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

Hello:

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 : )

June 26

Overwhelmed

I am overwhelmed… there, i said it. It is true.

I am struggling to keep up. I want you to know that even i have had thoughts of quitting!  Especially that first week : ) I get up almost every morning at 3am (seriously) to plow through assignments, posts, questions, and emails, and to solve problems, re-review work and provide individualized feedback. I spend ALL weekend, every weekend since the course opened, in the course. Even during my lunch time.

The problem is that this course was not designed for 20/30 students, it was designed for 8-10. More of a seminar. LOTS of assignments and LOTS of individualized custom feedback.

The enrollments in the program doubled or tripled and i didn’t know. I was taken completely by surprise by it.

I have had to modify things. I have reduced the number of required discussion posts. I have provided group feedback and need to do more of that.

Did i mention that google bought meebome and now i have to find another chat tool and there isn’t one.

Breathing….Module 3 just opened. The discussions are fantastic, the blogs are amazing, everything will be ok.

: ) 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.

April 20

it is really hard to get an “A” in this course

I have really high expectations of my students. I find that students rise to them.

I hold myself to even higher expectations and I never ask them to do anything that i am not willing to do myself.

If students demonstrate that they are willing to try, I will do everything i can to support their success. Effort counts, however, it should be “hard” to get an A.

I get frustrated by a student that:

  • doesn’t read instructions (minimum participation gets you a C – NOT an A)  ¡duh!
  • is not willing to try (refuses to do activities, or thinks that discussion is just 20% of the grade, so he doesn’t have to do it -and he can still get a B)
  • feels entitled (i always get A’s, but this course is too hard – is too much work – takes too much time – the implication being that it is my fault she is not getting an A) srsly?!?
  • doesn’t seem to understand that she earns her own grades (wants an A, but is not willing to do what it take so get one)
  • compares course workload with other courses (“but, all i have to do in my other summer course is write a paper and do some discussion…”)

The unspoken contract that i make with students is that if you want to learn, i will help you.

If not, you are wasting my time and that pisses me off.

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:
http://joanerickson.edublogs.org/
http://joyquah.edublogs.org/
http://francapponi.edublogs.org/

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!

January 1

cooltools 2012

Here is my “Top 10″ list for 2012:

  1. facebook – i have a page set up for my course.
  2. netvivbes –  a customizable dashboard publishing platform for the Web to aggregate things from around the web.
  3. screencastomatic – Screencast alternative to jing.
  4. Scoop.it – information, curation, dissemination, niche, platform, online, social network.
  5. audioboo – a mobile & web platform that  allows you to record and upload audio.
  6. vyou – broadcast video structured as conversations.
  7. glogster – multimedia online posters.
  8. ipad – The iPad is the first tablet computer developed by Apple Inc. Announced on January 27, 2010, it is part of a device category between a smartphone and a laptop computer.
  9. amplify – Amplify gives an easy way to clip, share and spark conversation around articles, blog posts or anything else you read on the web.
  10. pinterest – virtual pin board. A content sharing service that allows members to “pin” images, videos and other objects to their pinboard. Also includes standard social networking features. Soon there will be Learnist – for educators.

did not quite make the  list, but still very cool:

  1. http://typewith.me/

Cool tools 2011

Cool tools 2010

Cool tools 2009

Cool tools 2008

December 5

IMHE “What Works” Conference, Managing Quality Teaching in Higher Education

(Mexicali, Mexico – 5-6 December 2011)

My teaching and learning in the cloud presentation.

slides – http://prezi.com/yyzcr9_btox6/teaching-learning-in-the-cloud/
tools – http://etap640.edublogs.org/2011/07/14/tools-i-use-to-enhance-my-instuction-to-engage-online-learners/
example: technology-enhanced course – http://ualbany.mrooms.net/course/view.php?id=140 – enter with guest access
handout/links: http://etap640.edublogs.org/2010/10/07/teaching-in-the-cloud/

selected links for the presentation:
http://www.youtube.com/alexandrapickett

http://www.youtube.com/alexandrapickett#p/c/16B1004AC945748C
http://etap640.edublogs.org/
http://groups.diigo.com/group/ETAP687
http://etap640.edublogs.org/2011/07/31/2011-course-review-screencasts/
http://etap640.edublogs.org/2011/07/10/learning-activities-feedback-2/
http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=1106177


my questions to the group:

how do you support teaching innovation at your institution?
what are the difficulties/challenges in supporting teaching innovation at your institution?
how do you overcome these difficulties/challenges?
how do you catalyze change? what motivates faculty? what incentives are there?
how do you keep current with innovative instruction, change, technology?
how do you decide what technologies/initiatives to adopt?
how do you scale and sustain such initiatives?
how do you maintain/insure quality, security, safety, etc.
what are the costs? are they free like “beer”, or free like “puppy”?

My responses to these questions, for example: 

http://slnfacultyonline.ning.com/ – Join!

twitter example:
submission form – http://slnfacultyonline.ning.com/page/share-what-you-know
white paper – http://issuu.com/alexandrapickett/docs/what-i-know1v1?mode=embed&viewMode=presentation&layout=http%3A%2F%2Fskin.issuu.com%2Fv%2Fgrass%2Flayout.xml&showFlipBtn=true
workshop – http://prezi.com/qlrwf_cuenc1/powerful-uses-of-twitter/
group to continue discussion/sharing – http://slnfacultyonline.ning.com/group/twitter