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POT Cert Week 24: looking back at my learning #potcert

This week is the final week of the POT Cert course and in order to be awarded the Program for Online Teaching Certificate, yah, I need to create a post that links to all my posts for the year, and make a brief statement about what each shows about my learning. So, here it is, a look back at my learning.

Looking back.

Looking back.

Week 23: I decided to make a short screencast presentation on the topic of personal learning networks (PLNs). In developing this presentation, I learned that although I thought I knew something about personal learning networks, it’s very difficult to actually demonstrate how one works. I also learned that it takes way more time and skill to execute a screencast presentation than I’d previously imagined.

Week 22: No surprise, I really enjoyed the topic this week, personal learning networks. The suggested readings really pulled together a lot of things for me. I was particularly glad to have learned more about Alec Couros and his approach to networked practice. I enjoyed writing my blog post too because I was able to connect it to activities in my own personal learning network.

Week 21: This week’s topic of learning theory was really tricky to post about. Not that I don’t understand learning theories by and large, just that it’s such an enormous topic. I was unable to watch Jenny Mackness’s video because I didn’t realise that my browser had fallen out with YouTube, so I decided to write a reply to Larry Sanger’s article, “Individual Knowledge in the Internet Age” instead. In truth, I just wanted to get the post out of the way; it wasn’t a great post, but I was glad that I posted something and that Jenny was interested enough to make comment because a very interesting discussion ensued.

Week 20: I called this post “the “golden triangle” of pedagogy, ed tech and instructional design”. Although the topic of the week was instructional design, I was interested to think about how all three of these disciplines fit together in the learning process. I had noted that I prefer to use the term learning design instead of instructional design, and Jim Julius enlightened me in the comments as to why there’s a variance in the terminology.

Week 19: Although web-enhanced, hybrid and open classes was the topic of the week, I took a slight detour from the text book to think about self-directed and self-determined learning, namely andragogy and heutagogy.

Week 18: The course, or learning management system is a topic that I seem to have been thinking about almost every week throughout the POT Cert course.  What’s best, the institutional LMS, a self-hosted platform, or an assemblage of web tools cobbled together? Although I very much agree that “it’s time to think of the Internet, not the LMS, as our platform”, I still can’t fathom this question, and it appears that I’m not alone. See Lisa’s recent post on the subject.

Week 17: A bit of fun this week. Starring Lisa and Jim, I created an animation, which highlights Lisa M Lane’s tips for online course management.

Week 16: This week was all about preparing students for online learning”, so taking Ko and Rossen’s advice, and adhering to the course brief, I started to make an FAQ file of potential sticking points within my envisaged course. A very useful exercise that I must return to.

Week 15: Screencasting and multi media – I embedded a poll into my post and practised making a screencast.

Week 14: Audio and video – I tried out audioboo, soundgecko and eyejot. I was impressed with the possibilities that audio tools offer in the online classroom.

Week 13: Images and screenshots – I learned how to annotate images. However, I also learned that I’m a real novice when it comes to the using the photo sharing site Flickr and making the most of images in my work. This is definitely an area that I need to improve.

Week 12: Mid-term reflection.

Week 11: Class resources and intellectual property, this was a tough topic, but there were lots of good resources provided. The upshot being that I learned about Creative Commons and I now use a Creative Commons license on my blog posts and other work that I put out on the web. I also got to understand the reasoning behind remix culture. A good week’s work.

Week 10: With regards to the topic of open platforms for teaching and learning, I chose to investigate blogs, and how best to engage and develop students as bloggers. I also considered using blogs as ePortfolios.

Week 9: Student activities was this week’s topic, and the textbook chapter was very good in providing solid advice for organising, supervising and assessing group activities. I was particularly interested to learn how to facilitate effective group activities that prove to be satisfying for all concerned because in my experience of group work, there’s usually some element that doesn’t sit right for someone. I recalled an article about how to design effective online group work activities, which explained that the key to successful group work is to “design tasks that are truly collaborative, meaning the students will benefit more from doing the activity as a group than doing it alone”. The course textbook also provided a long list of student activities.

