How to keep their attention during a video or voiceover?

So, I can’t say for sure how good a teacher I am (only my students know, I guess), but I am (have been in the past?) a very good student. I’ve always been a very attentive and diligent student. With that being said, I am having trouble paying attention and staying interested when having to watch the webinars. And if I, who am very invested to pay attention, am having trouble keeping interest and not being distracted, then I imagine this is a problem for the general student populace.

My problems with staying on task during webinars or video lectures or voice overs in presentations:
1) The tone. They speak clearly, they enunciate, they have good pace…and yet it all feels kind of droning and monotonous. It is too slow for me most of the time. I know they are trying to speak to let it “sink in” but it sure doesn’t sound like how “people talk” and there is something alien about the voice most people use in webinars.
2) Lack of physical interaction. I rely on the teacher moving, pointing at me, walking near me, holding up a paper, shaking their fist to emphasize a point, running to the board to write a good response down, etc. MOVEMENT seems to help a lot of me. It is a constant reminder to pay attention and in webinars (and the like) it is usually a close up of a face with someone sitting and there is very little movement.
3) My computer. In class, it is just me and a notepad and my book. I never take a laptop. If I ever did, I assume I would just type notes in it because of upcoming point #4. However, for these webinars, I have to watch them on my tempting, tempting computer. Oh, while someone is talking about a part that is on a totally different subject matter for me it is so tempting to toggle over to check my email. And now I am distracted.
4) Can’t get “busted.” In class, I don’t want to be disrespectful or get busted. Thus, I pay rapt attention and participate. The pressure is on because eyes are on…me! Alone in my office it is too easy to start grading a paper while “watching” a webinar.

So, I’ve pinpointed what is distracting (or not engaging) me, but, with the exception of #1 and maybe #2 I am not sure how to solve this for students….

Yes, sure you will eventually “get busted” because your grade is bad because you didn’t pay attention or because you kept checking out other things on the computer, but that requires forethought and long term planning, which–if every student had–are jobs would be so easy they would be rendered nearly obsolete…..

The best resources are your colleagues

Everyone knows this and it is proven time and time again, but a “thank you” reminder is always nice.  I have been pilfering from all the rubric examples people have posted links to–recently and earlier in the MOOC–and now have a good base to choose from.  The best thing besides having an awesome rubric for online discussion is that, by reading them, I understand the expectations for online discussion posts.  They have definitely been informative to me and I can see the scaffolding of what separates a good comment from a great one much more clearly.

The Northern Arizona University site was a particular favorite of mine as well because it provided “classroom management” tools as well, like expectations for “attendance” and participation and “nettiquette.”

The four methods of Questioning strategies were a helpful read.  I have already, like most teachers, utilized all four (to some extent) in my classroom, but it is nice to see them so clearly defined with key words and examples.  The “Socratic” method was the only one where I knew the actual name to the strategy and I rely on that one a lot–often with quite leading questions when necessary.  In the physical classroom, it is easy to start the “leading question” and then kind of leave it hanging while my facial expression clearly indicates that I expect someone to follow up.   In the online world, I suppose that is what ellipses are for.

Right now the only “online” component to my courses are my announcements on Laulima and my databank of all the materials in Resources.  But next semester I want to take everything I have learned about online discussions and move some of the readings and discussion onto the Laulima discussion board.




Create Community and connect learners with each other

At first glance, when I read the blurb on the three types of learner interactions I thought, “Yes, that’s the same as in F2F!” I may be very new to online, but I am not new to teaching. The elusive target of having a beneficial, productive, and engaging learner-learner interaction is the goal of every teacher because it is the epitome of “teacher smarter, not harder.” To allow the students to take the lead saves us time, bring in new, fresh ideas and perspectives, and keeps it on a level of interest pertinent to the students. That said, as most know I think, it is very difficult to accomplish. Getting students to participate, equally (or close enough), and getting them to produce insightful ideas can be a battle. I love, as any teacher would, when the classroom is rife with electricity and we are on a roll and they are grasping the concept and throwing out real world examples or analogies and then someone brings up a point I never thought of. Some classes this happens often. Others it is a battle to the last day. So, when I read about goals for learner interactions with online classes, I figure the obstacles would be the same.

