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Thursday's Thoughts

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What a week, my brain is FULL! I loved experiencing Connect today and plan to use it for class sessions in the spring, but more immediately, for virtual office hours this semester.

I also appreciated having the hands-on help from the IT fellows regarding how to use different options that Moodle has to offer and how to embed VideoAnt files. I can see so many applications for the technology. I think the key now will be to practice, practice, practice!

Tani

Tuesday's blog

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Well, I had the question this morning about the difference between a blog, wiki, and Google docs for promoting collaboration. Five of us were able to work editing together on the same wiki and Google docs during our "play" time. In my minds eye Goodle docs won. multiple persons were able to edit at the same time. The history of individual contributions was extensive. Five people can work at the same time and see the editing happening with the authors names indicated. It was easy to use. I now need to experiment with " how to incorporate Google docs into Moodle so that all the course content can be accessed from Moodle. A good balance between think time and play time today. Thanks for the balance.

Tuesday reflections

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I agree- today has been incredibly helpful, and I actually had a chunk of time in the afternoon to think about how I want to incorporate some of what we have discussed into my online course. It was interesting to hear from others today who had the realization that what our thoughts about what would go into an online/hybrid course are really changing. Not only is it more complex than we thought, we are also finding that what we wanted to do originally may not have been the most appropriate use of teacher and student time. I think we really are "transforming."
There are so many technological resources we have at our disposal- it is hard to pick the two or three to focus on first. Thanks for a great day, for sharing your expertise, and for giving us the space to work on our own projects.

overall impressions

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I have been gratified by the opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary conference of various actual and potential communities of learning through the Madison conference. I was exposed to technological and pedagogical possibilities that have broadened my perspective about the potentials for using technology to achieve pedagogical goals.I am thinking a lot about ways to stimulate communities of learning, create a supportive instructional presence, be humble and collaborative in experimentation with students about how to help them learn. I have thought about communities of learning I have been a part of and experienced one on Wednesday night when I was invited to join a group of Madison friends for a picnic meal and listening to music from Russian composers at the concert on the park series at the capitol. It was clear that my little group and many others gathered on their blankets had their own rituals and roles, leadership, and expectations for creating an enjoyable learning experience. I have been part of a couple of writing groups that have lasted over 10 years each with similar connections to roles, expectations, feedback, inherent enjoyment of learning. I now have a different framework for thinking about student learning in groups. Now comes the harder part about designing feasible objectives given the time and resources for advancing student learning. See you all on Monday to get further started!

overall impressions

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I have been gratified by the opportunity to participate in an interdisciplinary conference of various actual and potential communities of learning through the Madison conference. I was exposed to technological and pedagogical possibilities that have broadened my perspective about the potentials for using technology to achieve pedagogical goals.I am thinking a lot about ways to stimulate communities of learning, create a supportive instructional presence, be humble and collaborative in experimentation with students about how to help them learn. I have thought about communities of learning I have been a part of and experienced one on Wednesday night when I was invited to join a group of Madison friends for a picnic meal and listening to music from Russian composers at the concert on the park series at the capitol. It was clear that my little group and many others gathered on their blankets had their own rituals and roles, leadership, and expectations for creating an enjoyable learning experience. I have been part of a couple of writing groups that have lasted over 10 years each with similar connections to roles, expectations, feedback, inherent enjoyment of learning. I now have a different framework for thinking about student learning in groups. Now comes the harder part about designing feasible objectives given the time and resources for advancing student learning. See you all on Monday to get further started!

I was less impressed with this presentation by Etienne Wingert than the earlier one. It caused me to think about the format of the very large group presentation such that he could interact less with participants. He also presented a series of concepts that were complex and not broken down to be chewed upon bit by bit as in the earlier presentation. This unfortunately showed me how a very skilled, knowledgable presenter can be stymied by the demands of the presentation such that I got less from it than I might have in a different format. Having "bonded" with him from the earlier presentation, I was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt, but know that students won't if they haven't connected successfully with an instructor's presence earlier.

This session was interesting but the title ended up being a bit misleading. The session addressed an instructor's use of wikis within a course and conducted a survey to assess the student's usage and perceptions of using the wiki as a collaborative tool. Unfortunately the results of her study did not support using a wiki in this way and students either suggested other tools to use instead or they ended up meeting in person.

This has really make me think about how important the design of a hybrid course is and that if students have an opportunity to conduct their group work in-person and complete it faster than doing it online... then what happens? I'm considering informing my students of the online work deadlines in the course syllabus but NOT putting in the assignment specifics. Instead I would post the instructions online after the face-to-face session. I'd love to talk about this next week and see what others are thinking about this topic too.

Tani

Some great ideas: Create teams that must meet in person 1-2 times but must create their project collaboratively exclusively on-line; set up all tech options and let teams choose; "test" individually and then as a team--both count! Good list of references

Immediate reaction: I could do this! I could engage a panel of experts or my own co-researcher who is the recognized expert in Strategic Planning in HRD to include in a web-conference. Other approaches included data sharing, participant surveys, and use of case studies which could be sent to students in advance with structured questions.

Jo Arney, UW-LaCrosse, shared her model for online active group projects, which she uses in her distance learning courses on political science and public administration.
She received a faculty development grant to look at active learning online. The literature didn't yield much, so she developed her own model.

