My favorite teacher

I still haven’t found where this assignment is located, but I’ve seen so many blog posts, I  thought I’d join in.

When I think back to my favorite teacher, I think back to a world before computers and standardized tests, back to fourth grade.  Mrs. Woods (Fern as she would later ask me to call her) was the most amazing teacher.  In a classroom before computers, she had us traveling the world through her themed assignments.  I remember studying the Amazon region.  Her husband (who was an art teacher at a local community college) came in and drew the most wonderful colored chalk mural on the blackboard.  Each day or two, he would come in before we arrived in class and add some facet.  Maybe a monkey, or bananas, etc.  She also had a missionary that had been to the region come talk to us.  I remember her helping a bunch of rowdy 4th graders who couldn’t have cared less about the ballet put on a version of the Nutcracker Suite for the entire school (what we didn’t know at the time was how much we were learning about Russia and Tchaikovsky while we were doing it).  I remember Kansas Day when we read “Little House on the Prairie” and learned about the pioneers and baked our own bread and made our own butter.  I especially remember the Hawaiian Tea Party.  We spent weeks learning about Hawaii.  We made our own leis and grass skirts.  We learned how to do the hula and to wrap everything up we had a party to welcome the 3rd graders into 4th grade.  We preformed the dances we had learned, made presentations about what we had learned, set off the volcano we had made for science, had coconut milk, coconut, bananas and pineapples.  It was a wonderful learning experience.

Could these learning experiences have been the same today?  I think so only they could be even magnified even bigger thanks to computers.  I can see where now students could communicate with someone living near the Amazon or in Hawaii.  I can see where students can be taken on virtual pioneer experiences.  But with today’s standardized test and having to teach to certain objectives, I feel like many times learning experiences are being left out of the classroom because of the pressure to “pass the test.”  Because of those pressures and the fact that often we rely too much on computers, students don’t get the same kind of experience I received and in many ways I think they are missing a tremendous education because we don’t give the future Mrs. Woods’s of the world an opportunity to bring this into the classroom.

MOOC Blogs

Like everyone else in the course, I’m trying to manage the fire hose amount of information coming at us. One way I’m doing this is by bookmarking the blogs from other participants, as I discover them.

And of course it occurred to me that every member of the course is doing exactly the same thing! So in the interest of efficiency, I’ve added a list of MOOC blogs to the sidebar – for your convenience as well as mine.

If yours isn’t list there, just give me the URL in your comment below and I’ll get it added next time I’m working here in the site.

 

Response to Jserpa’s “‘Online’ Isn’t a Magic Word”

In her 9 Sep. 2013 post, Jserpa says:

Certain traits/characteristics/methods . . . made my favorite teachers so good. I strongly believe successful online teaching ultimately uses the same principles even if altered for the online format. What say you?

Response

I’ve hesitated to respond to the best teacher prompt, but I haven’t thought why.

I’ve had my favorite teachers, and I now know that they’re the ones who helped me realize that writing, English, and teaching would be my passion. The first was A. J. Alexander, my freshman comp teacher who helped me discover authentic writing. He helped me to grasp the connection between thinking and writing, to understand that writing is a tool for thinking, that writing is a means to know who I am by understanding how and what I think. He had the uncanny ability to separate the crap from the genuine in my own writing and taught me how to recognize the difference between the two.

The second was Barry Menikoff. I took every Lit course he taught, even when they weren’t required for my program. I never fully understood why. I think it’s because he seemed to be saying, in all his lectures and our class discussions, that Lit wasn’t about the authors and their works or his knowledge of them. It was about us, the students, and our experience of Lit, about how we repurposed (he didn’t use that word) it for our own constructs (he didn’t use that word either). He never set himself up as the last word and didn’t seem to be concerned about being popular with students. He just seemed to be genuinely interested in what we, his students, thought in our discussions and papers. His demeanor made us want to dig deeper into ourselves for words that meant something to us.

The third was a couple, Julie and Dick Alm. After my BA in English, I entered the Ed program for a certificate in secondary English. They were my English methods profs. (They were also a big reason why I later pursued grad degrees in the Ed dept.) They, too, listened. Very carefully. To their students. This made us think before speaking or writing, and as a result we took our own learning seriously. The gift they gave us was a simple one: teaching is about the students. Listen to them, and they’ll teach us how to help them.

This is a roundabout way of saying that, yes, I agree. The qualities of successful teaching probably remain constant across ongound and online platforms. I taught traditional F2F classes for many years before switching to online classes, and in both my approach has always been to “listen” to my students, to make them the true focus of my courses, to move them toward clearer thinking and  genuine voices. In online courses, listening is in the form of comments in forums and in papers. Through my comments on drafts, I try to convey that I’m there, listening. To underscore my focus on students, I’ve also begun to publish select papers in course journals and to tweet thoughtful discussion posts.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

We all have had good teachers, bad teachers and ugly teachers.  (Not sure what makes one bad and another ugly but the title was catchy.)  Regardless if they are good or bad, we can always learn from them.

