September 23

On being learner-centered

These are the notes I used to prepare for an interview. I was part of a panel.
  1. How would you define student-led learning? What does it look like in your organization? 

I like to use more learner-focused terminology. Learner vs. Student, for example. We work with online faculty to help them look at their online instruction, and their online course designs through a learner-centered pedagogical lens.

  1. Involve learners in planning and evaluation of their instruction. Provide choices for them to make their thinking and learning visible and open to feedback from the instructor and from their peers in the course.
  2. Provide opportunities for learners to have, or participate in, experiential online learning activities.
  3. Help learners tie what they are learning to how it might be relevant to their job or personal life.
  4. Rather than focusing on content or knowledge transmission from expert to novice, focus on the construction of knowledge by engaging the learner with questions – their own questions and problems that are real and that they are interested in.


  1. Give an example of student-led or flexible learning at a macro level and at a micro level 

Not sure if this is what you mean, but at a macro level an example could be having learners co-create assessments and rubrics for online course activities. On a micro level it would be giving learners choices in how they demonstrate their mastery, or learning for individual online learning activities/objectives.


  1. Describe institutional challenges you may have or may face implementing student-led learning. 

Online faculty development is a challenge. Faculty buy-in. Online course quality. It is not easy to be learner-centered in practice. It requires an intentionality that does not happen intuitively.

  1. What are some of the benefits and/or challenges experienced implementing? 

Deeper learning and better learner outcomes.


  1. Student-led learning assumes students are comfortable taking ownership. If they’re not comfortable, how do you get them there? 

This is a great question! And a challenge! Many learners come to higher education with limited understanding of, or experiences with, taking ownership for their own learning. So, it is a process to scaffold new behaviors, expectations, and attitudes, and to help them understand how to do that.

In my online course, for example – Intro to Online Teaching, the learners decide what topics (based on their interests and experiences) to explore within the context of the theories and concepts of the course. Additionally, online interaction (or “discussions” ) are learner-led, self-assessed, and peer evaluated, giving them agency in what is taught, how (and sometimes when), and how it is assessed. Of course, as the instructor, I also assess and provide feedback – that is my main role in the course. Learners make their thinking and learning visible to me (and their peers) and I guide and provide feedback to get them to deeper levels of thinking and learning about whatever they have brought to the course in the varied learning activities of the course. So, rather than evaluating a product, I give learners the opportunity to dig deeper into a concept, theory, and their own understanding to move them forward in their thinking/learning- the learning process is by nature, iterative. This is individualized to each learner. It takes a minute for some learners to accept/figure out that they are in the driver’s seat and responsible for what they get out of the course, which will be in direct proportion to what they put into it. That process is hard for those who’d prefer to focus on the product, rather than the process. Process is more important. In my view. In my course.

I work with online faculty to help them understand the affordances of the online teaching and learning environment to support learner-centered pedagogy, to develop learner-centered pedagogical practices/approaches/mind-sets, and to consider learner-centered means of assessing learning that are more authentic given the online environment. It’s hard for them too sometimes!


  1. What does assessment look like? (sharing examples of ways to generate rubrics — what’s the process for involving students, for example?)

I recommend that all activities in an online course use rubrics and that you engage learners in the co-creation of the rubrics that will be used to assess them and their work. Here is an example of my discussion/interaction rubric:

Learners review the rubric and can have input into the criteria. They also must peer-assess each of their classmates posts and self-evaluate using the same rubric. I also rate the posts with the rubric, so they can learn to apply it well.



October 7

teaching in the “cloud”

Alexandra M. Pickett

Associate Director . SUNY Learning Network . State University Plaza . Albany, NY 12246 . T: 1.518.320.1393 F: 1.518.320.1554 . . .

teaching in the “cloud” . .

Examples from my online course

Join my networks!

JOIN !! –




4. &


6. &


8. &


10. Alejandra Subagja in Second Life:

11. Skype: alexandrapickett




1. – my personal blog/course blog.

2. – my work blog.

