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.

July 14

SU13 Module3 learning activities assignment feedback

Below you will find individual podcast episodes of my feedback for you on your learning activities assignment from module 3. I would encourage you to listen to the feedback and incorporate it into your “build it” assignment for this module as you build the learning activities into your course shell. I would also encourage you listen to the feedback podcast episodes other than your own. http://www.podomatic.com/playlist/alexandrapickett/660849

Click on the images in the widget below to scroll through and find your feedback.

June 13

Screen-casted feedback on student blogs

Screencasted feedback on your #etap640 blog is available via the playlist below. In the second screencast i demonstrate how i provide feedback via diigo by highlighting text and leaving sticky notes for you.

You should view both videos, regarless of which one contains my feedback on your specific blog.

You can also view the playlist from youtube here: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLwPsQ21b8jHCw750zaoym2BUvDZBzDONS

April 30

What 2012 students have to say about this course…

I have been changed in many ways, particularly in how I think, how I will teach, how and what I will study in the future.  I was a proponent of online learning before I took this course, I am a greater fan now that I understand the flip side of the equation.  I love the course I built and want to keep working on it and improve on it so when I am ready (in the near future) I can teach it.  I still do not think that I am quite ready to teach—there are a few things I need to work on. However, I am confident that I will be ready relatively soon.  I feel confident and empowered!!!
Anne-Marie Gomes


This was the most important thing I learned – to hand trust back to my students, and that it is not only OK to do so, but it actually makes a better class.
– Anneke Chodan


I really believe that this course has taught me important skills because I was required to actually use the skills I was learning about.
– Ben Malczyk


I am going into my fourth year of graduate studies at UAlbany and have taken many courses here.  Yet, I feel as this is one of the first courses that will let me leave with having a profound change in thinking.  Coming into this course I figured we would read a few articles about online education and create a course shell for an online course.  Additionally, I came into this course assuming online education failed to meet the standards of f2f education. Now, my thoughts are completely changed. Leaving this course I feel as though I could write an effective rebuttal of that argument and I believe that illustrates a great amount of growth for a person who entered this class questioning the merits of online education.
– Bill Meredith


I think the biggest impact on my learning is realizing that student centered must be meaningful. In order to make it meaningful it has to be important and the students must feel they are in control. Through the videos and readings in this course this has become increasingly apparent. Building class community, social presence, having teaching presence, and giving students’ choice are all strategies for creating the perfect learning environment. Although this course was quite a challenge I did learn a lot, especially in the past few days where I have become completely obsessed with adding “bells & whistles” to my moodle course. This course did present a student centered environment and I found it to be successful in changing my thinking about course design.
Danielle Melia


I have so many ideas that I have learned from this course that I want to implement them all into my class.  But, I really need to stand back and reflect.  The most I got from this class is all the information that everybody shared on diigo.com and in their discussions.  I am very proud of everybody’s  contribution to my education and their own.  I loved how everybody had a share in the teaching presence and how Alex facilitated the learning.  This was an an excellent example of an effective student-centered learning environment.
Gary Bedenharn


I just finished what may be my last discussion post for ETAP640. As I went through the post process, I was cognizant of each step: read your classmates’ posts; respond to something that resonates within you; teach (us) something by locating and sharing resources that support your thinking;  include the thinking and experiences of classmates; offer your opinion on what you are sharing; cite your resources for the benefit of all; tag your resources logically. Alex had informed us at the outset of the course that each discussion post is an exam and I have learned why: discussion is the heart of online learning.  An instructor may vary the context, content, activity, instructional grouping, and time frame, but in the online environment, students’ learning is demonstrated through the vehicle of discussion… I came to learn that blog posts are personalized records of learning, thinking, and being. It is not about what the instructor wants to hear, it is about hearing the student’s articulation of what is being learned that is essential to evaluating the content of a blog post. Through trying to be “fearless” about using technology, as Alex advises, I have come to learn that confidence is something that one must exercise in all spheres of the online environment.  While the pre-ETAP640 Irene would continue this last sentence with “but I feel as though I am still a student myself”, the post-Pickett Irene says, “while I continue to learn with them.”
– Irene Watts-Politza