Here is the breakdown of the types of learner interactions from the MOOC website:
The first, is learner-teacher interaction. Social media, and other forms of digital communication, have opened new ways for the learner and teacher to connect through meaningful online interactions. The teacher (or subject-matter expert) stimulates learners interest/motivation, presents, demonstrates, guides learners’ application of what is being learned, evaluates learners’ progress, and supports/encourages the learners.
The second type of interaction is learner-content. Learner-content interaction is when the learner interacts with the contents of the course. The online learner is isolated and by him/herself and learning is mainly self-directed.
The third type of interaction is learner-learner. Learner-learner interaction is between the learner and other learners with or without the instructor present. This type of interaction encourages open thinking, deep critical engagement with the topic and with each other, debate, analyzation, collaborative learning, and much more.

THEN, I read on and considered the benefits of an online discussion. I figured it would lack that energy–that “in the moment” buzz of when a discussion is flying in the classroom. And it might. I don’t know; I am not teaching online yet. But the benefits to an online discussion do seem plentiful. To be able to let EVERY student have time to think of something to contribute is a HUGE plus. Obviously in the F2F class, shy students have trouble speaking up and are often “steamrolled” over by overzealous or simply confident ones. It is nice to know that every one has to participate, they can do so at their own (within reason) pace, and I have a definite record of it. This record is also a huge boon. To be able to go back and “keep” the really insightful ideas that came up or to allow students time to produce links that showcase what they are getting it is simply awesome. Now, following all those links sounds like it will take up a lot of time–way more than confining a discussion to class, so I need to think about how to balance encouraging sensemaking artifacts and bringing in ideas, exploration, and links of their own with the practical binds of time.

The level of engagement, or opportunity for it, does seem so much better though I do worry a bit about “misleading” comments. What I mean is–students get to comment, respond, and review straight to one another–great. EXCEPT, it reminds me of when we peer-edit papers in class. I usually collect the peer-edited papers and then write my comments and edits straight on that same copy. This allows me to 1) see how well the peer-editor did and 2) correct any mistakes they “corrected.” Many times students will suggest something or correct something and it is either (technically) wrong according to the rules of grammar or kind of misleading and just adding more confusion to a student who is trying to focus their paper. I have even (only twice) had to correct Brainfuse because they edited something wrong and the student blindly followed it (hard to blame them) and then they got those grammar mistakes marked off on their paper…and they even had it correct in THE FIRST PLACE and changed it due to Brainfuse’s suggestion before turning their final in. Now Brainfuse is just one entity and a professional one. But say you receive 10 comments/critiques/corrections from your peers. Sometimes, too many comments–too many ideas–can be overwhelming. If students are really responding and commenting and helping with ideas and suggestions, then the student receiving those will really need to know which ones are actually helpful and which to disregard. Is that a real-life skill? Yes! Does that mean it is easy to do? No. I was trying to buy baby bottles recently and there are five gajillion choices, each with their own little tweaks, and with all these choices I have no idea which way to go. I just want three to choose from. Three to really look at and figure out. But how do I get to those 3 out of 5 gajillion?

I hope this is making some sense.

Anyway, here are MOOC’s reasons why online discussion boards rock. I am mostly posting it for my own record so that I can just check my own blog when the MOOC is done for things I liked :)
extending the time allotted for discussions beyond regular class time to allow for in-depth reflection on comments
requiring students to move beyond listening to a lecture, stating their thoughts, engaging in well-articulated argumentation and critical reasoning
allowing each student to participate and join-in the conversation, rather than one or two outgoing communicators in the classroom
providing an outlet for students to pose their questions and receive feedback from not only the instructor, but also other discussion board participants
allowing students to reference and bring external sources of information into the conversation (e.g., “according to this web site…”)
storing a record or archive of conversations for use by future classes, researchers, others
allowing discussions to include perspectives from individuals outside of the original class (i.e., one engineering class at Virginia Tech, one at Purdue, and one at Georgia Tech, all discussing the same topic, perhaps including two or three professionals working in the field)

Discussion Questions:

Discussion Questions

1. You do not want to just move your face-to-face course to an online version. We suggest re-designing your course to meet the requirements of your online learners. How do you want to teach online? Describe your basic teaching philosophy and role as an instructor. Look deeply and share how you are willing to be open and doing things differently.
I answered some of these in previous blogs. I realized that I would need to be more open and accessible on a personal level due to the distance and purposely weave in some social interaction between the students–at the beginning is best–that allows them to work collaboratively and get to know one another. Right now I do incorporate group work, but I do not use any time for “get to know you” activities. I also liked all the comments I have read on how to do comments! It is important to stress the tone that comes through with writing and that it is just a short agreement or a “good job.” Something new must be added or a more in-depth addition to the idea or a constructive critique.

2. Knowledge is finite and defined. I am an expert in the subject matter who knows more than the students, and thus my job is to ensure that I transfer as effectively as possible that information or knowledge to the student?

