What did I learn?

What did you learn?

I have learned how to give my students an online course experience which will give them the environment for learning, yet allow them freedom and responsibility for their own acquisition of knowledge. I have learned to create a community of inquiry, where students ask questions and help each other learn, because connection with others is an important aspect of learning content and learning who we are in relation to what we learn. I have learned that assessment of ourselves and of others, along with reflection, enhances our learning.

How do you know you learned it?

A change in philosophy, in the way I think about online education. I aim to be more student-centered, and to step down from the podium as the sage on stage. A change in affect, how I feel about teaching and learning online. I am enthusiastic about the prospects, and excited to teach my first class. I want to try out all of these great things I have learned! A change in behavior, the way I teach, both online and in the classroom. I am designing more activities for class, and less lecture; more questions and fewer answers; more for the students to do, and less for me.

Can you provide examples of things that you have learned? – be specific, give details.

There are so many things, where to begin? Well, one thing that impressed me is how to use discussions as a platform for students to learn about what interests them, and to teach others. I knew discussion was an important element of an online class, but I did not fully understand how, why, or to what extent. I also have learned how to let go of some control to allow students to take up the reigns and drive their own learning goals. I don’t have to teach them everything that they will need to know, it is better to teach them how to ask the questions and how to discover their own answers. I can let them search for their own content. I can let them develop their own products. I learned how to use Moodle, although I don’t know if or when I will use it again. I also have fallen in love with Diigo; I can now book mark my life. I use it for other classes, for lesson planning, even for ideas for decorating our new house. I also learned how to use Edublog, which I will use in my own courses. There are other tools that I still haven’t really learned to use, but have learned of their existence, like voice and audio recording, streaming PowerPoints, and this second life (which I am still looking forward to trying).

What helped your learning?

Hands on experience helped me in the technicalities of the course design. Experiencing this course, and viewing other examples, as models for developing my own course. Researching answers to my own questions for the discussions. Reviewing my peer’s courses.

What would have helped your learning more?

What hindered your learning?

Some of my own resistance to change was a hindrance, but I feel I have gotten past a lot of that. Honestly, some of my resistance was not even a resistance to the ideas presented in the course, but resistance of the course itself. I felt very overwhelmed and overloaded with assignments. I felt that spending 20-25 hours per module just on discussions was too much, and because of it I was becoming resistant and resentful. Not to say that I was not learning, because I do feel that I learned a great deal, but I believe that I could have been equally as effective in less time. There were times when I was just looking for anything to talk about, not because I was interested or had questions, but because I needed to fine MORE to discuss. The amount of time spent on discussions also took away from time I could have spent on other assignments and building my course.

What got in the way of your learning?

I don’t feel that anything got in my way, as to me that implies that there was a prevention of the learning process. As I mentioned above, there were some road blocks, but I feel I navigated through accordingly and learned what I set out to learn.

How did you feel?

As I said, through much of the course I have felt overwhelmed, overloaded, and even resistant and resentful. I also felt determined. I was not going to give up out of frustration. I felt satisfied with my learning and when I accomplished my goals, despite anything else I had been feeling at the time. I don’t typically have this experience with my courses, as I doubt I would continue with my education if I experienced this every time I took a class.

And, how do you feel now?

Now, I feel relieved that the class is over, and satisfied with what I have learned. I also  am experiencing some dissonance due to inadequate justification—feeling that the time and energy I put forth did not get me the return that I had expected. Typically, when you put as much time and effort into a class as I have this summer, you get a great grade. As I cannot get an A at this point, I feel why put in any more effort than necessary, as best as I can get is a B now anyway.

(4)

Will Technology Save Education? Will Technology Save US?

