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EDTECH 531: A Galaxy of Worlds

quest: A galaxy of worlds

We’re not actually asked to blog on this quest, but I will have to make comments in VoiceThread. To collect my thoughts as I go through the quest, I will be blogging here.

Video 1: Disaster Prep training.

I’m sorry to always be so negative, but I’ve been formally trained in disaster prep, I’m CERT certified, and this type of training sucks. Virtual training can NOT replace the hands – on learning I went through or triage or first aid. I agree with the single feedback voice we did get to hear that said maneuvering in that software is difficult. —

The avatars- The female avatars in Ji– whatever we were using a couple days ago were bad enough. The ones here are horrific. Some man is creating these female avatars and he really needs a life body woman to become familiar with so he can get an idea of reality. I want to not only become anorexic after seeing what I’m supposed to look like in a virtual world, but I think I need to get a much better bra. I really wish our avatars did not have to have a gender or look like a specific demographic. I have enough problems in my real life with having to defend my ideas, in part, merely because of what I do or do not look like. Why can’t we teach people that the skin should not matter! What our surface looks like should not be the impression we want to leave with people. Is this why Dr. Dawley’s username is shallow?

(My machine is getting really hot- I don’t know how much I’ll be able to simultaneously.)

Video 2: Economics

I like this video b/c it is being presented as a linear class at first. They are discussing graphs. I do see the potential, but I would have liked to venture around myself instead of watching a video of someone else wandering through. I understand the point of the video is to introduce me to potentials of using that software.

They can select a view option- this is a new concept to me.

That software was openWonderland

Dr. Dawley’s paper:

Figure 3, it is interesting how the teacher does not offer communication to the expert, but students can.

Again, negativity seeps through. The main problem I have with utilizing expert-based interactions is the limit of experts that are out there. I loved it when my students could have a guest speaker to explain things or to work with them, but I know this is not a feasible paradigm for all kids. While I worked my butt of to give my students these unique opportunities, not every teacher will, nor should they have to. Can we create curriculum that is not boring, involves realistic issues, but does not require a teacher by proxy?

My cynicism is starting to bother even me!  Because there are so many people who don’t understand science, yet think they have the right to teach it to students, or there are students who think they are correct when they really are not, having peers or social networks teach science is a really bad idea. I was a virtual science teacher and a virtual science content coach. In both cases I had to fix misconceptions students were currently gathering because either the “teacher” at their f2f school was telling them the wrong thing or one of my colleagues in the help room was misinforming them. While I love the idea of students constructing their own meaning and using peer interaction to do so, for things that can have really bad consequences if students learn it incorrectly, peer collaboration is not the best method. It is like learning computer programming because something feels right. If your code is wrong, it is not going to work. There may not be any iffy place in the middle. Sure you can steal code, but thieving code is not collaboration.

I finally have a definition for machinima – these are videos created in a virtual world.

From what I can gather, using SL for students can involve making virtual posters. So we’re back to poster-making, but this time because it involves technology instead of magic markers, it is now more socially acceptable. It takes me back to when I taught in SF and they had students making posters because the teachers were too lazy to understand how to make a website. I’m still a fan of having kids make interactive websites over making posters on paper or with electrons. Sure Second Life is cool, but how is it more advanced or allowing for more in depth learning? Since when is making a poster inquiry?  There is a great deal more I need to learn about Second Life.

I made the requested entry into our VoiceThread thing. I had to create a new account because VT hates me. I had to pay to reopen my account when I did my portfolio, but stopped paying for it once I passed. My history with VT goes back to 2009 and they have not figured out how to give me a courtesy account because I used to pay for one. So now I’m using a different email address and for the sake of our class, hope it will let me do VT entries.



EDTECH 523: First Discussion Post


  1. Imagine that you are about to lead a discussion in a subject that you teach. Based on the required and any optional readings, what aspect(s) of leading or preparing to lead a discussion stand out to you as the most important, and why?

