artifact week 1

Wordle: tomooc wk1A  Wordle of my week 1 postings.

 Not surprisingly, students, learners, online, content, teaching, learning, outcomes, skills, and time are prominent – hence frequent, as well as done and want, meaning done a lot but still want to learn/do more! I use Wordles in my teaching as a way to introduce/summarise a text and for vocabulary work.

@AZB Great PowToon Thank you for taking the…


Great PowToon, Thank you for taking the time to put that artifact together.

I have also wondered how to take this Massive concept of the MOOCs and integrate it into a traditional education atmosphere. One item that I picked up this week is that MOOCs should have learning objectives. That makes sense, just like any other course. Once you have a learning objective I suppose you can come up with rubric to assess an artifact. Which can then be tied into a traditional grade system?

Synchronous – Helps complete the picture for me

Too many things on the go to get to the two on-line sessions this week but I managed to get myself organized for the Thursday wrap-up or overview.  It seems to me that it helped put some pieces into the picture for me.  I had never heard of the term "substantive interaction" to do with on-line instructions so that was a heads up.  After hearing about interaction meaning : student to content; student to student and student to instructor it has given me something to consider as I am revamping a course I am currently instructing.  (I think I chucked out a lot of the student to student activities as they never seemed to work.)

The other take away was from Chickerings work  - "Emphasize time on task: doing vs. absorbing".  I need to get my head around this concept.  I am not clear on how this comes across in the on-line community but I am thinking I am now absorbing what I didn't get a handle on yesterday and didn't have the consciousness to figure that out until looking over my notes today.

I had figured out the idea that on-line discussion needs to be tied to rewards versus the face to face discussions that happen in class.  I was hoping that I had missed something in the on-line andragogy and that there was a way around the marks issue.

The nine steps to quality online learning…

This week in the course "How to Teach Online," the focus was on the fundamentals of online teaching, and how one would employ those fundamentals in their own teaching practice. In particular, the materials presented focused on concepts that revolve around Tony Bates' "Nine Steps to Quality Online Teaching." For reference, click on the links below.

The Nine Steps of Quality Online Teaching
  1. Decide how you want to teach online.
  2. Decide what kind of online course you and your students need.
  3. Work in a team. 
  4. Build on existing resources.
  5. Master the technology.
  6. Set appropriate learning goals for online learning.
  7. Design course structure and learning activities
  8. Communicate, communicate, communicate
  9. Evaluate and innovate
My first impression with the list, after having read through each of the steps, was that while everything I read was sensible, based on my own experience, something seemed out of place. Let's examine the first step - "Decide how you want to teach online." 

While I agree with Bates that this is probably the most important step of the nine, I don't believe it should be the first step at all. That is, unless you are a master online educator with the skills and confidence gained by knowledge and experience. For the average educator, with limited or minimal experience and skills, you might as well be jumping into the middle of the ocean with no idea where to go. What are the options? How does it all work? What are the tools and technologies available? Are there policy implications? What technical or other issues will we have to face? To paraphrase a certain unpopular former politician - we don't know what we don't know.

The majority of educators I know will look at an XBox 360, or a Playstation 3, or a Wii, and to them it is all the same. To them, those disparate game systems are all "Nintendos." All three may be vastly different, supported by different technological ecosystems, targeted at different audiences, but to a majority of educators that I know, it is a distinction without a difference. They are game machines, kids play video games on them, hence they are all "Nintendos."

I constantly encounter the same attitude and outlook amongst colleagues when it comes to online teaching and online resources. Get into a group discussion about the issue, and you'll hear phrases like "We could use Google," or "why not use SkyDrive?" To the layman, those ideas probably sound just fine. To the more practiced ear, the phrase "please specify" pops into mind. How, exactly, would we use Google or Skydrive? What services? To what purpose? Do we need an LMS? or a CMS? Or both? What about the stakeholders? What sort of infrastructure do we have to contend with? Is this for a class? A subject? A grade? A school? A school system? And that's not all. I could list dozens more questions off the top of my head.

But that's the thing. It's not my first rodeo. I've immersed myself in e-learning for quite some time, and I have had time to come to know what I did not know. I have also come to expect the existence of a broad swath of more things I do not know, but knowledge of which will be of importance sometime later down the road. And as valuable as that is, that knowledge is of little or no use to those around me until they have had a chance to stumble over some of the same bumps in the road. 

This is why, the way I see it, the first step should really be "work in a team." In any group, a very few will be experts, some will be conversant, and the rest will be minimally able, but relatively willing. Once you gather your team, start out with a collaborative task that involves at least some of the tools and technologies you think might be employed. An online unit, for example, including the lesson plans, materials, and assessments. This is where you "design course structure and activities." As this occurs, the team will start to "master the technology" through the process of the collaborative tasks, as they construct materials collaboratively, reflect, edit, ask for help, offer assistance, etc. But that's it. That's where I end the list, at least for round one.

Rome wasn't built in a day. It may be cliche, but it's apt. Your team of educators will spend time struggling through the many issues that will inevitably crop up, as they implement this new thing. Technical issues, complaints, disagreements, worries, ridiculous objections raised by the technical illiterate. As irritating and annoying as these things are, they are a necessary part of the process. And unless and until you confront them, there is little point in engaging the rest of the nine steps.