After watching A Vision of Students Today, my first thought was skepticism; the idea that technology will save education is a bit extreme. It is a tool, just as the chalkboard is a tool. It is what you do with those tools that make a difference. It is the people that know how to reach students, whether it is through technology or other means, who will be impactful. Can education be done better? Sure. Is education completely broken? I don’t know. Here we all are, educated; and it was done the old fashion way. I just felt the video was a little preachy and idealistic. Like it is the educational systems fault that students don’t open their textbooks or do all of their reading. We talk about how student-centered learning is about students taking responsibility for their learning, well that includes cracking a textbook.

The video, The Machine is (Changing) Us: YouTube and the Politics of Authenticity, gave me a much different reaction; I felt sad. As much as we look at each generation and say THIS generation is lost, lazy, disengaged, and narcissist, it really seems to be true—for every generation. We see an ever growing “whatever” attitude. People are having more difficulty in finding their authentic self when we are more and more disengaged and fragmented. We need others to learn who we are, and without those connections we do feel lost and unsure of ourselves. I see a generation screaming for attention. Not necessarily because they are entitled or narcissistic, but because they are starving for connection to others—their families, their communities, their cultures and societies. In previous generations roles and rules were clear cut. Even if you did not like or agree with them, you knew your place in the world. Now we must search for our place.

I never thought I’d be one of “those” people that blame technology, but I do consider technology’s role in this loss of connection between people and changes in societal roles. Not that I am saying changes in roles is necessarily bad; as a woman I am grateful for changes in roles over the decades. What I see now though are families and societies so engrossed in technology that there are fewer connections between individuals. We need those connections with others to know who we are. So what do we do? We use technology to try to make those connections. We reach out through social networking and YouTube videos to anonymous masses to connect with others. Watching those videos or students hiding in their closets making video blogs, awkwardly talking to the camera, desiring a response for their efforts—it made me sad. Will technology help them find their authentic self? Will it save them? Will it save US?

(4)

Almost done…

Where are you in terms of completion of your online course?

I feel I have made good progress on my course, and feel like I have a good start. I feel like I will never be done though. There will always be tweaks to make, new ideas to try, things that won’t work that will need to be removed, replaced, or changed. What I have so far I feel is good, but I feel overwhelmed trying to anticipate every need or question and then trying to address it preemptively.

 

What do you need to complete your online course?

Details! There are many details that I have been working on–explaining projects, how to do discussions, the content link descriptions, etc.  I am not a detail person, so this part is tedious and frustrating for me. I am much better at the big picture, the overview of the course was easier. I also need some motivation. I have been experiencing some frustration in designing this whole course in a platform that I am not going to use. I keep thinking about how I will have to do this all over in Blackboard. *sigh*

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

I have learned that I can be okay with not “perfect” and  not done. Sometimes it is hard for me to not become overly focused and making something perfect. When this happens I overdo it and spend too much time and energy making it “perfect.” Or I will put off or not do it because I can’t make it “perfect.” More often it is the first rather then the latter. However, Alex said, start with the basics and then build from there–don’t worry about all of the bells and whistles at the start. I also am focusing on the learning, and not so much on the grade. I feel that I have learned a tremendous amount, and I am more concerned with mastery than performance. I learn what I want to learn, what I feel is important for me in my job, and I learn it at my pace and time.

 

 

 

 

 

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

Giving up control and trusting students to learn. I don’t need to give them the information, just provide the opportunity for them to discover it for themselves, and trust that they will do it. Everyone says this works, I can’t wait to see it happen!

 

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

Sometimes the theories that we study in our courses are not always practical to the real world, but I have found that in this course the theories are truly applicable and practical. It has been an easy to see the various ways that I can build social, teaching, and cognitive presence into my course, and the research that we have explored has provided great support for why we should. Not only has my expectation for online teaching changed, but I also am trying to apply some of these ideas to my f2f courses.  I want students to take more responsibility for their learning. I want them to learn from each other, and to discover knowledge instead of waiting for it to be fed to them. I want to build more community into my courses, so students feel that they can share and learn from others and take risks in class. I also want students to learn what they are interested in learning, or what they need to learn depending on where they are in their understanding of the content.

