It’s Not the End…

I can’t believe this course is over already!  But this doesn’t mean that all of the resources and information I have learned over the past couple of months is over; it means that I can now put all of these ideas into practice as the new school year starts!  There were so many interesting and creative websites and resources we explored here in class, many of them I will incorporate into my f2f classroom even if I am not teaching a strictly online course right away!

 

For me, developing the online course was one of the harder tasks of this course.  One reason I feel it was so difficult was because during the Module when I was required to develop the course the most, I still felt as if there were several other assignments and discussions I still had to complete too and I felt overwhelmed.  Since the online course was the most challenging of the assignments, I kept putting it off.

 

One main thing I learned about online environments and courses are how important it is for the students to feel motivated to be involved in the class.  I know when I was a student in high school, volunteering and sharing my voice and ideas was the most difficult thing to ask of a teenage.  Making that positive, student-centered environment in an online classroom is necessary because that is the way students are required to learn and be assessed.  Their understand through their participation is how the teacher can see their involvement and growth throughout the course.

 

Now that the course is completed, I feel very relieved.  I know I have accomplished and learned a lot during this summer course but knowing that the due dates and timelines are completely done is a great feeling!

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Wave of Information

As the course is wrapping up, our professor needs to assess all of the information we have learned and determine how much we have understood and can apply now.  We have received a lot of information throughout this course and one of the main things I have learned in past Modules and this Module was about how important assessments are when developing my online course.

 

Forms of assessments are needed when finishing any learning outcome.  “Assessment plays an important part in the learning process” (Assessment and Online Teaching, 2002).  Assessments are how one can tell if they have or not have learned.  “Assessment lies at the heart of the learning experience: how learners are assessed shapes their understanding of the curriculum and determines their ability to progress” (Davies, 2010).  Without assessments, there would be no way of knowing what has been learned meaning where to go next cannot be determined.

 

“When designing learning programs, the assessment criteria and assessment constraints are usually key determinants of the teaching and learning strategies chosen” (Assessment and Online Teaching, 2002).  This means that when designing your course or class, the design and formation of your assessment is just as important and necessary as the activities and assignments themselves.  They need to connect with one another.  “Designing learning activities takes place in real academic contexts in which any particular activity is likely to form part of a wider set of decisions involving the design of programs, modules, sessions and individual resources” (Knight, 2009).  The decisions behind creating an online course all connect and impact the next one.  The assessments need to be directly related to the learning outcomes of the tasks, assignments, and activities throughout the course to make the most sense and evaluate the most effectively.

 

As I look back at all of the information I have learned in this course and all of the information I require my students to learn in my online course, I am starting to see how much understanding and information can come from thoughtful and meaningful assessments.

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Work Cited:

“Assessment and Online Teaching: Australian Flexible Learning Quick Guide Series.” Australian National Training Authority. 2002. Web. 11 Aug 2014

Davies, Sarah.  “Effective Assessment in a Digital Age: A Guide to Technology-enhanced Assessment and Feedback.”  JISC. 2010. Web. 11 Aug 2014.

Knight, Sarah. “Effective Practice in a Digital Age: A Guide to Technology-enhanced Learning and Teaching.”  JISC.2009. Web. 11 Aug 2014.

Check the Checklist

During this Module, one of our first steps was to review our own online course using the Course Checklist and I found this a great tool to really look into my course to see what I was missing.  In the last Module, we now have to review and be reviewed by our classmates.  In Step 5 of the Manual, it states, “Having someone with a fresh perspective review your course is an excellent way to refine your materials.”  I feel that the checklist in general is a great way to go back and review the course but having others look at it and give input can be helpful too.  What I see is key in both of these actions is just the fact of going back over what you have already completed and making changes.  Going back and seeing what works and what doesn’t work or what could make things better and easier for students to understand and learn are what both of these activities encourage.  I find myself constantly going back to double check I have everything I mean to have in my online course and the more feedback I get, the better.