In the end, I'd say that Tony has it about right, except that I would probably shuffle the deck. My nine steps to quality online teaching would look something like this:

The Nine Steps to Quality Online Teaching (Revised)

Round One

1) Work in a team
2) Design course structure and materials
3) Master the technology

Round Two

4) Evaluate and innovate
5) Build on existing resources
6) Decide what kind of online course you and your students need
7) Set appropriate learning goals for online learning
8) Decide how you want to teach online
9) Communicate, communicate, communicate


Wizard 2013 Abstract Submission

We invite SUNY IT professionals from all university centers, state-operated, statutory, and community colleges to submit abstracts for presentations.  Wizard is an opportunity for presenters to share with the IT community their best practices and success stories about new trends and emerging technologies that positively impact IT and enhance our ability to deliver the highest quality services to our associated students, faculty, and staff.

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Week 1 reflections

What I did this week: I watched Tony Bates’ talking about the Nine steps to quality online learning and making notes on what I found memorable/useful for my teaching in my blog. I then scanned the remaining suggested texts and read those I found relevant/interesting/practical. I also read numerous contributions from participants and replied to some (and got replies back – thanks!). I’ve added a widget to my blog – I found out what links are and have now linked a few blogs to mine – great! And I eventually got round to watching the recording of Tony Bates’ webinar Similarities and Differences between MOOCs and Credit Online Courses, and documented my thoughts in  my blog

So what? I did what I did because I was inquisitive, because I wanted to get going, to find out more about online learning/teaching and not to lag behind. But I knew I couldn’t do everything/didn’t need to do everything. I was pretty busy at work this week and at times was a bit frustrated that I couldn’t watch the recordings (still have one more to go) or respond to more posts. I wanted to join the weekly round up – time-wise it would have fitted – 10pm where I live – but friends came round for dinner, which was more fun! Yes, all in all, I feel fine about what I did – was enough! I don’t want this MOOC to get out of perspective, to consume me. Do I really want to be sitting in bed at night reading and answering posts, or doing this at breakfast instead of chatting to my husband? On the one hand, yes – I’m intrigued to know how everyone else is getting on, but maybe my timing is wrong! STOP! I need to prioritize!

I learnt/was reminded of lots – here are some of the things in addition to what’s on my blog. My next blended learning course starts in a week’s time, so I want to be more explicit i.e.

  • Tell students that I monitor forums and respond quickly.
  • Show students IM/ping function – encourage them to send each other short pings.
  • Remind students of deadlines – highlight on start page; maybe send them a short class update/message.
  • Compare the online task outline to a to do list – it’s satisfying to tick things off when done!
  • Remind students of expected weekly workload and to work regularly, maybe to schedule learning times during the week.

And to think about:

  • How to use Skype more in the online phases, e.g. set regular times when students can meet me on Skype i.e. during my office hours; get students to do tasks in smaller groups and then discuss their outcomes on Skype.
  • What this really means: apprentice-like learning – like this expression!
  • Tony Bates/tips – designing student activities is the most critical part of the online design process.
  • Planning a good closing and wrap activity for the course.

I learnt from this experience that setting priorities is important, and that you need to spell things out for students so that they know what to do, when and why. I kind of knew that anyway but this reminder was good!

What now? Changes I’ve made/what I’ll do differently in the future:

  • I was getting into a bit of a mess not knowing who I’d responded to, which blogs I was interested in etc, so I’m now saving this info electronically (iPad/notes).
  • I’ve changed the first online activities that one class will do (intro to forums, wikis).
  • I’m thinking of making a screencast (using Jing) to demonstrate how to do various tasks – better than long explanations.

What do I still have to learn?

  • I’d like to learn more about the different features/functionalities a blog has – one step at a time!
  • I still want to learn more about designing quality online activities and applying this to my teaching (ESP/EFL).
  • I now know that I want to put together a list of online teaching tasks (i.e. from my perspective as a tutor) – will be my artefact but not for this week/not enough time. But I’m thinking about it all the time! So I want to learn more about this.
  • I still have to learn how to document things more efficiently.
  • I still have to learn how to wear different hats when I comment on artefacts.

My week 1 journey of discovery

Watched the recording of Tony Bates’ webinar Similarities and Differences between MOOCs and Credit Online Courses and here are my reflections/aha moments and a couple of issues (red) I’m unclear about and would welcome comments on.

Refering to the article we should have read before this webinar – TB: Don’t take for granted that students have actually read through assigned materials or done tasks! Question: Should we then spend/waste time on going over it again? Will this not just encourage students NOT to prepare? Or is it a good revision activity?

Online learning: quality of activities often poor. Greg mentioned that instructors tend to focus more on delivering content (e.g. videos of lectures) than on designing good quality, meaningful activities. This IS difficult! Most universities claim they are educating students to be critical thinkers with higher order skills but don’t – they focus on content delivery, which is out of date within a few years.

TB: Focus on being clear about what students’ learning outcomes are. How will I know students have achieved them?How will I assess these? Structure refers to content delivery as well as activity design – both can be strong or loose. Should be no looseness about learning outcomes – what learners need to be able to do at the end; also what learners must do each week. Outcomes should be clear, how learners get there can be loose. Can negotiate/identify individual learning outcomes for each student.

Artefact - creating a piece of work that learners can share with other participants – bit confusing to most people! Mine is going to be on putting together a list of online (language) teaching tasks to share with my colleagues.

Rubrics for assessment of artefacts? – yes – assessment shouldn’t be a guessing game for learners. TB – how assessment is done will radically change, from tests – portfolio, i.e. learners showing what they’ve learnt/can do, and how they’ve progressed. Assess achievement of outcomes e.g. CoP – could be to identify 6 people you will share/network with.