It is great to be able to just put all the resources on laulima for them–so that at any point if they lost something or want to know more they can check our their resources and re-see their instruction sheets and rubrics or find the samples that I posted or the websites that I have posted as extra tutorials. Motivated students have a wealth of teacher-picked examples of additional tutorials they can use to get ahead or to help with understanding the current concept.

I liked reading in one of the MOOC’s posts about how we have to say things clearly and concisely. Now, I always tell me students that when they write–do not make it longer than it needs to be! Do not add in superfluous paragraphs! But, as an English teacher, it is easy for me to keep “elaborating” or explaining on and on until I have covered every possible way to define this concept….and lost my audience due to boredom. So pick one or two good procedures, go over them in clear, short steps, and keep the material so that someone sitting at a computer will read. I liked the idea of incorporating 5-10 min videos of me–I can see how that would help with getting to know your teacher and some concepts are best explained.

3. Focus is on developing learners skills and the ability to question, analyse and apply information or knowledge. Do I see myself more as a guide or facilitator of learning for students?
Online I can see the teacher as both depending on the assignment. For discussions, I am hoping to facilitate and let the class take the lead. However when it comes to the actual MLA requirements on this paper and how to find evidence and synthesize it, I think I need to be more of a guide. What I would look forward to is asking students to contribute materials or “sensemaking artifacts” to the announcements or class “board.” I’d love to have a “student wall” where they can post any TIPS or additional materials on whatever we are focusing on that week. Oh, we are learning about comma splices? Cool, someone can post a link to a cool youtube video they found or create a short worksheet and post it. Oh, we are trying to find topics for our big position paper? Cool, someone can post a website of the best pro-con ideas or a website to a really cool magazine where they think students can find a jumping off point.

4.Taking into account the four factors below, decide and describe what ‘mix’ of face-to-face and online learning will be best for your course, and why your “mix” is best.
So, I haven’t taught online yet and don’t know yet if I want to. That’s the main reason I joined this MOOC. I knew absolutely nothing about teaching online before and know I feel I know a lot more about the philosophy and the type of student who signs up, but I feel very lacking in technical details: what are my resources? how do I use them? How do I grade? How do I manage the class? I have no idea!!! If I every do foray into the world of OL, I would like to try a hybrid class first with one day a week of F2F and the other OL. I don’t even know all the acronyms and short cuts–so that takes up a lot of my time. I just learned “F2F” and am just using OL for the online classroom, not sure what the acronym for that is. So, for me, I mix of both would be needed considering how far behind I am in the world of technology….baby steps!

5. I have not taught online yet, thus I can only speculate on how I will manage the class and all the technical details of who commented on what and who posted and what’s going on. Online Classrooms seems like a lot of juggling plates in the air and having to remember toggle between all of them. That part kind of blows my mind. Right now I am only juggling between checking my email and doing this blog!

Cranky and Sarcastic no longer?

I’ve been reading week 2 resources on how to connect with your learner…and they all seem to follow a familiar theme of being friendly, open, accessible, and connecting on a personal level. Now, this is not revolutionary news as it is pretty much what I was taught while getting my teaching baccalaureate and what I have heard every year after while actually teaching. Get to know your students! Share something personal with them to help them relate to you! Lend a friendly ear! Etc. But that’s not who I am. I am cranky and sarcastic and that’s how I have been in the physical classroom for 10 years and it has worked very well for me. Students also appreciate honesty and don’t like a “fake” who is trying to win them over and that would be me if I adopted that approach. I strongly feel that my students still feel very comfortable and safe in my classroom and they still seem all-too-willing to tell me their problems or what’s going on in their lives even though I never ask, never share anything personal with them, and always say, “how does this relate to our work in class?” They seem to revel in my over all “grumpiness” and love the sarcasm–I mean, come on, sarcasm is awesome. And funny.

That being said, I can see how that would not translate over to the online forum where I have only my written word to rely on and they can’t see my expression or the reaction of other students who enjoy it as humor. I read that in one of this week’s posts and it made me think hard about it. Do I have to change my nature to be a good online teacher? Or just curb it in? Perhaps the online world is not for me. This blog is my first, and only, form of social media so that is telling about how comfortable I am with posting personal thoughts and letting it float in the internet stratosphere. Hopefully, through the rest of this MOOC, I can find ways to be a good, effective online teacher while not having to change my personality.