I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to take this class. I have learned so much and have really enjoyed being involved in a community of learners with all of you. I have never truly felt like I have been part of a community of learners before, or really knew what that was or meant. I think this has resonated so strongly with me that it is something that I want to strive for with students in a face-to-face class or an online class, whichever comes first.
– Joan McCabe


Coming into this class I thought I was a technology native. I thought I knew a lot about the internet, its uses for the classroom and ways I could utilize it. This class has pushed my limits showing me there is endless posiblities and things I will do even in my face to face class. For example, I was introduced to vociethread. This I will use to connect my classroom to another and make an authentic population for my students to present to. I would even use it to show student work at an open house. To really have learned something I think it means it will stay with you, you will use it. It will be in your thoughts after the class has concluded.
– Julie Delpapa


This course was developed in a way that the harder you work and the more you participate the better the experience and the more you will get out of it. I can guarantee that all of us were nervous and scared the first time we entered this course. The first day we knew that it was going to be a challenging, but we have made it to the end with a lot of rewarding experiences and a lot of lessons learned along the way. Being a student and feeling like my work is getting noticed and valued is a tremendous boost in wanting to participate in the course and in my course design.  The hardest thing for me in this course, is the discussions. Being my first online course ever, I was a little intimidated by the type of discussion because of the requirements. I feel like I am not using my ‘voice’ like the other students in the course. A lot of the discussions between the other students are based off of prior teaching experiences, which I only experienced during student teaching, so most of my posts are more research and article based and it is hard for me to respond to the other posts. I am happy that I am getting the experience to develop a course though because it definitely has put my teacher hat on and going through a lot of different process to make it learner-centered and engaging. I believe if I didn’t have this opportunity to reflect, it would have been a thought but I would not have acted on it. At first I thought blogging and journaling was just busy work and I wasn’t too excited to do them, but I have found great benefit from thinking about how I learn, why I learn and how I can use this to improve my contributions as an educator and student and that deflated feeling is going away with every week that passes and it is renewing my faith in education and where it is headed.
Lauren Dembrosky


I have to admit, I was a little intimidated when we all started to introduce ourselves in this course.  Every other class I’ve ever had was filled with people who had the same experiences as me and I felt like we were all on the same level.  As I was reading everyone’s introductions, I felt inferior.  I remember agonizing over what I could possibly offer to someone who was already teaching college!  When everyone in the course started sharing their feelings of frustration with the course, being overwhelmed and doubting their abilities I started to realize that we were all in the same situation…We were in this together.  I received private messages and replies to my blogs and discussions that offered me support, help and guidance from so many people in this class.  I starting CHANGING even more…I had a stronger connection with people I had never met than in any face-to-face class I had EVER taken! (and that’s  a LOT of classes having an associates, a bachelors and a masters degree already)  This is when I started to realize that online education could provide experiences to me that I couldn’t get anywhere else… I want to CHANGE someone the way that Alex, ETAP 640, and all of you have CHANGED me.
– Lisa Martin


Learning is change. I have changed many things to improve my online teaching such as adding more student choice and student-led discussions. I have also improved rubrics, instructions, and use more peer review and small group discussions based on sound pedagogical principles and best practices for online learning.  Additionally, I am including more authentic, student-centered activities and assessments. I have also learned about and included more multimedia in my course to enhance teaching, social, and cognitive presence (McDonough, n.d.) . I have learned to incorporate more innovative uses of technology to enhance online course delivery for students, including having learning environments available outside of the course management system for students’ lifelong learning needs.
– Mary Guadron


In a course titled Introduction to Online Teaching, I never would have imagined such a wide variety of topics could be covered!  Not only have I learned what it takes to effectively develop an online course, I have also learned about modern theories in education that have helped evolve the way I view my face-to-face interactions with students.
– Tina Bianchi


In the beginning of this course I was very overwhelming and did know if I could make.  Through support of my friends, family, and in reading through others reflection blogs I saw that I wasn’t the only one and that this was a challenge that I needed to concur.  I am so glad that I stuck with it because I learned so much and I can definitely take this with me in my teaching.
– Victoria Keller.