Following is a video I created for an education course I am currently taking.  It describes the best teacher I ever had.
As for the worst teacher I ever had, I cannot remember.  I can, however, describe the worst teacher my son has ever had. She was a veteran teacher who had not kept up her craft.  She taught at a prestigious school but chose to rest on her laurels.  She yelled at the children, and worse, used intimidation as a classroom management technique.  During that year, my son would come home saying things like, "I'm no good."

In my humble opinion, I also felt she forgot what it was like to be a child.  She expected little children to sit still and listen to a talking head for long periods of time.  And rather than encourage creative and "wild" ideas, she forced the children to conform to a preconceived standard or answer that she thought was right.  It was a tough year but we survived.  Thankfully, I had the opportunity to share feedback and she received it quite well, considering the message.

DOs of teaching:
1. Set high goals for your students...see their potential.
2. Tap into their passions.
3. Manage classroom behavior while encouraging wild ideas.
4. Make sure that all students are keeping up with the coursework.

DON'Ts of teaching:
1. Use intimidation as a classroom management technique.
2. Dumb down your lessons.
3. Smash creativity out of your students by spelling out every aspect of the assignment for them.
4. Forget that learning should be fun!


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!


“Online” isn’t a magic word

Aloha TOMOOCers,

I have seen several postings and links on tomooc abougt the benefits of online teaching and related topics. Not surprising given the focus of the course. I’d like to toss out the idea that it might be beneficial to explore the facets of successful teaching without consideration of the media used — in-person classroom or online. I have taught math online for 7 or so years and been a student for many years more far in the past. There were certain traits/characteristics/methods that made my favorite teachers so good. I strongly believe successful online teaching ultimately uses the same principles even if altered for the online format. What say you?

Lost in Space

Yeah!  So trying to hurry to catch up and I will get there, but for now frustrated with the Blackboard Collaborate thing.  It says I have the right stuff in my computer to do it, but the file never loads and opens.  It sits there and goes no freaking where.  Annoyed beyond all hope today.  I have umpteen things to do and interested in this MOOC even though I have been teaching online for quite awhile.  So I don’t understand what the hell the problem is and will tackle it again tomorrow.   I can say this for certain my students are so nascent that they are just getting their feet wet on a lot of things. Asking them to participate in a Wiki exercise is borderline asking for too much.  If they have any level of difficulty they become very easily frustrated.  So my collaborate sessions are an uneven thing.  Get a few but most avoid participating.  Well today, I can see why that might be the case!!  If something gets tricky or too complicated – forget it!  


Fresh Meat

Sue Waters suggested a catchy title.

As I recall, fresh meat pertained to the beef, pork or poultry that was slaughtered and immediately displayed in a refrigerated glass and porcelain display case. Those were the days when everything was organic-at least in my part of the world.

My week consists of teaching English 100 Composition Courses at the UHMaui College Campus, and I conduct a biannual 5-week course in memoir writing at the active Kaunoa Senior Center sponsored by the County of Maui.

Other than that, I am a watercolorist and author. My original watercolors are presented by Hana Coast Gallery, and my memoir, Spirit of the Village A Maui Memoir, can be found at the Sugar Museum in Pu`unene and on amazon.com.

I joined tomooc to learn more about teaching online. I like the tools that this class is offering.

This blog site, Rightful Identity, was originally created to follow the writing process of my second book, a fiction based on three families, searching for their identities.

Interestingly, I am still defining my own identity. Which goes to prove that even at my age, one never stops searching and growing.

I am also a NWM professional. And that’s another topic.


Uncomfortable With MOOC

I’ve given this a lot of thought, particularly in light of recent comments in the discussion area. Here’s a quick run-down:

I said: “I’m an experienced online learner and teacher, but seem to be having difficulty understanding WHAT to do in this course so far. Anyone feeling a little lost? Are we supposed to post here? On our individual blogs? Where does the interaction take place? When we find out how to comment on others’ blogs? Do we need a gmail address (someone mentioned Google+)? It looked like things were organized until I started trying to DO them.”

Turns out I was not alone! In fact a couple of other participants chimed in, saying they felt the same way. Then Greg Walker responded with: “What you do in this course is up to YOU. This is not a step-by-step course where everyone is learning the same content and doing the same activities. If you have never experienced this way of learning it will seem daunting at first. All new meaningful challenges are.”

Ah-ha! That’s when it hit me! That’s the very reason I am NOT comfortable with this style of “learning.”

I come from a business background. Outcomes are important. When someone hires me to teach a topic, they want to be sure they get a return on their investment. A measurable return. More than enough that it pays for my services.

