What I have learned this week (week 0)

I think the most important thing I have learned this week is that a blog can be a powerful educational tool. Collaboration among peers through blogs is a medium to share ideas, thoughts, insights, and pass on information that can help our personal growth. I have also learned that building a community in an online class is dependent on the instructor's ability and will to participate at all times in the process. The instructor needs to be engaged, which in turn will make students engage.
I will participate by attending as many webinars as I can, share my thoughts through the blog, and participate in discussions with other learners. I will try to complete the assigned materials on time every week.

Building Rapport with the Distance Learner

Building rapport in distance education sounds a lot like building a physical classroom community and atmosphere, just with technology.  This reminds me of the SAMR model with the substitution enhancement.

Instead of sitting on the floor together in community circle, we could either type an introduction, share through a Google hangout or post an avatar with description.  

In watching my son take distance classes years ago in high school, this community building was not done.  It was very difficult to communicate with the teacher, so I also know how important viewing the teacher as approachable is.

Timely feedback, encouraging words, an understanding online countenance, and willingness to bend for emergencies are all vital in running a distance course.

Assignment for week 2 of How To Teach Online

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

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

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

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


“High tech, high touch”

Had a bit of a frustrating time attending John Thompson’s webinar on using human touch to engage online students because my (hotel room) wifi connection kept on breaking up – technology – grr!  Not to worry – I got most of it and it was the first time I was able to participate live so that was fun. A lot of what John talked about wasn’t new to me, but there’s no harm in being reminded. The three things I found most memorable are connected to caring and presence:

I think our facilitators are doing a pretty good job as far as caring and presence are concerned – thank you!

(By the way, “High tech, high touch” is from John Naisbitt, Megatrends,1982.)

Value of TOMOOC Webinars?

Anonymous 9/13/13: Another perspective on the webinars is that they have been largely informal and questions are welcomed at any time. Similar to live class, the presentation is only as good as the questions asked. It is one step better than watching a recorded session or TED video because it is a chance for participants to engage each other.

Response

Hi, and thanks for your thoughtful comment on Responses to Veronica, Ida, Sara: 9/13/13. I agree with you re the potential for webinars to be very effective. The better ones are, as you say, less formal and focused on questions from the audience rather than on straight delivery — the idea of flipped classroom transferred to a live web platform (btw, Bates had originally planned his seminar as a flip).

My concern is neither antithetical to nor critical of webinars. It’s more a question.

Perhaps the greatest advantage of online learning is the anytime-anywhere factor. This elimination of time and space barriers to learning is, in my mind, the greatest invention since schools and the printing press.

At once, online classes even the playing field for those who can’t and can afford to be in a classroom or hall located at a specific place at a specific time. And with MOOCs, the gap between the have-nots and haves is also eliminated.

This is the online advantage, and I’m reluctant to give it up. It’s disruptive, opening the doors of higher ed to a whole new population of learners. However, when we insert time-bound activities into the online learning environment, we automatically lose the anytime advantage and eliminate all those who can’t be there. The medium is the message, and when a MOOC devoted to How to Teach Online, such as this, emphasizes live webinars, then the message seems to be that webinars are best practice.

I guess I’d like to see the delivery emphasis shift, even a little, to using asynchronous methods to create engaging learning experiences.

I think the planners of this MOOC are moving in this direction by archiving recordings of sessions. Perhaps another kind of “flip” might be to ask the presenters to, first, post their presentations in TOMOOC and, second, to participate in a week-long asynch forum on their topic. All of this would be asynch. Would this non-live version be less dynamic than a live webinar? My guess is it would be just as if not more dynamic — but in a different way that doesn’t disparage synch modes.

The point is that each approach, synch and asynch, has its strengths. The asynch forum I’m suggesting may be better for online learners with varying schedule demands, but it also changes the burden on the presenter, requiring a week-long commitment to participating in a forum with course participants. An interesting variation may the posting of video responses by the presenter to questions and comments in the forum. The short videos could be posted once a day, covering posts up to a certain date and time.

In the interest of more dynamic asynch MOOC learning activities, perhaps the planners could add a new dimension of forums, a discussion board with different forums, some ongoing and others for specific periods of time. Each forum could be devoted to important topics aligned with each week’s objectives. Other forums could be devoted to special interest groups. Some webinars could be presented as forums or both. Just a thought . . .

By exploring and experimenting with asynch strategies for online learning, we increase the range and value of common tools that are available to all online teachers.


