It’s dress like a super hero day at school! I even have a sound track! LOL!!!
It’s time for spring break! “Congratulations, you made it!!!”
Reflect on your overall learning experience within the course.
I have loved (and learned a lot in) this course! One of the things that, I think, surprised me most about my learning is the realization of just how much I really enjoy structured learning. One of the qualities that has been one of the most significant saving graces of my life is that seem to be an innately curious person. I love figuring stuff out! Because of this … “quirk,” I think that I have a natural affinity for the internet. Truly, I do get the concept of personal learning networks and personal learning environments. Over the years I have built a really wonderful and really useful PLN, but this course, more than any other in memory, really has been a catalyst for me. It has brought into clear relief, the value of a structured learning experience in helping me to synthesize a LOT of disparate content into a pragmatically applicable framework for learning and teaching with online tools.
The other aspect of learning that I will value long after this course comes to its official close is the interaction that I have been able to have with classmates that teach and work outside the bounds of the K-12 independent school world! As lifelong student, then educator, school is largely all that I have ever known. It has been so extremely helpful to me, to have a little peek into the kinds of learning and teaching issues people outside of the K-12 world wrestle with. My seventh grader is, someday, going to be someone else’s trainee.
Where does your progression into online facilitation (or as an online facilitator) go from here?
I think that I have developed some really useful and valuable skills that I can apply to my teaching right away. As a matter of fact, some of the prompts that I wrote up for the prompt, extender, and redirect activity have been adapted to the unit I am teaching right now and I’ll get to try them out with my real students in another week or two! J
I think that I’m going to have to either develop some work arounds or look into incorporating a different tool for more constructivist discussions. The discussion tool in Instructure Canvas does not allow, organizationally, for students to easily start discussion threads. The discussion tool, as designed, allows the instructor to post a prompt and for students to reply. Students can then reply to posts, but there is no way for anyone (instructors included) to place a subject line on a post. If posts are “collapsed” all that is visible is the initial reply with no indication of the interaction within the thread. I’m on a mission to figure out how to get this system to work or to figure out how I can host my students’ discussions in another tool and link it into the Canvas LMS that I am required to use.
Other final thoughts…
This class has been a true pleasure! It was hard work, but worth every bit of the effort. I got really busy with my day job during the second half of the course so I couldn’t put in the same kind of time that I did initially in the term, but I’m still, ultimately, very happy with the experience. Thank you, Dr. Kay and Deb, for a wonderful 8 weeks!
Though I truly enjoyed module 7, I struggled this week. I really liked the synchronous chat session. Though we experienced some pretty significant technological problems, the experience itself was truly worthwhile. It is always really great to be reminded that in elearning, it isn’t really about the technology, it’s about the learning … Until it IS about the technology. A student struggling with technological issues will have a tremendously different experience than the student for which the technology works well enough to fade into the background and allow the learning to take center stage.
I really struggled with the reading this week. I think that I have been so indoctrinated into the Bloom’s taxonomy model for such a long time that I really had difficulty getting my head around the EASyR model. Though I don’t know that I am yet ready to give up my conceptualization of Bloom’s and the way that I use Bloom’s as a way to scaffold my own thinking as I develop curriculum, engaging with EASyR was an extremely valuable exercise that helped me to revisit my pedagogical assumptions and to bring a new lens through which I was able to view my curriculum.
In the end, I think that I reconciled the Bloom’s/EASyR conundrum by coming to the conclusion that ultimately, the nuances don’t really matter hugely when students are doing the actual act of THINKING. I suppose that when one is doing “higher order thinking” you are in a continual recursive cycle of analyzing, evaluating, and creating/synthesizing. I think in my mind, the R in EASyR almost came to mean recursive or repeat. Ultimately, I think, as long as a unit, lesson, or activity is developed in such a way that students have to evaluate, analyze, synthesize, and decide if they need to revise or redo, the learning experience will be a rich one.
Describe or analyze the experience of both getting and giving peer feedback, and how that informs your methods of facilitation…
The feedback piece, particularly in the Critical Thinking discussion, was hard this week. My classmates’ prompts, extenders, and redirects made me realized how different our content areas are. It was really challenging to parse the efficacy of the extender or the redirect when I knew next to nothing about the content of the original prompt. I felt a little like my feedback was based almost exclusively on the verbs that were being used. I hope I didn’t lead anyone astray as a result.
I realized that I really like the organizational possibilities that the use of tables in discussion posts has to offer. It can, of course, be over used, but I’m glad that Dr. Kay and Shannon both demonstrated examples of the use of tables in a discussion. Very helpful.
Other reflective thoughts…
I realized this week how much I really like organized learning! I think that I am a person that practices the art of self-directed lifelong learning pretty well. I have a rich PLN and I, very honestly, think that I make really effective use of myriad streams of content and resources to drive and inform both my personal and my professional learning needs. That being said, one of my ahas! this week is that I truly do love structured learning in a designed learning environment like this course and others that I have taken at Stout. Some people, I suppose, would want to get into an exploration about which kind of learning is “better, “ but I don’t really think that matters much to me. I love to travel. I generally love traveling as an independent traveler, but every now and then I also like taking time to sit on a bus or a boat and have somebody guide me down a street or canal, point to stuff, and tell me what it is that I’m looking at. I realized this week how much I’ve enjoyed having guides create a structure for my learning for me.
