December 6

Can we reduce the number of posts required in an online discussion?

I was asked recently about the standard practice of online discussions – 2 weeks per discussion, 1 response and 2 replies. This is a fairly standard ubiquitous practice and considered a best practice by most online practitioners.

But it is based on anecdotal lived experiences of early online practitioners. If you know of any research on this I would love to see it. I think we have moved past the one size fits all stage of practices in this field of online teaching and learning.

This is a really hard complex question, because it depends… if online discussions and/or more specifically the questions, are not well designed, or discussions not are not well facilitated, or interaction is not valued highly, in terms of the percentage of the grade… it doesn’t matter how many, or how few posts you require … How interactions (discussions)/posts are valued, assessed, or contribute to student learning is what is important. Also, important is whether that is the same for every course for every instructor in your department/program/institution…

This question is about the quantity and quality of interaction (discussion) between students and/or the instructor, – which we know are strong predictors of online student satisfaction and reported learning, and if leaning might be impacted by reducing quantity (not quality). Or, assuming the quality is there, if there might be variables like the discipline/ type of course, or level in the program -first year/vs Jr. or undergrad vs masters… where quantity matters more, or less.

If one perceives pressure to make an online course/program more self-paced to compete with other programs which might be doing that, or because one’s students are, let’s say working adults who are too busy to interact, I’m not sure those are the right decision drivers.

I think the course, content, discipline, instructor, and level of the student should drive those decisions, but again I am not aware of any research-based guidance/recommendations for course/curriculum designers on this issue.

What do you think?

October 3

Open Pedagogy ≠ OER

Context: Open Pedagogy does not require the use/creation of open educational resources.

In a 2013 blog post David Wiley defined open pedagogy as being directly connected to the 4R permissions of Open Educational Resources (OER). He said, “Open pedagogy is that set of teaching and learning practices only possible in the context of the free access and 4R permissions characteristic of open educational resources.”

In 2014 Tom Woodward in a Campus Technology interview with Mary Grush defined open pedagogy as a broad and holistic set of values and approaches. “Looking at open pedagogy as a general philosophy of openness (and connection) in all elements of the pedagogical process, while messy, provides some interesting possibilities. Open is a purposeful path towards connection and community. Open pedagogy could be considered as a blend of strategies, technologies, and networked communities that make the process and products of education more transparent, understandable, and available to all the people involved.”

Tannis Morgan in 2016 blogged about the history of the term open pedagogy tracing it to a Canadian educator in 1979 named Claude Paquette who “…outlines 3 sets of foundational values of open pedagogy, namely:  autonomy and interdependence; freedom and responsibility; democracy and participation.” Morgan observed that “open pedagogy is currently a sort of proxy for the use and creation of open educational resources, as opposed to being tied to a broader pedagogical objective.”

In 2018, to address this problem of conflating open pedagogical practices with the use and creation of open educational resources, David Wiley has updated his thoughts on this and proposed the term “OER-enabled pedagogy” defined as “the set of teaching and learning practices that are only possible or practical in the context of the 5R permissions which are characteristic of OER.”

This context is important because for decades before the advent of OER, the term “open pedagogy” has been associated with learner-centered pedagogical practices. Online teaching and learning, and the advent of the social web and web 2.0 technologies, have inspired innovations in the use of freely available web tools for instructional purposes allowing educators and learners to rethink the role of content in instruction; to expand the concept of teaching presence beyond the role of the instructor to include the learners in the classroom; to focus on interaction and collaboration between learners in the social construction of knowledge; and to devise more effective/efficient ways to provide feedback and to assess learning. The power and public nature of the social web present endless opportunities, options, AND choices for how learners can make their thinking and learning visible in the online class environment.


References

Wiley, D. (2013, October 21), “What is Open Pedagogy.” iterating toward openness. Retrieved from https://opencontent.org/blog/archives/2975

Grush, M. (2014, November 12), “Open Pedagogy: Connection, Community, and Transparency Q&A with Tom Woodward.” Campus Technology. Retrieved from https://campustechnology.com/Articles/2014/11/12/Open-Pedagogy-Connection-Community-and-Transparency.aspx?Page=1

Morgan, T. (2016, December 21), “Open pedagogy and a very brief history of the concept.” Explorations in the Ed Tech World. Retrieved from https://homonym.ca/uncategorized/open-pedagogy-and-a-very-brief-history-of-the-concept/

Wiley, D., Hilton, III, J. (2018). Defining OER-Enabled Pedagogy. International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 19(4), 133-147. Retrieved from http://www.irrodl.org/index.php/irrodl/article/view/3601/4769

June 4

Tools I use to enhance my instruction and to actively engage online learners

They are project-based with opportunity to apply, authentically experience, design, practice.