Peer review for grading purposes: According to TB, it has to be monitored, there should be clear rubrics, learners need to roughly at the same level of proficiency for it to be successful. I also get learners to peer review each other’s written assignments online (using rubrics) before submitting for marking. I’ve learnt that if I “sell” the idea/the benefits at the outset, it works better i.e. students are more convinced and more willing to participate (I also give them credit for peer reviewing activities).

How the above applies to my teaching situation and another question (at the end):  A part of the blended learning Professional English classes I teach has a self-directed learning (SDL) aspect, where learners choose a specific area which they want to develop – either language, or skills. They formulate a goal: e.g. By the end of the semester, I want to be better able to understand the gist and main points of journal articles about wine marketing. They do the work, document tasks, time spent (they are aiming to spend in total about 20-25 hrs/semester) and also write a brief reflection on how useful, difficult, easy etc the task was. At the end of the semester, they write a reflective report summing up this learning experience and submit this report and the work done – some of the students do this electronically on their ePortfolios, some on paper, some do a mixture – for grading.  They receive the criteria in the form of a rubric at the beginning of the course. I then grade/give them audio feedback on task achievement in general, and language used in the written report (they get input on how to write a reflective report and are supposed to demonstrate a degree of mastery here). Basically, grading is highly rewarding though quite time consuming since it’s extremely gratifying to read and see what the learners have done autonomously and how pleased they usually are with the outcomes. All in all, the majority see SDL as a wonderful opportunity to work on the English they really need either professionally or privately at their level of proficiency. My issue/question: One thing I’ve always had a problem with is whether I should really be marking their English in the report – is this really part of their SDL. Part of me says yes – they should learn/be able to express their reflections in decent English (the report constitutes 15% max. of the final SDL grade). But part of me says no – the language in the report (as long as I can understand what they’re trying to convey) has nothing to do with their SDL. I’d be really interested to hear your views on this bearing in mind that this is an EFL/ESP class.

I’ll finish off with an analogy used by Tony Bates: a MOOC can be a bit like a journey of discovery – yes that’s what I’m finding too!

Actors in a MOOC

Theatre Masks by biboarchitect
This week I participated in one of the most engaging online conversations I ever participated in (I have to admit, though, that I am only an average user of online courses).  Jeanette (The Online Teacher) submitted a post discussing her confusion due to a lack of clearly defined expectations in our MOOC.

As this, and other, discussions unfolded during Week 1, I believe we all began to "find our way" and community began to develop.  I am guessing this is exactly as Greg and the other facilitators had planned. I noticed community developed because specific individuals did some very deliberate things.  I began thinking that when I have my online course, I would ask individuals to volunteer to act in the following roles:
  • Community Builder: makes connections between different posts
  • Sergeant at Arms: creates order and structure (eg: adds a blog feed, creates a bookmark page, etc.)
  • Interrogator: ask thought-provoking questions to stir discussion
Perhaps these roles can be rotated each week or month.  What do you think about assigning these roles? Can you think of other roles?

Classroom Critical Incident Questionnaire

I saw this post on the course website and I really liked the idea of using this questions as an assessment tool for student learning and teaching feedback.

Week 1 Sept 12 Here is the Critical…

It's basically a list of question to students asking for anonymous feedback on the class.
Questions ask students to identify most engaging, distanced, helpful, confusing, and surprising moments in the class for the week.
I liked that the answers are anonymous and that the collected answers will be shared to the group.

TOMOOC and attention spans

Our attention spans are not very long…maybe 20-40 minutes in front of a computer screen are all we can handle? We all are busy people, so sitting for two hours in front of a webinar can be daunting.
Also, web content should not be long and tedious. I learned in web design that paragraphs should be brief with lots of white spaces to rest the eyes.
Shouldn’t all this pertain to an online class as well?

Our attention spans are not very long maybe…

Our attention spans are not very long…maybe 20-40 minutes in front of a computer screen is all we can handle? We all are busy people, so sitting for two hours in front of a webinar can be daunting.
Also, web content should not be long and tedious. I learned in web design that paragraphs should be brief with lots of white spaces to rest the eyes.
Shouldn’t all this pertain to an online class as well?

Here is an article published by Oregon State…

Here is an article published by Oregon State University about Active Teaching:

You may or may not feel the need to read it- None of the information is particularly innovative, but the article does support the idea that the best way to learn is through doing and/or teaching/speaking.

It’s one article I am considering using as I am developing an online Children’s Theatre course for education majors that I will be teaching in the spring. Anyway, needless to say, the particular course is on my mind as it is the most pressing reason I am in this MOOC. I need to teach this course and I feel strongly about the benefits it can offer the students, but it is a class that is on the border of being suitable for the online format and I have my reservations as I embark on adapting it.

So, I find myself sitting here planning a course that is almost completely dedicated to teaching teachers how to develop truly innovative and active lesson plans in core subject areas. I’ve had a difficult time getting started on this online course in particular because it is an active, project-based class and I’m having a difficult time figuring out how to get it online. I was thinking that if I create videos of my “lecture” and activity demonstrations, that would provide some kind of human interaction. It’s just hit me, though, that the small amount of planning I have done so far was relying on a delivery style that is in complete opposition to the ideas I teach. So here is my problem. When I teach this class F2F, most of the learning should come from the students observing the way I teach and being able to isolate the methodology and transfer it to their topic area (in a K-12 classroom.) I suppose this is why I haven’t gotten very far in developing the course at this point….transferring the class to an online format presents some significant challenges. I do feel, though, that the tiny bit of information I’ve found here has helped me put into words my concerns over how to transfer the class.

