The end

I can’t believe that I’m writing my last blog entry.  I have come to look forward to them as a way to sort through the week’s ups and downs and learning outcomes, but I have learned that if it’s not required, I will likely not do it. I’ll be too busy, or will prioritize something higher.  So, as I think about my own students, current and future, I know that it’s probably the exact same way.  If I don’t require it and it’s not a significant portion of their grade that rests on that activity, they won’t do it.  Why should they?  If it doesn’t get them any closer to getting the A that they’re shooting for or mastering the skill they’re in that class for then it’s a waste of time.  If I don’t place intentional emphasis on something (like making it worth a portion of their grade) then I am sending a message that it’s not important.  Therefore, if I have a vision of a perfectly student-centered classroom that revolves around discussions and students co-creating knowledge, yet only give them 10% for discussions and 50% for exams in their grade, they will see the tests are more highly valued and therefore not take the discussions seriously.

That is my most important role in creating teaching presence: designing the course for the students success.  The more I refine and tweak my class and activities, the more I realize that all of my key strokes, course discussion areas, assignments, questions, pictures, etc. need to be intentional.  Nothing should be an accident or “just because” in the online teaching environment.  If something isn’t present to achieve a goal or assist a student to achieve a goal then it probably shouldn’t be there.  Students don’t want their time wasted.

Another thing that I have learned is that Web 2.0 technologies can greatly enhance the learning environment and contribute to a richer social presence.

One REALLY cool thing I have learned is that when you’re on a computer with the diigo toolbar installed and your settings are to stay logged into diigo, you can find sticky note conversations everywhere!  Here I was looking up Web 2.0 and found stick notes everywhere!  Also in MERLOT, and a bunch of other great resources.  It’s like another world opened up and I was invited into the conversation.  Very cool tool.  I was resistant to it at first but the sticky notes really are awesome, especially considering how much I love REAL sticky notes.

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.  I have learned that the CDIT program was one of the best choices I’ve made, and that even though I am working as an instructor now, I will be pursuing a career in instructional design soon after completing the degree.  Designing courses, curriculum, online classes, and brainstorming ideas to solve instructional problems is fun, addictive, and greatly satisfying.

As I said in the previous paragraph…if it’s not required, I will likely not do it.  So, this is Kim Barss signing off.

Thank you, edublogs.  I will definitely use and recommend this tool.

(4)

What I have learned is beyond the classroom.

This summer semester has been crazy!  In this short three month period of time I have learned a lot about course design, reflective writing, hard work, and perseverance.  In that order I will proceed:

  • Course Design: I have learned that theory and practice are not easy dots to connect.  It’s strange because one would think that the theories, ideas and concepts behind an act are the hardest to comprehend, which is simply not true for me.  I can talk about the community of inquiry framework until I am blue in the face.  Social presence should be established through frequent student-student and student-teacher interactions, Teaching presence should be established through thoughtful and careful course design, organization and structure, and through direct instruction.  Cognitive presence is established through frequent interactions between the student and the course content, researching articles, participating in authentic learning activities and reflecting upon their personal growth.
  • 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.
  • Hard work: This didn’t come solely from my experiences with my school work, but all of these events combined made a big impact: right around the time the classes started my husband and I became the owners of just about 2 1/2 acres of densely wooded land.  I spent as many nights and weekends as possible with my husband and his family running chainsaws (a first for me!  Very dangerous work when you’re falling 2ft diameter 100ft + tall trees), using wood chippers (also dangerous!), bulldozing stumps and branches, and skidding trees to a huge central pile.  It didn’t matter if it was 100 degrees or pouring down rain, we worked our butts off and progress was our reward.  Then we started leveling the lot (it was a hill) and then installing the power, septic, leach field, well and well pump, etc.  We’re now a few weeks away from living there and it’s an amazing feeling.  Site prep wouldn’t be complete without the numerous town meetings for variances, special permits, building permits, and so much more!  If you have ever built a new construction, you know what I mean!  Simultaneously, my husband was putting in a ton of hours at work and was promoted within his company, I have been teaching 6-7 classes per module (our semesters are divided into two modules, so 7 classes last module, 6 this module means I’ve been teaching 13 classes total in the Summer semester *sigh*!) and was just offered a full time teaching position within the company (which I will be signing the acceptance forms this week!)  instead of just adjunct teaching.  It has been a long and eventful summer, but I really truly believe that with hard work comes reward, and I have witnessed that these past 12 weeks.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that one should work hard only for the potential rewards that may or may not come, but rather to be personally satisfied and proud, which should be reward enough.
  • Perseverance: I know I have mentioned this before, but I am so glad that I stuck with this class.  I am so glad that I stuck with this degree program.  I am so glad that I stuck with Mildred Elley (trust me, I have watched SO MANY instructors come, teach one module, and then leave…the students are extremely challenging, and the work load is high).  I’m also glad that I stuck to my original plan of building the bioethics course.  Perseverance is sticking to something, and if nothing else within the last three months, I’ve stuck to my responsibilities!