I use a variety of social media/web tools that are external to the course management system.

  • To enhance the presentation of online course content.
  • To facilitate engagement and interaction with course material and between learners in the online teaching and learning environment.
  • To enhance the presentation of feedback.
  • To give the learners in the online course options and choices in how they make their thinking and learning (and their progress) visible to me and others in the class.
  • To provide access to course materials beyond the end of the term.
  • To build connection and community among past, present and future learners in the online course.
  • To self-disclose, demonstrate social presence, establish trust and a sense of class community and model the academic and professional uses of the social web.
  • To expose learners to tools and utilities that may have potential to enhance instruction.
  • To test the potential of these tools for instructional purpose and observe their effects on learners.
    • voicethread – An online media album of any type of media (images, text, documents, and videos). I user it as an ice-breaking activity. This example uses a video of my daughter introducing me from her perspective, as well as slides to do deeper more contextualized introductions including, experiences relevant to the course, prior knowledge, expectations, etc.
      • How I use VT
    • diigo – A social bookmarking tool.
      1. Used to bookmark, highlight, comment upon ,and share all references used/shared in the course and by all participants.
      2. Used to create a dynamic link roll of resources that automatically updates the latest additions to the shared class annotated bibliography of resources curated by the course participants – access to this bibliography remains available to students beyond the end of the term.
      3. Used to facilitate instructor feedback on learner-generated work posted on the web, e.g., feedback provided on learner blogs via the highlight and comment features of diigo make providing learning feedback more efficient and easier for the instructor.
    • edublogs – education-focused blog platform (wordpress for education with a .edu url extension and the ability to link instructor and student blogs in classes).
      1. Used to keep metacognitive journals and reflections/feedback on the online course teaching and learning experiences.
        1. Example instructor blog: http://etap640.edublogs.org
        2. See also learner blogs linked to off the instructor blog above.
    • netvibes – to aggregate and display student blogs.
    • twitter – micro blog.
      1. Used in this course for newsflash type announcements, questions, interaction. https://twitter.com/i/#!/alexpickett/etap-640-summer-2012 and https://twitter.com/etap640
      2. Used to introduce learners to the power of the social web, building an online digital network, identity, and voice that contributes to the online discourse on topics of academic and professional interest.
    • jing – a screen capture tool used to provide instructions, feedback, and clarification to online learners. (5-minute limit on the free version).
      1. Showing is often easier and more efficient than writing.
      2. Screencast-o-matic for 15-minute screencasts.
      3. Online learners can use this to present projects, critiques, etc.
    • screencast – a Techsmith repository affiliated with the jing project that gives me the ability to create a playlist of my “how-to” videos in my course.
    • audacity – a free audio recording utility used to record audio comments & feedback for online learners, as well as content in the form of interviews with exemplary online faculty.
    • podomatic – a podcasting platform used to deliver the audio feedback created with audacity as an embedded playlist widget. See podcasted student feedback examples on online course learning activities.
    • youtube – an online video platform to record and view course-related video materials.
      1. online asynchronous video discussion to bring “rockstars” into the class and blur the boundaries of the online learning classroom environment “box”.
      2. See also the course videos playlist.
    • vimeo – to post course-related video materials.
      1. See the screencasted feedback course reviews.
    • voki – a speaking avatar used for announcements in this course.
      1. Example: Welcome to ETAP640!
    • breeze – used to create voice-annotated powerpoint course materials.
    • polldaddy – survey tool used to collect feedback from students on the course.
    • rate my professor – professor rating tool.
    • jumpscan – a QR code generator used to create a scan-able QRcode with information about this course.
    • Facebook – to build community among and between course participant cohorts.
    • Padlet – an online multimedia bulletin board.
      1. Used for online learners at the end of the course to leave tips and comments for the next cohort of online learners.
        1. Example1
        2. Example 2
    • Powtoon – a tool to make graphic animated presentations.
      1. An option for student presentations.
June 16

#etap640 Blog feedback

Feedback on your blogs.
video 1 – alena, alicia, andrea, arnaldo

video 2 – arnaldo cont., catherine, donna, emily, jessica, kasey

video 3 – kate, linda, mike, rhonda, Samantha, Sherri

video 4 – teresa, elena, alex, george

May 4

What 2013 students have to say about this course…

 I have never been challenged like this in any other grad class. Your course has single handedly given me a new outlook on who I am as a teacher, and more importantly as a person. I can’t thank you enough for this experience!