(4)

Facing Challenges

What has challenged you the most in this course?

Time management. Often I am trying to balance doing well on my assignments, but not overdoing it. I can spend hours just on 1 post, but that much time isn’t always necessary. I am trying to break up discussion posts into manageable chunks instead of a 2 page paper.

I also have struggled with conceptualizing some of the activities for my course. I have a general idea of what I want to do, or the outcome that I am looking for, but I don’t always know the best way to go about it. Would it be better as a discussion, a group task or individual one, a project, debate, etc.? I KNOW some of the activities that I have decided on will be changed.

What has been most difficult or uncomfortable and why?

Something that has been very uncomfortable for me is honesty. Being honest with myself, being honest in public, being honest with my instructor. I was taught to respect authority, which includes not questioning or disagreeing with them, even if you disagree with them. Saying, “I don’t like this,” or “I would do it differently” is hard for me. Blogging my thoughts are difficult too. It is a vulnerable feeling to put myself out there for all to read. I treat the blog as a free-form, stream-of-consciousness, where I can just write my thoughts as they occur with minimal editing. This has allowed me to be the most open and honest about my experiences.

As you go through this process as a student in this course and as the developer of your own online course, what are you thinking about?

I am thinking about what I feel is working for me as a student and what is not, so I can include or not include those things in my course. One of the topics we have discussed in this module is social presence—how to create it, what impedes it, and how are we experiencing it. I was surprised to find that others were struggling with feeling a strong connection to others as well, despite the extensive conversations that we have had. I’m thinking about how to make that different for my students. I am thinking about more collaborative group work with a consistent team of students that can really develop cohesion.

(4)

Who am I? Apparently a curious, slightly resistant, procrastinator.

Who are you and why are you that way as an educator and a learner?

I’m curious and I need to be in the know. I don’t like to have unanswered questions. As we have discussed in our class, asking questions and finding the answers is a great way to learn. As an instructor I especially feel that it is my job to have the answer. Being that the courses that I take are chosen for the knowledge I gain to be a better teacher I also feel pressure to have the answers.

What have you observed about yourself during this process?

I had planned to be completely open to learning all that I can during this course because I believe in distance learning so strongly. I was surprised at some of the resistance that I have had when it comes to changing some of my traditional beliefs or practices. Eventually I come around, but sometimes I am arguing against a new idea, or struggling to let go of some old ones.

What have you observed about yourself during your own completion of the learning activities in this course?

I have felt overwhelmed with the amount of work at times. I try to spread tasks out over the two weeks, but after spending 3 or 4 hours just working on discussion posts I stop. I figure that is enough for the day, I have another class that has been seriously ignored, I have a life that is going on around me, and I am in the middle of packing to move in 2 weeks. Assignments and blogs tend to get put off until the last minute.

How can you use these insights in the design of your own course?

My own work habits really leave me wondering how other students are managing. What is their pattern of working? Am I typical? Will my own students procrastinate and then rush? Should I build that expectation into the course? Are shorter deadlines better? Flexibility is great, but many students will hang themselves given enough rope. Where is the line? Is a week too short? Is 3 weeks too long? Right now in the design of my course there are 2-one week modules, 1-two week module, and 3-three week modules. I am interested to see if these time frames will make a difference.

(4)

Getting the Students to the Information

What do you know now that you did not know before?

I think the biggest change that I have made in thinking about online course design is that I am not replicating my f2f course. Before I began this course I thought about how I am I going to get the information to the students? Was I going to video record my lectures? Podcast? Would I have to write out lectures for them to read? Will I need to add more details to my PowerPoints? Now my perspective had drastically changed—I am instead asking myself how do I get the students to the information? How will I devise learning activities that will assist them in their search for knowledge and understanding? It is not my responsibility to spoon feed them, but to teach them how to spoon feed themselves.

How are you applying what you have learned so far to your own course?

