Monthly Archives: March 2014
From my rationale paper:
Google docs and other web features allowed us to collaborate in EDTECH 597, Digital Game Design for K12. Aaron, Christina and I collaborated with writing a program for our app (common Dropbox folder), creating a presentation, creating a flowchart to map out our plans, writing a paper collectively, and creating videos (mp4) to demonstrate our progress. To facilitate planning, creating content, transferring it to the submission forums on time, and processing our parts of each section, we utilized a common Dropbox folder, Google Docs, and Gliffy.
Dr. Thompson had us “practice” writing a request for proposal (RFP) document. In this document we had to plan how to execute helping Far West Laboratory with their need to educate their school clients.
I think this is a reflection on what was done for the VoiceThread moderation:
Voice Thread moderation
How do you help students interact effectively in an online course?
A few of us have posted examples of how we help students interact effectively in our discussion areas. Although Chris has not held online discussions with students, she likes the small group approach. In addition she likes the idea of having students be facilitators. Bret confirms the importance of using multimedia and unique opportunities to engage a discussion. James also likes the idea of having student facilitators and freshness to the content, but cautions against overwhelming the students with too many new ideas or tools to learn. Sarah points out facilitator involvement is crucial, yet the facilitator needs to be careful to not become the discussion. Let the students be the discussion by finding a balance between facilitator input and student contributions. Earl stresses modeling effective communication so novice participants experience what they are expected to do in the discussion. So far our discussion has focused on group size, discussion format or setting, facilitator involvement that may involve student facilitators, and modeling what we expect of the participants. What other suggestions do you have about how to get students to interact in a discussion forum or even with wiki collaborations? We have a few more days left for this discussion, so please provide examples from your classroom, experiences with online learning, ideas from the readings, or unique perspectives you’ve acquired while in this or other online classes. What has motivated you to interact in our online courses?
How do you sustain online discussions?
A few people have shared aspects of online discussions including how the discussion is launched, what happens during the discussion, and how to prolong it. Kathryn stresses the importance of using open-ended questions to allow for freedom of expression of ideas. Bret cautions instructors to not assume that an open-ended question will guarantee student participation that stays focused on the topic. How would you build community building into the online discussion that may be more natural to create in a face to face environment? Sarah seeks the perfect balance between structure and flexibility. What suggestions do you have about how to create flexibility while still giving enough structure so students feel safe in the environment? Earl suggests extending discussions with hypothetical situations. With that in mind, what do you suggest we do to get people who have not posted to this discussion yet, to post to the discussion? Do the facilitators send out personal invitations to the discussion? Do we respect that for this discussion we are graduate students and therefore have the choice to participate or not? If you are working with adults like we are, but who may not be as comfortable with the online world as we are, how would you lure them to volunteer their ideas in an online discussion?
How do you keep a presence in online discussions without taking over the conversations?
So far, everybody recognizes the importance of having the facilitator being a part of the discussion. Kathryn points out that creating a social presence by providing feedback to participants. James suggests instructors target the posts that are not getting many responses by replying directly to those ideas in an attempt to stimulate discussion based on what is said in the neglected posts. Sarah’s audio file was not loading at the time I crafted this summary. Jessica recommends brevity while including leading questions to further the discussion. How do you suggest a facilitator follows these recommendations without overwhelming the discussion? How does one provide feedback, but not so much that it curtails further discussion?
How do you use online discussion in your blended courses?
So far we have heard a few ways people can use online discussion areas to allow for collaboration or submission of individualized perspectives on a topic. Glori has her students do mini-case studies by perusing the literature and deciding what they would incorporate into their own practice. Adam does a sort of jigsaw where he posts questions about themes in geography and allows students to self-select which ones they will respond to. Then he challenges students to visit a different theme and contribute to its thread. Bret confirms the uniqueness of using discussion forums as a review area for essay exams. He commends Adam for using the discussion area to stimulate student interactions and follows up with questions about procedures for doing such discussions. Kathryn suggested using the discussion areas as a place to do summarizing activities or for students to provide feedback on the course without having time constraints you can have in the face to face classroom. Sarah not only uses discussion areas as a place for students to brainstorm, but since it is out in the open, she can also give feedback and approve their ideas before students prematurely commit to a topic that may not be as fruitful as originally anticipated. What are some other concrete examples of ways you can engage students in an online forum?
In EDTECH 523 we created a synchronous presentation and were required to watch other presentations as well. To focus on other people’s presentations, we were asked to create an evaluation guide that we could fill out during the presentations. After the groups finished, we emailed our presentation form to the respective group. I’m connecting to my evaluation instrument by having a link to it here as it was uploaded to WordPress. The other link is to it living in my Google Doc area. Finally, I did a copy and paste of the document and put it at the end.