When you read the Time Management Tips for Online Teaching, what were the two most important tips, for your purposes, on the list? In other words, what made you say, “Aha!” and why?
Make time count, if it is something that the student won’t notice, don’t do it. For example, don’t spend more time leaving comments than they spent doing the assignment. If it is something the students can do for EACH OTHER, or for themselves, have them do it. For example, establish a Q & A forum as the first topic area on the discussion board. Require students to post questions in this area of the discussion board BEFORE sending an email to the instructor and encourage students to assist each other. This forum will need to be monitored to provide assistance as needed, though in many cases students will help resolve each others’ issues without instructor assistance.
In my journey and effort to overcome what Grant Wiggins terms (my own) “teacher ego-centrism” I think the advice to make time count to be extremely helpful to me on a few levels. First, though it is just completely logical that the learner should be investing more in the learning endeavor than the teacher, this view of teaching is very counter to the model of education that I have operated in for nearly 30 years. In the teacher-world that I am trying very hard to leave behind, a “good” teacher is always prepared. A good teacher is always the most knowledgeable in the room. A good teacher provides the right resources. A good teacher works harder than everyone in the room. The intent here, can easily be misconstrued. “Increasing the billable hours” of my teaching, isn’t about working less hard, being less prepared, being less knowledgeable, or providing fewer resources as much as it is about increasing the ROI—the return on investment FOR THE LEARNER!
In a Google-centric world where LEARNING HOW TO LEARN is truly one of the keys to making an educational experience worth having, learning how to effectively crowd source solutions to your questions and needs is an empowering life skill. Learning how to seek out and curate resources that meet the needs of yourself and others in your learning community is an empowering life skill. As a teacher, it is now less my mission to effectively create specific learning experiences for learners as much as it is my mission to design the environment and develop the community that allows learners to design their learning for themselves. In this context, my aha, is that this tip gives me permission to let go of the control that I intellectually know I should let go of, but where my emotion is still clinging to the comfort of my past experiences as a teacher that started my career in the 20th century–20 years before the development of the iPhone.
Avoid checking for postings to the discussions or submissions to the drop box several times a day. This is not necessary. Set a schedule such as checking for new discussion postings only once a day. Check the course home page for new posts or submissions at a glance.
I have personal perfectionist tendencies that can sometimes walk me to the very border of being unhealthily obsessive-compulsive about things that I am passionate about. I came to realize earlier in the week that the amount of time I was spending on the discussion boards for this course was really far more than was merited given the context of my learning goals. I DO want to do well here, please don’t get me wrong, but I have a responsibilities to my day job, to my partner and my home life, to my physical health, and to my mental health. There is a point where I have learned enough and I have shared enough and the healthy and right thing to do is to stop logging in and nurture the other parts of my life that need nurturing as well. I think the aha for me here was the permission to give myself permission to find balance. I think that, that was far and away the most important aha of the week for me!
In what ways will the 70/30 rule impact your online facilitation?
I think the 70/30 rule will apply to my blended instruction context, but in quite different ways than with fully online classes. I have found that online discussions that I have tried to run with my students in the past have been serviceable, yet, I found them to be lacking a sense of true engagement. One of my aha moments this week has been to realize that I haven’t done enough front-end loading with my online discussions. We always do in-class ice breakers and a getting-to-know you activities at the beginning of a school year, but when I move my students’ discussions online, I have skipped the online ice breaker. I’ve come to realize that, that has been a mistake. When introducing students to a new software application or a new concept, I always give them an opportunity to sandbox with the new application. Because, I think, I was thinking of online discussions as being more similar to in-class discussion than they really are (for the age-group that I teach, at least), they really do need a chance to play with the discussion interface and to have an opportunity to just do something fun with it to start, just to get a better feel for what it means to “converse” with others online. I think that I will have to build online discussion into the basic instructional design for my course so that online discussion takes place much more consistently. At this time, there are places in our project-based course where students are in online discussions regularly, then stretches of time where they are not in any online discussions at all. It will help, I think, to make it a more consistent presence throughout the course.
Other triumphs or challenges?
I have been pretty sick and have not been to school all week. Realistically, had this course been a face-to-face class, I would have quite legitimately skipped attending classes this week. In an online world, however, I could still fire up my laptop and “attend” class. I hate that. I hate working when I am sick. Without a doubt, I am a HORRIBLE sick person. Believe me, when I say, you NEVER, EVER want to have to care for me if I have a cold or worse, the flu!!! As a policy, I refuse to be one of those teachers who emails assignments home for kids to do when they are sick. Long absences are, of course, handled appropriately, but my general rule is to let the kid be sick and when he or she is better and back in school, we’ll get it figured out. This week made me realize that the flip side is true for online instructors as well. They never really have the option of calling in sick. I don’t know that I like that very much at all!