Since I am trying to get the students to the information, my activities are now designed to get students out there looking for information and understanding. For example, normally I incorporate many links to online information, videos clips, etc. in my f2f classes. However, for my online course I am being selective about what I will incorporate. The links that I will use are demonstrators for more complex ideas that need further explanation (ie. Piaget’s conservation experiments), or topics that are better to see than to read about (ie. the stages of the birth of a baby). I have removed many of the other links because I don’t want to take that source away from the online student. As part of the discussions I want students to go find their own sources of information and share them, if I provide too many of these links to information then I am taking away potential sources from them, and the satisfaction of discovering those sources.

What decisions have you made about how you present yourself, your content, and how you will engage and interact with your students and assess them in your own online course?

Just as in my f2f courses, I plan to have presence even before the course begins with an introductory email. I want the students to also get to know ME, so I will engage in the ice breaker activities right along with the students, so we can all see that we are “real.” I know that we have debated in our own discussion board about participation in the students’ discussion posts (some instructors comment, some do not comment publicly), I think I fall down on the public comment side, however cautiously. I want to be careful not to dominate the discussion, nor limit their contributions because they are waiting for my “sagely” answer. Publically I want to more so offer affirmation and reinforcement for good responses—not giving them the “answers,” but pointing out when someone offers a good answer so students know to look to that post. When students seem off the mark, my responses may vary as to whether public or private depending on the usefulness of the comment to other students and the potential for ego damage to the student. I also plan to provide more formal feedback with their assignments and quizzes, more instructional in nature.

Assessment always comes in multiple formats. There will be formal assessment of their work and knowledge (using quizzes or rubrics to provide grades). There will also be informal assessment of their knowledge and understanding, especially in their discussions—are they interpreting the readings accurately, do they demonstrate understanding of the topic, do they confuse similar topics, etc.? I also plan to use more peer assessment, requiring students to score each other’s posts, group work activities, and review projects.

(4)

Letting Go of Tradition & Control

I’ve gotten so many great ideas for my course in this past two weeks. I especially liked reading Bill Pelz’s article (My) Three Principles of Effective Online Pedagogy: the ice breaker activities that included documents justifying his teaching methods, and the how to’s for the best interactions in the course, the value of peer assistance. I also felt that the article justified some of my own practices, such as peer collaboration on projects, but he really takes it up a notch or two. Hopefully I can take it to that level now too. I found Bill’s example Developmental Psychology course very helpful as well since I am designing a child development course myself. What I especially took away from Bill was permitting the students to do the work and direct their learning; trust that they will do it and they will. Bill even went so far as to allow the students to devise and monitor their discussion topics, rather than him acting as the discussion facilitator. He also does not participate in the discussions. I am not sure if I would go to that extent. He seems to guide from behind the scenes through private messages as necessary. I will have to experiment with this when I start the course. My hope is that as the course progresses that I will be able to step back and participate less and less as the students take on more responsibility for their learning.

The way that we are conditioned as students is that teacher is the all knowing being, in which we should sit and try to soak in as much of their wealth of knowledge that we can, so as a teacher I expect that I should be doing the same. Of course, I also KNOW that this is not the best way to educate students, this is not surprising to me at all, yet it is so easy to fall into this pattern of  the “sage on stage.” Part of the reason is because it is what the students expect, and sometimes even want. To be a passive student in a class is much easier than an active participant expected to contribute to the class’s knowledge. Tell me what I need to know–spoon feed me so I can pass the test. It is an easy pattern that needs to be avoided.

This week I also have found more value in the use of questions. Not to say that I did believe this to be important before, but I wonder if I can go through a whole class or discussion without doing anything more than ask questions. I surely can incorporate this in my online course where I have time to think before responding. My goal is also to get the students thinking about questions. Again, using one of Bill’s ideas, I would like each module to begin with every student posting a critical thinking question about a relevant topic, giving all students to contemplate, reply, and ask follow up questions.