Purpose of this assignment: Create an evaluation instrument for evaluating the quality and appropriateness of synchronous instruction.
Yes/No or N/A
|Introduction to the lesson:Could be a poll on the screen or an activity on the whiteboard- just has to be something students can do to amuse themselves until the session starts|
|Presenter reviews classroom controls|
|Audio and/or video enabled for participants|
|Students do something in the classroom other than just sit there.|
|Presenter records session|
|Students are encouraged to raise hands if they have questions|
|A copy of the ppt slides if applicable|
|Web links are available|
|Presenter remembers to turn off recording|
|Polls for formative assessment|
|Polls to keep students engaged|
|Student expectations shared|
|Questions for students to answer that they will turn in later|
|Shares files students can download as take-away info|
|Presenter provides files students can download so they can follow the lesson as it happens|
|Ppt slides are uploaded to a share screen or are shown from presenter’s computer as a shared screen.|
|Students are used to help advance the lesson|
|Encourages student-student interactions.|
|Encourages student-content interactions.|
|Students use whiteboards or the equivalent to answer questions.|
|Formative assessment is done so the presenter can see if the lesson was successful|
|Student product is used somewhere in the lesson to either evaluate student work or to give an example of what can be done at a student’s level|
|Presenter is organized so that there are not unnecessary lulls|
|Presenter speaks clearly|
|Presenter speaks slowly enough|
|Presenter speaks loud enough|
|Some sort of closure|
|You can tell there was a reason this worked better as a synchronous lesson than an asynchronous one|
For Module 5 your summary should include information about the following:
- Complete the required reading and review materials provided on synchronous tools and strategies.
- Develop a lesson to be delivered synchronously using appropriate instructional strategies.
- Practice delivering your lesson.
- Create an evaluation instrument for evaluating the quality and appropriateness of synchronous instruction.
- Post the completed evaluation instrument and your reflections to the Evaluation of Synchronous Instruction forum in the MAIN discussion board.
- Please, also submit your completed evaluation instrument to the appropriate link in the Module 5 activities for grading.
- Submit discussion idea and/or lead a discussion.
- Participate in ongoing discussions. Apply critical thinking and questioning strategies to your discussion posts.
Module 5 was fun because it got me back in the Adobe Connect classroom which is always a challenging environment to be in because it is so convoluted. Preparing for Bret and my synchronous lesson has also been fun because it is collaborating with someone who is intelligent and knows more about our topic than I do. This means I get to learn something while doing this project and have someone who can patiently handle my questions when I get lost. In contrast, since I bought the Adobe eLearning suite in the fall, I have Adobe Presenter which takes PowerPoint files and uploads them to the Adobe Connect server. It was a nice opportunity to refamiliarize myself with the software.
My evaluation instrument was somewhat incomplete so I revised it as I reviewed the synchronous sessions. Interestingly, when I evaluated the Photoshop lesson presentation I realized I had not planned on evaluating something that was not necessarily like something listed in chapter 6. Bret and I have been trying to figure out how to adapt what we want to do to fit one of the suggested activities in chapter 6 and still be within 10 minutes. I think we have a clue what to do and I hope everybody who wants to be a part of our audience will join us and the other presenters on Thursday, May 3. It was also a relief to see that there will be at least six people in our audience. We were not sure what type of audience we could count on so we can now plan breakout rooms and student activities better.
It makes sense that chapter 5 in the Learning in Real Time text is applicable to Module 6 since it covers formative assessment, how to integrate it into the class, and how to pick up on non-visual body language. Since that chapter may need to be a part of the Module 6 reflection, I won’t go into more depth here. I will share a few ideas about chapters 4 and 6, though. For chapter 4, I found their analysis of various online teaching settings to be accurate based on what I’ve experienced. I used to IM with my students when they had a quick question and at times we would mosey on over to our virtual office to use the whiteboard for further explanation. Explaining dimensional analysis through IM can be done, but using a whiteboard is much easier. Although I have never taught or taken a class in a MUVE, I think that is what second life is like so I expect I will experience it when I take the class that has us use second life. Although I’ve attended webcasts, I’ve never led one. Although I have had a few online teaching opportunities, I’ve never actually been able to hold an online lecture or class session for students who were expected to be physically present. My current teaching situations are one-on-one and my previous one had live sessions as optional features for the students. I could do them as often as I wanted to, but they were never required to attend a session. I hope that one day I do get to have a real online class with real students that will be “my” students that I get to usher from one lesson to the next. The activities in chapter 6 will be very useful once I have the setting and the bodies with which I can practice.
Module 6 is where we teamed up with a partner to plan a live presentation for our peers using the Adobe Connect software. This is the reflection I wrote after Bret and I did our presentation, which was a fantastic experience.