Likewise as a person who teaches entrepreneurs, I have the same perspective. People pay to take my courses. Why? Because they have a reasonable expectation that they will earn more money as a result of my course. Even before they sign up, they want to know WIIFM – what’s in it for me. They won’t spend their cash on a course that lets them get whatever they choose to from it. They want specific results. In fact, by law we are required to provide a 60-day guarantee on any course we sell. You can imagine what happens if students DON’T acquire the skills I promised!

In the business environment, time IS money. There is no time to “explore.” There is no tolerance for people taking time out of their work schedule to participate in a course who they may or may not learn something. Where there are no stated outcomes or guarantee of skills. In business this is called “your own time.”

Even when I designed early learning systems, such as those for Classroom Connect and the THE Institute, there were specific outcomes that we identified, then developed instruction to achieve. Like people in business, teachers don’t have time to spend on a course that may or may not be helpful; that has no standardization of results.

Given my perspective, I’m not sure how long I will last in this MOOC. But it certainly has opened my eyes to the nature of this movement. MOOCs are comfortable – that’s why a lot of people want to take them. After all, whether you learn something or not – it doesn’t matter. Plus you can say you took a course at whatever institution is offering this week’s MOOC. Sounds good over Friday night happy hour.

As for the chance that MOOCs will catch on as a “learning” tool – not if businesses catch on. We can’t afford to have a nation of people spending their time taking MOOCs. Can you imagine running a business this way? Everyone doing what they want, when they want, creating their own meaning for the job, no requirements? It seems that only academe has that luxury.

I can’t wait to hear your reactions! Do you agree or disagree with me?

Introduce Yourself

As part of the MOOC we were asked to introduce ourselves, using these six questions. Here goes!

What is your intention for this workshop (why are you here)?

I’ve read a lot about MOOCs, but never participated in one. I felt this was a great opportunity, since I write about teaching online.

What issues do you think are important?

If you mean issues about teaching online, then I think there is a total misunderstanding of the opportunities to teach online. Coming from the academic world,  most people believe they have to get a job from a university in order to teach online. This totally unrealistic.

If you mean issues about MOOCs, then I have a LOT of them, as I’m sure you will come to see during this course.

How  will (you) contribute?

I write a lot. I share a lot. I am totally comfortable expressing opinions and ideas in public. So I hope that my role will be an active participant who both responds to and creates thought-provoking conversations about this process.

How would you like to see community develop among participants?

Online communities develop on their own. It’s a natural process for people to gravitate toward those who learn and think as they do. The only thing the organizing team has to do is provide the opportunities and tools and not get in the way with too much structure. While it’s “nice” to have the discussions on the University’s site, it’s also not convenient for most participants. I believe you would be better served with a group on LinkedIN or Facebook, where people are already participating in communities, instead of having to learn all new structures.

These types of workshops 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, courageously work through any setbacks, and not give up?

I’ve been online since 1983. Learning in the open and technology challenges are not issues for me. I agree it takes practice and trust, but I am way beyond that personally. The only reason I will stop participating is if I find it is not a good ROI – return on investment of my time and effort.

NYT op-ed on online learning

Who else saw this when they sat down to their computer this morning?

I was interested to read that studies have shown that disenfranchised students are more likely to drop out of online courses due to a lack of social ties in an online classroom. One of the reasons I have advocated for online courses is that they reach more students, many of whom may be disenfranchised. But if those students are the most likely to drop, then what is the benefit? Perhaps what he is eluding to is one thing I have also suspected- that online courses widen the gap between successful students and weaker ones.

Hirsch uses the Sea of Cortez as the larger context for his argument, showing how the unpredictability of the real world serves as a valuable educational tool. But I can’t help but this of the embedded elitism of this field trip. Most of my students can’t afford the cost or the time to listen to shrimp sounds in the Sea of Cortez. And doing away with online courses doesn’t enable them to do so.

I wonder about the author’s core assertion that the outside world no longer becomes a third party in online education. To prevent this, he suggests hybrid online-field courses, which have been shown to retain students more successfully than online courses. Seems like a good approach, though for better or worse they would require synchronous meetings.

I think that Sea of Cortez field trips are great for students with the means to go on them. But for other motivated, pro-active students whose lives, for whatever reason, don’t allow for in-person coursework, I think online courses remain a great option.

Week 1 (September 9-15)

Objective: Decide how you will apply the “fundamentals of online teaching” in your own teaching.

Aloha and welcome to Week 1. Please start with the fundamentals. Choose and explore topics that meet your needs and interests. Topics:

  • Evidence of why online teaching is important.
  • Substantive Interaction.
  • Where Do You Begin? The Nine steps to quality online learning.
  • Good Practice in Online Teaching.

 Activities & Webinar. Pick and choose what you will do this week.


Webinar Sessions (all sessions will be recorded)


We are currently working on a few issues with the blog feeds. Tech Support will be looking into the feed problem over the next few days. If your blog post does not appear on the Community Wall please login and post the link to the wall. Thank you for your patience.