All in all, 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.

As I finish my course with the awesome feedback that I received in the back of my mind, I will know more about what has helped and hindered my success in this class.  To be continued….

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I have been kidding myself, I’ll never be done!

After conducting your own course review of your own online course, where are you in terms of completion of your online course?

After last week’s assignment using the checklists, I thought I was in pretty good shape.  I have all of the major components in place, documents developed, dates, instructions, rubrics, and a really promising community of inquiry: clearly demonstrated teaching presence, a majority of tasks are designed to encourage social presence, and students will be engaging with the material and one another frequently that I have designed for intellectual presence.  That was last week.  This week, as we are supposed to have the course “done done” I am doubting myself.  Every time I log in to my course I change something, add wording, create new links to rubrics where there weren’t any, etc.  It just seems like I’m never satisfied.

How are you doing? What do you need to complete your online course?

As far as finishing up the real “meat and potatoes” of the class, I have completely written all of the documents and pages that I will be using.  I never thought that I would be so proud of myself for doing that but it was a lot of work!   What I think I need now is to do a few minor tweaks here and there (hopefully after another set of eyes views my pages) and then force myself to walk away.  I feel like, if I let myself, I could change/add/fix endlessly!  I’m really glad we had the “week off” from discussions so that we could work on our courses, it’s exactly the break I needed.

 

What have you learned so far about yourself during this process?

I’m not sure if this is something that I learned specifically from this class, or if it has been developing over the course of my Master’s work, but this summer I really turned a page in my life.  I know, I know, this probably isn’t appropriate for this blog…but it is my blog so I am going to reflect on this in this space.  This summer I have realized that I can do it. Whatever it is that I make as my priority, set my mind to, and begin working at can be done.  I was always starting things and not finishing them when I was younger (17, 18, 19) and as a result it took me 6 years to complete my bachelor’s degree.  But now, I’ll have my master’s in December and I couldn’t be more proud.  I know that I will be successful when I set my mind on a particular endeavor.  I have already set up an appointment to meet with my advisor to start the application process for my PhD.  ETAP 640 felt overwhelming at first, but now I know I can do it and I am so glad I stuck with it.  I feel like a late bloomer (I’ll be 26 in November) but I have finally figured me out, and that’s what I have learned through this process.  Course development is a lot like personal growth (and a little of that can happen along the way) in that the more effort you put into it, the more successful you’ll be.

What has been the most surprising thing you have learned so far?

There have been two:

#1- I’m scared of the idea of  real live students actually taking my course

#2- I’m really disappointed that real live students will never take my course
Sounds contradictory, right?  That’s why it’s so surprising!  If real human beings were in my class that I toiled over to create, they would have their eyes all over the pages I made, quizzes I drafted, and would be adding their own 2 cents to the discussions and reflections that I created!  I would feel so naked!

However, It would be great to get feedback on what I can change to make better or what wording should be clarified so that they can be as successful as possible.

It is also quite disappointing that I will be doing all of this work and no one will ever take my class.  The halls of my school will always figuratively be empty 🙁 I even spoke with the Dean of Academics at work and he said that they had previously launched some hybrid courses and they were monumental failures, so there will likely never be online courses at Mildred Elley.