What students said in the summer of 2011.

What students said in the summer of 2009.

What students said in the summer of 2008.


July 6

learning activities feedback

Below you will find individual podcast episodes of my feedback for you on your learning activities assignment from module 3. I would encourage you to listen to the feedback and incorporate it into your “build it” assignment for this module as you build the learning activities into your course shell. I would also encourage you listen to the feedback podcast episodes other than your own. http://www.podomatic.com/playlist/alexandrapickett/470610


June 26

love letter to my students


please take the time to read and use the instructions that i took the time to create for you : )

please take the time to view/read/listen to the feedback that i took the time to provide to you : )
please look at the grades area and notice that i have left feedback for you there.

please let me know if you want me to look at some of your work again, so that i can consider adjusting your grade.

please let me know if i have overlooked something.

please help each other whenever you can.

please watch the due dates for the assignments.

please use the course manual to guide your course development.

please enroll in each others’ courses so that you can see how your classmates courses evolve and so you can learn from each other.

please check out the feedback that i give your classmates. you can learn from the feedback i give others.

please check out your classmates blogs. http://www.netvibes.com/alexandrapickett#ETAP640_-_summer_2013

please follow each other in twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/ETAP640/summer-2013/members

please view the courses for observation and the presentations and videos.

please look at your blogs with diigo installed. I provide feedback on your blogs using the diigo highlighter and sticky notes features and i want to be sure you see that too.

please don’t post all your discussion posts on the last day or even in the last 3 days of the module. Spread them out over the week/module. Please.

please be patient as i catch up and keep up with you.

please try not to be so stressed about grades. I know it is hard not to be.

please let me know if there is anything i can do to help you. if you have questions or concerns, please let me know. I can’t solve or respond to problems that i don’t know about : )

if you are frustrated or confused with something, or thinking there must be a better way, don’t just sit with it. Let me know. perhaps there is something i can do, or that you can do differently, so that you don’t have to struggle.

me : )

May 14

What past students have to say about this course…

The one thing that hindered my learning was my misunderstanding of the forum posts in the first weeks of the course.  It was several weeks into the course before I realized that these were actually research based; this was new to me because I hadn’t ever been asked to research something so intensely for an online course before.  Once I realized that posts were like small research projects, I did much better. …It’s been a very intense course, but I learned a lot and I’m grateful for the opportunity to learn a new skill that I can hopefully build on in the future.

Donna Angley, summer 2011


Because I only read the top of the discussion rubric, I thought I was being “metaphorically killed” most of this course time. I believed my grade was 50% -failing – because I never saw the point spread rubric below the discussion rubric.

The process included  confusion, anxiety, frustration, despair, hope, satisfaction, and elation (when I did my first audio). My attempts were impaired by poor internet connections and an ongoing dilemma I often experience – if it can go wrong, it will

…confusion, disappointment, and frustration. However, I countered with determination and hopefulness. I spent hours learning to prepare for my posts. I lost time in the learning. The posts made me  organize my learning, in order to share my learning. I pushed through the negative thoughts and simply hung on for life. I hammered away at the different tools until somehow I figured it out…sometimes I actually forgot how I figured it out and had to do it all again.  Guess what hanging on works!!!

Diana Gusa, Summer 2011


Reflective Writing: I have to admit, at the beginning of the course I thought the blogging activities were just busy work.  I viewed the assignments as busy work, and treated my entries as such.  As time ticked on, I started getting into the blogs and realizing that it was my personal space in which I could reflect on my work on my course and my learning throughout the week/module.  So much of life and learning in school is sort of thrown at you, and if you don’t take the time to intentionally deconstruct the events and make sense of them, then you’ll never grow and improve.  I’d rather grow.

