August 26

i teach like a girl!

I started out today working on a web space for my daughters school parent council… went looking for free online web forms to incorporate for various purposes… found wufoo (which looks fantastic!) Read about the founders (love their voice/felt connected), wanted to know them more/better, clicked on their blog. Immediately clicked on the post “on asking users for their feelings” – thought about marti cleaveland and her work on emotional presence and also about and how they ask you how you feel ….. and there i “met” kathy sierra. And now i want to really meet her.

Along the way, FYI, i also found this gem Seven rules for establishing a corporate presence on Twitter and viddler (“…So, to sum things up: you should use Viddler. The end.” This made me think of homer simpson (which makes me think of my husband – which makes me warm and fuzzy), laugh, and love the person behind that voice… same as the wufoo guys.) also incredibly cooltool that i can’t wait to play with.

So i “met” Kathy Sierra through her blog creating passionate users googled her to learn more… to see if i could find a list of presentations on her (thinking about SLN SOLsummit) found Kathy Sierra on “building a Global Microbrand” on slideshare and by similar serendipity “met” Garr Reynolds, read about his presentation zen, and was treated to his preso on brain rules. Found them both on twitter and followed them immediately. This has been my learning journey today … it has been a very satisfying string of learning experiences and encounters today and documenting it has been an interesting exercise…

This is a long way to get to what i finally wanted to get to, which is Kathy Sierra’s blog post i code like a girl that resonated with me, and got me thinking. My six year-old daughter has said several times over the last couple of days, “and mami…he screamed like a little girl. [then lots of giggles]” I asked her “where did you hear that expression?” “why do you think that is funny?” “what does that mean?” She no doubt heard it from Hunter, or Adam, or Dylan, or Arlo,

who in turn got it from their daddies, or perhaps their coaches, or more probably from some TV show… or movie… that i let her watch… she is such a sponge. It hit me like a brick in the face. My precious little daughter parroting something so superficially funny, and seemingly innocuous, yet such a simple insidiously powerful negative statement. I am a short round Colombian woman. I am an administrator of a large (the 2nd largest) university wide program in a large (the largest) bureaucratic university system in a sea dominated by old(er) white male suits. i am an educator, instructional designer and technologist, and artist and a mom in a world dominated by application developers/domain administrators/CIOs/, who are generally neither educators nor right-brained, and who are generally usually male. I not only code like a girl. I supervise like a girl, i administrate like a girl, i conduct meetings like a girl. I also

  • “write like a girl”
  • “express myself like a girl”
  • “design like a girl”
  • and… i “teach like a girl!”

All of my today has a theme… the emotional voice found in the wufoo pages, being asked about my feelings, thinking about creating passionate users, thinking about community (building it, sustaining it, nurturing it) at work with faculty and instructional designers, at school with the parent council web space, and of course in my summer ETAP687 course. So it is official… i teach like a girl and am proud of it : )

here is what my students say:

flag One of the most thorough and nurturing instructors I have had in my academic career. Helped to shape us into better leaders and teachers
flag Difficult course but learned the most of any other course I have taken in years. Too much work for the 3 credits, though.
flag Really helpful and great personality 🙂 Would have enjoyed taking the class F2F more so than online, but did enjoy and appreciate the class.
flag Great course, I hope to take another class with Professor Pickett again
flag Great course, and a terrific teacher. Lots of work, but worth it!
flag Alex is awesome!!! She is very down to earth and expresses a mothering presence in the course. I would def. take another class with her.

This was by far the hardest, most time consuming course I have taken for my Masters. When I signed up for it, I was extremely excited because I wanted to know about teaching online. In comparison to many other elective grad classes, I found the work load to be quite a bit. Developing an online course takes a large amount of time (as you know!) – Maybe in the future cutting down on the number of discussion posts (maybe 4?) or blog posts (1 per module) might help students find more time to work on their courses, which to me was the most important/exciting/gratifying aspect of the class.