I also feel bad because many, many of the MOOC contributers are currently teaching online classes and therefore have way more insight and knowledge to share. I feel like I am just taking, taking, taking from their expertise and experience. I joined just to learn about it–haven’t tried teaching online yet so everything I say is pure opinion and theory….

Online Group Work

I read “Reflection Activity — Breaking out the Black Hat” on the Community Wall and definitely agree that there are huge problems. Education is filled with huge problems that always seem to boil down to the same issue: idealistic vs. realistic. In an ideal world, group work is awesome! Team work, collaboration, multiple brains and personalities coming together to create! In the real world, even in the traditional classroom, it can be a pain. Student schedules never match up, personalities can clash, someone always has trouble finding a group and feels like the odd one out, and then, within the group, someone always doesn’t do their “fair share” and discontentment stews.

Solution? My only solution so far is to either 1) have the group work be a very small project that is mostly just practice or just one small step of a bigger paper OR 2) make very clear, defined roles within the group project so that when someone doesn’t pull their weight or show up I know who it was. I always make students designate tasks beforehand, instead of doing a reflection afterwards, and if the group project has, say, 10 components to it I try and design it so that 8-9 of those components can be done by individuals on their own and they really only need to really on the group for the last 1-2. Is it even truly group work? Well, they need to meet up initially and assign tasks and roles and create (and turn in) a strategic plan. And then for the end they need to produce or present the project or paper together…though someone’s role could have been the “assembler.”

Online has even more, and bigger, problems when it comes to group work. I imagine they would have to start their own side forum/discussion and do something similar where they all chose different tasks and keep posting their progress and someone will have to piece it together…..

Standard Conventions of writing too out-dated for modern forms or still a “must?”

I was reading a post that brought up an interesting conundrum about what is acceptable in terms of writing and standards on an online class. If you are “tweeting” or posting something on facebook should it be held up to the same standard as a “formal” paper turned in for a “grade?”

This paragraph gave me pause:
“In this scenario, the teacher as sole evaluator is replaced by the concept of real world audience, and the ultimate test of correctness may be reader response. But this may create disconnects. For example, a work receives a top grade from a teacher, but no one or only a handful view it. Another work receives a mediocre grade but goes viral online as much for the content as the style. Which is the more effective? Or, more important, How should we define effectiveness?”

This is a tough situation. I totally get what they are saying and could argue for either side right now. However, the teacher might be the sole evaluator but she or he “represents” the academic world and, probably, the standards of most bosses in the job market in terms of what they would want to see on a job application, proposal, or report. Lots of pieces with so-called terrible-writing go viral and get many views–but how long does that impact last? It might have had a bigger impact than the teacher, but it often seems to be fleeting and is quickly forgotten and replaced. Plus, even in the world of viral videos, memes, and social media, I feel being able to clearly and accurately express yourself is still incredibly important. Magazines may be on tablets now and they may be about pop culture, but the pieces are still well-written. Youtube clips from shows (like SNL), that pay professionals and give them the “big bucks,” are well-written and a lot of thought goes into the dialogue and “sound bites.” Most of the popular web-tv shows are well-written, like Lisa Kudrow’s web therapy that got picked up recently. Yes, some people get paid for tweeting, but that is not a majority of the population and those who do can’t usually live off of it. The ones creating a career off of this digital age are doing so by incorporating smart writing into this new form. Right now, at least, social media is mostly a form of just that–social connection. If students want to think money and career, they still need to think about their writing skills. Blogs are huge and many people get paid to blog–several have managed to secure lucrative book deals. These were not terrible writers with no grammar and who used immersive “text-slang” while doing so. They were all writers who wrote well thought-out blogs with complete sentences and punctuation (for the most part.) Anyway, this argument could go on forever, but it is one that we probably should have an answer to, in our own opinion, for when our students want to know “why” they have to still check grammar….

Helpful Website on “sensemaking and artifacts” and how we already do this in the classroom.

Our moderator, Greg Walker, sent me this link:

I think I am getting a better grasp of what an “artifact” is and what this “sensemaking” process involves.

Seems to me it can be as simple and isolated as this blog post, or it can be a post that incorporates multiple forms of social media in it–pulling from the various resources to create one, “big” resource that now “defines” the topic and shows “relevance” and understanding to the discussion.

It also seems to be about organization. Sifting through the mass of “stuff” out there and re-organizing it to show your understanding about a key concept.

