November 30

the death of

I just learned yesterday that my favorite asynchronous video conversation/discussion tool is being shut down on December 1. (tomorrow) i am devastated by this news.

I know I am being hypocritical lamenting the loss of this tool…I always tell the faculty I work with NOT to get attached to “tools” as they change, get bought and killed, or just disappear… I tell them to be fearless and that there are tons of tools, so that if one goes away, there are others to take its place I tell them that you need to start with a learning objective, NOT the tool, and you just need criteria to evaluate tools – Does it help you achieve your learning objective “better, faster, safer, easier, or cheaper?”

So, I made the mistake of getting attached to this tool… I LOVE for many reasons and am very sad that it is going away. It is the only tool I know of of its kind and would really appreciate any suggestions for alternatives.

I love it

  • Because it is NOT youtube.
  • Because it facilitates online asynchronous VIDEO threaded discussion.
  • Because it is simple and beautifully designed  – a simple idea and simple to use.
  • Because the embed widget is beautiful and functional.
  • Because it enhanced my connections to and conversations with students and colleagues all over the world.
  • Because it facilitated conversations with those I consider “rock stars” in my field. People I do not know in RL that I never would have met or had opportunity to talk to otherwise.
  • Because it allowed me to teach “outside” the box of my course management system and blur the boundaries of my online classroom walls.
  • Because it allowed me the opportunity to invite the world into my online classroom to converse with my students. –  and they came!  See: & 7 – The people in these conversations are my ROCK STARS!
  • Because it allowed my students to have access to and to interact and converse with experts.
  • Because it allowed me to express and enhance my social and teaching presence in my online course and allowed my students to do the same.

I <heart> seesmic and am not ready to let it go. This tool has so much potential for online teaching and learning.

I wish there was a way for small tools like this to be saved from extinction for use in education.

July 12

i am highly polychronic!

I just took this really cool quiz in FB to determine how polychronic

apparently, i am highly polychronic!

You multi-dimensionally approach work projects with flexible, adjustable plans and shared responsibilities. You tend to believe the success of business transactions is ultimately determined by the individuals involved and their cohesiveness as a team. Work is founded upon quality interpersonal interaction and long-term investment in community, which takes precedence over all forms of activity. Communication tends to be spontaneous and high context. Decision making is based on extensive group involvement, discussion, and consensus. The essence of leadership is the subtle balance of group consensus and personal vision.highlypolychronic

April 27

some of my digital footprints – who i am

who i know …

what i link to . what i bookmark  . where i  go …

what i share . what comments i leave . what i blog …

the pictures & videos i post .  the art i create . how i express myself …

April 12

Top 10 CoolTools for 2010

Here is my “Top 10” list for 2010:

  1. posterous – one post to posterous goes everywhere on the web. Email stuff to posterous and it goes everywhere! simple.
  2. dropbox – dropbox is software that lets you store, share, back up and sync your files online and across computers. Even more freaking amazing than! thanks to Denis Sambursky!
  3. ning – a social platform.
  4. evernote– an online notebook. Type a text note. Clip a web page. Snap a photo. Grab a screenshot.
  5. etherpad – online wordprocessor that lets you share docs and collaborate in REAL TIME.
  6. alternative, the difference is that the words in the tag cloud generated are clickable!!! See this example.
  8. – formerly meeid, this is an incredibly beautiful online social media aggregator to use as a slick online résumé or personal website –
  9. – seriously cool qr code generator (thanks! @stevier ) now all i need is a cell phone : )
  10. animoto – unreal online slideshow, e.g.,

These are also on my waiting list…

  1. nanogong
  2. wiffiti
  4. glogster

Cool tools 2009

Cool tools 2008

July 13

the avatar as a representation of "self"

One of my current students uses her dog, Bishop, as her profile image. I love that she does that. It gives me a warm feeling about her. She mentioned in one of our discussions that she chose him because she was concerned about her privacy and security.

