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Flashlight Program
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E-Newsletter for the Flashlight Program


Using Instructional Design to Improve Online Courses and Control Costs - Flashlight Case Study

Some institutions see "instructional design" as an expense that may need to be cut in times of tight budgets.  But Tom Henderson, Gary Brown, and Carrie Meyers found in a series of studies at Washington State University that up-front instructional design both improved teaching-learning practices in courses and also helped control development and delivery costs.  As with all other studies summarized in F-LIGHT we recommend this not as a statement of universal truth but because Henderson and his colleagues asked some sensible questions in sensible ways.  You might ask similar questions in similar ways and find something different is true at your own institution. Click here to see what they discovered. 

Evaluating Influence of Course Management System Use on Teaching-Learning Practices and Outcomes - Flashlight Case Study

Cheryl Bielema and Robert O. Keel compared two sets of courses at the University of Missouri at St. Louis. Both sets used the University's Course Management System ("MyGateway"). One set includes courses where the faculty member made frequent use of the course web site, while the comparison group's faculty made relatively little use of their course's site.  The faculty making greater use of the CMS taught courses that, according to student data, featured many positive teaching-learning practices (e.g. students reported a greater sense of contract with faculty in these courses than did students in the courses making less use of the CMS) and showed signs of different outcomes as well (students in the CMS-intensive courses were more likely to say that they'd be taking more University courses and graduating from the University than students in the comparison courses.)  Click here to see a longer summary of the UMSL study, as well as links to the full report and survey instrument.

Position Opening in New York City - E-Portfolio Project Director

The LaGuardia Center for Teaching and Learning is accepting applications to fill a long-term, grant-funded leadership position at NYCís LaGuardia Community College , beginning August 2003.  The Center has received major funding from the US Dept. of Education and is now in the pilot year of a five-year program to advance the use of Electronic Student Portfolios at the college.  Designed to deepen student learning and improve program assessment, ePortfolios allow students share their learning with families and communities as well as future employers and transfer institutions.  The Portfolio initiative is part of a broad restructuring of the Collegeís assessment practices. 

Starting salary: $55-62,000, based upon experience and qualifications.  Applications accepted till the position is filled.  Anticipated start date is August 2003.  For a copy of the full position description, please contact Aarkieva Smith,

Position Opening in Sydney, Australia: Lecturer in E-Learning

The University of Sydney is establishing a new research centre (CoCo)
specialising in Computer-supported learning and cognition.
Two professors (Peter Reimann and Peter Goodyear)
have been appointed to co-direct the centre. We are now planning to recruit
someone to join the team in the role of lecturer or senior lecturer in
e-learning. A description of the post can be found at
Closing date is 12 June 2003.

Ideas for Future Assessment and Research 
(Including Potential Dissertation Topics)

Because F-LIGHT has two featured case studies this month, we aren't adding any new dissertation or grant proposal ideas to our series. Take a look at our  list of ideas for dissertations and grant proposals.

Upcoming Assessment-Related Online Workshops and Conferences

Transformative Assessment Workshop, Seattle WA June 20, 2003

This workshop on Transformative Assessment is co-sponsored by NLII, the Coalition for Networked Information, the American Association for Higher Education, Washington State University, and The TLT Group's Flashlight Program. Teams are encouraged to come to this working meeting to develop plans for using data to shape transformative uses of technology at their institutions.  Click here for more information on this workshop, which occurs immediately before the AAHE Assessment Conference.  If you'd like to meet with Steve Ehrmann in Seattle, June 20-23, please click here to send e-mail. We'll also be making a special announcement to TLT/Flashlight subscribing institutions on discounts for registering for this event ; if you'd like to be sure to get this message, send e-mail to Hurry - the event is almost at capacity already.

Online Workshop: Using the Seven Principles to Shape Faculty Development and Assessment of Educational Uses of Technology

The seven principles of good practice in undergraduate education, originally formulated by Arthur Chickering and Zelda Gamson in 1986, have become a powerful tool in guiding the use of, and the assessment of, technology in education.  Starting in late summer or early fall, The TLT Group will probably offer an online workshop exploring the seven principles and their applications to faculty development and assessment of educational uses of technology. This online workshop will feature a series of webcasts and chat sessions, as well as the opportunity to get feedback from workshop leaders on project designs. Staff from TLT/Flashlight subscribing institutions will receive a discount. If you'd like to be notified when registration opens for this important online opportunity, send e-mail to 

To learn more about the topic, see our resource page on the seven principles. There are also special material linked to that page available only for faculty, staff and students from subscribing institutions.


