Creating a student-centered online course means that you’ve captured a real learning experience for all

What does it really mean to create an effective online course that is “student-centered”?

         When I think of student-centered I think student-centered vs. teacher-centered and the difference between the two.  With student-centered learning, students are actively engaged in creating, understanding, and connecting to knowledge and learning. As said in the critical thinking article, “thinking is driven by questions”.  In that article, love the heading, “Dead questions reflect dead minds”!  “If we want thinking, we must stimulate it with questions that lead students to further questions”.  This is how the students make a “student-centered environment” which in turn lets the students do most of the work.

         In much of the research on this topic, it shows that in student-centered environments, there is a higher motivation to learn as students feel they have a real stake in their own learning rather than the teacher being the sole source of information. 

          The web course design needs to be more “student-centered”.  It should be designed as a learning environment and not just a bulletin board of information.  Also a more detailed syllabus is necessary for the online course.  Faculty development programs geared around transitioning the f2f lectures to the online learning environment must be a priority.  Scheduling time for “mental white space” in a course means allowing time for reflection and some down time for students throughout the course. (Alley 2001).

         Alley mentions that we need “to rely on great teachers as pioneers and mentors”.  These teachers are studying the instructional technology and applying learning science in order to enhance learning quality.  Alley states that “these are the teachers we need to rely on to mentor their colleagues”.   After taking ETAP687, I’m certain that I met these teachers, not only our instructor, Alex Pickett and the SLN faculty whose courses we observed, but my classmates, who I know all put in a ton of hard work to get through this course!  We can’t stop now!  Good luck all!

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          Alley, L. (2001). What makes a good online course?  The administrator’s role in quality assurance of online learning. Converge, 4(11), 50, 52+, retrieved from Education Research Complete (EBSCO), November 2007.

           Pelz, B (2004). (My) Three principles of effective online pedagogy. Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 8.3.

         The critical thinking community(2008). The role of questions in teaching, thinking, and learning. Retrieved from www.criticalthinking.org 6/25/2008.

         The critical thinking community(2008). The art of redesigning instruction. http://www.criticalthinking.org/page.cfm?PageID=520&CategoryID=63 Retrieved from www.criticalthinking.org 6/29/2008.

— Geralynn (4)

Getting material for this week’s reflection post was a bit scary, but real!

After reviewing my classmates coursework I am amazed at the talent and energies they have put into their work for this course.  You can tell that the work is something they are passionate about and that it means more to them than “just an assignment”.  I really believe that the work I saw could be online courses that they could teach.  I reflected on my own course that I developed, hiking 101.  I really hope that some day I can teach an online hiking course.  This summer I put so much energy into this course work by not only spending time online developing, reading, completing the assignments, but in addition to all of that work, I put myself on the hiking trails to try and experience what it would be like to teach the course, and to be a student of the course.   I bought two books that I thought I could use, I read them and I used them in the development of the course.  I took many pictures on my hikes and used a few in my course work.  I thought a lot about hiking safety. 

Today, it was a scary hiking day for me.  I wanted to experience what it would be like if I got caught in a rainstorm so I could share some real experiences in the future.  I took shelter in a lean-to while an amazing thunderstorm passed by.  My nerves were not good.  My hiking buddy was inexperienced, but she was not afraid and kind of calmed me down a bit.  We were two hours from the car and I moved quickly back down the mountain in record time.  She kept up pretty good, I stopped to let her catch up and told her to be careful since the trails were wet.  I usually cancel a hike if I hear thunderstorms are coming, but today was a day to experience some tough stuff.  I built a blog for my hiking 101 course, and I just added a post.  Please check it out.  Today I used my experience as material for both this course’s reflection as well as an entry for my blog development for the  hiking 101 course.  Go to: http://catsmtnhiker.edublogs.org  Thanks and let me know what you think.

Geralynn (3)

Putting the finishing touches on the course creation has consumed me 100%!

I can’t believe how much I’m loving putting all my energies into the final stages of the hiking 101 course I’m developing!  I have experimented with creating a wav file and incorporated it into my course.  I used http://audacity.sourceforge.net/ and I borrowed a real decent microphone from the college AV department where I work and I’ve been practicing.  I didn’t realize that there is such a real science to recording your voice and you have to pay attention to dictation and pronunciation.  I gave it my best try.  (Gulp, I recorded it over dozens of times!)  I also went to http://www.flickr.com/ and uploaded my hiking photos.  I wanted to create an rss feed into my blog that I created specifically for my hiking 101 course.  I’m having trouble getting the feed link onto my new blog.  I don’t know exactly what the feed url is to tell my blog page. 

So I created a second blog, called: http://catsmtnhiker.edublogs.org/  I put a link to it in my course creation.  I don’t know if I’ll have time to make it great, but at least the idea is there and how I’ll use it in my course.  I guess at this point I should stop looking at new ideas and work with what I have.  It’s just that it has become real addicting and I find myself thinking more and more about what I can do to develop it better. 

What I have learned in this past 2 weeks is just so hard to write down because I have really worked hard and getting all of the pieces together.  I have learned so much from this course with Alex and the rest of my classmates that I want to thank all of you!   I have grown so much and I know it’s only the beginning.  I want to spend some time putting together all of my resources learned from this course so I don’t forget them.  There were so many great tools.

So at this point, I believe I’m in the “prettying up stage” and I’ve spent so much time on new tools, that I hope I haven’t neglected something.  I’ll look it all over once again and I’m sure when it’s time for critiques, I’ll learn how I can improve further or what I forgot! 

— Geralynn (4)

 

Investing our time into learning about the emerging media environment can help us help our next generation of students

After I completed the viewing of Dr. Michael Wesch’s “A Portal to Media Literacy” youtube video, I realized even more how important it is to keep up with the emerging media environment and how we must consider using these tools in education.  I was so impressed with how Dr. Wesch uses the technologies and is so comfortable with experimentation.  I also watched his video, “Web 2.0… The Machine is Us/ing Us”, that he mentioned.  If you haven’t seen that one, go back to youtube and look it up. 

How familiar are you with all of these new tools?  Before taking ETAP687, did you ever use diigo or twitter, or moodle?  I would love to see a bibliography of all the instructional tools that we talked about and used in this course.  Where could we post this bibliography? 

Dr. Wesch mentions Jott (which transcribes your voice to text), Flicker, killerstartups.com, and if you haven’t visited his website, http://netvibes.com/wesch , it’s worth taking a peek.  He also mentioned the classic, “Metaphors we live by”, by Lakoff and Johnson.  I thought about the RRS feed and have the ability for information to find us.  Does anyone have this in place now?  How so? 

One of Dr. Wesch’s slides was about “Creating Significance” and so I wanted to keep this in mind while I create my online course.  I want to do my best at making a good learning environment for my students that gives them the chance to make their learning meaningful and significant. 

In his thoughts, we must:

  •  “address semantic meaning,
  • personal meaning
  • and therefore allow students to realize and leverage the existing media environment”. 

 I also loved how he said we are “constantly defining ourselves” and he mentions the idea created by Cooley, “The Looking Glass Self”.  I never realized how important it is to keep up with the media literacy and after this course is over, I want to continue with keeping up and using the tools.  What will you do to keep up after this course is done?  Do you have a support system where you work or colleagues you can go to so you can continue learning about media literacy?  It’s important that we keep this going.  I haven’t even heard a whisper about these tools at my place of work.  It may be happening, but we work in the “lone ranger environment” and so I guess I wouldn’t know.  Hopefully, I’ll learn more about what’s being used at my work since I will be joining the distance learning committee in September.  I’d love to hear back from others how you will continue to keep up and what you do now to keep up with the latest technologies in the classroom.  I am continuing my studies at UAlbany so that is another way I will continue to learn.