I think I have learned that most hindrances to learning and success are often all in your head.  If something’s in your way, it’s usually because you’re letting it be there.  So, you have to learn to change your frame of mind before you can change your life.  And lastly, in the spirit of hard work, if it’s worth doing at all, it’s worth doing right…which will require a lot of work.

I have learned that online teaching is a lot of work, and takes practice.  The hours poured into completing this class and building my online course have been numerous.  I will be walking away with this great skill now beginning, and something new to put on my resume.

Kim Barass, Summer 2011


I learned about myself, others, and the world. I learned about my emotions, my mental capabilties and strengths and weaknesses. I learned about others and how they learn. I learned about my students and students in general. I learned about the political, cultural, social and legal environment of the US and educational practices of other countries…and…and…and…

I feel empowered – that is how I know that learning has taken place.

I learned that building a course takes lots of time – to do it right!

I would have loved to have learned without having to balance work and personal life. However, I am grateful that I am working and was able to grab from my work experience and use it in this course.

The difficulty that I have had in the course is having the time to read and review ALL of the various (and great) resources that are out there for teachers. I am baffled by the sheer amount, but this course has disciplined me to focus on quality over quantity.

This course allows me to learn the theoretical underpinnings of learning and teaching online, but also allows me to apply what I have learned and “make the connection” to my professional life and to the greater world! And this…is a great thing?

I am thankful for this experience!

Kristen Dellasala, Summer, 2011


It’s been a very trying 12 weeks. The nature of the summer course is unforgiving. I started late because I had to register late to fulfill tuition requirements and it was catchup for the entire summer. However, I did learn an awful lot. I forced myself to think in new ways. I was exposed to new ideas from classmates, the beauty of social learning I guess and I challenged my assumptions.

Mike Lucatorto, Summer 2011


What students said in the summer of 2009.

What students said in the summer of 2008.

March 11

“why do i have to blog???”

I teach a fully online master’s level course “intro to online teaching” and have used blogging as a metacognitive journaling activity in the course for 5 years now. (Here is a prezi about my course fyi http://prezi.com/yyzcr9_btox6/teaching-learning-in-the-cloud/)

So far, none of my students have ever really blogged before. Most of them really don’t want to. Many hate this part of my course.

I LOVE their blogs.

Blogging is a required component of this course. Students are required to reflect on their learning and to provide me with descriptive feedback on their learning experiences in the course. they are given specific guiding questions for each blogging assignment (1 per week/2 per module) and they must self assess their own posts based on a rubric http://etap687.edublogs.org/2008/06/02/reflections-blog-post-grading-rubric/

I have  specific questions that I ask them to address in their blog posts that revolve around the content covered in each module of the course and where they “are” in their development as online instructors, and in addition, I ask them to provide feedback on the course design and learning activities because I am trying to evaluate the tools we are using, how they are being used and the activities they are being asked to do in the course. They have to do one blog post per week. I have used the feedback from these student reflections to improve the design of the course and it has improved my understanding of the student experience, which makes me better at it. I get a better sense of how the students perceive the activities in the course, so that I can understand student perspectives and use that insight to improve the activities. I want to improve my own practice, and to do that I need the student feedback of how they are actually experiencing the activities, interaction and learning in the course. To get that, I need to get students to talk about their learning.

Students have freedom to blog about whatever they like, but they do have to address (in some way the guiding questions and the course materials) in at least one of their posts. They read and respond to each others posts and i comment and give them feedback in blog comments and using diigo highlights, stickies, and traditional blog comments. I also grade them based on the rubric. The activity is 20% of their grade.

Metacognitive reflection helps them better digest and apply what they are learning in the course. They must articulate what they learned and how they perceive that they learned it. They must reflect on what was difficult in this particular activity and why? It is a bit like therapy really. So I can hear you say “wait a minute, I am a teacher… not a psychotherapist!!” I teach XX (insert what you teach here) I am not here to analyze them…I am teaching them XX.

