Elluminate!

I love Elluminate!

My schedule has not allowed me to participate in the weekly synchronous sessions, so I have not been logged into Elluminate before or tried it out.

I use Blackboard as an online component to my face-to-face class at Palomar College and so I was able to access Elluminate via that webshell. I set up a session in less than five minutes and was pleasantly surprised to see how easy it was to do.

This is definitely a tool I am going to begin to use in my online courses. I teach for an online school that also uses Blackboard and the classes are only eight weeks long. I can see immediately what the benefit would be of offering a live session for Q&A even once or twice during those eight weeks for students to get immediate feedback and interaction with each other. I also see how this could be a real bond builder, because so many students make connections to each other through the discussion boards and it would be a lot of fun to have them be able to actually hear each other’s voices in a real time discussion!

Very cool tool. I’m glad to have found it!

Erica

Late Week Seven Posting

So as I was perusing online job postings for adjunct instructors the other day I ran across what I felt was an alarming post. I say I found it to be alarming, but perhaps I came to judgement too soon. In light of the fact that we need to pose a question in week seven (yup, I’m a full four days late here), I think the problems I found in the job posting would be very interesting to talk about and get opinions on!

In the job posting the college was seeking candidates with terminal degrees in their areas to develop online courses. Development and/or online teaching experience was not required.

In the first week or two of this POT program a few folks mentioned that many instructors may have never actually been enrolled in an online course themselves as students. Not that that should be a pre-requisite to teaching online certainly, but for instructors who are also teaching online for the first time, this is quite literally a whole new world. Those folks might very well have terminal degrees in their area and would be a perfect candidate for the job listed above.

I have taught online and I have also taken numerous online classes as an undergraduate and graduate student. I am now currently enrolled in this program to educate myself even further in online teaching pedagogy and online teaching tools. I am not eligible to apply for this job posting.

 The number of colleges who are branching into online courses is overwhelming and growing daily. These colleges need classes to be built in order to offer them. The question I wish to pose is this: Should colleges value a terminal degree for an online curriculum developer over real world experience, even if no terminal degree is present?

 Don’t get me wrong. I do not mean to suggest the person should have no degree at al, or even an undergraduate degreel….but would someone with a Masters, for example, be qualified to develop the curriculum if they also have real world experience in doing so?

Kicking my own…

So, I’m behind again. Gee whiz. Between a family member being hospitalized this past week and the septic system at my house completely backing up into every drain, I’ve not had much attention, time, or ability to get into POT. All seems to be relatively under control at this point and I am going to attempt to jump back in and get cracking on the week seven postings.

For what it’s worth, I love this class so far! 🙂

Creating Community video by Pilar

I really enjoyed watching her workshop this week. I felt that the exercise she did at the beginning where everyone had to socialize with each other and discuss what made a community also helped create the community for that workshop. The ideas they came up with, that she wrote on the board, and that I really connected with were:

  • Comfortable
  • Belonging
  • Friendliness
  • Safe

 

Pilar asked at what point an instructor hops into discussion board postings, as most everyone agreed those were the best way to help create community, I appreciated her own feedback that it is always good for an instructor to respond to students who are not being responded to by other students. She emphasized the need for the instructor to facilitate the discussion, just as we would normally do in a face-to-face class. She noted that this relates back to the students feeling validated, safe, comfortable and generally as if they are belonging within the class. I know there have been weeks in my online classes where two or three folks got a thread going and just talked and talked amongst each other but seemed so caught up in those interactions that they were oblivious to the other sixteen conversations occurring around them. It occurred to me that the other sixteen students might not have felt comfortable jumping on that smaller conversation, so I tried to parlay the three participant discussion topic into a more general one and tease those students out of the smaller conversation and into a larger one. It sort of worked – two students came into the big pond and participated with the other sixteen. I wonder now if those three felt most comfortable with each other and decided to simply leave it at that – they had found a clique – or if the sixteen felt like the group of three was inpenatrable. Either way, I did my best to “facilitate” but also thought I could have done more. This workshop gave me some good ideas and also showed me that mine experience wasn’t isolated.

 

 

 

My SlideShare – Egads

I just tried using SlideShare and hopefully understood the “embed” directions correctly. It appears you cannot just have the video play within a WordPress blog, so a link is necessary, hence mine does not look as lovely as some other blogs. I am attemtping to connect to my SlideShare here. My microphone is on the fritz at the moment, so I’ll have to add my voice to this later in the week when I get a new one!

Here is a link to my slideshare powerpoint:

I chose to do SlideShare instead of Jing because I am not enjoying downloading infrastructure. I like websites, such as SlideShare and WordPress, that I can log into from any computer. Being an adjunct who is necessarily nomadic on campus depending on my access to an office, dowloading software is not only not an option for me, it is impractical both as a student in this class and as an isntructor who would think of using it for a class I was going to teach.