What thoughts do you have about moving from theory (social, teaching, and cognitive presence) to practice (building it all into your online course)?

One thought I had, as I look forward to getting a PhD, is that theories come from practice which means that theories about online learning come from individuals creating courses, teaching courses, and collecting feedback from courses over and over and then after all of that work is finished, turning right around and working at analyzing the data, and attempting to answer research questions.  In order to have credible research, the questions must be relevant, the measures must be valid and thorough, and the analyses of results must be comprehensive.  And if that’s not enough, most of your theory and research methods have to be based in prior research which requires a thorough review of the literature.  Forgive me, I’m also in ETAP 680 (research seminar).  It is all so much work, and requires careful planning and consideration for every step of the process.  I now see why studies often have multiple authors- the more help the better!

Online teaching is labor-intensive

I still receive mixed responses when I tell others that I am an online student, and even more mixed responses when I tell them that I am building an online course as a part of one of my Summer classes.  Why is this?  Why is it that online education has yet to gain equality with the traditional classroom in the public eye?  I often find myself following up a negative comment from someone with a defense like “well, current research is showing that online education is as good as and often even better in quality than the traditional face to face classroom” and I’ll get an “oh, that’s nice” and the conversation ends.  Only do some of my coworkers (at a college, no less!) have respect for the amount of work and diligence that is required of an online student.  And only now, after 10 or so weeks in Alex’s classroom, do I have the full respect for online teaching.  Actually, no, I don’t.  I know what it’s like to work at building a course, and refining activities to be student-centered and learning focused, but I have yet to experience the full range of emotions that must come with launching and teaching a course that you poured your heart and soul into to create and consider to be your “baby” (OK, well maybe that’s just me 🙂 ).

Building an online course is intense, hard, sweaty labor (OK well maybe that’s just the 100 degree weather we’re having).  It can be frustrating at times because not everything is coming out the way I had pictured in my head.  I’m also a “make it pretty” kind of person, so it is hard for me to force myself to wait on that end of things.  I have done some prettying up but not as much as I plan on.

In evaluating my course given the outline provided by Alex, I realize that I have a lot more typing of instructions to do…it has become obvious to me that just because I say “post your discussion here” doesn’t mean that my students will know what that means or how to accomplish it.  I have to assume that each student has never taken an online course before and is as completely lost as I felt on day one.  I think the more explicit directions I give, the less stress they will feel and the more likely they will be to be successful in my class.  That’s all I want for any of my students.

(3)

Reflection was uncomfortable

Personal growth.  That’s what I have been thinking about during this module.  Who am I?  is the question we have been asked.  I am a growing, changing individual. I am seeing that education shouldn’t be about me.  It’s almost downright selfish to walk into a classroom and expect the students to pay close attention to everything that I say.

Growth evolves from reflection.  This much is clear.  I was given this gift: show your students the importance of reflection.  Using this information, I have crafted my course with ample opportunity for discussion and  reflection.

Bill Pelz, Peter Shea & Alex Pickett’s article that was assigned this week was great.  Teaching presence is so important and I think that if I had to draw teaching presence to explain it to a classroom as a concept in itself, I would draw a pyramid.  At the bottom of the pyramid, the base and foundation, I would put Instructional Design because without GOOD, SOLID, THOUGHTFUL, and CLEAR design, the rest of the course will unravel.  Above that I would place Facilitating Discourse which almost completely relies on proper design.  If you don’t create a space or an adequate space for discourse then you are not facilitating it no matter how hard you try to poke and prod the students.  Beyond design, discussion should be facilitated through properly framed questions, relevant and worthwhile topics and authenticity in the material.  If you are asking a nursing class to discuss a dog’s broken leg or an architectural weakness of a bridge, you are wasting their time.  And remember, it is not about you 🙂 .  At the top, is Direct Instruction. This is important to be sporadic yet appropriately placed.  Waiting for the right moment to softly and gently redirect a misguided student, or rein in a tangent in a discussion, or guide a student away from a philosopher who has been regarded in the professional community as not-so-credible.

