July 19



I use VoiceThread in my online course as an ice-breaking activity to support and facilitate social interaction in an online web-based teaching and learning environment:

  • So students can get to know each other.
  • So students will feel a sense of belonging in the course.
  • To establish a sense of class community. So students will establish trust with me and their classmates – so we can move on to teaching and cognitive presences. (Garrison, Anderson, Archer, 2000)
  • So students can form distinct impressions of others in the course – so students feel those they interact with are “real.”
  • So students can form a distinct impression of me. I want them to know that I am “real” and that i am more than just their professor. I use the interview of my daughter to help them see me through her eyes. It helps them to seem me as multidimensional, and that i am not just what i do, i am also a mom, a wife, an artist, and i like chocolate!  : )

The various commenting options can be used in a multitude of ways to personalize, add humor to, and to self-disclose within interactions. Interactions can be extemporaneous, ephemeral, conversational, or more formal or scripted presentations. Students can co-create the VT conversation by adding central images and commentary, or respond to instructor-created materials. Within a VT, interactions are enhanced with voice and the tone that comes with one’s own voice, which conveys a sense of personality to help students form distinct impressions of the instructor and their classmates. VT allows interaction that significantly supports building social presence and a sense of class community starting with the icons/avatars that represent one’s contributions, and by facilitating the use voice, video, tone, images, even the pen annotation tool, to create an environment that is a rich multi-sensory experience .

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February 2

I heart diigo!

I have been using diigo for several years now in my online course and in addition to delicious for my social bookmarking… (I started out in delicious and then moved to diigo… but could not let delicious go … still have it and have diigo update my delicious bookmarks)

I LOVE diigo and characterize it as “delicious on steroids” : )

I have a diigo group for my course that is open to the public for viewing, but private to my students for contributing to. http://groups.diigo.com/group/ETAP687

In my course i use it to co-create with students an annotated bibliography of shared resources for the course that <and this is KEY> persists beyond the end of the term and outside the boundaries of the LMS – because their access to their student-generated content and contributions to that bibliography would go away when the course ends, if it were not external to the LMS.

There are so many things that i love about diigo. It helps me express my teaching and social presences to my online students, and helps me build class community.

It assists me to (1) present content, (2) to facilitate engaging and enhanced collaboration and interaction, and (3) it gives me tools with which to provide enhanced and engaging feedback to my students.

These are the 3 categories i use in evaluation of instructional technology, and diigo hits all three. I also evaluate with the following critera, “does the tool allow me to achieve an instructional objective <better, faster, safer, easier, or cheaper>. Diigo hits <better, faster, and easier>.

  • I use it to document resources for the course.
  • I use it leave comments, highlights, and sticky notes on online web resources for my students and on their course blogs.
  • My students use it to bookmark EVERY link, reference, citation that they mention in ANY part of the course.
  • My students use it to comment on each other’s bookmarks and on the pages themselves – highlighting passages, asking each other questions, pointing things out to each other. (I model this for them and give them feedback to improve their uses of the tool.)
  • I provide a directed learning activity in diigo during the course in which they must find, bookmark, share, and annotate 3 resources that they will use in their own online course and comment on each other’s resources in diigo. I even have experimented with having a class discussion right in diigo.
  • I give them feedback and evaluate their use of the tool throughout the course.
  • I create a dynamically aggregating link roll that i have in my course on the front page so every time students login to the course they see the latest links that we have all added to our shared bibliography.
  • My current and past students remain members of the group and all the artifacts from every time i have taught the course persist as members in the group so we have a community of practice being built and grown with each term.

Diigo allows me to create a resource for my course that captures links to stuff that would otherwise be buried forever in my very discussion-rich fully online course. It helps students learn how to evaluate online resources, how to tag and organize resource links, and provides lots of features and functionality – some of which i have not tried yet.

I also use diigo to curate resources for my instructional designer community. You can see an example here: http://slnfacultyonline.ning.com/  – on the lower left of the page and here: http://slnfacultyonline.ning.com/group/twitter

Like i said i also use it for my own personal social bookmarking and have an extensive library and many groups that i participate in. It is a fundamental part of my PLN and something that i do and use daily. Twitter and diigo are connected in my mind as i bookmark all of the things i learn about via twitter in diigo, and use specific tags and their rss feeds to feed link rolls and tag rolls on a variety of topics or disciplines in the various social networking sites that i manage. The link rolls at the bottoms of all the country pages in this wiki i built for example all draw dynamically from specifically tagged resources in my diigo library, see http://onlinelearningsnapshot-sa.wikispaces.com/

I have begun the internal process of recommending diigo as a university-wide tool.  : )

Diigo is really cool  : ) I <heart> diigo!

