From quest: Wandering through virtual worlds
Pathfinder’s Office: where we went for our first meeting
I like that there can be a variety of rooms to go into, each one is elaborately decorated and has its own enhancements. I like seeing the variety of objects and opportunities that can exist- like the fire or the movie (that I could not figure how to turn off).
Military Spec World: another Jibe construction
So I’m getting a clue about VW environments- you need a master software package that can act like the shell where within the shell you can build environments. I like the Military Spec World because even though it has hills, it is mostly empty and linear. There is not a lot of stuff to confuse me. I like this.
OK, I figured out the circle off to the side is a small map of my territory. I don’t know how to walk up steps, though. I went right through them.
There is something burning on the bridge, but I can’t figure out how to fly up there to look at it.
I also like how this environment is relatively quiet. No screeching birds to be found here.
Kongregate: 3dgame of unity
I “had” to sign in. It already said getzedtech was taken, but it did not like me trying to sign in with that name. It gave me Melissa29, which is fine with me. I will acquiesce to any requirement I have to do to gain access to free software.
I look like I must be a construction worker in a field. Off to see what there is to explore.
OK this one is interesting because every time I turn, the entire display changes to reorient me to facing everything head-on. There is a mound reminiscent of the trash heap / mud pile in Close Encounters of the 3rd kind. I was hoping it was a volcano because I wanted to relearn the types of volcano names. Oh, crap, I’m stuck on the side of the mound I can’t defy gravity here and just keep climbing up it. I’m freaking stuck! YAY, it must have heard me because it let me turn around and walk down the mound.
Kongregate has ads, which is fine with me. I could pay to have no ads.
I actually don’t know what game I was playing. I’m trying to switch over to Flash Freekicks. This is a soccer game. It uses the mouse to change direction of the kick, and you get to curve the way you send the ball. Level 1 was very easy. Getting a clue on level 2- need to set up the direction and curve so the ball will go in the goal- the curve seems to be literal and not after some time has passed- like it immediately starts curving and does not change the curve to match the distance of ground that needs to be covered. As expected, as you progress through levels, objects get put in the path that I have to ignore. The ball bounces back, away from the objects. The ball goes really slow if I don’t put in a curve. Not sure what is up with that. I lose a life each time I miss a goal. Level 6 beat me. I am not used to the physics of the initial angle and the curve. Nice game, though.
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.
In EDTECH 562, our final project was to do a proposal where we did research that involved statistical analysis. Throughout the semester, lots of things changed for me, although I have a feeling I never fully grasped what the assignment was. Here is a link to the proposal I created for the course. I will probably also include a copy of my reflection at my Learning Log, too, because this was a phenomenal course in so many ways. I now understand chi-square!
This Communication Plan is supposed to cover:
- Routine Tasks
- Critical Thinking Prompts
- Management Issues and Strategies
- Online Discussion Forum Checklist/Rubric
- One original idea, category or thought
- Check discussion forums daily to see if there are new posts.
- Check email to see if students tried to contact me.
- See who has turned in assignments. If students who did not turn in assignments are on an IEP that requests they get additional nagging, nag them.
- Check to see what is coming up for due dates and post a reminder in the news forum or similar place.
- If there is a synchronous session about to happen, check my audio and video equipment to make sure they are working properly.
- Find a parent to call with good news.
- See if there are parents to call with less than happy news.
- Grade anything that needs to be graded.
- Write feedback to myself about how well things are working so I can note what needs to be changed the next time I teach this topic.
Critical Thinking Prompts:
Starting discussions with leads like:
- What do you think about…
- How would you determine…
- Why do you agree or disagree with…
- Evaluate famous person’s quote.
- Give feedback on the paper,- post a journal article or link to website for students to read
- Why is person’s ideas realistic, successful, or other adjective?
Discussion Board Strategies
- Have students start threads so that they can have a variety of places to share their “reply” type of responses
- I liked Adam’s suggestion of using a discussion forum as a way to do a jigsaw. Have questions already posted, students pick one question to answer, then they respond to something someone else said.
- Send students on a mission to find something online. It could be a picture, an explanation, or a specific website that gives specific information about a topic. They need to come back and share what they found to the rest of the group.
- Like we do here in the EDTECH program, students can post their unique projects to a forum for others to evaluate and to give feedback or suggestions for improvement.
- If there is a challenge question, you can have the forum set up so that you can’t read anybody else’s posts until you make one yourself. So let’s say there is a dilemma and you ask students to problem solve it. Each person needs to put up their own solution before they can read everybody else’s.
- I liked Glori’s idea of doing case studies. People would propose their recommendations for their case study. Then they would examine what everybody else put up to formulate a better idea or guide their peers toward more in depth thought.