I respectfully disagree. I equally respectfully ask you to consider this- how do you know your students are learning? Your feelings about your teaching have little to do with your students’ learning and everything to do with you. There is an insidious teacher-centered narcissism here that I want to expose, explore, and eradicate. It is fine to LOVE teaching, to feel good, satisfied, and productive about it… but teaching and your feelings about yourself and what you teach are not the point – learning is. So how do you know that your students are learning and why don’t you give a shit about their learning? You may say that their learning is reflected in the assessments … I don’t know that that is true, or not. It might mean that they are good test takers, or good cheaters… the assessments tell me nothing about what they learned. I want them to show me that they learned. I orchestrate learning activities. They engage in the activities and then must demonstrate to me that they learned. Their level of engagement, their learning, their experiences are their choice. I didn’t teach them anything. They chose to learn or not. This is fundamental and revolutionary about what it means to be learner-centered. If you really understand what it means to be learner-centered, it blows your mind because you have to come to grips with the reality that there is no such thing as “teaching.” There is only learning. You design activities, you plop a student into the activities, and then you see what happens… it is kind of magic…maybe it happens, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you have to redesign the activity to get a different effect. But you don’t know unless the student can make their thinking and learning visible to you – and in order to that, they have to talk about it, so that you can observe that.

I feel very strongly about public blogging. If it is in the course and student access to it is removed at the end of the term, then it is NOT a BLOG. The very nature of a blog is that it is yours and public. You own it. You can customize it/personalize it. it is YOURS. “Blog” features in course management systems ARE NOT BLOGS. You can call it a journal, but NOT a BLOG! If we ask students to generate content and then we take away their access to it, how is that student-centered? I also want my students to have the experience of developing their public digital voice and to contribute to the living discourse on the social web.

The explicit purpose of the student blogs in my course is to have students articulate and verbalize what they are learning, how they are learning, how they are applying what they are learning, and how they feel about what they are learning- and to do it publicly. Student blogged reflections are a completely different type of discourse than what happens within the course discussion. They have a completely different type of  voice when they are asked to reflect on their learning.

I have 3 main objectives for using metacognitive reflection as a component of the course:

  1. The process of self-reflection enhances student learning.
  2. I use it to get descriptive feedback from the students on the design of the course that I can use to improve my practice and the course itself.
  3. The process of writing publicly gives the student the opportunity to explore their online voice and digital identity and gives them exposure to and experience contributing their voice to the social web.

The value for them is:

  1. They get a blog that they can keep and continue to maintain beyond the end of the term.
  2. They get real-life experience blogging in a guided feedback-rich environment within a safe, yet public (class) community.
  3. They experience reflective (public) writing.
  4. They establish or add to their digital identity by exploring the social web for academic and professional purposes.

The value for me is that I learn from them. I can watch their progression from the first to the last day. I get a deeper understanding about how they learn, what they are learning, how they prefer to learn, and how they can improve what they are learning in the course. I have to filter, interpret, and diagnose where they are coming from and engage them in the process of productively reflecting on and demonstrating their learning so that they can move forward in their learning and the course. As the instructor, I read their reflections and sift through them for opportunities to diagnose misperceptions and provide corrective feedback, or to probe something to get the student to go further in their thinking, or to question something, or to prompt the student to question their own assumptions, assertions, opinions, or biases. You have to really listen to what they are saying. If a student says an activity sucks, I probe that and make them articulate exactly what, how, where, why they feel it sucks – perhaps they have other expectations, perhaps they fear something, perhaps they disagree ideologically with the approach – I try to get them to expose the roots of their feelings, so we can look at them and decide what to do with them… and we both have the opportunity to learn from that interaction. So, whether I learn something about myself, or about the student, it gives me the opportunity to make changes in my own understanding, or in the course, or I can confirm/affirm my perspective… and so can the student.

You can browse through my students blogs here http://etap640.edublogs.org/   Current live student blogs are links on my blog and a selection of blogs from 2011-2008 past semesters are also links.

The quality of their posts and their insights are astounding.

for example: