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Carol Twigg Is a Rock Star
October 12, 2009 - 9:10pm

In Jack Stripling's fascinating IHE piece on the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT), Carol Twigg is quoted as saying:

“One of the things I find personally sort of ironic and hilarious is that I’ve won every major award higher education gives; I get constant praise, and I’m against the higher education culture....."

Well .... I'm here to jump on the bandwagon and add to that praise. Us folks who work in educational technology need our heroes, we need our rock stars, and Carol Twigg fits the bill.

I first began hearing about Twigg and NCAT in 2002 while working as a program manager / learning designer at Quinnipiac University Online. NCAT's efforts to develop scaleable models for large course redesign deeply resonated with my work in online education and my background teaching large introductory sociology courses as a faculty member at West Virginia University. Twigg and NCAT's work seemed to bridge the gap between the pedagogical and methodological innovations that we were attempting in our online courses with the day-to-day challenges of teaching large lecture classes.

No course was more ripe for the NCAT re-design process then the large intro. to sociology sections that I used to teach (from 1997 to 1999) at WVU. The tradition at WVU, at least in the sociology department, was to assign the big introductory classes to the youngest faculty. Class size was often above 200 students. The class format was lecture, with assessment done my multiple-choice scantron sheets. This was not a recipe for active learning or a student-centered environment.

It wasn't until a few years later while working in online education that I heard about NCAT and their Program in Course Redesign (PCR) that I began to see how my own large lecture classes could be transformed. Reading about NCAT also helped me understand that large lecture courses did not need to be taught how they always had been in the past, how I had taught them, and that their was an organization that provided resources and a roadmap for change. I also came to believe through learning about NCAT, and thinking about my own work in online course design, that there really was no longer any defensible rationale for teaching as I had practiced it on a few years before.

This belief, that with the right inputs and thoughtful course design that we can create student-centered courses, as both motivated and guided my career over the years. As we piece together the intellectual history of our discipline I believe that Carol Twigg will be counted as an important member of the founding generation.

Who would you nominate for learning technology royalty? Whose learning technology entourage would you like to join? Has anyone done any work to piece together the people who came before us to create and build the field of educational technology within higher education? Does anyone know the best place to start learning the history of our discipline?


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