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EDTECH 541 Final Reflection

EDTECH541 final blog entry

  • Part One: Reflect on the entire course. Include –
    • What you have learned?
    • How you have grown professionally?
    • How your own teaching practice or thoughts about teaching have been impacted by what you have learned or accomplished in this course?
    • How theory guided development of the projects and assignments you created?

Answers to these questions are mixed in the paragraphs about each assignment.

I actually learned quite a bit in our class. Weebly was a new website tool for me. I like some of what it offers and managed to get it to work for me, but I don’t think I’ll be using it for future projects. Oddly enough, what was bothering me the most was how the panel slides out. I kept triggering it, and fortunately I am not dealing with charms any more, or I think I would have just freaked out at one point. What is it with people who want to put motion into things that really don’t need motion?

Just about every week gave me an opportunity to think about things a little bit differently than I have thought about them before. I may be at an advantage because I already have the MET, and all the experience that brings with it. I am also aware that I am not a typical student because I don’t actually have a real job like most students do. I have the utmost respect for my peers because they are taking on so many responsibilities while being a student. There is no way I could have taken even one class when I was working full time. I enjoyed lessons that gave me opportunities to blab about myself, and things I did in the past. It was nice going down memory lane, and being reminded about times when I was actually productive, and contributing to students’ education.

I don’t know if I have ever thought about technology having a “relative advantage”. I liked thinking through the chart I made, because it gave me an opportunity to write down my advocacy for including technology in classroom lessons. I wonder if having the insights I mentioned in the chart would open up an opportunity for me to work for a school or district to help them implement realistic technology components into everyday types of classes. I don’t know if any jobs exist like that, or if they did, would they be frightful because of the hardware that may be antiquated or breaking? I’m hoping, in May, to look into volunteering at a local middle or high school to see if I can at least get in the door somewhere, and if nothing else, contribute by tutoring kids at some time, in some way. I would not mind volunteering to be a tech person at this point. I’d be happy to just put my education to use.

The networks assignment was fun, and it got me to think more about the layers in which software and hardware are organized. I like it when I can make connections between things that I may not have thought about before. As you may know, Minecraft is making more of a move into the classroom with the formation of Minecraftedu. The network assignment helped me get a better idea of how the Minecraft servers work. I have not joined any that are freely online, but I have joined Minecraft Google groups, and am following many Minecraft tweeters on Twitter. Wouldn’t it be amazing if I could volunteer or work at schools, so they can set up their Minecraft servers and student accounts, and be able to explain to the students and faculty why what they are doing is safe, and is limited to the school site’s servers (or the district’s servers)?

The Instructional Software assignment pushed me to find more websites that do science lessons, and try out a few of them. I liked the categories you wanted us to fill, it gave me another way to think about the purpose of a website. It also showed me where there may be room for science apps to be developed. Now all I have to do is learn how to program well enough to make the websites or activities.

Spreadsheets and databases were fun because I already did those with students. I enjoyed sharing my lessons with others, and hope they will be inspired to try them, if they apply to their classes. Only the lesson on the NCBI database is one that I have not done with students exactly the way I wrote it.

Hypermedia integration was a great way to organize a topic I have wanted to teach. One reason I love teaching chemistry is because of the colorful products we often create.

The Web Based Learning Activity came along at the perfect time to have students look at the purpose of vaccinations. I live in California so the vaccination issue has been in the news fairly often. Living in the Bay Area, I can’t help but be informed about the folks who live about twenty miles away from me in Marin County who see vaccines be the epitome of poisoning our children. They are now in the courts, who may be leaning toward saying that if those children want a public education, they can have it at home. CA is fairly liberal with home schooling anyway, so it does not surprise me that may be the place un-vaccinated children will be educated. If you look at the list of places you can go to do creative work online, it may look like I got a little obsessive with finding places. I think these links also landed in my resource page. If they did not, then I was very foolish. While doing the research for website links, I was not as surprised as you may expect when I saw that the website was no longer working. Web 2.0 “apps” are so much fun, but there is an idea in the culture that they be free. Anybody who needs to make money from a website can’t actually have it be free all the time. I hope that if I do figure out how to run a website that offers something unique, I will be able to let people use it for free, while still finding a way to pay the bills for server space and security certificates.