The most important parts of leading a discussion are

  1. Establishing a safe environment.
  2. Having students be aware of the grading rubric
  3. Having students be aware of an “I agree” versus a more substantial post. They should also understand how the grading works for both.
  4. Having students understand when to start a new thread vs continuing ideas in an already existing thread.
  5. Having it in an environment where it is easy for me to keep track of who posted, when they posted, what they said, and who they were responding to.
  6. Having it in an environment where students can easily keep track of what they posted and where it was posted- our set-up of Moodle 2 does not seem to allow that to happen anymore. I have not played with my Moodle set-up enough yet to see if Moodle2 can do it at all.
  7. Having students’ email addresses so I can reply to them privately and off of the discussion board.
  8. Encouraging students to share their ideas.

(Choose and respond to one of the following)

2a. What obstacles have hindered the use and effectiveness of online discussions in a class you have taught or taken?

I would love to respond to both of these, but for now I will just address the first one because most of the discussion areas in the BSU classes have been less effective for me than they were in the community college classes I took online. Actually I was really spoiled in Alex’s classes because they were so well organized and were really easy for me to follow ideas, figure out where I had posted so I could see if anybody replied to my posts, and they were very safe environments. I was as clueless as my peers in those classes.

A few environments that were ineffective were ones where:

  1. Students do not start their own thread with their initial post.
  2. The deadline for the initial post is not set at a reasonable time frame.
  3. The deadlines for follow-up posts are not set for a reasonable amount of time after the initial posts are required.
  4. Netiquette is taken to an extreme. (I tend to be too frank in my posts at times.)
  5. I have used VoiceThread with students and found grading their discussion to be a nightmare. I did this before I even had a clue Moodle existed and at the time was the only safe way I could figure out how to enroll students onto a discussion board. I used space at a “free” phpBB board and often tried to get students to be able to do discussions there, but there was always some logistical hang-up that got in the way. I don’t know php and don’t remember why I was not able to get students to engage with that setting, but the phpBB’s failed and VoiceThread was more energy consuming than effective.
  6. In one online class, our discussion board was a list-serve. Yeah, doing discussions via email was less than organized or productive.

A couple environments that were effective or slightly effective were:

  1. WebCT with new science teachers. Here we discussed various ways of teaching different science concepts with our students. It was with the eMSS program, of which I was a part from 2003-2007. I was a facilitator in the chemistry area for two years.
  2. Blackboard with my student teachers. I used to teach science student teachers. They were required to do a reflection each week. The first year I taught with the program, I followed what I was told to do. Students emailed their reflections to one of the two instructors who by themselves gave feedback to the student who sent in the reflection. I wanted to make the reflection part of the course more interactive because I am not the source of all knowledge. Our students were very talented people who also had good ideas or may have been able to commiserate. I was able to talk my co-instructor into letting students turn their weekly entries in to a discussion board in the Blackboard course I set up for our class on the weeks they were to be turned in to me. She did not want to bother with Blackboard or to share the authority on teaching with the students who were obviously too inept to share constructive ideas with their peers. What little I was able to do with my student teaching graduate students was as good as I could hope it would be given the opposition I faced from my superior co-instructor. This happened fall 2005.
  3. I did get to use Moodle with my students once and that worked great for me, but since it was their first time, our product was not as good as I imagined it could be. I did not know how to use Moodle at that time so I was learning how to use it as they were. I had facilitated discussions with WebCT many years before so I knew the concept of a threaded discussion, but Moodle was a new environment. My students wanted to use Facebook but our IT person told us at the beginning of the year that we were prohibited from using fb with kids. That, of course, did not stop the cool teachers from using fb with their kids so my popularity got another ding by not using fb.
  4. I took a SQL class online where we had to turn in our homework assignments to the discussion forums. Our instructor set it up so that you could not see what other people posted until you posted your solution. This was effective because you could not cheat by looking up the answers before posting your own solution. Plus after you posted your ideas and then you saw how others solved the problem, then you could learn from your mistakes. She did have a discussion forum set up for each week’s major assignment where we could post questions to solicit help from the instructor or our peers. I almost failed the course, but not because of how the discussion forums were organized.

