(My reflections will take the form of a resolution list based on what I have learned in each module.)

Module 8

I hereby resolve to
  • Try to connect with classmates outside of the course to bounce ideas off one another
  • Go over my already built courses with a fine toothed comb to see where items can be improved by collaboration, community and critical thinking
  • Build my new courses with collaboration, community and critical thinking in mind
  • Maintain and update my “Online Teaching Playbook” as I find resources
  • Refer back to my “Online Teaching Playbook” as I redesign and build new courses
I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my natural instincts for online discussion facilitation were pretty good. The tools, resources and activities throughout the course allowed me to refine my skills, and gain insight and knowledge from my peers. One of the things I liked the most about this course were the role playing discussions. It was so valuable to see how different people would respond to different situations, and many of these were situations that you might not guess would happen. Even in my time as an online instructor, I have not seen some of these things, but I guess I was just lucky!

I found the community built in this course to be astounding, I don’t know that I have ever felt more connected to my classmates, or my instructors. It felt so natural, as if I had known everyone for much longer than 8 weeks. Ultimately, I am very happy that I took the courses out of order, and was able to establish relationships with student who I will now learn with in Assessment for eLearning.

Using a resolutions list in my reflections has helped me to not only reflect on the week, but set specific, achievable goals for the courses I design and teach based on what I have learned in this course. I can refer back to them often, and see where I need to improve my teaching based on what I promised myself I would do.

Although not a requirement of this course, I created my Online Teaching Playbook, which I think will serve as a very valuable tool as I move forward in online teaching and learning. Gathering resources and articles to remind myself of different considerations was a wonderful experience for me, and something that I have thought about doing for a long time. I am thankful that Dr. Kay encouraged me to explore this because it gave me the drive to do it.

One final thought, as I read through the finals chapters of Making the Move to eLearning, I need to add audio and video files to my portfolio! I’m thinking, either on the Welcome Page, or on the About Me page, where I can tell prospective employers about my accomplishments, rather than have it presented as just text, while showing that I am comfortable and confident using technology.

Module 7
I hereby resolve to
  • Create troubleshooting documentation for group chats
  • Have a very clear set of “If A then B” plans in place before starting a group chat
  • Create very specific peer feedback guidelines so that the feedback in meaningful and helpful to the learners
The most challenging thing of this module was to try to wrap my head around how EASyR is different from Bloom. Perhaps it is because I always knew evaluate, analyze and synthesize in that order from my library work, that maybe I never really understood Bloom? I have also tried, whenever possible, to include these activities in Information Literacy Skills Instruction (unless otherwise directed by current teacher evaluation measurements), so finding a lesson that I could update was a bit tough.

I found it interesting trying to get everyone together for the group chat. I always try to accommodate for non-tech learners and create tips sheets, but I never thought to do a mic and video troubleshooting guide. Despite the fact that I had sent out the questions ahead of time, and they had them in the module materials, and I added them to the Q&A session of the Hangout, and I had a list of extenders and redirects, I was thrown off by the technical issues, and it seemed like I was all over the place and unprepared. This frustrated me as someone who is very organized, which probably threw me even more. It was also disjointing because we created a group Google Doc, but were also using the chat window because of auditory issues, so again, it seemed like I was all over the place with facilitation.

I love receiving peer feedback, as it allows me to see how others view my work. In this particular case, how they interpret the questions I am so sure are clear (but often are not). I wish my fellow learners would do more “tearing me apart” because I know I am not perfect. I run in to this a lot with peer feedback, peers are too “nice” with their feedback. I would rather know what needs to be fixed in a peer feedback situation.

Module 6

I hereby resolve to:
  • Create a syllabus quiz/scavenger hunt to make sure students read it
  • Keep course due dates out of the content to make it easier to update for next semester
  • Establish a file name protocol for student submissions
I am not really good at following instructions, so I actually included 3 Ah-Ha moments.

I have always struggled with a way get the students to actually read the syllabus. After reading Lehmann and Chamberlin, as well of the online version of “Time Management Tips for Online Teachers” I realized that as with anything, the only way to get students to do things is to “count” them. The only way to ensure that students read the syllabus is to create some sort of assessment, like a quiz or scavenger hunt.

Another thing I have struggled with is making sure the entire course is up to date with things like due dates. Having to change them in multiple places is a pain. It never occurred to me to keep them just in one place!

A third thing that I have struggled with is telling my students a specific naming protocol. I always just told them “make sure it has your name in the file name.” I realize now that I have to be much more specific. I intend to add naming conventions to my syllabi in the future so I no longer have a drop box full of “Untitled Documents.”

Module 5
I hereby resolve to:
  • Develop icebreaker activities to build community based on the course content
  • Be in frequent contact with students throughout the first week
  • Be sure to check in with students who seem to be losing interest/working below their ability in the weeks after the initial course start
  • Make sure I am present enough, but not too overbearing as the weeks progress in the course
The 70/30 rule will impact my online facilitation by making me more aware of how I lay the foundation for successful interactions with my students. I have always used the same Icebreaker in my courses, “As an introductory discussion, take this opportunity to tell us about yourself. Who are you? What grade are you in? What do you like to do? What are your hobbies? What kind of books do you like to read? What types of things would you like to learn more about? Why did you sign up for this course?” I did this more as a way to make sure participants knew how to post to the discussion boards than as a community building activity. It did have the side effect of allowing me to get to know my students, but that wasn’t really the intended purpose. I have also always used a welcome message to my students as a way to allow them to get themselves set up early, so they don’t feel quite as much pressure in the beginning of the course. Outside of the very easy “getting to know the LMS and each other” activities, the only other thing students will be responsible for in the first week is picking up their reading materials from the library. Based on what Lehmann and Chamberlin share, the first week is critical for student retention. One other thing I try to do in the first week is to respond to all email messages as soon as humanly possible. That means logging in more frequently than I normally would, and making sure I address students questions and concerns. One thing that will help me do this is to start building a database of responses to questions that frequently come up (see new addition of “Online Teaching Playbook” page, a work in progress).

