Until we meet again…

For my final reflection I will focus more on the entire course than the past few weeks.  Through all the ups and downs I have experienced personally during this summer and this course I still managed to learn so much. As this course comes to an end I am saddened to see it end. I feel as though we as a class have built a community with Alex’s guidance and forethought of her planning within the design of her course our opportunities for community building.

There are several students in this course all learning how to teach online and design a course successfully. I think that every one of you did a fantastic job. Kudos to Anne, Celeste, Dan, Heather, Hedy, Kelly, Kevin, Liz, Luke, Maree, Mary, and Ryan. You all have helped me learn throughout this course. I thank Alex for giving us such a challenging and rich learning experience. 

The final assignment for this course is designing a course. I have built many courses in my day but not my own. This was a great learning experience for me. I received so much patience and encouragement for Alex that it kept me wanting to learn.

As I reflect further on this major assignment of designing my own course I am reminded of all the great feedback I received from Ryan, Celeste, and Kevin. I also think about the very detailed feedback from Alex. I know that my course still needs to work. But I am proud of where it is so far. I took many of the suggestions from all of you. Some of the suggestions I may still use after I take the course with me to Excelsior.  

I am pretty sure that I will be able to teach my course in the near future. The faculty that have reviewed it so far really think I’ve done a great job. I will try to perfect it, but I know there will always be room for improvement and upgrades. I look forward to helping my faculty enhance instruction and engagement using web 2.0 tools.

I feel as though I have been given a gift by getting through this course and learning about student engagement and enhancing instruction.  All I have wanted to do is help other students learn better! Now I have the opportunity to share my knowledge with faculty so they can share with their students. This will be fantastic!

I enjoyed learning throughout this course.  In watching Alex’s video How do you engage online learners I realized how important and how much of a time saver giving audio/video feedback to students can be. This type of feedback is more engaging for the student, they can play it over and over if needed, and it saves time for the instructor.

I also really enjoyed and will use some of the many tips in Strategies for Managing the Online Workload. I will use many of these tips in the future. I need to help Excelsior continue to provide our students with quality education.

And I’ll never forget Alex telling me if the tool can make your course better, faster, safer, easier, or cheaper then to tool may be worth using. Do not use technology just for the sake of using technology.

Goodbye for now classmates and my new instructional Idol Alex! I will see many of you in my next two courses. I am taking ETAP519 and ETAP620. I know I saw many of your names in the 519 roster.

Until we meet again….

Diana (4)

I want to help Faculty help students

This course has taught me that I am a teacher! I have learned how to use new technological tools and how to teach others how to use them and why they should. During this course I have learned how to use and have used voicethread, diigo, twitter, and Moodle. Working in my Moodle course I have learned some other new tools such as Prezi and Glogster. I have also been able to learn and then teach how certain tools can be used and why they might be used to enhance student engagement and student interaction. I find it extremely rewarding to think about enhancing learning for students.

I think what helped my learning more than anything (and Alex) is the fact that I realized I always have strived to enhance the online courses in my institution. Not only did I realize that I have been working hard to enhance our courses but that that is what I want to do when I grow up. I came to the realization that I want to be work in Faculty Development. I want to be able to help our faculty program directors and adjunct instructors be the best they can be for our students. I want to teach our faculty to use technology to their advantage to enhance student interaction and student engagement. So for me this course has really brought it home. I know where my passion lies now. Once I came to these realizations I was able to learn and more interested in learning the technology and curricular design I needed to in order to create a successful online course. Alexandra Pickett gave me so much encouragement and guided my learning. She teaches with a student-centered approach and guided my learning so I would be able to not only learn it but retain what I have learned.

The only thing that might have helped my learning more is about the same as what hindered my learning during this course. The beginning of the course was very over whelming for me and made me more nervous than anything. Since I was nervous in the beginning of the course it took be a bit longer to get up to speed. Then I had a series of life events that kind of got in my way. I am still trying to catch up with everything in my life so I can get back on track in this course. I am feeling anxious again knowing that my next two courses will start a week after this one ends.

