Week Eight: Saying Farewell

Good Bye!This is my last reflective posting from this course. I have just completed the post-course survey which asked me to think about which required assessments I found to be the most useful. Reflecting on this makes me ponder on how all these assessments interconnect and  build a bigger, more powerful picture of learning. Take for example, the surveys. While they primarily are designed for the instructor to get to know students and make changes to the course design, I found them particularly useful to examine my own expectations for learning. The wikispace was great for collaborative work, although we did not use it for our jigsaw project, I will be asking my students to do so. The discussion forums were vibrant and engaging and as a group we connected on a professional and personal level. The blog created a personal space for each of us to reflect, create and grow as learners. We had several synchronous meetings on WebEx as well as screen cast and jing feedback from the instructor. The assessments shaped our learning experiences but did not define them. They mirrored and complemented each other without feeling repetitive.

In addition to these assessments, I would like to add a digital artifact that offers a visual or audio representations of what we had learned.  I hope to explore more tools so I can give students more choice in which tool to use.

We had a great community of learners in this course. Truly, I am grateful to get to know each and every one of you but now it is time to say goodbye….

Here is my final FINAL project! Please enjoy.

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Week Seven: Final Summative Project

late night studyThis week was filled with time spent up late at night and early in the morning researching and writing for the Final Project. The course I designed the project for is called College Writing in a Digital World. I had my students from the local  community college in mind as I created the Learning Objectives and Assessments, although I am planning it as if it is in an online setting. The Course Learning Outcomes are taken from the General Education Program Philosophy and Outcomes from College of the Redwoods, which focus on teaching valuable transferable skills that emphasis critical thinking and reasoning skills.  I used Wikispaces as the platform for my project, one of the tools I ask students to use in the final Learning Objective.

Please enjoy this first draft of my Final Project here.

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Pre-Course Survey

Survey MonkeyHere is my pre-course survey for the writing class I teach called English 1A. I am designing it be a hybrid class but it could easily be moved to an online setting.

Please click here to complete the survey: Surveymonkey

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Week Six

I have to admit this week has been a bit of a struggle as far as completing the assigned readings and starting to work on the final project. I have too many distractions in my personal life to name and it leaves me feeling a little drained to focus. That said, I still enjoyed this week’s learning activities and I hope this reflection will highlight some of what I found interesting/important/engaging and applicable to my teaching. It will, however, most likely be a little shorter as I move onto getting into the nuts and  bolts of the final project.

I found the readings to be full of much practical advice this week and my biggest takeaway was probably the consistent use of real-world examples or case studies as a way for students to discuss, analyze, and critique some the big ideas we engage with in my writing class. The “theme” is Food Politics and Culture and we read The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  While this book is rich in examples and description, it is written in a journalistic style and is not reflective of what they might be reading in the academy, especially for the research project. It provides a great starting point to start thinking about all the issues in food politics and serves as an example of engaging writing, but the jump to researching and writing their own project is just too big for many of my students.  The article by Koohang and Smith presented several assignments and a factual situation that followed the constructivist principles in elearning described in the paper. The one I found most useful was a collaborative analysis of different case studies. I could see this collaborative activity as a great intermediary step before students move onto their own personal research project. Students would analyze a case study  (a real-world example of the impact an issue/problem in food politics) followed by a peer assessment activity that compared and contrasted of how these different analyses intersect, inform, and pose further questions about that issue. The inquiry process always starts with asking lots of good questions, and the biggest barrier for students really engaging with the inquiry process is probably finding a easy answer that may seem to satisfy but not address multiple perspectives. Asking students to review and critique others’ case study analyses forces them to confront multiple perspectives, both on the issue by the main players and also others interpretations of the problems and main solutions.

The second article by Peterson on Cyber-coaching also posed some interesting questions and made me think about how I might be able to apply different technology tools to streamline the coaching process. Although the author emphasized that the tools to coach should be ones that students should be comfortable with and should not become a distraction in the process, I can see benefit in using some of the new tools such as Vocaroo that might reduce the workload for the instructor. While the purpose is to individualize the instruction to the needs of the student, written comments can take time. To copy and paste standard feedback, as suggested by the author, seems to defy the purpose of coaching. I see coaching as “mentoring” and even though I might have a plethora of prepared comments, I would still find myself needing to edit them. Spoken feedback can be given quickly and will also give those who auditory learners better access to the feedback.

Finally, I wanted to comment on Dr Khalsa’s reflections and thoughts on online course design. It was full of great ideas but the one that stood out to me was the need for application to real-world contexts to really make the learning “stick”. This is another avenue I am going to be exploring for my writing class, as most of my students are required to take my class for general education but have no desire to be in academia once they graduate. The digital world opens up so many possibilities for a writing class to engage in Project-Based Learning that allows students to engage in real-world problem solving   requiring analysis and reading of complex texts but the final project might not be the traditional academic essay.