Traditional Classroom:
It kind of seems like this what we, instructors, already do to create and effectively implement a unit or lesson in our class. If I want to teach an assignment on Op-Ed pieces, I have to scour the internet for tips on how to best teach this type of writing and then search for good examples in reputable newspapers on topics I think the students will enjoy. Then I search our local newspaper for topics closer to home. Then I could see if I can find a “fun” cartoon to start off the conversation or a youtube clip to pinpoint a certain idea and make it memorable and, once I have amassed a huge pile or resources, I weed through them, organize them, and create my actual lesson. Thus, what I give to my students is the result of that process.

However, online, if this is expected every week from the students for every post in order to show “competency” or ability to “prove” understanding, then I imagine it is a huge TIME consumption. Now, maybe for these students it is not. Maybe they are so plugged into media and are already checking 5 different social media sites while routinely viewing clips on youtube and posts on those sites where you just keep reposting picture and tagging them (the fact that I can’t even name one of those sites, wait, Tumbler?, shows you how “tuned in” I am) that, for these students, this process is natural, easy, and preferred. But I am having trouble wrapping my head around it. I don’t see how I can invest the time to browse so many different resources, on a weekly basis, to create one artifact. I am not “plugged” in and spent almost no “recreational” time on the internet or computer–don’t own a tablet–only got a smartphone last month, and this world of data bombardment and being “wired” is kind of overwhelming me…..

Week 1 reflection: maybe there’s hope for me….

1.In your blog share some of your reflections of what you have learned this week.
This week was pretty helpful, way more than “week zero” where I felt stranded, floating at sea. I learned basic, basic guidelines and tenets for running an online class, which is more than I knew previous to the MOOC. Didn’t even know the words “synchronous and asynchronous” as applied to online teaching tools.

2.You may also want to tell us what you have liked so far this week .
I liked that the coordinators’ posts had links to clear, step-by-step resources and suggestions. I watched part of the blackboard collaborate webinar, however, and found that one very, very long with a lot of “dead” time that, if cut out, might have made the webinar only 30mins and a little more accessible. At first I felt reading the posts on the Community wall to be overwhelming, but now I am getting better at skimming (vs feeling like I need to pay attention to everything) and being able to pick out what applies.

Activity Reflection
1.What? 1.Briefly describe what you did.
I read a lot. A lot of blogs and Tony Bate’s suggestions as well as the Designing for Learning 10 best practices, where I found useful tips and helped wrap my mind around the vast differences between online and face-to-face. I read the 22 tips from successful online teachers, but found some of those to be too obvious. It is like telling some to “work hard” or be sure to “be prepared.” yeah, its good advice, but “duh” to say it frankly. Any good teacher knows that….so give me something specific, outcome-based, and something I can implement in an activity or unit rather than vague, over-arching guidelines.

2.So what?
So, I am still kind of overwhelmed. I had never even heard of Flipboard before, and still don’t really know how to use it. I still feel very uncomfortable with Blackboard. I think this is a situation when I need some face-to-face in order to master these specific online teaching tools. Face-to-face is how I learn best versus watching a video of someone talking slowly online with lots of pauses and I can’t questions because it is a recording.

3.What now? 1.What changes did you make?
I’m learning how to blog better! Never done it before and know I know what a “kitchen sink” is and other tools of wordpress. thank you so much to those who gave me comments to direct me to these answers.

3.What do you still have to learn?
I read a blog post that summed up the way I felt about certain aspects of online teaching. Yes, I want to be student centered and yes online students want more flexibility and independence, but does that mean I have to cater, cater, cater? Should it be all about their needs and wants or what works in a reasonable, manageable way? Unhappy, over-tired, frazzled instructors are not good ones–how does that help students? I have pulled from his post below….

FIRST SYNDICATION POST SAID: “This idea about letting students go at their own pace scares me some. I need papers in by certain dates; otherwise, my work load becomes impossible. How can I be more flexible for online students? Ugh. I have to give them feedback on their papers, so if they turn in assignments at different times, I’ll lose my marbles. Also, if the class discussions are to help them brainstorm and pre-write, how can they work ahead? Being more flexible on timing sounds a little impossible right now.

This idea about letting students create their own learning experience is throwing me a little. too. Can I create a course where students get to pick and choose which assignments they want to do? Is that possible? Perhaps I can create multiple assignments that would satisfy the learning outcomes. Then, students could pick which assignments to complete. Is that what it means to let them create their own learning experience?”

I also still, after reading the definition and examples over and over and over again, do not feel that I really know what an “artifact” is. Somehow all the instructions I read online are just not sinking into my head. Can someone define an artifact in a “artifacts for dummies” way?

Finding the resources that are right for me…..