July 14

Tools I use to enhance my instruction-to engage online learners

I use a variety of web2.0 tools external to the Moodle course management system in this course:

  • to enhance the presentation of course content,
  • to faciltitae your engagement and interaction with course material and with your classmates,
  • to provide you with access to course materials beyond the end of the term, and
  • to expose you to tools and utilities that may have potential to enhance instruction.
  1. voicethread – an online media album of any type of media (images, documents and videos). Used in this course as an ice-breaking activity. This example uses a video of my daughter introducing me from her perspective.
  2. diigo – social bookmarking tool. Used to bookmark, highlight, and comment upon and share references used in the course. Also used to create a dynamic link roll of resources that auto-displays latest additions to the shared class annotated bibliography of resources currated by the course participants – that remains available to students beyond the end of the term.
  3. edublogs – education-focused blog. Used in this course to keep metacognitive journals and reflections/feedback on the online teaching and learning experiences. I an example blog for the course, where i model blogging, link to student blogs, and post student feedback: http://etap640.edublogs.org
  4. netvibes – to aggregate and display student blogs.
  5. twitter – micro blog. Used in this course for newsflash type announcements, questions, interaction. https://twitter.com/i/#!/alexpickett/etap-640-summer-2012 and https://twitter.com/etap640
  6. jing – a screen capture tool used to provide instructions, feedback, and clarification. (i also use screencast-o-matic for 15-minute screencasts)
  7. 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.
  8. meebome – an IM utility to facilitate synchronos extemporaneous interaction from the course homepage and course blog site. Now using digsby as an alternative to meebome.
  9. audacity – an audio recording utility used in the course to record audio comments and interviews with exemplar online faculty.
  10. podomatic – a podcasting utility used to deliver the audio feedback created with audacity to you. See podcasted student feedback examples on course learning activities.
  11. youtube – to record and view course-related video materials. – online asynchronous video discussion to bring “rockstars” into the class and blur the boundaries of the online learning classroom environment “box”. See also the course videos playlist.
  12. vimeo – to post course-related video materials. See the screencasted feedback course reviews.
  13. voki – a speaking avatar used for announcements in this course. Example: Welcome to ETAP640!
  14. breeze – used to create voice-annotated powerpoint course materials.
  15. polldaddy – survey tool used to collect feedback from students on the course.
  16. rate my professor – professor rating tool.
  17. jumpscam – a QR code generator used to create a scan-able QRcode with information about this course.
  18. vyou – conversational video used to ask and answer questions.



teaching in the cloud prezi

Teaching in the cloud links

December 17

My Discussion Post Grading Rubric

Discussion Post Grading Rubric

Discussion posts are graded on a 0 – 4 point scale according to the Discussion Post Quality Grading Rubric presented below. Note that both the Comment Field and the Subject Line figure into the quality score the post receives.

  1. Peer Evaluations: Each reply you submit to a discussion forum should begin with your 0 – 4 evaluation of the quality of the post you are replying to. Place your peer-evaluation score in parentheses as the first thing in your reply- like this (4).
  2. Student Self-Evaluations: Every post you submit to a discussion forum (new posts and replies) should end with the quality score (0 – 4 points) you think your post deserves. Place your self-evaluation score in parentheses at the end – like this (4).
  3. Professor Evaluations: I will record the official 0 – 4 point value for each discussion post (up to the maximum of 12 per student) as I read it. At the conclusion of each module, I will update your Grade Book with your final grade on each discussion, and provide you with a record of how many posts you submitted and your total quality score.



Grading Criteria


Excellent (A)

The comment is accurate, original, relevant, teaches us something new, and is well written. Four point comments add substantial teaching presence to the course, and stimulate additional thought about the issue under discussion. Make your thinking and learning visible: reflect, apply, report, explain, defend, refute, question, self-assess, summarize, synthesize, and analyze. Documentation for factual information is provided. Discussion points are supported with references. Sources are cited and critically analyzed. All references, links, and citations are bookmarked, highlighted, tagged, and commented on in our diigo shared references group.


Above Average (B)

The comment lacks at least one of the above qualities, but is above average in quality. A three point comment makes a significant contribution to our understanding of the issue being discussed.


Average (C)

The comment lacks two or three of the required qualities. Comments that are based upon personal opinion, or personal experience, often fall within this category.


Minimal (D)

The comment presents little or no new information. However, one point comments may provide important social presence and contribute to a sense of class community.


Unacceptable (F)

The comment adds no value to the discussion.

No penalty

The subject field is a complete sentence and conveys the main point of the comment. The reader clearly understands the main point of the comment before reading it.


Minor problem with subject line

The subject field provides key word(s) only. The reader knows the general area that the comment deals with.


Major problem with subject line

The subject field provides little or no information about the comment.

The Discussion Forum Grading Scale

Forum Grade

Total Quality Points

Additional Requirement



At least eight 4-point ratings.



At least four 4-point ratings.



At least four 3 or 4-point ratings.



At least four 2, 3, or 4-point ratings.










adapted with permission from Bill Pelz.
August 13

bringing the "outside" into my course with seesmic

The conversation below is an effort to blur the boundaries of my online course to expose my students to the world “outside” the walls of our online course, and to invite the world “in” to our course to enhance our current discussion on how to engage online learners. This activity also serves as an example and model of an activity i am using to “engage” my own online students in this course.