When we began our journey at the beginning of the summer, I continually asked myself: “What have you got yourself into.  I feel overwhelmed! Can I pull this off? Should I drop this class? Is it worth it? How could I ever build an entire online class over the course of a summer? Is she nuts? ….Oh yes, she’s definitely nuts!” Boy was I wrong on every account! This course has not challenged me as a student, as an educator, but as a  person. This course has been the most intense course that I have ever taken. Each week, we have worked towards creating an online course that I am most certainly proud of. …I have a course that is ready to go live. A course that will challenge and engage my students. The process to get to this point was challenging, but each step along the way has made me a better educator…

If one fails this course, it’s truly not because of the instructor. It’s because one chose not to use every single item that you have given us to our advantage.

The best quote from this class that I will use until the day I die, “Assume Nothing, Anticipate Everything”. – Dan Hacker

It has been great to work with a professor who gets to know you as a person and student and spends the time to give you feedback. As I am ending my masters, I wish I had taken this course before other online classes as I truly felt part of a class and this is due to understanding the online class community and my part in it. ETAP 640 is a great course! At this point, I feel any teacher who is teaching should take this course for multiple reasons.  This course does not just teach about online teaching, it speaks about what is necessary for the future of our students and if we truly are educators we want the BEST for our students!  The best for our students is very different that the past had offered. – Celeste Sisson

This has been an amazingly special course. I am really sad that it is ending. I am inspired. Thank you for pushing me out of my comfort zone. Your presence and ability to form relationships at a distance is brilliant!

This course held a mirror up to the learner in me. Inside I want to connect with others. The social element in learning is vital. I want to connect, I want to be validated and I want to feel safe in my learning spaces. I want to learn from someone who is passionate about their subject and teaching. I want to be inspired and I want to feel like I am making a contribution. All of these elements have been present in our discussion forum. We have exchanged ideas, thoughts and we have been able to thoughtfully disagree.

This course has been an example of how we can create learner centered instruction, promote curiosity and creativity while appreciating and embracing diversity.

This class had had many layers to it. On the surface of this course we have learned how to put an online course together. We have learned the principles of effective online instruction and the philosophies that surround interactions on line. Throughout the course each of us began to dig a little deeper. Some of us even dug down to the core of who we are as individuals. I have been one of the lucky ones who is looking inward at what lies at the source of my passion. I am really reflecting on what is at the soul of my teaching? Why do I feel so compelled to be a part of educational reform? Why can’t I continue to do my job, as hundreds and thousands do daily, without changing? My voice has been validated, and I am not sure if this is the design of the course or a course that my heart should follow.– Heather Kurto

If there is one thing that I have learned in the last few weeks of ETAP640 it’s that the grade is secondary to the learning, the grade is meaningless if it is not backed up by actual knowledge and education. And boy have I learned.

I chose, for my course, a subject that would – in my mind – be almost impossible to teach online! The problem with this theory and my plans: Every obstacle that I thought I’d engineered for myself was never an obstacle, every problem became an opportunity, every difficulty and area that I thought would give me a challenge or I expected to fail turned out to a chance to create something new, to do something different, to think outside of what I believed to be conventional and an opening to reconceptualize the norm into something fresh.

I failed to fail. Everything that I thought couldn’t work did.

So onto to the next step, applying everything that I have learned about student-centered classrooms, using social networking tools, Flow, peer assessments, teaching presence etc. etc. to my F2F classroom and thinking about the creation of future online classes – Dramatic Literature, Shakespeare, Scenes, (how would you teach scene work online???), Set Design, Greek Theatre, Absurdist Theatre the list is endless and none of them unachievable, I know that now. “Can a drama class be taught online?” Yes, absolutely, yes. –  Luke Fellows

I am so glad that I decided to take this course. Participating in this course and reflecting on my learning here has really helped me to gain confidence in my skills as an instructional designer!

When I was deciding which course to take over the summer, I wasn’t sure if “Introduction to Online Teaching” was the right choice for me. While it is relevant to my work when helping instructors design their online or blended courses, I am not a teacher in a traditional sense. This course has not only refined my ideas of pedagogy, but also has dragged me into understanding the role technology plays in effective teaching for the 21st century. Now that I am coming to the end of ETAP640, I know that online education in many ways is better suited to today’s student. I have learned how pedagogy can meld with the current technology tools to create effective teaching and learning environments. Taking advantage of this is not only important for online instruction, but can also inform and improve face to face education.