First let me say, that I typed out a really long blog telling, in detail, my thoughts on the NINE steps to quality learning online by Tony Bates. And then I hit something on my keyboard, not sure what, and it erased everything I typed, leaving me here, depressed and upset, to stare at a now blank screen.


It is, alas, too late now and will start over, but have now lost steam and willpower.

WAS VERY HELPFUL TO ME. I feel like I am getting guidance and solid, tangible tips now. However, there are so many links that I want to read them all and then get over-inundated with information.

ttps:// — like the emphasis on how I need to rethink the way I teach and adapt to this new environment. — liked reading a succinct version of what kind of learner takes an online class. however, I can’t know this ahead of time–what kind of situation my students are in–so I will have to make an effort to find out early on and adapt the course to the class needs while still maintaining a strong link to my original plan which is based on predetermined SLOs and standards. – working as a team would be awesome, but there doesn’t seem to be a formal process or structure to accomplish that, as far as I know. I am brand new so I don’t have a network yet or a base of “friends” who would want to team teach with me and right now I find moments to connect with and build rapport with colleagues rare. Thought this quote was key: “Moving content online is NOT about transferring content – it is about transforming content.” Good reminder. Also the difference between asynchronous (Blackboard Collaborate) and synchronous (Laulima) as tools for learners and the role of the student. – I am definitely going to have trouble “mastering the technology” and will need a lot of help with laulima and blackboard. They ARE deceptively simple at first, and then I find them frustrating in that they are very limiting someways (like not a great gradebook tool) and so broad with so many, too many, choices in other ways. Also, I love the idea of mining online content to teach and having students read online sites, see videos, etc, but I have been to webpages where it is just link after link on the homepage and you keep following one link, which leads to another, but there are still the other links on the homepage I haven’t followed yet, and it gets to be one of those conversations where everyone looks around at some point and says, “How’d we get here?”

Found these passages to be helpful:
“21st century skills — Online learning is particularly appropriate for developing what are generically called 21st century learning skills. Because of the nature of the Internet, online learning lends itself to learning how to manage knowledge: how to find, evaluate, analyse, and apply information within a specific knowledge domain. It’s not possible these days to cover all the knowledge a student will need in a particular subject domain within a four year undergraduate program or even after another four years graduate study in a subject such as medicine. New knowledge – such as new drug treatments, new software design and products, new data – is expanding almost daily and will continue to grow long after students have graduated. The challenge then is to develop lifelong learning skills that will enable students to continue to ‘manage knowledge’ long after they have graduated.”
- See more at:
“Good communication skills — This is another key 21st century skill. Students now need to be able to communicate in a variety of ways in the 21st century. Writing and speaking skills remain critical, but increasingly the ability to communicate through modern media such as social media, YouTube, blogs and wikis are particularly important in areas such as business, journalism, health and education. Online learning offers many opportunities to develop such skills.”
“Bring in the outside world — Lastly, one great characteristic of teaching online is the opportunity to bring in the world to your teaching. You can direct students to online sites, students themselves can collect data or provide real world examples of concepts or issues covered in the course, through the use of cameras in mobile phones, or audio interviews of local experts. You can set up a course wiki that both you and the students contribute to, and make it open to other professors and students to contribute, depending on the topic. If you are teaching professional masters or diploma programs, the students themselves will have very relevant wold experiences that can be drawn into the program. This is a great way to enable students to evaluate and apply knowledge within their subject domain.”

These 3 points provided me food for thought. – found this step to have very clear and forthcoming information. Liked these points:
“In a strong teaching structure,
students know exactly what they need to learn,
what they are supposed to do to learn this,
and when and where they are supposed to do it.”

“The three main determinants of teaching structure are:
the organizational requirements of the institution
the preferred philosophy of teaching of the instructor
the instructor’s perception of the needs of the students.”