I do wish the scenarios in this module were different than those presented in the text, as I felt like I was “copying” the responses that Lehmann and Chamberlin presented.

Module 4

I hereby resolve to:
  • Focus on building collaborative opportunities outside of discussion forums
  • Use personality assessments to get to know my students
  • Use personality assessments to group my students
  • Investigate Online Learning at lower grade levels
  • Ask Dave W about their information literacy skills program
  • Create really clear instructions on how to cite images, and which ones are ok to use
The biggest Aha moment I had was when I decided to start creating myself sort of a manual for online teaching. It was inspired by the amazing conversations I was having with my classmates, and I didn’t want to lose a single thing they had to say or resource that they posted. It’s an overwhelming task to accomplish while immersed in the course itself, so the for now, I have created a PDF of the threaded discussion in the course so I can capture the conversations. When I have spare time, I can go back through the discussion, whether the course is available in D2L or not, and try to collate them into a resource for myself, and perhaps others, to use. I am curious to see if I will be able to completely redesign my two high school courses based on what I learn in this program before I offer them to students again.

Another Aha moment I had was when we were asked to look at personality type and grouping. For so long, I have despised group projects, as a learner and as a teacher. There were always those who did more than others, and made working in groups frustrating. The idea that personality type may come in to play in creating better groups is something I am very interested in experimenting with. I am mentoring our health teacher as she builds her online health course, and she is allowing me to experiment with different aspects of the assignments as I work through this course. I used the Bourne/Bond poll to group students for their first activity, and it seemed to work out really well. I was fascinated to see that all members of the Bond teams waited until the day before to start their projects, and those in the Bourne groups started their work as soon as the groups were assigned! I am curious to see how grouping students for both projects and discussions will alter the way students see group work. I am most curious to see how online learning works at lower grade levels. I really want to see what an online classroom looks like in, say 2nd grade. How does that work? Does it work? Can it work?

Module 3
I hereby resolve to:
  • Refrain from using sarcasm in my communication (p122)
  • Use humor in my communication when appropriate (p121)
  • Use positive reinforcement whenever possible
  • Walk away from any communication that is emotional before hitting send
  • Work toward understanding students’ backgrounds as they may effect interactions with the materials
  • Create either electronically or paper based, a collection of tips, tricks and articles I can refer to in developing and facilitating online courses (ie: questioning techniques, activities design, etc)
    • Create a list of stem starters for students to use in building responses
    • Create a list of potential messages for students having difficulties
    • Create a Discussion Tips Document with guidelines for participation in discussions
    • Work on my VART list for students
  • Find the time to re-read all of the discussion posts to begin building above mentioned resource!
This module has been quite an experience for me. Reading my classmates different techniques for addressing problems students are having and ways to build more dynamic discussion among students has been very eye opening. I want to take every piece of information shared and use it to create a guide for myself to aid in designing and redesigning my online courses. Every person brings a unique combination of experiences that allow me to see the materials from many different angles.

Module 2
I hereby resolve to:
  • Work on my tendency of being a Hijacker (p146)
  • Work on my tendency of being an Overposter (144)
  • Learn more about myself as a person, learner and instructor
  • Introduce students to the idea of “personalities” and the strengths they bring to the table
  • Learn more about my students based on personality inventories
  • Work toward creating cooperative groups of students based on personality characteristics
  • Employ the 5 critical decision points when implementing group work
I learned that there is a name for me: Hijacker! (146) or Overposter (144). Interestingly, I do not do this in the courses I teach, but I absolutely do it in those I take! I am going to work on that consciously!

I loved reexamining the learning theories, and reconnecting with social constructivist theories. Looking at group work and personality inventories was very intriguing to me. In both face-to-face and online classrooms, it can be hard to do group work and have it be successful. The idea of looking at the different strengths of students and trying to pair them that way is something I have never considered. We do want our students to be in heterogenous groups, but without knowing much about the students, it can be hard to create those groups. I also like the idea of having students take the inventories early on to get an idea of what kind of learner they are, and maybe point out some of the strengths that they have.

Module 1

I hereby resolve to:
  • Foster a community of reciprocity and cooperation among students.
  • Use the list of 26 reasons online education is better than brick and mortar whenever I find myself drawn into a debate with colleagues. 
  • Employ the list of best practices as I build new online courses, and as I revamp ones I have already created. 
  • Do a better job in creating feedback to assessments like quizzes and tests administered online. 
  • Continue to focus on the process of learning as being just as important as the product. 
  • Be responsive to student feedback about my course materials.
  • Learn to model in a way that does not detract from students’ individual synthesis of information.
  • Update older assignments and lessons to reflect more timely innovations.
I don’t know that there was a any new knowledge gained, per say, but I did reexamine some of the things I already do and make mental changes for the future. I will use the list of 26 reasons online education is better than brick and mortar whenever I find myself drawn into a debate with colleagues. I will also employ the list of best practices as I build new online courses, and as I revamp ones I have already created. The 8 key considerations really do make for a better teaching and learning experience. I have been in courses that do not follow them, and they were definitely horrid!