ANGEL resources

June 30

NUTN 2009 – conference, presentation & award for innovation

Last year i was invited to participate in a planning meeting for the 2009 annual conference of the National University Telecommunications Network (NUTN)  by Joanne Humbert from RIT from the planning committee. The 27th annual NUTN 2009: Quality In Motion conference, was held on June 21-23, 3009 in Saratoga Springs, NY. The conference started on Sunday, but we didn’t get home till 2am due to flight delays so i slept all of Sunday. I am sorry I missed Ed Bowen’s keynote address Sunday night. I heard that it was great and that he looked very dapper in his tux. : ) I know Ed becuase he was a participant in my workshop last year at the Sloan-C ALN conference and we have become social web “friends” since. The conference started on Monday with Elliott Maisie’s plenary address. He only had one slide. Elliot uses his smart phone as a cognitive prosthetic – i particularly liked the restroom finder app. that he recommends.He is an excellent speaker.


My presentation was one of two concurrent sessions after Elliott. There were under 100 participants total at this conference and i think most of them were at my session, “twitterpated by twitter and other web2.0 technologies for instructional purposes.”  I gave the classic version of this presentation:

The presentation was fantastic! I felt like a rock star. I LOVE doing this presentation!! Ed Bowen introduced me and did a wonderful job. He was very kind!

I spent the next hour and a half after my presentation being interviewed by Ed. We had a great conversation and i really enjoyed our time, even if i missed the Edupunk presentation.


Highlights from some of the sessions i attended:

It was wonderful to see Frank Mayadas and to listen to his keynote address.

Here is a link to the conference presentation materials.

I really enjoyed listening Kelly Hermann, Statewide Coord Disability Services, Office of Academic Affairs. Empire State College presenting- accessible courses: going beyond technology meets the needs of students w/disabilities.

Teaching on RIT’s SecondLife Island Katie McDonald, Instructional Technologist, Rochester Institute of Technology –

A dialogue on faculty: teaching online in 21st Century Institutions by Dana Offerman, Provost and Chief Academic Officer, Excelsior College and Connie Grega, Assistant Director for Academic Outreach Program Services, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

The presidents’ panel: change as opportunity with Dr. Susan Aldridge President University of Maryland University College, Dr. Alan Davis President Empire State College, and Dr. Wright Lassiter, Chancellor, Dallas County Community College District.

Innovation Award

The highlight of the conference for me had to be the honor of receiving the NUTN Distance Education Innovation Award 2009 for the SLN online teaching survey for experienced online instructors:

The National University Telecommunications Network (NUTN) Distance Education Innovation Award for 2009 was presented to Alexandra M. Pickett and the SUNY Learning Network on June 23, 2009 in Saratoga Springs, NY at the NUTN annual conference( for the SLN Online Teaching Survey: for experienced online instructors.

This award recognizes an individual or group that has developed an innovative program or practice that contributes to the field of distance education, in the context of a new or ongoing program, student or support services, pedagogy, faculty development and support or technology.

The SLN online teaching self-assessment is a simple survey (, the innovation lies in the report that it generates to the faculty that aids the experienced online instructor to identify areas in his/her course that they themselves feel might need improvement . The results can then be used independently by the instructor to complete the review and revision cycle of the course design process to update the online course in preparation for the next delivery, or it can be used as a component of a faculty development event, or one on one with an instructional designer to pinpoint areas in a course that could be improved, thereby giving the instructor, the trainer, or the instructional designer specific areas on which to focus recommendations, suggestions, examples, tips for improvement.

This survey for experienced online faculty turns theory into practice by assisting the experienced online instructor’s to self-assess on specific indicators of teaching presence from the COI model and on the development of online class community in the design of his/her own online course and how they teach it. Faculty are asked to self-assess on 20 specific indicators, the survey generates a report giving the instructor a numerical score for each indicator that corresponds to a key of range of scores. The instructor can then see, based on his/her own self-evaluation, what specific areas in the online course need (1) redesign, (2) need some improvement, or (3) effectively demonstrate class community and teaching presence and need no improvement. A companion piece to the survey are the handouts ( that provide examples of the indicators, and suggestions that faculty can use to make improvements in those areas where their self-assessment indicates they need some improvement.

(I created the this video (with jing, and prezi, and audacity, and other tools) for the acceptance ceremony and it was one of the most time consuming and funnest projects i have ever worked on. I got to learn and do stuff i had never done before. It was a blast creating it.)

