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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: 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?