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References:

A Portal to Media Literacy, Dr. Michael Wesch, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4yApagnr0s

Web 2.0… The Machine is Us/ing Us, Dr. Michael Wesch, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLlGopyXT_g&feature=user

Wesch website: http://netvibes.com/wesch

Lakoff, G. and Johnson, M. “Metaphors we live by”. http://www.amazon.com/Metaphors-We-Live-George-Lakoff/dp/0226468011

 –Geralynn (4)

Teaching presence

Teaching presence (first blog entry for module 4)

In the module four presentation and in the readings, we learned about teaching presence.  The authors spoke about the good learning environments and that they are comprised of the following elements:

Knowledge centered: “what do we want students to know and be able to do after completing our materials or course?” and “how do we provide learners with the foundational knowledge skills, attitudes needed for successful transfer?”

Learner centered:  “they account for the strengths, interests, and preconceptions of learners and help students to gain insight into themselves as learners”.

Assessment centered:  “they provide learners with many opportunities to make their thinking visible and to get feedback in order to create new meaning and new understanding”.

Community centered: “they encourage and can benefit from shared norms that value learning and high standards”.  “Students feel safe to ask questions, to work collaboratively, and in which they are taught to develop lifelong learning skills”.

Teaching presence in the model presented has three components:

1.       Instructional design and organization (setting curriculum, designing methods, establishing time parameters, utilizing the medium effectively, establishing netiquette)

2.       Facilitating discourse (identifying areas of agreement and disagreement, seeking to reach consensus and understanding, encouraging, acknowledging and reinforcing student contributions, setting the climate for learning, drawing in participants and prompting discussion, assessing the efficacy of the process)

3.       Direct instruction (presenting content and questions, focusing the discussion on specific issues, summarizing discussion, confirming understanding, diagnosing misperceptions, injecting knowledge from diverse sources, and responding to technical concerns)

The results of a teaching presence survey showed that there was a high correlation between teaching presence and student satisfaction. 

After reading this article and listening to the presentation, I feel I have a better understanding of the important components of what makes a successful online teaching and learning environment.  I am looking at the information presented and trying to incorporate this into my development of the hiking 101 course.  How have you infused some of these ideas into your course development project for this course?  I feel like I’m working on the instructional design phase first and foremost, but with module four, I’m thinking more about the “facilitation discourse” and getting the learning activities going with this in mind.

Pickett, A.  (summer 2008). Teaching presence and class community. ETAP 687 presentation, module 4.

Shea, P., Pickett, A., Pelz, W.  (2003). A follow-up investigation of teaching presence in the suny learning network”.  Journal of ALN, 7.2.

–Geralynn (3)

Reflections shared from using the development tool to create an online course

What I’d like to reflect on next for my second reflection post for module 3 is the learning experiences I have gained in building my online hiking course so far.  First I don’t think I could have built it in the way I did without all of the help in the assigned readings, presentation, guiding examples on how to use moodle presented by Alex.  By the way, I’d like to learn a little bit more about how to build a screen shot presentation the way Alex did for us on using Moodle.  So a reply about that would be appreciated.  I will post a question in the module, if I don’t get a reply about that here. – thanks.  

So in thinking about what I have learned so far in building my online course, it really wasn’t until I learned about the different ways we could sequence our course modules and learning activities that I developed a real sense for the structure of my course. After our written assignment, I felt like I could see the “whole course”.  I submitted my written assignment and felt pretty good about the organization and structure, but I realized it is not complete, rather it is a work in progress and I should not feel frustrated if I didn’t “see how it should have been laid out” initially.  I hope that it is okay that even after I submitted my written assignment, while I was building the course documents and activities, I changed a few things towards the end of my course.  It differs slightly compared to what I submitted in the written assignment.  It is all part of the creation process.  Here are some points that I’d like to share where I struggled:

1.    My first 2 weeks includes the ice breaker activities as well as the activities that would normally be taught in a 2 week period.  This doesn’t leave much time to break the students into the online environment, but I think it will be okay.