Before taking this course I felt that I knew everything there was to know about online courses given that I have worked in online courses for over 12 years. I now know I had a lot more to learn. I knew from being a student and from working in online courses that students want more than to read a didactic text based course for college credit. Now I have learned what exactly students want and need and I have learned some of the methods for incorporating student-centered opportunities in online courses. I also learned how, when and why to incorporate technology to enhance student interaction and engagement. I know how important community building is and that I can incorporate a tool such as voicethread to start community building with a course ice-breaker.

I really feel as though I am a teacher and with what I have learned I can make a difference in the online courses I work in everyday.

Diana (4)

My Epiphany! I know what I want to be when I grow up!

Now that I have had more time to reflect on the past few weeks and Module 5 I have had time to realize that I’m starting to see the BIG picture! I’ll explain why shortly, but first I’ll address the questions for this module’s blog.

After my first course review I have made many changes to my course. I have added my personal voicethread, voki, audio file made with audacity, recording made with adobe connect pro, an example of a Prezi and the Glog I started in Glogster.  My students/faculty will be engaged and can see that the tools I am introducing in my course are actually tools that can enhance learning. Not only because I have used them but because my lessons for each module will show them what the tools can be used for and the students/faculty will be given the opportunity to discuss how the tools can be used and share ideas with each other for their use.  For example during discussion student/faculty may that using voicethread is great for an icebreaker activity but can also be used as a story telling tool in an online course. The goal of my course is to get the student/faculty person to think about multiple uses for the tools I’ve introduced and share their ideas with each other which should result in even more uses for each tool. Also I have asked them to introduce tools that they have used or want to use that have relevance in an online teaching/learning environment.

I still have some work to do in my course to finish it. I am also very happy that the best part about building an online course is that you can continually revise and update it to reflect changes in subject matter. In this case the subject matter is tools you can use in your online courses and we all know that technology changes all of the time, there’s always a new tool or software coming on the market that could be better than the last and enhance learning faster or easier or cheaper or safer (Pickett, 2013). I have to look through every document in the course to decide what finishing touches I have to do before I will be happy with the end product, my course ready to be taught!

I keep saying in my reflections blog that I am making the connection and that I am getting it. But this module I have had an epiphany. Thanks to this course and Alex I have finally realized that I am going to be able to do what I have always wanted to do. I just didn’t know it yet.  In my over 12 years working in online learning at Excelsior College I have always looked for ways to enhance the student learning experience for my students. The problem has always been I didn’t know exactly how to do that. Also I was not always taken seriously I believe. Not that my faculty and deans did not think I had some good ideas they just seem to let our courses go along status quo for our students, only doing minor updates for the most part. Major updates only are slated for every 3 years for most courses. Although in nursing we have to make many changes due to the subject matter.  However back to my epiphany, I realize now that I want to work in Faculty Development and support they faculty in creating courses that are better and more engaging. If I can teach the faculty how easy it is to bring technology into their courses to enhance learning then I can in effect enhance student learning. Once I can get the faculty on board to see how easy it is to use certain web 2.0 tools, they will likely use them more often. I am not saying that Excelsior’s courses do not have any technological tools in them because they do. I am saying that I can show them more and give them reasons for adding tools that will make their courses better, faster, safer, cheaper and/or easier (Pickett, 2013).  So for me I am very happy to think about the possibilities of my future in online teaching and learning.

I can relate to all the conversations among the “rock stars” they really get why it is important to engage students. For me working in that atmosphere I know from working with the students and from being a student that a course has to capture their/my attention, it has to make them/me feel engaged and part of a community. If it does not then they/I feel isolated and feel that we are not learning as much as we could be. I really learned from the “rock star” discussion that it is essential to promote student engagement!

Diana (4)

I’m making a dent in my online course and figuring out what I really want to teach….

I am going to write this first blog as if I wrote it on Monday the 29th when I went through the course.  Again I have had a crazy crazy few weeks. Unfortunately my 42 year old sister-in-law collapsed on July 24 and was down without oxygen for too long. She passed with all the family around her on July 31. After her passing there was so many decisions to make, with those now decided, services will be held next Thursday.   I don’t write this to bring anyone down I am just reflecting on not just the course but my life in the past few weeks.

