Sunday, May 1, 2016

Journal: Week 5

Well it's been an interesting journey. Overall my fellow students were very encouraging and helpful, which was nice. I'm still thinking about social media and how to utilize those the idea of having my own app for a class.
Since many of the students used their journal to record their notes and resources - I thought I'd copy in the word doc I used as a "holding tank" for some of my notes, a bit of a jumble.
Notes for final paper:
 Best practices:
1. downloadable work that is titled to load in a specific order that way students are clear about the order I want them to be working in. This would replicate the “learning management” work that I use in class, so each can build on each other.
2. All docs are formatted as pdfs to ensure correct readability in all platforms.
 From 7 guidelines: 1. Instructors should provide clear guidelines for
interaction with students.
 Principle 2: Good Practice Encourages Cooperation Among Students: Well-designed discussion assignments facilitate
meaningful cooperation among students
 3. Students should present course projects.
 4. Instructors need to provide two types of
feedback: information feedback and acknowledgment feedback.
 5. Online courses need deadlines.
 6. Challenging tasks, sample cases, and praise for
quality work communicate high expectations.
 7. Allowing students to choose project topics
incorporates diverse views into online courses.
 In terms of success rates and retention, in the past two years the Visual and Media Arts department online courses have met or exceeded the rates in our face-2-face courses.
I would like to submit this proposal for an online version of Art 80: Elements of Photography which is one of our primary GE classes on Tracks X and Y of the Education code. As this is a lecture-only course, I feel it is well suited to the online formats.
Key Elements:
The course will consist of the following elements
• Each section will start with a multi-media style lecture.
• Assignment critiques will happen online to foster understanding of critical thinking and to help create a sense of community and student-studetn learning.
• Study groups to evaluate specific issues.
• Strong instructor interactions and participation in the discussion boards.
• Office hours on computer.
Re: Questions about Distance Learning
xxxxxYou replied on 4/13/2016 4:26 PM.
Wednesday, April 13, 2016 11:56 AM
Ann Mitchell

Hi Ann,

Sorry for the delay in responding to this--I hope it's not too late. 

Some of the problems I've heard colleagues discuss are usually based on lack of participation in discussion forums and not submitting weekly homework assignments.  Those are far and away the most common. 

One problem I have, that I'm currently in the process of trying to solve, is making sure that my student are reading my lectures each week.  I have them posted as powerpoints, and I can tell, from the mistakes that students make in their essays, that some of them simply aren't reading the lectures.  I'm starting to write some lecture-response quizzes that will, hopefully, address this problem. 

My dilemma, though, is how to find that right balance.  They already have  a lot of reading and response work to do from the course textbooks since this is a composition course, so I have to find a way not to over-burden them by just adding more to their already-full workload. 

I hope that helps!  Let me know if there's anything else I can do.  I promise to respond more quickly next time :)

  From: XXXXX
Sent: Monday, April 4, 2016 9:21 AM
To: Ann Mitchell
Subject: Re: Problem with Online?
Some follow up -
 As you heard in Senate, it sounds like the college is willing to make a long-term financial commitment to Canvas, so that sounds promising. Also, I wanted to clarify that I think the problems with Moodle were systemic - not a problem IDTC - they’ve been great, and I think that XXXXX is trying to take things in the right direction.
 As far as the identity issue, there is a Federal requirement about this, and we minimally meet it by having the students agree to regulation 6000-something when they login in. Of course, we don’t check every students’ ID when they come to a f2f class, but we do get to see the same student taking the exams. We have no way of knowing if it’s the same person taking online exams, even with writing samples. There are a number of monitoring tools/services out there, and I think that we need to take a closer look at them institutionally.
 XXXX resource was used in our Student Engagement group project.Best Practice 2: Create a supportive online course communityA good strategy for developing a supportive online course community is to design a course with a balanced set of dialogues. This means designing a course so that the three dialogues of faculty to student, student to student and student to resource are about equal. In most online courses, the dialogue of faculty to student is provided with (1) mini-lectures in text or video or audio podcasts, (2) weekly coaching and reminder announcements and (3) explanations/interactions with the students.
Here are three strategies that can be used to encourage peer-to-peer, student-to-student engagement and thus the building of a course community. Note that an online instructor wants to develop three types of presence:social presence, teaching presence, and cognitive/content presence.
    Launch the class with a personal introduction posting so that students can get to know one another and you get to know "where students' heads are." The types of info often shared by faculty and students include info on professional experiences, personal information such as family/friends/pets, and a photograph. Faculty also often include a note about their teaching philosophy and research projects.
    Encourage use of a general open student forum for students to post and request help and assistance from each other through the various student-to-student tools, such as discussions, help areas, etc.
    Set up small groups where students can assume responsibility for supportive mentoring of fellow students and summarizing key points of a class assignment. The students might work in groups of 2, 3 or 4. This strategy is similar to a study group.
    Set up problem-solving forums or discussions boards, and assign students or student teams to monitor and support or direct questions.
Note: Learning within the setting of an online course community will work better for some students than for others. Some students may choose not to participate very actively at all; other students find it is the best way for them to learn in an online setting. The point of this is that for those students who need it, it is an essential part of how they learn. Vygotsky's theories remind us that we learn as social beings within a social context. The online community is part of what makes this happen for some students.
 From the Institutional Challenges threads:
xxxxCourse construction and excite the learnersThe two challenges I find in my online course construction are: how to best evaluate learning and how to excite the learners.
My current method is basically, just make sure they do the work.  They read the text, take a quiz, respond to a study guide and contribute to a relevant discussion.  Their two projects are individual and one involves reading and analyzing a play, the other is a "See a Play Paper".  I would say more than 50% of my students have never seen a live play.  I enjoy their record of discovery.  I already have decided that many changes are due.  I want to add group projects so I am looking forward to seeing how that works as we work with our respective groups.
Also, I am doing a lot of thinking about how I can improve my classes so the learners are inspired to discover the world of theatre.  I use Power Point lectures but need to update them and add transcripts and audio.  I use youtube to assign design, acting and directing clips that demonstrate an artistic choice.  I would like to learn how to add more complete plays and videos.  I would also like to learn how I can assist my students in acquiring current plays without major investment.  Technical assistance at Solano Community College is good but I am learning how to be a better teacher from this class.
 xxxxRE: Course construction and excite the learnersCOLLAPSEHello, Carla.