Using Social Media was like a short visit back to EDTECH 543, but this time I investigated software/ apps I did not pursue in that class. I am finally a member of Instagram, and anticipate being more involved with it as I organize my photos. I am very impressed with what people put on Instagram and will be compelled to share quality images with them, too. It is like an anonymous way to share something that may make someone smile. Finding a way to have a coherent and collected way for students to progress through an assignment using online tools reinforces my hope of one day having a classroom of students from multiple states taking the same high school course. (This is one reason I applied for multiple teaching credentials in various states. I did not realize at the time, though, that students are still segregated by state when they take company-run classes online.)

I am thrilled to have found a way to bring reading and writing literacy into the chemistry classroom, other than having the students read The Periodic Kingdom and write something about it. Doing a lesson that involved students writing or making books is something I have wanted to investigate for a while, but it has amplified for me ever since I learned about Minecraft books. I really want to have students write a Minecraft book because I think it would be something they’d have fun doing. Using this project as a way for me to test out book-making software to see if it is something I could do easily served two purposes for me: 1. Could I write not just a book to be read by students that teaches them chemistry, but could I also integrate it into interactive lessons I can make in Articulate? 2. Can I now figure out how to organize a Minecraft book myself to be able to show students step by step how to make their own?

Doing a lesson on sports, music, and the arts in chemistry was an amazing excuse for writing lessons on materials science. Many, many years ago, I did a summer class at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, which taught materials science. It was one of the last years the Institute for Chemical Education did a summer class, and losing that resource from teaching really stinks. (I think ICE is defunct- I did the class something like 15 years ago.) Because of the way standards had been written, I found it hard to integrate some of the fun parts of materials science into the chemistry class, which is really a shame since so much of what we enjoy in our daily lives depends on materials created by scientists and engineers. I have not scoured the NGSS standards to see if materials science fits in better, but I have a feeling I could now create lessons that let me use materials science as an excuse to teach something that is standards-based.

The geography and history of the atom, at times was like doing the geography and history of science because early chemistry was based on alchemy, and alchemy was the beginning of science, too. Teaching the history of the atom has always been boring. When I was a science student, I could just not relate to learning over and over again about all these white men who did these amazing things. Sure I learned about Marie Curie, and after reading her biography in 11th grade world history she became one of my heroes. I still think about how bittersweet what she chose to do with her life led to so many people’s benefit, and yet it killed her. That’s probably not the mindset to have when it turns out later in life you have something like MS that physically prevents you from doing your craft. If my only choice to teach about the history of chemistry in the years where the parts of the nucleus and electrons were being figured out is a time when white males were involved, the least I can do is have students look at it as more than just a list of random facts that don’t seem to have many connections to each other, other than being put in the same chapter in a chemistry textbook and are now things we take for granted. Of course atoms are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons. Who doesn’t know that? It was not that long ago, though, that we did not know what is now obvious and accepted as fact. There was a true mystery of figuring out how things existed, and in many ways, this mystery still exists. If I can get a student turn on to chemistry by using the curiosity of scientists, then maybe this is one person I can help on the journey to becoming a scientist. If I can get them to see it as something that is not necessarily about WHO did the work and what HE looked like, but it is about the IDEAS that were being tested, maybe someone who would not have originally planned to be a scientist will become one.

My accessibility unit was not as good as it should have been. I think I was starting to be a little worn out with doing projects and mistakenly thought I would have this issue down since I apply to so many of the classifications. I also have a grudge because so many of these assistive devices were not accessible to me when I needed them most. The disabled department at Boise State blew me off. I’m not someone who came through the k12 system and in to college with an IEP. I had no advocate to help me figure out what would help me. I had to figure things out on my own, so going back and reading about accessible equipment that I have not figured out how to get is really frustrating for me. I also dislike seeing kids be categorized and therefore treated as the “other” kids, when in reality all of us have limitations of some sort. Even people who run marathons get tired at the end. My marathon at the moment seems to be from this chair to the bathroom, and I’m barely able to walk the distance, let along run it, but it is my marathon. I suppose my point is that finding assistive equipment or devices should not be something someone has to do because the barriers should either not be there, or the equipment should be so ubiquitous that it is not an afterthought. Accessibility should not be an afterthought. We should not have to justify closed captioning as being something useful to everybody because it should just be there to begin with. I admit I am really at fault with doing closed captioning, and have been faulted because I will read my slides in a video, but isn’t reading the slides the same thing as closed captioning, but in reverse. With words on the slide, and then having audio added, isn’t that the same thing as having audio with words added? I think I also let my bias about how disabled people have their locations chosen for them, enter into my lack of excitement for this project. I can’t help but feel like this was put at the end of the course because it is required for teachers to learn about disabilities in our students. Just like we have to have the one location in the classroom set aside for the disabled child to sit, or the few seats in the auditorium that can handle the accessible equipment, putting in a unit on disabilities is stuck at the end because it is something that has to be done. By the way, I still have not figured out what a “daisy” is, how it works, or how I can get one. I would have loved to be able to listen to our textbook being read to me. Heck, I could not even read the book on multiple devices because the publisher put so many restrictions on it. I could only read it on my kindle. I tried several times just to bring it up so I could read it on my computer, but the restriction would not allow it. Am I now seen as being lazy because I did not want to call the publisher to see if there was an accessible version of the book? Should I have paid another $100 + just to have the paper version to use at times my Kindle was being a flake. (By the way, resetting it to the company default does wonders with cleaning up a clogged Kindle.)