In watching a handful of the videos here and in reading through the nine steps, I think my first step needs to be changing the way I view the necessary interaction in the course and feeling more free to establish adapted course objectives. I think I need to refocus myself so that the interaction I am encouraging is interaction with the material rather than with the instructor. I suppose this could end up being a benefit of the online format…rather than the natural tendency to mimic techniques modeled by the instructor, students will need to develop their own from the start… now to figure out how to make that possible for students who do not yet have any acquaintance with the material!

I think this panic is a good sign…one week of “class” and I’ve already realized most of my assumptions about transferring a F2F class to online are inherently incorrect! Here’s to the next five weeks helping me work past the panic stage as I find some clarity!

How to Teach Online

Someone was asking “What is an online classroom artifact?”

Practice creating a sensemaking artifact. Sensemaking.

How do we make sense of what’s happening in this workshop? How do we develop a clear view of the topics?

George Siemens writes that sensemaking occurs in many areas of our personal and organizational life, including crisis situations, routine information seeking, research, and learning. Everyday we are engaged in vague problem-solving without a clear path: a parent raising a child, an employee starting a new job, a doctor without a clear diagnosis for a patient, a student deciding what they want to do in life, and so on. Sensemaking is a daily activity we engage in to respond to uncertainty, complex topics, or changes in settings. Sensemaking is not about truth and getting it right. Sensemaking is about continuing to improve and redraft an emerging story until it becomes comprehensible.

Sensemaking Artifacts

Sensemaking artifacts can include a text post, a slideshow, a video, a podcast, a recorded live performance – basically anything that allows you to express how you came to understand something. According to Siemens, sensemaking artifacts serve two roles:

They reflect the sensemaking activity you experienced – the artifact shows how you connected different concepts within this course or how you came to understand the relationship between different entities.
They are a “sensegiving” tool that teaches others. Sensemaking artifacts are valuable for you to use to self-organize around important ideas, negotiate the scope of a topic, correct each other, and curate key ideas.
How do I create an artifact?

Pick and Choose. Find a wide variety of things to read, watch or play with. There may be a LOT of content associated with your course. You are NOT expected to read and watch everything. Even we facilitators cannot do that. Instead, what you should do is PICK AND CHOOSE content that looks interesting to you and is appropriate for you. If it looks too complicated, don’t read it. If it looks boring, move on to the next item.
Remix and Re-purpose. We don’t want you simply to repeat what other people have said. We want you to create something of your own. This is probably the hardest step of the process. Remixing is the adoption, alteration, and recombination of what your read, saw, or heard to create something new. Remember that you are not starting from scratch. Nobody every creates something from nothing. That’s why we call this step ‘repurpose’ instead of ‘create’. We want to emphasize that you are working with what you choose in step 1, you are not starting from scratch.
Share and provide feedback. We know, sharing in public is harder. People can see your mistakes. People can see you try things you’re not comfortable with. It’s hard, and it’s sometimes embarrassing. But it’s better. You’ll try harder. You’ll think more about what you’re doing. And you’ll get a greater reward – people will see what you’ve created and connect on it. Sometimes critically, but often (much more often) with support, help and praise. People really appreciate it when you share. After all, what you’re doing when you share is to create material that other people can learn from. Your sharing creates more content for your course. people appreciate that, you will probably appreciate the content other people in the course share with you.
Practice creating artifacts

Your learning will be about how to read or watch, understand, and work with various forms of content and other people to create your own new understanding and knowledge.Your job isn’t to memorize a whole bunch of stuff. Rather, your job is to practice and use different tools to create artifacts.
you can find help making artifacts at:

The site will show you by giving examples. Watch what they do, then practice yourself.

It’s a wonderful experience

George Siemens, Stephen Downes, and Dave Cormier, who facilitated, asks you to think of every bit of content you create not simply as content, but as practice creating artifacts.

This will seem awkward at first. But with practice you’ll become an accomplished creator and critic of ideas and knowledge. When the course is working really well, you will see this great cycle of content and creativity begin to feed on itself, people in the course reading, collecting, creating and sharing. It’s a wonderful experience you won’t want to stop when the course is done. Along the way you will get to know each other: better learners interact with each other and with information.

Study well, Bernie

Week 1 Sept 12 Here is the Critical…

Week 1 Sept. 12. Here is the Critical Incident Questionnaire, designed by Stephen Brookfield. I use this in my traditional classrooms, and receive some excellent feedback. I use it to gauge my student learning, and also to improve my teaching practices. I would like to incorporate it for online use.

The Classroom Critical Incident Questionnaire – Stephen Brookfield
Please take about five minutes to respond to the questions below about this weekend’s class. Don’t put your name on the form – your responses are anonymous. If nothing comes to mind for any of the questions just leave the space blank. At the next class we will share the group’s responses with all of you. Thanks for taking the time to do this. What you write will help us make the class more responsive to your concerns.

At what moment in class this weekend did you feel most engaged with what was

At what moment in class this weekend were you most distanced from what was

What action that anyone (teacher or student) took this weekend did you find most
affirming or helpful?

What action that anyone took this weekend did you find most puzzling or confusing?

What about the class this weekend surprised you the most? (This could be about your own reactions to what went on, something that someone did, or anything else that occurs).

