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“Is there anybody out there?” – Pink Floyd

My online course has doubled in size this term so I have been anticipating a big increase in my workload. The initial series of emails and getting-started instructions did grow, but they were manageable largely due to some of the great tools I learned in the Pedagogy First program last year such as creating short introductory tutorial videos that I can post or send to confused students and saving standard email replies for frequently asked questions.

Now things are relatively quiet.     photo credit: Neal. via photopin cc

I keep wondering if there is something horribly wrong that I have not caught.

photo credit: Domiriel via photopin cc


Discussions are going well, assignments are better than I have ever seen in the course, and only a very few students are encountering any true technical abilities. But, I keep wondering, “Is there anybody out there?”

photo credit: moominsean via photopin cc

This year I have added a significant number of introductory videos, extra links for course resources, example essays from previous terms, and more FAQs. Maybe all these additions are actually working. Maybe the silence I am experiencing is not student apathy or confusion, but maybe, just maybe, the course is working better for this group of students.

New Flicker Search Engine

I’m trying out a new search engine for Creative commons images in Flicker.

Robert Plant – Led Zeppelin

photo credit: Heinrich Klaffs via photopin cc

Pretty nice! Lets you search for all creative commons images and provides html link for attribution. I added the caption. This is great for someone like me who often is in too big of a hurry (or at least that’s my excuse) to properly give credit for images.

Thoughts for new (ok, and old) POTCERTers on the strange jargon of online teaching

After reading a few posts on only WEEK ONE of the new POTCERT my brain hurts from trying to decipher the different new terms and jargon here.

I am a musician and we certainly have our own special terms and jargon. Here is a brief excerpt from one of my favorite books on musical tunings.

“Each tone is thus comprised of a major and a minor semitone, and as in Tosi’s 55-division, Mozart describes the octave as consisting of “5 tuoni, e 2 semitoni grandi.”  Attwood himself annotates the table of intervals that includes the enharmonic variations saying, “These tones the Harpsichord has not, but other Instruments have.” The inescapable conclusion is that Mozart differentiated keyboard and non-keyboard tuning, and regarded the standard non-keyboard tuning to include higher flatted notes and lower sharped notes.”How Equal Temperament Ruined Harmony (and Why You Should Care), Ross W. Duffin

Now, I have many glorious geek-filled moments reading Mr. Duffin’s book.  And, I remember fondly sitting in my grad study advanced theory and analysis courses feeling elated when my composer/theory/musicologist colleagues and I could hear the German augments 6th harmonies creating new and delayed cadences in Beethoven’s music, but I cannot expect my students to have any idea what I or Mr. Duffin is talking about.

Please let us not forget that we are teachers first, right?!? No matter what course in my discipline I teach, I always start by asking the students to define the most basic terms…like the word ‘music’ for instance. We all have preconceived notions about online teaching and learning so why not start there and let the conversation grow.

Please note that I am not criticizing anyone’s specific post. I was just finding myself confused and thought new members might be as well.

I return to my guilty geek pleasure of equal temperament tuning versus just intonation tuning.


A blog post on blogging for potential and current bloggers

Hello current and future bloggers in POTCERT!!!

The collaborative meeting this past Wednesday on blogging was quite thought provoking and wonderful! Many of the participants shared with the group their first blogs and what motivated them to begin blogging. BTW – Ted I want some of those recipes!

A couple of people mentioned they were motivated to start blogs for personal reasons and they needed a place to gather ideas since their memory banks weren’t as sharp as they would have liked. Others mentioned their challenge with writing and different writing styles. Alan said (I believe) that he could not live without blogging. Wow!

I have been a slow convert to the blog world, but I am now a believer. Although, I used to have a perception of a blog as a place where my friend’s deadbeat husband spent all his time in order to avoid employment and neglect any contribution to his marriage or society, I now know differently. A blog is what we determine it is. For some it may be a journal-like place. This doesn’t always work for me. I have started countless journals in my life with great enthusiasm only weeks or months later to find them neglected and covered in dust in a drawer somewhere. So, although there is a therapeutic element to some blogs (and my China blog became such an animal) I don’t see this as their primary purpose.

I realized after listening to the recording of this meeting that I view blogging differently than the others. I started my first blog in 2010 when getting ready to teach and live in China for 5 weeks during the summer. At the time Facebook was blocked in China (it may still be) so I had no way to post updates or pictures of my experiences for a large group of friends and family. Google was also banned in China at the time and Google+ didn’t even exist then. So, I decided to create a blog where I could write about my experiences and post pictures for friends and love-ones back home. The students were great, but the blog ultimately became a place for me to vent since the trip and teaching experience was a huge challenge.

Me with EBUS students 2010.

The next time I started a blog was last year as part of POTCERT11. I learned a lot that year and even was rewarded for having either the most posts or at least second most posts in the course. Hmmmm, I’m wordy I guess :)

I must explain that I did not begin blogging with ANY special skills at all. I can type and I can learn and that’s about it. I am a musician and I have been intrigued how music in higher education can best be taught online. So, my very next blog was and is still one for all of my face-to-face courses. In this blog I post slides from my in-class lectures, links to helpful resources, fun music stuff, and YouTube videos.

What I realized after viewing the collaborate session was that my blogs have been motivated by my desire to give something to others.     My China blog was intended to give friends and family some info while I was away, and my music class blog gives my students a place for class stuff. Are they perfect? Heck no!!! And, as Lisa so nicely pointed out in the session, they are editable and changeable any time. So, as I learn more I can improve them.

PLEASE DON’T BE AFRAID TO START BLOGGING! If you screw something up you can delete it and start again. We certainly mess up all of the time. Just dive in the deep end of the pool and start swimming. No one will allow you to drown. I promise!

A new blog spot for POT 2012

Hi POT people! Here is my new Miracosta WordPress blog site. I’m looking forward to a fun and exciting 2012/13 POT journey. I teach the History of Rock online for Miracosta as well as other music courses at colleges throughout Southern California. Here is my private piano teaching site if you would like to learn a bit more about me. Rock on!!