You have been the most influential teacher I have had online yet. You have also taught me how to improve my teaching and teacher presence through the modeling you do in this course. Thanks for investing so much time in me and my fellow student’s learning! 🙂

This was the most challenging course in my Master Degree career at UAlbany. I loved every minute of it. I think that pushing students to perform at higher levels helps them to break the plateu of what they think they are capable of. Usually they are capable of more than you think. It also helped my learning to use diigo and rate my posts. At first I thought it was painstaking and hard, especially when I spent an hour on constructing a post only to recieve a 2, but as I learned that it was more about teaching others, I began to perform better and was more motivated to teach something new and provide a cool resouce in diigo

My feelings about this course are great! I would recommend anyone interested in online course development to take the course with Alex. She makes everyone in the course feel welcome and comfortable, which is the key to being successful and having students who are motivated to working with her.

Relationships and feelings are one of the underlying keys to success in a course. If you have a teacher you like, don’t you want to work harder to please them? I know I do…and I know that I don’t really feel like working for someone who berates my feelings and is insensitive.

Overall, this has been the most challenging course that I have encountered in my educational career and that is saying something since my background includes some biological and chemical science courses that most people dread the mere thought of taking.However, I feel I have learned more in this course that I can apply to my own life and profession than those afore mentioned courses.The principles presented and utilized in my online course design made me revaluate my FTF courses and how I will teach them in the future, too.

Another major impression is the degree to which Alexandra is adept at infusing “teaching presence” in to the online learning experience. She, along with Peter Shea et al. (2005) designed a study that looked the effects of teaching presence, using as research subjects 2,036 students participating in the SUNY Learning Network (SLN). Pickett, Shea, and colleagues, examined the “connection between students’ sense of learning community as measured by Rovai’s Classroom Community Scale and teaching presence as measured by indicators that reflect components in the Community of Inquiry Model as described by Garrison, Anderson, and their colleagues” (p 70).The researchers reported a correlation between teacher presence and a well-developed sense of community, which is key in the constructivist paradigm. Especially important is the instructor’s participation in “directed facilitation”, which may play a significant role in the creation of community, and may “include whether the students feel the instructor is drawing in participants, creating an accepting climate for learning, keeping students on track, and diagnosing misperceptions” (p.71). I think it is fair to say, based on her very high level of robust participation, that Alexandra is adept at producing directed facilitation.

In this course, I think you are demonstrating teaching presence mostly through the discussions within each module. Not to be little feedback provided to us through our written assignments, much of the teaching presence that I sense from you is in the discussion areas; likewise, from student teaching presence. I made a related comment to how much students are contributing to my learning in this course within my blog. I think that the class community is sort of being created in the blogs but also has pieces of it spread out in the discussions. Reading through each discussion post, whether it applies to me directly or not, creates a sense that other students are experiencing similar things as I am within the course. The icebreaker activity in this course was unique. The use of a conversational tone provides a personal sense to all posts. In this module, the use of Diigo to work individually and within the entire group to share references and to comment on the shared references is another way that a sense of community is being created.

I still remember how I felt that first time I accessed this course through blackboard and clicked on the link that said click here first. A video from Youtube came up and there was Alex saying hello and introducing herself and the course in video format. This was only the second time I had a professor in my online learning career that made a video appearance to welcome me and my classmates to the class. One striking aspect of her video was that it wasn’t edited or scripted. It was just her talking to us all in one take… how much more “real” that it get? This first glimpse into the course immediately got me thinking that my instructor was going to be knowledgeable and techno-savvy and would be able to help me learn a great deal. I also had a chance to hear her voice in real time and see what she looked like. I have taken online classes before in which the instructor NEVER gave us a description of herself, and many don’t provide pictures. I like to see who I am working with and know a little bit about them, don’t you?

I think another way Alex has created a welcoming online environment is in how she utilizes the 7 principles for effective online teaching. She maintains very frequent contact, encourages cooperation among each of us, provides us with learning activities that get us actively involved in our own learning, she gives prompt feedback, emphasizes time on task, maintains VERY high expectations (which pushes us to reach beyond our normal threshold for learning), and presents a lot of the information in a variety of ways which appeal to various learning styles.