After going through my online course last Monday I found that there were several areas I needed to still address. Some of the items on the check list I had to check undone because although I had planned to do them I was going through the course module by module so I had not yet finished these things in all the modules.

I am doing fine in the online course and pretty much know what I still need to address. Some of the things I needed to do to complete the course were create something using the various tools (voki, voicethread, audacity, adobe connect pro, prezi and gloster), to place in each module so that the students/faculty know that the tool is easy to access and use’. I need to create an evaluation survey and complete areas that I had left TBD in…

I have learned a lot during this course building, even though I know how to build an online course I had no idea that I could actually write one. Now I know that I can and that my ideas are relevant J. I have always wanted to make our courses at Excelsior more student friendly and more engaging and now I know a lot of new tools that can help in that process.

The “rock stars” are all great, including Alex! It is nice to know someone who works in the online world is thinking about ways to enhance online learning altogether. Ed Bowen spoke about Margaret Rolyier and William Wiencke’s rubric for accessing interactive qualities in distance courses.  He said he often uses this rubric to measure the effectiveness of the tools  he uses in courses, and said they recommended five dimensions we should assess “social rapport building , instructional design for interaction, interactivity of technology resources, evidence of learner engagement, and evidence of instructor engagement”. If you listen to Ed Bowen speak on this you will realize the importance of looking at tools we might want to use in our online courses before just using the tools. We do not want to use tools that are not effective in gaining interaction and engagement.

Diana (4)

I am teacher!

Another module is coming to a close and my head is spinning with all that has gone on the past two weeks. I became a grandmother again to a wonderful little granddaughter named Kensington (pics previously posted in this blog).  Then after she was home about a week her mommy had to go in the hospital for an emergency appendectomy.  So you can see I’ve been a busy mother and grandmother. Mom is getting better and baby is doing great.

My head is also spinning with all the things I know now that I did not know before.  I found many great resources using Merlot. At first it was very frustrating looking at everything and I wasn’t sure I was going to find anything I could use in my courses.  However I found many resources and I am sure I will be able to find more. I have considered using Voicethread for my icebreaker activity and found a good article in Merlot  that related the use of Voicethread back to Chickering and Gamson’s Seven Principles.  Chan and Pallapu (2012)  studied the use of VoiceThread in a Business Policy Course and found that Voicethread was effective in achieving the Seven Principles. This indicates to me that there Voicethread will enhance student-student and student-teacher interaction in my course.

I also gained new knowledge this week after reading Shea, Pickett, and Pelz (2003) article on teaching presence.  Knowing the difference between teacher presence and teaching presence was made very clear as I read through all my classmates discussion posts as well.  I also learned after getting great detailed feedback on my learning activities assignment that I need to be sure that I explain fully why instructors should use tools to enhance their instruction. I need to make sure that they know what the tool can do and give examples of how the tool can make their course better, faster, safer, easier, or cheaper.  For instance when I introduce Voicethread as a tool in my course I will write a module note that will include how this tool can enhance student-student and student-teacher interaction. I will give resources that will show examples of how the tool is being used in other courses.

I think that I am still a bit nervous about finalizing my content for my online course but I have many new ideas that I just need to get written and established within my online course. I know I will be able to effectively interact with my students because I do that already not only as a student myself but also as a staff member at Excelsior College. As far as assessing students I will have scoring rubrics that the students will have to follow. The rubrics will be easy to follow so that students can see exactly what is needed for them to succeed in my course.

I am a very helpful yet inquisitive person. I love learning and love helping others learn. I feel like that old saying ‘I learn something new every day’ is so true for me, because I really do. I love to share my knowledge with others and help others succeed. I love being a part of helping students succeed in their educational goals. This process has made me see (along with Professor Pickett) that I really am a teacher.

I have seen myself grow as I am working on my learning activities. Light bulbs have been going off like crazy during this module. Again I am making the connection and realize why and hopefully how to get my knowledge passed on to my students.  I see myself as I start to complete my learning activities being able to step back, take my own course and know that it will teach others.