She gives a Reading quiz first so all participants are at a basic starting point. Then the five following steps:

Step one: objectives
Two: group projects
Three: dissemination (this is what we did, this is out how it relates to the class)
Four: self and peer assessment
Five: individual exam (essay)

Example: in her Intro to State and Local govt. class, which has 25 students, she has 5 different group projects:
1) Wise Wikis-come up with key terms concepts
2) Know-it-alls-critical thinking question related to ideology, sum up discussion
3) Heads of State-design a courts system
4) News Room-current events
5) Think Tank-find data related to specific question

Step Three: dissemination. She gives them freedom to choose venue (newsletter, wiki)
Step Four: assessment: general rubric, individual and group. (first post up by 11:59 on Wednesday, etc.) Groups assess each other and their own group. This is important to the success of the projects.

Five: Exam reflects what the group projects and readings reveal.

In her Intro to Public Administration which is a Four week course, instead of all students doing group projects, she has one group go each week. She randomly chooses group members. Groups work on discussion boards.

Jo was a lively presenter, and committed teacher. There was a vigorous exchange after about whether students want group work or need group work online. Jude from U of M pharmacy (see photo), raised the point that we do group work all the time and don't have the option of not doing it. It's a good thing for students to struggle and collaborate.

I think I'm going to integrate at least one group project in my hybrid online world lit. course. I'll make it low stakes enough to not burden the students as they and i learn the technology, but enough points to honor their process and end product. Thoughts on online group projects? Experiences?

Honestly, I thought this session would be about how we, as instructors, should create multimedia presentations. It wasn't. However I'm very glad I stayed because it gave me some great ideas on how I might encourage students to utilized technology.

The session focused on how, as instructors, we can design a multimedia ASSIGNMENT for our students to complete. It was something that I had never really considered doing and how have several ideas on how I might utilize this type of assignment within an online, hybrid, or face-to-face course.

Most of the questions from the session attendees surrounded the technology portion, bandwith, training student may need surround A/V equipment, where to load presentations, and how to provide feedback electronically on the multimedia presentations. The suggestion was made to use YouTube as a location for posting the videos and using their feedback tools, of course a discussion ensued surrounding student privacy, FERPA, etc. There are ways to set up restricted access on YouTube that I plan to look into. I could see having students (working in groups) create a multimedia presentation using Power Point and including photos, diagrams, video, and narration.

I enjoyed participating in this workshop on communities of practice (CoP). Wenger has an engaging style and encouraged interaction throughout the 3 hour session. He invited our stories of participation in CoP through which we came to understand some critical elements of this type of learning environment.

I liked his frame for CoP - the idea that these communities are learning partnerships - grounded in a 'social discipline of learning'. The goal is to make sense of our learning together - we help each other solve problems, we hear each others' stories, we find synergy across structures, we keep up with change, we reflect and improve upon our practice, we build shared understanding, we cooperate on innovation, we find a voice and gain strategic influence.

I really appreciated his comment that a "piece of design" such as a classroom is not necessarily a CoP. While this 'designed space' could be a CoP, it requires purposeful action to develop into that. The three elements of a CoP - domain, community and practice, must all be purposefully considered to create the space in which learning together can occur.

I wondered how a professor can truly be a member of a CoP in a course they're teaching if they are also evaluating/grading students' work? Wenger gave an example of a writing course. The prof created a CoP OUTSIDE the class requirements - a voluntary writing club. In that space, she participated as a full member of the CoP, sharing her own struggles with and questions about writing and getting and providing feedback from learners (who also happened to be her students). I continue to wonder if it is still possible for students to fully trust that the experiences they share in the Writing Club will not enter the evaluative process of the professor.

I do however, think this is much more feasible for a graduate level course and think I will experiment with a CoP in the family policy course I'm developing within this Treks experience. I will do the same policy analysis and web site development for my area of interest along with the students so I'll be able to enter the CoP as a learner as well. Because I assign grades on a very different basis in grad courses than I do for undergraduate learners, I think this will work. What do the rest of you think? Any snags you think might be problematic? Any experiences that will help me think this through?

I very much enjoyed Profesor Etienne Wingert's style of presentation, modeling his content as well as what he presented. He engaged the group effectively with story telling that felt as if he were with us and not manipulating us. He presented his model in small installments with time to consider it and ultimately apply the model to examples of our own. I highly recommend presentations by Dr. Wingert.

Professors Ford, Tancock and Putnam collaborated to analyze student responses to on-line discussion and came up with a taxonomy to describe those responses. The seven categories are familiar to instructors, recognizable; they also suggested prompts for nudging participants/students to a higher level of performance. For example, the most negative type was the "pessimist" who essentially said "that will never work" to most things; this style could be pointed out privately and encouraged to perform in a more constructive manner. Another style was the "information provider" who cited resources, policies, but did not engage further; on the other hand the "reinforcer: and "supporter" were there to say "great job, keep it up, I feel for you" but not go much further. the "counselor" meanwhile suggests a way to proceed. At the top of their hierarchy was the "reflective practitioner" who self-reflects about his or her own thinking and practice. I found this useful and it sheds some light on previous experiences. However, I found that those who performed as reflective practitioners, while gaining my approval, did not seem to be particularly popular or influential in the class. That is, it seems that that self reflective behavior my predict future doctoral or further graduate education but not be aspired to by most students. Still a useful presentation.

These presenters demonstrated some best practices in the design and evaluation of a multimedia project by sharing a multimedia assignment and their development of a multimedia rubric.

The main takeaways from this session for me include the importance of including specific, measurable objectives and resources for the assignment; continued monitoring of student group progress, and reminding the students that they are the owners of their learning (both content and the multimedia productions).