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#POTCERT The Week in Review poll

Well, as we looked at polling tools last week how about we use one to figure out what times work for people next week. This one is PollEverywhere. The one embedded here is for the web, but the tool has very nice texting and twitter options.

I have a Monday and a Thursday date this time around.  They work best for me, at least this coming week. I am on Spring Break March 11 to 15 so I am not sure what will happen then.

So,  for Monday March 4th

and for Thursday March 7th

We will probably go with a Hangout and a Collaborate session. They both have good opportunities!

Anyone Wanna Hangout? Review the Week?

Well, the ol Captain of Synchronous Communications has been a bit out of the Program lately. But you know, it is a SNOW DAY here in the little village of Cornville, Arizona so I figured I better take this time to jump back in. So I am.

I have used Prezi in a live presentation once or twice. I remember being really scared that the thing would start zooming in and out of control. I saw it happen once to a presenter and it was awkward. If it happened to me I would look even more out of control than I usually appear. That would be bad.

Below is one I did for a session here at the college. I like the description, “Presentation hopes to share vision of learning where useful tools are incorporated into the learning environment wisely.” Sounds smart. Or wise?

Jing is my favorite quick and easy capture tool. We have lots of folks using it well. I use it to share information about tools and it has some nice function. We use it to feed our 57 Second Blackboard Tips into our “TeLS Webletter.” Below is an image I captured using Jing, so it is not just for video!

Jing options

How about a hangout to discuss ideas for using the tools we have covered this last week? We can call it “A Week in Review.” Catchy titles help sometimes? I will offer up two sessions, one a hangout and the other a Collaborate session. Both can be informal and look at the tools in review and have a question and answer time. And just to see some of you folks again. I have tried to use the time converter below. I have struggled with it in the past.


Google Hangout (add me on G+ ) Monday the 25th 12:00 to 1:00 pm (Global Time Converter)

Collaborate Session (Link is here) Wednesday the 27th 10:00 am to 11:00 am (Global Time Converter)

I’ll schedule something later in the day, or early evening in a week or two. I know these are last minute, but let’s just see what happens!

Timed Out of Time Zones

Here is where I am. I am adding the #potcert tag to this post because it has stuff relevant to the class and a Collaborate session happening tomorrow at three pm CENTRAL TIME which works out to be some other time in Arizona. Here is the amount of time before the session begins. You can use this link to enter the session.

I offer this Voicethread to you in the hopes we can add a bit of content to it prior to the session tomorrow so that the session participants might see what Voicethread looks like. Press play.

Here is the presentation I have baked for the event.

Course Design, Bamboo, and Treadmills

I am off to a leadership retreat for the weekend so here is review of the week for me. As the class “Moderator” this week I added what I figured was a relevant questions on Facebook about design is academic spaces and I commented on some posts.

Personal stories often work as a way to make stuff accessible and relevant to others so I will try to share like that. This week, strangely, I had several conversations about the ol’ “learning spaces” with faculty here at the college as the classrooms here were recently refurbished, reshaped, and redesigned and include no art (or even motivational posters) on the walls, no plants, no easily movable student desks, projector screens that hang in front of windows (that is called being “backlit” which makes viewing challenging) and instructor lecterns in far corners of the room furthering the  distance between teacher and student. Dang, was that one run on sentence or what? And I will liken the design of a room with the design of a “online” room/class.

Below is one of the rooms. The ONE thing on the walls is a clock. And it is at the back where the only person who can see it easily is the teacher. How is that for student centered learning?

Anyway, it is a hot topic here now and while it may not relate directly to online spaces, I cannot dismiss the element of aesthetic in learning environments so I figure I’ll stay with it for now.

At the point teachers get to me to work on a class or some specific content in a class they often have already figured out what the assessments are and what objectives need to be met. I enjoy working with teachers who are willing to wonder about the types of assessments they have used and the kind they might like to use. Often, we are still in the land of true false or multiple choice questions that the publisher has provided and can be easily slipped into a test and automatically graded. I always say easy in hardly ever better and better almost always makes you sweat. Or I guess that is what I say to myself while I am running on the damn treadmill.