Best teacher and worst teacher (week 0)

I guess I will have to talk about my graduate work experience. My best teacher in graduate school was on a class called colloidal science. My worst teacher in the same setting was my instructor on a class called Separation processes in chemical engineering.
I think the most memorable moments in that colloidal science class was the fact that the class was conducted in a very informal matter. By informal I mean that the subject of the day was mostly presented by the instructor but he will devote the rest of the class asking us questions about the material and how to apply what we just learned. The course did have a structure and we were handed out a syllabus at the beginning of the semester. He always started the class with a picture or video that would convey the subject of the day. This facilitated the learning process because we saw a real world application of what we learned today.
Based on this, I have elaborated a list for four DOs:
  1. Use external resources that help students understand the subject being exposed,
  2. Ask questions to students, call on them and ask for their opinion so that you can assess how much they know,
  3. Conduct the class in a way that students feel relaxed in your class,
  4. Prepare a final project that requires student collaboration and encourages discussion.
What I think are four DON'Ts
  1. Be too rigid in class just because you have a Ph.D. and you look down on your students,
  2. You talk must of the time, make students participate,
  3. Present only text material with no media that helps understand concepts,
  4. Rely too much on an assistant to keep in touch with students.
I am planning on using these two lists when I design online courses by developing material that is engaging by adding activities where the students are asked to comment on something or make an analysis on the subject being presented. I also plan on treating students as colleagues and not as pupils, conveying that respect during the live interactions planned for these courses. Even though it is difficult to create that "human touch" in an online environment, something that is easy to accomplish in a classroom, I will set up discussion forums, chat sessions, and live video sessions that include personalized messages so that the student would not feel as another number in the enrollment.

About myself (Week 0)

My name is Julio Castro and I am an instructional designer at the University of Florida. I learned about this course from one of those alerts that I have set up in Google Alerts. I am ready to start developing an online class on how to teach online, and I want to see how this one has been set up. Although this is not the approach I will be using in my course, I found the method very interesting. It also happens to be that I have never taken an online class (I am a Gen X guy, all my formation happened in the classroom), and I thought this one would be the one I would choose to be the first one.
To me, the most important issue in teaching online is how to create engaging content that can keep the students interested in your course. I think another issue is the technology we want to use in our courses. How much is too much? Creating games is still expensive and time consuming, but there must other ways to design games that teach something and would not require that much money and time. Another issue I find fascinating, the fact the nowadays anybody can publish an online course. The technology is already here and it can be done cheaply and fast. I think online or e-learning will eventually go through the same process that books and music (and movies) went through: the self-publishing movement.
I think I can contribute from my experience designing online courses. But I also need to take the next step to becoming and online teacher or instructor. I love developing content for online courses, I have done that in the past when I taught courses at UF in a classroom setting. I also have a technology background since I have used web programming and computer programming for a long time. I am also trained in the use of development tools (software) extensively used in instructional design.
I think I would like to develop strong relationships with others in this course, learn more about them and maybe continue the chat and sharing of information beyond this class, maybe through other social media tools. I see this community morphing into a collaborative group in the future.
I don't consider this fear but mostly a lack of grit on my side. I am intended on overcoming this by catching up with the class and keeping up by taking small steps everyday to complete the activities and attend the live or recorded sessions when I can't attend. The feedback from others once my content is out there is what is going to be a challenge to me since I will not have the chance of meeting my fellow classmates personally, but I plan on following on any feedback received, make an analysis and identify the merits to the suggestions provided.

Teacher Response to Language in Student Writing: Implications for Online Courses

Veronica 9/14/13: Maybe I need to review whether the reflective report (in which I mark the language as well as content/task achievement) should in fact be part of the student’s SDL grade. In favour is the fact that the report is usually an enlightening (for the student) overall reflection on the process/outcomes of his/her SDL and hence a valuable task. But something still bugs me about it!

Response

Hi Veronica.

Your question (in Responses to Veronica, Ida, Sara: 9/13/13) re when to mark language in student writing forces us to address a tough issue. There aren’t any easy answers — except “It all depends,” which isn’t an answer at all.

It’s especially relevant in the online learning environment where communication style is critical. For example, Which set of standards should we use? Should there be just one standard across the range of onground and online platforms? If we use different standards for online, What are they for communications in social media? When we take the broader perspective of rhetoric, which taps all the means of persuasion that’s readily available to writer and reader, What role should multimedia technology play? and, perhaps more importantly, How do we evaluate its use in student artifacts?

As a writing teacher, I find myself increasingly questioning the role of traditional documentation (APA, MLA, Chicago) style in online digital writing. Much of the rules seems irrelevant with the advent of digital media and URL links. And it doesn’t stop there.

I do know that the whole idea of readability has been radically altered by the new rhetoric of online social engagement and that traditional formal academic prose is going the way of landlines — at least in the real world of virtual communications.

So the whole notion of marking papers may be changing, and one of the new indices for readability may be the idea of “hits,” i.e., How often is an artifact read or viewed? How do readers rate it? and How extensive and dynamic is the attached discussion among readers and author?

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

When the potential feedback is the world rather than a single teacher, I think we need to rethink the role of teacher in the writing process. For example, her/his task may be to explore and establish the most useful platforms for facilitating audience feedback on student works and guiding students in interpreting the results and exploring implications. In this role, the teacher becomes a coach, guide, consultant, advisor, and her task is defined as much by her knowledge of the student as her mastery of the new rhetoric with an emphasis on audience response.

In addition, her job doesn’t end there. She is further tasked with the need to empower students so that they leave the course with the the ability to independently understand and use reader feedback to guide their own writing development.

Online isn’t just a bunch of new technology but whole new sets of challenges that force us to reexamine our roles as teacher.