Week 8: Following on from week 7, this week’s topic was about creating community, and it considered the use of technology in such an endeavour. Technologies considered included not only the LMS, but a range of synchronous and audio technologies. I read “Envisioning the post-LMS Era: The Open Learning Network“, and considered the role that Twitter might play in all of this.

Week 7: I was “absent without leave” for this week’s topic of building community in the online classroom, so instead of posting anything of substance on the topic, I spent my time instead looking over the discussions that were already under way and offered comments where I felt I could add something of value or interest. I related my experience of using Twitter and consolidated my learning in my next blog post.

Week 6: This week was fun, as under the theme of internet skills and tools, I managed to demonstrate my fledgling knowledge of HTML code and understanding of the three different kinds of algorithms used for handling information: technological, personalised and social.

Week 5: Within the topic of the online syllabus, I found the recording of “The Interactive Syllabus” to be very useful. It highlighted the importance of taking account of the amount of clicking that a learner will have to do in order to arrive at the required location and gave practical instruction on how how to design this in. Rachele DeMeo’s presentation in Week 23 also demonstrated the importance of visual design in an online syllabus.

Week 4: Pedagogy and Course Design II – I entitled my post “designing authentic learning with ‘real’ people – a portfolio approach” as these are the key elements that I want to be present in the course that I have in mind.

Week 3: Pedagogy and Course Design I – I entitled my post “a ‘clean’ approach to course design” as I wanted to make the point that I was not converting an existing face-to-face course to an online format.

Week 2: In this introductory stage questions like “where the hell do I start?” were very real, and thanks to Lisa and the a whole bunch of people in the POT Cert community, I managed to make a start. I identified a textbook as my guiding force and was given lots of help and support in thinking about a platform for delivering an online course.

Week 1: Introduction and start blogging. Looking back, I’m struck by the imperative in the first week’s session to “start blogging”, and quite right too. I’d like to shout “start blogging” to everyone, because learning the discipline of blogging and forming a blogging habit has, for me, been one of the real gains from this course. I’ve not just learned about the course content, but I’ve developed my style as a blogger and in doing so, I’ve found my voice. By blogging, you not only reflect on and consolidate your learning but through the comments of others your learning continues to grow as you continue the conversation and make connections.

Looking back over all, I can say that I’ve achieved my goals for the POT Cert course. I’ve developed my knowledge and skills in relation to teaching online and I’ve put together the broad outline of a course that aims to deliver a practical introduction to digital literacies. To check my progress, I completed a self-assessment for online teaching, which proved to be a useful recap exercise. Notwithstanding the pedagogical aspects, it underlined that in order to deliver effective online programs rigorous planning, attention to detail and effective time management are at the heart of what’s required.

Finally, in all honesty, I joined up to the POT Cert course with no real idea what it would involve, but the experience has exceeded any expectations that I could have imagined, not only have I learned valuable stuff, but I’ve met lots of wonderful, open and generous people who’ve welcomed me into their community and helped me discover a new way of working. It’ll be a pleasure to pay my gratitude forward and help out with the next POT Cert course. I can definitely recommend it.

Thank you.

Image source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mischiru/767491038/
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POT Cert Week 23: PLN, a presentation of learning and networking #potcert

This week, POT Cert is dedicated to sharing a short presentation that showcases an aspect of your learning from the course. I decided to present on the topic of personal learning networks (PLNs). I hope you like it.

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POT Cert Week 22: POT Cert, PELeCON and Personal Learning Networks #potcert #pelc13

It’s neat that the title of this week’s POTCert class is Personal Learning Networks (PLNs), seeing as I’m off to PELeCON this week and looking forward to meeting up with people that I consider to be a significant part of my PLN. :)

pelecon 4

I’ve mentioned before on this blog how it was a combination of Steve Wheeler’s, or rather @timbickteeth‘s “trivial and terrific tweets” that alerted me to the potential of Twitter, but I’ve not mentioned before that I was “Jenny-No-Mates”, the only student on an on-campus taught masters course about technology who desperately needed some classmates to learn with. And that’s what a PLN gives you, class mates to learn with!!