Now that I have laid out the activities of my course I feel that it is finally making sense. I needed something concrete, as prior to this the task seemed endless. I had too many ideas, too many activities, too many things I wanted to try. I will continue to make changes. Since submitting my outline I already have been thinking about how I want to change, add, and take things away. I know I will continue to second guess and question decisions until the moment it goes live; finally then I can see what works, and what does not, so I can continue to modify my course to make it the best I can to better serve my students.

(4)

The Half-Way Mark

Why do you do things the way that you do?

Why do any of us do the things that we do? Sometimes it is a conscious decision, whatever that means. I mean consciousness is just a culmination of all you have experienced thus far. Often though, what we do is habit or intrinsic. We do it because that is always the way we have done it, it is the only way we know, it is how we were taught. So why do I teach the way that I do? Well, many of the things that I do as a teacher are purposeful, like when I scaffold or design an activity. Other things I do are not necessarily conscious decisions. There are some things that I do because that is who I am, or that is the only way I know how. A colleague recently noticed that I have good rapport with my students fairly quickly and asked me how I do it. I couldn’t really answer her, as I didn’t know what I did that was so effective—I often assume that whatever it is that I am doing others MUST be able to do as well, I can’t be all that special. Maybe not.

What have you learned that you did not know before?

Techniques! I had a general idea as to what may make an effective online course, and I have been pleased to realize that I had a good sense of this even before starting the class. What I lacked were the specific techniques and teaching strategies. I feel as if my toolbox has grown…and I want it to continue to grow…I need more ideas for engaging active learning!

How will you apply what you have learned to your own course?

I can’t wait to experiment with online group activities, and incorporating more problem-base learning. I also have a great appreciation for the function of the discussion board in an online class, and I have seen a few effective ways of incorporating it my course.

What decisions have you made so far about your own online course?

I am going to give up more control and expect more self-directed learning from my students, not only online, but in my f2f courses too! I am going to put more emphasis on discussion boards than I had previously anticipated.

How do you interact in this course?

Interaction is KEY to a successful course. All of the research that I have been reading says that and my experience with taking ETAP 640 has proven it to me. I will expect frequent and in depth interactions in my courses as well with discussion boards, areas to ask questions to the class and instructor, group activities, and peer review of their work.

What if anything has been difficult for you?

Honestly, the greatest difficulty I am having is the amount of time necessary for completing this course. This online course has taken more time than any other class I have taken, online or f2f. I am learning a great deal, but I am spending 3-4 hours 5-6 days a week on this class, and even then I am feeling like I am rushing to just get things done and not doing them to the best of my ability. I would like more time to focus on the development of my online course, but I am spending so much time on researching discussion topics and blog information that building the ACTUAL course gets put on the back burner. Although the design of this course is an excellent model, I will have to carefully consider the time requirements for each activity that I assign as to not overwhelm students. As a graduate student I expect to invest more time and energy, I take fewer classes, and right now I am not working for the summer. If I were working now I would have had to drop this class, there is no way I could dedicate the time needed. Even with the amount of time I am putting into it I do not feel that my grades are reflecting my effort and the amount I am learning—there is a lot of LATENT learning going on here.

What if anything do you find yourself feeling resistance to?

I was resistant to using the various websites (Moodle, digo), I wasn’t familiar with them and found trying to learn to use those and learning new information and understanding all of the course expectations, etc. all at the same time very overwhelming. Now that I am more comfortable with them and I have a grasp as to the work expectations I find the resistance melting away. However, I am still frustrated that I am spending all of the time building a course In a platform that I will not use, and I will have to completely rebuild this course in Bb to actually use it.

What is working for you in this course?

I really like that we do not have a “textbook,” but instead are searching for our own answers to our own questions (or to the questions of our peers). We get to learn about what we feel is important and relevant, not what the textbook author feels is important. The discussion boards are interesting, we get to share what we know, learn from eachother, and engaged in intellectual discussions that make us think and challenge our own ideas.