My presentation at the FDLA Annual Conference 2013

I am again at the office and I have decided to share with you what I learned at this conference. I found great interest on the subject I presented. I was dreading the moment when I was finally going to face my public because to tell you the truth, I though I was going to preach to the room walls. I saw some presentations that had only one person present, that was not a good sign. The attrition rate was high in this conference. A lot of people showed up the first day but by the third day there were only a handful of people around, but the last presentations did have great attendance (even though there were a few around only). I was ecstatic that people were genuinely interested in what I have to say. I received lost of questions and I even received a couple of requests for my information for later contact. If you have the interest of seeing the slides from my presentation, please send me a message through this blog.

Week 1

As a social worker, I was taught to use reflective practice as part of my regular routine.  I’ve enjoyed that this community has been about sharing and reflecting.  Making sense of material and trying to see how it relates to us educators.  The “What? So What? and What Now?” and reflections and sensemaking activities that have been presented as part of this MOOC has impacted so much, that I’ve adapted it for my class.

I struggle with my role as an educator.  I am caught between the paradigm that was my experience and that which I am told is best practice. In social work (and other helping professions) our roles are often that of guide.  I use this idea of being a guide in my role as an educator as well.  My students are at various points in their learning process.  I know and appreciate that I only have a brief amount of time to help them acquire the knowledge and skills that are set for the course, knowing that mastery of the material will be a long-term goal they achieve well after the conclusion of the semester.

This approach of being a guide is different then my academic experience.  In trying to move myself towards this new way of educating, I have no model of comparison.  So as I spend a class period doing activities, I think back to the lectures that I was exposed to and wonder if I am doing everything wrong.  The responsibility of preparing these learners to be the leaders of my profession is daunting.  I worry that I do not do enough to prepare them to be successful.  I wonder how much I must do to create a experience that will motivate them to do more and to do better.

Perhaps is the best thing that I am always questioning if I am doing things right, it keeps me thinking of how to improve myself and my class.

This semester I started a few new things in class.  I end each class with a closing protocol where I ask my students to provide feedback on: what they learned; what they would change; what went well; and what they dislike.  They can also provide a “Tweet” of the class or use 6 words to describe what they learned.  I am hoping that by doing this, I can adapt to their needs and that I can tackle any issues or concerns before they become a problem at the end of the semester.  By collecting the feedback, I am able to gauge what is working and where I may be missing the point  I also started a new “living” assignments and readings document.  This is a Google Document that I update ever week.  Based on class each week, I add new content for them to read in future weeks.  My goal is that they see how fluid a class must be for me to guide them on this journey.

The funny thing is that in doing this Blog, I am gaining an appreciation for the work that I ask of my students.  Here I am, trying my hardest to complete an assignment and turn it in before it is due.

A hui hou!

 

Week 1

As a social worker, I was taught to use reflective practice as part of my regular routine.  I've enjoyed that this community has been about sharing and reflecting.  Making sense of material and trying to see how it relates to us educators.  The "What? So What? and What Now?" and reflections and sensemaking activities that have been presented as part of this MOOC has impacted so much, that I've adapted it for my class.

I struggle with my role as an educator.  I am caught between the paradigm that was my experience and that which I am told is best practice. In social work (and other helping professions) our roles are often that of guide.  I use this idea of being a guide in my role as an educator as well.  My students are at various points in their learning process.  I know and appreciate that I only have a brief amount of time to help them acquire the knowledge and skills that are set for the course, knowing that mastery of the material will be a long-term goal they achieve well after the conclusion of the semester.

This approach of being a guide is different then my academic experience.  In trying to move myself towards this new way of educating, I have no model of comparison.  So as I spend a class period doing activities, I think back to the lectures that I was exposed to and wonder if I am doing everything wrong.  The responsibility of preparing these learners to be the leaders of my profession is daunting.  I worry that I do not do enough to prepare them to be successful.  I wonder how much I must do to create a experience that will motivate them to do more and to do better.

Perhaps is the best thing that I am always questioning if I am doing things right, it keeps me thinking of how to improve myself and my class.

This semester I started a few new things in class.  I end each class with a closing protocol where I ask my students to provide feedback on: what they learned; what they would change; what went well; and what they dislike.  They can also provide a "Tweet" of the class or use 6 words to describe what they learned.  I am hoping that by doing this, I can adapt to their needs and that I can tackle any issues or concerns before they become a problem at the end of the semester.  By collecting the feedback, I am able to gauge what is working and where I may be missing the point  I also started a new "living" assignments and readings document.  This is a Google Document that I update ever week.  Based on class each week, I add new content for them to read in future weeks.  My goal is that they see how fluid a class must be for me to guide them on this journey.

The funny thing is that in doing this Blog, I am gaining an appreciation for the work that I ask of my students.  Here I am, trying my hardest to complete an assignment and turn it in before it is due.

A hui hou!

Week 1 of How To Teach Online MOOC – Everyone’s a Teacher…

It’s a tenuous time at work as we await the announcement of repoints to roles so the MOOC work outside of work hours has been providing me with the mental stimulation I need.