Connecting with people online has enabled me to go on and build a really useful PLN. How otherwise would I have learnt of Lisa Lane’s open online course, Pedagogy First?

Coming back to which, one of the readings for this week’s class is an article by Gardner Campbell (2009), entitled A Personal Cyberstructure, where he calls for students to be instructed and supported in developing the infrastructure of the Web to develop a personal learning environment of their own. This resonated with me completely; in fact, I was thinking of calling this post something like “this be the verse”, that is, until I realised that I could get what I think is commonly referred to as a “twofer”, and use it as a precursory blog to PELeCON. Anyway, here’s what Gardner Campbell says,

in building that personal cyberstructure, students would not only acquire crucial technical skills for their digital lives but also would engage in work that provides richly teachable moments ranging from multimodal writing to information science, knowledge management, bibliographic instruction and social networking. Fascinating and important innovations would emerge as students are able to shape their own cognition, learning, expression and reflection in a digital age, in a digital medium. Students would frame, curate, share and direct their own “engagement streams” throughout the learning environment.

It sounds like a pretty awesome digital learnscape to me, and which just so happens to be the strap-line for this year’s conference as well. What’s more though, Gardner Campbell goes on to say that educators should lead by example, “students must be effective architects, narrators, curators, and inhabitants of their own digital lives”. Here. Here. That’s why, in the last year, I’ve heeded the advice of Martin Weller regarding “The Virtues of Blogging as a Scholarly Activity” and I’m trying to go some way towards Alec Couros‘ vision of “Teaching and Learning in a Networked World”, both of which form part of this week’s reading as well. Incidentally, Alec Couros spoke at last year’s conference. At the time though, I didn’t really understand his message. I just recall that he was passionate about taking photos of his everyday life and sharing them online. I get it now, it’s about promoting openness and taking charge of your own digital identity… and, I’d also like to think, your own destiny as well.

Entitled, “Taking Advantage of New Opportunities”, the final chapter of the POT Cert course textbook, which is also signposted reading this week, starts

Because online education is a relatively new enterprise, you have an opportunity to make a positive contribution to this growing field. To take full advantage of this new opportunity, you would do well to keep yourself informed of the latest trends and issues and to continually improve your skills and knowledge.

Well, that’s what I’m endeavouring to do. You see, I live in a beautiful, yet ultimately peripheral location in rural Ireland, but I’d like to think that I could expand my horizons and take my passion and insight for digital literacies and social learning online, so if I may, I’d like to share a few slides with you (1 min), introducing myself and where I live. Originally, I intended to put this together as my digital introduction for #etmooc, but I never got round to finishing it on time, so hopefully it will serve nicely as my networking introduction to what looks like is going to be a great conference.

As always, I’ll keep you posted #pelc13 #POTCert


Campbell, Gardner (2009) A Personal Cyberstructure. Available at: http://www.educause.edu/ero/article/personal-cyberinfrastructure

Weller, M. (2010) The Virtues of Blogging as a Scholarly Activity. Available at: http://chronicle.com/article/The-Virtues-of-Blogging-as/131666/

Ko, S. & Rossen, S, (2010) Teaching Online: A Practical Guide, Third Edition. Taylor & Francis. Kindle Edition.

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POT Cert Week 12: mid-term reflection

12 weeks and semester 1 completed already. Wow, how time flies when you’re having fun, and learning loads! Pot Cert has really started to give me great insight into what quality online education might look like and, more importantly for me, how to go about creating it.

This week is a chance to look back and take stock of my learning journey so far.

looking back

looking back

Here’s a series of links to my reflections about my posts and thoughts on what I’ve learnt.