The Build section of the course manual has been extremely helpful, but the more and more I reference it for creating course documents and activities, the more I realize that the short and succinct sentences that say “outline this” or “create that” are just illusions of rapidity.  There is nothing quick or succinct about developing an entire online course.  I am painstakingly writing, creating, drafting, center-justifying…no, left-justifying…no, back to center… ALL of my course documents.  These are all created one by one and typed solely by my own hands. It took me almost two and a half hours just to set up a voicethread that didn’t crunch all of my text and pictures together!  Or get the right size and color font.  I realize that these are all things that cannot be explained to anyone, or if you did try and tell them, they wouldn’t understand how much work it is until they tried it themselves.

Another thing I have realized while building my course documents and drafting modules is that one set of eyes is never enough.  I wish that I could get my classmates’ feedback on my pages and directions.  I fairly regularly check their courses to see where they are and how they are doing, it gives me a good idea of whether or not I’m on the right track.  But, creating this course still feels to be an isolating event.  I need feedback within that realm.

In the discussions this week, one person mentioned using diigo to sticky note to comment on the courses of other students.  I think that this is a GREAT idea and I welcome any and all of my classmates to do so!  I, however, feel anxious to do so with someone elses because I know that our courses are still in their infancy and I don’t want someone to feel judged during their growth and learning stage!

I can’t wait to improve and modify my course more and more.  I want to use more web 2.0 technologies, they are richer, engaging, and appeal to all types of student intelligences (visual, kinesthetic, etc.).  I think that embedding a youtube video or loading a podcast are in my future and I can’t wait!  It’s so exciting.  I keep telling myself that maybe some day I can get paid to do this for a living, but it can’t be true…it’s too much fun to be a job!

(4)

P.S. My initial title for this post was “reflection is uncomfortable” but after reflecting on this idea, I changed my mind.  It used to be, but now I have experienced the rewards of it.

How I have been so blatantly not walking the walk with teaching presence.

Alex’s course feedback has really opened my eyes.  In my learning activities that I had designed for my Moodle course I included many of the “traditional” face-to-face elements that I rely on in my classroom.  Those activities included: reading the textbook, clicking through powerpoint presentations, “discussing” what the book said…which basically equated to “tell me what the book said so I believe that you actually read it” but masking it in a discussion that didn’t leave the students anything to really discuss.  I made all of my assignments turned in to me, privately, which I would then turn around and send back to them with my score and essentially my opinion of whether or not they were “right” or “wrong.”  There was absolutely nothing about my course learning activities that was learner-centered, or, one could argue, learning-centered!  I was being extremely teacher-centered in my approach!  My course essentially said “prove to me what you think you know or learned from the limited and boring reading that I gave you and I’ll tell you if you’re right or wrong”  how boring is that?!  As a student, I wouldn’t want to pay for that class, even if it only lasted 8 weeks.

In moving forward, I completely agree with Alex’s brilliant idea about PBL (problem-based learning).  I have the perfect course and the perfect environment to really stretch the limits and challenge my students to learn the principles of bioethics through situational applications in case studies.  I use case studies in my Anatomy and Physiology courses and they are way more engaging.

Teaching presence is not ME ME ME, I’m the teacher.  It’s thoughtful instructional design and organization, facilitating authentic student discourse, and the occasional direct instruction to correct or regroup students who may have been lead astray or aren’t headed in the right direction.  I am merely here to lift my students up through proper course design, give them examples for how they can be successful in their course, and put the tools they will need to be successful at their fingertips.

I have a world of opportunity available to me.  Technology can help me meet my instructional objectives in more creative, engaging and interesting ways than ever before.  Because of that, I need to embrace these tools, explore new ideas, and for goodness sake- think about the STUDENT.

(4)

Overwhelming yet strangely addictive.

Alex’s Instructions:

After viewing the presentation, discussing it with your classmates, and listening to and looking at the learning activities in the courses posted for observation, please reflect on what you have learned.