I was very nice to see Frank Mayadas at the conference. And to see Karen Vignare, Joeann Humbert, Kim Scalzo, Connie Grega, Rob Steiner, Richard Hezel, and John Sener. And to meet  Anna Cholewinska, Alan Davis, David Caso, LuAnn Phillips, George Timmons, and Dana Offerman – and Ann Marie Vaughan & Shari Costello who taught me how to pronounce Newfoundland, “Say understand then Newfoundland.”

Thanks Patti Jennings for all your help!

Award Acceptance Notes

June 30

The Sloan-C Emerging Technologies Symposium

One conference down, 2 to go! The drive from Monterey to San Francisco along the coast on US Rt 1 is amazing! It is not a long drive. We took our time. explored. stopped. took pictures. it was great. Getting to the conference hotel was easy, everything went smoothly. I love San Francisco. I was really looking forward to doing my presentation at the Sloan-C emerging technologies conference, June 17-19, 2009, and to the conference itself. Because it is a Sloan event, i knew i will see a lot of people i know. Because it is a new conference, i anticipated that i would meet a lot of people i don’t know. I have been eager to plug into some new communities, and the symposium did not disappoint. One of the very cool things they did was to partner the symposium with a MoodleMoot. A very smart business decision in this economic climate and a very cool way to infuse new blood/energy/enthusiasm into an organization. This is only the second year of the #sloancsym and when i heard they went from 200 participants last year (i did not attend) to over 600 this year, i was astounded and very glad for the organization. I was also thrilled that my presentation “twitterpated with twitter and other web 2.0 technologies for instructional purposes” was selected as the “best in track” session for the Pedagogy and New Learning Environments track. This was one of the motivations i had to rename, revise, and redesign my presentation in a new zooming prezentation tool called prezi that i have been playing with for sometime. So, i delivered a session-length version of my teaching outside the “box” presentation, which i had just delivered as a 3.5 hour workshop to a small audience at the NMC summer conference, in Monterey. The presentation was recorded. Here is the link complete with screen shots – a very high quality video recording – nicely done! I LOVED doing the presentation. There were at least 150 people in the room, maybe more. it was packed! I love an audience and i love sharing and talking about my passion: teaching and learning online. It was also nice to see several friends in the audience including Karen Vignare in the front row, and Burks Oakley. My friend Phil Ice was my facilitator. It was wonderful!

Preconference Workshop Notes

I wanted to do a preconference workshop and couldn’t decide which. In the end, I opted for the Learning How to Use Google Apps workshop (which i was way interested in) instead of the Moodle 1.9 gradebook workshop (which i way needed). The workshop facilitated by Susan Cline, and Matt Albert from PressPlaySolutions turned out to be a great choice for a good overview of google apps. my takeaways from the workshop:

Google Apps in plain English

These are some of the symposium sessions i attended:

Will web 3.0 make us change the way we educate? a call for a new learning management program by Matt Crosslin and Harriet Watkins, University of Texas at Arlington.

my takeaways from this session:

Implementing an Online Learning Model in a Social Media World by Thomas Glover and Stacey Ludwig from WGU and Sarah Robbins.

  • Unfortunately Intellagirl wuz not there : ( but i got a good overview of WGU and their use of social media from Stacey.
  • Highlight was seeing an @micala tweet in my steam and realizing she was in the room with me and finding her actually sitting in my row !
  • @hollyrae was also in the room, but did not actually meet her f2f till later.

Into the Third Dimension with SLOODLE by Jeremy Kemp, from San José State University I wanted to see Jeremy and hear what was going on with SLOODLE. He spoke of SLOODLE providing opportunities for engagement, immersion, and scaffolded learning. He showed cool moodle blocks in SL that you can walk around in in secondlife and interact with. He also showed how it interacted in the same way with ANGEL. Still not sure i understand how it all works. VERY COOL! my takeaways from the session:

Still not sure i understand how it all works. But it was VERY COOL!

Using the COI framework to Assess the Efficacy of New Technologies by Phil Ice and Jason Dom from the American Public University System. I was really looking forward to meeting Phil Ice for the first time in person, though we have known each other for a long time. We may have met before, not sure. His presentation was fantastic! It was nice to hear about the COI research that Peter is contributing SLN data to from someone else and to learn about Phil’s particular contribution and findings/results with audio feedback. I immediately started using more audio/video in my live summer course. : ) You must view this slide show now! This was a fantastic presentation with lots stuff information.

