Sunday, April 24, 2016

Journal Week 4

This has been a busy week - hosted a conference midweek - but it gave me a chance to remove myself from the physicality of the course to think about it in a more abstract manner.

A few ideas that stuck with me from my reading and research: online courses probably should have their own format rather than just be the online component of a traditional course, we already have several models of wildly successful online delivery systems through the observance of social media. Reddit (while I'm not wild about it) provides a place for discourse, Facebook provides a method for sharing images and getting responses, as does Flickr, apps such as Instagram create virtual, searchable online image libraries. Maybe there's a way to integrate the places and behaviors my students already are doing with the types of engagement I would look for in a successful course. How to integrate this without compromising the educational / institutional integrity is key.

I'd like to explore Canvas since that looks like where we are heading. I especially like the instant feedback possibilities for grading, rather than my students having to wait a week for me to see them at the next class meeting. At George Washington University in Washington DC students can expect to use " software such as iTunes U to access podcasts, and Second Life to enter a virtual classroom environment. Blackboard and Embanet are the LMS favored by the school, while Skype, video conferencing and real-time chat rooms are also available to help online learners reach their potential:  There's a great review on what the best practices are in terms of tech. 

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Journal: Week 3

Am now in Week 3 of my online course and what's interesting to me is that the ability to manage the workload is the part that I need to resolve the most. Not that there's an overwhelming amount, but rather, that there is an amorphous quality to an online it's hard to know where "enough" is. 

In a regular face-to-face class, the meeting time is clearly defined and used, and then you have a specific set of goals that need to be done outside of class...easy to know when you've done a specific set. With this process, it feels much more vague, we are asked to post with certain minimums and while I understand the need to require a minimum, the end result is a vague sense that you haven't done enough. So, this week, I'm looking at being more specific with my time use and it will be interesting to see how that works.

Group projects are still a difficult one. Many of my students have full time jobs, families and are trying to complete their education on top of that...much like myself at this point. What the group project has done is add 3-4 other people's schedules into my own, which is not working for me at all. Each individual has a different interpretation of how much time they should spend and a different schedule in terms of what time is available to them. So, the trick in my courses will be to find ways that people can collaborate without adding layers of complications to their already busy lives. Not really sure what that would be. 

This week I will start making notes on my final paper, which will be a proposal to our curriculum committee for an online version of Art 80: Elements of Photography. This seems to be a class that is well suited for an online course since it is a non-lab class and designed for general education students. There are multiple obstacles to creating an online version of a lab class, the biggest being access to the software (being taught, not the platform venue) and equipment. Perhaps a hybrid type of lecture/lab class might work with an online class and a face-to-face meeting each week.

While developing my resources for the paper, I'm a bit concerned that I maybe missing some of the more important research out there...since educational research isn't really my area of expertise. I do feel I've found some interesting articles, but I'd like more information related to the online teaching of visual media. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Journal: Week 2

This week we're working on Discussion Board Threads...I'm not sure that I'm doing it correctly, since the terminology that she has in the word doc is not what I'm seeing in my browser. Instead of Messages, it's Threads and the right click functions don't seem the same. I'm also finding that I don't have the types of buttons that she's showing in the examples. Will try another browser to see how that works, but I had gotten the tech "ok" on Safari which is why I'm using it.

Finally figured out how to use the threads, just not worrying about the differences between the Threads word doc and what I'm seeing...the collection is kind of an interesting way to log in all of a single person's work and I will use it to make sure I've done the needed responses.

Group work is always a difficult thing for my students and I'm not having a good experience with it. Especially in this type of situation, it has introduced a higher level of chaos into my already busy life, so I will probably have to find ways to limit the group experience in my own online courses to methods I feel can be successful. With groups, there is always the chance that each individual will not do what they said they would and the only way to deal with it, as a student, is to end up just completing the task yourself. I do see people posting research that indicates positive experiences with online group work.

Overall, I have a basic sense of what taking an online class is like, which is more than I had before. I'd like to see an overview of the different platforms so that I could get a better sense of which one I'd like to use.

In response to the question about which platform my colleague was using for the Adobe work, I don't know, I believe it's simply connected to their online course development (probably private label).

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Journal Entry: Week 1

Well, actually it's preceding the first week, but I'm allowing myself a bit of artistic license. This week I start an online course related to creating online courses...which seems like the perfect venue. Why am I doing this? It started at work, part of my professional development as a CTE (career and technical) faculty member, but I chose this one specifically because this is an area I'd like to grow in and starting it as a student seemed appropriate. 

To be honest, I'm a bit freaked out...not just that it's been a while since I've been a student - because I'm continually taking workshops and learning new software - but because this course has a lot of the approaches that I'm not so sure I can fully connect to. It's got the "edu speak" fully embedded and my brain tends to switch into blank mode when I encounter such things. 

Every field has its own vocabulary, if you're an artist and went to grad school...then you know exactly what I'm talking about. The other night I attended an art talk that brought it all back. For me, when I encounter those terms it tends to derail my thinking and processing of the information. On the plus side, the instructor is very organized, there's even a checklist that I can mark off as I do each part. The reading materials are concise and I'm improving my skills in highlighting and commenting/bookmarking text. It's giving me a a good overview of the process and types of support systems that should be in-place. 

My concerns about my situation is that my school is not very strong when it comes to the online support part. What happens then and how does an instructor resolve these issues? 

The type of class I'd like to write for online: at this point I'd like to start with a "lecture only" style of introduction to photography class. I'm not sure how to translate the lab portion...but maybe that will become clear over time. 

So, once again, why am I doing this? To learn! To stretch! What I've learned so far: 

1. Turns out that "studies have shown" that using a sans serif type online is easier to I'm changing this post to Ariel since Verdana looked too big on the preview. 

2. While I completely understand the reasoning, it's difficult to feel natural when there are very specific amounts of commenting and discussion threads one must do. The other problem is that it's hard to remember how many I've done...was it 2 or 3...did I hit this board or just the other? It would be great to be able to check a box that showed my history. Apparently in the Adobe class that a friend is doing, they do have that option, and there's a little box that says "you're done" when you've completed the needed amount. 

3. The elements that should be included in an online course are: making sure that the technical environment for the student will work (their personal access, computer etc), working with clearly defined goals and how to reach them, creating environments that will promote interaction between learners. More to come. 

Potential Resources: