Authoring, ED 659

Working on this was surprising and rewarding. I initially, was concerned that I had nothing to say.  Likewise, I stumbled out of the gate with some of the ebook publishing products. I did a bit of online searching and discovered PressBook a product in the family of WordPress.  It is cloud-based and subscription based. The user interface is nearly identical to WordPress content management, and so for me, there were just some particulars to learn but an easy transition.

That as well framed the question: what if I use my WordPress content to develop a book.  That lead to some toggling back and forth between browser windows and wholesale copy and paste. I was surprised to find both a start of a book in the content and curiosity and desire to work on the project even beyond this assignment.

The web version of the work done thus far is linked, here:


I exported the book in both .mobi format and .pdf to see how the publishing would handle the videos that the book draws on heavily. Alas, I was deeply disappointed.  Neither embeds the videos nor even creates an image placeholder. Also, WordPress will not upload .mobi files as they potentially represent a security risk. The first link is a zipped directory with the .mobi data, the second an old school .pdf..



So, for my purposes and the content of my book leaving the book in WordPress, or the online PressBook makes sense since the material is mostly derived from online sources. PressBook is a great tool nonetheless.  My project doesn’t fit well with the publishing capabilities of that tool, but a book driven by more static content would be fine in that environment. Whether my book works ideally in this environment I found learning the tool and working with the content to be inspiring and thought-provoking. As I mentioned I was unsure I had a book in me or my content so that discovery was rewarding.

Current Topic Seven, ED 650

Facebook as an LMS

Miron, E., & Ravid, G. (2015). Facebook groups as an academic teaching aid: case study and recommendations for educators. Educational Technology & Society, (4), 371.

The first point the authors develop is the difference between open online education and, what they call, walled garden solutions the standard learning management systems, BlackBoard, for example. The next insight they offer is the difference between cooperative and collaborative learning.

Collaborative learning is a personal philosophy, not just a classroom technique. It suggests a way of dealing with people which respects and highlights individual group members’ abilities and contributions. There is a sharing of authority and acceptance of responsibility among group members for the group’s actions. Cooperative learning is defined by a set of processes which help people interact together in order to accomplish a specific goal or develop an end product, which is usually content specific. Cooperative system is more directive than a collaborative system of governance and closely controlled by the teachers.

The differences in these two approaches collaborative and open online education are the foundations on which they build their case study of using Facebook groups in online instruction.

The use of Facebook informal learning consists of the following:

  • Creating a Timeline or Facebook Group to support the teaching of any curriculum subject.
  • Creating a space and platform for homework and revision resources.
  • Running debates on topical issues and hot issues in the media.
  • Peer tutoring and support.
  • A research tool to post, share ideas, videos, and resources.

It is striking that the authors have to make an argument for open education, for collaborative learning and for going where people prefer to be. Higher education was, of course, the only game in town for decades. However, since the 1980’s, that monopoly has eroded. For, profit higher education was the first place I saw a threat to the classic private/public college model. Distance education (audio and teleconference technology) in rural states was the next turn that signaled significantly. Then in the late 1990’s online school began to flourish. Finally, the national and state budget crisis for public higher education was a severe change in the landscape. Along with this came the scrutiny of politicians and citizens as to the effectiveness and productivity of higher education. In the 1960’s the call for “relevance” was aimed at social and moral agenda, in the 21st century ROI has been added to the list of criticisms. As well, the credentialing role of higher education has eroded over the last 40-50 years.

What if we explore the claim that open, collaborative, customer-centered online education is the only way higher education will reclaim any authority. What if we extend that to public K-12 school as well? I might complicate that as well because I still see a place for face-to-face cohorts. In part, this is important because in the workplace we routinely switch between face-to-face and online collaboration and work.

From my colleagues in K-12, I have heard concerns about open online education. The interests include, that student’s work is entirely in the public eye, because on the internet the persistence of artifacts is beyond control, and because online bullies or predators might victimize students. I think these concerns are valid especially, for kids K-6. Therefore, if I soften my claim and we keep our K-6 curriculum and online experience in the walled garden, we begin to transition middle-schoolers between environments and with many conversations about digital citizenship, and online security. Then, during 9-12 grades, we operate nearly entirely in the open, collaborative, and social online environment.