What would you change/suggest to make it better for you?

I understand that the activities are all in place for a specific reason, and I feel that each meets it’s objective, so it is hard to say that I would change anything as it would take away from the course. Other than the time spent on the discussion boards I have been satisfied with the course.

(4)

From Daunting to Doable

I find that I over think things, up until the time comes to actually DO something. I understand why Alex wanted us to complete the questionnaire and profile for our course, to get us thinking about what we are doing, but if given the opportunity I will mill over an idea forever…until it becomes crunch time and a decision must be made. So, crunch time comes and I have to start putting together documents for my online course, and suddenly things start coming together. It is no longer this imaginary course full of endless possibilities; it is concrete, born before me with a structure and a real plan. Ahhhh…and now it begins.

In designing my course I have drawn greatly upon our own ETAP 640, and not because it is easy to recreate something someone else has already done. (As one of my classmates said, why recreate the wheel when you already have one in your garage?) I have drawn upon this course as an example of an exemplary course. I can see the value in how this course is designed, especially the requirements for the discussions, as well as self- and peer-assessment. It is interesting too that as I reconfigure the way I teach an online course from my f2f course, I also am finding that there are aspects of my f2f course that I could do better using some of the design ideas for my online course. Like Bill Pelz said in his audio interview (and I am paraphrasing), now that he sees the success of learning online he prefers it over f2f courses. There is the ability to design self-discovery in an online course that can be more challenging to create in a f2f course where students expect “the sage on stage.” I also have drawn from Bill’s course design. I particularly like how he made students establish their own discussion forum for each module, and he put them in charge of being moderator. I think he takes more of a “hands-off” approach to the discussions then I would myself. Discussions are a great way to show presence—a teachable moment, a probing question, support and encouragement, a suggested resource. I am fully committed to the idea of self-discovery and peer-teaching within my online course, but I also feel that I have a lot to add and I can’t keep all of this information to myself. In my f2f courses I think I do fairly well in leading my students to the information without necessarily spoon feeding them, I hope to do the same in my online course.

I also am happy to have received some confirmation during these few weeks. I so wanted to incorporate group collaboration activities in my online course, and I have discovered how to do that successfully (at least in theory). I want to offer autonomy and choices, emphasize mastery over performance, and help students find purpose and reason in the course material, and I have found others that believe the same. I have learned about constructivism and connectionism, pedagogies I already practice in a small scale, can be major design elements of my course. Hmm…maybe I do have some idea of what I’m doing.

I think the biggest thing that I got out of this last couple of weeks though is confidence. I admit, I was anxious and unsure about how this process would go, but I was willing to give myself over to it and allow it to happen. I trusted that it would come together, that I would figure it out, and that Alex had to know what she was doing. It did, I did, and she does. I feel like my ideas can come to fruition, that my course is not this overwhelming daunting task that is too big to conquer. The ah-ha moments are coming regularly now. The challenge is now enjoyable.

(4)

Despite what you say, I am using it anyway! ;)

Alex Pickett (2008) ends her, A Series of Unfortunate Online Events and How to Avoid Them, with, “If you yourself are unfortunate enough to have made it entirely through this illiterate, un-academic treatise, it is not recommended that you admit it to anyone. The information in this article may be of some assistance, but probably not. It is probably best if you don’t consider, much less actually incorporate any of the suggestions made here into your current or future online courses.” (This reminded me of Francia’s discussion post about incorporating humor into a course). So, to that I reply, despite what you say, I am using it anyway! Between this article, the manual, and the lecture on what works, there were too many suggestions for effective online teaching and design to even mention all of them. What I will discuss is a few of the things that stuck out to me and why these items seemed to stick.