This week marked the end of the first week of the How To Teach Online cMOOC.  Reading some of the blog posts, many of the MOOC participants come from an education or academic background and have written their posts to the exact requirements of the activities.  Me, my mind doesn’t work that way.  It wanders.  Meanders. Goes on tangents.  It links to  other posts, articles, videos that I have seen on the web that week and then I try to make sense of it using my own workplace situation by asking the following questions:

  • How is this relevant to me?
  • How can I apply this to my workplace?
  • Is this something my clients would be open to? Why? Why not?
  • How will this solve business performance problems in our workplace?

We were asked to view this excellent Australian video called “How To Teach Online“ on how universities are dealing with the move towards blended learning.   They are seeing that the way we learn is changing in society and this impacts the way they have taught for years.

Some of the concerns they voice are similar concerns of many Learning and Development professionals.

However blended learning is not new to our organisation.  70-20-10 is integrated and part of the vernacular and all of our courses in our curricula have been redesigned to reflect the blend of education, coaching and on-the-job experience.   Many of these courses are owned by Learning and Development and indeed, we still have facilitators running some face-to-face workshops but who are also dual specialised to run them as live online learning events too.  The challenge is not the facilitators (who coincidentally love the live online environment) but it is soon to be something else.

I’m now seeing the increasing trend of business subject matter experts becoming the teachers. 

And that’s a good thing (I think so anyway) but this is now changing the control outside of L&D hands and into the business.  They are taking charge of their own teaching/coaching/learning in the business but not overtly calling it “training” or “learning” or “courses” or “training events” like L&D do.  Instead, they are integrating it with their own work and using the technology such as Webex, Sharepoint and Yammer to connect with others within and external to their business to do business.

The mere fact that they’re talking to each other about work and collaborating on their projects is learning.

Therefore it’s becoming apparently clear to me that in open, shared and collaborative workplaces, coaching, feedback and inquiry skills are becoming critical – as is the need to be savvy with technology.  So subject matter experts need to have ‘e-facilitation’ skills so that they can seamlessly share their knowledge and expertise to teach others within the contexts of their work.

I’ve now been in this role for a few months and I’ve been reflecting on the question, “What Have I Taught?” (and not the ‘how have I taught‘ as the MOOC activities asked for).  Apart from teaching these subject matter experts to use Webex, podcasting and using Sharepoint and Yammer, much of what I have taught is outside of work hours.  I have openly shared my work through my blog, Twitter, Yammer and learning events. Through this sharing, I have met some wonderful people both within  (who share my passion for learning) and external to the organisation.

Over the weekend I stumbled upon this gem promoted by a tweet from David Hopkins https://twitter.com/hopkinsdavid).   It’s Kid Presidents message to teachers on “What are you teaching the world?”.  He’s adorable but his message goes to a wider audience than just school teachers.  It can be applied to anyone as he says, “everybody’s a student and everybody’s a teacher” and it’s what resonated with me this week with my work with my business subject matter experts and this MOOC.

What do you think?


Filed under: Development, TOMOOC Tagged: 2013, development, September, September 2013, TOMOOC

Week 2 in Review

My Reflections from Week 2
I am finding that while I can easily get lost looking at every post, video and artifact, it is all very interesting. It is easy to wander off on a tangent, but it is worth it if something is learned. This week I was lost understanding the difference between a cMOOC and an xMOOC. A couple of searches and web pages later, and I had learned the difference. I can see the benefits and difference of both.
One thing I learned for sure, you can get lost following a thread in an xMOOC.

Discussion Question
1. When I first created an online course it was not much more than shortened lectures, and questions that I asked in my f2f class, pasted onto a web page. Well, it was online. It was also boring. What I wasn’t able to paste onto the page was the interaction I had with my classes that made things interesting.
Later versions of the same class were much better when I learned to remix and re-purpose my f2f class into a different class. I went back to some of the better online courses I had taken. They included information from the instructor, the SME, and then helped me to find new information for myself. When I thought about it, creating my online class used many of the same concepts as my better f2f classes. It was always better when I acted as facilitator rather than “knowledge giver.”


Week 2 (September 16 – 22)

Objective: Decide how you will “build rapport” with your distance learners.

Aloha and welcome to Week 2- Connect with your learnersPlease begin by reviewing the resources on how to connect with your learners.  Choose and explore topics that meet your needs and interests. Topics:

  • What the Best College Teachers Do.
  • Close the “distance” gap and build rapport.
  • What the Best Online Teachers Should Do
  • Five factors for building rapport.

Activities & WebinarPick and choose what you will do this week.