Week 1: Introduction and Start Blogging

Week 2: Teaching and Learning

Week 3: Pedagogy and Course Design I

Week 4: Pedagogy and Course Design II

Week 5: The Online Syllabus

Week 6: Internet Skills and Tools

Week 7: The Online Classroom

Week 8: Creating Community

Week 9: Student Activities

Week 10: Open Platforms for Teaching and Learning

Week 11: Class Resources and Intellectual Property

Finally, I have to say that impressively the POT Cert course is both well structured and well supported, and that I’ve really found the addition of a personal mentor to be an invaluable aspect of the programme. A big thank you to everyone, it’s much appreciated. I look forward to continuing in the Spring semester. Until then…

Image source:


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POT Cert Week 10: blogs – open platforms for teaching and learning

Week 10 (already!) continues reading Chapter 7: Student Activities in the Online Environment, and additionally considers open platforms for teaching and learning. In terms of student activities, good discussion is given to those that promote reflection; the facilitation of which may either be through discussion forums within the LMS or through the use of blogging platforms on the open web. Recent research though seems to suggest that students who blog tend to feel more engaged and personally connected to fellow students. Engaging in reflective discussion about coursework and posting responses to each others’ blogposts enables them to develop a strong sense of community. However, the degree of personal, or sensitive information, that learners might be likely to divulge must be carefully considered when determining where these reflective artefacts are to be created.

This apart, it appears that encouraging students to blog not only aids learning through reflection and the development of community but also, through the provision of authentic audience and purpose, stimulates the development of important writing skills too. In a wonderful blogpost recently, Susan Lucille Davis proclaims her 10 reasons why I want my students to blog. Moreover, for anyone considering setting up a class blog Lisa M. Lane provides an excellent slidecast on the ‘hows and whys’ of doing so, whilst providing a link to yet more great advice – Avoiding the 5 Most Common Mistakes in Using Blogs with Students.

An interesting development to this discussion is the evolution of blogs as ePortfolios. An ePortfolio is an electronic collection of objects that can be used to showcase personal achievements, developments and reflections. It can form part of an assessment strategy and similarly, it can be sent to potential employers to supplement a CV.


Braur, J. (2012) Blogging vs Threaded Discussions in Online Courses. Available at: http://connectedprincipals.com/archives/6431

Davis, S. L. (2012) 10 Reasons Why I Want My Students to Blog. Available at: http://gettingsmart.com/cms/blog/2012/10/10-reasons-why-i-want-my-students-blog/

Reynard, R. (2008) Avoiding the 5 Most Common Mistakes in Using Blogs with Students. Available at: http://campustechnology.com/articles/2008/10/avoiding-the-5-most-common-mistakes-in-using-blogs-with-students.aspx

M. Mobbs (2009)  Creating an ePortfolio using wordpress.com. Available at: http://www.scribd.com/doc/20842800/Creating-a-ePortfolio-Using-Wordpress

Setting up a Blog – Categories

Categories can be a great way to help organize your blog posts so that others can find your posts quickly.  I worked on this over the summer at my MiraCosta College WordPress blog.  After categorizing posts, add the “Categories” widget to your menu so others can browse your posts.

Here is a short, closed-captioned tutorial about how I do this:

Reference: CDWebTeach (2012, September 5). Categories in WordPress [Video file]. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/Ox33CabnK8c

Why we blog

MiraCosta Online Teaching Programme

A month or two ago I was approached by Pilar Hernandez of the POT Cert team, asking me if I would be willing to make a contribution to the course in Week 22, which after some hesitation I agreed to do.

This invitation has spurred me on to get involved with the POTCert class which starts next Monday 1st September and finishes at the end of April 2013.  Last night I attended a pre-course meeting in Collaborate in which the course convenors and a few course participants discussed why we blog.

Recording of the Collaborate meetup

The reason for this discussion was that a requirement for the certificate is

  • Weekly blogging on assigned topics, including viewing workshop videos and reading online articles about online teaching as a discipline — posts should include reflections, links, embedded elements.
  • Commenting on other participants’ posts as part of the online teaching community.

