Center for Teaching and Learning Excellence
GLEAN is the Graziadio Learning Environment and Network: a network of people and tools to connect, collaborate, discover, and learn – bit by bit.
Launched in 2010 and powered by Google Apps, GLEAN is a stable framework that integrates and uniformly authenticates Pepperdine's traditional learning systems with an ever-growing collection of Web 2.0 and social media tools. Perhaps most popular is Yammer, our in-house social network used by students and faculty alike to have conversations about class projects, lectures, school events, and business topics in general.
GLEAN has become much more than simply a pedagogical aid -- it represents a new model of education delivery that greatly facilitates learning and communication among faculty and students beyond the classroom.
GLEAN has become immensely successful since its launch, receiving accolades not only from students and faculty but from other schools attempting to emulate the GLEAN model.
About GLEAN: Orientation Video
The following article was originally published in the Graziadio School news room in September 2010:
GLEAN Transforms Learning in Web 2.0 Style
Director of e-Learning
There’s a sea change in the business of learning. And the Graziadio School’s Susan Gautsch is captain of a ship that is navigating those uncharted waters.
“Our understanding of how people learn has changed dramatically thanks to advances in the learning sciences,” says Gautsch, Practitioner Faculty and Director of e-Learning. “We understand now that learning is primarily a social enterprise and people are constantly constructing and reconstructing knowledge based on new information gained. We also know that learning happens as much in the informal environment (at work, at a party, around the water cooler) as it does in the formal classroom.”
It seems a happy coincidence that technological advances have intersected with this new-found understanding of social learning. “Technology has transformed the way we work, communicate and connect. It is now helping to pave the way to a modularized and personalized learning environment,” she says.
To stay ahead of this transformation, Gautsch leads the school’s vision and initiative to enhance learning and teaching with electronic media and communication technologies. It’s a job that requires her to develop programs and models that are scalable and sustainable in meeting three goals: give students and faculty easy access to multiple learning tools; enhance learning outcomes; and increase faculty satisfaction and effectiveness.
She has combined her expertise in e-learning, instructional technology and digital culture to deliver the Graziadio Learning Environment and Network (GLEAN), a unified technology framework that incorporates a collection of Web 2.0 tools to support learning, researching, discovering and sharing. The first phase pilot began in the spring of 2009 and has continued to grow through this year.
“Like most Enterprise 2.0 implementations, adoption began under the radar and now grows virally among students, faculty and staff,” she explains. Beginning this fall, all incoming students will be formally oriented to GLEAN to enhance their learning, manage their school work and develop professional and career development skills.
The GLEAN solution has universities, professional organizations and K-12 schools eager to have Gautsch share her knowledge about developing such a simple yet advanced learning network. “GLEAN is a consistent and unifying framework that integrates many different and disparate tools into what appears to be a single platform,” says Gautsch. “At the moment, it’s a leading framework. Other universities, professional associations and multinational firms are now using our designs and resources.”
GLEAN’s simple and cost-effective model intrigues others. “We built GLEAN in Google Sites, which is part of the Google Apps suite. The suite is free to higher education and relatively inexpensive for businesses,” she explains. “It’s getting a lot of attention right now because everyone’s feeling the need, and they love the price tag, simplicity in design and support.”
Key to the success GLEAN is achieving at Pepperdine is its framework that integrates an ever-growing collection of Web 2.0 and social media tools. This support is available to students, faculty and staff to use to collaboratively write, edit , track documents, produce multimedia presentations and conveniently share information.
“GLEAN gives faculty, students and staff a consistent, one-stop-shop gateway and interface with single sign-on to an ever-changing collection of valuable yet otherwise disparate e-learning tools,” says Gautsch. “With the addition of Yammer (our social network) we’re also observing a boost in faculty, students, and staff interacting. It’s been a great step toward breaking down organizational and geographic silos.”
That opportunity for connection has been a valuable one for Dr. Ray Valadez, Practitioner Faculty, Economics and Finance. “I used GLEAN to have a dialogue on an economic concept among the students. This helped me grasp their discernment,” he says. “In some cases, students were able to more effectively interpret the idea at a level where it helped others understand the concept, and in other cases, I was able to guide understanding, assumptions, inference and suppositions.”
GLEAN not only helps improve student understanding of concepts, but also enhances teaching effectiveness. “I was able to capture both good and bad reasoning, which made my follow up lecture more effective,” he says.
It’s a tool that students expect and prefer to use, and one that helps increase value in the educational process, says Valadez. “I find that students are very comfortable with social networks and are willing to engage in group discussions. The GLEAN network allows students to enter the discussion at their convenience, thereby creating a more friendly and thoughtful engagement.”
This boost in interaction further fuels the growth of community – both in person and on GLEAN, adds Gautsch. “People are recognizing each other in the elevator and hallways now, because they have seen each other’s photo right next to their name in Yammer. When that happens, they begin organically forming ‘Communities of Practice,’ which are voluntary communities that are focused on a particular professional topic.”
“People are brainstorming improvements, sharing best practices and finding quick solutions to their problems from others in their community,” she says. “Soon we’re likely to see ‘Communities of Interest,’ which are voluntary communities focused on particular personal interests such as runners, bikers, musicians, pet-lovers, or church members.”
Gautsch is keen on developing the next phase of GLEAN, keeping further ahead of needs she has identified that need to be met. “We’re still working on getting Yammer fully integrated and ubiquitously available in folks’ Outlook window pane, iPhones, Blackberries, Androids, and Firefox popups. Next up is likely to be Skype and perhaps a social bookmarking and bibliography tool,” she says.