And on the treadmill , like in life, I try to clear my mind of the clutter and imagine the perfect spaces. They look like this when I am good and focused.

And even, in the spirit of basic artistic principles and stopping to smell and focus on a rose every once in a while, they look like this.

But often, online classes and textbooks look like this and I get nervous because they have 437 pagesI can’t get that much in at one time. Or there are five folders in week one and each folder has six or more items and each item tells me to go somewhere else. I am lost and out of energy and the treadmill is starting to hurt me.

And even in my worst nightmares, which thankfully I do not have (because all my dreams have come true) I might see classes that look like this inside and out and I shiver.

When I work with teachers who are new to teaching online I try to get them to fist DRAW the class using a pencil and large piece of paper. It is funny how resistant they are to actually doing that. We even have that as an assignment in our new faculty Face-to-Face class about online learning and some of the teachers just refuse and the do it in Word as an outline or bulleted list. Pretty funny. It is like drawing the class is not serious enough? Nothing intelligent can be drawn, right? Anyway, I think that being able to storyboard the class on a large piece of poster board allows connections to be made and makes the “flexibility” of the class visible. It encourages revision that is somehow different than what a digital Word document does. Maybe learning styles play into this and that is where some of the resistance comes from. That is probable true.

After the big storyboard we start in earnest to organize, rethink, redraw, create content, talk about our families and, in my case, the treadmill, and play and experiment. And it is within all that stuff that the design is born. I think.

It is important to me to remember as I run on that damn treadmill that I can’t just stop tomorrow and reach my goal. The goal is distant and will take much hard work to get there and I probably would be unhappy when I get “there” anyway so I have to remember that there may be no “destination” but rather it is THIS panting and running and running that IS the place I want to BE.

No matter how much it hurts.

Deep sigh.


Jumping in the Water

I don’t think I am a beginner in online learning or pedagogy online or otherwise, but when I look at the questions in the questionnaire I am reminded of how little I know. Or at least how much more I need to know.

Part of me wants to fall back on the most simplistic quotes and metaphors I have for schooling and teaching/learning.

While design/sequence/assessment are portions of the pie, I am more likely to just say things like, “Never do for a child what they can do for themselves,” or something that in many ways contradicts some or the more carefully planned strategies we typically utilize in academic settings. I suppose I see the role of the instructor as one of an “armed voyeur.” You watch and see where you can leverage the actions others are already moving with. That is kinda like Aikido too. Use the movement of others to control them….

I guess you can see that my point total on the survey was pretty low. Like 9. And that is funny because I think that many of my students, like my wife and kids, would say I am a control freak. And I am.

My dad would always tell me that I would get all the rope I needed to hang myself and that when that happened, it would be clear that I could only blame myself. I think that runs through my teaching strategies as well. I can create a space that has the needed resources ( including humans) to learn things in, but once there, it is up to the student to find the path and make the mistakes and have successes.

You can take a horse to water...

“You can lead a horse to water,” and all that is pretty evident in how I think about schooling. That does not mean that you can’t, as the rancher or teacher, create situations that might assist the drinking. Like horses that have recently been running a lot are perhaps more likely to drink that those that are already well-hydrated. That is a middle school strategy… Laughing.

I see classrooms as tools, and teachers as tools, and all the stuff inside and out as tools and opportunities to be used intelligently in any learning situations. One of my pet peeves with online structures and email is that we seem to have sort of skipped the amazingness of the telephone in favor of email. I get that the tool called the telephone can he difficult when a student (or teacher in my case) calls at 8:12 in the evening, but you know, I can choose to answer or not and it is that choice that makes the tool really powerful. Not to mention that I can often answer the question in less than a minute whereas email would take hours of “space time” where nothing happens. The emails just sit there in inboxes, waiting…..