They had a list of possible activities, which I was looking forward to reading, but then none of them proved to be particularly unique or “revolutionary.”
assigned readings
simple multiple choice self-assessment tests of understanding with automated feedback, using the computer-based testing facility within the LMS,
questions regarding short paragraph answers which may be shared with other students for comparison or discussion,
formally marked and assessed monthly assignments in the form of short essays,
individual or group project work spaced over several weeks
an individual student blog or e-portfolio that enables the student to reflect on their recent learning, and which may be shared with the instructor or other students
online discussion forums, which the instructor will need to organize and monitor. — like the COMMUNICATION post. Here were my highlights:
“Setting students’ expectations — It is essential right at the start of a course for the instructor to make it clear to students what is expected of them during the delivery of the online course. Develop a set of specific requirements for student behavior that is related to the needs of the particular course, and deals in particular with the academic requirements of studying online.
All students on the course are expected to read and contribute comments in the instructor-set online discussion topics within the specified timescale for each discussion.
Always respect other students’ contributions. If you think that someone else’s comment is dumb, politely provide an alternative view.
When commenting, always add something new to the discussion, rather than merely agreeing or disagreeing.
Keep on topic; if you want to discuss something else, establish a new discussion topic or thread, or establish a blog or wiki. If you want to discuss topics outside the course, use Facebook or the student online ‘cafe’ that goes with the course.
If you have a question, post it in the Cyber Cafe discussion forum, so that other students as well as the instructor can contribute to the answer.
If you want to discuss something privately, send the instructor an e-mail
Use quotations from other sources to support your point where appropriate, but always fully reference material taken from another source (with examples of how to do that, including web-based material and quoting other students’ comments). Lay out the consequences of plagiarism in terms of institutional policy and show how easy it is to detect plagiarism.
Before posting a question, check that the answer is not already there within the course materials – you may have missed it on the first reading (and direct the student to it if they still can’t find it rather than answer the question yourself.)
The instructor will respond to questions and e-mails within 24 hours, except over weekends and public holidays.

Set a small task in the first week of a course that enables students to immediately apply these guidelines.

ask them to post their bio and respond to other students bio posts, or
ask them to comment on a topic related to the course and their views before the course really begins, and
use the discussion forum facility Laulima.
Phone or e-mail non-respondents in the first week.
Research indicates that students who do not respond to set activities in the first week are at high risk of non-completion. “


” Asynchronous media would include e-mail, text or voice messages on mobile phones, podcasts or recorded video clips, online discussion forums within an LMS, Twitter, and Facebook. Synchronous media would include voice phone calls, text and audio conferencing over the web (e.g. Blackboard Collaborate), or even video-conferencing.

Asynchronous communication advantages.

Asynchronous messages are more convenient for busy students.
Posts are permanent and can be accessed at any time.
Convenience for instructor

However, asynchronous communication can be frustrating when complex decisions need to be made within a tight timescale, such as deciding the roles and responsibilities for group work, the final draft of a group assignment, or a student’s lack of understanding that is blocking any further progress on the topic. Then synchronous communication is better.

Use Blackboard Collaborate:

to bring your students together once or twice during a semester,
to get a feeling of community at the start of a course,
to establish ‘presence’ as a real person with a face or voice at the start of a course,
to wrap up a course at the end,
to provide plenty of opportunity for questions and discussion by the students themselves.”

” In Forums, a student comment on someone else’s post on a topic is posted next to the post, allowing either the student making the original post or other students to respond to the comment. This way a ‘thread’ of comments linked to a specific topic can be followed.
In Discussion and Private Messages, comments posted in time order, makes it difficult to follow a thread of an argument.

A well chosen topic or sub-topic will often have 10 or more threaded comments, and the instructor can tell at a glance which topics have gained ‘traction’. Use the discussion forum to identify areas of misunderstanding and to develop skills such as critical thinking and clear communication.

Threaded discussions

Have clear goals for discussion forums. This will vary from subject to subject, but I use discussion forums to identify misunderstandings, to encourage active participation of students, to raise topical issues related to the course, to develop student communication skills, and above all to enable students to increase deep understanding or ‘knowledge construction’ through the testing of ideas and the questioning of the content, the instructor and other students. Even in numerical or science-based courses, there is often scope for discussion of experimental results, theory, or the relationship of the course topics to real events (e.g. discussions around recent research on the Higgs boson, the collapse of a mall roof in engineering).
Choose topics that lend themselves to discussion, or which avoid a ‘yes/no’ or ‘I agree or disagree’ response. The topic should require students to draw on the course content, but also to go outside the course content and relate the topic to external events, either in their own lives or in the news. The topic should allow students to draw from their own experience as well.
The topic should directly relate to assignment or assessment questions for which students get a grade. I don’t assess the discussion contributions themselves; I prefer the students to see the intrinsic value to them of participating. However, many instructors do give a grade for discussion contributions.
Don’t take over the conversation. It is a mistake for the instructor to respond immediately to every comment. This prevents other students from making their own contribution; they will wait until they see your reaction. Also it increases the workload. Encourage other students to respond and build a ‘culture’ of the students being in control, while knowing that you are there, watching and stepping in where necessary.
Give students clear roles. For instance ask them to take it in turns to summarize a discussion. You may ask some students to moderate a discussion, but keep an eye on it in case it gets out of hand.
Ensure that all students contribute to discussions in some way. Use phone calls or private e-mails sometimes to prompt students or to check if there is a problem. The discussion forums are an excellent way to track whether students are ‘missing’ or not keeping up with the course.
Be ‘present’ in each discussion topic at least” — IN EVALUATION I LIKED THE FOLLOWING CLEAR OBJECTIVES AND TASKS