Webinar Sessions (all sessions will be recorded)

  1. Use Human Touch to Engage Online Students. By Dr. John Thompson. Full recording (opens in Blackboard Collaborate). Video recording
  2. So how do teachers close the “distance” gap and build rapport? By Dr. Melissa Kaulbach. Prezi PresentationFull recording (opens in Blackboard Collaborate). Video recording
  3. The Art of Blogging: How to Connect, Interact, and Build Rapport with your StudentsFull recording (opens in Blackboard Collaborate)
  4. Principles of Effective Online Teaching: Best Practices in Distance Education. By Dr. Larry Ragan.Full recording (opens in Blackboard Collaborate). Video recording.
  5. Weekly RoundupPresentation slides (PDF)Full recording (opens in Blackboard Collaborate). Video recording

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

First 2nd Saturday Showcase

Today I attended a great professional development led by my friends Annie and Jeanette!
http://edtech.springbranchisd.com/educationaltechnology/edtechnewsevents/tabid/7138/default.aspx

 They started with talking about the SAMR model with this video:



 We considered how to redefine, modify, augment or substitute stations with technology for the tradition pen and paper stations. Here are some suggestions.

 Encourage students to write and submit reviews and poetry to http://www.stonesoup.com/stone-soup-contributor-guideline/

 Have a website that is easily found outside of school. Annie uses the NHE campus website and her page is easily found by searching for Ms. Mitchell's website NHE 

http://nhe.springbranchisd.com/Curriculum/ThirdGrade/AnnieMitchell/tabid/30171/Default.aspx

Sign up the class for SumDog
http://www.sumdog.com/
In playing the games I've discovered some of it will be over the 2nd grader's math levels.  Sometimes I clicked on games and got the message that I didn't have access.  I am not very sure on this one.

For student created books, try http://epubbud.com/
This looked very exciting for publishing and consuming ebooks!

For allowing students to show what they know:


and

http://www.showme.com/

And my new friend, Sydnie, at Valley Oaks, suggested this for Singapore Math practice:
http://thesingaporemaths.com/
While there is no Primary 2, there is Primary 3. 

So, thanks for a fun Saturday morning!





Artifact: Life Is Making Sense

Sources
Video, Quick Clip – Sunrise from Outer Space, YouTube, 11/10/11.
Audio, 2001 A Space Odyssey Opening in 1080 HD, YouTube, 9/22/10.
Video, Memory – Okuribito (Departures) Soundtrack by Joe Hisaishi, YouTube, 2/9/10.
Graphic of Big Bang, Paul Laurendeau, “De Nihilo Nihil…… (nothing comes out of nothing),” Nothing Out of Nothing, May 2010.
Photo of lightbulb, “Improving Light Bulb Energy Efficiency,” NHPR, 9/4/11.
Video, Infant in Garden
Video, The Living Art of Ikebana, YouTube, 4/10/08.
Video, Picasso Painting Live, YouTube, 7/19/08.
Video, Shodo Japanese Calligraphy Demonstration – Senri no Doumo Ippokara, YouTube, 12/22/12.
Photo of Fallingwater in Western Pennsylvania, “Featured Artist: Frank Lloyd Wright—American Architect,” Arizona Experience, n.d.
Video, Sunset from space, YouTube, 12/12/10.


Synchronicity

bridge

This is one of those photographs that is so old it has the texture and feel (at least to me) of an oil painting. This is the Old Train Bridge (probably before it was called “old”), as taken from the North Side of Fredericton. Or is it? I know this is the North Side Green. Given the position of the Cathedral steeple on the South Side, this must be it. Now it is a pedestrian bridge. I haven’t crossed this bridge since 2011. Which doesn’t seem like a long time ago, except for everything that’s happened in the interim.

This is supposed to be a post about Ed Tech. I have been progressing nominally through Open Online Experience 2013. As mentioned in the Twitter feed, I have been greatly impressed by the course tool kit. The teaching online course had a number of excellent guest speakers. The Metaliteracy course is ticking along. Mostly I have been catching blog and Twitter posts associated with these courses. The other morning I got up at 2:30 for a synchronous session with my Ed.D cohort. Last month I missed all the synchronous events of a UCalgary Teaching Online Program (TOP) due to browser issues shutting down Elluminate. Now the fail has been fixed. Now the synchronous sessions are over for another month. There are some excellent, engaging discussions going on in all these MOOCs.

Living on the other side of the world from where one grew up feels pretty meta. There’s a huge delay between anything you’d like to do in real life, and what you are able to do with regards to reaching the home country. Technology enables all kinds of virtual actions. But it won’t get me into the Harvest Jazz & Blues Fest in Fredericton. And it won’t make it any easier to connect with friends and family except in tiny digital-slivers. We talk about “affordances and constraints” in regards to features of technology. When you are at a significant geographical remove, you tend to place a great deal of emphasis on your link to the home country. You wonder if people in the home country are thinking of you the same way. And the answer is: they absoloutely cannot be. The idea of synchronous communication through technology is great. But you have to do a great deal of mental gymnastics in order for it to be meaningful or effective. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Image from: Vintage Fredericton FaceBook group

 

 


artifact week 1

A  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 [...]

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…

@AZB

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?

WEEK 1 Artifact & Reflection

The artifact I created is essentially a summary of my journey this past week that includes keywords, visuals,  and snippets of things that stuck. Like some others, I thought I'd try at different tool - PowToon was fun to use! I suggest this might be a lot more interesting than the lengthy reflection that follows.



