division chairs about what we've learned and how we can best move forward i'm also looking to hold a student focus group to see what worked and what didn't um what they'd like to continue what uh the areas improvement are etc so i guess how do i get started i think it was around 2000 i worked at mcgraw-hill school division so it was i would say that i worked on the parts of the textbook that needed electricity so i did we made cd roms i would make online quizzes think companion pieces to elementary school textbooks i did video shoots i helped advise on those and those types of things then i moved on to the american museum of natural history which has an education department and within that an educational technology department what they did was they produced interactives documentaries videos all sorts of resources for um students and i would work with teachers who would come or at conferences to show them how the products we had and how to integrate them to their teaching we prided ourselves that it was not science edutainment as found on maybe certain television networks but vetted produced by actual working scientists at the museum researchers and from there i went to uh new york university school of professional studies where i was a educational technology for five plus years um there it was a heavy focus on producing fully online courses we worked with you know professionals in the field in the industry we taught them kind of twofold a like kind of how to teach and how to do that online so these are just you know working professionals and we work with them to produce online courses how to interact with students share materials all the good things that edtech does assessment etc and about five years ago yeah i started here in manhattanville college a smaller private institution uh where i do the things i mentioned before helping um faculty use technology in the best ways to achieve their learning objectives i manage a small team of students sometimes they go out we go out and visit classrooms do demonstrations of edtech how to do certain things we also have a large e-portfolio use so we use that for experiential learning learning purposes capstone projects internships study abroad so students are collecting artifacts you know work samples papers photos videos all that great stuff internship materials and posting reflections just juxtaposing them so in addition to showing this evidence of your experiences you reflect on you know what you got out of it how to change you the learning process etc 


ST: that's fab yeah and that like such our rich history as well that you're bringing with you as well and really interested as well because you mentioned the the kind of the thing that we're everyone's been talking about for over a year now as well with this with this kind of emergency okay maybe quite drastic and traumatic and will always pivot and online well while you're at manhattanville college you did do you see that as the work that you've kind of done over the past year and and what were your decisions kind of going through that and and maybe if you could talk a little bit more about that?


BS: sure so in the pivot let's see because it happened so fast um the focus was on using the technology but as always i'm trying to infuse impart develop decision making processes around formats and pedagogy so basically to to move away from the assumption that uh an online class is just is zoom calls and you're gonna talk for x amount of hours you know i'm trying to uh introduce different formats like there's also the asynchronous option and there's the hybrid option where well for the first while we weren't able to hybrid like part on site part online but i would talk about blended flipped classroom so that faculty would be able to figure out how to best balance what they needed to do lectures and presentations being done independently by students and coming together in the synchronous class to do more active engagement work um so it's a lot of decision making around the formats and of course taking as deep a dive as possible into the tools um you know polls sharing screens collaborative editing we're trying to showcase other tools not necessarily provided by the institution things like padlet mural hypothesis is coming to the fore um i think people that teach english and writing they kind of like that so yeah just so that it's not even with synchronous that it's not just a straight zoom call lecture type of experience that there are ways to elicit student feedback and some interaction on that yeah 


ST: great great and when you talked about your your and it seems that your role there that you're you're so you're developing this course to kind of introduce and faculty and support staff and taking what they maybe traditionally did on on campus and on site and and trying to have uh not equivalent experience but as as successful an experience in in other modes of delivery as well but you're also working with students um as well to explore those technologies have i got that right? 


BS: yeah so i'll i'll talk about student piece first um there is i created sort of like a orientation for online students it's it's a it's some web resources about uh what to expect with online or hybrid or high flex all these different formats how it's different that it's not easier how to find material you know basically like an faq kind of style thing how to find your materials what's the system what i would do with assignments how do i communicate with my instructors that kind of thing so broad strokes kind of thing says since um instructors say they all have their own twist on things i'm trying to be as universal as possible uh regarding the faculty dev actually in one or two semesters before the pandemic i had already started with what i call the online pedagogy series so it was instead of like these one-shot workshops it was a four-part series where you know we talked about instructional design it was sort of scaffolded so at first you know you're talking about i was introducing the differences between formats um asynchronous versus synchronous versus hybrid blended etc then talking about engagement and then flipped learning uh backwards design flip learning all these different angles facets for instructional design so that people could make their decisions and then to address the scheduling availability i put it all asynchronously that met with limited success but so i then did it blended so it's part asynchronous part and then you've got a weekly meet like every friday there'll be a meeting so what i would do is you know write a sample announcements start share some discussion forums map out your resources for the week your objectives so these like graphic organizer type things here are some sample syllabi criteria you know let's let's write those out and workshop those and etc etc so um it's always a it's a work in progress so what i'm trying to do also for our campus is looking to reopen again for fall so in my kind of series of discovery sessions interviews with the academic leadership and faculty and students i want that to inform what i'll be what the faculty dev will look like for summer so we'll see where it goes 