From my colleagues in higher education I have heard concerns as well, frankly, none of which hold water. Their syllabus and curriculum are not proprietary, nor original, and MIT’s move to publish all course materials online renders that conceit moot. Adult learners collaborate and communicate online extensively in every other aspect of their lives and work, higher education’s slowness to the realization reflects only on higher education. Higher education has celebrated peer review for decades, and well the peer review online is just as brutal, efficient and public as well, so fools are fools in public. Collaboration is the name of the game in many disciplines as well as all workplaces, so the vestiges of scholarship that depend on the cloistered researcher are, well all gone. Perhaps the hardest transition I have seen in higher education is to a customer-centered approach, we have long deluded ourselves with the conceit that we know best and certainly better than our customers – alas, that we alone suffer from that delusion.

Despite my criticism, despite my frustration, I hesitate to participate in Facebook groups as an LMS. And the reasons are mostly personal. I only just a year ago set up a Facebook profile and that only to manage ads. As well, I recall conversations among librarians at my previous job talking about the “creepy treehouse” effect of inserting ourselves into a social moment for business or educational purposes.

And so in the end, while I love the work of this essay I am left with no single solution to open, collaborative, customer-centered online education. And I think that that is a really good thing. Because when teaching imagines it has found the single right answer it has instead found one more mechanical, industrial, institution centered, heavy-handed approach to schooling that misses the mark of learning entirely.

Final Project, ED 650

Distance Delivery of Student Services

Executive Summary:

Bristol Bay Campus, in fulfillment of Title III grant objectives, is charged with delivering Student Services to the four main hubs in the Bristol Bay region. This proposal is for the purchase, setup, distribution, and usage of iPads in two remote villages: New Stuyahok and Togiak. They will serve as our pilot sites. The iPads will be configured with files, bookmarks, and applications which support Student Services functions (e.g., course applications, financial aid, career and academic advising, etc.), as well as resources that help student retention and program completion. Established audio conference communication protocols will be used to guide and communicate with the iPad users. While this pilot is focused on Student Services, there is potential for similarly configured devices to be used for instructional purposes.


Bristol Bay Campus (BBC) is a rural campus located in Dillingham, Alaska. The school is under the umbrella of University of Alaska – Fairbanks College of Rural and Community Development. It specializes in applied science and vocational programs. Most courses are offered online. BBC’s service region extends from Bristol Bay to the Aleutian-Pribilof region covering more than 100,000 square miles.


Online learning is increasing, and for locations with reliable, fast internet it is both a strategic and tactical move that all educators need to be making. However, in rural southwest Alaska internet is constrained both in bandwidth and by cost. Nevertheless, given the vastness of our geographic service area and the sparseness of our population density, educators have to take distance delivery seriously. Likewise, we need to explore delivering Student Services to remote locations throughout our regions. Moreover, we have Title III grant objectives that this project addresses. Specifically, the goals include deployment of technology and the recruitment of cohorts in hub communities. An essential aim of Title III grant projects is that the plans are sustainable after the grant is fulfilled. iPads are particularly useful because they are portable and can be operated online or be set up with files and used offline. Since the students are required to interact with online interfaces like Google Apps, UA Online, and BlackBoard this versatility is essential. One of the grant objectives speaks to using technology in the rural communities. Facebook analytics shows that our customers predominately use mobile devices to interact with our online content. Accordingly, iPads are a small reach from smartphones. We anticipate the use of these devices, because of their ubiquity, will be transparent and require little instruction. Exploring distance delivery strategies such as deploying iPads and using existing audio conference lines to coach and advise remote learners on student service topics is more viable than flying personnel to remote locations. Moreover, it avoids – or at least offers – an alternative to slow and expensive internet.


Ally, M., Balaji, V., Abdelbaki, A., & Cheng, R. (2017). Use of Tablet Computers to Improve Access to Education in a Remote Location. Journal Of Learning For Development, 4(2), 221-228.