2.    All of the modules are 2 weeks (module 1 – 7), then I have a module 8 which is a 1-week module.  I’m not sure if I have two many tasks for that last 1-week module.  In module 7, students are doing a lot of work.  In addition to the normal 2-week learning activities, the students are putting together a hiking portfolio.  My thinking is it shouldn’t be too bad because they should have been collecting the information for the portfolio all along throughout the course.  Then I have them submit the hiking portfolio sometime during the 7th module (at least by closing of the 7th module).  In the final module (8), which is the 1-week module, I want the students to critique each other’s hiking portfolio.  So my question is the timing of it all.  I ask them to submit it in module 7, but then in order to critique it, should they resubmit it in module 8?  If someone submits it early in module 7, can students begin to critique it, knowing they will have to do so in the final module?  I can’t get my brain around the timing of it and will it be too much for the final week?  I’ll work on this, but comments will be much appreciated. 

3.    I wasn’t quite sure about some of the other activities (other than forum) that we should be considering at this time while using moodle to create our structures.  For example, how would I build a survey of questions?  I think that will come later in the course. 

4.    Although I built the sequence of learning activities, I have not thought through completely what the written assignments will be in my hiking course.  I think that will come naturally after I have more time to think about it.  But it was a little tough for me because I am still thinking about whether or not students should submit some things offline directly to me, or for the whole class to see and comment on and learn from.

These struggles indicate to me that I am advancing in my learning of the materials presented so far.  I would not have thought about these things so much in detail if my own learning wasn’t improving.  So far, module 3 has had the most impact on my learning in this course and I love it!

Geralynn (4)

 

References:

Pickett, Alejandra (2001). “Keys to Success: Are you ready to develop an online course?” – ETAP687.

Assigned readings from module 3 in ETAP687:

Plez, W. E. (2004). “(My) three principles of effective online pedagogy”. JALN 8.3.

Foundation for Critical Thinking. (2007). “The role of questions in teaching, thinking and learning”. http://www.criticalthinking.org.

Shea, P., E. Fredericksen, and A. Pickett. (2003). “A preliminary investigation of teaching presence in SUNY learning network”.

Observations of exemplar online courses – Module 3, ETAP687.

External sources:

The critical thinking community(2008). The art of redesigning instruction. http://www.criticalthinking.org/page.cfm?PageID=520&CategoryID=63 Retrieved from www.criticalthinking.org 6/29/2008.

Understanding online course design: a new science

In module three’s learning experiences and observations, I have learned so much about the design process in building my hiking course.  I did not know how much of a science it really is to build an online course! In our text, reading through section 3 – Organize, I have learned about conceptualizing the course, chunking and sequencing the modules and learning activities.  Observing the exemplar online courses has proven to be the most helpful to me.  To see “live” how other professors built and designed their courses is so valuable at this early stage of developing an online course.  I feel like I have gone light years ahead by learning about what they have done in their courses.  In Alex’s presentation, “Keys to Success: Are you ready to develop an online course?”, I learned  about 13 keys to success, which sound fabulous.  In that list, I saw “observation of live online courses”, which made terrific sense to me since I had the opportunity to observe courses, although not live, but I could see the design structure, the course documents, the module chunking, and aspects of design that I would not have picked up on until I studied these elements in this course.  I also think that the key to success mentioned by Alex, “collecting and sharing best practices”, is so important to keeping the communication open between the experienced faculty and new faculty as well as with administration to provide continuous support for distance learning. 

In our text, chapter 4 was “Build”, I learned how to “organize, sequence and pace each activity and give it a good name”.  In our written assignment where we had to submit our course modules and learning activities, I loved that we had examples of how courses could be sequenced.  I chose one of those to model since it fit well with what I want to accomplish in my online course.  The course structure is set up by following a model of sequencing in alignment with what is presented in chapter 4 – Build in our text, specifically where it states, “How do I best sequence my learning activities within a module?”.  There were some fantastic questions that really made me think about what the students need.  I do believe at this stage, I need to go back and perfect the structure I built, and I’m going to revisit this section of the text again so I have the questions in mind.  I find that if I put the work away for a day, I can examine what I have done the next day and new questions come to mind to tweek and build upon my work.  