Answer these questions in your blog reflections: Why do you do things the way that you do? What have you learned that you did not know before? How will you apply what you have learned to your own course? What decisions have you made so far about your own online course? How do you interact in this course? What if anything has been difficult for you? What if anything do you find yourself feeling resistance to? What is working for you in this course? What would you change/suggest to make it better for you?

July.  How can it be July already?

As we finish Module 3, and consequently half of the course, I am compelled to reflect on my experiences so far.  This course has been the most difficult course that I have ever taken before.  I have turned a corner regarding my attitude toward the assignments and course set up, though.  I began this summer session looking at this Moodle course, and these online videos, audio files, presentations, RSS news feeds, twitter, blogs, diigo, etc. and just getting completely overwhelmed with the experience.  That coupled with the very high quantity of required student-student interactions and assignments and I was teetering between dropping the class or just flat out crying.

Obviously, one of those didn’t happen.

As I build more and more of my online course and evaluate “best practices” and complete assignments I am still under the impression that the interactions required of us in the discussion space are too numerous.  Though I have grown accustomed to them and am adjusting to the newness of it accordingly, I know that I will not be requiring that level of communication of my own students.  The course that I have stored in my mind as my favorite to date as far as organization required 3 posts per week, half of the requirement for this class.  I do not say this to complain or intend any malice by it at all (and I certainly hope that I do not experience any punishment for my opinion) but rather as one professional educator who is using this one course as a comparison for what I will require of my own students, that is one aspect that I anticipate not duplicating.

As Simonson, Smaldino, Albright, & Zvacek (2009) discuss in Teaching and Learning at a Distance, too much forced interaction can have a negative effect on student learning, and possibly cause negative feelings or turn the student off to the course.  Also, as Ms. Williams stated on the SLN faculty site videos, that online students are busy, and online teachers should be sensitive to the students schedules.  That in NO WAY means make it easier for them!  Definitely not.  As I often find myself saying to any of my complaining students “welcome to higher education! It’s a lot of work!”

The jing videos have been a saving grace for me.  If I didn’t receive DETAILED blog feedback with a visual demonstration I would have absolutely no idea that I was in “easy edit” mode and that any of the features I was required to use in my blog wouldn’t be available to me!  In order to fix my links and categorize my posts I had to be in advanced edit mode in edublogs.  Thankfully, Alex provided me with a step-by-step video and really reduced my anxiety about continually not performing well on my blog.  Moving forward, I intend on giving that to my students as well as an online instructor.  I even find myself, in the f2f environment being much more sensitive to my students’ technological difficulties.  In my Anatomy & Physiology courses and biology courses we require that the students access an e-learning supplement to the courses from the textbook publisher called Connect.  (www.connect.mgraw-hill.com) .  When my students initially would complain that it was hard to use or confusing I was less than sympathetic, but now, after being placed in their shoes, we immediately go to a computer lab and sit down together and work it out so that they’re comfortable and can use the technology!  I have seen a great improvement in my students’ performance since I began this practice.  I realize that as someone who has been using Connect (or studying biology) for a while, what seems easy and intuitive to me, certainly isn’t for someone else.  But I think that more importantly, this class (with how anxious and stressed I have been over it) has humbled me tremendously and really lead to my helping my own students more and more. As an example, I was tutoring three students last week for the final exam and they were complaining that they are smart people but my class makes them feel “retarded” (their word!) and I simply responded “I am almost finished with my Master’s degree, and the longer I am in school, the more I realize that I know nothing!”

My online course development has been great.  I am really enjoying the process and I really appreciate how detailed all of the instructions have been.  I continue to use our OWN Moodle ETAP640 course as a template and try to model my class after that as much as possible.  I’m sure that once I get used to it and get more comfortable with it I will begin to make my own personalizations to it, but until then I will just model it after one that was designed by a pro!