How to Teach Online Flipboard Magazine

Here is a magazine view the blog posts for How to Teach online. Flipboard works great on iPad’s and android devices. You’ll need to install the app first.  http://flip.it/SVHIe

Online Lectures using Camtasia

Online Lectures using Camtasia

So I teach an online Human Geography course for HPU, and lately I have been using Camtasia 2 to record PowerPoint-based lectures with video accompaniment. Since the class is asynchronous, I find this is a good way to provide my students with a classroom-type setting. While I have taught the course for two years now, this is the first semester I have added lectures. It’s time consuming now, but I figure I can reuse them in future semesters. More…

Has anyone else used a similar tool? How have your students responded?

Not sure if my edublog is showing up, so here it is again. Happy Sunday, everyone!

http://jennbernstein.edublogs.org/

Online Lectures using Camtasia

So I teach an online Human Geography course for HPU, and lately I have been using Camtasia 2 to record PowerPoint-based lectures with video accompaniment. Since the class is asynchronous, I find this is a good way to provide my students with a classroom-type setting. While I have taught the course for two years now, this is the first semester I have added lectures. It’s time consuming now, but I figure I can reuse them in future semesters.

Has anyone else used a similar tool? How have your students responded?

HERE is my first lecture, an Introduction to Human Geography, based on Visualizing Human Geography by Alison Grenier. The ppts come with the instructor resources, and I haven’t altered them much at all.

blogging – a course chore or a portal into an online community of peers?


It was really worthwhile participating in the orientation sessions for the MOOC - How to teach online. Just joining the webinars and dealing with losing the connection was in itself worthwhile. Especially enjoyed learning from the perspective of @suewaters on how to create engaging blogs (not just because she was a fellow Australian but because she was practical, realistic and inspiring). Now to put some of her wisdom into practice....

What do I know about blogs? Not much, except I pop in and read a few. I started a blog earlier in the year (http://whoisredundant.blogspot.com.au) for another online course called 'Using Social Media with learners'. I started off all keen then it dropped off pretty quickly. What did I learn? Despite the fact I said the blog was 'just for me' and 'to record my personal journey', the lack of comments did impact on my motivation. There are so many social media platforms and only so much time, the blog seemed to come last and then not at all. I need a whole new set of skills on how to manage myself in the digital information age.

During this course I look forward to the blog being like a window or portal into an online network of peers. I also like the idea of this blog spring boarding into my own e-portfolio. Both provide opportunities to 'live' beyond the course.



Week 0 – Post 1

Howzit! My name is Robin, I am a social worker and employee at UH-Manoa.  I had many moments this week questioning why I had decided to do this, but after sitting down and looking at them material for this week and writing my blog entry, I am optimistic about this opportunity.  Best of luck to everyone!
What is your intention for this course (why are you here)?
I'm here to learn and improve my ability to create an engaging class.  I've taught graduate courses in social work since 2011 in a variety of formats (through interactive television, blackboard, and face-to-face).  Each semester I am able to learn new skills that I apply moving forward, yet I desire to learn more.
What issues do you think are important?
In terms of education, I feel the most important issue is how to engage learners and assist them acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to be successful in the future. I also think it is important that more time and focus is directed towards the theories and philosophies driving education and the application of these items in practice.  On a grander scale, I think poverty, the distribution of wealth, equal access to resources, and healthcare top my list of important issues... Additional note, I also believe free resources are important.  In fact they are so important that after creating a blog in edublogs, I moved to back to google's blogger because many of the features I would like for my blog appear to cost money... Free is always best... Now I am trying to do two blogs with the same or similar content.  I secretly don't want to abandon edublog as I would like to learn it as well. 
How will you contribute?
Good question.  I have attempted blogs multiple times in the past and have never remained actively engaged.  So in starting this blog, I am worried that it will be another failed attempt on my part.  I am a resource sharer.  I like giving out information as I find its applicability to people and situations.  I also like discussion.  So if I had to pick two areas that I will try my hardest to contribute in, it would be sharing resources and engaging in conversation.
How would you like to see community develop among participants?
I am an advocate for learning communities.  I am hopeful that this will continue to be a forum for discussion and learning.  In adult learning, there is an assumption that every learner brings something to the table, an expert in something.  I am hopeful that as a community of learners we can facilitate a fruitful discussion that drives each of our abilities to facilitate online learning, thus moving education forward.
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?                                                                                                                                                      New technology is not a fear of mine.  I am an early adopter and try many different means to figure out what will work best for me and my situation.  The openness of a blog is something that I will have to work on.  I've instituted some new elements to a class I am teaching that I believe will help me become less fearful of appearing like an idiot and more able to go with the flow.  The public aspect of this can be concerning.  I get most fearful in thinking about how my words are perceived.  With the changing times, it is important to move beyond this and accept that this is part of the new normal. Time will be challenging.  I have a lot on my plate and much more that I want to accomplish.  I need to continue to find the meaning behind the exercises and see how this is truly an opportunity to improve my skills.  If I can keep that mindset, I believe I will remain engaged.
Full disclosure, I didn't read everything that was asked originally and had to go back and add content to my first blog post.  So in essence, this is post 1.1....
The best teachers I ever had were those that both identified my potential but didn't let me be complacent.  There are many examples in my past in which I felt my instructors didn't challenge me, they saw my ability to learn and engage in class and were okay with it.  And in those classes I don't feel that I acquired as much as I could have nor did I retain that which I did learn. My most memorable interactions are those that have a conversation.  Where there is disagreement and it is welcomed.  I also value fairness and have taken this lesson with me in my role as an instructor.  I strive to challenge and inspire my students while also ensuring there is fairness.