The Online Syllabus – Week Five

After reading Chapter Five there were several points I agreed with completely, and in my own online course (administered via Blackboard),  already follow:

  • Ko and Rossen are very clear about being clear! In other words, being vague has no place in an online syllabus or in any directions online for that matter. If you do really look at your syllabus as a “contract” (not saying I do), then it is safe to assume that the contract should be as specific as possible. I would like to add a note about this – proofreading is even more important in an online syllabus/course than it is in face-to-face classes. Accidentally typing a date wrong, or the number of points something is worth, etc… can mean so much more confusion in an online environment than it would in person because I’ve noticed students tend to take the syllabus as gospel and may not immediately ask for clarification before submitting something incorrectly, late and so on.
  • I agreed very much with idea that information needs to be provided more than once. While some students, we all hope that “all students”, will refer back to the Course Info page or the syllabus, often they will not. This is familiar in a face-to-face course as well. Hence, in person we often give reminders in class of an upcoming due date or homework etc… I think the same holds true for an online class, and perhaps even more so. I have the assignment schedule for the entire course listed on the syllabus, but also have each week’s assignments posted individually on the Week page so that they can easily see what is due and when. When I use a rubric for a course, I include a link to the rubric every single time I have an assignment so students do not have to go hunting back through previous weeks to find the rubric. Although this means some redundancy, I also feel it makes the course more streamlined. This allows students to focus on learning rather than on finding the material they need to learn.
  • Contact information and “virtual office hours.” I use this already and I think it works great. My course information page has a brief bio with my contact info and also a note about the days I am online. I tell my students this so they do not panic if they do not get a discussion board response from me within five hours of sending it. I also tell them how quickly I respond to email. This gently reminds students that we also have lives and are not connected 24/7, while at the same time letting them know they are important and will be replied to as soon as possible.

A few things I could come or go on:

  • I’m not sure a syllabus is a contract. Maybe it is more of a guideline. I’m still undecided on this. When I first began teaching I had a few cases of plagiarism and when I had to report it to higher ups they always needed to see my policies on plagiarism. As a result of those experiences I began to try and make my syllabus bullet proof and very much saw it as a contract. However, more recently I have begun to reconsider this and feel that the purpose may be different than I have considered. Maybe I am putting too much weight into their use of the word “contract” and bringing in my own baggage, lol.
  • I think that it is important to post student expectations, but I also feel that it is important to post what should be expected of faculty. This can, and maybe should, go beyond just the “I am online at these times and will respond to you within 24 hours” type of info. Perhaps it also involves weekly announcements about trends being seen in the class in addition to just passing on reminders/info about assignments, perhaps it means reaching out to students who are faltering and connecting them with online resources they can use outside of your class, etc… I’m still working through this part.

I really enjoyed this chapter though. I think there were far more ideas I agreed with than not. The overall impression I came away with was being clear and being organized. I have not yet had a chance to watch the interactive syllabus presentation, so I cannot do that comparison yet. But, I am very interested to see how much I may change my opinion about the online syllabus after watching it! ha! 🙂

Week Four review – a bit late!!

Gosh – this week was nuts and somehow I feel behind. I hope this doesn’t sink my ship in terms of the certificate!

I started worrying about week three thinking that I missed something, but I appear to be caught up there.

So, here goes for Week Four:

I checked our Prezi and LOVE it! Its organization really spoke to me and so did its presentation. I literally love how it looks. It looks so different from other websites. It reminded me of a scrapbook actually, and since I like to scrapbook, I think I like Prezi 🙂 I plan to spend more time getting around there and trying some stuff in there. I could imagine actually having that as an online component either for a hybrid class or for a face-to-face class that needed an online component.

The HTML tutorial was interesting. As Frank mentioned in his blog this week, much of it was stuff I already knew. Many years ago my mother set up a website and we realized quickly that a “little knowledge of html” would be helpful in making our websites seem less stock fottage in appearance. That mushroomed into my learning a large amount of HTML 4, and I still remember elements that are helpful. I find myself rarely using it though. Overall, I find knowing it useful at times, but can say with certainty that if I did not know it I would not find myself any less creative.

In terms of what to use from Chapter Three, I think there were a few things that really struck me as working for a composition course online. Elements I would include for a college level composition course would be:

  • Weekly readings out of a textbook that I would require the students to purchase either as a paper book or eBook. Ko and Rossen address this and I found that info helpful and relevant to my discipline (English) especially.
  • Weekly discussions of those readings in a discussion board forum.
  • Short writing assignments, also done weekly, that model the type of reading they just completed. For example, if I assigned a comparison and contrast type of text, I would have my students do their own comparison and contrast type of essay.
  • Weekly grammar exercises that are low stakes in terms of overall points, and not very time consuming. The goal of this would be to help students work on common errors by continuously working on these in small pieces without turning the composition course into a grammar course. These weekly exercises could be limited to no more than 30 minutes of work per week per student, but may pay course long dividends.

Overall, I really enjoyed reading Chapter Three and the materials for this week. I’m excited to move into Week Five and….explore Prezi this week! I really liked it 🙂