ST: that's great yeah and and talking about the i think we've kind of seen this things that were perhaps workshopped completely um on campus kind of limit how many how successful some of those sessions were and then this kind of pivot online's all great we can get everyone together but of course missing out those occasional key community building like aspects of of coming together in in person too so like moving forward i think and that's something that we're kind of trying to um address and and reflect on too so coming out of those sessions then and as you were thinking about them and designing them and then the feedback you've kind of absorbed from carrying them out what do you think some of the the key issues in in faculty instruction design maybe or in terms of like leadership that are kind of happening now what do you what do you find are key issues for online learning 


BS: i guess the big kind of quasi-universal issue or revelation in higher ed like you know that we can do this but we have to figure out how like um there was a survey of the graduate students at my institution and the data are really showing that you know for this population full-time working adults they like sticking with the online so they don't have to rush through traffic um after their their jobs and come to work and then drive home at 11 or 10 at night or something with undergrads there seems to be this they like they they look forward to being back on campus and they like it regarding their interaction and taste for uh online i think it's the data seem to kind of be all over the place i mean we haven't really formally surveyed uh my solution right now but um what i've seen like in the in the landscape the online yeah it does work for them digital divide is a huge issue yeah they they surprisingly i guess is they they like synchronous a lot they like seeing the faces and hearing the voices of their classmates and instructors and such asynchronous requires a greater deal of you know the of um discipline and motivation etc uh so but i think they like that connection that synchronous provides whereas um i kind of say that asynchronous is quote unquote safer like if you're uh in a family of you know three or four and there's one computer you can use it at your own time and you don't have to fight for time with your little brother or your father or mother or etc but um that is a heavier production load on the faculty as well to like pre-record lectures and uh produce materials um so synchro seems to be working out with people i neglect to say before that i'm uh an edd student doctor of education higher education leadership so for my dissertation research i'm looking to examine faculty use of edtech before during and after the pandemic i'm very curious to see what worked for them what motivated them what what they'll stick with and what they did not like i mean i think i in my preliminary conversation with people i've heard like this is great i've been seeing students they faculty like seeing student artifacts of work like discussion boards and you're able to reach out to every single student more at the same time there are people who who really do look forward to getting back in the class and they're still undecided what they'll keep if anything they might just go back to normal but at the same time the the doors have kind of been blown open and i think everyone is i think this will be a difficult conversation to have because people know they want a change some people do at least but and even the people that do want like i don't i don't really know yet what what it's going to look like or what i want to do 


ST: that's great and i think that that i'm really happy to hear that you're that you're carrying out that doctor research into what you're already doing so all the best of luck with that that's that's good and and i guess that yeah that that thanks for kind of exploring that myth of the kind of start of how on earth are we going to do this this is an absolute a crisis and then things happen and you know people lead from each other and it seems to be kind of almost a kind of leveling um of uh of crisis bit of opportunity as well and trying to you know reconsider what the status quo was and what was possible and of course you know some some people have adapted to this in different ways and i guess a key consideration is how this is resourced right uh things are out with your control yeah i don't if you want to see more about that at all 


BS: yeah i'm hoping that we can learn and and grow from this as opposed to just continuing on with so this is term emergency remote teaching which is what happened in uh spring of 20 as opposed to what i'm calling intentionally designed online courses where there's a lot of you know the traditional it takes months to produce i mean that's a we can't ask people to do that but something where faculty have been put on at least a path of learning what technology can do and how it can enhance um in in my research i've been finding that um technology is seen as a bolt-on accessory to classroom teaching which is assumed works already like tech was seen as like oh gravy or icing on the cake like what's going on in class is fine i don't but um i heard this analogy of uh paint being mixed so pedagogy and technology being smushed together inseparably so as opposed to seeing this and this or that just like how can it enhance things uh instead