Module 3’s discussions have been great!  Jumping right into the module with the Socratic method of teaching by example and inspiring students was a great way to begin.  I LOVE LOVE LOVED that Bill Pelz commented on our posts!  I felt like a celebrity walked into the room and his comments could be equated to getting an autograph.  When I visited the SLN site and watched the videos from the PennState interviews, I began with Bill Pelz’s since I wanted to see him talk and hear his wisdom.  “education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel” is a fabulous quote and a great summary of what this ETAP640 class has been all about for me and I love the technoheutagogy website, especially that it Isn’t my mother’s pedagogy! 🙂

I have learned a lot this module, especially:

  • NEVER give up (this has been especially resonant with me)
  • Passion for teaching and learning go hand in hand, and are a must-have for online educators
  • The best training tool for an online teacher is to be an online learner
  • BE ORGANIZED
  • MANAGE YOUR TIME
  • Support your students and your faculty (whatever your role is)
  • And last, but not least (yes, this was intentional) don’t procrastinate.

Bill Pelz’s 3 principles of online pedagogy (let the student do most of the work, interactivity is the heart and soul of effective asynchronous learning, and strive for presence) go hand-in-hand with Garrison, Anderson & Archer’s Community of Inquiry framework with cognitive, social and teaching presence, respectively.  Bill’s principles are rather a direct application of a theoretical framework to a real online teaching situation.

Carla Zembal-Saul was another name that I learned this Module and she, and her view on authentic science learning and adaptive expertise really stayed with me.  As I continue to interact with this course and these modules, I continue to discover people that make me say “I want to be like ____________ when I grow up.”  And the more I say that, the more I am finding truth to Alex’s term “ROCK STARS!”

(4)


Wow, Moodle is fun!

I have been spending quite a bit of time and energy learning the Moodle system, watching the videos that Alex provided and fiddling with various options on Moodle.  I am proud to say that I am much more comfortable using it now than I was even a week ago.  I am slowly learning what it is capable of.  I had installed the Hot Potatoes app a while ago on my computer but couldn’t successfully incorporate it into what I was doing at the time (I was making a module for an online course for another class, but in Google Sites, and that wasn’t the best place to add a Hot Potatoes quiz).  I enjoyed building my lesson on Google sites, I enjoyed building one on webs.com, and I am LOVING Moodle….I just wish there as a way to get paid to do this for a living!  But that can’t be possible…to get paid to do what you enjoy? 😉

Why I am liking Moodle:

1. It has been RELIABLE

2. It is SIMPLE

3. It is VERSATILE- once you know how to play with the features you can find just about anything to suit your individual needs

4. It is ENGAGING and allows me to be CREATIVE

I am very interested to see what it would be like to set up a class in Blackboard or Angel or a similar platform, as a comparison.

More scholarly information later…I just had to share my exuberance for Moodle 🙂

(2)

Inspired and Educated!

Wow, Module 2 was a lot of work.  I’m really starting to get the hang of the expectations for posts and of Moodle.  I have learned a lot this module, and my peers have really brought in some very interesting perspectives and information into the discussions.

  • Quality Online Course Design Requires (Required) Discussion– If we want our students to do something, it must be required.  If we want them to know that it’s important, we must base a significant portion of their grade on it.  Not that our students are lazy or just don’t want to do the work, but they are busy and human (aren’t we all?)!  Forced interaction is essential, since discussing and creating written reflections promotes deeper understanding of course content.
  • Connectivism Exists! Prior to this module I had never heard of connectivism, but now that I have heard it it makes perfect sense.  In today’s age there is an amazing amount of information available at our fingertips thanks to the internet.  Knowing how to decipher the information and discern what is valid and good versus what should be overlooked is a skill that is essential to today’s citizens and potential employees!  At the college where I work we even have a course for our students designed for exactly this purpose called “Digital Literacy” in which students work with the instructor and the library staff to weed through sources of information online and conclude for themselves what is good and what is bad.
  • Andragogy vs. Pedagogy vs. Heutagogy, oh my! – with all of the various styles and theories of instructional delivery that abound it’s hard to know what’s the best!  Luckily, educational researchers have helped us out with that quandary and no matter what you call it there are some essential elements to good curriculum design: and they are 1. Constructivist theories: students working and exploring to create their own knowledge and DISCOVER for themselves.  This teaches critical thinking skills and higher order thinking that employers find highly marketable.  2. PBL- Problem based learning is the approach through which students are given a problem or challenge that is based in the real world application of the subject content…in other words it is AUTHENTIC. 3. Authenticity- students want real knowledge, and they want it now.  Basing your students’ education on real challenges and problems that they will encounter when using the content in the course is so much more engaging than “here, learn this because I said so and because your grade depends on it”  instead…try “This is a microbiologist and they have to be able to use a microscope proficiently and learn laboratory techniques so let’s get started in lab so you can apply this knowledge in your future careers.”  This will create the WANT and the DRIVE within students to continue to engage with the material actively.