Please let me know what you think. Bernie

Best Practices Online

Lots of material to review on this thought. I think as more and more users are experiencing online learning, better observations and data can be collected. However after looking through the Nine steps to quality online learning by Tony Bates, 10 Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education, and  Applying the Seven Principles for Good Practice to the Online Classroom, … Keep reading 

Documenting your learning is good

I was reminded via that it would be good to document my learning. And, apparently, I didn't read something closely, and there is a badge that I could earn from this class, if I have a series of answers to a series of questions. So, I guess I should look again at the beginning stuff to figure out what

My Takeaways from Tony Bates’s ‘Nine Steps’

I’ve been teaching online college composition courses for many years, so my takeaways may not be the same as yours. I also have pedagogical preferences that have influenced my choices. As expected, much of the information pertains to both online and onground environments. I’ve made an effort to zero in on those that are relevant to online. For your reference, I’ve included the titles of the nine steps plus the intro and “Designing online learning for the 21st century” as clickable links. According to Bates, the nine steps are for beginners and “Designing” is for experienced online teachers. I’ve omitted quotations, but keep in mind that all the statements are direct quotes.

Nine steps to quality online learning: Introduction

Step 1: Decide how you want to teach online 

  • Moving your course online opens up a range of possibilities for teaching that may not be possible in the confines of a scheduled three credit weekly semester of lectures.
  • It is important to design online teaching in such a way that it best suits online learners…. A key requirement for most online learners [is] flexibility…. Online students need to feel that the instructor is ‘present’ online, i.e. interacting with students in discussion forums, directing them to recent relevant articles or events, and responding promptly to questions.
  • Synchronous tools tend to be instructor-dominated (delivering lectures and controlling the discussion)…. asynchronous tools such as an LMS provide online learners with more flexibility than synchronous tools, and enable them to work more independently.
  • Top universities such as MIT, Stanford, Princeton and Yale have made available recordings of their classroom lectures , etc., while distance teaching organizations such as the UK Open University [and Carnegie Mellon’s Open Learn Initiative] have made all their online teaching materials available for free use. Much of this material can be found at Apple’s iTunesU.

Step 2: Decide on what kind of online course

  • Online learning, particularly fully online, requires good self-discipline and good generic study skills.
  • Developing skills online can be more of a challenge…. This would mean identifying the skills needed, working out how to develop such skills (including opportunities for practice) online, and how to assess such skills online.

Step 3: Work in a Team

  • Good course design is essential to achieve quality.
  • Particular attention has to be paid to providing appropriate online activities for students, and to structuring content in ways that facilitate learning in an asynchronous online environment.
  • Good course design not only enables students to learn better but also controls faculty workload. Courses look better with good graphic and web design.

Step 4: Build on existing resources

  • Cut down on ‘conversion time’ by using existing online resources…. specifically developed for online teaching.

Step 5: Master the technology

Step 6: Set appropriate learning goals

  • In terms of online learning design [teach students how to use] the Internet increasingly as a major resource for learning.
  • 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.
  • Online learning, by its nature, requires students to take increasing responsibility for managing their learning.
  •  A key learning goal may be for every student to leave the course competent in the selection and use of relevant digital tools.
  • One great characteristic of teaching online is the opportunity to bring in the world to your teaching.
  • Assessment drives student behaviour. If they are not to be assessed on 21st century skills, they won’t make the effort to develop them. The main challenge may not be in setting appropriate goals for online learning, but ensuring that you have the tools and means to assess whether students have achieved those goals.
  • It is necessary to communicate very clearly to students these new learning goals and how they will be assessed.
  • In some ways, with the Internet (as with other media), the medium is the message. Knowledge is not completely neutral…. Each medium brings another way of knowing. We can either fight the medium, and try to force old content into new bottles, or we can shape the content to the form of the medium.

Step 7: Design course structure and learning activities

  • 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.
  • I [Bates] much prefer asynchronous communication for two reasons. Students are often working and have busy lives; asynchronous messages are more convenient for them. They are permanent and can be accessed at any time. Also, they are much more convenient for me as an instructor.
  • [My] synchronous ‘lectures’ are always optional as there will always be some students who cannot be present (although they can be made available in recorded format).
  • 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.

Step 8: Communicate, communicate, communicate

  • Research has clearly indicated that ‘perceived instructor presence’ is a critical factor for online student success and satisfaction.
  • Research indicates that students who do not respond to set activities in the first week are at high risk of non-completion. I always follow up with a phone call or e-mail to non-respondents in this first week, and ensure that each student is following the guidelines.

Step 9: Evaluate and innovate

  • There is a range of resources you can draw on to [evaluate factors contributing to or inhibiting learning on an online course], much more in fact than for evaluating classroom courses, because online learning leaves a traceable digital trail of evidence.

Designing online learning for the 21st century.

  • 21st century skills… a handy way of describing the kind of skills that need to be embedded within a discipline area, if learners are to function effectively in 21st century society.
  • Despite these changes [development of a knowledge-based society; rapid technological development and adoption outside the academy] though our campus-based teaching has changed very little, mainly adding new technologies such as lecture capture to the traditional model of teaching, thus increasing costs: we’ve added GPS and stereo sound to a horse and cart, but it’s still a horse and cart.
  • The core 21st century skill is knowledge management, the ability to find, evaluate, analyse and apply information, although almost as important is independent learning. These are skills that can be taught, or perhaps more accurately, facilitated.
  • Changes in technologies…. WordPress, blogs, wikis and e-portfolios for learner-generated content; video and audio to help learners move between the concrete and abstract and back again; open educational resources, which challenge our conception of curriculum and ownership of content
  • A new paradigm for learning…. Stephen Downes’ articulation of e-learning 2.0: learning managed by the learner[;] peer-to-peer collaboration[;] access to open content[;] learning demonstrated by online multimedia assignments (e.g. e-portfolios)[;] development of 21st century skills.
  • We know how to teach well online; follow best practice[;] however, we also need to innovate: incrementally and evaluate…. innovation in teaching needs to be rewarded more.