ST: yeah and and that you can mention before this this idea of both versions right the kind of the the the pre pandemic version of everything's fine in the classroom i've got some fancy shiny tools that i'm not really interested in using but i know they're there and i know the institution's paying a lot of money for them but you know whatever so then oh my goodness i need to use this technology what what tool what app lets me do this what app lets me do that and then just kind of focusing and becoming blinkered on why aren't students you know turning on their cameras and the zoom callers zoom better what i'm to skype and all this kind of like that kind of distracting kind of goes the other way doesn't it it's like so what is this and if if you are mixing the paint how how do you kind of yourself how do you kind of like reconcile both things when you're speaking with faculty and maybe speaking with students as well 


BS: yeah it's sort of um you have to think about you know the the learning objectives what what you're trying to ultimately do sometimes uh people call me or message me and they'll ask all these questions about a tool and i need to just step back like what what are you trying to do first because i just need to make sure we're on even the right path as opposed to jumping straight in at another institution someone she was a very i believe an editor at uh america online she was very tech savvy pride herself in our first consultation said what do the most tech savvy people do i'm like it's not really so much a matter of that it's it's really how you're going to be teaching whatever you're going to be doing you know a writing person will be doing something different than a language than a science person i think something we're at the point of now is i'm a cyclist and you know i i underst from my understanding i've looked i look at amsterdam a lot you know and i saw this report it said you know or read something it said uh you know in amsterdam it's not like i'm a cyclist and i'm a pedestrian it's not this uh binary it's sort of everyone just rides so it's the same thing with edtech like we're all we're all using it now you know um i mean i think a lot of people did were using uh lms's but now i think the challenge is to make the most of what is there or even outside now you know using a quote-unquote third-party tool or something to enhance yeah i think the word the key word is let's let's enhance 


ST: and it's not just within the context of online learning as you said it's the context of online being and that they're that it's very rare to get someone completely off the grid or and and it's kind of struggles with that and you mentioned the the ideas of the digital poverty and the digital divide kind of coming in and clearly affect people differently and that's going to be something that we'll need to kind of take into consideration as as you continue to kind of resource these elements of institutions as well so it's not just about what's happening on campus there are these other elements too 


BS: yeah big question we're kind of wrangling with now is you know now that we know that we can teach remotely what will the choice be in terms of in-person and remote instruction like if if a student doesn't want to or can't come to campus i mean is that does that become a high flex situation or you know if people you know for forbid fall ill instructors students you know what's what's this sort of matrix of decisions going to be around what can be taught how and where and all this kind of thing you know um i was speaking with someone they were they might have a conversation about high flex with me you know like they really want to come back on campus and teach and i said uh well with the graduate population you might be on campus but everyone will elect to stay home and you might be in an empty room the lines are very blurred now like in in my professional development talks uh and during the transition i was like this is not business as usual where you know like a course will be you know kind of online and high flex and uh like a family member will be on campus and student be home but some people high flex is a very very odd thing um that's the other challenge we're starting to look at hyflex is not an emergency backup format but as a thing we could develop intentionally and successfully to attract uh additional student based prospective students so the key is to to how to learn how to do that successfully so that a student can take class fully asynchronously fully synchronously or come on site and it's all the same you know everyone has the same resources interactivity and assessments it's like a it's like a triple lift in in some ways 


ST: yeah and i think that it's one of those things that every time i i i hear high flex in the context here i get a little bit wary about it because i feel that sometimes there's the expectation that you could ask the same one instructor oh you can just just do it high flex or they want to do it but i'm not sure that well maybe if you could speak to that a bit more i mean it appears to be a lot more work to make that work successfully and a lot more like kind of planning and resourcing going into that so those are those kind of considerations that that you speak about in in those discussions of all the faculty member wants to do high flex beyond what the the students might decide to do have you kind of considered these elements is that kind of part of your discussions as well 