Module 6 reflection
The readings and how they are reflected in our presentation:
Chapter 5 of the book was my favorite chapter. Even though Bret and I scoured through chapter 6 figuring out what type of interaction was possible and feasible, chapter 5 contained stuff that had tangible meaning for me at this time. In our presentation I played the role of behind the scenes host. I tried to calm people’s worries if they were expressed in the chat area during the presentation. I made it to one of the breakout rooms to help them get started with their conversation and let them know that they were doing great by writing on the notes screen. I also let them know they could use audio and video cams in the breakout room without bothering others. Before we pulled people out of the rooms, we sent the 20 sec warning that you were going to have your reality change. For the anticipated review of what went on in the groups, I pulled up the notes screens so they could be seen by everybody and therefore not be left out of any discussion. We also planned for a parting gift, which apparently did not download for some people. I have no clue why that didn’t work because we put the documents in there correctly. I also hope that some people get to take the survey so they can see what a Google form can do and if they use the links at the end of the form, they can view the data as it comes in. I was glad to see some welcomed the idea of having a “parting gift.”
I did not get to enact all that was suggested in chapter 5, in part because I was not a solo presenter. Also, since we were doing a round-robin of classroom jumping, there really was not a way to be prepared enough to welcome people as they entered. I understand that it was difficult to get people in as guests and Bret and I learned that barrier early on. I think this is why he came in our room as a guest and had me turn him into a host. Somehow everybody was turned into a host so it did not matter that Bret did not enter as a presenter/host. In some ways, the software is too friendly by putting a cookie in our machine and not making us re-register for each room. That is why I used my Mac when I was a participant and my PC as the presenter. I anticipated quick room changes and knew I’d mess it up if I tried to enter the other rooms while using my PC because the PC is cookied. It is not reasonable to expect people to have 2 computers to do this lesson so we could not expect everybody who had already presented to be out of the presenter registration. I think that is why so many people showed up as hosts when they entered the room- their machines were cookied and it is tough to remove that status. I guess since I spend so much time trouble shooting things because I often find them difficult to maneuver through quickly, that it proved to be an asset for me to know the Mac would work fine in the guest position.
Bret and I also used the Mac as a guest computer when we prepared for our session. Since we could not talk very clearly when we were not in the same room, it was hard for one of us to be presenter and the other to be guest when we practiced. I signed in to our room as a guest from my Mac laptop so I could see what the guests would see during the presentation. That is what taught me how the breakout rooms work. I could tell that putting ‘Mel on the Mac’ in a breakout room did not stop “her” from being a part of what was happening in the main room until the “start breakouts” button was pushed. Part of my nervousness in the beginning of our presentation was being afraid everybody would let their curiosity get the better of them and they’d move themselves out of the breakout rooms before we started them. The plan was originally to keep people as guests because we did not want them to play with stuff that was already set up to go. Fortunately we are working with adults so my fears were unnecessary. Everybody behaved themselves as perfect students and none of our tricks got messed up before they were delivered.
The backchannel- Bret and I did not necessarily see eye to eye on the backchannel, but this was not my place to be the total control freak so I went along with our main chat area being a backchannel. I don’t know if Bret has ever participated in a backchannel chat during a real presentation. I’ve actually only done it once, and that was when it was being taught to me at an ASCD presentation last year. I wanted there to be a backchannel and a real chat area, but it would have been too chaotic in the short amount of time we had. We named it the backchannel anyway so people could see that if they had enough room on their screen area, they could have 2 chat windows during their presentations- one for real concerns and the other one to be social. I am biased toward letting people use presentations as a way to make friends because sometimes not everything that is said needs to be heard.
That was another place I was not able to communicate well enough to get it into Bret that he did not need to do a lengthy introduction to what an LMS is. In our last practice he did narrow it down to maybe 2-3 min of talking, but today he went for more than 3 I would guess. I know my patience started to wane and I came close to just sending out the polls while he was talking. If you think today’s presentation was long-winded, you should have seen it during our first practices. I respect Bret because he wanted people to learn something during our presentation and he really is an expert on today’s talk. That is one reason we did this topic; it is relevant to what we may do as teachers and Bret had to do something similar for people in his district. Plus it had so many components that let us expand it in ways that let us play with Adobe Connect.