Of Windows & Doors

I ain’t gonna comment on the whys or try to make sense. I am just going to let the vision flow, some sputtering juice from a lunchtime pepperoncini.

When I wander down the halls of faculty office I love to see how they have presented themselves to the hallway traffic with images and important quotes and signage of all kinds. It is a wonderful opportunity to share who you are. Like t-shirts only different. And I love this kind of expression!

One place they often share who they are is in the choice of coverings they use to block out the window built into each door. All the doors have windows and all the windows are covered up with stuff so hallway traffic cannot peer into the office space. I say all of them, but that is not true. It is probably more like 70 percent of them are covered. They have been that way for the five years I have been wandering the halls.

Last week we moved into our new office spaces on one of the satellite campuses. The buildings were completely renovated and they really are nice. It is exciting. One of the things I noticed was that most of the new faculty offices have doors with windows in them. Not all of them, but like 95 percent of them.


Like I said, I am not going to try to wonder why the windows are there or why the faculty cover them up. And I won’t wonder about other metaphors in teaching here. And I won’t wonder about silos of individuals or groups. What I am interested in is why doors with windows were bought in the first place. Had no one in charge of that sort of stuff walked down the faculty halls and seen that all the doors with windows were covered over? Had they asked any faculty if they would prefer windows in doors?

A little reconnaissance could have saved a few bucks?

It just seems like there is something missing.

But I love an open door more than I like window treatments. But if there is going to be window treatments, I say make them beautiful! Make art!

Walking Out of the Bright Lights of Our History

“At the very moment that humans discovered the scale of the universe and found that their most unconstrained fancies were in fact dwarfed by the true dimensions of even the Milky Way Galaxy, they took steps that ensured that their descendants would be unable to see the stars at all. For a million years humans had grown up with a personal daily knowledge of the vault of heaven. In the last few thousand years they began building and emigrating to the cities. In the last few decades, a major fraction of the human population has abandoned a rustic way of life. As technology developed and the cities were polluted, the nights became starless. New generations grew to maturity wholly ignorant of the sky that had transfixed their ancestors and that had stimulated the modern age of science and technology. Without even noticing, just as astronomy entered a golden age most people cut themselves off from the sky, a cosmic isolationism that ended only with the dawn of space exploration.”
- Carl Sagan

Curiosity rover: Martian solar day 2 in New Mexico

It is August 7th. It is 3:21 and I am Writing

That’s right, with a Capital “W.”

My goal  for the Program for Online Teaching class is not only to be a better participant in the synchronous spaces, but to simply write more.  I keep extolling the virtues of reflection in our practice/profession as teachers, but the darn truth is I don’t sit and write out my thoughts much. I do however vomit them pretty darn enthusiastically to anyone who will listen to me blabber on about what I think. Looking over that sentence, I suppose I should also listen more.

I did spend some good listening time this summer as my fine family was able to travel around for a few weeks and visit family and the coastal redwoods. We got to visit with my 98 year old grandpa for a few days, I got to see my mom for five days, and then I got to visit my ancient ancestors, theose wonderful redwoods. We sat for five days overlooking the ocean at Patrick’s Point State Park. It is a couple miles from Trinidad, perhaps one of the most scenic little towns ever. And it has a nice beach too. We walked on it.


Super nice and super cool.

We left that lovely beach and headed south. I was able to visit with a former student in Lake Tahoe for a coffee. He was a student about 8 years ago and we hiked lots in the Grand Canyon. He was one of the students who traveled over a hundred miles in that darn canyon with me.  Nice visit. Then we went to Vegas and I attended the Sloan-C conference where I presented a session titled, “The Human Touch and Your Digital Personality.”  We did good. I was able to meet with some #ds106 stars, particularly Michael Branson Smith. He is like a living animated GIF.

So here I am, a month out of the start date of the class, just trying to write complete sentences. I want community. I want to share and learn, talk and struggle, wonder and be dismayed, flourish and jump around.