Social Networking to Build Community with Ning by Michelle Macfarlane from Sierra College. my takeaways from the session:

“Higher Education Meets the S Curve” – expert plenary panel

Julie Clow, Ph.D. – Learning Technologies Manager, Google S

tewart Mader – founder of Future Changes, a specialist consultancy that teaches people at Fortune 500 companies, universities, non-profits, and small businesses how to improve productivity using wikis (i.e., Confluence)

Adrian Wilson – Director of Educational Outreach and Chair of the Microsoft Higher Ed Consortium, chair of the Microsoft Higher Ed Consortium

Guess which two were the coolest?

Virtual Classrooms by John Schuman – education solutions architect, adobe systems. According to John, cloud computing isstyle of computing in which dynamically scalable & often virtualized resource are provided as a service on the net. Things are moving to the clouds, and devices are shrinking as a result. Enter software as a service. . . my takeaways from this session:

Beyond Google: easy to use innovative resource and alternative search engines you can use today by Ray Schroeder, university of illinois at Springfield and Maureen Yoder from Lesley University. Watch this pesentation now! it was fantastic!! i learned stuff i did not know! My takeaways from this session:

Fostering New Learning Communities, Nurturing Online Learning Ecosystems, by Holly Rae Bemis-Schurtz and Susan Bussmann, NMSU/RETA I had no internet access @hollyrae ‘s prezo, but it was fantastic! my takeaway from this session:

Institutional and system barriers to improving student success through technology – is there any reason for hope? by Josh Jarret, senior program officer, special initiatives, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. my notes from this session: Began by listening to some shameful stats on how we are failing to educate low-income and students of color. He challenges us to stop what we are doing, be outraged and do something different becuase it is NOT working! He asks how do we address the challenge of completion? what are the solutions? – socialnetworks, limited choice, linked to real-world goal. Compresed classroom time and terms, soft skills development, and career matching, integrated supports and active case management. Blended learning is effective for nontraditional students, social networks, proam networks, adaptive software, intuitive media. Use of simulation roleplay, new assessments. Mentioned excelsior, wgu, kaplan, ria slado… wow! iron triangle: cost, quality, and access – affect one has negative impact on one of the others… according to college presidents. nothing can change if this is true. are we trapped in this iron triangle? Innovation that challenges the status quo dies. so what are the barriers to innovation? He proposes a revolution from within – says we are the soldiers – that evolution will take too long – love it : )

RT @m2sE: the revolution won’t be televised, it’s tweeted : )

This was a fantastically provocative session by a smart articulate man. Every one should watch it now!

Roughly half of students who attempt postsecondary fail to complete a degree or credential – and that number is even higher for low-income students and students of color. Learning technologies are creating dynamic, engaging, and personalized educational experiences with proven effectiveness – yet they rarely go to scale. This conversation will attempt to identify the combination of systemic factors that have consistently resisted transforming learning experiences for students to increase their success – and to ask what if anything can we do to change this reality?

highlights of the symposium for me were:

  • Moodle not being down during my presentation. MoodleRooms was down for the morning and was thrilled that it came back up in time for my presentation!! that was quite a scare.
  • Meeting @jjjohnson01, who was in my Sloan-C workshop several years ago! I LOVED meeting him.
  • Meeting @rrusso and @hollyrae – I had sent out a tweet plea for someone to help me with my MOODLE gradebook (which was a mess after an unexpected upgrade) and two people i had never met that were at the conference tweeted back offering to help. One of them being the guy that led the gradebook preconf workshop! We connected and he helped me figure out how to have moodle add the scores of my discussion ratings. I can’t believe it works! I had been adding it all up manually taking hours and hours and hours. I am so greatful for their help.
  • Saw several ESC friends – Evelyn Ting and Nicola Martinez. Jon Rubin from Purchase was also there.
  • felt like @clarkshahnelson was with me at the conference. He also offered to help me with my gradebook and was participating virtually and twittering the session he viewed remotely. very cool.
  • learning about
  • I met a guy at lunch from New Zealand and asked if he new Terry Neale… AND HE DID!!
  • I found out later that Claudia Linden was there – i did not see her. I would have loved to talk with her. I saw Gary Miller briefly and wish i had had time to catch up with him more.
  • sloan-c symposium presentation voicethreads are pretty cool:
  • an interesting way to view stuff:

