Recently in Respects diverse talents and ways of knowing Category

Kitty Kat Day

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The day started with anticipation of Kitty Kat. The discussion on Web 2.0 and UMConnect challenged my assumptions about the use of technology and the difficulties that students face when interacting with a new technology or keeping up with the technology resources that they rely on. I need to focus on "what will be engaging" . . . if I build it [engaging] they will come. The negotiation of what do I have that the student wants continues. It is not information it is processes and critical thinking. What are the questions? How can this be built upon. Much food for thought. I don't want to be the "enforcer". I want to be the "engager".
Looking forward to tomorrow.

Appreciative

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I am so appreciative of the opportunities provided this week. I am convinced that the only way to "step in" is through immersion- and I am definately immersed. I appreciate the amount of tools and options and the many incredible minds who have developed the software. I appreciate the group of people around me who are so willing to engage in using the options. I appreciate the opportunity for professional development - and all the snacks :)
Thanks to Dave and the IT Fellows - I am looking forward to working with you more this coming year.

Thoughts on blogging

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I was really engaged yesterday and got a lot accomplished, but when I left I had to chase from one thing to the next, and late last night I turned to my husband and said, "I forgot to blog today." Then, instead of logging on, I slid into the bathtub, which is where I choose to engage in my deepest reflection. I began thinking of all the professional women I have been close to over the years and how many of them have found joy in journaling and other ways to reflect by writing. But that isn't me. This is not the first time I have stopped to think about this, but last night in the bathtub my reflections had a different context. If I am not into writing as a form of reflection (and I enjoy writing--I spend much of my day writing), what about my students? In online courses, not only personal reflection, but also "discussion" can be limited to written forms of communication. So after this reflection I have a new appreciation for the many technologies I have learned about over the past 2 weeks, and I can tie this back to Chickering & Gamson's 7 Principles as well. It will be important to me as I design my hybrid course to think about multimodal forms (or choices) for reflection as well as for discussion, so that I remain respectful to students' different ways of knowing.

Monday Reflection

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The Quality Matters session turned out to be a reassurance for me. A reassurance that those who traveled down the road of on-line course development before us, had some reflections and experiences that lead to standards. The standards are a welcome format for structure in an otherwise wide open field of possibilities. I appreciate the outline and the examples. Very helpful after the wide range of program options delivered in Madison.

Congratulations to IT Fellows: Angela and Matti on their engagement....oh yeah, I did learn a bit more about moodle as well :) I am starting to see the possibilities in bringing in the video technologies and the presentation technologies with Moodles as a launching site. NOW I JUST HAVE TO PUT IT TOGETHER. (I might need some extra work time during class sessions for this).

I hope it is OK to use one entry to sum up the many sessions I attended. I still have miles to go before I sleep and am trying to do this as efficiently as possible.

Wed. AM2: Visual & Video Media
I had hoped for something a bit more "hands on", but this 3-hour workshop did provide a wonderful overview of tools & resources, their cost, and their strengths and limitations. But I still have A LOT to learn!

Wed. PM10: Moodle & SoftChalk . . .
Although we do not have SoftChalk, this was still perhaps the most helpful session (3-hour workshop) I attended because it was so hands-on. We met in a computer lab in Pyle Hall. At first I was taken aback by the set up--the students' computer stations faced away from the instructor's at the front of the room. Within a few seconds of entering, however, I realized how brilliant this was. When the presenter was demonstrating we swiveled to face her (and had counter space facing in that direction for note taking, etc.), but could not be playing around on Facebook, reading e-mail, etc., while she talked. When we then implemented what we had learned our backs were to the presenter, but she could see our screens and could tell if we were progressing correctly from step/screen to step/screen, etc.
The presenter's goal in sharing SoftChalk was to encourage us to "package" our online lessons so that even if our institutions change platforms, etc., we would have easy transitions. we learned how to do things like upload YouTube Videos into a lesson on SoftChalk and then upload the entire less on to Moodle. We also learned some guiding principles for creating online quizzes, etc. We tried out developing course objectives in Radio James Objective Builder, which is based on Bloom's taxonomy. we created avatars at Voki.com. And we learned to "poster ourselves" at glogster.com.

#5: Students' Perceptions of Effective Teaching in Distance Ed.
This qualitative research study found that there was really very little difference by setting/mode of instruction in what students value in good teachers, although the order of importance of the 9 instructor behaviors varied slightly--with "responsive" much higher on the list for online courses, and "engaging" considered more importnat in on-campus teaching. The 9 instructor behaviors identified from the open-ended questionnaire were respectful, responsive, knowledgeable, approachable, communicative, organized, engaging, professional, & humorous.

#12: The Four Rs in Multimedia: Rationale, Roles, resources, & Rubrics
I liked that these presenters mentioned Universal Design at the beginning of the session. I realized that my only real weakness related to this topic is that students teach me the technologies rather than vice versa. However, the presenters pointed out that it is the instructor's job to be the content expert; there are campus resources to assist students with production.

#24: Redefining Online Discussions: A Taxonomy to Encourage In-Depth Interactions
This was a research presentation, using Garrison's Community of Inquiry (CoI) Model for the theoretical framework. I did not like the labels that the presenters chose for students' "stances" in online discussions. Overall their findings reminded me of the small group roles I learned about in group dynamics classes as an undergrad sociology major and then again in group theory courses in my MS program in Counseling. I don't think that the presenters are aware of some of this work from the 1960s and 70s. But what i took away from this session is that there are many similarities in the roles played in discussion, whether face-to-face or online, and that it is important to be aware of these roles and to facilitate students' movement into roles that contribute to rather than detracting from the conversation.

#27: Online Role Playing Activities for Developing Oral Presentation Proficiency
My notes are sketchy for this one--sorry! We did learn about using Adobe Connect for recording presentations.

#48: Beyond Accessibility: Online Students With Disabilities as Learners
Although she did not provide a citation, the presenter indicated that research has found that students with disabilities are more likely to self-disclose in online courses than in classroom-based courses--a finding that I consider interesting but perhaps not surprising. The most important thing I took away from this session is that distance education has a long way to go in providing equal access for students with disabilities, and that audience members were hungry for more information. Because my own grant work is related to students with disabilities, this provided many ideas for how to write my next grant proposal. The materials that institutions are contracting from private vendors--despite saying that they accommodate students with disabilities--are apparently problematic, and instructors need further professional development to create their own materials. My current grant involves partners from different academic disciplines from throughout the U.S. Clearly a similar model would work well for a proposal with a focus on online learning. There are many reasons why online courses would be attractive for students with a wide array of disabilities if they could be designed to be fully accessible. Yahoo! The next round of competition should be in spring 2011, and I have LOTS of ideas for developing a competitive grant proposal!

As I created this summary, I realized that most of the sessions I attended addressed the Chickering & Gamson guideline on which I especially focus my energies--respecting diverse talents and ways of knowing--although I did not realize that when going through the program to decide what to attend.

Judith Boettcher and Rick Shearer presented a framework of predictions, opportunities and challenges for learners and broke them down by implications for learners, faculty members, content and learning environment. Participants suggested adding educational leadership and instructional designers to the groups considered. Predictions for learners were that students may draw courses from various institutions to build individualized courses of instruction. Predictions for faculty members included issues related to either incorporating technology/teaching more explicitly in tenure requirements or evolving to more of a two track system with tenure line researchers and adjunct or continuing appointment instructors focused on teaching. Challenges and opportunities include increasing focus on accreditation and competencies: zeroing in on what learners know and can do as a result of education. Concerns were raised about social networking "dumbing down critical and reflective thinking skills."

Gen Yers

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Who are they and how can we best connect to Generation Y:
They are:
Successful at Multi-Tasking
Not bound by traditional time lines (8-5:00 work days)
Respond best to VISUAL supports in learning
Rely on instant and frequent feedback from instructors
Repond to positive comment - constructive feedback - positive comment layering

I went to a session this a.m. on video conferencing educaiton for day care providers. It was interesting - built on the session that I saw yesterday. This group did a live demonstration and they had a couple of their students log in to show the demonstration. The connection wasn't great and the sound was pretty garbled. The presenters attributed this to using a hard connection rather than wireless. I don't know what it was, but the sound wasn't great.

What was interesting, however, was that the participants in the video conference wre all on vacation and were participating from their hotel rooms, or a coffee shop, or wherever. In any case, it certainly drove home the point about the convenience of being able to participate wherever you are.

Dr. Etienne Wenger is a great speaker and I assume just about everyone heard his keynote this morning. Does anyone in our community claim to have "purple in the nose"? If so, you could add knowledge to our community of practice and likely change our "identity". I think we have a few nodes of beer drinkers that definitely can transfer useful information but I don't know of any equivalent of "purple in the nose" for beer. Perhaps "hops in the palate".

Talking with a few others at my table, we realize that our communities of practice are limited by not having a contingent of community practitioners that are part of it. What if we expanded out communities to include others who have a different knowledge base?

This keynote provided some good food for thought and is worth talking about within our group next week I think.

Hi Everyone.

Greetings from Vancouver!

I look forward to coming home soon and meeting with you again next week. I missed being with you in Madison, and I can't wait to hear more about the sessions you went to and the things you learned.

I'm curious about whether you have heard much at the conference about iPads and how they might be used in online courses (or how they might change the way online students are able to access content in online courses). I ask because I presented in a session today about effective uses of technology to teach statistics. Someone in the audience seemed concerned about the fact that currently, iPads do not provide students with the capabilities to use tools that require Flash, and that they might have other limitations as well. I am probably a bit naive because I don't have an iPad nor do I know as much as I should about them, but it made me wonder about issues related to teachers trying to adapt their courses to the kinds of technologies students are using and have access to. This certainly seems like something we need to be thinking carefully about as we design new learning environments for our students.

Hope you have safe travels back from Madison!

Michelle

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 attended the free introductory session that presented a comprehensive overview of the "morphs" of distance learning - from hybrid, topic and time guided distance learning where the group is keep in sync with assignments and assessment to individualized distance learning programs that had no constrains on time and topic. The audience for these difference models was discussed--from rural applications to isolated learners in a submarine environment with limited internet access. Probably the most important take away for me was noting the variability and needs based on program goals, audience, content, and learning style considerations. A disconnect for me was when the speakers from the Naval War College spoke of Michael Moore. Did he really see "Capitalism: A love story", "Sicko" or "Bowling for Columbine"? And how does this relate to distance learning in his world? On the more serious side, the panel was very helpful and it did assist me in identifying sessions to attend later in the conference since many of the panelists have individual sessions.

Hilton Hotel, Wednesday, August 3, 2010

Etienne has a wonderful smile and conveys a sense of well-being that drew us in. About thirty of us sat around round tables and reflected on the vital elements needed for communities of practice.

Communities of practice recognize each member as a learning partner. They require avenues for hearing each other's stories so we avoid local blindness (love that phrase).

I live in a community of four families. We've lived along side each other for 15 years. We share property, have helped each other build houses, put in gardens, and have helped care for each other's kids and animals. In my mind my home life is separate from my teaching life at the U., but Wenger's session reminded me how much my belief in community informs my teaching pedagogy. Cultivating a strong feeling of community in the classroom has a direct impact on student engagement, and as I develop this hybrid online course, my goal is to foster community both in class and online.

A "Social artist" is Wenger's name for a person who is adept at fostering a sense of community.