In thinking of those experiences that were less than positive in learning, I identify those elements in which engagement is a problem (meaning I am not engaged), discussion is not welcomed (or if it is welcomed it is dismissed when it does not align with the instructors view of the situation), and the instructor did not appear to be engaged in the material.  
Making meaning of this content is also important for me.  And to make meaning of the content I have to see how I can build the parallel to my practice in social work.  
I am grateful for the "wear a hat when you comment" and "sensemaking" material.  I've been struggling with developing an activity for my class on providing feedback to classmates.  This material will help them reconsider the multiple ways we provide feedback.  MAHALO!

Week 0 – Post 1

Howzit! My name is Robin, I am a social worker and employee at UH-Manoa.  I had many moments this week questioning why I had decided to do this, but after sitting down and looking at them material for this week and writing my blog entry, I am optimistic about this opportunity.  Best of luck to everyone!

What is your intention for this course (why are you here)?
I’m here to learn and improve my ability to create an engaging class.  I’ve taught graduate courses in social work since 2011 in a variety of formats (through interactive television, blackboard, and face-to-face).  Each semester I am able to learn new skills that I apply moving forward, yet I desire to learn more.

What issues do you think are important?
In terms of education, I feel the most important issue is how to engage learners and assist them acquiring the necessary knowledge, skills, and abilities to be successful in the future. I also think it is important that more time and focus is directed towards the theories and philosophies driving education and the application of these items in practice.  On a grander scale, I think poverty, the distribution of wealth, equal access to resources, and healthcare top my list of important issues… Additional note, I also believe free resources are important.  In fact they are so important that after creating a blog in edublogs, I moved to back to google’s blogger because many of the features I would like for my blog appear to cost money… Free is always best… Now I am trying to do two blogs with the same or similar content.  I secretly don’t want to abandon edublog as I would like to learn it as well.

How will you contribute?
Good question.  I have attempted blogs multiple times in the past and have never remained actively engaged.  So in starting this blog, I am worried that it will be another failed attempt on my part.  I am a resource sharer.  I like giving out information as I find its applicability to people and situations.  I also like discussion.  So if I had to pick two areas that I will try my hardest to contribute in, it would be sharing resources and engaging in conversation.

How would you like to see community develop among participants?
I am an advocate for learning communities.  I am hopeful that this will continue to be a forum for discussion and learning.  In adult learning, there is an assumption that every learner brings something to the table, an expert in something.  I am hopeful that as a community of learners we can facilitate a fruitful discussion that drives each of our abilities to facilitate online learning, thus moving education forward.

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?   New technology is not a fear of mine.  I am an early adopter and try many different means to figure out what will work best for me and my situation.  The openness of a blog is something that I will have to work on.  I’ve instituted some new elements to a class I am teaching that I believe will help me become less fearful of appearing like an idiot and more able to go with the flow.  The public aspect of this can be concerning.  I get most fearful in thinking about how my words are perceived.  With the changing times, it is important to move beyond this and accept that this is part of the new normal. Time will be challenging.  I have a lot on my plate and much more that I want to accomplish.  I need to continue to find the meaning behind the exercises and see how this is truly an opportunity to improve my skills.  If I can keep that mindset, I believe I will remain engaged.

Full disclosure, I didn’t read everything that was asked originally and had to go back and add content to my first blog post.  So in essence, this is post 1.1….

The best teachers I ever had were those that both identified my potential but didn’t let me be complacent.  There are many examples in my past in which I felt my instructors didn’t challenge me, they saw my ability to learn and engage in class and were okay with it.  And in those classes I don’t feel that I acquired as much as I could have nor did I retain that which I did learn. My most memorable interactions are those that have a conversation.  Where there is disagreement and it is welcomed.  I also value fairness and have taken this lesson with me in my role as an instructor.  I strive to challenge and inspire my students while also ensuring there is fairness.

In thinking of those experiences that were less than positive in learning, I identify those elements in which engagement is a problem (meaning I am not engaged), discussion is not welcomed (or if it is welcomed it is dismissed when it does not align with the instructors view of the situation), and the instructor did not appear to be engaged in the material.