BS: uh yeah like all the the formats i'm just basically describing to faculty what the options are and how they work um for example someone had asked about this is a pretty pandemic like hybrid like what's hybrid i want to talk about hybrid how do we do that and i was explaining to her the flipped model where you know if you're if you're online for a certain week or certain day of the week you know the students are working independently on their own and then you save the interaction piece for when you're together and she said okay i i mean i was going to do it every other week on site online like yes you can do yeah that's that's fine that's scheduling but you have to pick and choose strategically what will be done where say oh okay she this person was going to you know repeat or i don't know sort of stick to her given model another example someone thought online was predominantly like so i'm making videos like i'm just recording literature so um i'm trying to describe the formats as best i can to empower faculty to figure out what they need to do similarly someone was going to use a an online textbook and you know rich with resources very very advanced and interactive activities and grading et cetera but also remember you need to be in the course like think about what your role is going to be i mean i see it's all it's all gorgeous but like oh yeah okay i say like otherwise what's the difference if you just assign these materials and what you know what's um something that is around in instructional design circles you know what is the faculty member going to do and what is the student going to do you know i promote the idea of student-to-student interaction student to content and faculty student 


ST: yes yes and about those and we've had these kind of conversations before about that these are these are rules and and kind of you know what what are people going to be doing activities but they're about people doing things as well right they're they're how are you as faculty member how are you a student as a human being interacting mediated in various ways through different technologies but mediating with other human beings and your course content is there to change you as a human being as well uh in terms of knowledge or skills and that so it's really interesting when you think about as you're describing their similar things that i've kind of noticed that people come with a very fixed idea of what they think both learning is and what online learning is and then you know breaking that down and just taking that step back can be really really um the the kind of dawning of oh wow i can i didn't even consider this this this perspective before 


BS: yeah i think there's still a lot of dispelling of myths to be done i mean i think people i could be wrong but there's well i'll say there's at least a stigma of online courses being like these click-through type modules very cold and impersonal but you know i think it's important to remember it's the students are coming to hear from you the faculty so i'm always encouraging like a lot of voice a lot of presence um in the online courses to borrow from a real estate term i like the idea of a pride of ownership so you have like you know if you go into a property you know the owner might have taken really good care of it or they might kind of let it go so with a an online course site in LMS you know is there is the is the faculty's interaction like all over the place or did they um kind of quote unquote send it and forget it like they built all this stuff but then they might have been so exhausted or something that it's just sort of is it just a bulletin board you know and yeah it depends on uh the form of the course and you know there's a lot of decisions to be made i mean i think a lot of people they come to me they want the technology training and i leave them with a lot of homework i'll show them like i i introduced them to this notion of instructional design like oh i've got a lot of thinking to do like yeah and i said you can write it you can outline on a piece of paper or word document you know it's the organization aspect which i think sometimes people get a little sticker shock around yeah yeah but in the same at the same time i think that's the easiest well the the instructional design is the hardest part but the technology is to some sometimes it's relatively easy to say upload file and etc etc but it's how to provide a path for the students to to follow through yeah someone i was saying uh in one of my workshops okay pretend you design your your course now imagine you're showing a colleague or your chair all the all the great work you've done all the students will do this and they'll read that and they'll watch this but also then you have to pull back and re-imagine like okay imagine your colleague is not there next to you and they're just going in and you reaped and someone said oh my my chair couldn't figure that out i said that's your job that's that's instructive design anyone can figure out what they're supposed to do uh when how all that all that kind of thing 


ST: yeah that's a really like great exercise as well of um people who are adjacent and may have some idea of what they're expecting from a course but what does the actual you know what are the actual instructions how how are how is this you know teaching or learning support voice coming through and and and really communicating that clearly that's wonderful so for for those who don't you know get the opportunity to to do your course like you know for the world what what are some of the resources that you've kind of maybe come across and that's all that you find that's quite helpful in those conversations 


BS: um there's you know the the big kind of professional groups quality matters uh online learning consortium uh ACUE i regret i don't recall what it stands for but um also i guess most importantly i would say to um i'm part of the center for teaching learning and scholarship at my institution so we've been hosting these showcases of edtech we had faculty who would done interesting things do a little like a five-minute screencast and narration of how they'd use edtech and then we grouped them thematically you know basic course design synchronous engagement um etc etc uh and then we hosted discussions around them so um yeah i'm looking to hopefully do more of this showcasing uh at my other institution there are peer mentors like this is very informal but you know experienced online faculty member would kind of take will be paired with a newer one so they would work with me in the distance learning group to to learn certain things but and then they would work with uh experienced online faculty members for content type of materials and just sort of other things that you know we we might not be able to speak to so that was very interesting but yeah learning from colleagues is very helpful 