 

The first suggestion that I want to mention is “Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” This stuck out to me because first of all I fully agree! I have seen instructors (f2f and online) incorporate all sorts of technology or activities for the sake of using it, not necessarily because it meets a learning objective. I’m sure we have all had the experience of thinking, “this is pointless,” or “how is this relevant?” At the same time that I am thinking about how much I agree, I am also thinking DON’T DO IT! I tend to get excited about new technologies and am often thinking about how I can incorporate it in a course. Apparently I need the reminder as much as anyone else. I will make this my new mantra.

 

The second suggestion that struck me was because I did not agree: if you do something and it does not work, then do not do it again. In my own experience I have tried out different ideas that have not worked the first time, but I tweak them and try again. Sometimes tweaking doesn’t work, but often it does. Some of the key activities of my courses were disasters the first time I tried it, but that was because I was not sure how to execute it effectively. I learned from my mistakes, got feedback from students and colleagues, and tried again. The first time I implement something I cannot always anticipate all of the issues, but after a run through I can plan for those problems and be proactive in preventing them.

 

Alex discussed in her lecture, in the reading materials, and it was also a topic for discussion in our class: in an online class all learning does not have to be online. This affirms my decision to implement a major “field study” type project in my Child Psychology class. Students will need to find a community setting for 15 hours of either observation of a child, or volunteering in working directly with children. I feel this is a fantastic way for students to observe the theories and concepts from the course in an applicable way. Rather than students just reading about and discussing how children learn or play they can SEE it happening.

 

Another point I have come across in various places is implementing a comprehensive orientation to the course. This may include laying out the expectation, rules, evaluation methods, as well as instructions for accessing various aspects of the course, and asking students to test-drive some of these features. I am one for trying to see something from the students’ perspectives, trying to anticipate problems/questions, and then preemptively addressing them. While Alex seems to do this is the design of our course, and discusses perspective taking and providing information, the other article, Do Online Students Dream of Electric Teachers?, by Jason Scorza (2005), seems to approach this differently. He says, “When I first started teaching online I created elaborate guides to writing papers and participating in discussions that, I am almost certain, very few of my students actually read. My thinking, as I recall, was that I needed to tell my students everything they needed to know about their assignments by answering every conceivable question in advance. In retrospect, I realize how counterproductive this was. While it is important to provide clear instructions for assignments, in bullet format whenever possible, it is not necessary to present overly elaborate guidelines which will, more likely than not, leave students confused or intimidated.” Well, maybe it is not greatly different, using bullets and brief explanations are more desirable and more likely to be read, but to assume that students don’t read the instructions provided and so why bother?  I am trying to process this and apply it to how I do things. I do tend to give bullets and brief descriptions in manageable chunks. I also have students that do not read these instructions. My thought process has been, if I provide it, direct them to it, and they still don’t read it I can’t be responsible for that. I still think I will be proactive and try to anticipate problems and questions, then address them in advance. If there is a problem I can direct them to the appropriate place rather than spending time answering the same questions again. A classic example, students come up at the end of class and ask, “When are your office hours?” We all anticipate this question and so we put it right on the top of our syllabus. I could rattle off my hours, but instead I send them to the syllabus. If they don’t have a syllabus (they weren’t here, they lost it, etc.) Well, then it is on Blackboard under the tab that says Syllabus.  I feel that this not only gives them the information that they are looking for, but also gives them the message that they should be looking for information, not just asking for answers (the easy way). I do the same when they ask me about assignments—first I say, did you read the directions available on Blackboard? If they then have specific questions I am happy to help.

 

Finally, the last point that struck me was our discussion and the readings about duplication of f2f courses in an online environment. We can’t just copy our courses into an online environment. However, we can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. There must be a middle ground, right? There are components of a f2f course that can be converted to a workable format in an online environment. One of my discussion posts I talked about how I wanted to create a simulation in my online class, similar to the one I do in my f2f class. At first I thought this wouldn’t work, but after some research I found that it would be possible; not in the same exact way of course, but maybe just as effectively. I very excited to try this activity and see if it will work as I imagine. If not, I might just have to tweak it and try again.

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