I have noticed on my journey through this course is that I was able to make connections that led to meaningful insights.  During several of the modules, I would read and digest the materials, participate in the discussion, go through the learning activities.  At the end of the module, I would focus my blog post on the major themes that formed in my mind throughout the module.  Often these insights would be main themes introduced in the next module.  I really appreciated that the course was able to allow me to reach these conclusions in my own way, rather than just telling me “the line between direct instruction and facilitation of discourse can be blurred”.   Recognizing this ability in myself has given me a lot of confidence as an instructional designer, and has taught me that the passion that I have for instructional design will allow me to be successful in this field.

The process of blogging in this course has led me to have another really huge insight about reflection.  In previous courses I’ve taken, I have felt that I was so focused on completing the assignments that I really had little chance to digest what I had learned, or what I was learning, connecting, discovering, etc.  Through the blog assignments in this course, I have been able to make the big connections, and form ideas in a way that previously has been difficult for me.  I think this is because we have been encouraged to think about, focus on, and reflect about what and how we are learning.  I feel as though the reflection assignments have provided the context for my brain to think in a different way.  This not only gives me confidence for the future, but it also helps me to discover the connections I have made unconsciously!  It seems kind of strange to say that, but it is true!  I am hoping to continue to use blogging as a tool to document my insights and learning after the course ends. – Maree Michaud-Sacks

…great course. It is very relevant to what I’m doing now and what I hope to be doing. 🙂

I have learned a lot about the process of creating an online course.  No, creating an effective and engaging online course. One with solid objectives, varied assessments that tie back to the objectives, activities with a purpose, visual appeal, consistency in naming conventions, Web 2.0 tools that enhance instruction, SS and ST interaction, well written discussion prompts, and proper organization.  It is possible!

How are we doing this?  Creating a course.  Evaluating and analyzing exemplar courses, and each others’.  Applying what we’ve learned as we go.  How do I know I have learned?  Because I have created something, and it is awesome.  I understand how and why I did it, and I could do it again.  This isn’t one of those ‘forget the info as soon as the class is over’ deals.  This is something that relates to what I do for a living, and want to continue to do.  I need this information, and will continue to use it.

One cool thing about this course is the ‘meta’ quality.  We’re learning quality design of an online course in a course with quality design.  It of course makes sense for the course about design to be a good example of design.

I have been responding to discussions in all my [online] courses here, but really never studied the construction of the questions.  Like everything else, the way it is worded is purposeful in what is included, what is left out, how and why it is asked, to try to elicit certain types of responses.  It isn’t easy to write a good discussion question, but it is essential for a productive discussion. I tried to include several elements in mine – open ended questions, outside research, creativity, and relevance to the student’s life.  – Mary Huffman

I appreciate the … encouragement throughout the course! From the very first day I must say that I was nervous about the prospects of making an online course. I was unsure whether I would be able to use the course, but as we went through the semester, and we learned more, I picked up many tools that I can apply in my classroom. I also learned about how to use my online presence to help students develop more.

Before this course I would have considered discussion one of the least important aspects of the course. This came from experiences that I had in other courses where we did not use discussion. After finishing this course I have learned of the huge impact it can make on a class. My understanding of the material was much better in this class than in my other classes.

In this course I also learned why discussion is such an important part in online learning. I learned about the different presences that are developed when students interact with a course. I also learned about how differentiating instruction online will help students develop these different presences.  I had no idea that you could make such an effect by simply talking directly to a student. It helps the student feel like the teacher individualizes instruction and at the same time speaks to a classroom community.

I tried to go through each [of my] discussion activities and make sure they provided students with the opportunity to engage each other. This not only builds the classroom community, but it also builds a student’s cognitive presence. By setting up my classroom this way, I have provided the students to take control. This is something I wanted to emphasize in the classroom because I feel that when students take control they also become more motivated. -Ryan Mulligan

I’m so used to turning to my professor for all of the answers and I can truly say in this class that I learned from every member of the class community.  When the course first opened I remember being so annoyed by all of the emails that came through from the course.  But pretty quickly I came to look forward to those emails so that I could follow the class discussions as they evolved.  

In this course not only will I remember my instructor’s name – I will also remember my classmates’ names. That’s pretty remarkable!