Online Interaction- Every challenge can make you stronger if you allow it.

Lin, Dyer and  Guo point out that when it comes to task-related concerns, online instructors are most anxious and apprehensive about the “balance of three types of interaction: content – student interaction, instructor – student interaction, and student – student interaction.” Moore and Kearsley … Continue reading

Short mid week reflection Create a sense making…

Short mid-week reflection – Create a sense-making artifact:

As I started participating in this workshop’s discussions, I had to remind myself what I tell my students each semester: It’s not enough to know how to grow a blog, to pick a topic and keep contributing to one’s blog. We must also be aware of the virtual classroom community in which we are learning. Blogging is not about choosing a topic and writing responses for the rest of the term. It is about meaningful, thoughtful engagement with ideas.

I find that for so many of my students online discussions & blogging often becomes a race to publish, to write entries and receive comments. (Most of them measure the success of their blog by the number of comments they receive, and the content of the comment is often not as important as the mere fact that it is there). They rarely look critically at their own writing, preferring instead to judge their own work by the traffic that it attracts to their blog.

The recommended link for is loaded with useful resources. Thanks!

Old School

Each morning at about 6:00 a.m. with a cup of coffee and a piece of toast or scone, I sit under the shade of our lime and tangerine trees in Kihei, Hawai`i. My chair and table are made of teak. The table is warped at one end because the previous owner left it out in the sun under a hot tub that needed repair. The birds above, mainly mynahs and pigeons, busily gossip on their perches as they eye the geckos that scurry through my orchids and succulents.

It’s the best time of my day. The sun is not yet over the skyline of Haleakala, House of the Sun, and the temperature is cool.

During this time, I write in a 5.5″ x 8″ leather bound book with lined pages whose edges are tinted with gold. Everything goes in there-the outcome from yesterday, what I expect today, my dreams, my frustrations, the things I am grateful for.

As an old school writing instructor at UHMaui College and Kaunoa Senior Center, tomooc is great. I look forward to teaching more online.

Learning as Individual Development

It must be that I am bent on individual development otherwise why would I spend my time trying to figure out the perfect on-line course - or at least quality on-line course.

My big quibble with on-line courses - mine included - is that it is read this and discuss that.  If only I had access to Blackboard Collaborate so that we could do some synchronous sessions that would move my course forward (at least in my eyes).

I work with instructors in a post-secondary institution and the subject material is evaluation/assessment: that is using evaluation tools properly.  That being said there are no real hard fast rules, in many cases, so it is important to get across the flexibility of the situation and that assessment needs to fit the situation.

I have been teaching this course in a blended format - two full-days face-to-face and the rest on-line.  While I have tweaked the course here and there this last two weeks I have been doing a reorganization job: things are not working out the way I expected.

I will have a course designer assigned to me for a couple of weeks of work next month but the course is running now hence I have been using a technical person to help me cut and paste and then working on it myself (as far as my skills go).

I read through some of the on-line materials recommended in this course and thought it was interesting that videos and quizzes do not improve learning since many of my colleagues think that is the way to go.  Personally I would like to get a handle on what is a "workable workload" it seems to be a term out there but no actual research to quantify. I went through Tony's Bates presentation (and set up a drop box account so that I could see it) and I was happy to note that I understood what he was explaining - perhaps I am getting the hang of on-line learning (although I love the interaction of the classroom).

Personally I appreciate the newsletter in my email to remind me to check what is going on - since life is hectic at the beginning of a semester.  I have also appreciated accessing the reference material and reading about the nine steps.  I hope to get in on the Collaborate Discussions but the time zone doesn't work well for me.

Short Mid-week Reflection: MOOCs, the Wild Wild West?

This is my first experience with taking a MOOC and learning more about them. There are certainly enough courses out there, and tons of information about them online. This seems to be exponentially growing faster than the time I have to read! I wonder how many of the sites I am furiously saving to Delicious I'll be able to return to. The scenery reminds me of the United States' westward expansion into new territories in the 19th century, and the wild wild west! So many routes, so many areas to develop, so many opportunities. Seems like anything is possible! 
And, in some cases, so little law :-)

I see many advantages to e-learning and MOOCs, but I also wonder if there are individuals that think taking a MOOC is a short cut to obtaining the same knowledge and skills they would get from a brick-and-mortar face-to-face course, with a little judicious blending (Will It Blend?). It seems to me you still only get out of it what you put into it, in a well designed course, no matter what the venue. 

I am very impressed by the experience, knowledge, and the ability to communicate of my fellow students that are actively participating, and by the two webinar guests we have had so far, Dr. Tony Bates and Dr. Oliver Dreon. The attendees even had ample opportunities of directly posing questions to outstanding experts in this field, not sure that would have been possible any other way. I had the feeling of "being there" in a real classroom during the webinars. A sense of place. I am only sorry that due to time zone differences some students were unable to attend in real time, but I think that viewing the recordings would still be a very valuable experience, and "almost there".

Now I just have to figure out which trails to take through the continental divide!

Join me at the FDLA Annual Conference in Orlando

FDLA Conference Presentation

Come join me at the FDLA Conference in Orlando from September 11 - 13 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in 4955 Kyngs Heath Road Kissimmee, FL 34746.
I will be presenting on Friday September 13 at 11:00 AM the talk titled "How to build your own online course on a budget". I am attaching the abstract below, see you there!