What could have been done to mitigate those challenges?
Not much. Get a flu shot, for sure!!! The flu this season is pretty horrid. Wash your hands often and avoid touching your face as much as possible! LOL!
Other reflective thoughts …
The final thing that I found to be quite a surprise is how different the experience of teaching adults must be! I would not have guessed in a million years that adult learners would actually show up in a course saying and doing the kinds of things I read about in this week’s discussions! Mind boggling, really! I really made me take a step back and evaluate the kinds of things that we are doing in K-12 education that are considered “best practice” (at least within institutions at which I have worked) and looking at how they manifest themselves as eventual adult learners. Within my personal sphere of influence and in my current school culture, I know that there is a progression of expectation for what is expected of an entering 7th grader relative to what is expected of an exiting 9th grader, but the things I heard this week made me realize that there really does need to be more dialog with folk in higher ed and beyond. My matriculating senior is your newbie adult learner …
I’ve been thinking about how to make sure your discussions as a learning activity, actually address the learning objectives that you set out when you form your prompt. Our discussions for each module have a specific theme: “Dealing with a difficult student …” for example. However, some of our richest conversations in the discussions are ones that, seemingly, drift far off the mark set by the stated themes of the modules. They are usually still relevant to the course as a whole, but they’re pretty far off the mark for a particular module topic. How do you assess the learning when the content is moving all over the place?
The class is half-over. Please discuss the “aha!” moments you have had so far, and what these moments have made you more curious about…
The class is half over! On one hand, that seems amazingly fast. On the other hand, one of the things this experience has made me curious about is whether I would be able to sustain this kind of intensity and interest in an online course that ran 15 weeks like a more traditional higher education course. Is the pacing in a 15-week course very different than one that is 8 weeks in duration? What changes does that entail in terms of the design of the course?
This occurred to me because, perhaps the WORST graduate level course I’ve ever taken was a three-week summer session course on children’s literature that I took while working on a master’s degree in education. The “instructor,” very literally, took her 15-week syllabus and covered one week per day for 15 class days. Assignments were completely unchanged meaning that I sometimes was reading 4 150+ page children’s novels and writing papers on them in one day. Our papers came back with a single plus, check, or minus on them at the top of the page in green ink. As a tenured professor in a college of education I have to believe that this person knew that this was poor course design so, basically, it was that she was slovenly, lazy, and unprofessional. I’m sure you can guess by now that 49-year old me would not really suffer this fool so kindly, but 23-year old me just put my head down and did the work. I’d like to hear a bit more about pacing discussions.
I have had a few aha moments this week and a few that have only emerged and come into clearer relief over time. One of my aha! Observations this week was to notice how little either Dr. Kay or Deb have been present on the discussion boards during module 4. By my very rough count, Dr. Kay and Deb were on the boards with 32 discussion posts in module 1, but only 6 discussion posts in module 4. Since, in my judgment, it certainly seems like all three of the module 4 discussions are going well I’m guessing that this is by design. I know I’ve been going to the Grant Wiggins well an awful lot during the course, but part of my aha! moment this week was to realize that this kind of purposeful retreat is exactly what Wiggins is talking about here in Beyond Teacher Egocentrism: Design Thinking.
The other aha! moments that have emerged so far (maybe more “aha…” than, “aha!”), have been in the affective domain. Some people are born to teach. Teaching comes naturally to them. I am not one of those lucky people. To be honest, I think that I’ve made myself into quite a good teacher. I’m not spectacular. Nobody is ever going to make an inspirational Hollywood movie about my teaching staring Edward James Olmos (but then, he’s not Asian so maybe Russell Wong could play me in my movie? … LOL!). An aha… moment that has emerged for me over the last three weeks is how important being a perpetual student is for someone like me who is not a natural born teacher. Living with the struggle and the sense of failure (even when you really aren’t failing) and seeing what I need to progress and feel good about it in the end is what I end up giving to my students when I change hats and become the teacher. I KNOW the theory. I’ve KNOWN the theory since my undergraduate days in the college of education. Being a student, though, is my way of coming to UNDERSTAND what the theory really means.
My final emergent aha… is that I actually know a lot more than I realize I do. I think I’m pretty well respected by my peers and colleagues at work, but deep down, I always have this nagging feeling that I’ve somehow been able to deceive all of these amazingly smart people into thinking that I know what I’m doing and I’m just buying time and faking it until I can really get it figured out. I know that, that’s not really true, but it is how I feel on the inside. This course is helping me reach some comfort in knowing that while I don’t know EVERYTHING, neither does anyone else and relative to a lot of very competent, very knowledgeable people, I’ve managed to build a body of knowledge and a develop a nicely rounded skillset that seems to serve me well in my professional life.
So far so good! I’ve been thrilled with what I’ve learned in the class so far! On to part deux!
The most intriguing thing I learned in Mod 3 was…
I will use this newfound knowledge as an online facilitator by…
Other reflective thoughts…