For me the biggest challenge in this course has been getting used to the idea that I am a teacher. I doubted my abilities to convey information to my students in my own online course. I was afraid of some of the assignments in this course because I kept telling myself ‘you don’t know that you’re not a teacher’.  But after several interactions with Professor Pickett and the discussion on teaching presence I think my fears have subsided and I will say from now on ‘I am a teacher and I can do this’.

Diana (4)

Chan, M., & Pallapu, P. (2012). An exploratory study on the Use of VoiceThread in a business policy course. Journal of Online Teaching and Learning , 8 (3).

Shea, P. J., Pickett, A. M., & Pelz, W. E. (2003). A follow-up investigation of “teaching presence” in the SUNY Learning Network. JALN , 7 (2), 61-80.

I didn’t know my brain could expand this much

Looking back on this module I am filled with new understandings, knowledge, and tools.  I know that sound funny but let me explain.  I’ve been very busy trying to find good content for my online course Teaching Tools for Online Instructors.  I’ve been searching through Merlot, the internet, and picking people’s brains.  As I was looking for what maybe Module Notes (some may call them lessons, class notes, faculty notes, etc.) for my course I found some excellent resources for my first module in Merlot. Then I decided I would go back over to my online course and get the modules laid out so I knew what I needed yet to find or create in order to complete this course by the end of the term.

Then it happened… I received very detailed feedback from Professor Pickett on my learning activities assignment from last module. So I stop dead in my tracks and try to understand and gain knowledge from her feedback.  Talk about teaching presence 🙂 Professor Pickett gave me plenty to think about. As she stated in Teaching Presence and Class Community video teaching presence is essential by both students and faculty.  Her very detailed feedback shows her commitment to #ETAP640 and clearly shows her teaching presence. However because of this feedback I have now learned that it is necessary to give examples and reasons why learning new online tools would be a great enhancement in online courses. I mean I had every intention of creating in my module notes sections examples of what these tools can do but now I can write a module note that will stand on its own and will clearly explain that certain tools have the ability to make my faculty’s courses better, faster,  safer, easier or cheaper. Plus I can use some of the knowledge gained from that feedback to show my teaching presence.  I will certainly use this knowledge to enhance not only my online course but also to enhance my discussion with other students.

Mary and I had a good discussion this module. We talked about icebreaker activities and she introduced me to a new tool called Padlet. I took a look at Padlet and it may be useful. We gave each other some good articles and asked each other questions about our courses.  I think we just might have taught each other something!

The last thing I want to reflect on for now is that Professor Pickett has been saying to me using tools for the sake of using tools is not going to enhance learning. There has to be a benefit that the tool offers the instruction.  I found an article written by Ben McNeely a student at North Carolina State. In it he gives some examples of students wanting and needing technology to learn. What I found interesting is that I do not agree with the entire article but he does make some great points. He calls himself and others his age Net Geners and tells us what Net Geners want from learning technology:

  1. Interactivity
  2. Need to be able to use the technology
  3. Technology must be relevant and interactive with coursework
  4. Technology must have a practical use within the course

I agree with the above list and think that we all would. The statement that I do not agree with is “Distance education and online courses don’t work well with Net Geners—the social component of learning is required (McNeely)”.  This is where we as new online faculty will be able to prove him wrong by creating atmospheres in our online courses that have the social component that makes online learning a success.

My course is still a work in progress but I know I’ve been learning and researching enough to make it a pedagogically sound course.

Diana (4)

Pickett, A. M. (n.d.). Teaching presence and class community. Retrieved from http://ualbany.mrooms.net/mod/resource/view.php?id=12496

McNeely, B. (n.d.). Using technology as a learning tool, not just a cool new thing. Retrieved July 17, 2012, from Educause: http://www.educause.edu/research-and-publications/books/educating-net-generation/using-technology-learning-tool-not-just-cool-new-thing



I’ve made a connection to the process

During this module I have learned to follow a process to organize your online course and what it means to be an effective facilitator. Between the exemplar courses, articles, and videos I have been able to connect the dots. I am seeing the big picture now. I learned a lot from Bill Pelz giving us his perspective in his article and online exemplar course. Alexandra Pickett’s Keys to success was very informative and really helped me understand why I do things the way I do at work. Now I know that others have a course development process, and it’s not just where I work,  the process makes a connection for me.

Remember we can also use such design models as  ADDIE or Dick and Carey to design a course but there is always a bit of a difference from one person to another when designing a course. From my experience, even with any school’s process of course development in place no two people will design a course exactly alike. They may have similarities but not the same. So the understanding I am taking away this week is that we need a process but we have choices when it comes to course design.

To apply what I have learned I will create opportunities within my course that will foster student engagement with the content, teacher, and other students, I will follow the steps in the course development process as Alexandra has or ill give us. I have decided I will not ump ahead and build the entire course but will wait until each step in the process is asked of us.

At this point I think I am doing fine in the course and not having too much difficulty. The great part is that our course modules and learning activities are still in draft mode and I still have the opportunity to work on them to make them better if needed.

Diana (4)

A face-to-face class, a baby, and more…

Well these past few weeks have been something. Last week I took a face-to-face 1 week intensive course. It was great and I learned so much. I haven’t been in the classroom since 1987 and have only taken online classes for the past 6 years. This was very interesting for me since I work in online courses as well as taking them to be in the classroom. I was able to make a connection with many who are already teachers and how they see themselves evolving in to online teachers. It was great.

Now this week I’ve been spending most of my time with one of my daughters because she is about to have my granddaughter. She was scheduled to go in the hospital on Wednesday but that got postponed until today and that got postponed as well so no baby yet. Oh well she will get here soon.

Ok with that said let me reflect on my learning. I think I do the things I do because I am not a teacher. I have been working in an online environment of teaching and learning for many years now. Some of the things I am learning in this course are things that I have been doing for years without realizing why, it’s just part of my job. For instance in looking over the exemplar courses I have realized that I’m part of the process of building an online course in a way that reflects best practices. I’m part of the process of creating syllabi, schedules, learning activities, content, discussions, assignments, and community centered activities for students. So I ask myself why is it that I can relate so easily to what other students needs but I have a hard time grasping the information that I am learning at times? Then I realize I am learning I just do not know it. Whenever I answer a discussion question I am learning, whenever I do an assignment I am learning and whenever I just ask a question I am learning. The problem for me is that sometimes I think I need my brain to stew on what I’ve learned for a few days before I realize I know something new. For example when I answered a discussion question last week and I spoke about how true it is that “Thinking is Driven by Questions”  I realized just how much I learn when asked to dig deeper or research more. The article The Role of Questions in Teaching, Thinking and Learning made me understand the process of creating meaningful deep learning inquiry. It is so true that a question with one quick answer does not give you anything to think about, but when you have to research or ponder a question you are able to get a meaning learning experience from it.

Bill Pelz did a great job in explaining how to effectively teach online. I can relate to letting the student do most of the work, being interactive with my teacher and classmates, and the social, cognitive and teaching presence needed in an online course. Both as a student and an employee of an online institution I can relate to this article. I loved it.

This just goes to show sometimes you think you know but there is always more to know.

Now that I have made the connections from how I work to how I can teach I will be able to understand how I can effectively apply what I’ve learned in my teaching and online courses. As I have said I work in this life of online learning on the design side now I can take my understanding further with what I am learning.

I am still in the process of deciding what my modules will look like and this is a bit difficult for me. I need to stop focusing on the fact that I am not a teacher and just do what I have learned and what I do know and then I should be able to get my online course module all created.

The only resistance I have is taking the step in to actually teaching. It is something I have always wanted to do but never had the time to finish school until now. I will probably stay in my design role but will likely add teaching of some courses to my list of extra jobs.

The course is teaching me so much and helping make connections. I think the workload is a lot but it is a 12-week course so a bit intense.

Diana (4)

Pelz, B. (2004). My three principles of effective online pedagogy. JALN , 8 (3), 33-46.

The role of questions in teaching, thinking and learning. (2007). Retrieved June 30, 2013, from The Critical Thinking Community: http://www.criticalthinking.org/pages/the-role-of-questions-in-teaching-thinking-and-learning/524