Many professionals, who are experts in a particular subject, are looking for ways to develop and sell online courses. When exploring options on how to actually design and produce the course, one can find many choices that have a wide range of quality and price. In many cases the course does not justify a large investment in content production (like high definition videos, games, activities that require computer or web programming) or hiring freelancers to produce the material (there is a wide range of prices on instructional designers for hire). There are currently online tools that professionals can use to develop adequate content for online settings. This is just the first part of the process. The final step is selecting a LMS (learning management system) that will host the course. This is needed because in many cases the course has to grant a certificate at the end, the instructor runs the course synchronously, a gradebook is required, assignments need to be delivered, and assessments are offered during the course, and other required activities for the course. Here too, many options can be found out there. One option, which requires an investment of less than $500.00, is using a site run by a CMS (content management system) , which can be converted into a LMS by using available tools that most of time are downloaded for free. In this presentation we will show how to use a WordPress™ site (a CMS) as a LMS by using plugins and other tools available for free or at a low cost.

Regarding the modalities of distance learning blended or…

Regarding the modalities of distance learning, blended or e-Learning, I’m an advocate of e-Learning for myself, at this stage of my life. I think that for most professional people who have a traditional job (fixed time and place) the best way to accomodate things is online learning. Access to the Internet has progressed and nowadays a lot more people have that chice. There’s a prevalence of english spoken countries offer of online courses and MOOCs, but in time I believe universities from all countries will join the movement. In Europe an Open Initiative was launched to disseminate MOOCs – .
The Open University of Portugal has launched his first MOOC on Climate Changes this year and I think it was quite successful –

I don’t think that there are magic formulas…

I don’t think that there are magic formulas that may apply to online teaching-learning. I believe that it depends on the context and target public.
As I deal with adult and professional people (teachers), they are peers with whom I exchange ideas and share whatever I find of interest to them in the scope of my Moodle community. In a situation of training I like very open and free approaches, giving room for choice. I think that an outline of the course is important and some kind of organization intelligible for everyone. The best way to learn is to discuss and produce, so activities are important to put «hands-on», to create, to synthetise, to have critical views.
I have engaged in some MOOCs and they all were/are different. I like diversity. I’ve engaged more deeply in some for circumstancial reasons, but I’ve enrolled in each one of them because I was motivated by the themes addressed. Contents are no longer so important since we have access to a lot of information in the Internet, but discussion and exchange with peers from all over the world and the opportunity to share one’s own experiences is enriching. The production of artifacts is also important to me, to experiment new tools and organize ideas.

Week 1 – fundamentals/what I’ve done so far

Started off by listening to Tony Bates talking about the 9 steps to quality online learning and here are the points I personally found most memorable/useful & my reflections. The ones I want to think about more carefully about/ask myself in the future are highlighted:

  1. Decide how you want to teach: free up class time for the things you can best/only do F2F.
  2. Decide what kind of online course you and your students need: at present, my teaching is hybrid/blended; Content – think about how you input this e.g. lectures, notes, videos? Skills – application of content; F2F – why do students have to be here? Questions to ask yourself: What’s unique about a campus experience? Am I making best use of this/their time?
  3. Work in a team: share materials, resources, expertise; advise novices; Instructional design (= designing a course) – if done well, should reduce tutor’s workload.
  4. Build on existing resources: Ask yourself: How original is my content? Can I use pre-made sources? Choose/use quality content already out there (iTunesU, Open University, Khan Academy etc) and don’t reinvent the wheel! Share with colleagues – see above.
  5. Master the technology: Learn what features your LMS offers & how to best use tools to enhance learning. Videos of lectures NOT online teaching! But if you do make videos, max. 15mins and only of unique content not already out there, e.g. your own research, an interview with an expert.
  6. Set appropriate learning goals for online learning: Should be particularly suited to OL e.g. 21st century learning skills i.e. managing knowledge; Good communication skills – writing/speaking: yes, but students also need to learn to do this on social networks, via YouTube, blogs, wikis; Independent (SDL) and inter independent learning skills (with others/teams); Domain specific IT skills i.e. what students will later need for their jobs (Excel etc). Think about how you will assess these skills and tell your students too!
  7. Design course structure and learning activities: Teaching structure: determined by institution; teaching philosophy; needs of students – strong: students know what/when to learn i.e. what to do (my current situation); weak – less controlled by teacher. Ideas/tasks: SDL – assign/find a student “buddy”; after reading activities: 3 insights gained or questions you now have.
  8. Communicate, communicate, communicate: Be present as a tutor; tell students what expected of them e.g. how many posts to read etc; when commenting, try to add something new and not just agree/disagree.
  9. Evaluate and innovate: nothing I didn’t already know!

I’m in the process of updating/revising a blended learning Professional English course, so will definitely bear the above in mind.

Making the most of my MOOC

Yesterday (I think - time gets away) I followed and participated (a little) in a really interesting discussion from a blog titled 'uncomfortable with MOOC' on

I will repeat some of my thoughts here.

The post was thought provoking post and generated some really useful discussion. It also complemented some of the issues raised by Tony Bates impressive webinar which was also held that day (if you haven't seen it, it's really worth catching the recording). Tony talked about some of the challenges re designing MOOCs. I really liked his comment that just because it is open and learner directed doesn’t mean you cant give learning outcomes which set some kind of standard/guide especially re participation. I loved his example of “identify at least half a dozen people from the participants that you will be happy to continue to share ideas and network with after the course”.

As shared by other participants, I too have spent a lot of time in the last week reflecting on what is causing my areas of discomfort (this is my first MOOC) and trying to define some meaningful learning goals of my own (and what outcomes I can realistically achieve though my participation).