Making Sense of Week 1
It's almost the end of WK1 & my head is spinning. I've reviewed a lot of materials over the last days and due to other commitments had trouble attending all of the live webinars - I just managed to squeeze in Bates' presentation but wasn't in a clear headspace to get a lot out of it or contribute to the discussion. I have, however, enjoyed reading his work in the past did find the 9 Steps interesting:

  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
#5Master the Technology, presents a problem for me. How many teachers have time to master the technology before implementing it? If they feel they have to master it, chances are they may never use it. In my work, I advocate a one step at a time approach - select a tool, try and learn what you can, and let your students work with you and explore how well it contributes to the learning process. This approach connects with #3, Work in a Team, as my students become the team. Sometimes it is hard to connect with other colleagues.

Activity Reflection
KEYWORDS: enormity, chaos, head spinning, time consuming, challenging, barriers, energizing

What I did this week
I consumed a lot of material - readings, videos, pots, blog or group posts, sites... I jumped all over the place, and at times that made me feel totally overwhelmed and fragmented. But I'm committed to using this MOOC as an opportunity to embrace the chaos and not let my old ways influence or close me off to the experience. As for sense making I've tried to document as much as possible so that I dont get totally confused, lost and flustered [I like to think of myself as being organized. If I couldn't remember where I read something [there's just too much out there] I just went with it. I used my Diigo AboutMOOCs group, a handwritten journal, Evernote, monitored the Hangout and, occasionally, #tomooc. After culling for my own learning, in the Hangout, I went back through the posts and+1 all the references that I thought were useful, hopefully as a sign of my appreciation and to be a collegial. I usually only commented when I had something to add.

I like to think of myself as an open, progressive educator, but this course is showing me how linear and traditional I can be [sad but true]. I got involved in this MOOC because I wanted to learning about online teaching, experience an innovative MOOC - the cMOOC fits my philosophy - and thought I was ready. But the truth is that it's going to take a lot of work to rewire all those years of learning how to survive in academia and traditional schooling.

So What?
And to what end? The more I read - and by the way get excited about the possibilities - the more depressed I'm becoming about the state of education. What are the chances that I can actually bring this into my practice? I'm already fighting with my students to take ownership of their learning. Our educational system is so rigid and stuck in their ways. 

Challenges:
A few years ago I moved away from our institutional LMS as I felt constrained and wanted to be able to personalize my own online learning environment. This lead me to a line of research on participatory action research and personalizing virtual spaces - I've talked about this here: http://commons.pacificu.edu/edufac/17/

I've been really pleased with this direction, although it's a hard sell to the administration and even to my students [though most of them get it and appreciate it]. Then surprise, surprise, today I was listening to Stephen Downes talk about personal learning vs. personalized learning and realized that what I've created is a means of personalizing my own teaching & learning but not my students! I've got to go rethink that...

So this led to a question, can MOOCs really fit in education as it currently exits? I want my students to learn to be independent, self directed, and more importantly I want them to go out and teach that way. But how does that work when we are constrained by a system that focuses on marks - and especially for k-12 teachers - testing? cMOOCs are great, but I'm thinking it's going to be a hard sell.

What Next?
How do we effect change? I have to rethink, completely rethink what I've been doing.
I have a lot to learn.
I have to figure out how to practice what I believe is my responsibility as an educator within the constraints of my field as it currently exists and help my students see... [how do I do that?]

ALOHA from rainy London My new blog is…

ALOHA from rainy London!

My new blog is in a POEM..

Taking into account the postings on the community wall about short attention spans and since I often think in lyrics and colour.

Please enjoy and thank you once again for a great week of materials from all participants and Tutors.

http://sineadyism.edublogs.org/2013/09/13/once-upon-a-time-in-an-online-learning-course-poetry-in-mooc-motion/

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.

Responses to Veronica, Ida, Sara: 9/13/13

Veronica, “My week 1 journey of discovery” (9/13/13).

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 [self-directed learning]. 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.

Response: I like the way you’ve set off your key points in red. I also really like your question about what to mark up and what not to (and to what extent) — a constant issue with English and perhaps other teachers. My rough rule of thumb is to mark up when the goal is publication — in the student’s blog and possibly in course or campus journals. When the goal is interaction or communication related to the writing process, I don’t mark up. That is, I treat writing related to but outside the perimeters of the actual paper as “talk” about or for the paper and not the paper itself.

Refering to the article we should have read before this webinar – TB [Tony Bates]: 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?

Response: Good question! I’ve recorded the Bates webinar with plans to extract clips for a brief video of highlights for TOMOOC sharing, but it’s still sitting on my desktop. I’ve already published my take on the 9-steps article and am wondering if I should devote any more time to the video. The issue, for me, is information. What’s new? In her 9/13/13 blog post, “Week 1 Activity Reflection –,” Sara wrote, “While I didn’t necessarily find anything new in much of the information [in the various activities], I did discover that there was more research out there that I thought to back up what I already knew.” I feel the same way about the Bates info. Not enough that’s “new,” at least for me. I’ve also observed Bates at a recent (June 2013) conference

Ida Brandao, “MOOC How to Teach Online” (9/12/13).