This module has been great for learning Moodle as well.  As I get more comfortable with the tools and how to use them I enjoy it more and more.  I find those videos of how I edit in Moodle to be extremely helpful!  It’s one thing to read a description of steps, but since I am a much more visual learner, the videos are where my light bulbs go off!  I am a very quick learner and usually once I see it once it’s committed to memory, so I really appreciate the videos.

I wish Seesmic.tv was still around!  The sense of community that Professor Pickett spoke of that came from the use of seesmic.tv as well as the opportunities available to the students to actually see/hear/interact with the rock stars of the online teaching and learning world sounds amazing and I really would hope to help create a community feeling similar to that in my own course on Moodle.  I am still exploring available tools, however, and will certainly update when I found the right fit.

Thanks for reading and thanks for another module!

I can’t believe we are four weeks into it already!

(4)

Questioning assumptions is easier said than done

My Assumptions of my potential student audience:

  • my students will be older than the typical freshman age of 18
  • my students will likely have obligations outside of school such as jobs, families, and other responsibilities- so time is limited and their schedules will likely all be very different
  • my students will be technology literate and comfortable in an online setting
  • my students will have the technology they need available to them (personal computer/laptop, internet connection, etc.)
  • my students will be in school for a reason such as furthering a career or switching to a new field

Questioning my assumptions: I feel as though my assumptions stem from a few different ideas.  Mainly, I assume the above traits to be characteristic of my students from personal experience.  I am older than 18, and I know that when you are older than 18 you are often on your own and no longer living with a parent or relative.  Living independently is not free and therefore many of the students that participate in online learning will likely have jobs to cover their financial obligations.  Oftentimes, if one is pursuing higher education, it is to further a career or some other goal-centered reason.  After reading Marc Prensky’s (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants last semester I have been much more aware of the idea that today’s younger generations (those who are 30 and younger) are much more technologically savvy.  Today’s youth has grown up in a world that never was without TVs, computers, the internet, cell phones, etc.  These technological tools have been as much a part of the American household as the family dog, and therefore the students of today are very comfortable with them.

After viewing the student demographics from the SLN I have had most of my assumptions confirmed:  today’s online students are older than traditional on-campus students and are busy…very busy!  The information gathered about the student population indicated that most of these students were over the age of 20, with about 40% of students in the 22 year old range (the largest portion).  Most students have full-time jobs, and many of their reasons for attending school online are because of scheduling conflicts from work or family.  This is not the face of the “typical” college student from even ten years ago!  The days of graduating high school, driving away from home to college, focusing on academic studies while away at college, not working a full-time or demanding job during school, and graduating in four years are not gone and forgotten, but that is certainly not the only option available for those who are seeking higher education.

The Did you Know? video really was amazing.  Today’s students have to be trained for jobs that don’t even exist yet…yet when you consider Marc Prensky’s argument, today’s teachers are perhaps not equipped to do so!  In order for the United States to remain competitive and current in a connected, global market, we must educate our students better and stay on the cutting edge of technology and innovation.  It is even more amazing to me that the Social Media Revolution has taken hold so quickly and thoroughly! Communication, advertising, and business marketing will never be the same.  The general public has embraced social media with open arms!  You can’t walk into a store anymore without seeing “find us on facebook” or a barcode to scan with your smartphone with a new advertisement on it.  It’s amazing.

As a post-secondary teacher, it is imperative to prepare my students for the world ahead…but if that world continues to change around us, how do we accomplish this?  I imagine that there is no simple answer, but rather the same tried-and-true approach that seems to work in every other aspect of my life: to take things one day and one step at a time.

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