If you are looking for the connection to standards, please click here.

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: VoiceThread Moderation

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?

EDTECH 523: Module 4 Reflection

Module 4 reflection and summary


I restrained my participation in Module 4 because my style of taking online classes is not congruent with how this class is organized. I am changing what I normally do to meet the expectations of the class. This is not the only time I have had to change my behavior so it is not a big deal; it just decreases my enthusiasm for doing the reading or for challenging me to think or to come up with new ideas or solutions to problems.  In contrast, the discussion forum Bret and I did was not totally new to me, and I appreciate that Bret was open to having our discussion’s focus center around a video instead of a paper. I went hunting for various videos on how to hold online discussions- there is a playlist at my mgetzedu YouTube channel if you want to see what else is in the list that I put our video in. The video we used better fits my way of doing discussions because as Bret taught me, we could have a different panel per main idea. We did not have to squish divergent ideas into one thread- they could be spread out and people had a choice about where they wanted to post or not post. Viewing the responses, we stayed consistent with the topic within a panel instead of being bombarded with too many divergent ideas in the same space. The ideas were focused around a question that had sample answers in the video clips. If nothing else, I hope people learned how they may be able to use Voice Thread with their classes. Voice Thread can develop a discussion in both a horizontal and vertical direction- horizontally it has breadth whereas vertically people can develop one aspect to a lengthy degree. Since we do not have a large class like we do in public school, we did not get to see the full extent of chaos that can happen when inexperienced people participate in VoiceThread.

Reflection of my activity during the VT discussion thread:

The discussion board was a success. I was able to try out the discussion techniques I was taught for the eMSS program and through the PBS online facilitator’s class. It has been a long time since I’ve had an opportunity to facilitate so it felt great to be able to do it again. This was my first chance to try landscaping posts and rereading them, I am not sure they are as succinct as they could be, but they are not that bad either. The personal emails to initial posters got some pretty good feedback and it let me develop more of a relationship with a couple of my peers. I am glad to see some people had the time to visit the VT discussion and tried the various ways it lets you communicate to others.

Reflection of: Use your checklist/rubric and assess 1 of your own postings from previous discussions. Did you meet the criteria outlined in your own assessment tool?

Discussion post: Online Discussion Management Issues and Strategies, Sunday, March 18, 2012, 08:41 AM

Relationship to my rubric:

When did I post? Satisfactory because it does not start a thread and it was later than 4 days after the discussion opened.

What did I post? Satisfactory because it is on topic, demonstrates a perspective that has not been mentioned yet, and stimulated at least one other person to share an idea. Although my idea did not stimulate several other responses, what people said in response to what I said did stimulate more conversation.

Usefulness of post? Satisfactory because I do not think what I said was inspirational enough or relevant enough to other people for them to care about the need to have introductory courses for students new to the online environment. Just about every successful school I’ve attended or taught with has had minimally an introductory lesson on how to use the LMS so I thought it was relevant to bring it up in this particular discussion.

  • What changes might you make in your teaching practice based on what you now know about facilitating effective online discussions?

I wish I had an online teaching practice so I could make changes. I am still at the beginning of my online career. Although I have a lot of experience with taking classes online that included discussion forums, I do not have much experience facilitating courses online. I am sincerely hoping that I will one day get to use what I have learned in this and other BSU classes so that I can contribute to other people’s learning.