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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Interview with Dr. Donald Green, Florida State College Jacksonville: Innovators in E-Learning Series

Developing effective e-learning content and instructional strategies for deployment at a massive scale, such as that of Florida State College at Jacksonville, can materially change the lives of many students who otherwise would not be able to continue their education and training. There are challenges, though, and the endeavor requires planning, coordination, and a willingness to be aggressive about quality control. Welcome to an interview with Dr. Donald Green, Executive Vice President of Instruction and Student Services at Florida State College at Jacksonville.

1. What is your name and your connection to e-learning?
My name is Donald Green and I am the executive VP of Instruction and Student Services @Florida State College @ Jacksonville. As the chief academic officer I am very interested in elearning. We have over 50,000 enrollments in online and hybrid courses.

Dr Donald Green of Florida State College at Jacksonville and Karl Wahlstrom

2. What is the Sirius Project? What is its goal / mission? Who are the beneficiaries?
The SIRIUS project is meant to be a transforming project--transforming the way teachers teach and learners learn. By teaching teachers about learning and motivational research and incorporating the latest technology with the assistance of instructional designers we have been able to create highly interactive, relative, emotionally engaging, and learner centric digital course materials. And these courses replace a "textbook" mentality. The faculty benefit by being part of a project that incorporates the best in teaching with scholarly activity. Students benefit by having materials that produce better learning outcomes And at a significantly reduced price.

Dr. Donald Green, Florida State College Jacksonville, with Queen Noor of Jordan

3. What were the stages of the Sirius Project? Please describe the courses (subjects, format, level).
All courses begin with preparing the faculty---they learn the latest in motivation and learning research. Next, they become familiar with the latest in educational technology and how to integrate the best of tools into the design of courses. Next, a team is formed with teachers, instructional designers and technology experts. All through the development process, evaluations are done. At the end of the process, beta versions are released and further refinements are made. It should be noted that these courses are design by first defining the learning outcomes and the assessments before the methods of instruction are developed. These courses are learner centric and focus on learning outcomes.

4. Who were the stakeholders?
There were a few people at the college who understood that this project was not just a textbook replacement model but much more. The few of us decided that failure was not an option and kept pressing against the odds.

5. How did Sirius work in the beginning? What were some of the accomplishments? Lessons learned?
The beginning was rough! Teachers did not understand learning and motivation research, they did not know instructional design, they were not competent at using technology, and working in teams was a strange idea. Plus, the idea of building materials that were focused on student learning outcomes from a very comprehensive and complex systems theory approach was alien. We have still not been able to explain that the idea of a textbook is an antiquated idea. We also have learned that the text is a form of security blanket for faculty and students. Furthermore, it was difficult to assist faculty in realizing that the content bases textbook united with the"pray and spray" method was not the design of the future.

6. What are future plans for Sirius?
SIRIUS has an exciting future and we move toward embedded intelligence. I see the future of education being design with life-style integration as the key driver. This means that people will demand to learn when, where and how they desire and with methods that match who they are as learners. We will continue to look for partners who have the same vision and continue to build more powerful learning solutions as tools increase in their sophistication.

7. What do believe are the future directions of e-learning and how does Sirius contribute?
Learning is a way of life--a way to not only survive but flourish. SIRIUS is just one of the project that will assist those involved in designing the future of teaching and learning that a new paradigm is upon us and that we need to contribute actively instead of react.

Dr Donald Green getting ready to take off

8. Please describe your military experience and how it has shaped your vision of higher education and distance education. How is Sirius deployment-friendly?
Being a military family provides the opportunity to experience a variety of cultures and to learn to make the best of change. Adaptation becomes a social and psychological skill. My vision has been shaped through the recognition that ignorance is evil's playground. Because of our advances in communications technology, we in higher education have a greater responsibility globally to provide meaningful educational experience. SIRIUS is all about creating and sharing powerful learning experiences that are in a continual state of enhancement. Because SIRIUS materials are digital, deployment is only limited by a faculty member or administrator's desire to join a project based upon the belief that if the very best faculty contribute new and better ideas on an ongoing basis, more powerful materials will be designed and shared.

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