ST: yeah that's wonderful and that's that's that's something i think i've seen in a a lot of places too about the the the absolute wealth of resource that we have in each other and kind of before this there wasn't perhaps the impetus or the incentive to to speak across kind of um disciplinary boundaries or subject boundaries whereas now there's a lot of learning of each other so i think that that's that's like really brilliant advice have a look at your own institutions wherever wherever people are listening and you know see what opportunities there are to network see and if there aren't any you know set them up start start speaking with people and share and practice because it's amazing what can kind of come out of that that is that we can learn from each other 


BS: yeah i like the idea of kind of just making starting small making small changes like start with a discussion forum and then maybe expand to a journal and then group projects or something like that you know you don't need to have a five-star course right out of the gate you know just just figure out what works for you i also heard at a conference to whatever degree possible to ask students what they'd be interested in doing like um okay next week um can i give you guys a video to watch for next week and we discuss it or like uh you know are you up for reading a book chapter you know in our in between time things like that to just gauge um put your finger on the pulse of the class of where they are and what they're capable of doing and stuff 


ST: yeah that's really cool and just getting um that setting that expectation really early about students you know come with all kinds of expectations but you know there is definitely a kind of power dynamic there where they're thinking oh it's not my place to kind of maybe ask if things could be done differently or the there's this set for a reason but building in those spaces as you said to and you know empower students to make choices and you know kind of there there's there's a lot of worry i've seen about engagement and it usually comes back to a very specific type of engagement right of you know in a synchronous class who has their camera and who doesn't but of course it's much broader than that and it's about how students feel about where they belong and and those kind of activities that you're saying can be really great for enhancing student belonging and feelings of belonging there 


BS: the pandemic pivot is is such uh an interesting and disruptive situation in that like we're all everyone's forced to teach and learn online but unlike before it wasn't the choice like it wasn't like oh you know i have i have my own i got a new laptop and i have like my own little room or home office i can take class in at x time um i'm gonna sign up it's just you have to do it now and you're just trying to making the best of it faculty and students that's the lack of choice is really is is really what's twisted a lot of things and i think my concern is that people will mistake emergency remote teaching for well done online teaching they will equate you know these rushed experiences for quality online like they'll think that is what online is supposed to be whereas um there's more potential for it and looking to those more well-established models 


ST: and thinking kind of making a comparison because you said this can't happen overnight so if you've felt and that you know there were certain elements of online teaching that would be really great and as you said the door's blown open a bit and and people will want to continue certain things how to improve that kind of gradually and sustainably so that is as you say on a trajectory towards um these kind of well-established you know great online and distance learning mo you know examples and models and then it isn't so very haphazard and and without choice and and snap decisions were kind of made it's all but again beyond an emergency as you said beyond that emergency provision and and and to to something that is great and but yeah i think that that part every the chance that everyone's i say chance it all sounds really callous when i say that no one had a choice to to do it but like the the the chance that we we have to learn from this about what what makes an institution and what makes equity and what you know what our typical student experiences and what you know and we thought we couldn't change about courses um or or an experience just there's a lot of learning that i'm hoping and that kind of goes forward and hearing more about that that kind of scholarship and from that point what you were saying there about sharing that would be is is really really vital i think 


BS: yeah i did i read an article recently that he was asking you know what is education at its core what what is absolutely necessary to keep and what are we holding on to just because it's always been the way it's been done so i think now it's time to start thinking about that 


ST: definitely definitely great is there anything that and we've talked about kind of loads of issues today but is there anything that we haven't mentioned or you might want to like talk about talk to a little bit more detail for our listeners 


BS: well i guess the culture shift i mean i think a lot of driver behind behind faculty development is it's is the value of edtech to an institution and the spotlight is on it now so i'm very curious as to how much that will continue or how much people institutions will want to go back to normal or redefine what normal is i think uh i like the term next normal as opposed to memorable next implying hopefully that we've made we've learned things and made choices and um are making decisions around how to evolve as opposed to react 


ST: that's lovely that's that's that's really really great thank you so much matcha and i guess where where can people find you and keep up to date with what you're up to where if people want to get in touch yeah twitter man 


BS: yeah i like i'm a twitter man @BS96 that's my username that's why i tend to share things yeah great great so go get my follow um and uh yeah thank you so much for speaking with us today all the best with your research and um it's been really really wonderful to speak with you 


BS: thank you so much cool