Making meaning of this content is also important for me.  And to make meaning of the content I have to see how I can build the parallel to my practice in social work.

I am grateful for the “wear a hat when you comment” and “sensemaking” material.  I’ve been struggling with developing an activity for my class on providing feedback to classmates.  This material will help them reconsider the multiple ways we provide feedback.  MAHALO!

 

"Have I spent enough time?" in an online class

Reading http://tomooc.edublogs.org/2013/09/06/0-week-reflections, I had an unrelated thought: How do I know when I've spent enough time in an online class? I know when I've "spent my time" in a face-to-face class: the bell rings and the hour / 90 minutes is up for our meeting. But how do I know how much is "enough" for an online class? If I spend 35 minutes battling the course-management

Content is King vs. Content is Obsolete

The research that I've done so far has strongly indicated that it's not enough to just transfer face-to-face courses into online tools; the course needs to be transformed in order for students to be successful in the new format. Makes sense, but I don't yet know what that actually means. There is one catchphrase that I found to be particularly interesting - "content is king" vs. "content is obsolete". I think that it is tempting to think of it as being an all-or-nothing proposition and perhaps the biggest concern that I have is that the "content is obsolete" school of thought can be interpreted as meaning that courses should be "transformed" into purely social learning with no real role for the instructor at all. With so much information freely available on the Web and students very likely to be more skilled at technology than the instructor, what value does the instructor end up providing?

Why I’m here!

Actually having to write down my thoughts rather than just thinking them in my head was a useful activity. Reflecting (written) is something I get my students to do regulary, but I’ve just realised that I’d also benefit from doing this more often – and that’s why I’ve now started to blog!

What is your intention for this course (why are you here)?

I want to see what it feels like to do a MOOC – I’ve read so much about this type of learning and want to get some real-life, hands-on experience of what a MOOC really is. And at the same time, I want to learn more about teaching online. I think it’ll also be a very useful learning experience to be a “student” again, i.e. on the receiving end of online learning, and to experience what it’s like to feel confused, incompetent, lost, the only one who can’t get a tool to work etc. I’m sure this will help me to be more patient and to empathize more with my students in the future. I teach English for Specific Purposes (ESP) courses at a university in Austria. These are run in blended learning mode, so I have some experience of teaching online. But since we all get to see each other F2F approximately once a month, this means technical glitches etc. can also be sorted out in person if no solution could be found during the online phases, which makes life easier!

What issues do you think are important?

I think it’s extremely important that we (the participants) know what we’ve got to do – so far, so good – and that we get prompt support if we ask for this – has also proved to be true – thank you!. For example, I couldn’t get my blog connected and found it extremely frustrating that it was working for everyone else (?) but not for me. But I was delighted to get an email (in response to mine) from Greg the same day saying he’ll fix it. It still doesn’t work, but at least I felt heard/acknowledged and not totally alone! Yes, I think effective and timely communication between facilitators and participants is a really important issue. I think it’s important for me to be selective when deciding what to read/do etc. and to accept that I won’t be able to do everything. I’ll also need to manage my time carefully and not spend too much time thinking (and sometimes worrying if I’m doing the right thing!) about this MOOC! As mentioned on the webinar on blogging: “Don’t worry about it! Don’t try to be perfect! Just do it!” This was really helpful – thanks, Sue!

How will you contribute?

Because of time differences, I’ll probably not be participating live in the webinars – most of them are between 1am and 4am for me, i.e. when I’m usually fast asleep! But they’ll all be recorded, so I’ll watch them when I’m awake. Yes, and in the meantime, I’ve watched both from 0 week. This means I won’t be able to actually contribute, but at least I won’t miss anything. And I’m pretty sure that someone else will have asked similar queries to mine! Otherwise, I’ll be communicating via my blog, once it’s finally connected! And I intend to read and reply to other participants postings – let’s see! I will post and have already posted on the community wall but would prefer to have everything documented on my blog and feed through. I’ve also joined the Google+ TOMOOC community and posted, and have tweeted once about the course – I’m not really comfortable about tweeting  – much prefer following and reading other people’s tweets – so this is something I’m planning to do more often till it feels more normal! All in all, it’s going to be too time-consuming posting everywhere, so I’ll probably just focus on adding my thoughts to my blog and replying to other participants’’ blog postings.

How would you like to see community develop among participants?

I’m hoping to experience a real sense of community, which can only develop by us participating and sharing our views etc., and which I’m prepared to do. I also think it might be a good idea for those of us who are in a similar time zone to get together from time to time on Blackboard to have a live sharing/support session. We’d then form a kind of “local time” community!

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?