Personal highlights were my daughter and brother being with me. We visited the aquarium, went to the Muir woods, had dinner in Sausalito, had a ferry ride across the bay and numerous trolley rides, toured SF in a horse-drawn carriage, had dinners at the Hard Rock Café and the Rain Forest Café – had a wonderful time. The only thing i did not like about this conference was the hotel – no pool, meeting rooms were hot, stuffy, small, and uncomfortable with laptops, not to mention lack of power to plugin. There was no wireless access in some of the meeting rooms, there were fake movable walls between session rooms – and you could hear everything in the other rooms – distracting, plus a number of other small irritations that added up.

Everything else about it was fantastic!

June 30

the new media consortium summer conference 2009

I love Monterey, California. AND i loved the New Media Consortium summer conference (#nmc2009), June 9, 2009 – June 13, 2009 in Monterey, California hosted by California State University, Monterey Bay. I was invited to present a 3.5 hour workshop, teaching outside the “box”, and was fortunate to have gotten approval to travel out of state to California to attend this conference and the Sloan-C emerging technologies conference in San Francisco back to back. My workshop was intimate (meaning small = 10 people : ) But being small and having 3.5 hours we got to know each other and i love this presentation where i get to show why, how, and what happened when i taught a course mostly outside the moodle “box using about 10 web2.0 tools. My prezentation was in prezi – you can browse my prezi here: teaching outside the “box” about a week prior to the conference and workshop i sent out some materials to the folks that had signed up for it so they would come prepared. I also asked participants to engage with me prior to the workshop, so that we could get to know each other, and so that i could get a sense of their expectations of me and the workshop… trying to be diligent and practice what i preach – i set up a voicethread for this.

Go ahead try it! I set it up so that anyone can contribute to it! Many of my prezentations often have the theme of the power of the social web, so prior to the workshop i tweeted asking my twitterpeeps for a shout out to the workshop participants as an illustration of the power of twitter and the social web as the most powerful professional development tool in the universe … this is a snapshot of some of what i got:

how cool is that!!!! @jimgroom @kathysierra @hrheingold are rock stars to me!!! at the time of this twitter stream i had never ever met any of them and yet they are in my “network” and willing to respond to me to help me illustrate the power of the social web!! Barbara and Carol are respected colleagues that i actually know. Suzanne and LillieJay are SUNY colleagues, JJ Johnson i had never met, but it turns out that he took an online course from me a couple of years ago, and the rest i have never met, but know from twitter. In addition to the twitter shout out i also posted a video in seesmic, a tool i don’t use in my online course, but a tool i feel has great potential to extend one’s learning community and can be used effectively to demonstrate the power of the social web. This is the response i got from that:

I loved my workshop. And i loved meeting the wonderful participants:

I think i am missing some, let me know and i will add you : ) The conference highlight for me was definitely meeting Kathy Sierra and being there to see her live giving her opening plenary – creating passionate learners. If you don’t know who she is, it doesn’t matter – you must watch this video!

Kathy Sierra – creating passionate learners – NMC 2009 opening keynote

I introduced myself to her after her presentation and stammered like a school girl meeting a Jonas brother… something like “hi kathy. blah blah blah (who i am). blah blah  . . . I loved your presentation. blah blah…thanks so much for twittering for my workshop blah blah blah . . .” to which she replied “oh, you wrote the i-teach-like-a-girl blog post (where i describe the day i “met” her and how . . .) ”  She really knew who i wuz! <<blush>> that was seriously cool. seriously. I loved her presentation. u must watch it now!

These are some of the sessions i attended:

More than meets the eye: using google earth and geospatial apps for story telling, teaching, and finding your way by Keene Haywood, University of Texas, Austin.

My take aways from the session:


I was completely lost in this presentation, but i know it was cool and awesome, i just didn’t understand what and how he was doing stuff.