Ally et al. touch on issues relevant to us here in Southwest Alaska. Their project was conducted in Swat, Pakistan. Like us, they needed to expose learners to devices and technology. However, unlike us, internet access was non-existent. They used an Aptus server to support the tablets. These servers simulate an online experience and provide access to open educational resources. The devices are cheap at $100 – $150. Learners can use phones, tablets, or computers in conjunction with it and become familiar with tools and skills relevant to the broader online environment.

The Aptus model is a concept that occurred to me when I was visiting St. Paul, Pribilof Islands. Their internet service is through cellular service. However, in the town, a fiber optic network has been constructed, so the local area network is quite good. Indeed, one of the pastimes is playing console games. It may be worth exploring  what kind of learning resources we could set up and deliver locally through their local network

Saorin, J. L., Torre, J. L., Martín, N., & Carbonell, C. (2013). Education Working Group Management using Digital Tablets. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences, 93(3rd World Conference on Learning, Teaching and Educational Leadership), 1569-1573. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.083

Education Working Group Management using Digital Tablets is several years old. However,  like the first article, it is focused on specific technology. In this case, the study examines the use of applications in service of building students teamwork skills. The class, the authors, concentrated on was a college entry-level engineering course. The projects student groups selected varied widely, but, the instructors standardized the tools and the methods they used to manage and monitor the groups.

Cloud ComputingManaging The ClassworkStudents Collaborative WorkTablet Access To A Computer

Google Drive


Teacher Tool
Teacher Assistant
Teacher Aide Pro
Visual GradeBook


New Notes
Notes Plus
Note Taker HD


Team Viewer
Jump Desktop
RDP remote desktop

This article offered some very concrete solutions for configuring a tablet for group work. The remote login app provided a fruitful solution which may have application in our rural sites.

Managing iPads Inventory:

Part of this proposal is to review and learn about configuring, controlling access to settings and proxy server settings, as well as pushing applications and updates to the devices. We will explore the requirements of bulk purchasing, licensing of iPad applications, and the setup of customized printing based on each Center’s network and printers. Tools and plans for mobile device management (e.g., Apple Device Enrollment Program, Apple Configurator) offer device enrollment, configuration, setup, and assignment. Also, a plan for routine system and file updates will be implemented. 

The main thrust of this initiative is focused on delivering Student Services, particularly Career and Academic Advising, to the rural areas and Centers of BBC’s catchment area. A secondary benefit is that the project will serve as a pilot for learning both the back office aspect of mobile device management and the front end use. As our learning curve accelerates, BBC will expand its delivery of instruction using iPads.

Selecting applications for the iPad will be an essential task. We will need to review specific applications developed for the University of Alaska Fairbanks such as UAF Mobile and MappostUAF. Broadening the search applications like BlackBoard Collaborate Mobile and Careers360 will need to be evaluated. A systematic search for applications will be conducted. Since both IOS and Android operating systems are represented in our analytics, we will have to limit our selections to apps that function on both devices. Screen captures of routine online interactions, UA Online, and BlackBoard, will be created, saved in pdf format, and then saved to the devices. Video or audio files used as tutorial resources will likewise need to be selected or designed and loaded. Browsers will need a standard set of both academic and student service resources.

Each location will need a secure place to store the devices and a method for checking them in and out. Cases to protect the tablets and additional power adapters need to be researched and provided with the iPads.  Both stand-alone Bluetooth keyboards and integrated keyboard cases need to be investigated as keyboards significantly increase the utility of tablets.


In the original project charter, it was proposed that five iPads be configured for each location.  A Career and Academic Advisor would use the existing and relatively reliable audio-conference system to call and chat with cohort members and to coach use of the iPads and the relevant resources.

Our service area includes two distinctly different kinds of communities: remote villages as already discussed, and larger more accessible and better-serviced communities (Dillingham, King Salmon, and Unalaska).  It is conceivable that two tablet configurations might be needed, but we already anticipate technical difficulty with setting up and maintaining iPads. Consequently, at this time the focus will be on a single configuration aimed at remote communities.