- Ethical dilemma- students brainstorm how to solve an ethical dilemma. This is similar to a case study, but far less involved.
Management Issues and Strategies:
I am not excited about managing anything- my classroom management is pure dumb luck. I would kill my kids with kindness and make them feel too guilty to cause trouble for us. Discussion boards are not something I am looking forward to managing because I expect students to avoid them. So, to motivate students to post to boards or to continue posting, I can try:
- Positive feedback with words in the forum or through a personal email.
- Bribery with extra points as an incentive to just get students to be on the board.
- Ask students to talk about themselves. Let the discussion area be student-centric at least at first. Let students take ownership of the space before you squish their brains by having them expand their content knowledge in a forum.
- Use icebreakers. Our class came up with some amazing icebreakers to get students to share something about themselves. My peers did a wonderful job of organizing work we have done in the class and collected our icebreakers here.
- Do landscape style summary posts to recognize at least one contribution from each student up to that point.
- Although I will have a list of netiquette suggestions available in our first section, I want to invite students near the beginning of the class to share reasons why netiquette is important. I would also like to discuss what bullying looks like and why it is inappropriate. Some students may not realize that what they say is interpreted as bullying so I want to make sure students are aware of how to make our space safe. In this discussion I also want to include a review of what type of information is OK to put online, what information should not be shared, and the differences between where our class discussion happens and social media in general. Within this discussion I also want to point out why “I agree” or “Hello” posts are ineffective.
- In fact, we will have to have a forum where we set some ground rules, if I have not mandated them already. If this is my students’ first time in a discussion setting, we need to condition each other on to how to come to terms with too many posts to read. Part of the learning curve with online learning is to forgive yourself for not being able to read everybody’s posts. I want to discuss strategies with students about how to choose threads to open. I want to caution them about types of posts to make or not make if you want people to open your thread. I am an expert at turning people off in discussion forums so I know very clearly what to post to stop a discussion or truncate it before its time is exhausted. I can advise my students accordingly. We will have to have an introductory forum where we play with what to do and what not to do. I also want students to collaborate on strategies of what to pay attention to in our class’s LMS setting, what can be pushed aside until you have more time to spend reading, and what could possibly be ignored for a while without it causing too much trouble. (Number 7 is somewhat of a twist on what Palloff and Pratt say in chapter 4 of Building Online Learning Communities.)
- I want to have a survey always available for students to give anonymous feedback. I will address their feedback somewhere in the course so they can see that I am taking their suggestions seriously. If they know I care about their ideas and find them to be valid, maybe they will share more of them within the real forums?
- What is in chapter 7 will be very valuable. At the moment it is very difficult for me to hypothesize what my online classroom will be like because I have yet to experience an online classroom where I have freedom to make decisions like the ones that are described in many of the samples in chapter 7. I can make a list of what students can expect from me, though.
What students can expect from me, their instructor:
- Feedback from emails or phone calls within 24 hours.
- Someone who cares about students’ academic lives.
- Someone who expects students to make mistakes and to use those mistakes as learning opportunities.
- Someone who has high expectations and therefore will push every student to succeed. I will happily listen to challenges students face and will brainstorm with you ways to conquer currently perceived obstacles.
Online Discussion Forum Checklist/ Rubric:
Discussion Board Rubric
My discussion board rubric tool:
I am using the PBS rubric and Alexis Alexander’s rubrics to guide my discussion board rubrics. These rubrics rely on students being able to physically start a new thread when they reply to a general question. There is a diagram at the end that shows a graphic for how this type of forum can work.
What is expected in a post:
- Minimum of 50 words; no maximum
- Relates to the question posed or directly reflects what someone else said in response to the question
- Unique ideas or properly cited if not unique
- Proper grammar and usage of the English language
What could make up a post:
- Additional questions that expand the breadth of what has been said
- Personal anecdotes that relate to the question posed
- Quoted responses from the readings with your interpretation of what it means
- A respectful dissension of what someone else has said
- Discuss a related issue about which you would like feedback
- Provide an additional source that contributes to this topic that was not already provided in the course material. Tell us why you think this is appropriate.
|When did you post?||Your first response starts a thread within 4 days of the forum opening. Your follow up two posts are within two weeks of the forum opening. You are not limited to only doing two follow-up posts; this is the minimum required.||Your first response does not start a thread, but your posts stimulate discussion in the forum.
Your first response happens later than 4 days after the thread starts, but it still stimulates discussion.
|Your first response does not start a thread, nor do any of your responses stimulate discussion.