I’m currently experiencing technology frustration – getting my blog connected – and having a good grumble with my husband was a big help! Also, getting suport from Greg and Sue/edublogs was great. So I will continue to ask for help if I need it. But generally speaking, I enjoy trying out new technology – this is one of the reasons I’m doing this MOOC – so I’m pretty sure I won’t give up. I don’t really like giving up things I start without a really good reason, i.e. the course would have to be a real mess and total waste of my time and effort, something I don’t anticipate. Re overcoming the fear of learning in the open – it’s not something that bothers me at the moment, and I comfort myself by thinking I’m probably not the only one that maybe doesn’t know the “right” answers, if there are any. But time will tell!

The Blogging Cycle

In @suewaters “Introduction to blogging and what you really need to know to get started” webinar on Sept 3, she introduced the idea that the blogging cycle is a constant process with Review, Reflect, Revise, Evaluate as you arBlogging Cyclee constantly reassessing your ideas as you are post and comment. This parallels the instructional design process and the development of an online course. Great ah ha moment for me :-) Took me awhile, but I got there.


Practice makes perfect

I attended the online presentation by Sue Waters (@suewaters) last night and it was a great intro to blogging for a n00b like me. The take-home advice included:
  1. Come up with a catchy title (prior to the session, I didn't even realize that posts had titles!)
  2. Participate in other people's blogs! Read, read, read and comment, comment, comment. Corollary: if someone posts on your blog then proper etiquette says to make some sort of acknowledgement. Duly noted (although not done yet, will get on that when I have a smidgen more time).
  3. Appearance matters. A tidy, aesthetically pleasing blog is more appealing than something just slapped together. I don't yet know what this means to me but I will do some research and find out.
  4. Preview before posting to ferret out things like display problems.
  5. Posts (and replies) don't have to have Einstein-level creativity. It's OK to leave open questions - in fact, that will help stimulate conversation.
So I have some self-imposed homework to do. Sounds good!

Have a groovy day.

Aloha from Kentucky – Howdy Y’all to Hawai’i

What is your intention for this course (why are you here)? I'm a librarian at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, and I want to find ways to reach students better, and one way to do that is to become more embedded in online teaching. So, I'm here to see how the library can fit in all this. What issues do you think are important? It is hard to know where to start on this one. There

Addressing Questions

Hello Everyone,

My name is Sara and I am the Online Coordinator at Allen Community College.  While I am not currently teaching online, I have in the past and have enjoyed it. I am hoping that this course will provide me with some ideas that I can use should I teach online again in the future.  In the meantime, I hope to take what I learn here and share it with the teachers I work with so that they can in turn improve their online courses.

In addition to gaining new ideas, I am interested in learning more about the MOOC experience.  This is my first MOOC and honestly right now it’s a little intimidating.  I’m learning so much already as I have not previously blogged, used Twitter, or Google + before.  Please forgive me for any slip-ups as I stumble my way through this.  My blog address is:  http://saradreisbach.edublogs.org.

 

Aloha!

Introduction
Hi!  I am transitioning into a new career.  After working for a Fortune 500 company for almost 15 years then being a stay-at-home mom for almost 10, I am now working on transitioning into a career in education.  

My intentions
I have been a face-to-face classroom teacher but see a huge potential for transformation in education with online teaching.  I want to learn the best practices thus far and eventually move toward teaching online.

Important issues
I have taken a good number of online classes.  Most have been taught using fairly traditional teaching practices but nothing too transformational.  I'm not sure what the transformation looks like but I have to believe that this mode of teaching offers huge unexplored potential in teaching and learning.

My contributions and community building
I will be an active participant in this community.  Having said that, I recognize that it will require me to overcome the fear of criticism in front of a large and somewhat anonymous audience.  I recently read Brené Brown's Daring Greatly and recommend it.  Her story encourages me to dare greatly and participate in this community in spite of the risk of embarrassment and criticism.  I am also working on reframing criticism and celebrating mistakes.

Excellent Start for the MOOC

Given the mention of MOOC Disasters, I have to say I am particularly impressed with the Get Prepared information for this course.

Labeling it a “connectivitst” courses (a term I’ve not heard before), they have included:

  • Types of Activities
  • Principles
  • Key Tools
  • List of tools you need to move forward in the course

Having created a lot of online courses, I know how much preparation and thought has gone into this one page. Congratulations on a great start!

By the way, there’s an entire site on Connectivist MOOCs. Who knew? Enjoy further investigation if you’re curious.

MOOC Disasters

While I have all the confidence that the current MOOC on teaching online will be successful and well planned, I do find the literature on past failures equally interesting. We do learn from our mistakes – don’t we?

Read about the MOOC Meltdown – ironically in a course about teaching online!

Had they read this excellent article about how to teach a MOOC, the prior meltdown would not have occurred.  This is definitely a content-rich article you should bookmark!

Force Field Analysis – An Exercise in Critical Thinking

Force Field AnalysisForce Field Analysis in business.
The Force Field Analysis was developed by Kurt Lewin in his work as a social psychologist in the 1940s.  Now it is used in business for identifying the pros and cons of a decision. If you are interested in this concept check out MindTools.com to download a form and learn more about it in this context.  