You have brought a fresh perspective to my learning and it has shaped me into a better student, and hopefully a better teacher as well. In facilitating discourse, you have done an excellent job taking our comments and observations to another level. I’ve enjoyed how you have been able to encourage us to add to our points by asking us additional questions. You have also provided us with opportunities to rate ourselves and each other, further enabling us to push ourselves to new levels. One of the things in teaching presence that I have found most effective has been your ability to “Draw in participants, prompting discussion/interaction.” (Pickett 2008) I enjoy looking at the emails I get each day to see if there are points I may want to followup on later. By having Moodle auto-send us updates, it keeps the course in our mind and enables us to stay connected even when not connected. In terms of developing class community, you have been most effective at “Create activities where students must rely on each other.” (Pickett 2008). I have received so much feedback and new perspective from my peers through the use of diigo, student responses, and by observing others coursework.

I think from day one, Alex made it a goal to establish teaching presence and class community within this course. Starting with teaching presence, there are three main components that are each addressed: facilitating discourse, direct instruction, and instructional design and organization (Pickett 2008). Starting with the course information documents which showed us basically the guidelines for the course, the module break down complete with time frames, and the rubrics which would be used to evaluate us, we were able to experience teaching presence. Continuing, Alex set up specific questions for our discussions and presented content through readings and presentations – this is all apart of teaching presence. It is important though to realize that students play a large role in teaching presence as well and this is clearly evident in our course. Through our discussions, in which we are encouraged to respond and challenge our classmates’ thinking, through our blog posts, through our interaction with Alex whether it be about our personal courses, our ideas presented in discussions, or the content of our blogs, we are absolutely illustrating teaching presence.

When it comes to class community, also from day one, this was started and continues to grow with each module. We started with the Getting to Know You Activities, which included creating the Voice Thread welcome, the course profile, putting our pictures and even for some of us, our voices online. All of this helped establish who exactly this class is and for me, helps make it more comfortable to interact within the class. We continue to build community by responding to classmates blogs and sharing our own experiences, but I think one of the most important ways is through our discussions. In each module, we must interact with our classmates – whether it is sharing our reflections, our experiences, new knowledge, or just giving positive feedback, we are constantly interacting and building trust in each other. This is what class community is really about.

I am hard, hot and nurturing! Hell yes i teach like a girl.

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Posted August 26, 2008 by alexandrapickett in category Uncategorized

About the Author

Alexandra M. Pickett

13 thoughts on “i teach like a girl!

  1. Robin Smail

    Alex, this is a wonderful post. Kathy Sierra hit me like a bag of bricks as well, and she made me realize that I totally “code like a girl“—AND I EMBRACE IT FULLY. Over the years I have gone from software development to instructional design, but I’ve never really lost that sense that there is more to the process—ANY process—than just the direct “from point A to point B” method of completion. Right now, the whole Web 2.0 movement is the ideal opportunity to incorporate community with engagment in online education. I think as women, we bring the human element into the mix and that is an important piece to retain. Learners want guidance, they want validation, they want to know they are going in the right direction. We can casually say “Oh yeah, the path’s over there; just keep going until you get to the end” OR we can infuse the journey with respect, guidance, warmth, strength, and support as they explore, experiment, and extend themselves. To me, the choice is an obvious one. By your students’ own testaments, it is to you as well. 🙂

  2. parkerk1

    Hey Marti i just found this emotional intelligence test.

    Here is my report : ) wonder if my husband would agree.

    Snapshot Report
    Self-report Component
    Subscale IQ score = 131
    Subscale percentile = 98

    According to your self-report answers, your emotional intelligence is excellent. People who score like you do feel that they have almost no trouble understanding and dealing with their own emotions and those of others. They have an easy time overcoming difficulties in their lives and they are able to control their moods. It’s easy for them to motivate themselves to overcome obstacles and reach their goals. In addition, they find social interactions to be quite easy and fulfilling, for several reasons. They are comfortable allowing themselves to get close with others, and feel comfortable being vulnerable enough to establish intimacy. They also report having an easy time offering support to others; this is likely due to an empathetic nature and a clear mind when it comes to offering good advice.

  3. wow power leveling

    This is great! It really shows me where to expand my blog. I think that sometime in the future I might try to write a book to go along with my blog, but we will see…Good post with useful tips and ideas

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  6. R4

    Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up!

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