 

Although there is still plenty I need to add and change to my online course, some of the fundamental aspects of my course that we have learned and emphasized in our own class I believe are in there.  In the article Online Community of Inquiry Review: Social, Cognitive, and Teaching Presence Issues by D.R. Garrison, he reiterates the importance of class community and the teacher presence in the classroom.  Within my own online course, I have provided not only icebreaker activity for the students, but multiple activities and assignments that require the students to work with one another through multiple different Medias online.  I have also included the Course Community section where I welcome students to ask questions, make comments, and share suggestions to not only me, but the class as a whole.

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Work Cited:

“From the Classroom to the Web: How to Convert Your Classroom Course to an Online Asynchronous Environment.”  Online Course Development for Beginners. 2008:1-118. Web. 5 Aug 2014.

Garrison, D.R. “Online Community of Inquiry Review: Social, Cognitive, and Teaching Presence Issues.” Online Community of Inquiry Review: Social, Cognitive, and Teaching Presence Issues. Web. 5 Aug 2014.

 

Where Are You?

Where are you in terms of completion of your online course?

I am a little behind in the completion of my online course.  At one point I was too far ahead but now I find myself falling behind.  I have all of my ideas and plans in place for how I want my course to look at which assignments and activities for my students but actually fitting them into the course in a logical and visually attractive way is very time consuming.  I constantly find myself just going through my course looking at all of the things I need to add and change and the list just keeps growing and growing.  I know I am on the right track with what and how my course is developing, I am just moving at a slower pace than I know I should be.

 

How are you doing? What do you need to complete your online course?

Overall, I think I am doing alright with my online course.  I have the outline of my course pretty much complete but I still need to go deeper into actually developing and explaining my specific tasks and assignments.  Some of these larger pieces are actually developing my discussion questions for each Module and recording voicethread lessons and posts for the class.  There are a few cosmetic points here and there that I still need to address like components in my Course Community and un-underlining texts in my course that aren’t links, but those are not so much hard, just time consuming.

 

What have you learned so far about yourself during this process?

So far, during this process, I have learned that I am not as tech savvy as I initially thought I was.  I have never created a Moodle course and although I am figuring it out as the course goes, there is a lot to think about when developing an online course and the technology choices and challenges do effect how well I am able to work on it.

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Community

Throughout this Modules readings and presentations, a lot of focus has been put on developing an understanding and definitions of “teaching presence.”  Throughout both the Breeze Presentation: Teaching Presence and Class Community and Shea reading, “Teaching presence has three components: Instructional Design and Organization, Facilitating Discourse, and Direct Instruction” (Shea et al. 2003). I find that as a teacher, I have found many ways to develop my teacher presence and a class community in my f2f classroom, but I need to learn ways to do the same thing for my online classroom as well!

As a learner in this online class, I feel I have been exposed to numerous ways to help create class community and teacher presence.  The concept of VoiceThread throughout an online course, and especially during the first few days, is very beneficial “Students find that the ability to see and hear their instructor and classmates improves the sense of social presence of others in the classroom” (Orlando, 2010). This allows everyone to see a face or hear a voice with their classmates just like a f2f classroom.  “Good learning environments are also community centered” (Shea et al. 2003).  This assignment was really to focus on all of us to become more comfortable with each other.

I plan on using VoiceThread in my online course both as a way to develop class community at the beginning of the course and as a way to maintain it by having the students continue to use it for weekly interactions as well.  I really like how it gives students options as to how they would like to post but always provides a visual for the rest of the class to see them.  I would like to find other online tools that also allow students to have the choices of different formats besides text to respond in online classes.

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Work Cited:

Pickett, Alexandra. “Understanding Teaching Presence and Class Community Online.” Breeze Presentation: Teaching Presence and Class Community. Web. 18 July 2014.