“What learning outcomes did most students struggle with?
Were the learning outcomes or goals clear to students?
Was the teaching material clear and well structured?
Was Laulima easily accessible and available 24×7?
Did students behave in the online discussion forums in the way expected?
What topics generated good discussion and what didn’t?
Did students draw on the course materials in their discussion forums or assignments?
Did students make use of the podcasts?
How many students logged in to the webcasts and did these students do better or worse than those that didn’t?
Were the students overloaded with work?
Was it too much work for me as an instructor?
If so, what could I do to better manage my workload (or the students’) without losing quality?
How satisfied were the students with the course?
I will now suggest some ways that these questions can be answered without again causing a huge amount of work.

How to evaluate factors contributing to or inhibiting learning on an online course

There is a range of resources you can draw on to do this, much more in fact than for evaluating classroom courses, because online learning leaves a traceable digital trail of evidence.

student grades
individual student participation rates in online activities, such as self-assessment questions, discussion forums, webinars
qualitative analysis of the discussion forums, for instance the quality and range of comments, indicating the level or depth of engagement or thinking
student assignments and exam answers
student questionnaires
online focus groups.”

And this website:
had good, applicable tips and info as well. I feel I am getting a better handle on this.

Overwhelmed with Options!

It is week 2 of the MOOC and I am kind of overwhelmed with the mass of blogs and postings and trying to find the data that is right for me within it. Options are good. Too many options can be bad. I think my problem, specifically, is that I am such a social media recluse and neophyte to online teaching that I want basic, basic things explained to me–perhaps too basic for most in this course. I saw awesome youtube videos on creating animated videos for your class, but it is kind of like dumping a beginning swimmer into an Olympic competition. I watched the Blackboard Collaborate tutorial–the powerpoint presentation with a about 15-60 second explanations per “slide” and it was helpful, but I still feel like I have a lot of questions. I don’t know how to erase the screen or open a new “whiteboard” or “move” the whiteboard so that the old one is still there, but I can have a new section to write in. All the options for mics and speaking seem like it would be difficult with a class of 20…perhaps sticking to chat is better? It would be more helpful to have a live demonstration, but making the webinar times can be difficult.

Is this how online classes are run? Kind of at anytime with a lot of postings and you have to read all the postings and kind of keep track of everyone by their postings in the community wall and hope to keep track about the “threads” they talk about and what they contributed? Is it an artifact if I simply link youtube videos to this blog that I think are useful or do I need to create my own spin to the artifact to make it count?

Does anyone have a more regimented outline or prescriptive schedule for how they teach online?

Comments welcome!

Aloha and Introductions

Aloha Discussion:
1. What is your intention for this course (why are you here)?
I know nothing about teaching online and can barely figure out how to do this blog—or if this blog is even “linked” to the right place. I figure I have to dip my toes in the water at some point. I am hopelessly behind on social media and the uses of it and technology in the classroom and want to learn. I have taught no online classes so far but, pending my success at this class, might in the future.

2. What issues do you think are important?
For someone as hopelessly inept at the online world as me (no facebook!), I think technical issues of “how” are important. How do I use this site? How does managing an online class work? How do I know when there are new posts? How do I access them? How do I incorporate blackboard collaborate?

3. How will you contribute?
I can certainly contribute a lot of questions and enthusiasm! Hopefully I can contribute knowledge of pedagogy or working with students (“classroom” management)–the online management could be a whole new world.

4. How would you like to see community develop among participants?
People are the best resources and I would love to see a feasible, easy way to utilize that awesome resource within this community. I don’t know how to navigate this community right now and find the people who are interested in similar topics to me and I don’t know how to find the “seasoned” professionals and online teaching and to extract their wisdom, so I would like to the community develop pathways between us.

5. These types of courses are new for most people. In fact about 90% don’t even participate. How will you overcome the fear of learning in the open and the frustration of using new technology? How do you plan to courageously work through any setbacks, and not give up?

Well, I hope no one is judging here and that we all have the understanding that we came here to learn, share, give and be a community. That understanding certainly alleviates most apprehension. I am fearful of new technology, but have the will and desire to learn more and that should compensate. Intrinsic motivation is going to be a big key!