Recently while taking a MOOC, I discovered another format that I believe will help students to analyze a new concept and understand how that concept can be applied in a different context or how it might resolve a problem.  Basically, it becomes an opportunity for my students to engage their critical thinking skills.

First, an introduction to the concept of a force field. In Physics, "a force field is a vector field indicating the forces exerted by one object on another object" (Wikipedia definition). I am not sure if that is sufficiently clear, but basically an object in the physical universe may move or fail to move due to counteracting forces that force them back into status quo or moves them forward.  

Danar tests a force field.
Roga Danar, an Angosian prisoner tests the force field on a prison cell on board the Enterprise in "The Hunted" episode of Star Trek: The Next Enterprise.
I was unsuccessful in explaining this to a group of undergraduates until I resorted to a few images portrayed in science fiction.  The Starship Enterprise could move objects or reflect objects using force fields.  They could be used to invisibly detain prisoners in a cell or seal a damaged hull of the ship.  Now that is a clear vision.

In the context of a classroom or elearning activity, I interpret these forces as brakes and accelerators. A brake inhibits forward motion on a car and an accelerator propels the car forward or backwards.  One might use this to examine a concept and determine what type of impact it might have on a situation.  

I will illustrate the opposing forces of inhibitors (or restraining brakes) and accelerators (or driving forces). Let us examine the concept of social learning theory and eLearning.  Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist stressed that most important learning by a student occurs through social interaction with a more knowledgeable other (MKO) or, in other words, a teacher.  The force field analysis exercise provided me with an opportunity to reflect on the application of the social nature of learning using a contemporary framework, the Community of Inquiry Model.  The Community of Inquiry examines the influence of 3 types of social interaction called social, teaching, and cognitive presence. As a teacher, what can I do to focus on the accelerators while minimizing the inhibitors in their role as the more knowledgeable others as proposed by Vygotsky?

Check out my Force Field Analysis Chart

A teacher can minimize social presence inhibitors by ensuring the elearning students possess the skills to effectively utilize the content management system before beginning an online course and limit project group size to a smaller number to encourage interaction among members. Social presence should be nurtured by powering up accelerators, such as providing an icebreaker activity during the course orientation to ensure students know each other, fostering social interaction between members.

A teacher can minimize teaching presence inhibitors by ensuring the course design incorporates audio and/or video recorded lectures. Another inhibitor can be eliminated by utilizing Skype, a course management system, or other software that empowers the instructor and students to instant message or synchronously chat with each other. Teacher presence can be enacted by short messages acknowledging a student's contribution on discussion board with encouragement and/or suggestions for improvement.

A teacher can minimize cognitive presence inhibitors by ensuring the students adhere to basic netiquette and standard codes of behavior to minimize negative comments that dampen open communication between students.   Cognitive presence can be fostered by incorporating thinking routines with their lectures that encourage critical thinking and deepening the content within dialogue in discussions and group projects.

The Force Field Analysis was useful in identifying how an instructor can power up the influence of social learning theory to improve learning in an eLearning environment.


(Please note that a portion of this blog post was originally published by Linda Ralston as an assignment in the Coursera.org MOOC entitled Foundations of Teaching for Learning: Introduction.)

Teaching Online Introduction

Hi, my name is Sara Dreisbach and I’m the Online Learning Coordinator at Allen Community College in Kansas.  This is my first time participating in a MOOC so it’s a little intimidating for me right now.  I’m taking this MOOC with hopes of gaining some information that I might be able to pass along to the teachers I work with.  Also I wanted to experience what it is like to participate in a MOOC.

Grinning Streak

I run through a lot of personal musical fads. Lately I've been listening to Capital Cities "Safe and Sound" as my daily let's-feel-good-the-workday-is-done-time-to-go-home song. Prior to that it was non-stop "Of Monsters and Men". But everyone has a band, at least one band or group whose music and ethos became indelibly embedded in their soul, whose every new album or release brings out a sense of anticipation and excitement. It's why some people feel shattered and betrayed when a band like this breaks up, because the emotional connection is so intimate and real. The band that is like that for me, my band, is the Barenaked Ladies.

Now, I won't say I love every song they have ever made, nor would I say that the songs of theirs that I love the best should be at the peak of every critic's top-ten list. Indeed, there are a number of songs of theirs that I will skip past wihtout a thought. However there are other songs, songs where with just the first chords, I feel, invoked within me, a sort of reverie, emotionally transporting me in place and time, a la Anton Ego upon his first taste of Remy's ratatouille.

BNL's latest album, entitled Grinning Streak, is now available on You Tube. The entire album is free to stream, and while I have had only a single listen through, my snap judgement is that this is one of the best albums byt BNL in a long time. Some albums I have had to have multiple listen throughs before I started connecting to them and appreciating them, some I have had an almost instant connection to. Grinning Streak falls into the latter group.

I'm looking forward to the next few days. My playlist is set.