I don't doubt I will learn something significant, even if it is being put in the uncomfortable non-driving seat of the learner (that’s got to be meaningful). I am focused this week on looking for what tools and opportunities are available through this MOOC to help me achieve this, how I can create my own structure and finding strategies that work for me. The discussion thread helped a lot and provided some good practical suggestions (eg. just scanning titles in the feed and following up what looks like it fits with, or challenges, my goals, interest and/or thoughts; bookmarking blogs of interest for ease of check-in).

A MOOC is free but it's still our time. We are making the commitment to participate but we also have to make a commitment to be responsible for our own learning. So what have I done?

I started with revisiting and reality checking my expectations
  • What did I come to the MOOC wanting to get out of it?
  • What can I realistically get out of it?
  • What can I do to make this most likely to happen (I am an adult responsible for my own learning)

I cant answer all of these questions yet.

But a clear goal is to have access to some inspiring educators and I have (both from the facilitators arranged for us and increasingly I am discovering amongst my participant peers). I am articulating this learning outcome as "to develop and build on my personal learning network."

Course Structure: Time or Talent?

If the Shinkansen were used as the standard of measure for
time spent on track, the course would be worth less credits
than if a slower train were used.
In Tony Bates' Nine Steps to Quality Online Learning, he discusses using time spent on the course as a measure to help structure a course.  While I see the logic behind this, I couldn't help but wonder if we need to re-think this model of credits based on average time spent in the course.

In the days of rote memorization and regurgitation, time on task often was a good indicator for performance.  However, in today's learning environment where we focus more on understanding and critical thinking, time on task doesn't always correlate to performance.  In fact, some students who spend long hours on task still may not grasp a strong understanding of concepts and others, who spend little time, may.  How, if at all, could we correlate credit hours to understanding rather than time spent on task?

The Game of Thrones and Online Teaching

The Game of Thrones and Online Teaching

In todays Webinar, Ollie Dreon stated he just wrote a new blog post on The Game of Thrones and online teaching. Here is his blog post.

Lately, I’ve been getting caught up on watching the Game of Thrones.  The series tells the tales of a number of families that vie for the throne in a fictional land filled with dragons, giants and icy zombies.  At first glance, the series may seem unconnected to our present day realities.  Closer inspection, however, reveals… <more> 

Badges in Online Learning

A recent comment from Debbie mentioned badges. So it seems a good time to initiate a discussion of Badges in online learning, higher education, and the workplace.

If you’re not familiar with badges they are essentially the same thing as we earned in Scouts – a tangible reward for achieving specific tasks. In online learning they are an attempt to grant credit (formal or informal) for achievements. The long-term hope is that students earning badges at one institution or in online courses or life experiences will be able to translate those badges into credit at another institution.

Read 7 Things You Should Know About Badges from Educause.

The main grantor of badges is currently Mozilla’s Open Badge site. It seems an unusual stretch for a browser company to take, but that may be my limitation.

There is also at least one commercial badge site, so I anticipate more will appear or have already arrived. That means there will be multiple badge systems that have to coordinated – possibly defeating the purpose for badges.

From an employer’s perspective badges may be an added method for scanning and screening candidates. Simply by adding your earned badges to your resume or social profile, you may go to the top of the list.

Do you think badges will “catch on”? Are you already using them in your courses? Are you seeing them applied in other courses? Share your thoughts and experiences with badges below:

Try Experiential Learning in Your Courses

Scott McLean, History professor at the Queen’s Bader International Study Center at Herstmonceux Castle in England recently gave a talk entitled “Sites, Sources and Assessment in an Experiential Learning Environment.” I was there. It was a fantastic talk.
He walked the audience through a few case studies that describe courses where he uses physical artifacts in an experiential learning context to help students make deep connections in their learning. Scott places a high degree of importance on using primary sources in field studies and students report elevated levels of motivation and engagement when working with these authentic artifacts in real life locations. For some students this is the first time they touch and work with primary sources! Luckily, the good folks at the Center for Teaching and Learning at Queen’s University arranged to have the keynote recorded and they have placed it online. If you teach history or are interested in experiential learning then you will find this talk fascinating. Be sure to check it out.

You identified some great qualities and practices …

You identified some great qualities and practices by your best teacher. I like them all and hope to incorporate all of those things into my online class. The ones I think make the biggest difference is clear expectations (overall), facilitating peer interaction, and giving students the opportunity to be peer critiqued and rewritten. I also like your last one and would generalize it as assignments that are geared toward real-world applications. Thanks for sharing your ideas. I enjoyed reading your post.

Bates Lecture

Wanted to start this topic and move comments here to keep things organized. ( :-) is it any wonder I’m having a hard time with the perceived lack of organization in the MOOC?)

I attended the lecture with Dr. Tony Bates and was happily surprised at the quality of the content, as well as the interaction. If you’ve not watched the replay I would encourage you to do so.

Two references may be helpful:

9 steps to Quality Online Learning

Standards for Online Learning

I was shocked by his statement that Coursera failed to do any research on peer review – before building it into their model! That was an eye-opener.

Another take-away for me was that some of the large, highly-publicized MOOCs are like watching History TV – quality lectures that you may or may not watch. You watch as long as you like, take away what you want, come and go as you please. My question was, of course, why NOT just create a television channel with these quality lectures on them and keep it out there. Why call it a course?

I have a lot of other reactions to some of the content, but I’ll save those thoughts for later blog posts. Enjoy the discussion below…