I hope next webinars will be more interesting than those of this week. I think that they are too extensive and boring (my black hat). What was told in this first presentation could be reduced to a max. 15min long screencast. As for the blogging tools you get short tutorials in Youtube that are much more efficient to get you to the objective than a webinar of over 1 hour.

Response: I agree. As far as content delivery, these could have been remixed and repurposed for more efficient learning. However, my guess is that, for the MOOC planning team, these webinars are for more than just content. I think they want to create a “live” and more engaging learning environment, and by that they probably mean one that is as close to F2F seminars as possible. Thus, they’re placing a high premium on synchronous and real-time lectures and discussions.

The issue, as far as I’m concerned, is whether or not these “just like F2F” efforts are worthwhile in online courses. On the one hand, it may be necessary for those new to online learning who may need a familiar analog bridge from the old to the new. On the other, it seems to run counter to the anytime-anywhere digital world of virtual learning.

On yet another level, the issue is one of best practice. Are live webinars best practice for online learning? Put another way, is technical sophistication the end all? In other words, would a course (including MOOCs) be less without live webinars? From a purely technical perspective, the technology behind live webinars is complicated and not widely used by or accessible to classroom teachers. Thus, it’s cutting edge for those whose domain is technology. They see their task as demonstrating to the mass of teachers the technology that is still out of reach for most teachers. I’d probably feel as they do if I were an IT specialist.

This technology imperative is understandable, but it may sometimes be in conflict with what’s really best practice for online learning.

Sdreisbach (Sara) “Week 1 Activity Reflection –” (9/13/13).

I’m not sure I will make any changes.  At the school where I currently work we have a very strong online program that provides blank course shells to instructors.  This ensures that all students are getting the same information.  Because of this though, the instructor is actually more of a facilitator and many times is just grading assignments that have already been created for them.  The main thing I can do is present what I’ve learned to our designers and hope that they will incorporate some of these skills into the courses that they are designing.

Response: “Blank course shells” to ensure “that all students are getting the same information” and teachers “just grading assignments that have already been created for them” seems like a nightmare scenario for online teaching — at least to me. I wouldn’t want to, couldn’t, teach in an environment such as this. But then I realize that, perhaps for some teachers, this rote, linear, and formulaic approach to teaching is comforting and maybe even effective. Still, I really don’t think cookie-cutter course designing will work. This is just another version of teacher-proofing as so-called best practice, replacing variation with uniformity and reducing teacher to technician.

The problem centers on the nature of the course designing process. Maslow’s law of instrument seems applicable. If all the designer has is a one-size-fits-all solution, then every pedagogical problem will receive the same fix. In a word (and repeating what Bates says in his 9 steps), the design process must be flexible. Or put another way, the designer must be flexible — and the teacher, too.


Response to Tony’s Step 4: Build on existing resources

With each new semester, I have become more and more convinced that using available resources is helpful and necessary.  When I started teaching writing online, I produced a ton of original content to supplement the textbook.  In a way, it was an important step in my evolution as a f2f and online teacher. Like Greg and Tony mentioned in the webinars, it made me focus, articulate, and refine my goals and strategies.  (Yes, online teaching has improved my f2f teaching greatly!)   However, now, I definitely see the value in “using existing online resources rather than re-inventing the wheel” and  Tony’s other point:  “Indeed, if several of you are developing a program, then there is considerable scope for working collaboratively to develop high quality materials that can be shared.”  Of course, the work involved in further tailor what I have gathered from others can be labor-intensive, but it’s often better than starting from scratch.  For example, our department recently re-purposed and revised a online Library Competency Unit created by the main library staff that is better suited for our students at our smaller branch campus of the college. Now that we have this nice resource, more and more instructors in various departments want to use it.  That’s terrific.  This sharing has also led to valuable questions like : “Wait… in which classes should students be covering this content?  If they encounter the same material in different classes, is that bad or is it positive reinforcement?  etc.”  

Finally, I loved this reminder: “The main question is whether you as the instructor need to find such material, or whether it would be better to get students to search, find, select, analyze and apply information. After all, these are key ’21st century skills’ that students need to have.”   I can see myself doing more of this! Food for thought…

 

 


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

Our moderator, Greg Walker, sent me this link: http://www.connectivism.ca/?p=336

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

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

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

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

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


About sensemaking and artifacts

Thanks to our classmate Ida and others,  I’m starting to see now how I can use my blog as a record of reflection and depository of other related material I chance upon.  I guess I do engage in “sensemaking” and “artifact” collecting all the time. ;-)   I also gravitate toward having my community college students do so, but sometimes I back away from introducing them to this kind of process because I worry they’ll struggle with the technology (especially my older students) and get distracted or overly worried (they’re already overwhelmed by the college experience and fragile). Or, they’ll get so wrapped up in the fun of the technology (the younger students usually) that they’ll burn excess time in an already crowded semester.  Ex:  I thought about teaching them to use bubbl mind map online to collect quotes from their readings across the semester and represent their connections.  But… can they handle the tech?  Some could do it on paper with pens and sticky notes, I suppose.  It could be up to them.  Or, we could do one massive class bubbl… It starts to feel like there are a lot of possible glitches and things to work through, so I haven’t jumped into it, even though it could be a rich learning experience for us all.   Really, it’s the time pressure created by a tight class schedule that is not conducive to more exploration and unpredictable time-tables (how long will it take students to get started? how much time can they dedicate to this outside of class? if I want to use this with f2f students in a sort of hybrid model, how much time do I have to support f2f students online as well,?etc.)
Tanya