This fall BBC administrators made site visits to New Stuyahok and Togiak. BBC has operated Centers in these villages for many years. BBC has a new Director and several new staff members, so these site visits were mostly reconnaissance. Both communities struggle with expensive, slow, and unreliable phone and internet service. Likewise, there seem to be similar patterns in the market niches:  traditional secondary school students, high school dropouts due to significant high school dropout rates, and adult/vocation learners. There are many differences between the communities as well, and a single recipe for Center operations is not recommended.

After the initial proposal, two opportunities have been uncovered. First, the school district that manages schools in both communities has sophisticated teleconference equipment available in each. This equipment is underutilized and frequently available. We are in preliminary discussions on ways to collaborate and to deliver Career and Academic Advising through this medium. It seems reasonable that mentoring through tablet devices might be more comfortable with a video display of the facilitator. Some experimentation might be conducted comparing the experience with the audio-conference technology with the teleconference.

The discovery of the Aptus Server has also impacted the direction of this project. Conversations with University of Alaska Fairbanks’ eLearning program and Office of Information and Technology (OIT) indicate interest and direction for such an initiative. In effect, this is a local area wireless network that can be used to deliver educational materials to local mobile devices. It might be said to simulate the internet in a limited way. An Aptus server could combine nicely with the iPad deployment and create a more productive environment. The value of this configuration extends outside of the classroom to the ubiquitous smartphones in the community. Along with resources like Khan Academy videos and Wikipedia articles, the server comes with WordPress and Moodle installations. A setting for interactive distance education is created, and that likely opens up many doors for instruction in both Career and Academic Advising and the delivery of college course content.

If Aptus Servers are deployed, then the iPads can be used as connected devices. Being able to deliver Moodle, for example, means that a very different approach to content and device management can be taken. The tablets can be left configured for factory default, and the custom content can be stored on the server instead.


Because we are talking about cohorts of five or smaller, and because we are struggling with slow and unreliable internet at the remote locations, it seems reasonable to create a paper and pencil questionnaire about customer satisfaction with the devices and the content. These could be mailed or faxed back to BBC main campus and then input into a Google Form for reporting. Where the aim is to approach this as a pilot with subsequent additional rollouts, we anticipate ironing out the bugs and unintended consequences before scaling up. Another aspect of evaluation speaks to grant objectives. These include:

Objective 1.3.2 Establish student cohorts in each of the four regional hubs and provide one annual cohort retreat per hub. (Bristol Bay region)

In the case of objective 2.1.1, the technology supports student, advisor and instructor interaction not just annually, but frequently. And, Regular and effective communications are key aspects for successful cohorts.

Objective 2.1.1 Increase student access to cutting-edge technologies that will open up new career pathways through technology upgrades to the main campus and three village learning centers. (Bristol Bay region)

While iPads and the technology discussed here are not exactly cutting edge, the configurations proposed are innovative as place-specific solutions. Perhaps a way forward is to be cognizant of the need to address topics like eye-controlled technology, designer antibiotics, ingestible robots, smart clothing, and the like and to build that into coursework.

Objective 2.2.2 Increase the utilization of telepresence room and other technologies by 10 percent each year in educational delivery, student support, conferences, workshops, and community events. (Bristol Bay region)

Working with Southwest Regional School District to utilize their teleconference equipment in each village school speaks directly to this grant objective. It remains to craft a curriculum and tactics for presentation appropriate for the medium. 


The discovery of the Aptus Server has opened up some exciting and interesting ways to develop what was a bland approach to a problem. As well negotiating with Southwest Regional School District to use their teleconference equipment to coaching and advising adds significantly to the potential for success in deploying and using iPads for distance delivery of student services. Conversations with UAF OIT and eLearning need to be had yet so that the server is secure and configured according to UAF guidelines. Nonetheless in concept this approach seems viable for rural southwestern Alaska villages.


Ally, M., Balaji, V., Abdelbaki, A., & Cheng, R. (2017). Use of Tablet Computers to Improve Access to Education in a Remote Location. Journal Of Learning For Development, 4(2), 221-228.

Saorin, J. L., Torre, J. L., Martín, N., & Carbonell, C. (2013). Education Working Group Management using Digital Tablets. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences, 93(3rd World Conference on Learning, Teaching and Educational Leadership), 1569-1573. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.083