Thanks once again for reading!

References:

Koohang, A., Riley, L. and Smith, T. (2009). “E-Learning and constructivism: From theory to application”  Interdisciplinary Journal of E-Learning and Learning Objects, 5:91-109.

Petersen, N. J. (2004). “Cybercoaching: Rubrics, feedback, & metacognition, oh my!” Paper presented at E.C. Moore Symposium on Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, Indiana University. February 25, 2005.

Pollan, Michael.  The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2006.

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Bloom’s Taxonomy Table for English 1A: College Writing

bloom

Here is the document.

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Week Five

Bloom's Digital Taxonomy

Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy

Thinking about Bloom’s higher order skills in our online assessments had me re-thinking my F2F class assignments this week. I bookmarked several sites in Diigo on technology tools that promote higher level skills and attempted to write Bloom’s taxonomy table for the English course I teach at the local community college. In my assessments I spend a lot of time focusing on the writing process, but I still have some changes to make. I want to explore what tools might allow students to articulate some of the core questions and problems/solutions they explore in their research. They could create a digital artifact to be included in an e-portfolio, along with an introduction/reflection, the final draft of the essay, links to sources, annotated bibliography, mind maps, and possibly a link to class and individual blogs. What will creating this artifact add to the process of writing a research essay? Will it help the student better articulate their argument? Will it engage the student more in the research inquiry process?   Will it improve their writing? This last question seems the most important when considering whether to implement this assignment.  I suspect that while it may not require much writing, it will show whether students fully grasp the research issue, especially from the multiple perspectives required for a deeper understanding. They will also need to think rhetorically on how to present the information, an important skill in crafting an essay.  So that end, it will be a valid assignment.

Contemplating Bloom in an online class leaves me a lot to think about as we  move into Week 6. There are endless possibilities online and not all of them work! Noam Chomsky  gave me pause for thought this week in a Learning Without Frontiers video in which he meditates on the purpose of education and the role of technology. Chomsky posits that we have experienced bigger  changes in technology throughout history (he gives the example of the first cable). More importantly,  if the purpose of education is to nourish creative inquiry, technology simply provides a way to be creative, critical and curious about the important issues.  I think this is important as I search for new tools and ways to assess in my classroom.  There are so many questions: does it promote and /or enhance authenticity? Does it engage and challenge? Is it rigorous and valid? These questions will be keeping me busy as I begin to craft my final project and complete these reflections on my blog.

 

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MOOCs: many voices, merging ideas, pushing boundaries.

Are MOOCs the answer?

I just wanted to mention my participation the last couple of weeks in the E-learning and Digital Cultures  MOOC developed by educators at the University of Edinburgh before I post my reflections this week. This is a spin-off from a similarly titled course from the M.Sc. in E-Learning and has attracted a lot of attention in the MOOC world: 40,000 students have enrolled and 17,000 were active during this first week. What I think has interested me most is where learners gravitated towards for communicating with each other. The instructors seeded the Cousera discussion boards with stimulating questions yet the primary driver of conversation seems to be the Twitter #EDCMOOC chat, Google + and Facebook (somewhat…it’s SO yesterday). The themes this week of dystopia and utopia posed questions about power and choice and I see these same themes in the discussions about MOOCs. How do you engage a student mass of 40,000 with 5 instructors? How does anyone cope with the vast number of discussion postings, social media conversations, blogs, digital artifacts…the list is endless. A major discussion this week was just on how to cope.

That said, the educators who developed the course are clearly impressed by the response of the students. There was so much pre-course chatter on Twitter, FB and Google + that the MOOC gathered its own momentum.  One way the instructors were able to be more visible to the thousands of students ( a ratio of 1:1800) was through the end of week Google Hangout; a synchronous Twitter chat with questions and comments were integrated into the conversation.  This was fascinating to participate in and see how you could really have a dialogue between so many people. It was an E-learning nerd-fest extraordinaire.

I want to reflect for a moment about assessment here.  The ability of a MOOC to assess for learning is surely critical to its success in future, whether it disappears, mutates, or takes off as an important learning platform (my bet is a combination of the last two). For this course, the final assessment is a digital artifact that reflects, analyzes, and critiques any one of the themes of the course. Due on the last week, it is the only formal assessment to get a certificate of completion. However, the other form of feedback/assessment is from students and at the Google Hangouts (once every two weeks) where discussions are summarized and discussed and questions answered by the instructors.

My biggest impression from this experience so far has be the sheer volume of ideas flying around and I think this is possibly how a MOOC works at its best. While some have struggled with the lack of control over what to do and how to interact with the content and each other, for me, it has been enlightening to see thousands of people thinking and discussing  how e-learning can change the way we do education. MOOCs may not take over the traditional classroom but they will  push the boundaries on how we think about learning and how best to assess for it.

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