I came in to this course eager to learn but not so eager about online education.  I wasn’t sure that I would learn as much online as I would in a residential classroom.  I was proven wrong!  I learned a tremendous amount with the help of my instructor and classmates.  This makes me more enthusiastic about finding future opportunities to both teach and learn online. I have felt anxious, excited, frustrated, engaged, overwhelmed, accomplished, and confused.  The good news is that I’ve pushed through the difficult to get to the rewarding.  I wish that there was an effective way to prepare students for the fact that learning is an emotional roller coaster.

I have understood metacognition and reflective practice intellectually, but the experience of blogging in this course has given me a deeper understanding of the effectiveness of these concepts. Hey – look at that – something I learned!  It’s funny in this course how many things I have understood theoretically now make sense based on practice.  That’s pretty powerful. It has been a pretty powerful experience. And because my learning is based on experience my guess is that I will retain these lessons. – Anne Deutsch

This course has taught me that I am a teacher! …this course has really brought it home. I know where my passion lies now. She teaches with a student-centered approach and guided my learning so I would be able to not only learn it, but retain what I have learned. Before taking this course I felt that I knew everything there was to know about online courses given that I have worked in online courses for over 12 years. I now know I had a lot more to learn. I knew from being a student and from working in online courses that students want more than to read a didactic text based course for college credit. Now I have learned what exactly students want and need and I have learned some of the methods for incorporating student-centered opportunities in online courses. I also learned how, when and why to incorporate technology to enhance student interaction and engagement. I know how important community building is and that I can incorporate a tool such as voicethread to start community building with a course ice-breaker. I really feel as though I am a teacher and with what I have learned I can make a difference in the online courses I work in everyday– Diana Cary

I have never met Alex, our instructor, but I certainly feel like I have. Her presence was felt in every aspect of the course! It was very interesting to observe when our she would get involved in the discussion forums, and most of the time it was to bring them to a higher level, by forcing us to “dig deeper,” one of her favorite terms. Looking back, I learned an incredible amount and am feeling very positive  about all of my accomplishments. My golf game suffered, but small sacrifice for what I gained, and if this course assists me with employment opportunities in the instructional design field, then I will be extremely grateful!! – Hedy Lowenheim 

This course has been an amazing learning experience that I wouldn’t change for anything.  I have been challenged more than I could have asked for.  This is my first semester as a University at Albany and this is one of the 2 courses that I am taking.  I am excited for what the future holds since I know I will be a life long learner. After taking this course I have considered becoming a professor possibly even an online professor. This course has taught me to keep on learning.  What I mean by that is sometimes you are given assignments to complete.  It is what you do beyond those assignments that help you to gain insight and knowledge.  My favorite part of this course was turning the discussions into our own learning experience through research.  We could take take the discussions in a direction that interested us which in turn actually taught us something.  We also were able to read our classmates discussion posts and learn about what they were interested in.  It was almost like the course was student led.  I feel like I have had a different learning experiences in this course which has shaped me into a new kind of learner.  I am more of a go getter now who wants to keep learning more. My learning was shaped by my peers and the discussions that we had.  Without them my learning experience would have not been the same. During this course I have learned a lot of valuable information that I will be able to take with me in life.  To start I have learned that I am capable of anything I put my mind to.  This course pushed me to see my full potential and I am grateful for that.  To be honest I was not challenged throughout my college career.  All of the work that I completed felt like busy work rather than  intellectually challenging work.  This course was truly the first course to challenge me and show me that college is all about learning and enhancing your learning experience.  It was amazing how we each created different courses and still could learn from one another.  I honestly doubted this at first.  We came together from all different fields of teaching and together came out with new and innovating ideas of what it means to be an online teacher. I have a new understanding of the importance that a classroom community has on the discussions and other interactions that take place in it.  I have also learned that in a online environment interactions between students and students as well as students and am instructor are both very important. – Kelly Gorcica

I have to admit that I thought, oh, I’ve taught classes online, I know this stuff. I can honestly say that I have learned more in this class about what it means to structure an online class, and more importantly why to structure a certain way, than any other class or workshop on the topic. – Kevin Volo

…this is the most difficult course I have taken in my graduate career. Expectations were set out for us from the get-go and we were expected to not only meet them, but to exceed them. – Liz Keeney


What students said in the summer of 2012.

What students said in the summer of 2011.

What students said in the summer of 2009.

What students said in the summer of 2008.