Bret did a fantastic job of outlining our expectations and establishing the norms for our session. You may have noticed that he built it in to the beginning of the PPT slides. He designed the presentation slides and let me go crazy with Adobe Connect bells and whistles. We somewhat followed the suggestions given starting on page 84 where there is one main person up front and someone else behind the scenes. I did not do all of the logistics alone; Bret helped with setting up the 4 types of polls and how to space everything so it would be ready to be used when we needed it to be there. I took care of naming things in a way that would make sense to us and others, putting the exit survey in a website link pod, uploading files for the file share, and creating the exit survey in Google Forms. Since I bought the eLearning suite when I was taking 521 I wanted to play as much as I could with the software. For some reason I could not get Bret’s slides to upload correctly so he did a screen share for our presentation instead of it being a file he used from the EDTECH servers. It would actually be really cool if the eLearning suite was required instead of the other CS5 suite because then we could possibly have lessons on how to use Adobe Captivate. I’ve only played with it once, but that is something that would be an asset to know how to use for online teaching. Dreamweaver , Flash, and Photoshop are also a part of the eLearning Suite so if you get to make suggestions to the department, you would not be too out of line if you suggested having the department use the eLearning suite in the future.
Other people’s presentations:
Even though I tried to follow advice and looked at other people’s eval tools when I revised mine for tonight, I found what I thought was important was somewhat tangential to what happened. Since the presentations went so fast and I did not want to take time to watch the recordings, I had lots of gaps in my evaluation forms. Regardless of what it seems I did not learn, I found these things to be new to me and very useful:
- Students writing on whiteboards. I knew it could be done, but had not experienced it myself in Adobe Connect yet. Actually I don’t know if I knew there could be interactive whiteboards in Adobe Connect. Had I known, we may have set up a whiteboard for each breakout room instead of using notes windows to record student interactions.
- Students could format their notes screens. When we pulled up the Notes screen for group 1, they had done some formatting. That was so cool. I don’t know if anybody else noticed it, but it was neat to learn that students could take ownership of some of their output if Notes pods were used for collaboration.
- I am still not sure what Adam did so we could move things on the whiteboard. I may have to email him to see if he can tell me. Adam did the music lesson, didn’t he?
- I liked Barry’s equations on the board. I had not thought of being able to pre-arrange whiteboards for each student until I thought about how to use what he did in his lesson. I do not expect you have had a chance to read my feedback to him yet so I will also mention it here. If I knew who my students were that were going to show up, I could create a whiteboard for each student. They come to class and put up a problem on their whiteboard while they wait for others to arrive. Another way of doing it could be to “seed” the whiteboards with problems and assign the whiteboards to students as they arrive. They would put up their work so they could explain it to the rest of the class during the session.
- This sort-of ties in with what Janette and Earl did with the chat windows. Even though we followed directions and only wrote on the chat screen we were assigned to, I wonder if they could have been set up to be pre-assigned to students and restricted from others being able to write on them. I had not thought of using chat windows as a way to run small discussions. Watching that process was very useful.
- I liked how Chioma used the chat window for formative assessment- she kept us alert because she was asking questions that required feedback. Even though I was a little disoriented because her Adobe Connect window would not open on the Mac at first, I found her technique to be effective. It was quick and she could use online learner cues (p.82) to gauge participant interest.
- Travis and Kirkland were very creative by having a game be the final assessment. I also found it interesting how they assumed everybody should know how to do a screen-shot. Is that the level of our online students? Do they know all of these techniques? If I did not have Snag-It I would be at a loss for how to do screen shots and actually use them.
The only problem I had with the presentations, other than them going at a pace that was a bit too fast for me to be comfortable with the changing scenery, was that there were not enough of them. I thought we were excluded from the rest of the spreadsheet because we were not welcome in other sessions so I did not try to be a part of them. Now that I see how talented my peers are, I wish I had been. I learned something from everybody today. It did not matter if their presentation had been memorized, polished, perfect or not, everybody offered something unique that let me walk away with more than I had arrived with in my bag of tricks. Thank you for this opportunity.
Reflect on assessment of learning outcomes in online environments. Consider the following questions in your reflection:
- What are appropriate assessment strategies in synchronous and asynchronous delivery methods?
I think formative assessment is more readily done in synchronous sessions because the feedback is instantaneous. It could be done asynchrously, but the instructor won’t know what the students are thinking until the student remembered to turn in his/her assessment.
In both cases, written assessment where students analyze something can be effectively done.
- Does this look different than assessment in traditional classrooms? How and why?
I think it looks somewhat different online than in a traditional classroom because students who are afraid to volunteer an answer in the classroom will often speak up online. Even today, everybody participated in Chioma’s questions. She did not call on single students like what normally happens in the traditional classroom. This is one reason I want to be an online teacher and enjoy being an online student. I hate answering questions in verbal face to face discussions, but as you have seen, I am quite prolific online. I know I am not unique so I wanted to used online discussions to compliment the ones we did face to face. Once again, I assert that hybrid instruction is optimal because the learning environments are diverse and can cater to the diversity of our learners.