Orlando, John, PhD. “Using VoiceThread to Build Student Engagement.” Faculty Focus Using VoiceThread to Build Student Engagement Comments. N.p., 12 May 2010. Web. 21 July 2014.

Shea, Peter J., Pickett, Alexandra M., & Pelz, William E. “A Follow-up Investigation of “Teaching Presence” in the SUNY Learning Network.” JALN.7.2 (2003). 61-80. Web. 16 July 2014.

MERLOT Tasting

I found the MERLOT website to be a helpful resource to know about.  I am used to being able to find useful and credited peer reviewed articles online before, but I have not found an alternative search tool besides Google to search for activity materials and resources online.  I know of a lot of good teacher website that promote and share actual lessons, but I like MERLOT because I can search for ideas that can enhance my previous lessons and units.

One of the materials I found when first searching on the site was 91 Ways to Respond to Literature. This resource has numerous suggests for both possible final projects and even some activities to use while reading a piece of literature in class.  I already had my projects decided for my online class, but this site is definitely something I will use in the future for not only ideas but to find online resource to enhance units in the future.

In Step 4 of the Manual, it states to “explore the internet for resource to enhance and support your learning activities and the design of your course.”  I plan on to keep exploring more materials on MERLOT to find tools or sites to add and aide students in the online course I am developing.  Finding different ways to keep my students engaged and active in my online class is important to hold their interest and also to give them different opportunities to learn and express their knowledge.

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Work Cited:

“91 Ways to Respond to Literature.”  Web. 16 July 2014.

“From the Classroom to the Web: How to Convert Your Classroom Course to an Online Asynchronous Environment.”  Online Course Development for Beginners. 2008:1-118. Web. 16 June 2014.

MERLOT.  Multimedia Educational Resource for Learning and Online Teaching. N.p., n.d. (1997). Web. 16 July 2014.

 

Why Do I Do Things That I Do?

Why do I do the things that I do? Because I love what I do; I love helping and teaching my students to understand concepts and expand their thoughts and reasoning behind them.  I think my teaching practices reflect what has worked for me in the past as a student and what I have found in my own research through schooling as well.  I know that adapting and changing is part of the process because not only do best practices and methods themselves change, but the strengths and needs of my students do as well.

In Alexandra’s presentation, “Keys to Success,” she mentioned what makes a good online instructor which included passion for teaching, whow you teach, commitment and time to develop, complete course prior to teaching, institutional/administrative support (Keys to Success).  I truly think that my passion and commitment to learning and wanting to improve my teaching methods help drive me to become a better teacher.  Although I have never taught an online course, I feel that I could eventually develop and improve to acquire these other qualities to make myself more of an effective online teacher in the future.

Something that I would like to try that was mentioned in one of this Module’s required readings is students led discussions (Pelz, 2004).  Plez mentioned that although he himself was skeptical about having students lead and determine discussion topics, they were able to understand that “it is in their best interest to select important and multidimensional issues to discuss” (Pelz, 2004). This is something I would like to try in a future online class of mine.  I too am skeptical that my students would want to take the easy way out or not contribute enough thought and effort into it, but I hope if I expect more from my students, they should rise to the challenge.  This would also help reinforce the focus on learner-centered classrooms that I mentioned in my previous post!

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Work Cited:

Pickett, Alexandra. “Keys to Success: Are You Ready to Develop an Online Course?” Sloan-C. (2001). Web 25 June 2014.
Pelz, William E. “(My) Three Principles of Effective Online Pedagogy.” JALN,8.3 (2004). Web 26 June 2014.

Unplugged for the Week

For the past week, I have been without my laptop and it has been harder than I thought.  I did most of the readings at the very start of the Module before I didn’t have it, and I was able to read some of the articles and watch the video presentations through my smart phone.  I tried to attempt composing discussion posts and blog posts through my phone, but it was almost impossible for me.  Not only is trying to write whole paragraphs with my thumbs next to impossible, I had the hardest time staying focused and not being distracted while on my phone!