Participants are also asked to tag blog posts with ‘potcert’

It could be that some of the 22+ participants already signed up for the course have never blogged before, so how will they feel. This prompted me to look back at my first few posts on this blog (‘Jenny Connected’) to try and remember what I felt like and how I approached this new experience. I am surprised at how short some of those posts are and I can sense from the tone of them that I was writing for me, i.e. I was initially unaware that there is an audience out there. At that time I couldn’t imagine that anyone would be interested in anything I wrote. ‘Openness’ didn’t have any meaning for me, since it was outside my online experience. In fact it was a shock when I received a challenging comment on an early post -  quite a wake up call. After that, I persisted with blogging but became more careful about what I posted. I think that early experience, as well as my own personality and educational philosophy, determined the way I blog and my reasons for blogging, which are principally to keep a record of my reflections on my own learning, and more  latterly to try and share the interesting connections I make through making use of hyperlinks in my posts.

This is a video that I made for the FSLT12 open online course that I worked on in June of this year, which explains a little about why I blog – but there are many different reasons for blogging and different ways of blogging and it was interesting at the ‘meetup’ last night to hear other people’s reasons for blogging and how they go about it.

Here is a summary of some the ideas:

  • to serve as a substitute for a poor memory, by aggregating interesting ideas and links into one location thus creating a personal searchable digital library, e.g. Lisa Lane’s blog
  • to comment on and discuss other people’s ideas
  • to play with tools and ideas
  • for thinking out loud and working with others on half-baked ideas – see Alan Levine’s blog (this is how he described his blog – I am not being critical :-) )
  • to share academic writing – I have used my blog in this way
  • for role-playing
  • for personal and/or professional purposes, e.g. a cookery blog, a research blog
  • for developing a personal brand
  • for messaging and publication
  • for networking
  • as a place to openly make and share mistakes and collaboratively learn through this

Blog posts can be as short or as long as we like. They can include images, videos, sound or not, as we prefer. They can minimize the use of text or be an ‘orgy’ of writing, or somewhere in between, as suits our personal learning styles. They can include details about our personal lives or focus only on professional topics, as we wish.

There is no one right way to blog.

For me, I look for sincerity, honesty, fairness and critical thinking around a topic that interests me in other people’s blog posts and that is also how I try to blog myself. I don’t let myself be intimidated by other people’s blogs – but I do explore them and try and learn from how others have done it. Everyone finds their voice and expresses it in a way that is unique to them – thank goodness. It’s the diversity in the blogosphere that makes it such a rich and rewarding learning environment.

Tagged: #fslt12, blogging, blogs, learning, online, potcert

Let’s play tag…

“blind man’s bluff” from in pastel CC-BY

Just had an interesting learning experience in the use of tags/categories and feeds! In case it helps anyone else here is what happened. Actually it was more like playing blind man’s bluff than tag…….

I had set up a category called POTCERT.  I often use categories as a way of aggregating posts into subpages which can sit under my main menu.  On my blog the subpages Current Teaching and Current Research are both categories rather than actual pages. I was going to have a similar page for my POTCERT work under Current Activity.  So that was all set up and working fine!  Then I wrote a post and tagged it potcert – no problem! WordPress was happy.  Then I submitted my feed to the class blog in the suggested form – http://clareatkins.com/wordpress/tag/potcert/feed – and nothing happened and nothing happend and nothing happened.  Realising that the problem has to be my end I went searching and finally discovered what was causing the problem…..

My category POTCERT had the slug – potcert – but my tag potcert has the slug – potcert-2.  It turns out that the syntax of the feed command is that element that follows the /tag/ or the /category/ is not the actual name but the slug – Soooo….the command needed to be http://clareatkins.com/wordpress/tag/potcert-2/feed – or http://clareatkins.com/wordpress/category/potcert/feed  - Sensible really! Of course it took me a couple of hours to figure it all out but hopefully we are now there!



The value of catching up

cc licensed ( BY ND ) flickr photo shared by tonystl
I’ve still got a few more posts to write to get caught up for the semester, but one of the reasons I wanted to take an online course about teaching online is so that I would have the experience of being an online student. As I’ve watched my students submit a flurry of posts to their blogs over the past week as the assignment deadline approached, I recognized that I was doing the same thing here. I’ve spent a lot of time as a student in a classroom to understand what my face to face students go through, but this is the first time I’ve been in an online class to get a sense of what my online students experience. It’s not much, but it’s a start, and I’m glad I’ve done it.