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POT Cert Week 17: smart tips and quick fixes for online classroom management #potcert

This week POTCert focuses on Classroom Management and Facilitation, Chapter 11 in the course textbook. Tips given cover record keeping, storing files and content on your own hard drive as opposed to the institution’s, the protocol for asking and responding to questions, using Twitter for class announcements and using groups to decrease workload and to adjust for class size.

Further tips were offered through Louisa Moon’s slide cast and Lisa Lane’s blog post. From Louisa I picked up that it’s important in the online classroom not to be tempted to offer one to one solutions. This is time consuming, and is not necessarily the most effective option. It’s better if you can develop options that will work through an intervention within a group.  Also, such strategies might help to form a community amongst the learners. Lisa, on the other hand, provided some great tips not about managing the classroom as such but more in terms of managing your resources so that they’re readily available to use in the online classroom.

Because I’m a little short of time this week and because the course remit advised us to  “use any format for this week’s comment on class facilitation (audio, video clip, quick slideshow) and embed it in your blog post”, I decided to make an animation of Lisa’s “seven things I’d want to know as a new online teacher” blog post. I needed a “quick win”. I hope you like it.


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POT Cert Week 8: creating community, plus a whole lot more, with Twitter.

This week, to develop the topic of building community, POT Cert continued to read Ko and Rossen, Chapter 6: Building an Online Classroom, and went on to consider the actuality of using technology to build such community. Considered technologies included not only the LMS, but a range of synchronous and audio technologies. Further reading was also indicated with Envisioning the post-LMS Era: The Open Learning Network (Mott, 2010), and it’s Mott’s article, together with the technology of Twitter, that I wish to expand upon in this post.

Twitter can be used to form connections and to create community, and as I mentioned in my post last week, it can be used as a tool for professional development and as a tool for teaching and learning. In contrast to the concept of learning within a “walled” LMS, Twitter fits well with the notion of open learning and with the idea of learning as actualised through a personal learning environment [PLE]. Moves away from the LMS are being mooted because patterns of usage suggest they’re primarily being used for the purpose of administrative efficiency rather than as a platform for substantive teaching and learning activities. A PLE, as opposed to the “vertically integrated and institutionally centralized” LMS, combines small pieces of the open web to create connections for learning “free of the arbitrary constraints of matter, distance, and time” (Weinberger, 2002). Twitter can be one such piece within a PLE, or indeed be adjunct to a LMS based course.

Within this conception, Twitter can be used equally to facilitate and/or support learning: provisioning student-faculty connection, helping create a sense of community, assisting the discovery of relevant and up to date content, enhancing student engagement and connecting students and faculty alike with professional communities of practice (Dunlap and Lowenthal, 2009 and Ebner et al., 2010).

Admittedly, to anyone who’s never tried it Twitter appears frivolous and a distraction from “real work”, never mind to have any serious pedagogical properties. This is so wrong!

Let me show you how I began to realise the power of Twitter.

Yes, that’s frivolous alright!

But hang on, @timbuckteeth is Prof. Steve Wheeler.
Why’s he off to Budapest?

Research workshop?

Result!!
Hyper-link to first report on the EDEN workshop.
European Distance and eLearning Network.

Here we can see that a 140 character “tweet” not only allows something very specific to be communicated but, with the insertion of a shortened hyper-link, permits the dissemination of detailed information. What’s more, it also acts as a mechanism through which individuals can create a “peephole” for others to gain an insight into everyday events and discover what’s inviting attention. So, self-disclosure of this nature, rather than simply being seen as a stream of mundane status updates, can be seen as a series of posts that represent an invitation to get to know the individual user and take part in interpreting their events (Oulasvirta, et al., 2010). This is probably what gives Twitter its trivial and lightweight image, but it is this very aspect that makes it so powerful for making connections and creating community.

Below are a selection of articles that hopefully will help to show how Twitter can be used to develop a personal learning network [PLN], connect with professional communities of practice and create a sense of community to leverage learning within an online class.

However before that, just a reminder that the hashtag for the Program for Online Teaching is #potcert, and to say that I’ve also started to create a list of POT Certers that are on Twitter.

  • Horton Hears a Tweet: in this article Dunlap and Lowenthal (2009) explain how Twitter can enhance students’ experience in the online-education setting and attest that through microblogging and social networking activities facilitated by Twitter students and lecturers alike can build personal learning networks (PLNs) and as a result participate in professional communities of practice.
  • Twitteracy: very recent research paper that positions Twitter as a new literacy practice that promotes student engagement and improves learning.
  • Twitter hashtags in the classroom: blog post from George Couros explaining how he uses Twitter hashtags to connect to educators around the world and how hashtags can be used with classes to create community and leverage learning.

 References:

Weinberger, D. (2002) Small Pieces Loosely Joined. Cambridge, MA: Perseus Books

Dunlap, J.C. and Lowenthal, P. R. (2009). Horton Hears a Tweet. Educause Quarterly, 32 (4).

Ebner, M., Lienhardt, C., Rohs, M. and Meyer, I. (2010) Microblogs in Higher Education – A chance to facilitate informal and process-oriented learning? Computers & Education, 55(1), pp. 92-100.

Oulasvirta, A., Lehtonen, E., Kurvinen, E. and Raento, M. (2010) Making the ordinary visible in microblogs. Personal and Ubiquitous Computing. Online first. Special issue on Social Interaction and Mundane Technologies. 14, pp. 237-249.


The Next Wave in Hiring Someone to Take Your Online Class for You

I have always been pretty sceptical about arguments over the difficulty of authenticating student work online, mostly because I structure my courses so that someone would have to make a pretty huge time commitment  to complete the course for someone else.

Apparently I should worry a bit more. An article from the Atlantic starts with some pretty generic observations about buying papers--a reality since long before the Internet--but then moves to something that suprised me. The existence of at least one site where a student can hire someone to take a complete course.

Here is the paragraph from the Atlantic piece that interested me:

"And why stop with exams? Why not follow this path to its logical conclusion? If the entire course is online, why shouldn't students hire someone to enroll and complete all its requirements on their behalf? In fact, "Take-my-course.com" sites have already begun to appear. One site called My Math Genius promises to get customers a "guaranteed grade," with experts who will complete all assignments and "ace your final and midterm." And why should the trend toward vicarious performance stop with education? How long must we wait until some intrepid entrepreneur founds ""Do-my-job.com" or "Live-my-life.com?"

I visited the site referenced in this paragarph, and it is indeed more than a little scary for adovates of online teaching and learning like myself. Here is a quote from the home page; it comes from a featured box on the page: 

"Got an Online or Distance Education Math Course? If you are taking an online math course with very little face-to-face interaction we might be able to find you a math expert to solve all your problems. Your math genius can simply log-in on your behalf complete the online assignments, exams and even the entire course for you!. You can be confident that when you pay your own math genius to do/write your online exam for you that the job gets done well."


Coursecheat

One of the compelling arguments against anxiety about online cheating has been that most of the things folks seemed worried about happening online could happen onsite as well. Do I, for example, really know that my students in class are who I say they are? Can I guarantee the authenticity of student out of class work any more onsite than online?

But news of this web site forces me to admit that it is easier for students to cheat online than I realized. At least one site already exists that apparently could help a student work through an online class without doing any work and any learning. At a minimum, this seems to suggest that it would be far easier for a student to hire an online academic surrogate than an onsite academic surrogate.

Perhaps many of my online colleagues have already thought more about this than I have and have developed strategies for thinking about / responding to this challenge. But for me, this news means that the time has come to rethink this question...

“Week 2″

Since I am a recent  MFA in Dance graduate, completing the Beginner’s Questionnaire was a balance between the courses I have taught and have been a teaching associate (assistant) with the courses that I participated in as a graduate student. I am more of a presentational instructor especially with the consideration of the subject of dance. However, when looking beyond the physical dance technique class there are the dance academic courses like Dance History, Critical Issues in Dance, Laban Movement Analysis, Dance Kinesiology, Musical Resources for Dance, Dance Pedagogy and even, Choreography that have or could be taught online. I would like to have a combination of lecture, individual input, collaborative discussion as well as small group projects.

In terms of getting started, I feel that I am right where I should be. I am taking one week at a time. I have a high inquisitory interest in the development of a pedagogically sound online course for dance history, along with the feeling of swimming in an ocean of possibilities of how to achieve this goal.


Week 1 Online Teaching Course

This is Renee from Lake Forest. I am currently teaching at MiraCosta College.
Two aspects of this week’s reading I found most interesting:

1. “Surprisingly, ‘people-oriented’ people make the best online instructors”(17)

I believe truly caring pedagogy can be transmitted through any medium. However, knowledge of the medium, in this case through technology, is vital for the creativity in the delivering of materials, as well as excellent written, audio and video communication skills.

2. I am highly interested in developing “tasks and exercises that emphasize student collaboration” online.(13)

My experience when I participated in a Business Management Course was that I did not engage in collaboration. I also chose limited online interaction with the instructor. As an instructor of Dance, I am highly engaged with my students and I expect them to be continually engaged and present during class. How to I obtain online engagement?

 


Digital Faculty: Professors, Teaching and Technology, 2012

Inside Higher Education and The Babson Survey Research Group recently looked at faculty use of technology and digital resources. The report contains a number of interesting (though not necessarily surprising) tibits.

Almost half of faculty use videos or simulations in class, with use lower among faculty who teach only face-to-face versus those who teach online and blended (40% v. 59%). A large number of faculty who use digital materials also create their own materials; overall, 43% of faculty create their own resources on a regular or occasional basis. Interestingly, few faculty regularly use lecture capture to create digital resources for class (9%), but the number is much higher for natural sciences faculty (29%). That number certainly jibes with my own experience: all of my colleagues who use lecture capture are in the natural sciences.

Social media adoption is still low among faculty: only 36% of faculty use social media to interact with students regularly or occasionally, and only 44% interact with other faculty.

Finally, when it comes to use of an LMS, the largest use by faculty is making syllabus information available: almost 90% of faculty regularly or occasionally use an LMS to make a syllabus available. As Jason Parkhill (@JasonParkhill) points out, “So much cost & effort toward password protected syllabi.” There seem to be some big drawbacks to hiding a syllabus in an LMS–prospective students can’t find out details about a class until after they’ve registered and the semester starts; the scholarship of teaching is hampered by the inability of faculty to see what others in their discipline are doing. Why do faculty put their syllabi into a locked silo? Is it because the LMS is the default option? Do faculty not have any other way to post materials online? (We eliminated our faculty web server years ago, and now faculty web pages are handled via a proprietary content management system that requires assistance from the Director of Online Media to use.) Do faculty prefer to keep their syllabi out of the public eye?

One final LMS tidbit that is interesting: administrator perceptions of faculty LMS differ significantly from what faculty report, especially with respect to those functions for which faculty report lowest usage.

 

 

 

H/T to Bryan Alexander (@Bryan Alexander)

What sites & apps do your students use?

We teach online, so it seems like we ought to know something about how our students use technology. At our institution, we don’t do any kind of surveying or research about  what technologies our students use, an oversight I’ve mentioned several timse over the years. I’ve even intended to come up with my own survey to give to my classes (but I never seem to get it done).

Meredith Stewart has a post today about a question she asked her US history class:

Because of our shortened meeting time, there’s less opportunity for me to get to know you. To help me do that, choose 3 or 4 web sites or apps (they don’t have to be school-related, but they should be school appropriate) that you visit or use frequently. (If you’re not a big internet user, choose three or four favorite books/movies/albums.) Imagine that a historian 50 years from now has stumbled across this information about you. What sorts of conclusions do you think a historian might draw about you based on these sites/apps?

This looks like an easy way to break the ice in an online class and also to start gathering some useful information. Over the course of several semesters it might even indicate some interesting trends (e.g., there a couple of reports of declining Facebook use among students). I think I might just give it a try.

H/T Danah Boyd (@zephoria)