 

This experience has made me think about how technology issues can truly impact the learning abilities in an online course.  Since my course is designed for high school students, the frustration level of teenagers can become even higher or escalate even faster due to the lack of experience of dealing with this kind of responsibility.  One of the disadvantages of online courses is the unreliability of technology and internet connection (Hurt, 2008).  I know I felt lucky that this course has two week long Modules so not having access to complete my work for a week didn’t impact my ability to work too much but it could be worse if it was shorter!

 

This experience then made me think about some of the other disadvantages online courses could have on students abilities to not only complete work, but learn as well.  One of the other disadvantages mentioned in the previous article was “differences in individual learning styles affect an on-line student’s chances of success” (Hurt, 2008).  Although this can definitely be true in most cases, I do feel that if learner-centered classes are developed, this does not have to be an issue.

 

After watching and reading the required tasks, one thing I found that supports what it means to really have an online course be “learner-centered” is having the students be aware of the importance of being apart of the learning and class in general.  “Strong interdependence with others and the feeling of being a member of a stable group and the idea that available technologies can be used to expand and support a sense of community” (West et al, 2012).  I think this goes beyond just having the students feel that they are a part of the online community, but more towards the feeling that they can have some of the control of what is being learned within this community; truly making them engaged in the process.

 

There are multiple ways for students to feel they are the center of the learning within an online class.  One way is through Alexandra Pickett Reflects on Social Presence and Affective Expression where she suggests having multiple ways to have students’ express themselves and gives the students choice.  Students can have the control of how the deliver information and their understanding back to the teacher and class. One suggestion of doing this was through the use of VoiceThread.  Students can have the choice and power of choice which will enhance their feeling of being in control of their learning.  Another way to empower learners within the online community is to have them look at their own involvement in the course.  “The best form of evaluation, however, is self-evaluation” (Scorza, 2005).  Having students reflect and notice themselves of their involvement in an online course puts the focus on them as well.  This can help students be aware of how much their participation and voice in the online community can affect the learning process.

 

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Work Cited:

Hurt, Joyce. “The Advantages And Disadvantages Of Teaching And Learning On-Line.” Delta Kappa Gamma Bulletin 74.4 (2008): 5-11. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 July 2014.

Pickett, Alexandra. “Alexandra Pickett Reflects on Social Presence and Affective Expression.” YouTube. YouTube, 17 May 2012. Web. 25 June 2014.

Scorza, Jason A.“Do Online Students Dream of Electric Teacher.” JALN 9.2 (2005): 45-52. Web 19 June 2014.

West, Elizabeth, Phyllis Jones, and Sarah Semon. “Promoting Community for Online Learners in Special Education.” Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education 28.3 (2012): 108-16. Web. June 19 2014.

Diving in!

I feel that I have official dove into the process of starting to create my online course!  I am just beginning and somehow I feel like I have gotten far on the outline of the course, even though I still know there is so much left to do!  I think I added everything I needed to for this Module and I started playing around with some of the other features as well even though I don’t think we are there yet.   I think I just got so into playing around with the lay and developing what I wanted my course to look like, I wanted to see what all the features Moodle could offer!

I found the Manual helpful in knowing what components to include when creating the course outline on Moodle.  But what really got my through each step was the How To Videos.  I couldn’t tell if the model of Moodle was a little outdated or maybe it was just because of the different internet and computer systems we had, but either way, the whole process was very easy to follow and understand!

What I learned about myself through this process was how helpful those video directions and examples truly are!  I’ll admit, I was pretty spectacle about having to create a whole online course without being able to have a teacher over my shoulder to help with any questions or problems, but I didn’t really have any after going through each video!  I feel that I am interacting pretty well in the course so far.  I have been keeping up with the assignments even though I know there are still corrections to be made to improve my grades.  This course is a lot of work and I am proud of myself for being able to keep up with all of the tasks and assignments thus far!