For details on this and other Flashlight and TLT Group events, both face to face and online, keep an eye on The TLT Group calendar

New TLT/Flashlight Subscription Program! And New Materials

The TLT Group recently combined its two subscription series into one trio of institutional subscription options: the TLT/Flashlight Subscription Program:

All three subscription levels include the option to submit assessment materials for peer review and publication, discounts to TLT Group events, invitations to regular online briefing sessions, and other benefits. There are now approximately 330 institutional subscribers. Is yours one of them? Check our list of participating institutions.

New and upgraded materials are added frequently to the Collection. Now available, or to be added soon, are:

  • The second edition of the Flashlight Cost Analysis Handbook,  
  • the second edition of the Student Technology Assistant Program Workbook, 
  • A survey for collecting easy-to-share teaching ideas from faculty (using the "Seven Principles of Good Practice") and a resource page on the Seven Principles; 
  • A diagnostic survey that faculty can use to improve student interaction online and another diagnostic survey faculty can use to get helpful feedback on classroom use of PowerPoint;
  • A guide to gathering data about a college's e-portfolio initiative (asking the right questions in order to increase the program's influence on teaching-learning practices while controlling costs, risk, and stress), and 
  • A new, peer-reviewed survey for studying Course Management System use developed by Cheryl Bielema and her colleagues at the University of Missouri St. Louis (see article earlier in this issue).  

Each subscribing institution gets free access to all of these materials, along with the rest of the Collection, for its entire faculty, staff and student body.

Among institutions subscribing, or resubscribing, in the last few weeks are Auburn University; the COHERE consortium (Canada); Eastern Washington University; Husson College; Miami-Dade Community College; Pace University; University of Massachusetts, Lowell; University of Nebraska, Lincoln; University of North Carolina, Charlotte; University of Vermont; and York University (Canada).

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A note from the editor

People often ask me how much I travel and what I do on trips.  This month has been a rather extreme example of what this life can be like (and this, in case you haven't guessed, is also a subtle apology for not getting an edition of F-LIGHT out last month). Here are a few my recent and upcoming stops:

  • Golden Gate University (California): working with architects, faculty, and staff on imagining new ways to use physical space to support innovative university programs;

  • University of Missouri, St. Louis: taping streaming video on evaluation methods for an online course of study for instructional designers;

  • Westminster College (Utah): working with faculty on ways of using to technology to improve teaching, within courses and across the college.  I am doing similar work this month with Cal State Fullerton, the University of Vermont, the University of Wyoming, and the Rochester Institute of Technology.

  • Asheville Institute on General Education: talk on all students ought to learn in order to be prepared for life in an era of pervasive use of computers, digital media, and telecommunications.

I've also just finished an article with Steve Gilbert on five ways institutions are using data to increase the educational benefits of using a Course Management System (e.g., Angel, Blackboard, Chef...). That article will eventually be published in Syllabus, but we'll make it available to our subscribing institutions in the next few days.

About Flashlight (including free demonstration accounts), the TLT Group, and F-LIGHT (starting and stopping subscriptions)

The Flashlight Program for the Study and Improvement of Educational Uses of Technology is part of the non-profit TLT Group, Inc. Flashlight was created by Annenberg/CPB in 1993. The TLT Group is headquartered in Takoma Park, Maryland, just outside Washington DC,  with additional staff in Texas, Richmond VA, and Pittsburgh, and Senior Associates around the world. Our thanks to Washington State University for their many ways of supporting Flashlight, including developing and administering Flashlight Online and providing the listproc for distribution of F-LIGHT notices.  We are also grateful to St. Edward's University for extensive support for Flashlight; to the corporate sponsors of The TLT Group; and to funders whose dedication to higher education has aided the TLT Group's work, including Annenberg/CPB,  Atlantic Philanthropic Service, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education (FIPSE), and the National Science Foundation.

If your institution needs to get a better look at Flashlight Online, the best way is for someone at your institution to request a temporary, free demonstration account.  Send e-mail to with the header "Free Demo Account" to ask for details. One account per institution, please.

The TLT Group publishes F-LIGHT every month or three. You can see the name of the author-editor at the bottom of this message; please feel free to send me mail about issues of evaluation or research on teaching, learning and technology. 

If you know someone else who would like to be alerted to new issues of F-LIGHT, please suggest that they send e-mail to LISTPROC@LISTPROC.WSU.EDU with the one line message
   SUBSCRIBE F-LIGHT (the subscriber's first and last name)

Do the same for yourself if you have changed e-mail addresses.

To stop receiving the bulletin about F-LIGHT, please send e-mail to LISTPROC@LISTPROC.WSU.EDU with the one line message

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Stephen C. Ehrmann, Ph.D.
Director of the Flashlight Program and
  Editor, F-LIGHT
The Teaching, Learning and Technology Group
One Columbia Avenue
Takoma Park, MD 20912 
301-270-8311 (v)  



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