In one of the assigned readings, I read an article written by Bill Pelz, (My) Three Principles of Effective Online Pedagogy.  There were helpful screenshots of activities and the explanations that went along with the design theory was extremely valuable.  We had an opportunity to hear from the author in our online course as a classmate asked what the author meant by allowing the students to do most of the work.  I know I will be referring back to the assigned readings from this module throughout the rest of this course as they were beneficial and important to my learning more about design as I go forward with the rest of this course work.  I know that my own learning can improve with the help from the continued opportunities to observe online courses and the wonderful selection of course readings that have been assigned.  My own learning also continues to improve with the new knowledge presented by my classmates. I can’t think of any ways to improve this course as all of these things are clearly incorporated into the course.

References:

Pickett, Alejandra (2001). “Keys to Success: Are you ready to develop an online course?” – ETAP687.

Assigned readings from module 3 in ETAP687:

Plez, W. E. (2004). “(My) three principles of effective online pedagogy”. JALN 8.3.

Foundation for Critical Thinking. (2007). “The role of questions in teaching, thinking and learning”. http://www.criticalthinking.org.

Shea, P., E. Fredericksen, and A. Pickett. (2003). “A preliminary investigation of teaching presence in SUNY learning network”.

Observations of exemplar online courses – Module 3, ETAP687.

External sources:

The critical thinking community(2008). The art of redesigning instruction. http://www.criticalthinking.org/page.cfm?PageID=520&CategoryID=63 Retrieved from www.criticalthinking.org 6/29/2008.

 

Geralynn (4)

A hiking portfolio is an assignment in my hiking 101 course

Hi all,

Amy introduced me to a website called Rockyou.com and I made up a slide show of hiking experiences with friends and family.  I expect my students to do a lot with this assignment, such as include audio, video, digital images, etc.  You can visit my class, hiking 101 to see more detail.  In the meanwhile, check out my album as a starting point for my students and let me know what you think.  Thanks Amy for the idea!

http://www.rockyou.com/show_my_gallery.php?source=ppsl&instanceid=116328445 

Geralynn (3)

Rockyou.com

Course Development time

I’ve noted through the course observations in module 2 and from readings that it can take up to 300 hours to develop your initial online course.  I can understand now what that means now that we’ve had a chance to delve into the world of online course creation.  I’m totally absorbed in the creation of my online hiking course.  I hope someday it can become a reality.  I love that I’m researching everything there is to hiking safety and experiencing the hikes at the same time.  I have a small hiking group that hikes with me every weekend now.  I am experiencing my course as I create it!  This is wonderful.  I’m loving this experience!  Spending time in the creation mode is where I work best.  For me it’s the biggest challenge and at the same time it’s a place where I can tap into my creative side.  I can see where I can spend hours of time here.  I almost didn’t stop for dinner tonight, but then I had to eat quick and run out to a library board meeting.  I couldn’t wait for the meeting to be over so I could get back to my course work.  I spent the entire day building my course and now my eyes are blurry.  I must go rest now. 

–Geralynn (2)

Course Development time

I have been spending hours of time off line researching ideas for my hiking 101 course.  I’ve been thinking a lot about the required reading.  I found two good choices that I recently purchased and I’m reading them now as part of my homework for this course.  I’m also generating a bibliography of suggested/optional readings.  This is most fun for me as I’ve collected a lot of works on the Catskill Mountain trails and history.  There are some great web resources too.  I’ve been working on the orientation documents for my course this week.  I don’t think Moodle is all that easy to learn, do you?  Perhaps as I use it more, I’ll get more comfortable.  I think I operate like Alex a bit when she said she doesn’t like to use manuals, but rather just push some buttons to find her way around 🙂    I might have to break down though and look into the dingo group area for that manual.  Aside from doing my own readings on the chosen textbooks for my hiking 101 course, I’ve also been out there on the trails with hikers.  I’ve been telling them about this course and how I’m developing a hiking 101 course.  I feel like I’m experiencing the course that I want to create!  I’m taking photos like I’m my own student! I’m making sure I complete one to two hikes in a two week period since this course began.   I even want to create the hiking portfolio that I’ll be making my students create.  I should do that so I can use it as a model for the students to view so they know what elements I’m looking for in the project.  I think the area I have to work the hardest on is the evaluation part.  I want to make sure I’m clear with my expectations and that students know what and how they will be evaluated on. 

–Geralynn (3)