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



 

Use Human Touch to Engage Online Students

By Dr. John Thompson.TODAY- 10 am- 11 am, Hawaii Standard Time (HST). World Clock 

Online instructors first need to be engaged if they want their students engaged. Learn how “human touch” serves to get everyone engaged. Human touch is really all about creating and maintaining relationships. When students sense a trusting, caring relationship on the part of their instructor, students begin to perceive that their online experience is as much about them, or even more so, than the curriculum, projects, and test results. Students feel that their instructor is trying to establish a warm, supportive relationship, their sense of belonging and engagement increases. That’s just human nature.

Week 1 Activity Reflection –

1.  What?

   A.  Briefly describe what you did?

This week I attended all three webinar sessions as well as read several of the posted documents. 

2. So what?

A.  Describe why you did what you did.  What are your feelings about what you did?

            I attended the Tony Bates session because I’m new to the world of MOOCs.  I had hopes of learning more about MOOCs and what makes them different than a Credit Online Class.  While this was a good presentation, I felt like it and the discussion drifted from the differences between the two items into something that more resembled “What is a good MOOC?” 

I attended the Dr. Dreon session hoping to gain additional understanding about the reasons we teach online. I thought that maybe there were motivations other than those I was already aware of such as distance, flexibility, etc. 

I attended the wrap-up session because I thought maybe this might give me an opportunity to catch any information I missed during the week.  This was a good summary and it provided a nice overview of the webinars that were presented.  Additionally it pulled in some of the reading information which I think is helpful to some. 

When it comes to reading the posted documents, the ones I focused on were:  22 Secrets from the Most Successful Online Educators, Implementing the Seven Principals: Technology as Lever, Applying the Seven Principals for Good Practic to the Online Classroom.  Exploring Online Teaching, and Ten Best Practices for Teaching Online.  In regards to these readings, I found that I was already familiar with much of the information contained within them.  Also I felt that each document presented pretty much the same material just using different terminology.  With that in mind, looking back on it, I think I could’ve gotten by with just reading one or two of the documents rather than the whole pile.

B. How will this help you?

            All of these exercises added to my knowledge level about MOOCs in general and teaching specifically.  While I didn’t necessarily find anything new in much of the information, I did discover that there was more research out there that I thought to back up what I already knew.  I did learn how to find some of the articles so that I can provide them to the instructors I work with so that they can see that there is support for what I’m trying to show them. 

C.  What did you learn from the experience?

             I learned more about MOOCs and how they work.  I also learned that a lack of structure causes many learners to become frustrated with using MOOCS. After coming to this realization I am left to wonder if  the lack of structure and the frustration it produces are part of the reason so many students that enroll in a MOOC don’t complete it.  It seems that a defined structure with at the very least defining learning outcomes such as those found in most credit online courses is desirable in a MOOC. 

             Another thought that I didn’t really learn but actually had reinforced was the importance of communication.  Until it was mentioned here, I didn’t realize (or at least never had given much thought to) what the differences were between distance education and correspondence education and that the major difference between the two was the communication level.  However, I still wonder if a student taking an independent study through distance education doesn’t actually fall within the definition of correspondence education since the communication is basically between just the student and the instructor. 

3.  What now?

A.  What changes did you make?

I’m not sure I will make any changes.  At the school where I currently work we have a very strong online program that provides blank course shells to instructors.  This ensures that all students are getting the same information.  Because of this though, the instructor is actually more of a facilitator and many times is just grading assignments that have already been created for them.  The main thing I can do is present what I’ve learned to our designers and hope that they will incorporate some of these skills into the courses that they are designing. 

      B. What will you do differently in the future?

Again, I think that the main thing I can do is to present the information to our designers and encourage them to increase the amount of communication in the courses that they create.

C. What do you still have to learn?

               I believe I have a pretty sure foothold on the fundamentals.  I would like to learn more about things such as how to get students to participate. Also I want to learn more about teaching techniques such as how others reach out to various learning styles using the online environment.

OVERALL: 

I feel like I’ve come a long way this week.  My understanding of MOOCs has improved to the point where I’m experiencing much less frustration.  I’ve participated with some blog responses that have led to some interesting discussions which got me to thinking about how I do things. I think it’s been a good week and an I look forward to seeing what next week brings.

 

 

 

 

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.

Wizard attendees come from throughout the SUNY system and include IT professionals such as campus CIOs, DBAs, System Administrators and technical analysts. Wizard conferences include facilitated sessions, roundtables, panel and informal discussions where SUNY can get together to collaborate and share what is happening on their campuses. 


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 [...]

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 [...]

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
at clker.com
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?