Globally engaged, digitally enabled: harnessing web-based technologies for service learning and scholarly networking by Rick Jaffe and Noah Wittman, From the University of California, Berkeley. My take aways from the session:

  1. They are using Elgg.
  2. they suggest it might be used as a student eportfolio.
  3. they move quickly, take risks, and r not afraid to fail.
  4. it is experimental, user-centered, live prototyping…
  6. They suggest not using full names in blogs.
  7. Morgan Reid, a participant in the session, said something like – this focus is on process and so the potential for student-generated content as ephemera is not bad – the profundity of that insight still has me thinking.

I was kinda lost in this presentation, it was not what i expected. Surprised to hear presenter reading their presentation, and not having links ready to poke around in.

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) – Rubric for Online Instruction (ROI) by Brett Christie, Sonoma State University, CSU,  and Peter DiFalco, CSU, Chico.

My take aways from the session: they had never heard of QM. This was a great presentation! Overview of UDL, their ROI (which i had never heard of), and accessibility. Their rubric of online instruction asks what does a high quality online course look like? it is lms agnostic, developed at CSU. Its use at CSU is voluntary. The way they connect UDL with their rubric and accessibility is very interesting. Their online resource of “suggested tools matrix” is fantastic! Would love to have Brett present at the SLN Summit. They help faculty learn about assistive technologies and the perspective of those that need them.

  1. – learning style diagnostic

Very cool presentation.

After a long day of presentations i went looking for the 100s of baby seals that had been twittered about several times. After a very long walk (NB: Monterey is a penninsula. If you walk out to the ocean and turn right you won’t necessarily be walking in a northerly direction, as i found out the hard way : ) this is what i found:

Designing the Learning System: Building efficient Linkages between padagogy and institutional resources by Morgan Reid, University of British Columbia.

My take aways from the session: my favorite part of this presentation was learning about Etherpad and using – very cool! Morgan was lovely to listen to not just because of how he pronounces “process” but because he is extremely articulate. According to Morgan:

  • learning = critique this, create solutions
  • engagement = value each job, enjoy one
  • efficiency = from newbie to pro asap – the sequence is – novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, expert. Morgan says get past novice and beginner quickly
  • collective knowledge of examples, capacity building, shared & efficient uses of resources, an articulation between pedagogy & resources
  • how do new comers get started? how do experts bring newcomers in?

what he is talking about is building a community of practice ala Etienne Wenger.

Using open content and the Collaboratory Model for real-world science learning by Megan Simmons, ISKME, and Amee Godwin, ISKME and OER Commons. Amee, as i mentioned earlier in this post, attended my workshop and as a result overnight changed her powerpoint in to a prezi – -how cool is that!!

my take aways from the session:

  1. OER connect people to people, not just people to content.
  2. OER is a process – an OER collaboratory = community of educators, scientific process, real datasets, & educational resources.
  3. Pollen Viewer
  4. Pollen BOTS

Other highlights for me were chatting with Larry Johnson and Gardner Campbell, and meeting Alan Levine for the first time in person. I also saw Dan Eastmond, now of WGU, and I also met tons of new people with whom i had great conversations and have a stack of business cards to prove it.  Martos Hoffman, head of student research for the Globe program and Kathleen Heyworth from the Burchfield Penney Art Center at Bufalo State College, come to mind immediately and their possible interest in SecondLife : ) I also LOVED the pathable site, the conference organization (thanks Nancy!), the SecondLife streaming of the keynotes (watched Marco Torres’ plenary, it’s not about IT, it is about what we do with it! from SL and the five minutes of fame!! – especially Jackie Gerstein ! !

I was very disappointed not to have had the opportunity to meet Jim Groom, whom i think was there, and Bryan Alexander, whom i know for sure was there. Both whom i would really love to meet someday.

During the conference i also tried to keep up with my online course, reviewed the faculty development proposals as track chair for the next Sloan-C ALN conference, and created my first video for the NUTN award acceptance ceremony – i got very little sleep that week. Personal highlights included my daughter and brother joining me in Monterey after the conference for a visit to the aquarium, a whale watch, a drive to moss landing where we saw 50+ wild and care-free fuzzy cute sea otters, not to mention tons of piled up sea lions ! ! !

loved loved loved this community and this conference!