Trying to peak students interests can be very difficult. Because of that, I’ve also tried to improve my powerpoint presentations as well. I tried to  create Prezi presentations because I think it’s more visually interesting than powerpoints. I even added videos to my presentations to make them more interesting. However, I went to a workshop about ADA compliance where I was told that Prezi isn’t ADA compliant.  I now have to change those lectures back to powerpoint presentations.
 xxxInstitutional ChallengesThis articles brings up a lot of challenges we have or will encounter when teaching online. One of the challenges that I’ve seen as a point of contention at a school I’ve taught has been the concept of intellectual property. At the community college where I used to work, there was a counselor who was provided with a stipend for developing an online course. Once she developed the course, her department chair demanded that she allow her fellow faculty members to copy her entire course shell. When she refused citing intellectual property rights, another faculty member simply registered as a student in her class and copied her material that way. Because unlike Colorado State University, community colleges can’t give royalties to their faculty members, it’s more important that they receive either adequate payment to develop a course and that their intellectual property be respected.

Another concern that this article brings up is the online resources schools that colleges have. We are obligated to offer the same or similar resources to online students as we do to on-campus students. Online students need more than just technical support; they also need access to student services which are designed to help students success. This is especially important for online students because the geographical distance may make it prohibitive for them to come on-campus. Some schools are very good about offering those student services online, but many are still do not have the technological capabilities.  The class that I’m hoping to teach online requires that students complete on educational plan which necessitates meeting with a counselor. However, many of the online instructors don’t require that students meet with a counselor because that resource isn’t available online. This is a disservice to online students because they don’t receive the same benefits as on-campus students.
 xxxxRE: Imformative FeedbackHi Karen, your post really gives a feel for some of the challenges with your classes and technology. I don't have the same questions, but could relate to having many like you do!
In my 12 week (so far) experience with Canvas, the Discussions are very smooth to facilitate. Instructors can customize a lot of features and settings at the overall Discussion level down to individual posts. And there is a Peer Review option right in the Discussion setting.
I haven't done a group project entirely in Canvas yet, but have entered group project grades. It is very user-friendly to set up groups and grade options for group work, even with groups who have different project due dates (such as presentations).
For phone conferences, you can try a technology like Adobe Connect. I used that for virtual office hours and chats within a class. It has different "rooms," and areas where you can display artifacts or files. That is one of many online conferencing platforms.
 From previous examples:
Some type of Rationale
  Oportunities and Strengths
 Key structural Elements o fthe Course
  Challenges and Solutions
 Potential Weaknesses
 Targe Population
 Integration of Technology
 Key Elements of Course structure
 Course content:
 Best Practices
 Strengths and Weaknesses
 Opportunities / Threats

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:

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Been a while

It's been a while since I truly took time off and this summer I took the whole time and didn't really make any new "images." Yes, I took photos, but I didn't "make" any new ones. Starting to worry about it and I finally found a new muse.  We'll see where this goes.

Thursday, June 25, 2015


This is my first full week off of school and I am nothing but scattered. Being a teacher is such a bi-polar existence - for months at a time you live according to strict time-schedules filled with tons of people. Your life is all about "output." At the end, there's this mad rush of finals, my office is jammed with last minute projects and papers...then, Poof! and it's all over and I'm at home, with stacks of undone tasks, unread books, unfinished images...lots of "un." 

There's a sense of frustration that "at my age" I should be past a whole lot of things that still weigh me down. So, it's a struggle. I'm grateful for the time off. I'm grateful that I have meaningful work. I'm grateful that I have resources. But I'm tired of that cyclical sense...that it all circles back around. That so often I find myself back at the same starting point. Maybe that's natural, but I want more from myself than that feeling. 

This is supposed to be a blog on positive things right? I know...

So, my positive take on this - probably to just "knock it off" that it's okay to laze around for a few days - even a week - even more than that if possible! Too much puritan work-ethic. One of the beliefs that have stayed with me from my Buddhist readings is that we create much of our own suffering through attachment and desire. That awareness of the moment, living in the moment with acceptance can preclude much suffering. Isn't that the goal of meditation? To stop the chatter. To stop the fear of unstructured time. To stop the fear...probably just in general. Or maybe to accept it and feel it - knowing that we can survive it. 

p.s. yes, I realize I said in my previous post that I was taking off for the summer...well I felt like posting, so I did! No rules for me!