Your first response happens after 4 days after the thread starts and it does not stimulate discussion.
|What did you post?||Initial post and responses are on topic, demonstrate thorough understanding of it, and stimulate other people to think.||Initial post and/or responses are somewhat on topic, demonstrate some understanding of it, and/or stimulate some productive discussion.||Initial post and/or response are off topic, demonstrate faulty understanding, and/or do not stimulate any additional productive comments because of the quality of what you posted.|
|Usefulness of posts?||What you say contributes to other people’s schema. Others can use your ideas to generate their own, or to expand their thinking. You are able to get other people to consider a perspective that they may not have already thought about.||What you say does not stop discussion, although there may only be a few people who can relate to your suggestions.||Your posts are difficult to understand, do not provide concrete ideas others could use, or are very limited with their application.|
Diagram of how forum responses can be structured:
DiscussionParticipation is a pdf copy of the diagram.
Naturally there are more than three students in the course. The idea is that each person does an initial post before writing a response post. You continue to write response posts until you run out of ideas.
One original idea, category, or thought:
Teaching presence- is it possible?
Several education scientists have published their views on how discussion forums work. They analyze what students say, when they say it, how things are said, and anticipate the learning outcomes based on this information. There are three main presences that have been described: social presence, cognitive presence, and teaching presence. Much of our discussion in this class has focused on the social presence because that is the perspective our book, Paloff and Pratt (2007), uses when they explain how they see online teaching and learning will happen. To be thorough, they mention other presences even though they do not go as in depth with them. In 523 we had the opportunity to try out the teaching presence. Although I am usually an advocate of putting as much as possible into the hands of the students, I do not advocate having students lead discussions. I know that it is essential for those who want to be discussion leaders to be trained in how to facilitate a discussion and for some people in our class, this was their first opportunity. I bet it was amazing for them and they will have learned skills they did not realize could exist. At what expense is this done to the other students?
For this class, participating in the discussions was not a priority for me because I kept doing it wrong and therefore did not get the validation I am used to having in online classes that have active discussions. I think this is my twentieth online class so I arrogantly consider myself to be very experienced with how to maneuver in discussion forums. As you can see above, I am very much in favor of giving students the responsibility of starting threads. Within their thread, they own the pathway if they choose to respond to people who reply within that thread. I see it happen often in the 506 posts- we put up our image and people offer suggestions or ask questions. A dialogue forms between the one who started the thread and those who choose to volunteer their insights on the image that was posted. In a way the original poster can assume a teaching presence, although many of the replies to the original post are actually suggestions on what to improve and how to do it. In that way, a teaching presence can be seen in many of the posts.
In courses where the instructor oversees the path of the discussion, I rarely see a teaching presence allowed to happen by anybody except for the instructor. Even in some classes where students form their own threads, when the instructor posts in the threads, sometimes the discussion becomes one on one between the instructor and the person who started the thread. For me, I do not see that as being a productive use of time and space. Instead I think instructors should use email to directly address some of their questions designed to move a discussion forward that really only push one person to volunteer ideas. I see the instructor’s responsibility to help unify the group and interpret what others have said so that the ideas can get broader and more diverse. I am not convinced that students who have not had training in techniques that can be used to broaden discussions should be made the discussion leaders. Instead, I think students should be responsible for starting threads so they can have a microcosm of the discussion under their guidance. The instructor can still step in and offer engaging questions, but they do not have to be the only ones demonstrating a teaching presence.
Teaching presence actually has two “definitions”. Both have to deal with who is guiding a discussion, but one focuses on the teacher and the other focuses on the students. For the community of inquiry, the focus is on how well the students are able to guide the discussions. The research does not measure what a good job the instructor does of being the guide on the side. It measures how often or how well students step forward to cause inquiry to happen. In other words, are students posing the questions that guide future discussion or is the only one posting questions the instructor? Be careful if you decide to research the teaching presence because some people elaborate on how an instructor can manifest their presence in the discussions rather than how to get students to take leadership roles in the discussions. When students take on the leadership roles, then they are exhibiting a teaching presence. Chapter 8 in Palloff and Pratt elaborate on how to get students involved in the class. They have sections called, “Dialogue as Inquiry” (p. 170), “Encouraging Expansive Questioning” (p. 171), and “Sharing Responsibility for Facilitation” (p. 173). Although they don’t publicize that they are giving strategies for creating a Community of Inquiry or for getting students to develop a teaching presence, their ideas in chapter 8 align with those theories.
Articles or publications that elaborate on developing a teaching presence in students:
Garrison, Randy D. and Vaughan, Norman D. (2008) Blended Learning in Higher Education.
Community of Inquiry- a website including explanations and papers
Video that addresses how to establish the course such that students are aware of the instructor- I did NOT create this video; it is just here as a resource for anybody who may be using this edublog for ideas