She said:

I think it is funny that you mention my use of my Bishop for an image. I had a reason. In a class we had on cyber security, it said to never use a real image of yourself unless you want it broadcasted. We learned how to build an Avatar. I do not like my Avatar because when I made it, the selections did not include large or handicapped people as a choice. Everything was “beautiful people” and personally, I think that is very wrong. I have never gone out there to look further to see if there are other places (I used Yahoo) to see if you can build a real person. So I chose Bishop as he is my familiar.

As soon as i read her post i did a google search and started playing with 2D avatar generators to see what i could come up with. Below are links to the ones i found an played with. The resulting images i have inserted in to this post.

Avatar Generators:



These last 2 are my SecondLife 3D avatars. I lived in my newbie SL skin (left) for almost a year before changing her to a more “realistic” me (right) : ) Not sure why, but i never messed with her looks much till i saw someone walk by that looked just like me, and then i started thinking about it and wanted her to look more like the real me, so i plumped her up and got some “good” hair to look more like mine. Then i didn’t touch her looks again till i had to do a presentation in SL ( and wanted to represent myself more realistically and less like a newbie. Have not really touched her since… i had a hard time finding appropriate clothes. I think about the online representation of self often. Colleagues and i have talked about, especially in the hyper-sexualized world of secondlife. I note it everytime i log into some place on the social web and see how friends and colleagues choose to represent themselves, or when i am required to upload yet another image to another profile somewhere… I am charmed by those who choose animals or some image that whispers insight into the person. I like that invention and creativity very much. None of the new little avatars i generated “really” look like me. There is a suggestion of me, i suppose. Brown skin, hair, and eyes. long curly hair… i really like the little one with the black skirt and shirt, but i will not be running around the web changing my profile images to any of these anytime soon.

I understand and respect the need for privacy, and for some, not wanting one’s “real” image floating about the net. For some there may be a sense of loss of control. I guess i feel “in charge” of what i put out there.

April 20

cooltools 2009

Here is my “Top 10” list for 2009:

1. seesmic– threaded video discussion
2. jing – screencapture
3. youtube quickcapture, or the flip video camera
4. diigo & groups – social boomarking
5. mogulus – live webcast/broadcast
6. – online collaboration and file sharing service – This would be a fantastic SP for your LJ approach to teaching/learning with technology !! Freaking amazing !!
7. polldaddy – survey tool
8. rockyou, animoto, wordle, prezi – presentation/animation
9. slideshare & events/groups & flickr & groups– social presentation/document/photo sharing
10. facebook groups and pages – social networking

Cool tools 2008

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.

June 26

the cms is a dinosaur …and you know what happened to them…

I am using moodle to teach ETAP687 because UAlbany was unable to provide instructor-level BLS course shells for the students in this course to create their own online courses, which is a main project for the course. I created the course in Moodle so that students could see from the student perspective what moodle can look like and how it functions. It didn’t make any sense to have students create courses in Moodle and have etap687 in BLS.

I also wanted students to be able to take what they create here in this course and be able to keep it and possibly teach it sometime in the future. With Moodle, an open source platform, it seemed like a better choice than locking things into one of the commercial course management systems…

That brings me to some of my other choices in the design of this course… as i have mentioned elsewhere in this blog i have incorporated various web2.0 tools into the course such as voicethread, diigo, edublogs, twitter, jing, meebome, audacity, youtube, breeze …. etc.

So….why did i “choose” to do that you may wonder?

Moodle provides a blog utility for students, it also has a news forum by default for each course and blocks that tie into the news forum to post announcements, etc. There is a calendar and ways to create links to shared resources or references within the course… last time i actually used the “glossary” feature to create a way to collect and present a list of categorized/sortable shared references for the course that the students used to build a shared annotated bibliography of resources – they had to provide a link, as description and an evaluation of the resource. I also used the “journal” feature for the “reflections” metacognitive activities of the course…

I chose to incorporate public freely available tools external to the CMS on purpose for several reasons.