I know it is kind of a pain to have to re-record the How To Videos often, but for some students, especially if I was to teach a collaborative high school online course, having different versions or visuals while giving directions would only cause for more confusion and error.  The different Moodle formatting didn’t throw me off too much personally, but I feel that I am pretty good with figuring computer stuff out.   I don’t think I can say the same for everyone else though, including those students in high school and especially those with learning disabilities.  This would be something I would consider changing or updating each year.

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Work Cited:

“From the Classroom to the Web: How to Convert Your Classroom Course to an Online Asynchronous Environment.” Online Course Development for Beginners Course Development for Beginners Course Development for Beginners Course Development for Beginners (2008): 1-118. Web. 24 June 2014.

Pickett, Alexandra. “”How to Create Your Own Course Information Area in Your Own Moodle Course” Videos.” University at Albany – School of Education: Login to the Site. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 June 2014.

Getting Feedback

After viewing the “What Works?: LD Basics for the Online Classroom presentation, one key aspect of an online class I noted was “effective online professors are responsive and present in the course.”  One way that I feel my professor in this course is very “responsive and present in the course” is through her thorough feedback.  There are different aspects of her feedback that improve the community and effectiveness of an online course which are the quantity and quality of her feedback along with the different formats and modes she uses to portray them to us.

Quantity and Quality

Receiving feedback from both peers and the professor in this course is, I feel, very helpful.  I not only appreciate the fact that most of the work I complete is given feedback very quickly, but also the amount of suggestions and comments I receive that most effective my learning.  Geographic “distance” doesn’t necessarily translate into “emotional distance” (Scorza, 2005).  An involved teacher can still create that relationship and connectedness with students through the communication of giving feedback.

Not all feedback has to be when something needs to be fixed or corrected either.  “Positive feedback was more beneficial than negative feedback to academic self-concept” (Chen et al, 2011).  Responding to both the positives that students are doing and also to what needs to be corrected are both important for being responsive in an online course.  I know that when I am in a face-to-face classroom, it is very simple to verbally tell a student “good job” by observing their progress on a task and it can be just that simple on an online course too!

Format

One challenge of creating an effective community in an online course was the “communication systems make the development of relationships between students and instructors, and among students themselves, more difficult because they generally do not allow for the kinds of visual and oral cues permitted” (Scorza, 2005).  The current online course I am in shows how visual and audio cues are still possible in an online class!  Throughout this course, I have received written feedback as replies on my discussion boards or comments here on my blog along with video and audio feedback from the blog as well!  I also found in my research that there is “belief that multimodal feedback allows for a wider range of individual learning styles and preferences” (Seror, 2012).  Providing oral feedback as environmental reinforcement plays a crucial role in the development of students’ self-concept.  (Chen et al, 2011).  Having multiple modes of feedback is “more likely to provide a learning experience that students will find memorable combine both visual and auditory input, thus advancing earlier explorations of the use of audio-recorded feedback and podcasting as an alternative to handwritten marginal notes” (Seror, 2012).  I know I appreciate as a student the different formats of receiving my feedback to be very helpful in understanding and feeling connected to my teacher.

 

I plan on doing all of these types of feedback in my own online class because they do promote an effective online community through the communication.  I need to figure out how to create those PowerPoints with voice over like the one “What Works?: LD Basics for the Online Classroom and the screenshot videos blog reflections from Moodle.

 

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Work Cited:

Chen, Yi-Hsin, et al. “Relations Of Student Perceptions Of Teacher Oral Feedback With Teacher Expectancies And Student Self-Concept.” Journal Of Experimental Education 79.4 (2011): 452-477. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 June 2014.

Scorza, Jason A. “Do Online Students Dream of Electric Teacher.” JALN 9.2 (2005): 45-52. Web 19 June 2014.

Seror, Jeremie.  “Show me! Enhanced Feedback Through Screencasting Technology.” TESL Canada Journal  30.1 (2012): 104-16. Web. 19 June 2014