April 30

What 2012 students have to say about this course…

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


What students said in the summer of 2011.

What students said in the summer of 2009.

What students said in the summer of 2008.


March 26

If you don’t want to bore your students … don’t be boring! : )

A very wise old online professor (Bill Pelz @wmpelz)  once told me that the lecture was the most efficient way to pass important concepts and theories from the professor’s notepad to the students ipad without going through either brain.

So, I am very curious… why do you think that your students fail to engage in your online discussions/interactions? Can you analyze what went wrong in the discussion activity for your students? Think about this from your students’ perspective.

What makes something boring? what makes something engaging? Can you cause someone to learn?

How might you apply the principles of andragogy to inform solutions for this situation?

I hear lots of faculty complain and tell horror stories about how impolite and distracted their students are with their devices in the classroom. You know what? i don’t buy it… I am completely against removing the internet or cell phones and other devises from any classroom. ridiculous. closed minded. reactionary. I don’t buy that the internet is worse than daydreaming, or doodling, or that it is a distraction. The internet simply IS. If you are distracted by it, then that is on you.

In the classroom or online you can’t MAKE people be polite any more than you can MAKE them learn, or make them want to learn for that matter. That you learn…what you learn …is entirely up to you – it is your responsibility.

Of course “netiquette” needs to be addressed and managed by the online instructor – its part of the role. But assuming everyone agrees on acceptable “behaviour” in the learning environment, and everyone is there -interested/willing/able/ to learn, if I am not able to engage you, then i consider it my failure, not yours. It is my job to design a learning experience in which you can engage.

The reality is that there are a lot of impolite people (students) out there and a lot of people (students) not seriously interested in doing much learning. There are also a lot of people (students) out there that are just not receptive to the possibility that they don’t already know it all – and use every opportunity to demonstrate how much they know, rather than acknowledging that one ANYONE always has something more that they can learn…there are dysfunctional people, people with political agendas, people with real life problems/tragedies and issues. (If you can’t allow for the possibility that there is something more you can learn, please drop my course.)

However, I think there are also a lot of boring professors out there who would much rather blame the internet for the lack of attention of their students, than turn a critical eye on themselves to ask “how  relevant am I to my students.?” How do I engage my students? How is what I   “teach”   relevant to the real life of my students? How relevant is a liberal arts education today to most youth? Will it get them a job? How much debt will this education incur? Are students well informed and advised well about their chosen degree programs, and the demand for jobs, or expected career paths and salaries? Will they learn things they can ever actually use in the “real world”? If I were a college student today, i would be pissed off.

If you are putting them to sleep in the classroom, how do you think that will play online? Do you want to sit there and watch talking head on video for 3 hours!?  Some faculty like to lecture. You may even be good at it.  REALLY good at it. You may exude passion, drama, enthusiasm and feel like you have captivated your audience. BUT – newsflash. it is NOT about your passion. It is about catalyzing that passion and learning in your students. So, here is a truth. If you are boring in the classroom, you will be boring online. Here is another truth. You CAN’T duplicate what you do in the classroom in an online environment (well you can try – but, it will not go well).  I get it. You are used to doing things the way they always have done…perhaps you use the same textbook, same lecture notes, same MC tests, same jokes, …etc. It is too much work to rethink how to present content, how to facilitate interaction and collaboration between your students, with you and with the content, and it is WAY too hard to come up with authentic ways of evaluating and assessing student learning. Nevertheless, if you want to be good online, – effective, successful, efficient – you will have to rethink how you achieve your learning objectives given the options and limitations of the online teaching and learning environment.

I think there is a HUGE disconnect with how things in higher education have always been, and how they need to change today to be relevant.

Students don’t want to be entertained, they want to be engaged… They need to experience flow. They need to be perplexed.

Here are 50 ways 2leave ur lecture: http://www.slideshare.net/alexandrapickett/50-alternatives-to-lecture

Here is how i engage my online students: http://prezi.com/yyzcr9_btox6/teaching-learning-in-the-cloud/

Join the conversation and share what you know, here: http://slnfacultyonline.ning.com/

This article was republished here: http://qz.com/68962/if-online-students-arent-engaged-its-the-teachers-fault/ on March 31, 2013 under a different title – If online students aren’t engaged, blame their teacher.

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.