  1. i am interested in exploring, testing, and evaluating the instructional potential and use of web2.0 cooltools to enhance online instruction, interaction, and engagement.
  2. I am looking for ways to enhance the fully online primarily text-based asynchronous teaching and learning environment with a little bling for the above stated reasons.
  3. Have i mentioned lately that i hate commercial CMSs? I naturally resist and feel uncomfortably confined by the locked down nature of the CMS… i mean really, is a “blog” that is locked into a CMS really a blog? No!!!!!!!! you can’t just call it a chicken when it is a duck!!!! Part of what makes it a blog is the fact that it is public – anyone can see it and interact with it. It also represents you publicly, belongs to you/you own it/it is yours to have and use, and to keep it beyond the end of the course and term – that is an authentic online learning activity! That is why i also thought it essential that the shared resources for the course be external to the CMS using diigo… i want my students to have access to the resources after the course ends!

There is something about the nature of interaction in a public forum. There is something about ownership….being able to for example, customize a blog visually to yourself by picking a theme and deciding what widgets to display and how you choose to present yourself to the world. There is also something about the responsibility you have regarding the public ownership of your thoughts and interactions, as well as the investment in time and energy to build or contribute to something that is yours and that reflects you. If you know it is just for a course, then you are doing it for me. If it is yours, then you can build it for you… a much more authentic exercise. I think that even the character of your “voice” is different, more authentically you, in a “real” blog, for example, than in one that is locked into a CMS. Plus – again you get to keep it or have access to it beyond the end of the course and term!

  1. i also enjoy playing with technology.
  2. i really like a challenge. : )

i personally love exploring the instructional potential of technology, but i do not advocate the use of technology for anything other than a compelling instructional reason. I would never advocate the use of any technology unless it assisted in meeting an instructional objective better, safer, easier, faster, or cheaper… You don’t need a backhoe to plant a tomato seed .

In my work at SUNY i never “train” the use of tools – even the almighty CMS. I discuss best practices in online pedagogy and plug the effective use of the tools in when and where it serves the pedagogical objective.

So, here is the question… is the cost of “stitching” all these tools together worth the hassle to the students (and to the instructor), the multiple authentications required to access resources housed at various external sites, the lack of technical support, the risks of johnny appleseeding course work and content around the web, the learning curve to be able to use them effectively/productively in an online teaching and learning environment?

For me, the answer is yes. Online social networking, social computing, folksonomy/social/collaborative tagging, data mashups, ubiquitous broadband, wireless, hand held and mobile computing, mobile broadband, and the cultural shift from passive consumers of content to engaged user-generators of content, has brought about a grassroots revolution resulting in a global democratization of access to tools, information, experts, content, professional development, and education as evinced by the open courseware and open source software initiatives that have changed how education is delivered, conducted… and defined. It is my obligation as a responsible netizen and educator in this moment to participate, to evaluate, to document, and to expose and engage my students to and in this process.

The commercial CMS is extinct… they just don’t know it yet.

April 14


Here was my top 10 list of cooltools in february 2008

  1. twitter – – microblog, community of practice, communication, support.
  2. Second Life – to create your avatar. There are no costs associated with Avatar creation. – user created virtual reality. I am interested in its potential as a an extension of the educational institution for online and f2f students and faculty and as a Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
  3. Voicethread – – very cool!
  4. Ustream –
  5. Audacity audio editing/recording.
  6. Blinklist – – social bookmarking tool.
  7. – – social bookmarking tool.
  8. Skype –
  9. edublogs (wordpress) – – free education blogs for faculty and students.
  10. Adobe Breeze Presenter – voice annotated powerpoint presentations. Breeze Presenter works with Microsoft PowerPoint content and allows the ability to add narration, presenter information, interactive quizzes, animations, and video.

Today, i would have to also add:

  1. seesmic – threaded asnynchronous video discussion.
  2. jing – I can’t tell you how slammin’ this tool is! – screen capture/screen casting.
  3. oovoo – – like skype on steroids.
  4. youtube quickcapture – – really easy to use.
  5. diigo – 

: )