2b. Based on your experience with online discussions as a teacher and/or a student, what techniques do you consider most effective for soliciting interaction and critical thought? Are there experiences you have found particularly fulfilling or frustrating?

This is the question I did not answer

Social Media Guidelines

Social Media Guidelines

Setting: I work for an online school that does not have formal discussion groups built into the curriculum.  The students are, for the most part, independent learners. I hold office hours, but few students ever come. What if I was to set up a place where we can do online discussions or collaborations on the projects?  Of course, I would have to get the consent from my company to do it if I did it as their employee.  So these guidelines are written with the idea students are engaged in the social network that involves our class. These are kids who are already doing work via the computer so wherever they are, be it at home or at school, there are already policies in place that govern tech use.

  1. Netiquette matters.
  2. You do not have to post your real name to the forums, but you do need to tell your instructor what name you are using as your screen name in the discussions.
  3. You may create an avatar and use it instead of your photograph.
  4. Do not assume the forums are safe- the forum is open to any student who is taking our class, but that does not mean Ms Getz knows everybody personally.
  5. Be careful about what personal information you share with others. Do not give out your social security number, passwords, or any other information that could potentially lead to identity theft. Also be careful of giving out your residential address, especially if you also mention that your family is going on a vacation.
  6. Be punctual with your responses to other people’s questions.  If you know of a solution, say it.
  7. Choose your words wisely. If you are frustrated, you may want to write about your frustrations offline and not immediately write them into the forum.
  8. Spelling, grammar, and punctuation should follow academic structure and language.
  9. You may link to anywhere on the web that is a legal website for minors, to help explain your ideas.
  10. You may post or upload any documents or images to help explain your ideas, just make sure you are using a machine that has anti-virus software. Some exceptions apply- see restrictions below.
  11. When we have formal discussions, your first post must be from your own point of view and must be posted within three days of the question being released. You will then have another 3 days to respond to one other person’s post, and an additional 3 days to have responded to at least a second person’s post or to reply back to the first person with whom you created a discussion.
  12. If you post something in a “help needed forum” and do not get any response within 24 hours from anybody, you are encouraged to tweet us.  Hashtag to be given out at the time these rules go into place- it may be unique per section.
  13. You should monitor our hashtag channel in Twitter continuously for messages from your peers.
  14. You may not post any answers to any questions on any tests or quizzes. You may discuss the concepts on the tests or quizzes, but you may not release any actual questions or flat out give any answers.
  15. If we are doing projects, you may not upload or link to your code online. You can share your fla files with your instructor, but not your peers. You can post or upload the swf file so we can see what is happening, but we don’t want students to literally be able to copy each other’s’ code.

What we’ll be doing outside of our normal classroom management system software:

    1. Discussion forums
      1. Based on concepts brought up in the course material
      2. Based on your own questions
      3. Based on real-life applications of what you are doing in the class
      4. Setting up rooms so students can asynchronously work on projects together.
      5. Oops, look what I did! …. And what I learned….
  1. I will post reminders about some projects. Since everybody is on their own schedule, you will have to rely on your individual calendar for due dates.
  2. Tweeting links to information that is useful for our content or projects.
  3. Arranging for G+ Hangouts or meetings in our Blackboard room so you can collaborate on group projects simultaneously.

Questions? Comments? Concerns?

Email Ms. Getz at with your questions, comments, or concerns. She set up a Google Form where you can give anonymous feedback.

Resources consulted:

Anderson, S. (2012) Social media guidelines. Retrieved from:

Staff. (2012). A teachers guide to social media. Retrieved from: diagram

Staff. How to create social media guidelines for your school – Introduction to the School Community. Retrieved from:

Tolisano, S. (2012). Twitter in k-8 classroom- globally connected learner. Retrieved from: