Reflections

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WEEK 6

Overall thoughts on the practicum:

I just wanted to take the opportunity in this final reflection to comment on the usefulness of the practicum as a capstone course to the certificate. It has been a lovely experience to learn and grow with an experienced and driven set of colleagues who I am hoping to recruit into my PLE. There has been a tangible sense of community and positivity that has left me feeling prepared to embark on my internship and subsequent job search. Additionally, I want to thank you Dennis for your support and encouragement throughout this process. It is very difficult to find people who genuinely care about the well being of their students and it is blatantly obvious that you do. Keep up the awesome work!

WEEK 5

     This week I have been working on completing my practicum artifacts for my portfolio. They are not quite finished, as I would like to add a secondary navigation bar and touch up a few areas, but it is coming along nicely. Participating in the peer review discussions has been a vital component in evaluating my design choices and pushed me to move beyond my comfort zone to meet the high standard that I would like my work to represent. In particular, I have been excited to revisit the topic of Universal Design for Learning, which encourages the use of alternative methods of presentation. In that vein, I completed closed captioning for my introductory video and incorporated a transcript of my podcast in my Podcasts and Vodcasts artifact page.

Things I Learned This Week About Multimedia:

  • YouTube has an excellent package for creating closed captioning
  • Snagit allows users to directly upload screencasts to Youtube
  • A well paced and well organized video is essential for good closed captioning
  • Transcripts are necessary when closed captioning is not available
  • An introductory video can create an immediate impression and facilitate community building
  • Jing creates flash files that are not readily closed captioned
  • Screenr is another potential screencasting tool
  • Collapse-O-Matic is a WordPress plugin that can be used to hide and extend text
  • iMovie is an excellent tool for editing video

WEEK 4

This week I am continuing to review the internship modules and began setting up some organization materials. Many people shared about the importance of creating spreadsheets for student information this week in the discussion forum and thus I have decided to develop such a resource. I learned about Microsoft OneNote from my learning partner in the Collaborative Communities course and have setup my student information sheet and grading tables in this program. It is password protected and private and thus meets FERPA standards. We have two computers in my household and two family members taking online courses so it helps to have materials online instead of on a specific hard drive. I am also working on moving more of my bookmarks to Diigo so that again I have flexibility.

 

I also began seriously working on setting up my practicum artifacts in my portfolio. So far I have decided to have pages entitled:

  • UNIVERSAL DESIGN: Will include the digital badge I received from completing a self paced tutorial during my instructional design course as well as the basic information I learned regarding universal design of learning.
  • MOOCs: Want to summarize my understanding of MOOCs as well as create a resource for researching information on MOOCs.
  • FERPA: Intention is to include some basic guidelines for following FERPA and resources for researching deeper.
  • VODCAST/PODCAST: These terms seem more trendy than video and audio but I am not sure I see the difference.  Anyway, per a colleague’s suggestion I am going to include my previously shared introduction video and an example audio recording using audioboo.
  • INTERNSHIP EVALUATION: Post the final evaluation from my internship here.
  • REFLECTIONS: Will include an edited version of reflections from our weekly reflections forum. Would it be alright if I included some of your feedback?

 

Additional Words of Wisdom from Discussion Forum/Mentor this Week

1) Subtle correction of students is best:

  • Make sure to include the correct spelling of words or to help clarify a point in your response post to students. Not necessary to correct directly.
  • Utilize response times to a survey or email to decide group membership. A subtle way to include Kay Lehmann’s research on personality type and group work.

2) Great Teachers:

  • Take care of themselves and utilize things like meditation, sleep, exercise, family time, movies, and fun to find a balance.
  • Use warmth and humor to engage students and facilitate learning.

3) Tips from Kimberly Davis on reducing glare in videos:

  • Use natural light and/or light from above and behind where you are sitting/standing.
  • Open your camera settings and play with them. Most often they are slider settings, so you should be able to see on the screen what you look like as you change them.
  • If you are filming near a window, try and close the drapes or sheers if  you have them to reduce any reflections.

FEEDBACK

A spreadsheet is a powerful tool and brings with it a sense of order and control that gives you an anchor for your overview of student performance.  Indeed, just creating the spreadsheet will help you organize your thinking and by extension your point of view.

Keep in mind that you can export student data and grades from the gradebook.

You’ll find a video about this option in the Bootcamp: https://uwstout.courses.wisconsin.edu/d2l/le/content/231981/viewContent/16223019/View

One thing to keep in mind about cloud-based operations: keep a local copy of your work.  Sometimes the clouds turn gray and it will help the sun shine if you have a copy of your work. 😎

I appreciate the thematic organization of your portfolio.

The notes you are organizing now will be a fine learning aide as you move forward with your internship and (later) with your online teaching career.

The long semester will be worth it. You are so well prepared for the coming experience.

~ Dennis

WEEK 3

This week I am feeling the pressure of the impending start to my internship. I am working through the modules and giving my mentor feedback, reading the textbook, keeping up with my practicum work, planning edits to my introductory video, and hoping to make some serious headway on my portfolio before the start of the internship. I have come up with a good plan for pacing myself through the work but sticking to it is the tough part, especially when my daughter has decided to limit her naps this week.

As for my portfolio, I am thinking that focusing on the new practicum related additions would be a good place to start, thus leaving the editing of earlier sections to do during my internship. However, I am also toying with the idea of rearranging my portfolio so that it has more of a content based organization system than a class based one. It would require a significant amount of work and planning on my part to do such a thing, but could pay off dividends as far as selling my work to potential employers. Perhaps, considering my time constraints, it might be a goal best left till after the completion of my internship.

 

Things I Learned This Week:

 

Pressures on Higher Education:

  • Costs
  • Desire for Direct Job Skills: New Federal Regulations
  • Diversity
  • Critical Thinking skills Required
  • Team Based Skills Desired

 

Ways to Promote Online Teaching:

  • -Grants for course development
  • -Time to engage in course development and training
  • -Reduced teaching load -Assistance
  • -Publications about online teaching considered in tenure
  • -Commitment to ongoing study and enhancement of online faculty experience

 

 

Online Learning Facts:

  • Enrollment and Drop Out Rates Online Exceeds On Campus
  • Accreditation Bodies: North American Council for Online Learning National Education Association
  • 62% of online teachers received no training
  • Teachers Spend 46.1 hours/credit hour teaching online (Anderson and Avery 2008)
  • Teachers Spend 12.5 days to develop online course (Bates and Sangra 2011)
  • Life circumstances of adult learners may contribute to drop out rates:
  1. professional constraints
  2. personal issues
  3. relevance to job or career plans
  4. Student population attracted to online learning has inherent constraints that make completion difficult.
  • Intellectual property models:
    1. faculty ownership: license work to university
    2. Institution ownership: faculty member given license
    3. Independent contractor has ownership: license to university

 

I generally feel a little discouraged by the realization that online faculty have many concerns including overloading, intellectual property rights, and advancement. I will have to tread carefully when evaluating positions.

 

Assessment Ideas:

  • Utilize Mobile Tech to Enhance Communication: Discussion App?
  • Allow students to choose type of Assessment: ie. text, video, audio
  • Guest experts asked to comment on student postings
  • Learner generated content aids in student ownership of learning
  • Student generated Podcasts and Vodcasts great choices
  • Pollwhere.com surveymonkey.com great resources for surveys
  • Web 2.0 tools and social media can be utilized but best to make sure they are directly addressing a learning objective, can have consequences of using communication outside CMS.

FEEDBACK

Maria,  I’ve recorded my response.  (The hands are very tired this week.)

WEEK 2

This week I made my internship introductory video using the camera on my macbook and vimeo as a storage site. It was the first video I have made of myself and it was a bit of trial and error. I made quite a few versions and ended up making an outline that included the following information:

  • Who I am
  • What I had done previously
  • Personal information
  • Why I am excited to work with the group in this course
  • Final message welcoming any questions

Originally, I had toyed with the idea of writing a script that I would then read but it was more difficult to get my personality across in that fashion. However, a script would be useful as a transcript of the video and may be something I could include even if my video is not 100% the same as the transcript. My mentor said that the videos were “warm and welcoming”, which I think is high praise as it is important for students to feel the safety of the learning community as early as possible. She did bring up the fact that I had mentioned the current weather, which may not be reflective of the weather when the video is actually posted. It was something I had not considered, and reminds me of the importance of careful planning if you are recording ahead of the class start date or perhaps using recordings in multiple course iterations.

 

I also found a lot of interesting information in the readings this week:

 

Criteria to Evaluate Online Programs:

  • Orientation for Students and Instructors
  • How is Intellectual Property Treated
  • Professional Development
  • How do courses fit into the department/institution goals
  • Technology compatible with mobile technology
  • Student Retention Rates
  • Accreditation
  • Constructivism vs Instructivism: How much dialogue is there between students and faculty?
  • For Profit vs Not for Profit

I sent a short informational email to the Dean of Education at UMASS asking some questions about their online masters program for science teachers and their hiring practices. I am keeping the above list in mind while researching information about potential positions.

How much time needs to be allocated to helping students become familiar with online environment? Some students will have a lot of experience and some none at all, how to balance this? Precourse survey could try to gauge the experience of individuals. A lot of things to address in precourse/week 1 before getting to content:

  1. Familiarity with online learning
  2. Familiarity with CMS
  3. Icebreaker: building community
  4. Guidelines for Discussion: building community
  5. Guidelines for Group Work: building community
  6. Assigning Groups/Partners
  7. Potential conflict resolution skills
  8. Student interests
  9. Appropriateness of online environment for students
  10. Building Safe Learning Environment

 

Can utilize some instructional deign techniques to build a hierarchy of objectives to determine the priority level of each.

 

How to Promote Student Retention:

  • Right students for right program
  • Learner-focused
  • Personal level connections
  • Instructor responsiveness
  • Effective facilitation
  • Solid course design

 

Miscellaneous Ideas

  • Good idea to include a course checkup midway.
  • Keep important information at the top of the webpage.

Thank you for the opportunity to write out and reflect on the things I am learning.

FEEDBACK

Job Search

I’m delighted you are using the readings to structure your job search. Writing the dean is an excellent idea. Researching programs is an important first step in the job search process.

I want to recommend a book that will save you a time as you develop your job search ‘marketing plan’. Make Money Teaching Online has a terrible title. However it is an excellent resource for anyone interested in online academic work. Here’s a link to follow: http://elearning-certificate.blogspot.com/2011/03/make-money-teaching-online.html

Video Production

Course Design / Understanding Your Audience

How much time needs to be allocated to helping students become familiar with online environment? So much depends on the program and the courses you are teaching. Almost all of the classes I have taught had students who were taking their first online class. In some cases I would have 50 – 60% newbies. This required a lot of tutorial creation and tech coaching. In my experience almost all of this kind of bootstrap coaching is done by the instructor. Surveys and orientations are useful, but often those that need them the most fail to fill out the survey or take the orientations.

When you are working with new students making connections before the class begins can be the difference between success and failure. You can’t underestimate the importance of that first week.

Maria, you are a thought leader in our class.  The extra time you have to prepare for your internship is proving to be very valuable.  Thank you for your hard work and patience.

WEEK 1

This week I had a phone meeting with my internship mentor. It was a wonderful way to start our collaboration and she gave me a thorough overview of the class outline and her expectations for my interaction in the course. We have setup a weekly meeting time that will begin one week before the start of the course. I am glad to have this setup as it gives me reassurance that she will be available throughout the 9 week period to offer advice and guidance. My mentor gave me access to the course in D2L and per her request I began to review the course materials she had posted. At the end of the week I sent her my feedback, which included my thoughts on potential changes to streamline course materials and some basic issues such as broken links. She received this feedback well, made changes, and encouraged me to continue reviewing the course. I felt relieved that my work was appreciated and taken in a positive light.

I also began reviewing my portfolio and have focused on the first two classes in my certification program, E-learning for Educators and Assessment in E-Learning. My reflective journal from the first course reflects a real novice mentality in regards to online learning. I was dubious of social constructivism and the effectiveness of online vs face-to-face learning. In my current work, I am at the opposite end of the spectrum. Weighing on my mind is the need to create a list of references to support the use of social constructivism as an effective pedagogical theory for online learning. I am also extremely passionate about online learning and when I have been asked if I would consider teaching in person again, I am not sure. I actually believe you can learn more online than in person..what a lovely and unexpected outcome of the program.

FEEDBACK

Steps along the path

Maria,  I am so glad you’ve made contact with Susan. You will find she is an exceptional mentor. Working with here is something you will never forget.  I know waiting so long to start the internship can be a burden. I can also see your sense of transformation.  It will be a long, very rich semester for you.

The work you are doing now in her course is mutually beneficial.

Susan knows a curious, perceptive, and concienctious thinker is working through the course design. (Susan didn’t write the course you are working in btw.) Your work saves her a great deal of prep time. As you have seen, Susan is very open to suggestions about the course. You’re helping to make the course better.  Everyone wins.

You also benefit. You can relieve your anxiety about the tasks to come by digging into the content. You’ll be in a quadruple learning loop: learning about online teaching, learning about instructional design, learning about the dynamic role of an intern, and discovering the kinds of community possible with a more corporate oriented set of students.  Lots of great learning is headed your way.

Looking back to your first reflections about teaching online is an enormously powerful experience. You can feel the personal growth. You can understand the perspective shift.  You can see the future with new eyes.

I often say that completing this Program allows you to open doors you didn’t even know existed.

Social Constructivism is an apt theme for our upcoming MOOC exploration.  Here’s an article to add to your list: http://cain.blogspot.ca/2012/10/moocs-and-connectivist-instructional.html .

The doors are opening!

 

Maria Guillily, PhD